I was a fanatical dog owner until just over ten years ago. In 2000 I started travelling the world in my IFOAM job, and was unable to have a dog. I also had an unfenced peri-urban property, which made dog ownership difficult.
I consoled myself by having many doggy friends, some that would come to stay with me when their owner was away, or I could visit and take for a walk. Finally it got too much; I had to at least have a look at the local pound. Now I, or anyone familiar with my enthusiasm for dogs, could have guessed that I was going to return with a new pet, but my excuse to myself was to just have a look, see what was available, and consider my options.
I visited the Hahndorf pound, a private establishment with an excellent reputation. They don™t put dogs down there either. They keep them until they find a home.
The first dog I met was Ace, and eighteen month old black Labrador kelpie cross. He is jet black, with a very shiny coat. The sign said he was too boisterous for his elderly owner. Well he is not boisterous, but he is big and he can pull hard on the lead, and we don™t know how frail the owner was. It would have been a sad parting, as Ace is a lovely dog loaded with personality. I did not realize at first how traumatised Ace was, but as the weeks go by and his personality comes to the fore, I realise that he was actually quite disturbed.
Ace and I took to each other in the first minute. He is a cross between two reliable, intelligent breeds. Crossing is good for robust health. He had no obvious behaviour problems and is of a most trainable age and disposition.
Ace has become, like all the dogs I have owned, a ˜right by my side™ dog. He comes everywhere. In order to do this, he has to be very bright, patient, well behaved and calm. Ace fits the bill very well. In the four weeks I have owned him he has become a favourite at the Stirling Organic Market, where I have a coffee most mornings when in Adelaide. He is obviously devoted to me, and so smart it is scary.
I do not have good fences on my one acre block in Stirling. Whenever he goes to a corner of the property he has not visited before, he stops, looks at me and waits for permission to proceed. From the beginning it was only necessary to say, ˜no don™t go there™, or ˜OK boy™ but now he can tell from facial expression alone.
I reckon Ace is a lucky dog. He is well looked after and hardly ever left alone, gets to walk a lot, socialise with other dogs, and is never yelled at, let alone hit.
I reckon I am pretty lucky too. I have a faithful friend to protect my home and family and keep me company. He provides endless amusement with his inquisitive nature, work-it-out attitude (he always seems to be thinking) and his antics with a $6 squeaky toy.
I know there is a carbon cost, and some green friends frown on a big dog, but I think he is great instruction for how we relate to the natural world. I am reminded of my other famous dog, Casper. Famous because he was always with me during the most socially active period of my life, and always came to work at CSIRO Division of Soils or to University. If I did not take him to Larry Johnson™s environmental philosophy and ethics tutorials, Larry was lost for an example. He was a very educated dog by the end of those courses.
So I am pleased to be fending off the black dog with my new black doggy friend. I recommend it for anyone.