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The dog that climbed trees

The marvels of a morning walk in a Seattle park, amid one's dog-walking neighbors
A Catahoula Leopard dog: too smart for pigs

A Catahoula Leopard dog: too smart for pigs State of Louisiana

Habits can be comforting. It’s important to know where to get comfort. For me it kicks in with a getting-up-and-moving procedure that is greased on skids. I climb out of bed and, once in the bathroom, turn on the shower, which takes an age before hot water finally arrives. Old house, built in 1922. Accept its (and my own) infirmities.

Then downstairs to brew coffee. The ritual is always the same: boil water, grind the coffee, fill up the French press, and set the timer for four minutes. I love it. I do not have to think about any part of this. I could do it in my sleep. And the first few sips of coffee hold a sharpness that pulls me into focus. Thank you Costco for the beans.

Cup in hand, I grab a poop bag, look at the weather, don appropriate clothing, and stir up the dog — after waking him with a kiss and caress — and we head out the front door.

The walk in the park will deliver unexpected events. That is the great thing about living in Seattle and not, for example, in Puyallup or Anacortes. I will see Jim, battling lung cancer but still picking up the minute detritus in the park. I may see Christine and her dog Bo, both bursting with energy but under control; David, a psychiatrist; or Gustaf the mortgage broker. Sometimes I see Mary, the graphic designer, and a gorgeous young woman whose name I do not know whose three crazy vislas swirl about her. One could easily stuff three tennis balls into one dog's mouth. Another greets you by springing up to your eye level and looking briefly into your eyes.

Soon I am under the 15th Avenue Bridge and think my daily thought of gratitude for just being alive. David, a jogger with his border collie, passes me and shouts a good morning. And then, a hundred yards away, I see a figure with dog-on-leash that I do not recognize. The meetings of one dog on leash and another off can be tense. The leashed dog knows that it cannot flee. The free dog exploits this advantage. I call Cal off to the side of the trail and make him sit and stay. He reluctantly obeys, wanting to check out this new dog.

The dog that appears is large, short haired, wildly colored, and has what is called a glass eye. Part of the iris is normal, but another part looks like a weirdly colored marble. The dog stares at me, intently, something I realize most dogs do not do. “What’s this mean?” I ask. The owner smiles, unsnaps the lead, and says, “Stamp your foot.” Which I do. The dog does a fast 180-degree spin, takes off for a dozen or so feet, and then turns again. His wacky eye and the other normal one stare into my eyes and hold my gaze.

The woman laughs, amused by my being totally bewildered by the animal’s behavior. “It’s a Catahoula Leopard Dog,” she says. “Very popular in Louisiana. They use them to hunt feral pigs. Or wild pig if they can find one. What happens is that a goodoldboy and his pals climb into a pickup truck with shotguns and most likely a bottle of whiskey, put the dog in the back, and take off into the woods and brush. At some point they stop and turn the dog loose. It snorffles around for a while and then usually picks up the scent of a feral pig. It lopes off, following the scent. Meanwhile the boys have cracked into the booze and are telling stories — highly exaggerated — of past hunts and long deceased dogs.

"If the dog tracks down a pig it bays at it to get its attention. When the pig turns, the dog stares intently into the pig's little piggy eyes. This the pig interprets as a challenge. Pigs are smart, tough, and fast. It takes off after the dog. If the pig loses interest, the dog does the eye trick again to motivate the pig to chase it. The dog has a plan. The plan is to lead this pig right back to where the hunters are still telling stories and sipping whiskey. Presumably they will hear snapping branches and general ruckus as the dog and pig race through the underbrush back toward the pickup. And as they come racing through the cozy little group, the hunters will fumble around for their shotguns and blaze away at the pig, hopefully missing one another and the dog.”


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Comments:

Posted Sat, Sep 5, 9:44 a.m. Inappropriate

Nice story, Mr. Davis, but I wish you and others would obey the leash ordinance and leash your dogs in public spaces. Dog owners always insist that their dogs are gentle and would never hurt anyone, but their belief hardly reassures people who have been bitten by a dog on the loose or have seen a child attacked ("I can't imagine what got into him!" marvels the owner, caressing his pet). I enjoy canine company. I'd love to be free to stroll right out my front door into a public place with a pet untethered - it's awfully inconvenient to have to load him in the car and drive to a dog run. But with these areas available, there's no excuse for breaking the law or scaring my neighbors (MY dog would never hurt anyone, of course, but how do they know that?).

What it looks like (except, of course, to the other guy with a dog illegally romping off-leash) is pure selfishness - privileging one's own convenience over everything else.

Brouhaha

Posted Sat, Sep 5, 5:33 p.m. Inappropriate

My opinion-dog owners with unleashed dogs are inconsiderate thoughtless jerks-no matter how articulate and "neighborly" they may be.

I walk in Discovery Park every morning and when I round a trail corner to meet face to face a large unleashed dog with no owner is sight it is not a pleasant experience. I have changed routes and times for my walks because of unleashed dogs after my polite requests that they leash their dogs went ignored-sometimes with a most shitty response.

So caress and kiss your dog all you want-but keep him away from me.

Posted Sat, Sep 5, 7:23 p.m. Inappropriate

Oops-I forgot to include the word selfish in my comment above.

Ya know? Selfish like the folks who talk long and loud on their cell phones while riding public transportation or in other space shared with a captive audience; or like the pathetic nicotine addicts who sit by cafe entrances with their stinking smoke drifting inside to stink up my clothes and pollute the air; or the smokers who smoke under bus stop shelters so those who wish to avoid the stink and poisonous air have to stand in the rain; or the folks who honk their car horn every time they get into and out of their car adding to noise pollution; and then there are those who set their car alarms and never react to them when they go off.

I believe that like the writer of the above piece their selfishness is willful.

Posted Sun, Sep 6, 4:28 p.m. Inappropriate

That was a good story (dunno whether it's true or not) but I think the commenters should lighten up. There's lots of ways to get hurt in this world and dogs are pretty low on the list of threats.

kieth

Posted Mon, Sep 7, 9:43 a.m. Inappropriate

Thanks for turning down the volume, Kieth. It's ironic that someone would write in such an uncivil, thoughtless way about someone else's incivility and thoughtlessness. Still, dog owners who don't leash their dogs in public areas ARE being thoughtless and uncivil. Also illegal.

Brouhaha

Posted Fri, Sep 11, 10:26 p.m. Inappropriate

You know, someone mentioned (was it at www.ideasforseattle.org?) that in New York City, it is permissible to have one's dog off-leash in parks in the early morning hours. What a great concept that is--establish a law that makes it possible for everyone to get what they want!

dddlev

Posted Sun, Sep 13, 8:36 a.m. Inappropriate

"Everyone gets what they want?" I counted seven dogs off leash at Discovery Park this morning. I wonder how many citizens who are afraid of dogs are denied the use of the parks they pay taxes to support because dog owners refuse to obey the law. There are off leash dog parks around this city paid for by all of us.

MIKE SIEGEL / THE SEATTLE TIMES

The first pit bull ripped into David Salter's left arm. The second snapped at his right arm.

The Kent man's screams shocked neighbors on that quiet spring evening last year. But when they called 911, sheriff's deputies and animal control refused to come because by then, the dogs' caretaker had put the animals back in their enclosure.

Posted Sun, Sep 13, 12:10 p.m. Inappropriate

this is from a few days ago. It was early in the morning (surely some neighbors were sleeping in) and I was inside a grocery store. Outside, repeatedly, over the fifteen minutes I was in the store, a very loud car alarm went off. Presumably, like my neighbors do when their car alarms go off, this car owner could hear the alarm and chose to ignore it. When I walked out of the store I observed the car was a Toyota SUV with a large poodle sitting in the drivers seat. Allow me to make some assumptions about this car owner.
1)He thinks he's a good and considerate neighbor and always say hello.
2) He allows his dog off leash in public space
3) He doesn't scoop the poop.
4) He talks loud on his smart phone in enclosed public spaces.
5) he doesn't give a damn about global warming
6) He's got his-screw the rest of us

Posted Fri, Oct 9, 4:37 p.m. Inappropriate

you know i'm sick and tired of hearing all this crap about pitbulls. honestly half of you wouldn't even know what a pitbull looks like. an American Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bulldog, or a Bull Terrier ARE NOT the American Pit Bull Terrier. you know the dog from The Little Rascals. I own a Doberman and an American Pit Bull Terrier. The gentleman who wrote this article has met them both, in fact he was petting my Pit Bull (whose name is Vita) and asked me what kind of dog she was. I told him she was a Pit Bull. he then became scared of her and stated he did not like Pit Bulls. you want to know something funny all of you Golden Retriever and Labrador owners? Your choice in breed of dog bites just as many people as Pit Bulls do. Furthermore all who are for BSL (breed specific legislation) better take a good look at what you are supporting, your hunting dogs are on the list as well. the list has been trimmed down to 75 breeds now. don't believe me? check it out for yourself.

http://www.dogpolitics.com/my_weblog/2007/05/list_of_banned_.html

if people bothered to take the time to look things up correctly and didn't just go with the hype them you would've found American Temperament Test Society. what's this temperament society all about? they are the only NON-PROFIT organization to test the temperament of of beloved canine companions.

http://www.atts.org/

basically what i'm trying to say is that there are no bad dogs, just bad owners.

Jak

Posted Fri, Oct 9, 4:39 p.m. Inappropriate

oh i forgot to mention any breed scoring above 80% is considered to be a "sane" dog.

Jak

Posted Sat, Oct 10, 7:22 a.m. Inappropriate

The American Kennel Club (AKC) strongly supports dangerous dog control. Dog control legislation must be reasonable, non-discriminatory and enforceable as detailed in the AKC Position Statement.

To provide communities with the most effective dangerous dog control possible, laws must not be breed specific. Instead of holding all dog owners accountable for their behavior, breed specific laws place restrictions only on the owners of certain breeds of dogs. If specific breeds are banned, owners of these breeds intent on using their dogs for malicious purposes, such as dog fighting or criminal activities, will simply change to another breed of dog and continue to jeopardize public safety.

Strongly enforced dog control laws such as leash laws, generic guidelines for dealing with dangerous dogs and increased public education efforts to promote responsible dog ownership are all positive ways to protect communities from dangerous dogs. Increasing public education efforts is significant because it helps address the root cause of the problem --- irresponsible dog owners.

The AKC and the purebred dog fancy have worked together to promote non-breed specific dangerous dog control legislation throughout the country. Concerned dog lovers are encouraged to serve on or start animal control advisory boards to monitor problems and help develop reasonable solutions to dangerous dog issues. The AKC can help by providing model legislation that can be tailored to the needs of individual communities.

Jak

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