On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 7, 2021:

The last thing Kent told Spike before he and Stella left on their trip was to stay out of the newspaper – but I can’t help myself. Their antics are just too easy to write about.

Last week I introduced Dobby, the Lab/Great Pyrenees orphan who is living at the ranch until a permanent home can be found. He’s young and energetic and reminds me of Spike when we first became his live-in companions when he’s left home alone. I didn’t realize how domesticated and easy-going Spike has become until I met Dobby.

Walking outside when Dobby is anywhere around is an adventure in grace and agility, neither of which I possess. Like many pets, Dobby likes to walk in front of the person with him. But he takes it to an entire new level by turning at a 45 degree angle and leaning against your legs. He further complicates the process by putting his foot on top of yours at every step. At this writing, David and I have managed to stay upright, but we have twenty-four hours to go.

Spike has mixed emotions about the newcomer. The first day after our arrival, he was in “grumpy old man” mode. When I let him out for his morning run, Dobby enthusiastically met him at the door. Spike responded with a growl, and when Dobby didn’t get the message, he barked until the youngster backed off. Not one to give up easily, Dobby suffered several rejections before he gave up and took a nap.

The next morning was a different story. Spike was eager to go out, and he met Dobby with a friendly romp and wrestle before the two took off for a morning run. In hindsight, I should have known they were up to no good. Stella warned us that, when the two were allowed to run free together, they usually took a dip in the pond and a roll in the mud before coming back to the house. But they were both on the loose and relatively clean the afternoon we arrived, and the following day they had remained dry and mud free – so we left them on their own when we went to the gym, to lunch at the Senior Center, and made a stop by the house to check on Kitty.

When we returned later, neither dog was anywhere to be seen, but as the garage door slid open, they suddenly appeared and dashed inside just ahead of the car. They were both dripping wet and sporting mud highlights. What followed looked like an episode of Keystone Cops. (If you’re too young to understand that reference, check Google.) We tried to shoo them out the door, but they out-maneuvered us, disappearing around the car or the Gator ahead of us, always just out of reach. Once the overhead door closed, I opened the side door and tried to coax them out one at a time. Dobby followed me out, but as I almost had Spike out the door, I felt a furry, wet tail against the back of my legs, and realized Dobby had slipped back in. David finally herded both of them toward me, and I got a hand on each of their back-sides, shoved, and slammed the door.

Stella also warned us that Dobby likes to bark at the night critters – a lot – and she was right. The first night after dinner, he settled down on the patio while the rest of us settled down in the living room in front of the TV. He was quiet until 8:45, and then he began. He barked for over an hour without pausing to take a breath. Whatever he was barking at was either too scary to chase or not worth the effort, so he stayed on the patio right under the windows – and we continued to crank up the volume on the TV. By bedtime he quieted a little bit, and with the help of the white noise from the air filter in the bedroom, we were able to sleep.

Through the week, all four of us developed a routine and a rhythm that lessened the chaos. Spike has been more sociable – which unfortunately has led to more visits to the pond, but he doesn’t seem to mind spending the night in the barn. Dobby has decided we don’t need protection after all, so he barks less at night. And he and I have developed a routine for his training sessions that works. As long as I do the commands in just the right order – sit, stay, come, down – he gets them right most of the time and we both feel successful.

I don’t know what the future holds for Dobby. If he could get past the puppy stage of chewing everything in sight, and if he could learn not to chase the calves and invoke the wrath of the mamas, he might have a future with Spike and his family. He might eventually be allowed into the house, or if he continued his swimming habit, he might at least be able to spend the night in the barn. If that’s not in the cards, I hope that New Favorite Day Dog Rescue can find him a forever home. If you need a fur baby to love or know someone who does, visit their Facebook page and check him out. He still has lots of excellent adventures to share.

Blessings,

Linda

Kitty’s Story

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

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