Saturday, May 10, 2008


Originally uploaded by rikkis_refuge
Jack is a Mascot and has free range of the refuge. This is the luckiest class of dogs, and everyone gets a chance. In order to be a Mascot you have to make two promises. First you must promise not to eat any other residents. This means other dogs, cats, horses, sheep, chickens, ducks or anybody else. This is a hard promise for a lot of dogs. Small animals are natural prey for many. Most dogs must have been raised around farm animals, especially the birds, from puppy hood in order to not naturally think of them as the next meal.

Dogs have a strong protective pack mentality and the instinct to band together with "yours" and keep "them" out of your territory is hard wired in. Mascots must be protective but not aggressive. Barking or growling at an intruder is their "job". But they are expected to be civil enough to not attack. And they must be secure enough not to attack each other over a toy or food or anything else.

The second promise they must make is to not run away. You'd think with 367 acres it'd be an easy promise. But for some they want to run and explore miles away. Some of the old hunting hounds enjoyed running with the pack chasing down animals so much that when they hear a gunshot on an adjoining property they're off to join in the fun. Others get a scent of something that strolled by in the night and will follow it off. Most would probably eventually return. But the rule in the country is an unfamiliar dog on your property is something to shoot. This sounds very harsh until you learn that most animals belonging to people who are killed by other animals are killed by someone's wandering dog. Once someone has watched an animal of theirs die at the jaws of someone else's dog - they don't wait to see if the next dog coming by is friendly.

Doggy Downs has enclosures for groups of dogs to live in family like settings. We try to mix and match and find the most harmonious group of dogs for each enclosure. The third group of dogs is the Old Poodles (and others of small size) who share space with some of the cats and have an indoor section with a doggy door to go outside when they want too. Obviously to be in this group you must get along with other dogs and cats.

Photo by Kerri Williams, Magpi Studios 540-760-2388

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