Published in the Rains County Leader on February 23, 2016:
I have a confession to make. Last week I wrote about Spike, the reigning canine of the ranch where we’re house sitting for three weeks. He had been leaving me “gifts” on the floor of the barn where he spends the night, and I was not happy. Then, I discovered it was my fault.
Spike’s food is kept in a tub in the garage with a one-pound coffee can for measuring his
daily ration. I thought that ration was two cans full, but my memory failed me. He is accustomed to one can per day along with whatever gross tidbits he scrounges up in the field. At the moment there are a couple of what look like old cow bones in the yard. He had no trouble eating the extra food I gave him; he just had trouble waiting until morning to get rid of it. Now I’m back on the correct feeding regime, and he is back on the good dog list, at least as far as his night-time barn behavior is concerned.
Kitty on the other hand has not been doing so well. First, David noticed dusty little paw prints all over the windshield. He really doesn’t like it when stray neighborhood stray cats take a stroll across the car, but Kitty has to do something to entertain herself when left alone in the garage all night – so he forgave her. Then, she went too far. One night she apparently tried to leap directly from the floor to the roof. She must have fallen short and slid down the passenger door leaving four little vertical claw marks right through the red paint. Since then, we’ve been parking in the carport, and she is in the dog house, so to speak.
Although I wouldn’t say Spike is back in the dog house, we did have an interesting afternoon with him on Friday. We were getting ready to go to our weekly home group Bible study, so I was watching for an opportunity to tether him before we left. He had spent most of the afternoon snoozing on the patio, so I expected it to be an easy task. However, I didn’t count on the manure truck.
Spike’s people had ordered a load of natural fertilizer for the hay field just south of the house. I had just grabbed a doggy treat and was headed for the door when I heard a loud grinding noise coming from the field. Through the glass pane in the door, I saw Spike’s ears perk up, and I knew I was in trouble. What looked like a long dump truck with a spreader of some sort on the front came into view, and it was slinging what looked like clumps of dark, rich Texas soil all over the place. By the time I reached the patio, Spike was happily rolling in the dark stuff, and I could tell by the smell that it wasn’t soil.
I went back into the house and picked up his leash and began walking slowly toward him. He had, at this point, switched from rolling to nibbling. He sensed when I was getting too close and managed to keep just out of reach. I tried to watch where I stepped, but by the time I gave up and returned to the house, I had about half an inch of yuck on the bottom of my shoes. I changed shoes and told David I didn’t think I could catch up with Spike before time to leave, so we would have to leave him loose.
The problem is that Spike is drawn to the sound of engines of any kind, and before the car was a hundred feet from the house, Spike was standing in front of us. David stopped, I got out of the car, and Spike ran away, snickering and saying nanner, nanner, nanner in doggy talk. We did that same dance a couple more times, but the saying is that you can only fool some of the people all of the time, so we finally moved on toward the gate.
Predictably, Spike followed us out the gate and down the road. My hope was that, when we reached the end of his property, he’d crawl under the fence and go back to the cow poop. No such luck. He continued to follow us, and we clocked him at twenty-five miles an hour. When we reached the mile mark, his tongue was hanging out, and he was beginning to fall behind. We found a good spot to turn around and headed back to the house, hoping he’d follow. He did, and David took it easy on him, slowing down to fifteen.
When we were a short distance from the gate, Spike took a short-cut under the fence. He made a brief stop at the front pond for a quick dip and a drink, but he still beat us back to the house. He was getting another drink out of the rain barrel when I got out of the car, and after a brief game of “catch me if you can,” he allowed me to take hold of his collar, lead him around to the patio, and hook him up for the evening.
Since then, he’s been pretty good, but he has plenty time to think up more mischief. His people will be gone for ten more days.