Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kenny B's Grandfather Passes on a Lesson in Dogs

Kenney B. writes:

Thank you ever so much for running a wonderful site. I am glad that someone has clearly stated what has been known for so long.

As a kid growing up I was around my Grandfather who raised Catahoula Cur dogs to work cattle on his farm. The dogs were used at least twice per week to bring cows from the woods to pens, for round ups to castrate calves, to pen cattle heading to the sale, to pen cows for worming and vaccination, and to hunt hogs that were turned loosed by a misguided hunter. This was a tradition, a way of life passed down from his father. When he was younger, and in his father's day, they had no free-range laws and the dogs were used to work cattle and hogs that were loose in the woods. He admits that it was a lot more work for everyone involved, back then, including the dogs.

I inherited coon hunting and hounds from my father. As a result. to compete in the events the dogs had to be registered with the Breed Club that you were hunting them in. So naturally I thought that the registered dogs were always better. Heck, registered dogs cost more; they must be better -- look what they are worth.

As I aged, I figured that I would provide my grandfather with a present. What better than a registered dog from the breed that he love, a Registered Louisiana Catahoula Cur. Boy I was proud of myself and just knew that Grandpaw would love the present. I am glad that he loved and cared for me regardless of the gift. It turned out to be a disaster and a great learning experience.

The dog turned out to be a complete buffoon. My grandfather knew it from the day that I gave him the dog and actually castrated the dog as soon as the testicles descended. I couldn't understand it. No other dog that he owned was castrated. Why in the world would he castrate the "well breed registered dog" that I bought him? The reason was he didn't want the pure breed stock to screw up his mixed up mutts! I now know that he only kept the dog because it was a present and he didn't want to hurt my feelings. I had seen him knock better dogs in the head because he wasn't feeding an animal that couldn't do the job he kept them to do. As it turns out the dogs was almost deaf and really very unintelligent.

That is when Paw Paw began to school me on dogs.

You don't own a dog that doesn't have a purpose.

You don't keep a dog that can't perform the job he was bred to do.

Paper is for wiping your rear, not to show how good a dog is, that is proven (can't be shown on paper) when you put him to work.

Never buy a dog from someone who just raises and sells dogs.

. . . and much more than I couldn’t have learned else where

Then he began to tell me how the registered dogs had all kinds of problems. Most people that owned them didn't even use them except for decoration and a conversation piece. He said he didn't want dogs from people that didn't know what a dog was for. Then he went on talking about how people liked dogs with certain colors, glass eyes, and all kinds of features. He knew he wanted a dog that could work. He would breed his dogs to others dogs that really worked and it wasn't always a Catahoula Cur. Heck it didn't even have to be a "pretty dog". Some were fuzzy, funny colored, and could be considered ugly by someone who didn't know a damn thing about dogs. They might not have looked it to the untrained eye, but the dogs were healthy, structurally sound, weren't too big, could work in the heat for hours on end, and they were beautiful to anyone who needed to get the cows into the pen. They were the real deal. He wasn't in the business of raising and selling dogs. He raised cattle and used dogs as a tool.

He knew something 30 years ago as common knowledge, and he passed the information on to anyone who had an interest and capability to understand what he was speaking about.

Since then, my dealing with dogs became a lot more fun. I began to enjoy the dogs again. I found pleasure and happiness in mutts. Some of my best remembered hunts came behind a dog whose father was only known as “The neighbor’s sneaky damn cattle dog” (according to Grandpaw). I gave up the high dollar hunting dog meets, and politics that go with it. Even then my dad wouldn't let us show the dogs in the beauty contest. He knew that didn't matter and in the words of a many a coon hunter "The bullshit stops when the tailgate drops".

I have now found a love for the terriers. They don't eat as much as those big old hounds. I ain't ever had to chase one all night to get him off a deer. They are easily accepted by others and don't look vicious. They do well with the family and live with us rather than in the kennel out back. They tree coons and possums, hunt squirrels, they can run a rabbit, they do it all, and most deer hunter don't mind me chasing critters where they deer hunt. With the walkers and blueticks. they were always scared that they were going to run the deer out of the country.

It goes on and on. I too have seen the ruin of many a breed of dog by the registering bodies. Just like people a dog can't be judged by who his daddy was.

I have enjoyed finding like minded people as you.



Thank YOU, Kenny!

A great letter and a great lesson in dogs. Thanks for passing it on, in more ways than one!
. .


Ben Rebel said...

A wonderful letter about and by true "dog men." We learn so much from our grandparents. My grandfather was also a devoted dog man running beagles and fox terriers in field trials. I wish he were still with us so that I could learn even more from him.

Sean said...

Hear him! I have a gun dog who has a job and loves it. He is a field bred english cocker as they do the work of the springer for less poop in the yard.

I wish that some rich old codger would leave some money for a stud book that would run trials to test a significant number of dogs so that we would have a large gene pool of proven dogs from which to breed. The work to be tested should be described. NOT THE DOG. If a mutt or a border collie can flush birds, stay in gun range, and be steady, it competes. Period.

Seahorse said...

Fantastic letter from Kenny! The usefullness of an animal, even if it's "only" a pet, is the thing. Yes, I like a good-looking animal, and I should have what I want if I'm going to foot the bill. But, I've owned stunningly gorgeous horses who were chronically lame, or completely nuts, and it sure made my "grade" horses (non-papered, of undetermined origin) who were wonderful to work look like the prizes. Having said that, I think you can have it all: attractive, great disposition, sound, and useful. Why not?


HurricaneDeck said...

A fantastic tale about how NOT to buy a dog. Papers don't make a working (or a pet for that matter) dog - they just tell you who it's ancestors are. AKC has done a great job at duping the public into believing that AKC Pedigrees = quality, when, very often, nothing is further from the truth.

EMac said...

The same thing applies to horses. We used to have a saying at our barn. "You don't ride *pretty*". And "using" horses are being ruined just as dogs are, especially when there are color registries, blue eye registries, etc. that don't take conformation or temperment into consideration, so that the "krazy kolor breeders" are justified breeding ANYTHING because it's a "purty kolor". *sigh*


smartdogs said...

"Paper is for wiping your rear, not to show how good a dog is, that is proven (can't be shown on paper) when you put him to work."

This is my favorite quote of the week!