My family unit and I have been somewhat preoccupied lately, due to the fact that we soon will be adding another member. In the top photo, she is the spotty one front and center, with her mouth open, howling along with her brother behind her. The pups had only recently been weaned when the breeder took these shots. If you look closely, you can see mama dog on the far right. I think the pups are voicing an alternative opinion about this weaning thing.
I have always been a dog person, having lived with, by my count, a total of 10 dogs so far over the course of my lifetime. But over the past decade, I have also become a Catahoula person. These are Catahoula pups in the photos. Originally used to herd cattle and hunt wild hogs, this breed can be used for tracking or trained to accomplish a wide variety of tasks, including safely babysitting children or other livestock. I have come to believe that the Catahoula just might be the smartest and most versatile dog in the canine world.
These sometimes-spotted and sometimes blue-eyed canines can be traced to semi-domesticated red wolves that became companions of Native Americans in parts of Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas, before Europeans arrived on the scene. Then came the explorer Hernando DeSoto, who introduced so-called “war dogs” from Spain, greyhounds and a now-extinct mastiff called the Alano, in the mid 1500s. Shortly thereafter, so it is written, the indigenous tribes whipped up on DeSoto’s men and took possession of some of his dogs, which interbred with the wolf-dogs. By the 1700s, 175 years or so later, the French began to settle into what’s now Louisiana, and brought their dogs with them – notably the Beauceron – which also did what dogs do and added their genes to the mix.
If you care for more details, a pretty fascinating historical account can be found here. In the end, the Catahoula is a uniquely American dog. They are intelligent but can at times be somewhat stubborn, and tend to want to be the boss of the pack, so early training requires firm patience. I’ll let you know how it goes with this one.