When you think of a “working dog,” maybe an image of a service dog comes to mind. Or you’re probably picturing a dog that’s spent months+ training to assist their human in some form. A dog that has a purpose beyond companionship.
A working dog can also be one used for herding, hauling, or in the case of my two Catahoulas, hunting.
Catahoulas were specifically bred for hunting wild boar. Their webbed feet help them navigate swampy swamp lands. Their sleek and muscular build makes them particularly aerodynamic for speed and precision. This definitely doesn’t hurt when some tusks are barreling towards you.
From there, the definition of a working dog can be stretched a bit. And that’s what Mucca and Nola are here to do. Stretch.
Working Dog or WERKing Dog?
Working Dog: a dog suitable by size, breeding, or training for useful work (such as draft or herding) especially as distinguished from one suitable primarily for pet, show, or sporting use.Source : Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Werking Dog: a dog that does something to an exceedingly excellent capacity. Most notably used in reference to dancing, modeling, sexual prowess and/or other physical performance that requires a large amount of fiery attitude, vitality and vigor.Source : Urban Dictionary (Note: I added the word “dog” for my own selfish blog-writing purposes. Kinda like adding “in bed” to the fortunes in your cookie for your own selfish entertainment purposes. Don’t hate.)
The Trip that Changed It All
Back in December of 2017, I took Mucca on an epic road trip from San Francisco back to my hometown of Chicago. We were about to move to Palermo, Sicily. Josh had already started his new job there in November. We were going to join him in January and I wanted to spend time in Chicago with my people for the holidays.
I loaded up my lime green rental Kia, that only had 8 miles on it, with the dog and any leftover treasures that didn’t make the international moving cut. Then, we hit the road.
Little did we both know, that trip would be the start of a whole new chapter in our lives.
I had traded in my job working at the Designer’s Dream Mecca, aka Apple, for an international Italian adventure. And Mucca realized he too, was going to give up his job at only a year and a half old. The job of his ancestors for generations past: wild boar hunting.
On that trip, I’d planned a stopover at the Grand Canyon. Because when you’re driving past this epic crack in the earth, and you’ve yet to see it, you damn well better stop.
Mucca and I both bundled up. It’s friggin’ cold there in the winter!! Who knew? (Probably lots of people, but I wasn’t one of them.) Then we headed to the southern rim where dogs are welcome and aplenty on the trails.
Epic views and sunsets aside, that day was a monumental day for Mucca. Why?
Mucca came face-to-face with his first wild boar.
Ok, well not “face-to-face,” literally. There was quite a bit of distance between our spot on the trail and where this chonk of an “angry pig on steroids” was standing. Thank buhjeebus.
And this is the precise moment where Mucca looked into that beast’s eyes. He look into the past. He looked straight into the face of his ancestors. Generations past that were bred, trained, and bred again to harness their strength to better fight these teethy, hairy, are so much better in my ragù, beasts. And he said:
“Hell to the NO.”
“Let’s go home, Mom! Back to that big comfy platform bed, in front of the fireplace, next to the door to the deck, with the hot tub and expansive fenced in garden, AirBnB. And let’s stop for a Wendy’s loaded baked potato on the way,” he said to me in one panicked glance.
And hurry away towards comfort and baked potatoes we did.
I guess some folks aren’t destined to take on the work of their parents and their parents before them. Dogs, too apparently.
Bitch, you better WERK!
Catahoulas are actually pretty smart. Mucca realized that sitting there, doing nothing but looking like his damn-cute self, and waiting for the clicky thing to fire and the cheese to arrive, was the way to go.
I don’t blame him!
No tusks are involved.
You can take the Catahoula out of the woods, but you can’t take the Catahoula out of the Catahoula.
I’ve seen plenty of catahoulas in action. Like, bikejoring…WHAT?!!There’s a whole group in Europe that does this with their ‘hulas. Rad. Check this out:
And hunting wild boar on YouTube (I was gonna link something here but hunting videos can be pretty gross sometimes – and always with lots of blaring Metallica for some reason).
However, I never knew the true power of these dogs, nor how much instinct runs deep in their veins. That is, until we added Nola to our pack.
And guess what happened?!! Out of nowhere. All on their own. They started HUNTING THEIR DOG FRIENDS AT THE PARK!
One minute they’re sniffing around and leaving a tinkle over here and eating a stick over there. Totally chill.
Then, BAM! They’re running in perfect formation around some poor, innocent victim and pushing them cowering, tail between their legs until they’re cornered in some bushes.
After a couple rounds of time out, they started to understand that this is neither the time, nor the boar. I refused to be “the girl with those two dick dogs with gorgeous blue eyes” at the park.
But dang!!! That was pretty incredible to see! (Sorry other pup friends…Catahoulas…what can I tell ya?!)
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Mucca took pretty quickly to the modeling life. He’s SUPER food motivated, which helps. Since he was a puppy he realized backdrop + camera = $$$ (tipping with $20’s as I say – hot dogs, cheese, anchovy paste).
Nola is a little more play motivated. But she also follows Mucca’s every move. So it works out for all of us.
However, they are active dogs. Luckily they burn off most of their energy hunting/playing and running around the dog park every morning. Parco Vittorio Formentano is a life saver! Otherwise we’d have to seriously rethink this apartment life.
One of Mucca’s favorite games is chasing pebbles. We’ll play fetch with one for a bit and inevitably he misses a throw and has to use his nose to find it. I think this part is his favorite. I can leave him for 20min sniffing around for that one exact teensy rock and he’s in total focus mode until he finds it.
Nola, again, loves everything Mucca loves. So she is usually running behind him nipping at his heels for every toss, and has also started to pick up on the “find it” or “cercalo bene!” cue. But she’s usually faster than Mucca so she’ll grab the rock and run off for a nice chew. UGH!
So yeah we are gonna need to find a new game now, so we can avoid some potentially massive vet dental bills. Thanks, Nola!
Seeing them work their noses is also pretty cool. I’ve been saying for years I want to hone in on their sent work and get them finding truffles. Because it’s about damn time they start paying their rent around here!
All in all, they both seem happy with their chosen careers instead of their inherited ones. I’m only a little sad that that means much less wild boar ragù in our future, but happy that I don’t need to be the one to hunt them.
Can you relate?
Do you think your dog is too active to have a professional photoshoot? Well, no offense, but you couldn’t be more wrong. If I can get beautiful portraits of my little wild boar hunters, I can get beautiful portraits of yours. Reach out and tell me what jobs you give your working dogs and I’ll plan the perfect session for you!
CAN YOU WERK IT?
YOU CAN WERK IT.
KEEP IT GOING!
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