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Everyone needs a job, even dogs

have been told by several dog trainers, the biggest problem people have with a dog is the dog does not have a job. He may be a retriever with nothing to retrieve or a guard dog without something to guard. Teaching them to come, sit, and stay will be more difficult if the dog does not see the direct application of the training to the job he knows he should be doing.

It is much like teaching children algebra. It seems like a waste of time to them until it is used in a real world situation.

A guard dog will naturally guard, and may become vicious if he decides to guard his space from everyone, including his owners. The natural instinct must be directed in the proper way.

Anyone that has owned a Labrador knows they will retrieve everything and anything unless given guidance. The neighbors will rapidly become annoyed if their morning newspaper is delivered to the wrong home by a well-meaning dog. If a Lab is not properly trained and given something to retrieve, even something as simple as a tennis ball, things from dress shoes to shop tools will be taken to places never to be seen again.

Damon and Amanda got the grandsons a bloodhound a couple of weeks ago. Dixie is only seven months old, but was already having problems. She is a big dog with the instinct to track and hunt but was living in an apartment.

I can see why the family that purchased her did so. She is loving and beautiful with enough skin to make another two or three dogs. She is just too much dog for a confined area and small children.

She had had some work, but it had been as effective as algebra on the average sixth grader. When Dixie was turned loose, she would not come. When on a leash, she would pull and is strong enough to drag an average-sized adult. Off the leash, she ran about the yard but showed little interest in Damon, Amanda or the boys. I was becoming concerned the relationship would deteriorate and Dixie would be looking for a third home in her young life.

Damon was going out back to work on some fence one afternoon and asked the boys if they would like to go along. They were game since they are young enough to not know how bad working on fence can be. They also wanted to bring Dixie. With some hesitation, Damon relented and said she could come along.

As could be expected, the boys soon lost interest in fence building and headed toward the creek with Dixie tagging along. It took her a while for her to figure out how to get off the bank since she had never seen a ditch before. The boys ran up and down the hills, into and out of the creek, getting completely covered with mud. Dixie was following the boys on their adventure and at times leading them into new ones.

When Damon called to go home, two muddy boys and just as muddy dog came romping up the hill toward him. Since that evening, her attitude has changed entirely. She will "come" when called, "sit" on command, but most of all, "go find the boys."

I am sure the three of them will get into their share of trouble as the years go by, but for now, Dixie has the job of hunting for things to explore and tracking down her boys.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.