Sunday, October 14, 2012

Rocket: the Failed Farm Dog Experiment

Rocket the day before he went to his new owner.

We had a Blackmouth Mountain Cur named Rocket for a couple months, but decided to get rid of him this last week. Before you freak out, we gave him to a man Josh works with who wanted a bona fide coon and squirrel dog to train, and his neighbor who is a trainer and breeder of champion Curs is going to help him train Rocket. Rocket is a loving dog, but it is going to take some commitment to train him I would say, because he sure as heck couldn't learn much from us.

We got Rocket for two reasons. The first was because Finn said he would like to get a new puppy and our neighbors had just had this litter and were giving them away for free. The other reason was because he was a Blackmouth Cur, which are supposed to be excellent raccoon dogs and we have recently run into more problems with racoons destroying my corn, not to mention that they had killed multiple birds of mine when I allowed them to free range. I have tried trapping them, and I've tried waiting them out in the garden at night, but they just wait til I go inside and then get their feast on. I also thought it would be good to keep foxes away and warn us if anyone pulled up that we didn't hear.

After the problems I had with our "Livestock Guardian Dogs" I swore never to get another dog capable of killing or hurting a goat, but went against my better judgement and talked Finn and Lindsay into getting this kind of dog to run off critters when he got older. I knew his sire had no problem with bothering goats, so I thought we might make it work even though he had the potential to be a problem.

I realize he was/is still a puppy, but we as a group (the males of the family who spend a lot of time outdoors), decided it just wasn't worth the risk and frustration of dealing with him constantly to keep him around here when we knew the man Josh worked with was looking for a dog just like him. For starters he would only poop right in front of the front porch steps; piles and piles of it each day right underfoot where there was little way to avoid it as an adult, much less if you are a 4 year old boy... We tried to break him of this but to no avail, but this was the minor issue.

Rocket was extremely nippy, jumpy, scratchy, and bitey. No matter how many times we smacked his nose, sprayed him with water, nudged him away, spanked him, scolded him, etc. he just kept jumping all over Finn biting and scratching. We all know, including Finn, that Rocket was just trying to play, but it got to the point where Finn couldn't even walk outside without being constantly harassed and molested by the dog, usually ending in tears and frustration while Finn stalked inside, or occasionally ending in Finn beating Rocket with a stick or toy golf club to get him off of him for a few minutes only to have him return and strike when Finn was playing peacefully. This also affected us walking our older pug Neko who has spinal arthritis and can't get around very good anymore. She couldn't even go outside to pee without us locking Rocket in a cage and listening to him howl for the duration of the walk, or he would bear down on her with all of his annoying fury and hold her on the ground biting her. And this was even after us kicking him away, spraying him with water, spanking him, etc. or going the positive route and petting, praising, or feeding him for not doing the bad things....

Rocket always eyed the goats like he just couldn't wait til he was big enough to bite them up and down, but I think it was more that he wanted to play with them. I never really saw him try to bite them, but he did start to chase them on occasion which can be just as bad. He was still small enough to get rolled by the nanny goats though. But I did see him trying to bite and catch chickens and guineas everyday, even after getting after him every time we caught him in the act he would keep trying day after day. This was pretty much strike three. I tried to look past it and say it was just a puppy being a puppy, but in all honesty it was a hunting dog being a hunting dog, and he had no place roaming a farm of small animals and children freely.

Lindsay tried to tell me that we shouldn't get him because her internet research said DO NOT GET A CUR if you have small animals or children around. She was right. I thought once again that it was just over-protective internet mom jabber advising against it, but whoever had given that advice was right. Lindsay and Nana say they think he might could have worked out if Josh and I had trained him, but I disagree. Might have worked in the long term after he was 3 years old and killed a few dozen chickens and maimed some goats. We conditioned him day in and out to not jump, not chase, not attack Finn, but without fail it wouldn't even last for 30 seconds, much less permanently. I will say it now in bold words you won't find me admitting too often:  My wife was 100% correct, and I was 100% wrong.

So ... Rocket, alas, we hardly knew ye. I hope you turn out to be a champion hunting dog and live a good life ripping nuisance coons limb from limb. Later dog.


  1. We had a dog that didn't work out here. Every time he was off the leash, he just ran off. Finally, got sick and had to be put down.

    Got another dog, and I swore that we were not going to make it through the puppy stage. Lordy, he was a pain. But... he got older and somewhat more mellow, and now does a pretty good job at harassing opossums and armadillos. Unlike our first dog, this one never runs off.

    If we have another dog in the future, I won't have a ton of patience. Either they work out, or they don't. I don't think temperament is something a person can change.

  2. Good morning Jason and family.People would probably argue with me but ya know a mixed breed of dog to me seems like they do so much better than a full blooded dog.I've had both and I had to take my full blooded ones to the vets much more often than my mixed breeds.Orion my baby now has never seen a deer or a opposum or much less a skunk or armadillo or a squirrel.We have some of those that wander in from the field out back but he's never chased them.He does know what a horse looks like,we have a pasture next door and one got loose.Stupid horse put a patty right in front of my gate.He couldn't figure out what that big dog was LOL.You did right by giving the dog away,some animals are just too hyper to be around children and other animals much less their human counter parts.If you want a good farm dog why don't you and yours go down to the shelter and rescue one?

  3. I think the breed of the dog matters most, not whether it has papers or is a cur. We found a puppy and could not find the owners, so we kept it. It was a nice dog. But, as it got older, it was evident it was a pointer and probably had papers somewhere. It pointed at all birds. Finally, it started jumping four foot fences and chasing us as we tried to leave our neighborhood. We convinced the three children it was a farm dog and was not happy here. The husband took the dog to the country to a farm. The children went to say goodbye. The dog jumped out of the car and ran and jumped into a pond. The dog had never seen a pond before. On the second "home visit," the dog tried to get into the car and come back home. The kids were sad, but they understood that Rudy could get killed since he learned he could run far on a farm.

    Yes, I know this is "late to the party.

  4. yeah, some people have dog training patience, but it aint me. lol

    for some reason, it is either the dog i pick out or the way i treat them, they always seem to cower easily. and you can ask anybody, i treat my animals super good, so i have no idea why that is.

    i think dogs just arent for me anymore.


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Yours Truly,
The Crowsons