I want to talk about Maisie. And I know that a lot of text on a page is often discouraging right from the start – 🙄 is what I do when faced with a long page of text – but I hope that you will bear with me. I don’t have photos or videos of Maisie doing the things I’m about to describe here to include but I think it’s interesting enough to not need props!
First, Maisie’s breeding: Since she was confiscated from a neglectful & abusive owner, she didn’t come with papers. However I’ve had 2 DNA tests done from 2 different companies and although there are minor discrepancies, both show that she contains both breeds and breed types that are believed to be used in the breeding of the black mouth cur. Physically she has 37 of the 38 physical characteristics that I found (that agree across multiple sources), and her behaviors and responses are 100% dead-on with the BMC breed as well. It’s not unusual to find a breed in Michigan that is common mostly in the American south, as shelters and rescues ship dogs north all the time when they are too crowded. So it’s not a stretch of the imagination at all. Still, I believe she’s not a full-blooded BMC dog, all evidence aside. But I had to learn to bond, relate to, and train her as if she was.
BMCs were bred to work independently. As herding, hunting, and guardian dogs, they are often left to their own devices to do their job without much input from their owners. When a problem or issue comes up, they have to be able to deal with it without human commands to follow. Among all of their traits, I believe that this is what makes Maisie stand out so perfectly as my helper. And the two stories I’m about to tell you are all about her ability to solve problems on her own.
One of the things she does for me is pick up things I drop. At one point I dropped my wireless mouse, and she went straight for it. I couldn’t see her down on the floor but it was taking her an awfully long time to pick up that mouse! I gave the “bring it” command and could almost feel her thinking, “Well, DUH!” After a couple of minutes she proudly came up with my shoe – a croc – to hand to me. I was befuddled since she never makes that kind of mistake. But I took it. And there, down at the toe, was my mouse. The amount of slobber and the scratch marks on the soft surface of the foam told me she had tried to retrieve it on her own but when that didn’t work, she decided to bring me the whole shoe. BRILLIANT!!! (And this has happened multiple times because when I sit down to work one of the first things I do is kick off my shoes.)
Another one of her behaviors is to bring me things I need. There are a dozen or so words that she knows, one of them is “pillow”. I have several pillows that I put behind my back for pain control in my spine, and when I’m not using them Pete often tosses them on the floor on his side of the bed, and she’s used to retrieving them for me. Today he had tossed some of his laundry over there too, and it had landed on top of the pillows. I imagined that she – as I – would move the laundry aside first but was interested to see if I was right. I told her to “bring me the pillows” and she looked at the pile from above (she was standing on the bed) then looked at me – because she didn’t see them? – and I told her again. But rather than move the laundry, she reached down next to the pile, pulled the first pillow sideways – Jenga-style – then lifted it and brought it to me once it was free. And that’s what she continued to do until I had the ones that I wanted.
I think of this as “braggin’ on Maisie” but really, it’s what she’s been bred to do. There have been other times when she’s disobeyed a command because she knew it was wrong for that situation – and she was correct every time, though none have been as dramatic as, for example, a seeing eye dog that refuses the command to step off the curb when there is traffic coming. Still, intelligent disobedience is something that comes naturally to her, and a trait that enables me to trust her even more.
I hope this big page of text was interesting enough to read all the way through, thanks for reading from Maisie and me!