Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Doggie and the Kitty

Our Doggie is an Australian Cattle Dog, often called "Heelers." They are common in our area. They are not really recommended as family pets. They are working dogs. They round up cattle. They tend to be aggressive towards other dogs, and need to be exercised daily. They respond very well to training and are very obedient -- if you train them. They are smart.

They were bred in Australia from Dingos and a variety of other dogs, including Dalmatians. The idea was to get a dog that could herd cattle in the hot dry conditions of the outback. Dingos cannot be legally removed from Australia, but some people (not ranchers) think that Heelers are Dingos. Every now and then we will have someone ask us if Doggie is a "Dingo Dog" and tell us that they met a "Dingo Dog" at someone's ranch a year ago.

Doggie is very sweet to people. She has several male dog friends with whom she loves to play. She has killed a pet cocketiel (in her defense she was sitting politely while Hubby held onto her collar when the cockatiel practically flew into her mouth). She has also killed some sort of weasel animal in the backyard and once brought down a crow.

Kitty and Doggie want to play. Kitty dives under furniture and waits for Doggie to look away. He (Kitty) then charges out, runs through Doggie's legs, and then dives under another piece of furniture. Doggie's part of the game seems to be to attempt to stop Kitty. She pushes him over with her nose and tries to hold him down with her nose. Once she sat on Kitty. I have seen Kitty play with his brother and Doggie play with her pals. They both play exactly the same way: chase and tackle; a little bit of mouthing; release and repeat. They want to play that way with each other.

The problem of course is that Kitty is maybe 3 pounds while Doggie is 45.

We let them be in the same room for a few minutes every day. On one hand they are having a wonderful time. It is clear that this is a game. Doggie is being very gentle. On the other hand it would take about one second for the game to get out of hand and for Kitty to suffer badly.

So we watch them. The second that Doggie opens her mouth (probably to lick Kitty) we yell, "Doggie!" and she comes running and sits in front of us. (The first three times we called her we told her to sit and stay and kept her there until she was relaxed. She figured out the routine).

Their play is both adorable and anxiety-producing.

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