Posts Tagged ‘Friend of the Month’

Sheila (More)


April 5th, 2018 Posted 8:28 am

From Pamela, Sheila’s human companion (Sheila is Chet’s April Friend of the Month).

When people ask me what kind of dog Sheila is, I usually refer to her as a “properly dog-shaped dog” or I say, “When God said ‘Dog’, this is what he meant.” Her eyes are not small or bulging. Her muzzle, legs and tail are not long or short. Her ears do not stand up straight, nor do they hang. Her chest is neither barrel-shaped nor deep like a Dane’s or a greyhound’s. At 40 pounds, she is not a large dog, nor is she a small one. In my search for a genetically healthy dog, I seem to have hit the jackpot. At 12 years old, she is still fit and athletic. Her eyes remain clear and I have observed no decline in her hearing, vision or intellect. Her health has never been challenged and the only areas where her age shows are in the ever-increasing whiteness of a face once liberally marked and edged in dramatic black, and the soreness she suffers when she returns from her occasional AWOL adventures. 
A DNA test would be nice but my finances cannot justify the expense. I am fairly confident that the main influence in her makeup is red heeler or Australian cattle dog. She is exactly that size and shape, has the same wide, intelligent eyes and easy tractability. Her driving and heeling behavior matches as well, but she does not herd. She tries, but fails. Coming from Tennessee the likelihood that there is some pit bull in her is high but she certainly does not have a pit bull’s high threshold for pain. A basenji breeder has suggested that she has many characteristics of that breed, and boxer owners have said the same. In any case, Australian cattle dogs have reputation for long, healthy lives, so I hope she will be with me, taking care of chickens, and soon goats and other livestock, for many years to come.

Sheila and the Arrival of the Chickens


April 4th, 2018 Posted 8:38 am

Continuing with our new feature, where the human companion – in this case Pamela – tells us a bit about Chet’s new Friend of the Month – in this case Sheila:

“Chickens are a newish addition to our life. The first time she saw chickens, back when we still lived in town, she joyously treated them like tennis balls and two of somebody else’s free-range laying hens failed to survive the game. I bought several baby chicks to replace those and sadly, she got one of them. I held the poor thing under her nose and scolded her until her chin was so low it touched the ground. Then I tenderly took the precious baby outside and burried it, really playing up the pathos. She has been a champion chicken defender ever since.
We moved out to the country about three yeaars ago. We are both much happier out here.
We had a batch of 58 chicks delivered on a night in February 2017 that started out warm, even creepily balmy, but ended with a brutal cold snap well below freezing.  Some knucklehead at the post office left the chicks exposed so that when we arrived to pick them up all but four were dead. I got those four into the brooder as soon as we got home, and then brought the rest outside to bury. Sheila was beside me in her pathetic little gargoyle posture as I worked. As soon as I finished covering them up, she laid down atop the grave and would not move. My landlady/roommate’s exuberant border collie, Daisy, kept trying to get her up to play, but Sheila refused to budge. She snapped and growled in response to Daisy’s relentless invitations.
She laid out there all day with her chin on her paws until it occurred to me that she might not know that we had four living chicks inside. She would not be coaxed from her vigil, so I had to command her to come in. You should have seen her celebrate when she saw those live chicks! She hung her head over the edge of the brooder and huffed, filling her olfactory center with ecstasy. (Who can account for a dog’s olfactory preferences?)
The hatchery resent the order, and the chickens you see behind her in the posted picture were from that replacement shipment.
Sheila is certain it is her job the watch over the entire property, all its inhabitants, and the neighbors’ properties as well. She must approve each newcomer, human or animal. If she thinks someone is headed where they do not belong, she will harass wrists, ankles, paws, claws, rumps and feet right out of there. She permits the chickens their free range, but will help me find any who have gone AWOL by bedtime. She minds their business even to the point of examining their fluffy backsides just as she would if they were dogs. They are remarkably tolerant of her, but she has been all up in their faces (and backsides) since they were new little chickies.
Although the coop is secure, I don’t want anything getting a chance to dig a hole under it. If the bedroom window is open at night, she will hear things happening around the coop and she MUST be on it. When I open the door she is out like a bullet, head, ears and tail straight up, full warrior mode. She always returns with her head held high.”

Getting To Know Sheila (1)


April 3rd, 2018 Posted 8:01 am

A new feature at Friend of the Month: we invite the human companion to tell us a little about the winner. Here’s human companion Pamela on Sheila (part one):

“I  was looking for a non-shedding, genetically healthy, intelligent, easy-to-train, properly dog-shaped dog. I found Sheila at a PetCo Saturday adoption event near Nashville in February of 2007.
“Princess”, as she was then called, was the only dog at the event who was inside a crate. She was wearing the Cone of Shame, and looking up at me from a deeply crouching gargoyle posture with a pathetic plea that outdid anything Puss in Boots from Shrek ever could have conjured up. (Puss is lacking the expression-enhancing black Valentino markings Sheila had around her eyes back then.) She was18 months old and well into her second pregnancy when the rescue had her spayed. There was about an eight inch long row of fresh staples in her belly. Most rescues would have let her have the puppies first, but this one did not. It still makes me really sad to think about that.
I took her for a walk around behind the stores and found her clueless about how to behave on lead. She pulled like a plow horse, but kept looking back at me for direction, which was an important clue to me that she would be easy to train. She passed all my tests except the shed test but when I went to put her back in the crate she balked, crouched back into that gargoyle posture and just started quaking and quivering. I couldn’t do it. So, I got the genetically healthy, intelligent, easy-to-train, properly dog-shaped dog, in spades, but Sheila sheds clouds of stiff little hairs all year round. Come spring-time though she sheds enough to line every bird nest in the county.
I was told that Sheila came from a home in a very small house with one little old lady and eleven other dogs. She did not know her name or any commands. She was paper trained, but not housebroken. Every piece of paper I left on the floor got peed on. She exhibited no familiarity with cars or doors at first and was quite fearful of both. She spent a great deal of time as a quivering gargoyle and refused to eat anything but bits of chicken for the first week.
Attemps at crate training left her so traumatized that it resulted in explosive diarrhea. We about wore out the Little Green Machine carpet cleaner and she had terrible seperation anxiety. I had to replace the vertical blinds five or six times. For the first couple months I had to take her with me everywhere. She could actually do just fine waiting in the car for me, even for hours, but she shredded the apartment if when left home. Surely she had never been alone before, but apparently so long as she was in the car, she still felt like she was with me. Thank heavens she finally got over all of that and now understands that I will always come back for her.
I did not know her well when I named her, and I had forgotten about my plan to name all my dogs after vacuum cleaners. I probably should have named her Bissell, as she not only vacuums, but licks dirty carpet as well. I’m pretty sure she wants the job to herself anyway, as she tries to kill every vacuum cleaner she meets. She actually succeeded in slaying that Bissell Little Green Machine.
‘Sheila’ was the kind of default name you come up with when you have to have something quickly to put on the form at the vet’s office. Because she looks more like a dingo than any other breed, and because I lived in Australia for a year and a half, I wanted to name her something kinda –Aussie. I was coming up blank. ‘Sheila’ is used in Australia like Americans may use ‘gal’, ‘ broad’ or ‘chick’, but to my mind the connotation was more grandma-diner-waitress, and I didn’t really like it. It was in the back of my mind when I called my parents to tell them about her and ask for their naming ideas. “Sheila” was my dad’s first thought too, so… default.”

Meet Sheila!


April 1st, 2018 Posted 9:16 am

The random # generator has spoken: “Sheila – the chicken dog!” That makes Sheila Chet’s April Friend of the Month. Sheila will be in the little thingy top left on the Facebook page and Sheila’s human companion gets a signed copy of THE RIGHT SIDE. Next month this could be you! Just send in a pic. R#G does the rest! (Note: Beginnings will appear tomorrow. It will be THEIR WILDEST DREAMS, first of the Arizona books.)


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