10 July 2013

heads lifted or lowered into scent

Duke is now just about 2 years old, if our guesses, and those of the vet, are correct. He has filled out and muscled up, as young males of all species tend to do as they mature, and he is swift, strong, and agile.

He has an astonishing vocal repertoire; I have never met a dog with such powers of expression. He prefers Boo Dog's old chew toys to the new ones we bought for him. He loves chicken above all other foodstuffs, though peanut butter is a close second. He takes all things, even tidbits of chicken, from our fingers as though they were canap├ęs. He grooms himself fastidiously.

He is not quite as perfectly trained as I would like him to be (my fault) and he does not like other dogs as much as I would like, either. He does, however, love cats. I often catch him snuggling with one or the other of ours, or playing a wild game of Fergusball (which, yes, is like Calvinball) with our resident pocket panther. He adheres strictly to the rule that the cats must initiate these activities.


We are still not entirely sure of his ancestry, and I still see Doberman and hound in him, but lately I've also been thinking that a Malinois might also be in his family tree. Like Dobes, Malinois are often used for police and military work -- perhaps the only member of SEAL Team 6 whose name we will ever know is Cairo, a Malinois.

(As was only right and proper, Cairo got to meet the president, too).

Duke is not a purebred anything, of course, and does not have the correct temperament to be a war dog. But he is nothing if not loyal to and protective of his pack, including the cats.

So when Fergus decided, the other morning, to make a break for it as I opened the door, Duke did not hesitate. With a speed and decisiveness that would have made a border collie jealous, he outmanoeuvred the cat and herded him back into the house within 5 seconds. No teeth, no barking, just pure herding behaviour.

The cat was disgusted and didn't speak to us for the rest of the day.

The human members of the pack were impressed, however, and Duke got a spoonful of peanut butter as a reward for being so clever and helpful.

Katharine Coles


  1. Marvelous. Brilliant. You have yourselves a true Enforcer!
    I once had a border collie who took on that role, and she made sure the cats and my son obeyed all my rules. The cats accepted it, but my son insisted it wasn't fair, two against one like that.

    1. Yeah, I guess we do! The funny thing is that he's usually so deferential to the cats' whims. But not this time -- "Not safe! Get back inside, cat!"


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