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Barney Got Hit By A Car
This isn't really a happy entry.
I've been busy on a lot of projects lately, and I supposed I should be posting pictures of them. However, there's a bit of news that I should probably share with those of you who still check this page (in spite of the fact that I haven't updated in 2 months.)

Barney got hit by a car.

I'm doing this post a little unprepared, so bear with me. The last couple of months here with Barney have been pretty swell. We've seen some wildlife...

...earned the trust of the sheep...

...and had a chance to meet the neighbors.

I've become a bit of a farmhand/handyman around here. Not only have I been doing projects around the property here, but I've also been hired a couple of times by a couple other people, both of whom have had me back since for odd jobs. It hasn't been enough to make a living, but it's been enough to stay afloat for the time being. Of course, whenever I'm working Barney is usually alone, so he likes me to be free as much as possible. However, I've also noticed he likes to eat, so there's a bit of a tradeoff going there.

And recently, there's been a bit more of a tradeoff.

Lately, I've been a bit more trusting of Barney. Michele has had me fence in a lot more of the property for her sheep, so I'd been letting Barney go outside without his chain from time to time. Initially he'd run straight toward the neighbors and be obnoxious, but lately he'd been hanging more around the little cottage. It had gotten to the point where, if I was working on the uphill part of the property (several hundred feet away from the road) I would let Barney wander freely.

Of course, every now and then a visitor would come up the driveway. Being a dog, Barney felt the need to run up and bark at every car. Of course, the drivers would see him and stop, giving me enough time to get him back under control. Unfortunately, Barney was beginning to make a very poor assumption - he had learned that he was cute enough to stop cars in their tracks.

I was aware of this, which made me feel all the more guilty about what happened. Barney was wandering free, off of his leash and hanging up near the house when someone needed to move a car. I'm not 100% certain on all of the details, but as far as I can tell, this is what happened: The driver checked under the vehicle for dogs and found it to be clear. She then opened the door. Barney, hearing a door open and having no fear of cars, thought that someone was going for a trip and decided to invite himself along. He started walking toward the car. By the time he made it to the car, the door was already closed and the engine was starting. Barney was directly behind the front passenger tire, and decided to lie down.

As the car backed up, Barney yelped and the driver immediately stopped. This got my attention, and I got to see my little dog trapped under the tire. By the time I got to the car, the driver had inched forward again to let him loose.

Fortunately, Barney was able to get up and walk away on his own. And he was (so thankfully) alive. However, he was only using three legs. The fourth (rear left) was pretty scraped up and bloodied, and his little doggie belly was a mess of blood and gravel.

I don't want to get into details - they're pretty gross, and I'm sure nobody wants to hear them. I ended up taking him to the vet, and they confirmed that none of his little doggy bones were broken, and that none of his little doggy organs were ruptured. His skin was a mess, but that would heal. They gave me some painkillers and antibiotics to give to him and released him, telling me to watch him closely and giving me a whole list of things to panic about should they happen.

For the next couple of days, Barney was heartbreakingly sullen. His ears were pinned back all the time. His little doggy tail, which is always held up with pride, was now tucked tightly downward. Because of his injury, he was afraid to sit or lie down, so unless I flipped him onto his back, he would be standing all the time. He was also skittish and nervous, so even when I DID flip him, he would jump back up in a few minutes. I got to watch as my drugged, exhausted, and sleep-deprived little dog tried to fall asleep while standing, only to see his legs wobble, see him get struck with pain, and watch him jerk back awake, unable to rest.

This little dog, who formerly has been so full of life and energy that he could run alongside my bike for 10 miles and still have the energy to chew on my shoes while I was wearing them AND walking... now, this little dog didn't even have the strength to sleep. And he would stare at me with blank, distant eyes, as though he wanted to ask me, the one sure constant in his life, questions that he knew I didn't have the answers to. Then he'd wobble over to me and try to lean against me, hoping that maybe he could balance against me just long enough to where he could get another minute of sleep before the pain spasmed through him again.

I have no idea how parents can handle seeing their children get hurt, because watching my little dog recover like this was grueling enough as it was.

Today, Barney's doing much better. His little doggy tail is back up and active again, his ears are pricked, and he's got his happy doggy smile back. His undercarriage is still a mess, but it's a much cleaner, healthier mess. It'll be a while before all the skin grows back, but it's to the point now where I can take him on walks again. Most importantly, he can lie down and sleep again - he's curled up on the bed right now.

I've got one picture that I took of his injury about three days after he got hit. I'm going to post it below for anyone who wants to see what my poor little pooch went through. There is no other content after the picture, so you won't miss anything if you don't want to see it.


(Honestly, I don't see why anyone WOULD want to see this, except maybe veterinary students or doctors. But people have asked, so I'm putting it below.)


Poor little guy... He'll get better.

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Umm. . .I'm not coming down on you. But something that I've learned about MY misbehaving dogs is--It's not the dog, it's the owner. Well trained dogs are happy dogs because they don't get into trouble, and they don't get yelled at or punished. It only takes a few minutes a day, EVERY DAY of consistent training and reinforcement. I learned the hard way too--But the consequences were not so bad. There were free resources--books and videos at the library, TV shows, and forums and videos on the internet. When one method didn't work, I tried another. Different things worked for different dogs. Barney loves you and wants to please you, but it's up to YOU to show him what you expect, make sure he understands, and that it's not an option for him. After a few months of consistent training--Maybe only weeks, you'll have a dog that goes everywhere you do without straying into trouble. He won't do anything without your express and explicit permission, (If you look, he probably already asks--or used to.) He'll be happy and proud because he's absolutely secure and certain of you and his place in his life. Anyway, I'm glad it's worked out for both of you.

Wow, I guess I didn't realize how bad I make Barney sound on this blog. He's not a bad dog at all! He's a very good dog, and he is eager to please and does listen. When presented with new situations, sometimes his prey drive gets the better of him, but over the years working with him, such moments have become less frequent and much shorter.

The main reason for his car barking habit has stemmed from his new "pack." I didn't mention it because I didn't feel it was important to the story. There are at times 2 other dogs up here that bark and chase the cars - Barney has been running with them.

It will take time to break him of that, I understand. He's a really remarkable dog, given that he's never had a steady home for more than 4 months at a time (neither have I since I've had him) and he's dealing with an owner who has never had a dog before.

I've taken him to training classes, I walk him 5 miles a day, I work with him and give him lots of love. He's not a bad dog, he's a fantastic dog, and I regret implying otherwise.

Most people get their dogs to an "obeys most of the time" state. The problem with that is that the dog still does whatever it wants to if it thinks you don't care, or if it can get away with it. The dog will sit, stay, go in, heel, etc, most of the basic commands, and that's a fairly well behaved dog. The problem with that is that the dog eventually gets into trouble doing one of those things that "mostly trained" dogs do. Like chase cars. I'm sure Barney loves you, and you take good care of him.
Anyway, I didn't mean to be critical, tho, I probably came across that way. Most of my dogs were no better, and I had to learn the hard way too. But it really pays to put the extra time into getting a good dog to drop those bad habits that keep it from being a great dog.

I understand that you want the best for all dogs. I also understand that I'm capable of providing that for my dog. However, every choice I make in a day eliminates my opportunity to do something else with that same time. Does Barney deserve to be trained perfectly? Probably. Will he get that from me? No.

I got Barney as a companion, and am content with him as an "obey most of the time" dog. Call me a bad dog owner if you want; I still think he's better off with me than he would have been at the pound.

I understand that, by not taking the time to train him perfectly, I am opening myself up to the risk that he will get hurt. I accept that risk as the price I pay to make other decisions in my days.

I told the tale in a narrative. I didn't feel like I was complaining, or expressing surprise, or exclaiming "why did this have to happen?" to beings supreme. I know it could have been prevented through better training. Maybe all that makes me a terrible person - feel free to judge me if you please. But knowing that I can't be perfect at all things at all times, I've decided to stop at "good enough" on my dog training.

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