Clinic Stories

Snookums

Before they retired to a life of leisure in the suburbs, most dogs had jobs. Hunting, herding and security were major canine career paths. Despite being of nondescript parentage and having no formal education, Snookums excelled at all three. I first met him when I went to visit college coworkers at the university barns. When I entered the residence of the swine center, only Snookums was home. He growled menacingly without getting up, letting me know I was not welcome. I quietly backed away.

A year later I moved to the swine barn and Snookums and I became roommates. He was abandoned at the farm as a puppy and the herdsman took him in. Initially he slept under his desk and when he was older he moved in with the students. Not one to take a handout, he expected to work for his meals. He was up with us each morning, ready to go at 6 AM and stayed on the job until late. He never made a sound unless something was out of the ordinary. The driveway was over 400 yards long but he could tell if someone was coming before they turned in.

Snookums, or Snook for short, hated everything except people and pigs, and he was not very warm towards people. He would ride in the back of the pick up truck, jump out to kill an animal, then catch up and jump in again. He dispatched his prey efficiently – a quick shake to break the neck - then on to the next task. No cat could match him with mice. He could wipe out a nest in the blink of an eye. He was completely indifferent to pigs unless they escaped, then he would chase them back.

As I got to know him, I appreciated him as a model farm dog. Eating or sleeping, he was always calm but vigilant. He knew the order of the farm and did what he could to maintain that order, keeping pigs in and strangers out. Many dogs have the instincts to be solid working dogs but are never given the chance that Snook had and they often resort to untoward behavior. Snook did not have a glamorous life, but there was never a more content dog.

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