Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My First Dog REBEL pt.3

In case you missed them you can read Part 1 and Part 2.

After I lost my job, we were forced into moving in with my in-laws for a couple of months until one of us found work. Since they had an inside dog, Rebel had to learn to spend his nights outside in a doghouse and a lot of chain time. When I wasn't working I spent a lot of time training Reb. Taking full use of living out in the country, I gun trained him. I started off using a .22 and worked my way up to a shotgun and then a high powered rifle. He was comfortable with all of them. I also took him for walks in the woods and worked on field commands with him. About this time my buddy Jeff and I took our German Shephards out for a little field trial work with guns. Both dogs were working together quite well and were marvelous to watch. During a rest break, I got a wild idea, stupid was probably a more correct word for it. But I was young and full of confidence in both me and my dog. I walked Reb out about 40 yards from the log I was sitting on and commanded him to sit and stay. I then walked back to the log and sat down. I spotted a small tree about 20 feet behind Reb with a branch that was lined up between the tips of his ears. I pointed out the branch to Jeff and then carefully aimed and shot. Rebel was watching me trustfully and didn't so much as twitch as the .22 bullet zipped between his ears and clipped off the branch neatly. I gave Rebel the command to come and loved him up dearly. Jeff was stunned for a moment and then had a few choice words for me. Yes it was a dangerous stunt and one that I never repeated, but I was so proud of "My Boy" I was about ready to bust. I took a bunch of his favorite training snacks (LivaSnaps) out of my pocket for him and praised him well. I knew that I now had a great hunting companion too in Reb. So loyal and trusting.

My wife got a job working second shift for a local plastic factory, making parts for automobiles and we moved into a very small trailer closer to her work in Caro. The people we were renting from did not want any indoor pets so Rebel spent his first winter outside full time. And it was a harsh one. To supplement his diet, my best friend Jeff and I found a spot that was just loaded with red squirrels. This is a small variety of squirrel that forces out the larger breeds and is considered a pest. We hunted them all fall and winter. I would boil them up and remove all of the bones and make a gravy which I put on Rebel's dry food. This hot food helped him survive the elements along with the triple insulated doghouse I had built for him. (And of course I did sneak him in during the worst weather).

Well this hot food is what caused me to get my nipped by Rebel one very wet cold day. I had set down his bowl and it started to slip around on the ice as he was eating, so I reached down to hold it for him. He snarled and bite at my hand, surprising both of us. I have to admit it was a scary situation, goosebumps and everything. He was already looking at me and knew he shouldn't have done that, when I started cussing him out. I reached down and picked up his bowl giving him the old "dominance stare" and after he looked away I continued holding it for a minute, set it back down and told him to eat. As he was eating I petted him then took the bowl away again. No problem. So I set it back down and held on to it so it wouldn't slip around while he ate.

When I went into the house I cleaned the blood off my hand and realized two things. I had caused this attack by my own stupidness of habit and I was very lucky to only end up with a couple of scratches. Here is where I had made my mistake.

As the stay-at-home-dad I would feed my baby daughter and then make supper for myself and my wife. Any left overs would go into Rebels dish instead of, or including his squirrel & gravy. Then I would step out the back door about 10 feet and feed Rebel. I was usually barefooted and coatless even in the worst weather, so I would just set down his dish and run back inside. Then dress Ang and gather our still hot dinner and drive to my wife's place of work. She would come out to the car and we would eat and spend some family time together.

So Rebel wasn't used to me hanging around while he was eating. The neighbor's beagle ran loose and was always coming over to eat Rebel's leftovers. I was sure that the treatment I received that day was not meant for me. It was a matter of circumstances. Freezing rain, wife's day off, and I was dressed to be outdoors because I had planned on checking out "my boy" during this harsh storm and to see to it that his bedding was dry. It never happened again and I continued to check his reaction to my hand not only on his bowl but actually taking food out of his mouth.

This became an important ritual, so that I knew that I had him trained for my daughter. During this outdoor part of his life, even though he didn't see Angie daily, he was still in love with her when they were together. And he was ALWAYS gentle as a lamb around her.


Anonymous said...

Awww....great stuff as always dad. More stories I have never heard, and I can never hear enough about rebel.

ps-I checked the box ;)

warren said...

Good story!

GreyWolf said...

Ang: Thanks. But the closer I get to the end of this chronical the harder it is to write about.
Like omitting to mention Rebel's barking and whinning when he heard you crying in the house. Sometimes he raised such a ruckus that I either HAD to let him in or take you to the door and open it to show him that you were OK.
Or how you used to crawl all over him when I let him in. And he just loved it, he would give you the gentlest of kisses on the cheek. And he would try to keep his feet away from you so he wouldn't scratch you. It was truely amazing to watch you two. I have never seen a dog that was so gentle around a child. I had no fear of him ever harming you, not even accidentally.
Old Rollie would have never believed it, and probably would have had a heart attack if he saw it.

Country Girl said...

That is great that you have such great memories about your dog. It is also nice that you can share these stories with Angie.

Farmgirl_dk: said...

Wow...great story. I love the bond that Rebel and Angie had. Angie - do you remember Rebel at all? What an amazing dog.

GreyWolf said...

Warren: Thanks

Country Girl: It's getting more difficult as the story progresses, stay tuned.

Dorothy: That bond was more than I ever dreamed of. Reb loved me, but he ADORED Ang. He was truely an amazing animal, one of a kind. And the reason I never got another German Shepherd.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Such beautiful stories about Rebel and his relationship with your daughter. I'm really relieved that you were such a great shot. whew!
It's great that you can share these stories with your daughter, too.
Rebel reminds me alot of how our GSD, Cory treated my twin boys when they were babies. She was already an old dog by then, but so very patient, even when they were not so gentle.
Our current GSD, Zuni, so far cannot hold a candle to our Cory and that saddens me sometimes. We have to keep reminding ourselves that Zuni is not and never will be Cory. That she is her own dog personality.

She is starting to settle down now that she's reached the one year mark. Hopefully she'll begin to start showing us just who she really is...let her true personality shine through.

Thanks GW.