Thursday, March 27, 2008

Farleigh's shave and some random photos

Will the real Farleigh please stand up?

Yep, that's the same dog! At 9 years old, Farleigh had his first shave, thanks to my friend Darci, who's a groomer. In case you're wondering why I had him shaved, you need to know a bit about Farleigh (aka Snarley Farleigh and Freaky Farleigh). Farleigh was a backyard bred dog bought by a family for a father who was dying of cancer. No, he didn't really need a border collie, but his family didn't want to deny him that wish either. When Farleigh was somewhere around a year old, his owner died. The owner's widow didn't really know what to do with Farleigh (then known as King Rae), so she left him out in the yard by himself. After I adopted Farleigh she told me that when she would take him his meals he would "show me how he loves to run and run." What she didn't recognize was that Farleigh had developed an extremely obsessive behavior (running in circles) as a result of boredom and loneliness.

This woman liked to travel to visit family, and consequently, Farleigh spent a lot of time boarding at the vet. His boredom and obsessiveness led to a licking problem as well, and he had to have surgery to remove a presistent lick granuloma on his front "wrist."

Farleigh's owner eventually realized she wasn't a good home for him (actually she probably realized that before the family ever got him, but you know how that goes). At the time, April 1999, I had just two dogs: Indy, a border collie x Australian shepherd whom I had gotten from an all-breed rescue, and Willow, a purebred border collie from Appalachian Mountain Border Collie Rescue. When Farleigh's owner finally decided he needed a new home, her vet, who was also my vet, contacted me and talked me into taking him. Well, actually what I told her was that I would take him home for a weekend and see how he did with my other dogs before making a decision. This was important because Farleigh, in addition to his OCD behaviors, had never been socialized around other dogs and consequently didn't (and still doesn't, really) know how to interact properly with them. Ha! My vet at the time had me pegged for a sucker, and she was right.

I thought that perhaps I would take Farleigh home, rehab him, and place him. But once I got him home and saw the extent of his issues (including fear aggression), I figured he'd be better off with me. And this is where he's been ever since.

So why has he finally gotten a new 'do? It's the obsessive running. I was never able to break him of the habit--not with distraction, redirecting, medications, anything. I finally decided I could live with the running in circles (not constant spinning, which is altogether different), although the barking that sometimes accompanies it is extremely annoying (I can't stand a barking dog!). When Farleigh runs, he gets hot, so he jumps in the kiddie pool, or a stock tank, or anything else that has cooling water. Then he hops out and runs some more. The end result: a wet and muddy dog with matted hair. That in itself maybe wouldn't be a big problem, but Farleigh is also funny about being brushed, and he especially doesn't like anyone trying to remove mats (yay for the unsocialized dogs of the world). So he'd get all matted, and I really think it has to be very uncomfortable for him. Not to mention that he would come in the house and lay down and then when he got up there'd a dog-shaped pile (and I mean pile) of dirt where he'd been.

So I asked Darci if she'd be willing to shave him. She wanted to come up anyway and work her dogs on my sheep, so it worked out that she could bring her grooming supplies and table and Farleigh would get his first buzz cut. Oh, I also told her to bring a muzzle. (Farleigh is automatically muzzled when he goes to the vet or if anyone other than me has to do anything that resembles manipulation of his body--no sense in setting someone up to get bit). And so you see the end result in the bottom photo. I don't normally shave dogs, not even my working dogs who must work in the North Carolina heat and humidty. If I shave anything, at most it would be belly fur so that the large veins on the abdomen and legs could exchange heat more readily, but never the whole dog. So this was first for all of us.

Jimmy hates the "lion's tail" Darci left on Farleigh. We would have left more of his tail feathers, but they were badly matted too. And to take it all off and leave a rat tail would have been far worse in our opinion. So a lion's tail it was! The funniest thing was the rest of my dogs' reaction to Farleigh when he walked up to the front door--the snarling and barking (they didn't recognize him) was rather astounding, although Farleigh didn't seem to notice.

Anyway, I do think he was prettier with a full red coat, and now his lavender looking body doesn't quite match his orangey-red head and tail tip, but I think ultimately he will be more comfortable not feeling the pull of mats and dirt! Now when he runs by I can't help but smile, because that tail looks like one of those orange flags on a whippy pole like you see on the backs of golf carts and similar things. This picture doesn't quite do it justice--you must picture his tail higher, and streaming out behind him as he races by like the wind to get the full humorous effect.

The photo above also illustrates how thin he is. He eats the most of any of my dogs, and yet he stays rail thin thanks to the near-constant running. The rough coat was good camouflage for that, but now the whole world will be able to see just how skinny my dog is!

My sister says I should tell everyone he's a new breed of dog: the Liberty Lavender Dog.

Some photos of the lambs, not the greatest because they were taken at a long distance at dusk. While their mamas graze the winter wheat in the unfenced pasture, they like to play on the cedar fence post logs (and graze as well, when not also partaking of lamb races):

Every lamb deserves a nice, soft bed upon which to rest.

And when all else fails, even overturned feed tubs can be used as resting spots.


Anonymous said...

Farleigh looks dashing in his new doo. He may be thin, but he is also muscular. Love the sheep photos!

Julie said...

Thanks. (Farleigh thanks you too.) F now has what I call the "Nancy Reagan look" going--you know when you see super tiny women with normal-sized heads such that their heads really look too big for their bodies (not trying to be politically incorrect here, but it really is an observable phenomenon)? That's Farleigh now that the "big body" fluff is gone!

He's definitely fit, and I actually prefer to keep my dogs, especially the working dogs (Farleigh isn't one of those), on the thinner side, but he really is a bit too thin. I've changed his diet a bit, so we'll see if that helps.

~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...

Great pics! I am the same way with my dogs, people are always telling me to get Zip shaved, I just cant do it. One reason is Im afraid it will grow back thicker, he definately doesn't need that!