Earlier this summer, I wrote about our adventures while house sitting for the Larsons. They have a beautiful home, a few cows, and a Great Pyrenees fur baby named Spike who doesn’t like to be left home alone. When the Larsons recently hit the road, we took up temporary residence again. As any parent knows, children are on their best behavior the first time they meet new people, but once they are comfortable, they tend to show off a bit. Dogs are apparently no exception, and Spike provided lots of writing material this time.
He was really easy to care for. He has a 65-acre yard, so there was no walking involved, and as long as there was a bowl of food and a bucket of fresh water on the patio, he was a happy dog. There were a few restrictions, though. When we left, we tethered him on a twenty-foot lead that allowed him access to both the covered patio and plenty of grass in case of potty emergencies. This arrangement also ensured that he wouldn’t follow us down the driveway and out the gate. The problem came when he didn’t want to be tethered.
The first evening, David and I readied the Gator to go check on the cows. We know very little about cows, but one of our daily duties was to make sure the two mommas and their two calves were present and accounted for and to notify a knowledgeable friend if anyone was missing or seemed to be in distress. The only complication was that we had to go outside the gate and down the road a short distance to reach the pasture, and that night, Spike was too busy chasing critters to come anywhere near the patio.
Crossing our fingers and keeping a sharp eye out for a speeding canine, we headed out. We made it through the gate with no follower, or so we thought. Bonnie, Belle, and the babies had come up out of the trees for the night, and all was well until we turned back. There was Spike, in the middle of the gravel road, running toward us with his tongue hanging out and a wide grin on his face. When he saw us coming his way, he turned around and took off. I was afraid he was gone, but when I hit the electric gate opener, he turned in and led the way up the driveway toward the house.
A couple of days later, we had another tethering failure at cow-checking time. To avoid a repeat of his great escape, I stepped out of the Gator when we reached the gate and stood guard. Once the gate was securely closed, I climbed back aboard. By this time, Spike had caught up with us, and he ran beside us inside the fence. However, when he came to a spot where the bottom wire was a little high, he scooted under and led us down the road to the cattle. The ease with which he found that gap made me think that was not the first time he had used it.
After that, we tried to avoid having him follow us anywhere near the fence. Any time he laid down on the patio, especially if a trip was planned within the next couple of hours, I grabbed the tether. I also made sure he was tethered as the sun went down.
Spike is big and fast enough to handle himself one-on-one with almost any predator, but there are lots of coyotes around here, and he might not fare so well if a pack ganged up on him. Consequently, he spends the night in the barn. Before you feel too sorry for him, let me say that the barn is two to three times bigger than my house, and it’s air-conditioned. Spike’s bed, a wooden pallet covered with a rug, is in a clear spot out of reach of the tractor and other tempting toys. Another tether attaches him to the bed. Thankfully, like an elephant tied to a small wooden stake, he doesn’t know he could probably drag the bed with him, so it’s all good.
Still, Spike doesn’t like going to bed. When the night creatures come out, and he likes to run and chase and bark. The second night, we had Home Group Bible study and didn’t return until after 9:00 pm. I felt sorry for him, because he hadn’t had much running time, so I took him off the tether, intending to call him back in an hour or so. He had other ideas. At 11:00 pm, I gave up and went to bed. At 3:00 am, I heard him barking and went outside. He trotted up, panting and grinning, and I was finally able to take him to the barn.
After the first few days, we settled into a routine that was less dramatic. There were still some incidents worth sharing, though – maybe next week.
The righteous care for the needs of their animals. Proverbs 12:10
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