Saturday, April 25, 2009

Clean up Time in the Cemetery

The dogs and I have been walking through the cemetery these past few days, a change from walking along the marsh. There is lots of activity as people are busy cleaning up gravesites in preparation for the day of remembrance which I think is the first Sunday in May. Piles of detritis from last summer's flowers and winter's deadfalls as well as last years plastic wreaths and bouquets are appearing in stratigic locations throughout the cemetery for removal and burning. The smell of fresh paint fills the air as the little iron fences get touched up.

The dogs love the cemetery at this time of year because they can usually find food. Left behind lunches or food offerings left on the gravesites. Haven't seen any vodka offerings yet but when the dogs start drinking liquids left in glasses... Not sure how the living or the dead take to the dogs racing around and doing cutting horse turns in fresh dirt. They do stop to smell the flowers, though. Especially the plastic ones. Then they mark them in true dog style.

If there are other dogs around (usually strays), Volk and Bobik will race after them if the other dogs run away. If they don't run, then my dogs will race back to me. If it runs, chase. If it chases, run. Simple rules of survival. Our neighbour breeds German Shepherds for the military and police market. She was out walking one of their males on a leash. The Shepherd was the size and colouring of a black bear. I saw it across the field and so did Bobik and Volk as their bodies stiffened right up. Then they "pretended they didn't see it" and continued on with romp and play. Some things are not worth investigating, I guess.

The mutts have been behaving extraordinarily well lately. After the first dust-up in October when we had to call the vet to patch them up, they spent the winter trying to kill each other at any opportunity. Volk got the worst of it from the first big fight on and by spring he was one whipped puppy. He would cower in a corner and wouldn't come to me as any attention from me would elicit a beating from Bobik. He used to run off and not come home after walks. I'd find him huddled in the yard several hours later.

The first part of March, a friend from Canada was visiting and we decided to put Volk on a leash so he wouldn't run off. We used a small soft rope to make a collar and lead and as we led him out of their yard, Bobik tried to kill him again. Too much attention for Volk. We got them separated and I left them apart for several hours, then didn't take them for a walk for two weeks.

When I finally took them for a walk again they were like two different dogs. Volk had his confidence back. He and Bobik play together, even wrestling in fun. Volk comes home after our walk and willingly goes into their yard. He even comes when I call him. Bobik accepts when I pay attention to Volk as long as I don't ignore him.

They must have figured tying a rope around Volk's neck was some kind of sign of respect from us humans? I can't figure them out.


  1. Nice that your dogs are smart enough to show due deference to a "bear," and (now) to each other.

    This is all sounding very positive.

  2. Any idea why they changed? How could a rope leash for less than five minutes make a difference?

  3. As a livestock specialist, you know as well as I do that some animals are dumber than posts, and some are smarter the people (well, a lot of people).

    You've already explained your own puzzlement (as Dr. Foth said). Some humans put some rope around Volk's neck. Bobik saw that, thought he didn't apparently understand it. However, when he tried to simply play by the same "old" rules of his "dynamic" with Volk, there were "consequences." (Yanked apart; two weeks in jail.) So Bobik, being at least as smart as his owner, thought: "Hmmmm . . . new neckware, new rules, new game, new dynamic, new relationship."

    As Charles Schultz might have put it: "The Bear is in; 5¢ please."


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