Photo by Salt Water New England

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Dogs at Work

Photos by Salt Water New England
Dogs breeds are often organized into groups, such as Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding. And certainly around Salt Water New England, it is not hard to see dogs fulfilling those various roles.

Today's Version of Fox Hunting (without the kill)

Sheep Herding

Wrote James Rebanks in The Shepherd's View: Modern Photographs From an Ancient Landscape <>:
You simply can't be a proper shepherd without a sheepdog. 
They are an indispensable part of a shepherd's life. Several times a day I need to catch a sheep, or move some sheep from one field to another. If you've ever tried to move half-wild mountain sheep without a dog you will know that a man can't run as fast as a sheep, and they will simply cease to move as a flock and will break away in all directions until you are left cussing and yelling, and jumping up and down like a maniac.  On the fells where we farm, two hundred people couldn't gather the sheep from the crags, cliffs, and moorland that they range across. 
The sheepdogs are an extension of the shepherd's mind and arms. They can climb up the crags and work semi-independently of the shepherd. They can make their own judgments about going back further in any direction if they see sheep the shepherd can't. They can work in torrential rain, snow, wind, or any other conditions. They can "hunt" across ground covered in scrub or bracken and find sheep. They can run much faster than man or sheep, and for much longer. 
And crucially, they instill in the sheep the flocking instinct because wolves and sheep evolved together, so the sheep behave themselves and gather into a flock that is manageable and controlled. All that is good about a sheepdog is based on the instincts of a wolf, their wild ancestor, channeled and controlled through selective breeding, training, and discipline into something productive and useful. They are the ultimate low-tech solution, and they do it all for a little praise, an occasional pat, and a bowl of dog food.  
Livestock Guard Dog

Ursa keeps Thanksgiving dinner out of the road.

Sporting Dogs

Working Dogs

Pre "Tally-ho"
The fox hunt - it's wonderful.  You're out there early in the morning and riding behind the huntsman and the whip.  The best thing about hunting is just to hear the hounds when they get the scent of the fox.    
There is nothing better than the formal old fox-hunt on a cold winter day - joining with 140 to 160 others on opening day at Golden Bridge on the New York line or at Midlebury and Litchfield.  
Running down a fox can take up to 90 minutes, an entire hunt four to six hours - ridding the area of pesky foxes.  
The terriers don't run with the hounds.  You just carry them in that little sack I wore.  When the hounds ground a fox you can take this terrier out and send him into the fox hole.  He chases the fox out of the place and then the hunt starts all over again.  Whisky will stop when you call.   You pick them up and sack them again.  It's quite a trick to getting them used to the riding and jumping and everything else. 
- Don Fournier
But it seems the role of "dogs at work" goes beyond that limited ontology.

One may imagine that if groups were designated today, based on real world experience, some different choices may have been made. Two groups could be added to more completely sum up dogs at work today.

1.  The Greeters

These dogs are assigned to the front door of an establishment to greet people with a wag, if not a cart.  They must be egalitarian good-will ambassadors, and also happy to relieve customers of scraps of food before they enter the store.

Abby, greeting visitors at Rock Paper Scissors,Wiscasset, Maine

Benny, the Eliza B. Jack Russell


Winston at J. Alden
Some people even bring their own greeters with them.

Dogs are welcome at Treats <>.

Bode, Greeter-In-Training at the Framing Shop

Harmless Dog

Deaf Dog

2. The Co-Pilots

These dogs take on the complex role of assisting the primary operator of the craft.  They may alert the driver to other dogs.  And they may guard the vehicle when the driver is gone.  Unlike the egalitarian nature of the Greeter, the Co-Pilots are chosen for loyalty.

Samantha Taking Point

Some co-pilot dogs may specialize in boats.

Schooner performing launch duties.


The problem with the taxonomy - as is the problem with any taxonomy - already is how many dogs fit in both categories.  Panels of experts, probably academics, will have to make tough calls, when dogs could be classified as either/both Greeters or Co-Pilots.

On Windjammer MARY DAY <>
Belle Takes Over

Pete on the Job

Regardless, being a dog at work takes a lot of energy, and canines enjoy some time off.

Pete's Job is Done

Dog Friendly

Supporting dogs at work can be done in many ways.

Many homes and businesses leave out bowls of fresh water for passing dogs, including this beach route home.

The Door at Orvis

Remembering Spot at Owls Head


  1. The Border Collies......I have got to get one. ( We've had two in the past.)

  2. Such an enjoyable post. Thank you for sharing this!

  3. This is one of my favorite posts ever!

  4. Agree with Bitsy.


  5. Hounds are a great family dog. We have had two Treeing Walker Coonhounds and they have been wonderful with our kids and their friends.


    1. We have two, as well. Such joys to my life!

  6. My father used to train retrievers many years ago. It is still fascinating to watch trainers put dogs through their paces. And, like well-behaved children, there is nothing quite like a well-trained dog.

    Best Regards,


  7. All fun pictures of our best friends! The one in the Good Humor truck will sell lots of ice cream! We had two very different standard poodles (at different times). The first one, upon hearing the word "boat-ride", would run down the dock and hop in the boat, always sat up in the bow, and looked like the real skipper aboard. If we said "boat ride" while standing by the side door of the cottage (which meant going in the car), he would prance around by the front door facing the lake, saying "no no no, this is the door for boat rides!" The second dog was scared to death in the boat. I had to carry him onto the boat and he would huddle by me and was scared by the sound of the motor, and as soon as we got back to the dock he hopped out of the boat and bolted back to shore and upstairs. After trying this twice I never did that again. The two dogs only looked alike.

  8. So many dogs! Enjoyed the designated groups and particularly loved the photo of the man in the red jacket holding the wee dog. Thanks!

  9. There are only five acceptable breeds of dogs in Salt Water New England, and only seven acceptable names for said dogs. Pay attention: the acceptable breeds are Golden Retrievers; Labradors; Swiss B Mountain Dogs; Jack Russel Terriers and Border Collie. Names are: Honey; Bear; Pooh; Pooh Bear; Jake; Jack; Lily and Sally. If you own, say, a German Shepherd, please just stay in New Jersey.

    1. Wow, talk about starting a controversial topic ... maybe this was deliberately your intention?

      First of all, it needs to be emphasized that mixed-breed rescue dogs are very beloved and absolutely top-notch in All of Dogdom.

      Secondly, I memorialize, with high praise, my sister's German Shepherd Dog in Wrentham, MA (not Saltwater but certainly still New England) who was the most calm, dignified, handsome gentledog ever. He was a cherished member of our family and still very missed since his passing 5 years ago.

    2. My neighbor's Rhoesian Ridgeback\ Labrador mix lives at my house about half the time. He's why I don't get a dog yet, he's sort of mine. The neighbor's 5 year old grandchild named him.... " Christian. " Sweet loving 80 lb lap dog. Yes, mixed dogs are sometimes the best. He was dumped and "we" took him in......he's more the neighbor's because she first took him to the vet.

  10. My favorite post so far this year..."dog people" know !

  11. Yup, a favorite post indeed. Love them all.

  12. Cool post! My wife and I bring our dogs (a golden retriever and a black lab) to our law office every day. My daughter is working here for the summer, so we have her German shepherd as well. We take a break to take the furry ones for a walk and we've been doing this for years. Now, to figure out how to write dog food off as an ordinary and necessary business expense . . . just joking, IRS.

  13. Any shop, office, or business that has a resident dog (or dogs) --- and/or allows other dogs in --- has my immediate loyalty, no question about it!