Thursday, February 12, 2015

Berkeley Defined

While Berkeley was by all appearances an excellent Golden Retriever, he had some quirks, non-retriever-like quirks.  We had a wonderful outsized Golden prior to Berkeley's time in our home from whom we learned much about the behaviors of the breed.  I wrote about Dundee here.

My earlier post advised you that Berkeley was well-behaved and properly trained.  It was not until we got to the lake place that we discovered the missing element in his training.  The dog had not been broken to leash.  When we first attached the leash to his collar he set his feet and refused to budge.  Using the choke-chain, I literally dragged the dog down the lane two or three yards, his feet cutting furrows into the gravel.  The fault was soon corrected, however, and the dog became an excellent walking companion.

I mentioned earlier that gunfire or firecrackers made the animal frantic.  And lightning?  Forget about it.  The dog would climb into the nearest lap and beg for mercy.  This was particularly annoying when the nearest lap belonged to the nonagenarian occupant of our home.  Mother was not amused; in fact, she could be described as frantic.  You get the picture.  This problem was finally alleviated when we directed the beast to the shower stall which was quite small and confining.  He found comfort and safety there, and eventually he would head to the shower whenever a thunderstorm approached.

Retrievers love the water and keeping them out of it is a challenge.  Of course, that is any retriever other than Berkeley.  He hated the water, could not abide so much as wet feet.  It was a major chore to get him into the lake for a shampoo, and a greater task to keep him in there long enough to rinse the suds out of his fur.  This phobia was abated somewhat by the spawning season of the fish in the lake.  The nature of the sunfish impelled the creature to come near the shore, fan a nest into existence in the sand where the female would lay her eggs.  In turn, the male would fertilize the roe, then stay to guard the nest until the hatchlings arrived.  This little fish swimming guard on his nest was what attracted Berkeley to the water.  He would stand transfixed for the longest time, watching the show.  But eventually it was too much and he felt obligated to take a swipe.  This got his paw wet, and eventually he decided that if he were to wade into the water he might have a better chance of catching a fish.

That was successful to the extent that his big old foot standing in the middle of fish nest was annoying to the fish.  Frantic bumping and nipping at the offending intruder resulted.  Otherwise, Berkeley failed in his attempts to catch the fish, but like all fishermen, he would return another day to engage in his sport.

It should be understood that Berkeley was not the only canine inhabitant of our domicile, as Spot was already a resident when he arrived.  They accommodated one another early on though little love was lost between them.  We had just concluded that each had accepted the other when one afternoon, having let them into the fenced yard, I glanced through the kitchen window just in time to see  that Berkeley had Spot down and was clearly intent on finishing him off.  I hollered, "Berkeley is killing Spot," and ran for the door.  I got to the animals in time to save Spot's life, but not before Berkeley had torn the scalp loose from Spot's head.

Plastered the scalp down, and it reattached, so no lasting harm.  They lived peacefully together several years thereafter until Spot's demise at the age of fifteen.

7 comments:

Vee said...

Who ever recommended that a household should have two dogs? Some dogs were born to be "only children."

Jim Grey said...

Holy frijoles! I'm not sure, in my home, that Berkeley would have continued as a member of the family after his murder attempt. While I was married, we had a cat who attacked (unprovoked) my youngest son as a toddler; he still bears a facial scar from it. I declared the cat done for. My ex would have none of it and it stayed. It was a sticking point for us for years.

vanilla said...

Vee, two dogs worked well for us, but for this anomaly

Jim, shucks, B just thought Spot was a chew toy. Seriously, they got along fine ever after. We did take in one dog that was too domineering, had to go.

Lin said...

Yikes! Poor Spot! I think B would scare me if I had kids. Wouldn't want to take a chance of him doing that to a kid.

We had a dog that was afraid of water too. He was terrified when we'd give him a bath with the hose!

vanilla said...

Lin, Berkeley never offered to bother a human, adult or child. Grandkids wallowed all over him. Spot, on the other hand. . .

Sharkbytes said...

Dogs with quirks can provide serious entertainment (and the occasional real problem!)

vanilla said...

Sharkey, quirky animals tend to be interesting, if sometimes problematic.