Thursday, 30 May 2013


Our dog Rufous can be very funny - they say animals don't have a sense of humour but I'm sure I've seen dog humour. I don't mean that his cute antics make me laugh, no, I mean the dog understands fun.

Chewing sticks
When we first moved into our house, it was not much more than a big shed filled with furniture and boxes, and plenty of places to hide. Rufous and I did play hide and seek.  I'd hide somewhere and give a tapping signal and he'd search for me.  There was great excitement when he found me, lots of jumping up and down, squealing etc and Rufous was excited too. The games usually ended with a treat for him.

This is the treat cupboard
As we worked on the house, dividing off rooms and moving things around the game went on and one day I realised that Rufous was also hiding. I'd hide, he'd find me and then run off and hide himself. Sometimes he will start the game - I miss him and go looking and when I find him behind a box or a curtain he'll give me a huge Staffie grin and rush for the treat cupboard to be rewarded.  At other times he'll pop out from a hiding place, waggling all over as if to say 'boo'.  Just a coincidence, of course and an excuse for the treat cupboard.

Rolling a log

Another favourite game he plays with a log.  Aussie trees are always dropping branches or just falling over so we have a good supply of dead wood for the winter fire.  The logs are left dry out, in the paddock or until Ruffie get them. He likes logs about half his body size in diameter. He straddles them, bites and rips off the bark, and rolls the log around the paddock, even flipping it over at times and always making an aarrrrh aarrrh sound - not growling, more like a cartoon pirate. The sound is so loud I can hear it up the hill in the house and I know he is rolling a log. When visitors are around the log rolling is more vigorous and the  aaaarrrhh  even louder - what a little show off he is.  It is exhausting work but he keeps at it until we insist the log game is over, then he staggers home to collapse on the floor. Over the years the tips of his big teeth have been left, embedded in dense logs and he lost one tooth when it was split in two after chewing wood.  But log rolling is not a game for older dogs and the Ruf is beginning to realise this.

My ball
Rufous has never chased a ball AND returned it.  He's never seen the sense in that. Once he has what he's been chasing he keeps it, in fact he claims anything lying on the ground or on the floor as his property including lizards, tissues, cardboard boxes and food.  It's not that he won't give them up, he just doesn't volunteer it.  Any ball he gets is bitten in half within seconds.  He had a basketball for a few months, but only because Big R kept it on the move and Rufous did not had possession for more than a nanosecond.  It finally died when he was quick enough to grab it and run, and his big teeth punctured right through both sides - one dead ball.

I've read about those lovely gentle dogs who own baskets of fluffy toys and balls and Frisbees that they play with, and share with others.  The Staffie jaw would demolish all of these - even the extra hard rubber toys, in minutes.  The famous Kong is an amazing toy, indestructible - almost.  Other people see them and say, my dog has one of those, he's had it for years!  What!  When the Ruf was younger he destroyed an indestructible Kong in a few weeks.  I was buying a new Kong every three months. I don't want to count how many that is over the years.  But dogs need to chew and as he can't eat bones - his delicate tummy vomits up the chewed bits of bone - the next best thing is a Kong for games - and a raw carrot everyday.  

I've watched him with a Kong held tightly in his paws as he nibbles at bits of red rubber with his front teeth and .... do other dogs do this? ... spits it out!  Little bits of red Kong cover the floor around him and fly into all corners of the room.  I didn't know dogs could spit.  Then he'll get the Kong right into his mouth and work those back teeth on it until it splits.  And that is the end of Kong. 

Where I keep my Kongs

Now that Rufous is over 12 he's losing interest in playing Kong.  The two he owns have actually survived a couple of years They live jammed into the wire of his crate, and, on the odd occasion, when exciting visitors have just left or if he's in a very good mood, he'll rush over to the crate and pull out a Kong. He throws it into the air so it bounces and he can chase it.  He does this with raw chicken wings too and little frankies (frankfurters).  I've seen him put a frankie on the floor mat and giggle the mat with his feet so the frankie hops around.  Funny dog.

Chasing something that moves is Ruffie's greatest joy.  Somehow the kookaburras know this and they tease him by flying very low over the paddock. They fly low anyway to catch their dinner of beetles, lizards, snakes etc, but they do it more when Rufous is around.  Swoop goes the kookaburra and Rufous takes off after it.  And they'll do it two or three times in a row, often to an audience of other kookaburras sitting in a tree.  He has no hope of catching one but he loves the game and comes running back, tongue lolling, big grin on his face with an expression that says, 'Did you see that?'

The Staffie grin

Wallabies (like kangaroos) are also good to chase and probably the reason that last year Rufous had to have surgery on both his knees.  He is not allowed to chase them anymore because of his knees, and I've noticed that with this restriction the number of wallabies in our little forest has increased and they are getting much bolder.  I counted 11 wallabies in the paddock recently.

But, the sense of humour.

There are other dogs living along our road.  It's a short road of acreage blocks and each house sits on 4 - 6 acres of land, so not many houses.  Several people have 2 dogs, many have other animals too. At times cows push down the fence to graze on the road side. Several times lost horses have appeared in our paddock, they follow the wallaby tracks through the bush. A gaggle of geese wanders back and forth from one house to another, wild ducks also cross the road changing dams (ponds) and one neighbour has a dozen chooks (chickens) that live out the front on the nature strip. At different times wildlife such as bush turkeys, carpet snakes and large lizards are seen in the bush by the road - you have to drive carefully.

Our track

We have always kept Rufous away from the road unless he is on the lead.  I'd hate him to be the one to upset the chooks or freak out a goose. If they ran he'd chase. When he first came to live with us we walked him up and down the road and introduced him to the neighbours, but over the years the neighbours have changed and other dogs have arrived.
Every day Rufous walks back and forth across the hills with Big R or down the paddock helping with farm work and in between walks he sits guard, which is apparently tiring as it makes him very sleepy.  I don't like walking in the paddock in wet weather as it gets boggy and slippery so Rufous and I walk up to the letter box every afternoon, and along the road as far as the bend and back and down the neighbours track, where we often see wallabies.  We only walk to the bend in the road because around that bend the road is owned by other dogs - mainly Muttley, a big lanky loveable fella, with a very loud bark, who lives in a car port of the first house, and next door to him is another Staffie.  There are also German Shepherds at the top of the hill and they bark a lot, a Neo Mastiff and a black bittza live somewhere in the bush and a Jack Russell/Fox Terrier couple live half way along. Not all of these dogs are in a yard, they just hang out in front of their houses, waiting to bark at passers by.  Muttley likes to lie in the centre of the road, in the sun.

All of these dogs would be wonderful to chase and run in circles with and slobber over while going aarrrhh and grrrrrr, but ... the expensive knees - the fact that Rufous will always overdo that sort of socialising - the habit he has of running into the bush when off-lead or the problem of handling one dog on a lead while the others are off, forces us into a u-turn at the bend and the walk back to our own bush track.  I would love to be able to jog ... well walk briskly ... with Rufous on the flat surface rather than up and down the hilly paddocks, but it's out of the question.

So, we avoid Muttley. He barks at anything passing his house, alerting all the other dogs and then there is barking and yelping all the way up the hill and all the four legged residents rush out to see who is using their road.  At times Rufous and I have hidden in the bush to avoid being spotted. Of course the more we stay at our end of the road the more convinced the other dogs are that they own the rest. So, no socialising with the neighbour dogs but Rufous seems happy enough to enjoy their scents and leave his own because every day he rounds me up for our walk to the letter box and beyond.

Rufous wears a raincoat on winter mornings
One day it was drizzling enough for me to take an umbrella.  After a wet weather day inside Rufous really needed a walk. It was also drizzling enough for Muttley, and the other dogs, to be inside their own houses.  We got to the bend in the road. Rufous looked at me and his eyes went to Muttley's house.  I looked at him and knew what he was thinking.  Let's see how far we can go before Muttley hears us. Up the road we went, Rufous sniffing every blade of grass and every stone by the road, covering every other dog scent with his own, and me keeping watch. No sign of any other dogs. Feeling brave we got as far as the bushes by Muttley's driveway, crossed over the road and began walking back towards home. 

There is a deep storm water ditch on that side, mostly filled with long grass. Rufous stopped and looked back - it looked like he was forming an idea.  Tugging on the lead he dragged me back. As we drew level with Muttley's house Rufous went down into the grassy ditch where the other dogs like to play, squatted down and left a huge sample of his new diet - brown rice, sweet potato, carrots and chicken.  It was huge.  (No I didn't pick it up, the rain would take care if it eventually).

Finally he did the little hop, skip and jump he usually does to avoid stepping in his business, leapt out of the ditch grinning at me and together we both scuttled along the road towards home.  I am sure he was laughing.

Run Rufous, run


  1. Dog stories are always a good read. Keep it up and hello to Rufous.

  2. Love my dogs too...have 6 border collies and a Jack Russell foxie cross.....Yes they do have a sense of humour. We had a border collie girl years ago (a real lady) she didn't like the dog our neighbour kept in his yard. Each time we passed this dog would act very aggressively, leaping at the fence, growling and barking. One day Jess had enough. She sidled up to the fence and cocked her leg on the offending dog through the wires. I haven't seen a female ever cock her leg before or since! Another puppy would leap into the cane chair on the verandah where the cat slept and scare the cat, trouble was puppy was too short to see into the chair until the leaping bit so we often had a good laugh at the pup leaping onto cat! This dog had a fabulous sense of humour and continued through life to scare the cat whenever he could ( the cat had no fear of him really and would waltz away with his tail up). Gotta love dogs!

    1. Yes, you gotta love dogs and your dog stories are wonderful. Jess must have been an amazing girl. I admire that you can handle 7 dogs, that must be a lot of work though the fun should make up for that. After writing this I was pleased to read on a dog site that Staffies are known for their sense of humour - so I imagine many dogs have it and it's delightful to see.


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