Monday, 24 May 2021

Rosy, speak! Little dog (almost) lost in the forest

The dogs and I enjoyed a bit of an adventure on Friday evening. 

I was heading off to dinner so we didn't have too much time but I headed to a section of indigenous forest that I really enjoy (pretty plus lots of fungi). My plan was to hit a nice loop and make it home in time for a quick shower before going out.

We found some fungi, took photos and were a bit behind schedule but all was pretty normal. And then... Rosy had been ahead of me. I must have heard her bark and as I looked up I saw her little black dog body in full-out running posture and ahead of her the white flash of the tail of an antelope. Not again!

Within seconds they were around the bend and at least 150m ahead of me. Rusty had charged ahead, stopped to look for me and then trotted on. By the time I got to the bend, there was no sign of Rosy except that I could hear her barking some distance inside the bush.

The area where we were used to be a forest plantation. I don't know whether the trees were felled or whether the forest was burned, but either way the forest blocks are now thick with bracken, black wattle, thorny brambles and lots of branches and logs. You can't see more than three to five metres inside.

I walked along the forest track for a bit, calling "Rosy come!", a command to which she usually responds. I stood around for a bit too. Calling and listening. Rosy was quiet - something that this little dog is not.

I figured that initially she was barking at the antelope but her bark had been different. When she got quiet, I began thinking that she was injured. Unless the antelope was lying in a tangled heap, it would be long gone. There had to be another reason that she was not coming to me. An injured paw? A broken limb? Impaled on a sharp stick? 

Rusty and I made for the corner of the forest block, coming up the other track to look for a better spot to head in to look for Rosy. We made good progress initially but unable to hear Rosy, I really was going in blind and didn't know where to head.

And then I had an idea.

A few weeks ago I taught the dogs 'Speak' and 'Quiet'. My objective was actually to teach talkative Rosy to be quiet on command. In order to teach 'quiet', she needed to know which command her talking falls under - in this case 'Speak'.

I shouted into the bush "Rosy, speak!" and got a squeak in return. Again, and then an answer. Rusty and I got held up at a dense section so we backtracked and headed back to the original track, trying again to get through at a spot that didn't look too bad.

I called to Rosy, letting her know that we were still there and that we were coming. Rusty and I crawled beneath bracken and over logs, taking care not to get too ripped by the thorny barbs of a bramble-like plant. Rusty did amazingly, finding us animal-sized spaces to crawl through. 

We got to a point where I could hear Rosy's soft responses but could not yet see this all-shadow black dog. I stood up, turned and looked into a small 'clearing' and there she sat, looking very, very sorry for herself. She didn't even come to me when I called. So I went to her and as I stretched out my hand she came to my side. She thankfully was not injured at all.

My theory is that Rosy completely lost her mind when she chased the antelope. She has a high-prey drive which makes her crazy for balls and chasing antelope, bunnies, seagulls and ducks. She isn't a hunter and she won't hurt them. They run, she runs. She followed and ran into the bush and then found herself trapped on all sides in the vegetation. She did not know what to do or where she was. It is curious that she didn't try to come to me as she could clearly hear me out on the track. The location of her barks and answers didn't change so I think she sat in the same place the whole time.

It had taken me 30 minutes to get to her and we only had about 20 minutes of daylight left. 

My Rusty girl then showed her uncanny trail sense. I'd been planning to get out the way we'd come in. Not far from where we found Rosy, I lost both dogs - I didn't know through which crawl space they'd gone. I called and Rusty came back to find me, leading me off to the side and not straight ahead.

My clever girl linked our new track with the initial one coming from the other track into the bush! Once past the dense stuff it was a shorter and easier exit. So proud of my dog!

We ran all the way back to my car - all of us safe and sound. The dogs, with their furry coats, were no worse for wear. Me, with my human skin, picked up some bramble scratches.

Rosy's behaviour has been exemplary these past few days. I think her adventure on Friday evening was a bit of a surprise and shock. We haven't seen another antelope since and I'm not entirely convinced that this crazy little dog can keep her head - but she does try.

I took the dogs paddling on Sunday morning. Rosy was a gem and is finally taking to her place on the front of my kayak. Rusty's spot is behind me - she is such a chilled passenger.

Calm water. Calm dog.

That face!

My special girl.

When we got Rosy from the SPCA she was listed as a border collie cross. She looks like a small version of a border collie but she is all black, without any of those distinctive border collie white flashes, which are strong genetic traits. She certainly has the temperament of a border collie.

Last week, our dog school teacher was researching dog breeds and came across the Markiesje, an old dog breed. 

She sent me a whatsapp saying, "Google 'Dutch Tulip Dog/Hound'".

"OMG! That's Rosy!" I replied.

This description from Wagwalking totally suits our Rosy.

These are generally very friendly little animals who love everyone, and thrive on attention but don’t tend to be particularly demanding about it. The Markiseje is gentle and playful with other dogs as well as with children of all ages, and although all interactions between small children and canines should be monitored, this breed is generally very trustworthy with the younger set. They are not prone to separation anxiety when left home alone, and they are generally well behaved when taken out in public as well. While this dog’s smaller size and cuteness make it popular as a family pet, they are also willing to do the work of a gun dog, easily taking to retrieving small game or game birds. These small dogs are typically too friendly to make an appropriate guard dog, but due to their alert natures, they often excel in the role of watchdog, alerting their family to any perceived threats and dangers. 

The Markiseje is a moderately active breed that needs to get around an hour of vigorous activity each day in order to keep them happy and healthy. These dogs can keep up on most walks and jogs, but they may also enjoy or possibly excel at several other canine activities as well, such as swimming, agility training, or canine freestyle dance. While these dogs are on the smaller side, they are often inappropriate as pets in smaller living environments such as apartments due to their higher activity and noise levels than some other dogs and are more likely to thrive in a larger home with a fenced yard.

We're going to go with this instead of 'border collie cross'.

Rosy is very, very smart. We're really settling in nicely now at dog school and she impresses each week. Where Rusty is a total natural, Rosy has to work harder to focus as she can be easily distracted by other dogs and people. She really tries to please. Sweet dogs. 

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