Sunday, December 27, 2009

Let them eat poop

Imagine if dogs were allowed to eat horse manure as their primary food. My life would be so much easier. Automatic recycling, no daily clean-up, no dog food bills... and the dogs, of course, would think it is a great idea. I wouldn't even need to put a fence up between the horses and the dogs.

Horse owners would run out and get lots of dogs. Boarding stables would have barn dogs in addition to the barn cats. Shelters would empty out as dogs were adopted to perform this important job.

Reality check
Now that you are totally grossed out, I must admit this is a lousy idea for realistic reasons. Horses carry worms and other parasites that they shed in their manure. Most of us don't worm our dogs regularly, but I have to worm my horses every 8 weeks, rotating the type of wormer so all the various parasites are eliminated. That's a lot of parasites for a dog's system to process.

Worse, many collie-related breeds cannot tolerate wormers that contain the ingredient ivermectin. So a collie (or bearded collie, sheltie, border collie...) that eats horse manure could die from the ivermectin he ingests.

Lily the sheltie would like to test this theory. If ONLY her legs were a tiny bit longer, she could reach through the wire fencing and paw a little piece of manure close enough to eat. She spends hours working on this, and I spend hours raking the manure away from the fence. I think the horses eliminate there just to tease her.

I've had dogs that have never even seen a horse before instantly decide that horse manure is great stuff. The fresher, the smellier–all the better to roll in and consume.

When I lived in Seattle I fostered an American Eskimo dog named Juneau. A woman came to look at him and I warned her he was hard to catch if he got loose. She wanted to see just how hard.

I am very dumb. I let him loose and he ran all the way out to the horse corral, rolled in fresh, wet, green horse manure and came running back up to the house, very proud of himself.

She didn't adopt him.

So, dogs and horse manure?

Never mind.

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© 2009 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

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