I Don’t Want to Live in a Kennel!

I think I convinced Mike this morning to build a simple arbor for the front yard. My idea was to build it to support the grapevines he propogated last fall, provide support for a fence gate at the driveway, and provide two posts of the area I want to enclose for the dogs to play in when they are out on their own. We really enjoyed just opening the door for them last winter, instead of taking them for a walk.

It might seem strange that I would want to enclose part of a farm, but the fact is there are critters on this farm. There are rabbits and deer, raccoons and opposums, skunks and ground squirrels and all sorts of distractions to lead dogs away from their home. That is how we got two of our dogs. Yes, two of them. One, we found in the garden and one arrived this week…a puppy no more than four or five months of age that Mike found in the barn at the other farm. She was well loved wherever she used to live, fairly well trained, and has a farm dog demeanor: calm, patient, loves to ride, stays with the farmer, etc. For a dog just losing her milk teeth, that is amazing.

Val laying still JUST long enough for a picture. She was afraid of the camera.

I don’t want any more animals, but watching her, I see her potential to be Mike’s farm buddy far more than either Fritz or Eddie. Fritz is too high-strung, does not mind, and has the attention span of a flea. He does not ride well, but bounces from window to window with a look of panic in his eyes. Given the chance, Fritz will bolt in any direction, whether chasing a rabbit scent or on the heels of a deer on the run. His Royal Spoiled-Rottenness does not even have sense to come when he hears his name. He just sits down and doesn’t move. That makes it diffcult to find him when he is lost in the woods on a rabbit hunt.

Believe me, we know. We have spent many hours hunting for the dog…in the dark…in the rain. One time, he took off and we hunted for hours. We got frightened for him when a group of coyotes started yapping down near the green house. Mike had driven his truck to the area, heard the coyotes and left the truck running, door open, as he jogged to the house for his shotgun.  By the time he returned to deal with the coyotes he was  convinced would be munching down on Patterdale Terrier kabobs, there sat Fritz in the driver’s seat as if to say, “What do you mean you were hunting for me? I was here all along!”

Yeah, Fritz is not a farm dog.

Eddie, on the other hand, rides well and minds, but is terrified of Mike for whatever reason. When Mike calls him, he tucks his tail and head down, often running the opposite direction of the blond human beast-man. Lord knows, Mike abuses the poor animal with his gentle talk, food treats, and good belly rubs.  Since Eddie was a pound puppy, though, we do not know what he went through prior to coming here. We suspect someone beat the dog. Nevertheless, heis “my” dog and my protector, or I protect him, whichever the case.

Eddie does not like loud noises, like tractors, will chase anything that runs (he lives to run) and frankly…I rather like him here with me. He still has that “I’m going to eat you” bark and shy as he is, I suspect he would hurt anyone that tried to hurt me.

No, Eddie is really not farm dog material.

The new pup is a much better suited farm dog, I think. It is in her personality. She was in the barn and made a bed by the stripping room door on a bale of straw. She was friendly, but only left her bed when encouraged to do so and if returned to the area, immediately sat down as if waiting for permission to move. Mike named her Val.

Val seems to like her new name. She adores Mike and stays with him when possible, and completely ignores me when he is around.  When they are in the garden she explores her surroundings, but never ventures more than a few feet away from him and comes immediately when summoned. She rides well in the truck without making messes, whimpering, or chewing on the tools he tosses haphazardl into the back seat, and she lies contentedly in the back while Mike runs errands. I think she has already bonded to Mike and to the idea of being a farm dog.

The question is, do I allow her to stay and go back on my recent “no more animals” policy or do I try to find a home for her?

In a perfect world, Val would live outside in the fenced yard when not riding along with Mike and make her home in the shade under the front porch deck. She would have access to the house for visits, but “home” would be outside, except during the coldest or hottest weather. She would have, as she does now, plenty of food, fresh water, treats, and play time and grow up being loved, but would not have accidents in the house nor shed on the furniture. In a perfect world, Mike would agree to those conditions.

The world is not perfect. Mike does not believe in outside dogs. He thinks keeping one enclosed or chained to a dog house outside is tantamount to abuse. If he had to do that, I think he would rather place Val for adoption. He offered yesterday to do that when go picks up cow meds from the vet. I guess the onous is on me.

Keeping Val, whether inside or outside presents problems right now. This is a “lean” time on a farm. Harvest is several months away. There are the costs of a vet visit for shots, getting her ‘fixed’, flea and tick meds for the next several months, and deworming.  Beyond that, Val has an absolutely gi-normous appetite too. That is readily apparent since I feed her four times a day (she’s hungry more often), even if it is too soon to know whether her puppy chewiness will also mean destructiveness. There may be other costs I have not yet considered.

So today I am in a quandry and feel like I am the “bad guy” whichever way I turn. I do not want to live in a kennel! I hate the collection of hair, the spilled food, the little accidents, the smells and all that…even if I love the animals. We built a shed for the calves…why can’t they pets have a place of their own?

Oh yeah, they do. They just share it with us. Sigh.

Time is running out on a decision about Val. The longer she is here the more likely she will stay. She is awfully cute, though and so well behaved for her age. Maybe she can stay just one more day.

About cattlebaroness

I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a BA in History, nearing completion of a Master of Arts in American history. Born and raised first on military bases around the world, then in Orange County, CA, I moved to Kentucky when my children were small. I now live on a small family farm and am learning about farm life, planting and our newest addition to the landscape--cattle. Until a month or two ago, all I knew about 'cows' were that they came in brown, black and white and that some are raised for milk and others for meat. I am a quick study out of necessity.
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