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Barn Dogs

Barn Dogs, dressage, Poodles

A Preponderance of Poodles

I love how barns go through phases of doggy preference. Corgi’s were once all the rage and I admit that when it comes to cuteness, they are right up there at the top of my list. For a while Jack Russell terriers (aka: Jack Russell Terrorists and/or Snack Russell Terriers) were the barn dog of choice, often making the rounds in miniature Baker blanket dog-wear.
My current barn shows a fondness for poodles and poodle crosses. Perhaps this is because these dogs don’t shed and none of us like to vacuum any more than we have to.
My own dog, Skittles is a standard poodle and she makes an excellent barn dog except for the fact that shavings stick exceptionally well to poodle hair (hence the nickname: Velcro Dog).

Barn poodles set up camp outside the restroom, making sure everything works out alright.

Barn poodles set up camp outside the restroom, making sure everything works out alright.


Poor Skittles has been banned from the barn lately. A laceration on her hind end required several stitches and came with strict instructions regarding cleanliness. Just imagine the bacteria club your average barn floor entertains! Skittles stays home and wonders why she’s been banished.
Skittles & Collie (a schnoodle) sniff noses. Being an older dog, Skittles doesn't approve of rough-housing and has been dubbed 'the barn police' for her tendency to rein in rambunctious young-dog behavior

Skittles & Collie (a schnoodle) sniff noses. Being an older dog, Skittles doesn’t approve of rough-housing and has been dubbed ‘the barn police’ for her tendency to rein in rambunctious young-dog behavior


It’s very strange arriving at the barn without my dog. As I gather my belongings from the car, Skittles typically wanders ahead and greets her friends, letting everyone know we’ve arrived. I truly miss my other half and look forward to her return to the barn kingdom.
The pint-sized Jenny (aka: Fluffy) has adapted well to barn life. Jenny especially loves rolling in manure, much to her mother's delight.

The pint-sized Jenny (aka: Fluffy) has adapted well to barn life. Jenny especially loves rolling in manure, much to her mother’s delight.


In the meantime, here are some photos of several of the other barn dogs, with their varying degrees of poodeliciousness.
Just as with horses, there’s a breed for nearly every temperament and lifestyle.

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Barn Dogs, dressage, dressage barns

Barn Dog Gone Bad

Skittles, my 14 year old Standard Poodle, has been on a bit of a crime spree lately, targeting our barn. Like many a ‘good dog gone bad’ story, things started will small misdemeanors: dumpster diving for old pizza crusts and begging for apple-flavored treats from unsuspecting barn buddies. Unfortunately, this was only the beginning.

Skittles, looking deceptively innocent. Portrait by Sarah Davis Baker.

Skittles, looking deceptively innocent. Portrait by Sarah Davis Baker (http://www.sarahdavisbaker.com)


While Skittles normally likes little to do with all things toddler, she’s made an exception of Jessie’s two-year old son, Knox. In Skittles’ eyes, Knox is a walking/talking treat dispenser. His string cheese snacks are in constant danger.
Last week, while no one was looking, Skittles stole and ate Knox’s peanut butter and Nutella sandwich from the top of a tack trunk. “It’s my fault, I had it down pretty low where she could reach it,” Jessie said, taking the blame. The next morning Skittles threw up the sandwich, which seemed fair punishment for petty theft. Unfortunately, I was stuck with the clean up.
This week, I noticed Skittles skulking around the far end of the barn with a guilty look in her tail. I was suspicious but saw no immediate evidence of criminal behavior.
I took a closer look as I led Micah out to the pasture. “Why are things so messy?” I wondered. There were bits and scraps of paper lying about the barn aisle. Highly unusual.
Upon closer inspection, I found a folded check written out to clinician Tina Steward and a $100 bill. The check was damp and there were suspicious tooth marks in one corner. Hmmmmm. I noticed a small bag on the ground, which was most likely left by a rider who’d hauled in for the clinic. If the rider had brought a lunch, it was long gone.
I took the contraband into the arena, where Tina was just starting a lesson. I hated to interrupt, but explained the situation and turned over the goods.
“I thought I’d put that in my bag!” the rider said.
“You probably did,” I told her, explaining my dog’s habit of snacking between meals at the expense of barn inhabitants.
The money situation was righted, although I suspect the rider went hungry.
Most importantly, the cash and check didn’t get blown out of the barn aisle and across the county. Imagine the distrust and suspicion that could have arisen, undermining our peaceful barn life. That possibility made me sad.
Should my dog’s errant behavior escalate (perhaps into credit card theft), we’ll have to reconsider her barn privileges. She adores coming to the barn, warmly greeting her barn cat and her human and dog friends. It is truly her home away from home — as it is for so many of us.
Until we get things worked out with Skittles’ probation officer, please protect your valuables by storing them separately from your lunch — or keep them locked safely above poodle-nose-height. My canine mastermind works quickly and quietly, under the cover of extreme cuteness.

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