OMG! Cassie just scared a prowler off!

I'm sitting here laboring over the accursed computer (a device that allows work to expand to fill 24 hours of any 7 days of the week you would like) when I hear some tapping and a little whack out toward the front of the Funny Farm.

It's a gorgeous day (sorry, Mid-Westerners and Down-Easterners) and I have the front door hanging open. There's a super-hardened security door out front, installed after the Late Great Garage Invasion episode (we do, after all, live in Crime Central), and the deadbolt designed to break the burglar's drill bit is locked, so I'm not especially concerned by stray noises. Besides, it's Saturday and the neighbor's unruly teenagers often bat around in front when the weather's nice.

I look up from the monitor. Cassie is listening. She's practically on point.

Then there's one more whack, and she goes ABSOLUTELY FREAKING BATSH!T. She ROARS out to the living-room, mad as a flaming dragon and ready to kill.

Naturally, my pistol is locked up. (Why do I do that?) But the coyote shilelagh, a mighty hefty stick, is next to the front door. Without thinking I chase after the rabid dog, who now has worked herself into a fury fully comparable to the rage that Greta the GerShep flew into when she caught a cat burglar in the house at 3 a.m., lo these many years ago.

By the time I dodder out there, our guest has excused himself. Presumably he's strolling up the alley, out of sight and, he hopes, out of mind. Good.

That was interesting. I've heard that corgis are utterly fearless and even will get themselves killed trying to protect their humans. But I've never seen her go into action before -- and she's lived here for a good five years.

It was a very German-shepherd-like performance, but the interesting thing is that Cassie's not especially Alsatianish: she's not suspicious of people, she's not aggressive, and she's not conspicuously protective. Now, Greta the Gershep, who was an old-line pre-popularity-ruined-the-breed German shepherd dog, pretty much fit Cassie's psychological profile, although she did distinguish between strangers that were harmless and strangers she thought were not so benign. Cassie does not: everyone is her friend.

Gersheps of more recent acquaintance, though, have been very different animals: wary of strangers, dog-aggressive, trigger-sensitive, and capable of homicidal rage.

I've had German shepherds do some amazing protection of their little flock, the cat burglar episode being only one. Greta once saved my son's life. Anna chased a mentally ill neighbor out of the yard in the aftermath of a quarrel between him and the ex-boyfriend. And on and on. But all of these incidents depended on the dog's size and the fact that when a 90-pound dog gets itself worked up, it can be truly terrifying (and, in the case of the kid rescue, very powerful).

What can a 23-pound corgi do? Other than bark, that is. Do you have any True Corgi Rescue Tales?

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There also seems to be a snort of fury, of the sort Cassie emitted when convinced someone was trying to get in the front door. You really can tell the difference between "what the heck was that?" and "man the battle stations!"

I think my boys would do nothing.  I accidentally tripped the burglar alarm one day and they just sat there.  They'll bark at the doorbell, but just listen to the loud siren.

That's interesting!

Cassie barks when the washer emits its little "load's done!" jingle, and she used to bark every time the kitchen timer went off. But she does NOT respond when the smoke alarm is set off by the toaster.

The German shepherd, with no training from me (that I can recall, anyway), used to leave the house the minute the smoke alarm sounded. If the kitchen door was open (it often was, because she liked it that way), she would get up and go straight out the door. If it was closed, she'd head for the dog door, which was in another room. I don't know how the GerShep got that idea -- maybe it was just the noise hurting her ears?

Hm. I may have chased the shepherd out one time (and only once) when that thing went off: there was a fire in the oven once, which I was able to put out by throwing all the breakers in the house. Of course we had to race outside to do that. Maybe she made the connection then: smoke alarm = exit.

I wonder how a dog, in the absence of information from its human, decides what human-made sounds to bark at and what not to bark at.

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