Writing on this blog five days a week is work. Make no mistake about that. Coming up with fresh and new ideas is always a challenge, especially for someone like me. I’m very self critical about my writings. It always amazes me about the articles that get the most responses. Sometimes the ones that I’ve spent the most time on are not necessarily the ones that most people respond to. Sometimes the ones that I’m not the fondest of are the ones that people respond to and like the best. Go figure!
One of my favorite things about writing on my blog is the people that I get to “meet” that respond to some of my articles. There are worlds of fascinating people out there that share their love of the German Shepherd Dog and what makes it even more fascinating is the way they live and share their lives with their dogs. Not everyone that reads this blog is a show person, an obedience person or a dog trainer. But one thing that they are is a lover of the German Shepherd. Writing this blog brings many different German Shepherd people together and makes us realize that it’s not just about you and me. It’s about them and those as well!
One such person that I’m delighted to have made an acquaintance with is one of my newer readers. He’s responded to some of my articles that I’ve written and I was drawn to look him up on his own blog that he writes. I was taken with this mans lifestyle that he and his lovely wife have chosen to live with their three dogs that they adopted from rescue……two German Shepherds and a Border/Collie mix. These German Shepherd lovers have chosen to live their lives with their dogs in God’s country….in the wilderness. His pictures on his blog tells the story of how they live in their beautiful cabin and of their “neighbors” that happen to trespass on their property from time to time……..black bears, mountain lions and wolfs to name just a few. Do check out Bruce and Carol McElmurray's blog and look at their pictures of their cabin and their lifestyle. Bruce is a down to earth kind of writer…….hmmmmm similar to his lifestyle. You can check it out here: www.brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com/. Oh yeah and Bruce just wrote to tell me that one of his articles was just published in “Mother Earth News” in the Aug/Sept issue that comes out on 7/20. I can’t wait to read it. I hope everyone gets a change to read it as well.
I asked Bruce if he would write an article as a guest writer for my blog. I am thrilled that he did just that and I share it here with you now. Okay Bruce, take over…..
TRAINING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
We live in the mountains of S. Colorado at 9,750', in a rather remote area with our two German Shepherd dogs and our Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix. Bozwell is our 95# male GSD, Sarah our 65# female GSD and Gypsy our 60# mix. All are rescues. Our property is heavily wooded and has two springs on it which attract various forms of wildlife. We see and encounter bear, mountain lion, coyote, wolves, lynx, bobcat, deer, elk, and a host of other animals on a fairly regular basis.
Maybe the most important element is that you need to have excellent rapport between you and your dogs. You are the pack leader and you want them to look to you first for who is in control of the situation. They also need to be flawless on walking on leash right beside you. If they are out in front of you that is an open invitation to disaster. Training is an ongoing process with us because no two situations are ever alike. The only time our dogs are off leash is in our fenced in back yard. We have a 6' steel fence which is an area for them to be relatively safe but still we are always with them, even in the back yard. A mountain lion can leap up to 15' and a deer can vault a 6' fence without any trouble. They also need to respond well to the command 'come'. Ours do and even when there are deer on the other side of the fence, given the 'come' command they will immediately come. That proved itself last year when a bear head suddenly appeared over a small hill just past the back yard. Bozwell did not see the bear but when given ‘come’ he came instantly.
How dangerous are these wild animals you may ask. Not dangerous at all as long as the human respects them and their territory and most of all remains calm. It also helps if you understand their ways and traits and know the potential danger sighs. Coyote's will lure a dog away into an ambush where it stands no chance. A swat from a bear will break bones and kill a person or dog. Wolves have much more powerful jaws than a domestic dog. Mountain lions will avoid humans but will track and stalk a dog by itself.
How close have I come to wild animals? I have been 8' and 30' respectively from mountain lions. Up close it is easy to see they are killing machines. When they curl that lip back, snarl and hiss at you with those yellow teeth it can be hard to stay calm but if you want to walk away you have to be calm and in control. You also have to look big and face them. Cower or run and you are dinner. Another time we were about 50 yards away walking behind a lion that was also walking down our road. I have been within 4-5" of a bear; nose to nose, with a flimsy pane of storm door glass between us. Had our GSD standing right next to me barked it could have been an ugly scene. Both the bear and I were surprised to see each other that way and up close. Always the key is to stay calm. Deer account for the injury and death of more dogs than most other wild animals. Those hooves can be deadly. It is foolish and very unwise to not have your dogs on leash where we live. Those who do allow their dogs to run loose invite disaster. We love our dogs far too much to put them at any risk.
So depending on where you live you should train your dogs to your environment. In our case basic commands are important but many times you need to improvise. Our dogs look to us for leadership and we need to meet that need. We are constantly on guard and aware of our surroundings. Different situations require different tactics. I can not express in words how much we love our dogs and we want them to have long and healthy and safe lives with us. By staying vigilant that will be the case.
Coghlans Bear Bell W/Silencer: Attaches to clothing or pack with a velcro strap. In the bag, the magnet eliminates any noise. Out, movement will cause a steady ringing to warn animals of your presence.
My rating: Living among animals and the wilderness: (4), Having guest writers: (4)