Monday, May 9, 2011


Yesterday, Mercedes went to a new home and today her two sisters were hanging out with Wodi, their mom.
To be more accurate, Crystal was hanging out with mom being groomed and Carmel was sleeping on the porch when I first looked in on them this morning.

Most of the information you read about Carolina dog fur on the web will indicate that because of its characteristic coarseness, the dogs do not have to be groomed much. In short, their coats are self-maintaining. This we have found to be basically true. There is however, a grooming ritual.

Who grooms who may be related to hierarchy. I cannot tell. It is most prevelant amongst the mothers and puppies. I have seen Wodi groom cats who happened to live here. There is not the excessive licking that you see cats do, but rather a nose led exploration of the dog's coat. The dogs make a kind of nibble on various spots. They will often do this to our outstretched hand when we greet them.

In our pack, that nibble might look like a close mouth bite, but it is really just a nibble. Special attention is paid to the ears when grooming which explains to me why their large ears don't require extra maintenance on my part. I think this is what they do to us or try to when we sit down on the steps of the porch. I have also noticed that the males are not typically involved in this activity.

This morning Crystal and Wodi were involved in grooming. Wodi was checking Cystal's coat and ears while Carmel was sleeping on the porch in the favorite orange chair. A little while later, Carmel was up and out with her mother and sister. Wodi was grooming herself and Crystal was grooming Carmel who seemed to be disinterested in this activity. A little bit later Carmel groomed Crystal with the enthusiasm of a 14 year-old cleaning his room. After a half a minute of this, both Carmel and Crystal curled up. Carmel actually closed her eyes and was "sleeping" the way dogs do. Crystal got up and was grooming her again. And she didn't seem to care much. Didn't even open an eyelid.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What's all the fuss?

Came home about 8:30 or so this evening and everything seemed to be normal with the girls on the porch. As we settled in, there seemed to be some commotion amongst the porch community, but didn't seem to be too much. I looked at the 2 of the puppies barking. They were facing the north hillside, and the adults, Wodi and Dora, seemed rather disinterested. Not elaborately feigning disinterest, the ladies were looking at the puppies but not moving from their cozy spots. As time went on, the barking grew more frequent. It was the kind of bark that tells you something is out of the oridnary. It doesn't sound like the hunting bark or the get out of my space bark or any of the other various vocalizations these dogs make.

As the intensity and loudness and particpation in the barking grew, it became impossible to sit still and do nothing. So I from my computer spot and Jim from the TV spot moved toward the door. What we found was the females guarding the porch from one of the male dogs, Hoover. Hoover had twisted his cable until it frayed apart and gone visiting. The girls were not about to let him on the porch. He came up to me readily and although the older ladies settled done abit, the younger pups, especially Carmel a.k.a. Crawfish gave a warning bark from under the porch in her spot she likes. Crystal also growl/barled a warning. We took Hoover back out to his run in the back of the house and emergency repaired his cable so as to keep the peace tonight.

The cable we use for his run is the heavy duty twisted cable for the larest size dog. It is the strongest cable outside of a chain that we can put him on. We learned from experience with our older male that even this strength cable only holds them on their lines just so long. Usually they break it when one of the females is in heat and isn't paying "enough attention" to the male. Through careful observation, we have been able to break the twisted cable cycle. Once a female chooses whichever male she wishes, we put them together in a kennel until her cycle is finished and then everyone goes back to their normal order.

Before we get up in arms about the lack of free movement the males have, let us consider what will happen should one of them or both them be loose. One word. Death. Whichever male is free will attack the unfree one. If both are free then fighting happens at the nearest convenient spot. Hoover and Yellow Boy are evenly matched and would surely kill each other. That would not be a desireable outcome for our pack. So one lives in front of the house, Yellow Boy and one lives in the back of the house, Hoover. Both are on generous runs. Neither can see the other which eliminates the mutual posturing they would do, if they were close enough for visual challenge, not to mention the twisted broken cables that would result. Ideally we would like to securely fence two 10-15 acre sections of property and allow each male their own area and their own pack. We are working on the fenced areas as a long term goal because the fencing requires a fairly sizeable investment of time, money & labor.

Feeding today

Today, Jewel, our youngest, fed the dogs around 11am. I noticed that Dora, Mercedes, & Carmel followed her out to Hoover's spot atthe old elm tree and then followed her back to the front porch. In the big pile of food for the puppies, Wodi & Dora, there was a quick order established. Wodi rolled Dora and then ate with the three youngest puppies: Carmel, Mercedes & Crystal. Dora sat a few feet away on the other side of the front door, ostensibly dozing on the porch.

When I say Wodi rolled Dora, that means she established her dominance by standing over Dora while Dora rolled over an exposed her belly. Since this was a food situation, it is more likely that Wodi snarled at Dora. I actually didn't see the action, but heard the quick yelp and observed Dora sitting by herself.

In about ten minutes, the puppies and Wodi were done feeding. About half the food was still on the porch for later and Dora had moved off to somewhere else.
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