Celebrate Country Canines

The life of a country dog is one to be envied - at least by town breeds.


| January/February 2008



iOnHayBale

iStockPhoto.com/Rolf Klebsattel

If dogs were people, I figure country canines would be the Huck Finns of that world.

Remember how Tom Sawyer envied Huck’s lack of adult supervision? That’s probably how a town dog would feel about a country dog’s freedom to chase rabbits through the woods, dig for gophers in the alfalfa field or take a swim in a farm pond. Like Huck, country dogs mostly live outdoors, sleep when they want, supplement their diets with a tasty gopher now and then, and seldom suffer the indignity of being taken to the groomer for a bath and a trim. And don’t even think about asking a country dog to walk on a leash.

Country dogs tend to be brave, loyal, eager to please, and they are generally friendly once they’ve met you. And even though some country dogs may appear to spend their days sleeping, never make the mistake of assuming a country dog asleep under a shade tree is a lazy good-for-nothing mutt. That’s just a disguise. The truth is, most country dogs hold down multiple jobs, providing around-the-clock security for the house and grounds, helping to herd livestock and often serving as babysitters for the smallest members of the family.

When you live in the country, an outdoor dog is probably the best investment in security you’ll ever make. A barking dog lets you know the minute a salesman, stranger or neighbor pulls into your driveway. And when you’re fast asleep at night, a country dog is your first line of defense against tractor rustlers, cows on the loose, teenagers in your watermelon patch or raccoons in the sweet corn. Country dogs believe they have an exclusive contract to provide security for your home and family. If I was in charge of Homeland Security, I’d issue every country dog in the nation a badge and a paycheck.

If you keep livestock, a country dog can be your best hired hand – especially if she has some Corgi or Aussie blood in her veins. When I was a youngster, we had a mixed-breed shepherd named Bobby who delighted in bringing the cows in from the pasture for the evening milking. He helped round up steers in the feedlot, kept a watchful eye on the spring calves and even kept the bull in line. The only time Bobby’s natural herding instinct proved to be less of an asset was when he spent his idle hours rounding up the chickens.

While a country dog should be of a certain size and temperament, just about any purebred or mixed-breed dog can apply for the job. Some folks prefer Labs, German Shepherds, retrievers, or hounds of one kind or another. Personally, I like mixed-breed dogs with some Australian Shepherd or Border Collie blood. The so-called “purse dog” breeds such as Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus and Toy Poodles are seldom cut out to be outdoor dogs. A brave Chihuahua did make the news last year for defending the family toddler from a rattlesnake, but there’s a good chance any dog weighing less than a hen turkey could wind up on the menu if coyotes or bobcats are in the area.

shirley vrsan
2/19/2013 8:47:54 PM

We have a Border collie mix that was a dropped off at our farm and since we had other dogs we never gave her a name, she was always referred to as the Straydog because we were going to find her a good home. HA! That dog has been here for now on to 10 years and she is still known as Straydog and she is the best dog we have. She knows everything that goes on in the barn and she makes sure we do chores in the right order. She hunts mice, squirrel, and rabbits and will give a coyote a quick chase. She loves to greet people and her nickname is Little Miss Wal-Mart! Sometimes you never know what will show up in you life that may be the best thing that has happened in a long time.


mary carton
11/2/2011 9:58:07 PM

My 3 rescued Border collies have been both a pain and a blessing, but I wouldn't trade my hooligans for any other dog. Grit liked the hooligans and asked me to blog about them. they are always into something. Blackie is a better mouser than any cat we've had on the dairy. but she does get destructive sometimes digging a hole to china getting after them. Situations happen with rescues sometimes which bring back bad memories of past owners sometimes and you just wondered what they went through before I got them.


michal diane cottrill
5/24/2010 9:55:22 AM

Our outdoor dogs have been a blessing. They keep predators away from our free range chickens. Our dogs are very protective of us and warn us if anyone is coming onto the property. We would not have ventured into the back side of the mountains to live if it were not having our brave, beautiful, intelligent, lovable dogs. We love them dearly.






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