Dog’s Best Friend: Mr. Bojangles and the close shave

Dog’s Best Friend: Mr. Bojangles and the close shave

[click “Play” for Ted’s story about Bojangles]

Images Over this Labor Day weekend, Telluride celebrates the 36th annual Telluride Film Festival. This week’s post from Telluride Inside and Out’s dog expert Ted Hoff of Cottonwood Ranch and Kennel, concerns a dog whose breed has star power. From the hero of “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies,” Disney’s “The Shaggy Dog” and Nurse Nana of “Peter Pan” Old English Sheepdogs have stolen the hearts of millions of young cinephiles, captivated by these huge Steiff toys come to life.

When the breed first crossed the pond, it went straight to the top, entering aristocratic families such as the Goulds, Guggenheims, Morgans, and Vanderbilts. The Old English held their place at the top of the food chain until the late 1950s, when a champion named Fezziwig Ceiling Zero became Top Dog in the show world and everyone wanted Nana. The breed’s popularity peaked in the 1970s, when an average of 15,000 Old English Sheepdogs were  registered each year with the AKC. However, as besotted owners soon realized: Old English are high maintenance.

Like all sheepdogs, the Old English are bred to work the flock all day, and so require a great deal of exercise. They are people-oriented, and get easily bored and depressed when left to their own devices. The breed willingly participates in all kinds of doggy sports from obedience to agility and herding, but a stubborn nature means they tend not to respond to traditional training methods. The trainer has to be creative in his or her approach and use lavish praise.

In short order, Ted Hoff, a natural born dog whisperer, figured out how to win over Mr. Bojangles. However, he is not a groomer and even if he were, grooming an Old English is a whole other story. Ted turned that assignment over to a pro.

To find out how what happened, click the play button and listen to his podcast.

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