Airedales – are you looking for challenge in your life

Airedales

Are you looking for challenge in your life? Do you enjoy matching wits against an intelligent adversary? Do you like being ignored?
Get an Airedale.
Most articles on Airedales concentrate on the breeding, care and grooming. Yes, they are the largest terrier; yes, they were bred from early terriers and otter hounds. But most articles will not tell you that they are part cat. You know the old saw about pets? Dogs come when you call; cats take a message and will get back to you. Well, that should be cats and Airedales. They are not the human-centric, needy people-pleasers that most dogs are; they are supremely independent, and may or may not do what you tell them—IF they think it’s a good idea. Somewhere I read they were “willfully disobedient.” Yes, that’s accurate, if a trifle sugar-coated.

They require consistent training and socialization by someone as hard-headed as they are. Without that, they will ride roughshod all over a tentative or inconsistent owner. I’ve seen Airedales owned by people who are too soft or too unwilling to discipline them, and the dogs are maniacs. My current Airedale, Cassie, was the puppy from hell. She was constantly jumping, biting, mouthing, barking. I was not a novice dog-owner or even a novice Airedale-owner, but she was way more than I ever expected. I read books, consulted experts and even considered giving her away but finally settled on pure consistent daily training. She has now become the best dog I have ever had, but even after years of training, will often look at me over her shoulder as if to say, “You want me to do what?” At other times, she will simply walk away and tell me, as eloquently as a poet, “Talk to the butt.”
If you want a dog that will lie at your feet and gaze at you with endless love and devotion, get a golden retriever.
Airedales, as terriers, are high-energy dogs and need a lot of exercise. This is as true for an 80-pound Airedale as it is for a 10-pound Jack Russell, but of course it’s a little easier to control a Jack Russell on a leash. Constraining an almost 100-pound dog when s/he decides s/he wants to go someplace else can be quite an exercise. One of my Airedales almost broke my elderly father’s wrist when she jumped into the car unexpectedly, dragging him along behind on the leash. Cassie has many nicknames that reflect her strength and power: Rhino-Butt, Tank and Shovel-Head.
And terriers stay puppies forever. They will play until they are too old to stand. And there is no telling what will grab their interest, what they will deem a toy. I had one Airedale that thought all potted plants were her toys. Cassie used to chase rocks, until I realized she was swallowing them. A thousand dollars later to remove rocks from her stomach, she now chases dirt clods. Balls? Oh, puleeze—balls are so yesterday! Dirt clods are SO much better! Why? Who knows? No one but my Airedale.
Airedales like to sleep upside down with their legs up in the air. I think their DNA is not just a double-helix, I think it’s tied in knots. If an Airedale looks like it’s been in a train wreck, it’s comfortable. A friend of mine had 3 Airedales, and they all slept this way. Major train wreck.
They are extremely intelligent—often too smart for their own (or your!) good. To me, Airedales have “ape eyes” (another nickname), because you can just see the wheels turning in that devious, Airedale brain. No limpid pools of dark brown adoration there, just pure calculation. Not that Airedales are sneaky or mean—generally they are not, although they will give as good as they get—but they are always thinking. Always. It’s just good to be aware.
Loving? Oh, yes—on their terms, in their time. They can be the sweetest things, and they are fiercely protective of their families, but a display of hugging and kissing will often bring on a look of, “Oh, God, do I have to endure this?” or else they will simply get up and walk away. Like cats, they don’t need your affection. They will accept it, sometimes grudgingly, but they don’t need it.
Airedales are staunch watch and guard dogs. Once a dog establishes its territory, it will patrol the borders ceaselessly and make short work of any intruders. Cassie not only keeps our yard free of snakes, roadrunners and prairie dogs, but also repels hawks, ultralights, helicopters and blimps. She doesn’t like anyone in her air space! Even lightning and thunder can be construed as interlopers, and she will run out and bark a warning at them as well as any stray dog. I don’t believe any Airedale could ever be considered a shrinking violet.
Bred as ratters, Airedales are varmint dogs. They will naturally go after and kill small animals—rats, mice, cats. Cassie has developed a routine whereby if she hears a small scratching underground, she will tilt her head side to side,
triangulating the sound until she is sure she knows the position of the source, then will quickly dig a small hole, catch the kangaroo mouse hiding there and–gulp!—it’s gone. Gross, but that’s her job, and she does it very well. Airedales can be conditioned to accept other species if they are raised with them. I’ve always raised Airedales with cats, and they get along famously. However, I don’t believe I would try to introduce a kitten to a full-grown Airedale who had not been raised with cats. That instinct is very powerful and could be tough to break.
If right now you’re thinking, “Why would I ever want a dog like this?” then the Airedale is probably not for you. If you want slavish devotion, or if you want a dog that will chase a ball or a stick forever, get a retriever. If you want a lap dog, get a toy poodle. But if you want a dog that could just very possibly be your equal, and would stand toe-to-toe with you and be the best companion you’ve ever had—not because of some timeworn instinct, but because you’ve been a respectful alpha-dog owner and it chooses you—get an Airedale. You won’t be sorry.
Articale originieted from MELISSA BOWERSOCK Facebook blog

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