Monday, December 30, 2013

Your Argument is Invalid

Has accomplished more in five years than many people ever will.
Photo courtesy Jennifer Kelley

Five years ago today, the great mass of 189 canine crime victims (plus those in utero) were forcibly removed from Dog Hell as envisioned by Hieronymus Bosch.

Previous victims of the same offender had been "rescued" by those guys who fuck up your day when you see their guilt-dunning commercials.

If by "rescued" one means "confiscated and summarily killed."

An awful lot of people figured that should have happened to the ONB dogs, too.  Said so. Sometimes in print.*

Nobody was saying that about my friend Mr. Barry White last week, as he held sofa-court at his owner's annual full-house-of-guests holiday party.

(Sorry about the crummy phone-photo. His throne room was candle-lit.)

Even the most jealous agility rival doesn't wish dead  the adopted dogs who beat them at the trials.

Sky can grab some of her namesake.
Photo courtesy of Rachel Roper

Blue. Not scared of you.
Photo courtesy of Jody Richwagen
The Ralph Lauren photo shoot personnel didn't wish it about their lovely ES model, Katydid. (Katy got her modeling gig based on wholesome good looks, charm, and solid training -- she didn't need any politically-correct special consideration as a "rescue dog.")

Get my good side. Ha ha. They're all good sides.
Photo Courtesy of Jane Connors
The farmers and ranchers whose ONB dogs slipped right into their birthrights to help with the cows and sheep, goats and chickens, generally do not think everyone would be better off if they were dead.

Skeeter put in an application for a farm or ranch position back in 2009.
Photo courtesy of Liz Dickinson.
Those who figured they were adopting pets are not sorry that their dogs have opened up new realms to them.

Libby, at lessons.
Photo courtesy of Rob McMillin

Contrary to popular perception, not all of them were English shepherds. No matter. We love them no less. Even when they eat rocks.

Jet and his boy.
Photo courtesy of Melinda King.

Absolutely nobody at the search this spring where Cole made his first find -- located our missing man's mortal remains where previous searchers had failed to do so -- suggested that the cheerful little black dog ought to have died for the convenience of his "rescuers," or for his own good, or to save the taxpayers money. Not the police, not the bereaved family, not the firefighters or the media or the other search teams, and especially not his teammates.

In the command post with his friends just before the very last task,
tired after days of searching, but game to do his duty.
Cole does not leave a man behind.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Kelley

* The op-ed to which I am replying in this letter-turned-op-ed does not show up when I search The Outpost's site. Not sure whether their archives don't go back that far or what. If anyone has a link to it, please send along.


  1. I'll probably embarrass myself if I say too much, but ONB was one of those transformative events that makes you glad to be alive.

  2. Nicely done, as always, Heather. Don and I will always be grateful for having Barry White in our lives and for the joy of watching him just be a "normal" dog. Thanks for making that possible.

  3. Thank You Heather. I have never had the chance to meet you to thank you in person, but someday at one of the gatherings, I will. I first found out about ONB around the 2nd week in January 2009, put in an application and followed the entire process through the Billings Gazette. It has been a privilege to have the opportunity to share with such a great group of people... AND... THE... DOGS!
    Liz Dickinson


    photos in url above

    Ida five years hence:
    - When I picked Ida up at the airport I did as directed: Ida remained in her crate when I put the crate in the car and when I brought the crate into my car. Once inside I opened the crate door and offered her food and water. She stayed in that crate, carefully checking things out for over 2 hours. When she exited the crate she made a beeline for the sectional couch and immediately peed. I believe that she had already determined that the corner section of the couch was her safest bet. That was the only time there was an accident in the house.
    - It took several weeks of her meals being hand fed to her (initially, with my hand behind my back and my face turned away) before she figured out that I was merely feeding her and did not wish to eat her and that this was a safe place for her to eat.
    - At first she had no interest in toys. After my other 2 dogs began enticing her to play, she began playing with toys. Today, she has some favorite toys.
    - Though she does not like people she does not know to approach her, she doesn’t run away. In fact, she’ll occasionally and cautiously sniff some people.
    - She no longer runs away when I shut the lid on my laptop.
    - She not only accepts pets and scritchies from family members and close friends, but she will come up and ask for them.
    - She has accepted the clicker as a harbinger of goodies, not a sound to run away from as fast as she can.
    - Grooming is no longer something to be endured. In fact, if she sees me using a brush or comb on the other dog, she will come up and ask for her turn.
    - She snuggles. Especially if it’s ‘cold.’ Note: no more Montana winters for Ida. She’s a totally Southern California dog and prefers to stay in her house, optimally on mom’s bed, if it gets down into the 40s or below.
    - Going through doors is no longer the huge issue it once was. She still likes to go very quickly through doors and will sometimes balk at (to her) strange doors. (note: it can take a long time before Ida considers a person or a place to not be strange, but it’s getting better).
    - Possibly best of all: when I come home I’m greeted by a wiggly, tail-wagging, happy little dog. In fact she can hear my car, and is often waiting at the door.
    - All of this is such a long ways from the frightened dog that bolted her crate and peed on the couch.
    - Cecilia and Ida

  5. Gosh, every time I read about those ONB dogs, and all the folks who worked with them, and how successful they've become. I just get all teary..... or as Heather once put it...something about coming from "weepy Irish stock".
    Congratulations to you all...please pass the Kleenex.

  6. Great story Heather!
    I couldn't find the original post by Clawson either. The only thing I could suggest is to use the original url (if you still have it) and plug it into the Wayback Machine:


  7. Someday, I hope I can devote the time to have a "search og" like yours...

  8. Yes, yes and yes. Through the amazing transformations of these incredible dogs, along with the updates of the Brandywine pack, I have decided that an English Shepherd is indeed in my future.

    Also thanks to the Brandywine pack I am more convinced than ever that the chronology will be "farm first, dog to follow". While my two cattle dog mixes fare very well in the city with much hard work (that we wouldn't trade for anything) I am committed to providing the most ideal home possible, to allow the dog to blossom to the best of their abilities.

    The beginning of this real obsession was when the true nature of these dogs was tested in the most horrific of circumstances. Not to say that most dogs, with the proper efforts, couldn't bounce back, but to see an entire kennel not only be adopted but go on to be priceless farm hands, SAR dogs, therapy dogs, and just damn fine family members speaks volumes for this breed.

    Now the goal is to make myself worthy of bringing one home. I would love to see them spread into Canada, in a responsible fashion. where there are lots of livestock to be tested on, and healthy working dogs are harder and harder to come by.

    Apologies for the length, but this seizure affected me very deeply, particularly when it came to your dedication and strength in fighting for these dogs.

    The dog world needs more common sense advocates like yourself, who aren't afraid to ruffle feathers to ensure that the dogs always come out on top.

    Please please please tell me there's a book (or two or three) in your future?

    1. Kim -- there are several good breeders in Canada.

      Just FYI -- young Charlotte will be the first Brandywine ES born on the farm.

      Rosie was a teenage pup when we moved here, and Cole was about ten months old when he came as a foster, and we raised a litter of Brandywine pups here in 2011 -- but Charlie is the first permanent packmate to first draw breath within earshot of roosters crowing.

      And yet all of them slid into their roles in farm life, poultry, and livestock duties like they'd been doing it from the whelping box.

      I see the same thing with some of my fosters.

  9. Slightly off-topic, but thought you might find this discussion of people who think they mean well and what we can, in fact, know about dogs, interesting.


  10. Heather, thanks again for this great piece. My bro is thinking about getting a pup, after many years of doglessness. He just told me this on the phone, has called one breeder already (he's looking at Tollers) and first words outta my mouth were "Hang on; I *have* to send you this great guide to good breeders!"

    Link duly emailed.
    Thank you!


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