Sunday, May 20, 2012

Farm Dog

My husband and I, before we had our son, once owned a dog named Lucy. She was perfect, or at least looking back on it now, she was the kind of dog that I wish I still had. Lucy was a blue heeler-border collie mix, smart as a whip and listened well. She was our baby before our baby. But when we moved to Japan, we gave her up, not wanting to put her through the move.

Fast forward. We bought a farm with plenty of property. Our son is almost 4 years old. And my husband works long hours and spends nights away from home on a regular basis. I felt it necessary to have a dog. I have always felt safer with a canine companion around to hear noises and bark into the night. So we searched for a dog like Lucy.

We ended up with Roan. Roan is a pure bred blue heeler. Named after her color, she looks just like a blue roan horse. A cattle dog, that lives to heard. She follows us around nosing at our heels. We got her as a young puppy. She had never seen grass before and nearly had a seizure when we set her on the lawn upon bringing her home. Roan is hyper and irritating and stubborn. She doesn't learn her lessons, she makes the same mistakes over and over. She pulls my flower bulbs out of the garden. She digs through the trash. She nearly trips you while trying to get into the house when you bring home groceries. She jumps into the air trying to get your attention, and when you finally pet her, she piddles all over from excitement. Our son cried on a regular basis from being knocked down by an over excited Roan. She is in fact everything that I hate about having a dog. Many times upon finding a favorite something destroyed, I told my husband to take her to the humane society. I spent weeks trying to figure out a way to break it to my son that Roan just wasn't working out.

We had a mole problem. Mole hills were popping up in my nice green lawn, I was not thrilled. I bought a trap, but before I could even get it in place we caught Roan with a mole in her mouth. She had sniffed it out and dug it up from the ground. A few days later we found her with another mole. Huh. I've never seen a mole hunting dog. One afternoon our pigs escaped their pen and made their way down to my neighbors pasture to graze. After trying for an hour to get them back home by myself, exasperated I looked at Roan and told her to take them home. She went to work, herding them the whole way back to their pen. With no training, just on pure instinct alone, she did what generations of cattle dogs did before her. I hated that I was impressed. A few nights ago there was a pack of coyotes in our driveway, no doubt they came for the chickens. Roan sleeps on the front porch, protecting. As I lay in bed, I could hear her communicating with the coyotes in high pitched yips. They ran away. This week we put in a garden and had 8 yards of topsoil delivered. We shovelled for hours in the hot sun spreading the dirt out. Roan was right there with us, at the top of the pile digging away, helping us.

 I hadn't noticed any misbehaving from her in awhile. She was starting to grow on me. It was like she woke up one morning in her chair on the front porch and realized that she needed to act like a member of the family. And as I sat this morning drinking my coffee in the warm sunshine, I watched as my son and Roan rolled around on the grass together and played hide and seek. I realized then that she had worked her way into our family even though we were so hesitant. Roan seems to have earned her keep. I think just maybe, if we applied a little more effort the way that she has, we just might, have us a good Farm Dog.

1 comment:

Emma Banks said...

Hi Emily! I had a question for you about possibly collaborating on something and was hoping you could email me back to discuss? Thanks so much!

- Emma

emmabanks9 (at) gmail (dot) com