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The Fly Dog

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Fly DogMeet Fly, the newest member of our family.

I have no doubt that someone paid a lot of money for her 2 years ago, but as of last week, she was a cast-off for a second time.

Pine River Fly is a registered Black Mouth Cur.  Both her Dam and Sire are titled champion hunting dogs. The only thing in her life that makes her happy is the chase.  It’s in her genes.

In her case, the chase revolves around squirrels, but any other creature she can get her mouth on is just fine too. Unfortunately for Fly, her last family preferred Guinea Pigs and a young, high energy, stubborn, smart dog with desire to chase rodents just wasn’t working out.

She’s with us because we have experience with Cur breeds.  We usually rescue Catahoulas, but when we saw Fly’s story, we knew that she’d be put to sleep, bounce in and out of shelters or get a bad rap  if an all breeds rescue group took her.

Catahoulas and other Cur breeds aren’t your typical house-pets.  They haven’t had generations of breeding to select traits marketable to modern families.  The breeds are rare and those that are breeding aren’t trying to make lap dogs.

So it’s not a shock that Fly was trying to eat the other house pets. She’s not a bad dog.  She just doesn’t know what to do with herself and the families she lived with just didn’t take advantage of her innate abilities so they became a problem.

The making of a happy Cur

Our technique for turning a nutty dog into a productive member of a family has 2 main components – Exercise and establishing the Alpha.

Exercise is important for the Curs because they have a lot of energy.  If you want them to pay attention to anything, it helps if they’ve gotten the ants out of their pants first.

This, of course, is always easier said than done.

Right now, the exercise portion of the plan is kicking my butt.  Fly has been here 3 1/2  days and I’m worn out. My legs are in pain so I’m seriously lacking positive reinforcement to continue running her.

Fly might force the change in my exercise attitude as well as my body in the next few months. While I might be aching and struggling to get my lead legs to carry me home from a full speed bike ride, the alternative is living with a wild beast.

Lead, Follow or Get out of the Way

The role of the Alpha human is to ensure that you don’t end up with an alpha dog. Cur breeds embody the phrase “lead, follow, or get out of the way.” While all breeds have a similar mindset, Curs are more likely to make your life miserable if you can’t stand your ground.

It’s also the foundation for loyalty and training too.  Curs want to please the Alpha and they usually show it by doing what they’re asked.

Even if you do establish yourself as Alpha, your dogs will still train you to do a few things their way. Let’s just hope Fly trains me to do something benign.

Next Steps

This week, we’ll get Fly to the vet and make sure she has a clean bill of health and find out when she can be spayed. Although she has the potential to be a champion in her own right, the reality is that we’ll never competitively hunt with her and we don’t need to make puppies while there are dogs being put to sleep simply because they’re misunderstood.

So a big welcome to Pine River Fly.  Good luck with your training, little miss.  Let’s hope you like it here as much as we like having you in our little pack.


Written by Karlie

April 7th, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Posted in at Home,Dogs,family

2 Responses to 'The Fly Dog'

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  1. Oh wow, I’ll look forward to reading more about Fly.

    She sounds a lot like our Sophie, who’s an utter-nutter too. She has THE most amazing prey-drive anywhere. She was “bred” by a puppy farmer to be used as a cattle dog and, when she was 10 weeks old, she walked off the farm she was bred on, onto our farm because she smelled the BBQ frying dinner. She walked over a Kilometer, at 10 weeks of age, because she smelled food.

    Long story short – I figured if she really wanted us THAT much, I guess she picked us. So we brought her home (the farm’s a weekend farm, we live 3 hours drive away).

    As you can imagine, with a personality like that, she could have VERY easily ended up an alpha-of-the-family, but, alas, I had other plans… 🙂

    She’s now settled in with her big brother (our other dog, Oliver), who, thankfully, quickly showed her who was boss. I was a bit worried about that because he has such a docile temper…

    She has been ‘suspended’ from obedience school because of her prey drive (She kept screaming – no, really, SCREAMING – to be allowed to get to the other dogs, which is extremely distracting), and we were asked to ‘work with her at home and come back when she’s more mature’. I’ve trained dogs before, so really this wasn’t a problem, but as for socialising, which she desperately needed, we found a great dog park near us and go there a couple of evenings a week so she meets lots and lots of other dogs and gets to run around with them.

    She’s nearly 2 now and doing really well.
    This is her: http://www.dogheirs.com/larysa/dogs/2641-sophie-sox

    I’ll look forward to your stories, are you going to try to train the hunter out of Fly?
    I ask, because I’m supposed to move down to the farm permanently in a year or so, and I admit I’m worried about Sophie going utterly berzerk on 400 acres covered in wildlife (I don’t want to see what she’s going to do with chasing kangaroos… eek!)

    Thanks for your fantastic story.



    6 Nov 12 at 9:43 AM

  2. You learned the difference between a working dog and a house pet in a trial by fire. I also completely understand your issues at obedience class, but you’re also lucky that your other dog was able to help you with the pack order.

    Fly and our Karma dog still go at it now and then. Karma is 12 years old and at the end of the Catahoula life span and has always been alpha dog and won’t give up her position, so the best we can hope for here is an uneasy truce between bouts.

    With that said, working/hunting dogs really are the most amazing creatures once you understand what’s been hardwired into their behavior. And like you learned, sometimes that means that Shih Tzu, Pug and cat are also on the menu.

    Recently though, and probably deserving of her own blog post, is a stray who seems to be adopting us. Fly, eater of female dogs and the stray, Daisy, have become friends and even play together. Then again, Daisy is a house pet and very submissive to everyone. It’s such a contrast between Fly, the killing machine and Daisy, the I-just-met-you-and-I-love-you dog.

    As far as training Fly to be a hunter, yes and no. We’re training her that there are hunts we approve of and those we do not. Hunting the family chickens is not acceptable, but she can have all the mice she wants.

    Before you move out to the farm permanently, start training for off leash walking. She’ll probably set up a pattern of running large circles around you as she searches through the vegetation, but encourage her to stay close and come when called. An electronic collar with a beep function is the best thing. It’s like training to a clicker, but gives you a lot of distance. Probably called a Shock collar, but nothing says you have to zap your poor pooch. Just use the beep.


    6 Nov 12 at 11:17 AM

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