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An old dog taught me a new trick today…
Have you ever fed for your friends?
On occasion, neighbors will ask me to feed or trade feedings. I think usually we all use outside, ‘professional’ feeders… just to keep us all good friends. You know, good fences make good neighbors and all. But in a pinch, we ask each other.
Well, last week when I went to Oregon for the Holistic Grasslands Management Conference, I needed someone to wrap Tess’ feet. I trust my neighbor so we traded.
This morning was my turn to repay the favor.
Her place is very nice, in fact, I wish I had bought it when I came here. The property has County water running through it (I was not aware of this very important asset when I arrived in Grass Valley – now the County water is highly coveted) so her grass is always lush and green. I swear, the temperature is 10 degrees cooler there simply due to all that water. They also have a huge pond with a fountain constantly fountaining.
It is nice.
Except, there is no main gate. In other words, if anyone gets out of their pens/paddocks/kennels, they can really GET OUT.
Anyway, driving the 1 minute to get there and then feeding her 3 horses, 2 elderly dogs and a cat is an easypeasy thing.
Or so I thought…
The procedure is simple. The elderly dogs are both in a huge paddock with most of their daily needs met except food and a good walk. The idea is to get the dogs out first, keep one on a lead while the other runs free down to the horse paddocks.
The owner said, “You want to run Jack, the Malamute, first because he’s a runner and he’ll take off if he is let go for long… but he will run down to the horse paddocks and you can switch dogs then. Keep Whiskey on the lead until you get to the horse paddocks and then let him free. Whiskey is a really good dog, he never does anything wrong, you won’t have to worry about him at all – other than he is a bit deaf.”
…Here lies the critical error in a piece of pertinent information left out…
OK, when I arrived at the horse paddock with Whiskey on the lead and Jack (the malamute) running amuck, I let Whiskey go and tied up Jack.
In this moment, the owner’s words were ringing in my memory, “Whiskey never does anything wrong…”. So when I looked up, after the release, I was quite surprised to not see Whiskey anywhere in sight.
I figured I just couldn’t see him in all that tall, green grass. After all, how far could he go in one second?
So, I didn’t think much of his disappearance and set about sweeping the horses’ mats, putting out food and cleaning manure.
INSTRUCTION 2 DURING THE PROCEDURE
Then I was supposed to take Jack on a walk around their pond. So, after I was done with the horses, I put Jack on the lead and he told me where to go and what to do. I loved him. He was very kind. He kept looking back at me to see if I was OK with it all… if he’d warp and I happened to woof (google it), it was no issue and he’d correct himself. We had a grand 20 minutes or so. And then he literally pulled me up the hill (like a true musher) and back into his paddock/kennel for dinner.
Alas, the other dog (the good dog), Whiskey, was no where in sight.
Jack and I had just gone around the pond… Whiskey was not there.
OMGosh. Where was he?
I looked at Jack and asked, “Where’s Whiskey?!”
He looked back, “I don’t know, I’ve been with you!”
I ran up to the entrance to the house – the one without the gate – and ran out into the complex. Luckily, the 10 parcels were inside of a gated community. However, there were a million ways for a dog to escape so I didn’t feel secure.
I ran like a crazy woman, yelling his name – all the while knowing he was ‘a bit deaf’ and I was probably singing to the choir. Drenched in sweat, I came back to the house. Now what would I do?
I looked at Jack who seemed happy. He wasn’t concerned, so I took this as a good sign. Perhaps Angeldog Whiskey has done this before?…
Maybe I had missed Whiskey in the tall grass and he was actually diving after a ground squirrel or something like that! Maybe I just needed to make another excursion around the place.
So, I did. All the while, I called his name. He didn’t answer.
Arrrghhhh! What have I done? I’ve lost their child. I’ve lost their Whiskey who she says is the perfect dog. Oh NO!
I went inside the house to cool down and think.
I wasn’t going to panic because Jack wasn’t in panic. I know this sounds insane, but these two dogs have been together for 10 years. They were always together. So, I figured this had to be a clue. If Jack wasn’t upset, he must know he would see his friend again.
OK, my plan was to walk the streets again.
So, I opened the front door and… who do you suppose was standing there, wagging his tail with a huge smile on his face, asking, “When’s dinner? I’m starved! That sojourn I just took has made me really hungry!”
I grabbed Whiskey and hugged him – therefore rewarding him for running off. Oy. But, I was so happy to see him!
As we walked back together to their kennel, Jack seemed to take it all in stride. Hmmmm. Something tells me that he’s been through this drill before.
I put Whiskey in with Jack and fed them their dinners.
Peace fell upon us.
When my friend came home, I did confess and tell her that Whiskey had given me quite a scare.
And she replied, “Oh he does that sometimes. He goes to visit his old dog friend up the road, but he always comes back.”
Ahhh. That missing piece of information…
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