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Despite this we stay- Feb. 12 2009

What Dogs Do

by Carol Dunn

HUERFANO- Dogs that are raised here may not be as appreciative of our rural surroundings as dogs who are transplanted from the city.  A dog that moves to Huerfano County from the city knows how desolate and hopeless the urban environment is.  The grass smells like fertilizer and pesticides.  The sidewalks have been washed down with soap.  The storm sewer grate smells like oil and garbage, the bad kind of garbage.  The fire hydrants have the markings of a thousand other dogs.  

    But AHH, the sweet smells of the country!  Like many rural areas, Huerfano County is a dog’s paradise.  There are so many foul things to roll in, to drag to the master’s door step, to gnaw on.  One man’s roadkill rabbit is a dog’s rabbit jerky.

    There is an incredible variety of exotic little snacks a dog might find while exploring.  It may be in your backyard, or in the pasture, or even in the barnyard, but rest assured, your dog will find something to investigate and eat.  At our farm, we have turkeys, chickens and cats.  We have deer, migrating geese and an occasional raccoon visitor.  Our dogs are happy with these prospects.  This is the height of decadence for a dog.  It’s like having a box of mixed chocolates on Valentine’s Day.  

    I’ll admit, I’ve always thought I had a strong stomach, but I can hardly watch these snack times without retching.  The closest I ever came to throwing up in public was during a parade in La Veta.  The band went past, the 4-H float went past, then there were horses, followed by a group of people with dogs on leashes.  One of the horses, not at all shy about toilet habits, dumped, and a moment later, never missing a beat, the dog following behind lowered its head, scooped up a mouthful of the steaming pile and kept on going.  Ok, if you can read that and not feel like throwing up, then you’re doing better than me.  

    Scientists have studied this behavior, most likely with your tax dollars.  Some believe it is a dog’s instinct to eat all of its kill, including the offal – aka. guts – and this is just a throwback to the days when the dog didn’t have Kibbles and Bits.  Dogs find nothing offensive in the behavior; they will watch you retch and wonder why. 

    What I haven’t figured out is how a dog decides whether to eat something or roll in it.  Our terrier loves to roll in fresh cow manure.  She will come back from the field wiggling with happiness that she is now dark brown with that spiked look to her fur.  She has fulfilled her destiny to camouflage her smell and is completely baffled when we give her a bath to wash it off.   

    Any way you wear it, gnaw on it, snack on it or gulp it down, Huerfano County is a dog’s paradise.

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