Friday, July 15, 2011

Prey drive

Fozzie's most recent applicant was a woman who sounded absolutely wonderful. Lifelong dog lover, lived with pooches all her life, has a mere four of them now. Lots of space, lets the dogs on the bed, no young children or cats. Works at home, on a farm north of Baltimore, two grown kids live and work with her. Sounds like paradise!

Tempting hors-doeuvres for a certain pit mix
One small catch. This farm she lives on? Its a horse farm--and she wants a dog to be able to hang out in the barn with her. The other four are apparently not to be trusted around horses (they include a pit, a min pin, a heeler, and a terrier of some sort) and she misses canine companionship when she's out with the equine people.

How is Fozzie around horses, she asked? Good question!

We know he's an eager mouser. A little too interested in Ingamar and Flower, and a menace to neighborhood feral cats when unsuspecting canvassers or Jehovah's witnesses come by and fail to latch the gate with the obsessive care I know to devote to it.

But horses? Aren't they just a lot--bigger--than a mouse or a cat or a budgie? Will that pit bull brain see a horse and register "Yum--lemme get it!" or "Whoa that's big! Get me out of here?" or--ideally--"That's very pretty! Let me lie down and watch for a while."

Only one way to find out. Saturday trip, up to Belair to the fabulous Fat Chance Farm with Fozzie. Beautiful place, way off the beaten path. Vast corrals on rolling hills with beautiful horsies grazing.

Kris was not there when we arrived, so we took a walk on one of the lovely trails through the woods and picked scads of raspberries. Got to hear Florian scream like a 12 year old girl when we saw a precious little garter snake.

And then...

Horses!

Running gaily, mom and foal together.

Lamar was quick to growl and bark, but Fozzie?

His response was more complex. Stopping, staring, definitely interested. Getting a good look, as if to make sense of it all. The horses were definitely interested in the dogs, coming closer to check them out. Or maybe they were interested in us, since they probably have a clear association of humans=carrots/apples/oats/yummy horse snacks.

And when they got close enough....that's when Fozzie got a little too excited. Then we got the good ol' Fozzie rearing up, yodeling, and barking.

So Kris and I agreed that Fozzie is probably not the best candidate for a horsie companion, despite my hopes.

The whole thing has given me a chance to learn more about prey drive. What is prey drive? There is a good discussion of it over at the Happy Pit Bull Blog. Working dogs need it to work, and it can be channeled into productive dog activities like Disk Dog and Agility.

I was not expecting that a horse would figure in a doggie brain just like a rabbit or a parakeet..but I suppose Fozzie is smart enough to know who the herbivores are.

Back to the drawing board, Fozzie! I hope we can find another adopter who will love you, give you lots of space to run and cuddle, but who has no tempting fauna for you to get into trouble with!

2 comments:

  1. Hey- will you pass this family our way? Maybe send them our blog URL and suggest that they check out our also-brindle, also-pittie, also-beautiful, also-local foster? I wonder if Stevie could be a good fit for them. She does have a small animal prey drive, but she is VERY timid and respectful over all. I would be surprised if she were bad around horses.

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  2. I think they already found another dog! But you're right, Stevie might have been perfect :) I will let them know just in case!

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