Tuesday, April 14, 2009

She Has a Good Heart

Sometime during our first year at Iron Acres we adopted a dog. He was a year old Springer Spaniel named Bandit who had proven much too active for the city. Bandit was the product of his show dog mother's, ahem, indiscretion with an opportunistic dog of unknown breed.

Here is a picture of Bandit guarding part of our first hay harvest 17 years ago, along with my Dear Professor and a very exhausted Son 1. Now that was a learning experience!


I loved Bandit, and he loved me. He thought he was a lap dog. I took him everywhere. He was beautiful and smart, the first dog I ever had that did more than dig holes in the yard and bite the mailman. (sorry mailman!) He learned how to jump through the tire swing, shake, roll over, even climb a few rungs on a small ladder.

But Bandit had an aggression disorder--whatever he laid his mouth on was his. He also suffered from occasional catatonic spells. Every now and then his eyes would glaze over and he would stare into space like that character in Silas Marner. After six months he was banished to the back yard and chicken guarding duties after biting my Dear Professor on the hand while I was out shopping. Although Bandit was smart, he was not smart enough to know not to bite the hand that feeds you, literally or otherwise.

One summer, after age had taken its toll on his hearing, Bandit passed away while on "varmint patrol". I want to go like he did, napping in the sun.

The following summer we hired a young man from down the road to look after our critters while we were in Texas. At the end of the first week he reported an alarming number of chickens missing, and suggested setting up traps. By the time we returned, he had captured several raccoons, a few possums, one skunk, and a barn cat. I think the barn cat was the only critter to get away with just a slap on the paw. I cannot vouch for the others--I didn't ask, and he didn't tell.

That experience made it very evident that we did, indeed, need another dog.

06May Misty sit copyAnd that is how Misty (part hound, part Weimaraner, part ?) the freecycle wonder dog came into our lives. A farmer friend found her in the listings and made arrangements to go pick her up. I had some misgivings initially. She wasn't socialized (read: she displayed fear aggression toward other dogs), and her owners were giving her away because the wife was preggers and the husband was afraid of her. (Misty, not his wife, although pregnancy hormones have been known to cause terrifying behavior.) But my farmer friend, who is highly experienced in all things dogly, assured me that all Misty needed was some love, exercise (Did I mention she was part Weimaraner? That means ADD!), and walking with an experienced dog. (I've written about this before, here, but one of the luxuries of being sixtysomething is that I am expected to repeat myself. One day you'll find that out for yourself. Don't say I didn't warn ya.)

Our initial walks consisted of Misty gasping and pulling at the lead while I flew behind her. She is one powerful doggie! My farmer friend was right. After only a month of walking with my FF's highly trained farm collies, Misty was not only friendly with other dogs, but also capable of walking off leash and actually coming when I called . . .if she was looking at me when I called.

Misty may not be as beautiful as Bandit, but she has a good heart.

And isn't that more important anyway?