Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Ben, Coyotes, etc.

Ben a few months ago was in the habit of chasing every coyote he saw, but then a coyote, perhaps a pregnant female, chased him away from her den and Ben became a new dog.  He looked back toward the coyote in the same way he looks at 25-pound Duffy on occasion.  He was chastised.  It was a social thing.  Since then he has not chased a single coyote; which is what I prefer.  All my Ridgebacks chased coyotes when they were young but at some point gave it up. 

On our last hike we were walking along next to some brush when several coyote pups began howling at us.  “Come on Ben, Duffy,” I said and urged them away from the brush.  I knew Duffy would come but I wasn’t positive about Ben.  In the past he would have gone into the brush to check things out, but in the past he had never had to deal with a coyote den.  This time he followed me away from the brush.  He exhibited no hackles – no big deal.  We’ll just leave them alone. 

It may be too soon to be absolutely sure, but this concern about Ben’s behavior at the river seems to have been alleviated, and much in the same way that Duffy taught Ben what was acceptable and what was not.  It wasn’t a matter of dominance or prey drive (IMO), but a social matter.

But then a new concern has arisen.   Susan is very ill and a few months ago she reached a stage where they started preparing her to be put on the List for a new liver.  She had to undergo a number of tests; so I was driving her to these various test facilities and the follow-ups at doctors offices often two or three times a week.  I didn’t have time and didn’t have the energy to take the dogs on hikes.  Interestingly, Ben and Duffy both ran about the house and yard when we got home and didn’t seem to mind not going on hikes or walks.  Once the round of tests had been completed it was back to hiking as usual.  We were all three a bit out of shape for long hikes but we are almost back to normal.  One day last week, I had to go to the store and it was too hot to take the dogs.  Susan reported later that Ben cried and paced anxiously up and down the whole time I was gone.   I’m not sure what to make of that.  Maybe Duffy didn’t behave similarly because he has a long-standing relationship with Susan, but Susan has been virtually bed-ridden the entire time we’ve had Ben so perhaps as a consequence he relates only to me. 

Back when we first got Ben, he didn’t mind if I drove to the store by myself, but now he does.  When I first got him he loved everyone.  He still makes a fuss over our guests, but if I go up stairs and leave them to Susan, Ben will follow me up.  He needs a rabies shot in a few days.  Will he complain when the Vet’s assistant leads him off to give him the shot? 

This “problem” is no-doubt exacerbated by my being retired and available to him almost constantly.  He is “high-maintenance,” more-so than any of my other Ridgebacks, but not more than Duffy who takes his role as “lap-dog” very seriously.  I might read the paper or work on my computer in the morning but at some point Duffy wants me to go to my lounge chair so he can sit in my lap; or if I insist on staying at my desk, he wants up into my lap and will find a way to rest his head on my desk while I’m doing whatever.  Ben on the other hand wants lots of petting, brushing, playing with toys.  He’ll put a toy in my lap while I’m at my desk hoping I’ll get up and throw it down the hall for him.  And, of course he knows which drawer the treats are in.

In discussions about whether an individual Ridgeback will protect his or her owner if the occasion warranted, I was doubtful about my last two Ridgebacks, especially Ginger, and Ben is at least as convivial as Ginger was; so I doubted he would be protective, but his need for me to be handy at all times recently (or at least noticed only recently) perhaps indicates a change.  While I don’t like him crying while I am away at a store, his behavior at least indicates that I am important to him.  It may consequently indicate that he wouldn’t stand idly by if I were threatened.

1 comment:

lrbates said...

I have a male that is also too attached, but would absolutely protect me and my husband if warranted. In the meantime he is the goofiest friendly RR I have ever met. And hates separation!

We too have coyotes and have lost chickens when we let our guard down, the dogs(3 RR's 11,5 and 2) only chase them out of our yard, otherwise they ignore them.

Lynne Bates