Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The dog my neighbor rescued is still with her. I think he's there to stay now, even though occasionally she still talks about finding him another home. The problem is that he is very high energy, and it's hard to find a pet lover who can handle that high of energy. It takes someone who really understands dogs, and has a lot of time to devote to them. This dog, Duke, is what my neighbor refers to as a "Ball dog". As a matter of fact, he is the first Ball Dog she has ever owned.
A "Ball Dog" is a dog who is obsessed with balls. He never tires of chasing balls, and for him it is the most fun thing in the entire world. There are alot of advantages to having a "ball dog". First of all, you can stand still in the park and use a "chuckit" to throw the ball without having to exert much energy yourself. Your dog gets a good run, but you don't have to actually run with him. Another big advantage is that "ball dogs" are highly trainable. When you have a dog that will do anything you want just to get the chance to chase a ball, that is a dog that is easily trained.
One of Duke's hidden talents is that he can find a ball almost anywhere you go. When we go to the park, almost without fail he finds a ball in the bushes. Sometimes it's a softball left over from softball practice. Most often it is a tennis ball left behind by other "ball dogs". The other day we were walking the dogs past some bushes up at the school. Duke started rummaging in the bushes, and my neighbor said, "Oh, I think he's found a ball, he is in ball hunting mode." He seemed to be taking a longer time than normal to find it. Suddenly, out he came with a ball.....a huge slightly deflated basketball! We really laughed to see the ball he had found. But Duke's talent isn't just limited to balls. One day we were walking on the walking path behind our neighborhood and Duke found an old shoe and carried it around proudly for awhile.
Here is what I'm thinking: I think Duke should be trained to be a search and rescue dog. I have been telling my neighbor that I think there are several things that would make him good at search and rescue. First, he would be easily trained if she used a ball for a reward. Second, he has this innate talent of finding anything that a human has touched. I could easily see him finding a lost shoe of a missing child, or even finding the actual child. I told my neighbor that if humans could be search and rescue in the same way as dogs, and her son had this talent, she would do all she could to make sure he used his talent. I told her I felt she should do the same for her dog. It would require special lessons and practices, but think of the good this one little "ball dog" could do!