True stories

Out of the mouths of babes…

One of our dogs was Ivan, who was a big, power­ful shep­herd. Ivan approached everything straight on and look­ing for a joy­ful fight. He bull­dogged his way through life, bul­ly­ing the other dogs and gen­er­ally act­ing like a jerk. In fact, our son, DJ’s, first words weren’t “Mommy” or “Daddy”; they were “Ivan shut up!” because he heard it so often. Ivan was such a PITA that his nick­name was “Ivan-the-Jerk”.

One after­noon when Derek was still a little guy he was chat­ting with us about a new friend named “Mitch”.

I know a word,” Derek said, “that starts with a ‘B’ and rhymes with Mitch, but I can’t say it ’cause it’s not a nice word.”

If you’re think­ing of the word ‘bitch’”, I reply, “it’s a per­fectly good word. Bitch just means ‘female dog’. It’s really not a bad word at all when you’re talk­ing about dogs. It’s just not a nice word to use about people.”

Hmm, okay.” replied Derek. There were a few moments of silence while he reflec­ted on this. Then in a tone of dis­cov­ery he said “Oh, I get it! Like roost­ers and hens! Girl dogs are called bitches! And boy dogs must be called jerks!”

From the Davis Dog Train­ing Club Days


We used to track in a big cemetery/park in east Davis that was bordered on one side by houses. One day, while stand­ing in line in the gro­cery store, one of the DDTC track­ing reg­u­lars over­heard a con­ver­sa­tion between two people in line in front of him:

You know, it’s the darnd­est thing. I live on the edge of the cemetery, and every morn­ing I look out over my fence and see people with sur­vey­ing flags and dogs. They set those flags in the ground and then make the dogs walk in straight lines between them. I think they’re teach­ing the dogs to survey!”


I wish I’d been at the din­ner table for this one. A group of people were in a res­taur­ant dis­cuss­ing the day’s events after a Sac­ra­mento Dog Train­ing Club track­ing trial. As usual, the dis­cus­sion turned to scent the­ory: what are the dogs actu­ally smelling, any­way? Is it skin rafts? Dis­turbed veget­a­tion? Some combination?

Scream­ing bugs!” someone said. “The dogs are fol­low­ing scream­ing bugs! They’re not really scent­ing at all. When you lay a track, you com­press the ground, squish­ing the bugs, and that hurts! It’s the sound of the scream­ing that the dogs are fol­low­ing. A bloodhound’s long ears help dir­ect the sound up — and he keeps his nose to the ground to hear better.”

Now people are adding their thoughts to the the­ory. “That’s why they do bet­ter in moist soil with green grass — there are more bugs! Too wet, and the bugs are drown­ing. Too hot and dry, and the bugs are cooked. Asphalt is dif­fi­cult because there are only a few bugs per square inch: the dog has to work very slowly to fol­low the faint screams.”

I can only ima­gine how the rest of the con­ver­sa­tion went… but it’s as good a the­ory as any­thing. And this, honest-to-God, is the ori­gin of the Scream­ing Bugs Track­ing Theory.

The Gene Pool

I was walk­ing up near the MSU col­lege cam­pus one day, when I spied an Aus­sie puppy in a sta­tion wagon. I, of course, had to go over to see him. As I got closer, I could tell by his prick ears and snipey muzzle that he had prob­ably been bred by our local puppy mill. Regard­less, he was cute, and I was talk­ing to him through the win­dow when his owner came out.

He was very proud of his new puppy. As we stood and chat­ted in the shade, he told me:

He’s purebred, you know. I could have got­ten him with papers, but I’ve heard that mutts are smarter, so I didn’t.”

From the Vet’s Office


Our veter­in­arian is a fel­low GSD fan­cier and dog sports friend. While she was work­ing in a local clinic, they got a call one Monday morn­ing from a cli­ent who wanted to know:

“What are the signs of death in a cat?”

The recep­tion­ist was very kind, and man­aged to tell her without laugh­ing: “Well, you could check the blink response. Try touch­ing the eye­lid. If there’s no blink response, then it’s prob­ably dead.”

The cli­ent said “well, his eyes are open and he’s star­ing straight ahead… hang on, let me try.”

When she returned to the phone, the cli­ent said “he didn’t blink. Does that mean he’s dead?”

Recep­tion­ist: “Yes, most likely…”

Well, if that’s the case, then I guess he’s been dead since last Friday.”



The cat story reminded my vet friend of another story one of her pro­fess­ors had told her in vet school.

The pro­fessor was called out to look at a beloved horse who had been down for a few days. With vet stu­dents in tow, he went over to look at the obvi­ously dead horse.

After a thor­ough exam­in­a­tion, he went to the truck and got a syr­inge, returned and gave the horse a shot.

What you need to do” he told the bereaved owner, “is roll him for the next couple of days. A couple of times a day, roll him from one side to the other. Call me if any­thing changes.”

He gets in the truck to leave, and the vet stu­dents fol­low him in shock. They are dumb­foun­ded: there’s abso­lute silence in the truck. Finally, one stu­dent asks “um, you knew the horse was dead, didn’t you?”

Of course I did!” the pro­fessor answered. “And after a couple of days of rolling him back and forth, I sus­pect they’ll fig­ure it out too!”

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