Showsight Presents The Briard

LIVING WITH & SUCCESSFULLY MANAGING MULTIPLE DOGS by TERRY MILLER

I came into dogs as a dog trainer first, an owner/breeder next. I began with two very biddable breeds who thrive easily in multi- ples—Standard Poodles and then a cou- ple of Golden Retrievers. Management was a no-brainer with the individuals I had living in my dog pack in my house. Everyone got along, no one scrapped or fought, scrutinizing dynamics and subtle relationship signs and body pos- ture was basically unnecessary. Every- thing worked out and each individual figured out their place, producing basic harmony. That was 34 years ago and much has changed. After a few years I began look- ing for a more challenging breed that possessed more complexities of the working/herding temperament. I found it in Briards. In the life of a serious breeder, living with more than one or two dogs is inevitable. If your passion is breeding and your goal is developing a family of dogs, housing young, middle and aging animals is part of the terri- tory. The result is multiples and higher numbers than just a few. Every breed has its litany of norms and typical. There is a smorgasbord of personalities and temperaments within any breed. However, some generalities can be made within the scope of the normal or average representatives. Bri- ards as a breed, if one is to generalize, are not particularly keen on their own species. It is skillful management and

modification which enables one to live with large numbers in harmony. It is also very much genetic. Many, posed with the issue of num- bers of dogs, find their solution in ken- nel life. For me, it was never an option considered. My dogs were intended to be house pets, individuals and intensely integrated into my daily life. Quality of life is a subject of great concern for me. I felt I could best provide that managing the dogs within the machinations of a house rather than kennel setting. There- fore, the dogs HAD to adapt to coexist- ing in close quarters of a house. Over the almost 30 years of Briard involvement, my dogs have always, without exception, lived in the house, eaten together as a group with individ- ual bowls in the kitchen, shared water bowls, shared yards, slept either loose in the bedroom or in the case of the young ones, in a crate in the sunroom off of the living room or in the kitch- en. They have hung together around the house, shared and traded sleeping spots, bones, toys, sentry stations to watch the squirrels, birds and chippies and in general existed as a pack. Being well aware of the pitfalls of many dogs sharing one brain, each Briard was raised with careful and deliberate separation from the others so that the individual was clear they were a single and separate animal and not intertwined and conjoined with the others. In each animal’s formative

stages of development and intermit- tently throughout their lives, they went on outings alone, without others, be it to class, to the vet, to the Dairy Queen, to the farmer’s market or to friends’ houses. Each and every dog in my house knew and knows how to be an individ- ual and could live with 6 others or live as an only. For many years I motored along assuming my own experience and life- style within the breed was typical and shared by most. I will admit, I saw indi- cations that all was not perfect in para- dise when at every national specialty there would be at least one or two or more dog aggression outbursts in and out of the ring. But my own dogs were of a mind not to go looking for trouble and to avoid trouble when confronted with it. I will not say that I was not care- ful or more watchful with intact males, especially when females were in sea- son, or more deliberate and observant when the girls were indeed in season and tensions mounted a bit, but for the most part we all co-existed with little trouble. My eyes were opened most acutely at the 1995 National Specialty. I was out walking a couple of my dogs and was approached by a fellow breeder/fancier of the breed asking if she might ask a favor. She had heard that I was sharing a room with two other Briard people and among us we had 9 dogs in the room. She heard from someone who had been

“THERE IS A SMORGASBORD OF PERSONALITIES AND TEMPERAMENTS WITHIN ANY BREED.”

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