Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hank, a history

For Cinder's first litter I was looking for a really special sire.  I wanted a little more eye, and a good looking dog, a tough dog that wouldn't back down from anything, and not too closely related to Cinder.  I saw him at the Bakersfield Nationals with Larry Roby, WTCH Rosebrier Roby's Khan Man.   Yes, he gripped a sheep on the second run in Finals, but so did a lot of other good dogs.  The sheep were rather difficult and actually chased one dog off.   I really liked the natural talent Khan showed, and the intensity. 

It was another year before I took Cinder down to Kentucky and introduced her to Khan.  The Robys were so nice and so hospitable, I couldn't hardly believe it.   Larry was extremely sick then and I felt bad that I was being an inconvenience, but Johna insisted it was fine if I came and stayed in the spare room.   I tried to help out with dishes and such.     Then Cinder wanted nothing to do with Khan.  We waited, still no interest in standing.   After she should have been standing and was not I took her into a local vet for a swab and he said she had pyometra.  Well, then I was faced with the hard choice of spaying her immediately or trying treatment and risking a very sick dog.  There was certainly no chance of breeding at that time.   After some agonizing, I decided on treatment and took my dog back home to Wisconsin.  

She recovered with barely a change in behavior, she certainly never acted as sick as she could have and the veterinary advice was to try and breed her on the next heat.    So back to Kentucky in March of 2004.  Sadly, Larry had passed away by then.     The spare room was occupied by relatives, and I had no money, so Cinder and I slept in the car.   Still, she had no interest in Khan Man.   AGGG!  This breeding stuff can be frustrating.   Then one afternoon we left her in the kennel and went about 50 feet off, talking and only somewhat watching, and suddenly they were tied.   The next day she was back to growling at him.   Cinder is one of those very short window of opportunity bitches.  

But, in May, she easily whelped a lovely litter of 6 babies.    Hank was named after Hank the Cowdog (Head of Ranch Security) by David.   Those were some of David's favorite books.   Originally I was going to keep a girl, but the little red female I liked did not like Dane.  She was unusually opinionated for an 8 week old puppy, and not particularly friendly except to me and David.  So when John Rossy said he really liked her I let him take her home.     Well, she turned into a really good working dog and a watchdog, still having no love for strangers but very intelligent and devoted to her new family.  

Then there was Hank, a left over puppy with a sweet, laid back personality.    He might have been for sale until I started working him on stock and he showed his wonderful talents.  Then he wasn't for sale any more.     He wasn't always easy to train but always gave 100% effort and frequently did things way better than I expected.  

The first time he worked cows you never saw a dog's eyes get so big.  He looked like I had just made his every dream come true.  And then when I sent him, he ran straight for the cattle, right through the herd, and ran SMACK! into a panel.   He shook himself off and proceeded more sensibly around the cattle instead of through them.   He really likes to heel, and he barely seems to notice kicks.   He may be a little more hard headed than sensible that way.   At one trial he was squeezing through the tiniest of holes on the fence to bring the cattle off, and someone commented to me afterward that he'd obviously never been kicked.  Once he had been kicked doing that he'd quit.   Actually, he knew all about kicking cows, he just really didn't seem to care.  He was going to go in and bring them whatever it took.    Another time we got done working and he had a perfect foot print over his face in mud from a cow planting one on him.   It made him sneeze at the time, but not really even slow down. 
Hank helping to dog break calves

  Hank may be my favorite dog to work of all time.  He balances intensity with thoughtfulness.   Lighter stock makes him slower and more careful.   He has a lot of power and determination, and he listens, well, most of the time he listens.    He has his opinions also.   He has a couple things he does while trialing that bug me, and unfortunately they are places I screwed up in training him, but overall I think he's a pretty special dog. 
He is the go- to dog for handling our neighbor's sheep when they ask us to help pen them.  
    He qualified on ducks and sheep for the finals in Colorado a couple years ago and he ran ok, although not making it to the top 10.   I think he might make it into cattle this year, based on Post advanced runs, but I don't know that I will enter.    Finals is a much more high pressure and anxiety producing thing for the handler, for me anyway, than it is fun.  And that translates right down to the dog.  

I don't have a Hank puppy of my own, since it seems like his litters have always been impossible timing for me to raise a pup, but I have his niece Tessa, who seems more like him than anyone else.   Plus, he's still a young dog, so the Hank history has more chapters to go in the future. 

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