Monday, April 19, 2010

The Working Dog

They say that when you have a working dog it is imperative for the mental health of the dog that you let him do whatever his breed's job is. Border collies need to herd; retrievers need to retrieve; terriers need to terrorize. If you don't give them some kind of job that is suited to their breeding, you will in time have an unhappy, unfulfilled, even neurotic dog on your hands.

By now we understand that Zeek doesn't only want to hunt; he needs to hunt. He has the Jack Russell "code that explodes," driving him to seek quarry, especially (but not exclusively) underground. He is indeed drawn like a magnet to every hole, no matter how dark or dank...
From dirt & dogs

...and is fearless in the face of any prey, be it a mouse, a rabbit, or a javelina.

Once he discovered that there were goldfish in my backyard waterlily tub, there was no tearing him away from his newly claimed hunting ground. Earth? The terra for which the terrier is named? Who needs it? Are they alive, do they move, do they have necks which can be snapped? That's good enough for Zeek. In order to keep him from destroying the waterlilies when they return from winter dormancy...
From dirt & dogs

we made him a smaller, alternative golfish hunting tub of his very own, and stocked it with small feeder fish. At last, a backyard solution to his need to hunt! Now, this is all I ever see of my dog:
From dirt & dogs

Gone are the days when he'd sit happily for hours indoors playing Scrabble with me.
From dirt & dogs

As far as figuring out what Sprocket's job is in the world, he's new enough to us that we're still learning what he likes and what he could care less about. Predictably, the Assyrian Moth Hound likes to chase and catch things that fly.

He will go after a stick, even in water, but isn't interested in bringing it back. He isn't, after all, a retriever. He loves to run fast and far and seems fairly indefatigable. We were a little surprised, however -- because as far as we can see it has no links to his genetic affinities for hunting moths and running messages from camp to camp at night -- when he started exhibiting a particular aptitude for aurally detecting leaks in mountain bike tires.
From dirt & dogs

Obviously this will prove extremely useful for us, and if it keeps Sprocket occupied, fulfilled and happy, all the better!

Go here to see the Great Goldfish Hunter in action!



  1. What a kick and a half.

    In that last picture, I wonder if Sprocket doesn't show a bit of Australian Sandhound in his blood- "sss"-honing ear for finding the sand python, Aspidites ramsayi.

  2. very astute point! it's quite possible. in our extensive research about the Assyrian Moth Hound, we've learned that the breed shares genetic lineage with a strange and varied number of other beasts - miniature greyhound, red fox, wile e. coyote, meerkat, gremlin. it's a rather complex family tree!