Spacefem (spacefem) wrote,

herd dog?

Recently Judy stayed with some friends of ours while we went out of town. They have a boxer and another dog, and they commented that Judy seems a lot more like a "herder" than their dogs. When she'd play with my friend she was just constantly on all sides of him, not as likely to go straight in and wrestle like their other dogs, just down low and moving from side to side and staring him down and then trying a new angle.

I asked on here about her breed a while back and you all pointed out the striking color similarities to swiss mountain dogs - herders. I mean she's clearly still a mix of other things, but the articles have me thinking a lot about what her instincts might be like just because of her genetics.

One thing I've said is that from day 1 she's been really good about the guinea pigs. She hasn't been easy to train on other fronts but we only had to tell her once to not growl at the piggies and she was instantly cool with that idea. Instead, she just kind of checks on them - stands by the cage watching them, tail wagging, sniffing them when they come over to her. She can hang out there and relax... as long as they're relaxed. But when they're stressed, like if they run out of food, or just had their nails clipped, or feel weird, they'll run around and pick fights with each other and squeak. And Judy cannot settle down. She'll hang out right by the pen and then pace around the house, it's woken me up in the middle of the night before. She doesn't bark, just will NOT chill out or sleep until their issues are resolved.

And two weeks ago we got a new guinea pig. His name is Ferdinand. I need to post up some pics, he's white with a black face, skinny but really cute. He's from the humane society like our other pigs (and dog!). There's a very well-defined protocol involved in introducing a new guinea pig into a herd of males, so ferdinand is in quarantine period right now, living the laid back lifestyle with no one messing with him, he's in his own cage in the other room.

Ferdinand hides in his little purple house whenever we walk by, it takes a long time for guinea pigs to warm up to humans. A friend of mine told me once that "herbivores just know we're not on the same side."

But Judy is a carnivore, and Ferdinand doesn't hide from Judy! He goes right up to the cage and sniffs her, and she sniffs him, and her tail wags and she just watches him. In fact since we brought Ferdinand home Judy has been oddly vigilant of the little guy. Judy comes inside, runs into the dining room, and stations herself for what's practically an hourly update. Tail wagging, nose sniffing, eye contact, this whole bit. I get this feeling like she's introducing him to the house somehow, telling him how it is here, helping him through this wtf period of a new place. Why do they get this communication to happen? Why is ferdinand interested in the dog, but only cares about me if I have food... and really not even then, he still stays in his house, it's a "just drop the food and leave" sort of attitude.

I'm finding the history of dogs to be really interesting, this idea that there's this whole species who is on earth just to relate well to another species. That's how they were domesticated, and why they're so diverse, and it's taken thousands of years but now they're here being everybody's best friend. I'm more impressed with all of them these days.
Tags: dog, guinea pigs
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