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Life with a Blockhead

Updated on August 25, 2012

Wild Thing, I think I love you

MacGregor Angus Becherer was born September 15, 2003 in Iowa. A hardy lad whose heritage began in the Scottish Highlands, the land of bagpipes and kilts, not what you'd expect from the farmlands of Iowa, he arrived in my arms at Christmas time already 3-months old, his Scottish lineage readily apparent. Adopted, sight unseen, it was love at first sight. Not an easy babe, he was already difficult, rather demanding, and destined to be spoiled. Gorgeous, blond, dark almond shaped eyes, perfection. In my arms, this little bundle of joy, was to become the greatest love of my life, the newest member of my family, my Scottish Terrier.

He haled from Iowa via the airlines in a crate marked "live animal" and was he ever. Although he slept most of his first three days after his arrival in Hillsboro, Missouri, I realized later he must have been sedated for the ride. He was small, in fact, my neighbor whose sister had a Scottie, remarked that he seemed really small. He is wheaton colored, which remains a curiousity for most of the strangers we meet on walks. Just last week, someone approached us during a walk to say, "well, he looks like a Scottie, but I've never seen one that color". Many people don't realize that the AKC standard includes not only the usual black color, but brindle, gray and wheaton. In researching the history of the first Scottish Terrier born in America, I was amazed to find that he shared MacGregor's birthday, born September 15th, 1884. So, MacGregor and I began our new relationship. Me, hopeful that he would settle into his new life happily and he, determined to be the boss. Thus began life with a blockhead.

It's all in the attitude

A little history

I grew up in a family of Scotty lovers. My parents owned two, but both were purebred demons. The first Mac exhibited such viciousness, my parents were advised by their insurance agent to find him another home as he presented a tremendous liability. Powerful little dogs, the first Mac broke heavy chains if tethered outside, chasing bicyclists, walkers and passersby in general. He broke free with some frequency; snarling, barking and foaming, terrier-rizing any unfortunate soul within his excellent field of vision. We stood at attention as the breeder, now the new boss, informed my folks that they should "stick with a cocker spaniel" rather than a tyrannical terrier. She advised that Scotties must be taught who is boss; not the other way around. We all cried as she drove away with an unusally subdued Mac.

My brother, the youngest, was relentless in his campaign for another Scotty. My parents acquiesed, only to once again, have the dubious honor of "all of the work" and not much joy in the trials and tribulations of corraling and maintaining order with this obstinate, headstrong, independent critter. When my brother, Steve, left for college, it was mom who inherited caring for Mac #2. He lived out his relatively short life with my parents, who loved him very much, until he developed cancer and passed on to greener pastures. Their grief and loss was too great to ever entertain the idea of acquiring another canine companion.

Scotties, although each is unique, all bear some characteristics distinctive to the breed. Genetically, Scotties have adapted to withstand the rigors of their harsh native land with their robust, muscular bodies. Their short stature, large feet and noses give them the necessary criteria to perform the job they were bred for, making it easy to detect small animals, and quickly dig them out of hiding. They have powerful jaws to grasp, shake and tear prey. They possess a harsh coat to repel rain and insulate them from the cold. The tenacious, terrier temperament refuses to be intimidated. It is important to consider the temperament of this breed before taking on the role of caregiver. They are courageous and loyal, but tend to form "one-man dog" relationships; and not necessarily with the one who feeds him. Scots can appear "aloof" at times when assessing a situation and will form it's relationships with people and other pets at his own pace. Scotties are very independent, alert, appealing and intelligent, appearing at times to be stubborn and obstinate. They require a good deal of patience. It is important, however, to keep in mind that this enabled their survival.

Some of the most important attributes caregivers need to know about the Scotty are (as rated by the Scottish Terriers "A Complete Pet Owner's Manual":

  1. Their grooming needs are "moderate".
  2. Trainability is "low".
  3. Watchdog ability is "high".
  4. Affection level is "moderate".
  5. Playfulness is "moderate".
  6. Energy level is "moderate".
  7. Exercise needs are "moderate".
  8. Friendliness is "moderate".


A Fine Specimen

A History of Champions

Selected Disease & Conditions of the Scottish Terrier

Blood Disorders:

  1. Autoimmunity hemolytic anemia: Possibly inherited
  2. Hemophilia B: Inherited as a sex-linked recessive trait
  3. Thrombasthenic thrombapathia: Inherited as an autosomal dominant trait
  4. von Willebrand's disease: Inherited as an autosomal recessive trait

Bone and Joint Disorders

  1. Achrondroplasia: Short curved legs: Autosomal recessive inheritance
  2. Craniomandibular osteopathy: Excessive bone development on the lower jaw, usually seen at 4 to 7-months of age, accompanied by discomfort when chewing: Autosomal recessive inhertance

Cancer

  1. Lymphosarcoma
  2. Squamous cell carcinoma
  3. Melanoma
  4. Recent research shows a predisposition to bladder cancer

Urogenital

  1. Uterine inertia, dystocia: Difficulty giving birth due to uterine smooth muscle fatigue and anatomical conformation of the dam (small pelvic area) and pup (large head size).

Central Nervous System

  1. Scotty cramp (also called Scotch cramp or recurrent tetany) Studies suggest this is an autosomal recessive disorder) characterized by muscular hypertension brought on by excitement or exertion, in which the legs are unable to move or are flexed against the body. The back is arched and the dog exhibits a stiff gait, skips, or is unable to stand. Onset can be as early as 6-weeks of age and most affected animals show symptoms by 1 year of age, although some may show symptoms as late as 3 years old.

Recessive inheritance means both parents must be carriers of the disorder for it to expressed in offspring.

Dominant inheritance means only one parent needs to be a carrier of the disorder in order for some of the offspring to be affected.

Sex-linked inheritance means that the disorder is linked to a chromosome also associated with determination of the animal's sex (X or Y).

Autosomal inheritance means the disorder is carried on any chromosome other than the sex chromosomes.

Of special personal note,

Allergies

Scotties are notorious for allergy related skin problems. Food allergies often express themselves by their detrimental effect on the skin and coat. My Scotty has had recurrent episodes of allergic dermatitis diagnosed by a veterinarian specializing in dermatology through examination with skin scrapings. MacGregor's frequent episodes would begin with incessant itching and scratching, progressing to staph infections, requiring multiple prescription antibiotics. My vet explained that Scottish Terriers and Cairn Terriers are the two breeds most commonly afflicted with this misery. MacGregor was taking a prescription drug called Atopica, which I researched and presented to my vet. He knew of the drug usage in canine cancers, but was unaware that it was being utilized for skin conditions. The first Rx cost $145 for one month from my vet. I researched cost further and was able to find it at PetMeds.com, who price match and include free shipping, at $69 for a month's supply. MacGregor suffered one of the most common side effects of this potent drug, which is frequent diarrhea. I have managed to wean him off of the drug, as long-term side effects of this powerful immunosuppressent are yet unknown. Modifying his diet with low-antigen, hypoallergenic veterinary foods have, for the time being, been helpful.

Obesity

The ideal acceptable weight for an adult Scottish Terrier is classed between 20 to 25-pounds. The general rule is if you can't feel your pets ribs, it's time to cut back on the calories. Unless your adult Scotsman is a hard-working, very active sort, he probably does not require more than one to two meals daily. I prefer the "free choice" feeding, meaning food is available at all times and the dog eats at his desire. Unfortunately, although convenient for me, MacGregor is not a good judge of what is best for him. I have been unable to resist his charm, especially when the one trick he has learned is sitting up, looking adorable and begging. He is relentless as he recognizes a pushover. As a result, MacGregor is now at 34 lbs. so I do not qualify as a expert regarding dinner. As with any questions regarding any aspects of care, I would always recommend consulting with your vet.

Training your Blockhead

Grooming the Blockhead

Comments

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    • BobbiRant profile image

      BobbiRant 6 years ago from New York

      Scotties are so darned adorable. I am an avid dog lover and this hub is so cute. It made me laugh as did the great videos. Great writing.

    • Amy Becherer profile image
      Author

      Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Thank you, BobbiRant! You've made my day twice now! On a personal note, I am going on an interview tomorrow so say a prayer for me.

    • colordelics profile image

      colordelics 6 years ago

      Great article and now I want one also. Thank you!!

    • profile image

       6 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my hub. I am walking a neighbors dog since she just had major surgery. It is amazing to me how different it is walking her little, 9 lb. rescue pup. He is much more cooperative and way less headstrong. Mac's disposition is one of the reasons I love him so much, though. He cannot be conned!

    • sligobay profile image

      sligobay 6 years ago from east of the equator

      Hi Amy: I thought this article would relate to your Ex judging by the title. Never had a dog or wanted one. We never had pets in the family growing up and never saw the attraction in a pooper scooper. This is a well-written article and your love for 'blockhead' is clearly conveyed. Good luck with your job search. Cheers.

    • Amy Becherer profile image
      Author

      Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      That is so funny. My ex thought the same thing when he saw the title before reading the content. Thank you for commenting that you can see that I love the adorable little man. You've got a valid "poop" point. Somedays, I feel my biggest contribution to the world in eliminating dog poop from the paths of the world we travel. However, I experience, through MacGregor, the only unconditional love I will ever know. And that's no shit.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 6 years ago

      Life With A Blockhead- I thought this was about Micky Dee!

    • Amy Becherer profile image
      Author

      Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      That's funny, Sligobay thought he would be reading about my ex. Thanks for riding by on the bike of yours and your support.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Wasn't George W. an admirer of the Scottie?? They are very popular here as companions of ancient males. Full of character and will fight any other dog by lying on their backs and biting upwards! Vey disconcerting if you are another male dog with its balls within reach...Bob

    • Amy Becherer profile image
      Author

      Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Hilarious comments and I am laughing out loud right now. Yes, diogenes, the fact that George W has two very beautiful blockheaded Socts was his only redeeming quality in my book! Frankly, his ability to chose such wonderful dogs continues to baffle and surprise me. I once read where a highly respected breeder of Scottish Terriers was instructed by his father, a former breeder, to not breed any Scottie that was of a pleasant, agreeable or non-contentious personality as the true spirit of a Terrier is one of "fight to the death". This can be very challenging! Thank you for your most entertaining and knowlegeable commentary.

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 6 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      Well done. Great info for those looking to own one of these breed.

    • Amy Becherer profile image
      Author

      Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Thank you, Granny's House, for your comments. I love my "Blockhead". He is an amazing, strong willed, but loving and loyal companion. Thanks you for visiting!

    • TheManWithNoPants profile image

      TheManWithNoPants 6 years ago from Tucson, Az.

      Good hub about a great little dog with an extroardinary owner. Mac rules!

      jim

      ps: a little known fact about Scottties is that they can be trained to inhale on command and be used as a vacume cleaner in tight spots.

    • Amy Becherer profile image
      Author

      Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Your little known fact is both informative, true and hilarious. Mac is not laughing, however! You don't want to piss a Scottie off. Thank you for your fantastic comments. The truth is Mac rules the roost...at least I let him think so!

    • TheManWithNoPants profile image

      TheManWithNoPants 6 years ago from Tucson, Az.

      By proxy and a little imagination, Mac is my step son, and I have complete trust in his ability to take care of business in my absence. He can keep you entertained, tend to your emotional needs, vacume, and keep you safe and secure all at the same time. I will now refer to him by his Indian name .. Little Big Man With No Pants

      jim

    • Amy Becherer profile image
      Author

      Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      That is hilarious. The really funny thing is if I get the vacuum out here at the apartment, he starts barking and goes into full attack mode until I put the damn thing away! I just told him his Indian name and he is in full agreement. You and Mac seem to be kindred spirits. Thanks for the fun, laughs and support, Jim.

    • TheManWithNoPants profile image

      TheManWithNoPants 6 years ago from Tucson, Az.

      Just doin my job mam

      j.

    • katyzzz profile image

      katyzzz 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Very informative, I love all dogs and the owners of these 'swear' by them. An interesting post

    • Amy Becherer profile image
      Author

      Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Thank you, katyzzz. Scotty dogs are adorable, and, of course, like all breeds come with their own set of kinks, quirks and qualities. I learned from several vets that Scotties are 2nd in allergic skin disease, next to Cairn Terriers as the breed with the most allergies. MacGregor is on a steroid/antihistamine combination drug plus an expensive immunosuppresent (Atopica) daily now to manage the ongoing battle of severe dermal allergies. No one can plan for every possibility, but armed with the full story helps when choosing to give a pup a forever home. I adore MacGregor for all his unique, charming, funny, endearing Scotty ways. Scottish Terriers are distinctive, special dogs. Thank you for visiting, katyzzz!

    • Mr Archer profile image

      Mr Archer 4 years ago from Missouri

      I clicked on this hub thinking it might be related to a "blockhead" Labrador Retreiver. I stayed because it was very well done. Lots of info and laughs, both of which make for a delightful storyline. Perhaps I need to write about my "blockhead", Duckie, sometime. He is a year old, and we've traced his lineage back into the 1860's. It amazes me the records kept on our precious little friends.

    • Amy Becherer profile image
      Author

      Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Thank you so much, Mr. Archer. I lost my beloved MacGregor one month ago to bladder cancer. I only had him for nine glorious years. This has been a time of devastating loss for me personally. He brought so much love and devotion into my life. I will miss him forever. Thank you for taking the time to read this piece on my favorite blockhead of all time.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 4 years ago from Taos, NM

      Amy, this is a great article. I learned so much about this breed of dog. I have to laugh though, I know a Scottish man who is as stubborn and blockheaded as these dogs. LOL Scots are a real trip!

    • Amy Becherer profile image
      Author

      Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Oh, Suzette, it's the Scottish charm; gruff, stubborn, but so adorably loveable! I miss MacGregor in a fierce way. Unlike any man I thought I loved, I never, ever, ever once, felt anything, but total love for that beautiful, little man o' mine. I am so lucky to have shared my space, time and love with him. He enriched my life and showed me in no uncertain terms that I am, indeed, capable of real love. He is part of me forever.

      Thank you, my friend and mentor, for reading this and leaving a comment that allowed me to reminisce and remember how lucky I am to have had that Scotsman in my life.

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 4 years ago from Texas

      I can't believe I missed this gem...

      My cousin had a Scottie, and it used to jump on my lap with a toy in it's mouth. If you didn't pay attention to him or his toy, he would growl at you. One time he flipped the toy in my face because I was talking to someone else. Such proud, strong, and stout little guys....

    • Amy Becherer profile image
      Author

      Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      As I read your comment, Augustine, I thought about how amazing it is that the Scottie personality is so ingrained that your cousin's terrier sounds just like MacGregor. And, how the description might leave someone who wasn't familiar thinking "I think I'll stick with a Golden Retriever!" And, how much your recall makes me miss Mac all the more. You nailed it, A.A. "Such proud, strong and stout little guys" characterizes their distinct brand of charm. If I find myself in better financial circumstances in the near future, the only thing I can think of that I really want is to bring another Scotsman into my life. That would be sweet!

      Thank you, Augustine, for leaving me this adorable snapshot that brings back a flood of fond memories that make me smile.

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