|Barked: Tue Jan 1, '13 9:22am PST |
| Obviously, I am partial to American Cockers! Rusty is a rescue, with no prior history, other than he was abandoned in the back yard of a foreclosed home. He is taller than the average Cocker, and is afraid of strange men, but loves children to death. The fear of men I attribute to past neglect/abuse in his former life.
To own one means maintenance; ears will be a constant battle, as they are prone to infection and wick up water. Be prepared for a drink of water getting your floor baptised. They are prone to eye issues: conjunctivitis, cherry eye, and oozing eye boogers. If you keep them clean on a regular basis, you'll be able to catch the early signs of an eye issue. They need regular grooming or they will get matts. I keep Rusty in a short Cocker cut, as he is a boonie crasher, and it makes it easier to find, burrs & foxtails.
Scared yet? Don't be! They are merry clowns, with a constant wagging tail, and a zest for life. They have a love affair with food, so free feeding is not a good idea. They can be a bit velcro: wanting to touch you or be on your lap. After my last dog, I find this humorous & adorable.
They are not as soft as some think. They were originally bred to hunt woodcocks in England. My boy has insane prey drive; be it a bird, squirrel, lizard, mouse, or a moth on the sliding door. His nose is constantly to the ground, goes up to a tree, and stares upward for signs of prey. He will bound through thick brush, wade through a creek, and run like a greyhound-all with a wagging tail & big grin.
If socialized well, they can be great with other dogs. My boy has a picture perfect greeting with other dogs and adjusts his play style to theirs. The crazy Viszla & he do body slams & maniac chases. His Boxer/Pit buddy & he growl like ferocious animals, scaring strangers who don't know them. His best bud is a Belgian Sheepdog, who taught him the art of bitey face. He is learning how to herd her now! He will also play gently with tinier dogs. Adaptable!
They can become a bit OCD over toys, etc. Just keep a sharp eye & deflect that kind of behavior, or remove the object of their desire when they have dog playdates.
You shouldn't be harsh with them, but they learn quickly when properly motivated. Someone mentioned they can be bird-brained; yes, at times they are. I always loved the visual of Rusty running towards the dog park ramp and getting distracted by chasing a butterfly. They are great companions, and would make a great hunting dog. They mentally stay puppy-like for quite some time, with their zest for life.
The hardest part is choosing the right one, checking their temperament, and how they feel about being handled. Thanks to Tiller, I got some great advice on deciding which dog to get. Obviously, I adore the breed! Just remember, they do need maintenance.
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