We were e-mailed some suggestions from a reader a few weeks ago. One was to write about my pets, which I wanted to do anyway. Since the National Veterinary Medical Association is recognizing next week as National Pet Week, this seems like the right time.
You may already have picked up the fact that we have a dog. I know I’ve mentioned feeding her. Her name is Lydia, or Lydie, we usually say. She’s an outside dog, a mongrel, but she’s more border collie than than anything else. I’m always amazed how inbred her behavior is. Although she has never seen a flock of sheep (or any other group of animals like them that I know of), when we untie her, she darts forward, like a shot, for a distance and then begins to double back making a circle as though rounding up something – the unknown herd that her genes are telling her to go and bring in.
Lydie is tied on her run much too much of the time, but since we live in town, we can’t let her loose unless someone is going to stay outside to keep an eye on her. We adopted Lydie when she was about 2. Her former owner wanted a house dog and found that she couldn’t be trusted inside. When she is excited, she piddles sometimes. I’ve only noticed this a few times outside. When we sneak her into the house she is well behaved. She senses our guilt, since we’re not supposed to let her in, her head lowered, her shoulders humbled as she is allowed this privilege of being in her people’s space. How interesting our kitchen must be to her, rich with a full gamut of smells, good and bad, and to a dog probably rated in the opposite order than I would put them.
My daughters feel bad about not paying enough attention to her, and I sympathize with them. To be close to her is to be tolerant of all the wonders of an outside dog – muddy feet and residual foul smells. (She always heads straight for the most rank odor she can find to roll in.)
A natural watch dog, she is always on the lookout for the slightest sign of movement other than the four people who live in the big house beside her little house. Be it cat, pedestrian or car, she barks, barks, barks, annoying me, probably our neighbors, and most definitely, my husband (especially if he has worked night shift and is trying to sleep.)
She is used to our vehicles, too, and only barks at other cars that come in the drive. Lydie has been known to nip at neighbor kids who get too close in her territory (never our girls or “her” girls), but when she is loose she is great with the kids and loves their attention. When she is loose, she doesn’t seem to bark at the cars and kids. It’s as if her being tied means she’s on sentry duty, and loose she is at ease.
Lydie is the a perfect candidate for one of those pet containment systems – the electrical wires that you bury that transmit to the collar on the dog. I see them advertised all the time. I’d like to hear from anyone who knows if the inexpensive ones, that you set up yourself, work.
Write to me care of the Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.