This dog is too busy for wandering

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“One of my obsessive pursuits here at Bedlam Farm is observing the animals, watching the way the residents here change in relation to one another. The farm is a whole, a collection of its parts, and everything affects everything else. I no longer see this place in terms of sheep or dogs, donkeys, chickens, groundhogs or coyotes. They are all of a piece, parts of a puzzle.”
— Jon Katz, “Dog Days”

Not long ago, I wrote of my enchanting dog named Channing, who had learned to tour the neighborhood on the days we were all away for the day. The little two-timer had even charmed her way in to the home of a neighbor, loving the attention of their preschool-aged granddaughter.

We took a few steps toward reclaiming this dog as our own. After asking the kind lady to please not be so kind toward our dog, we gave Channing a serious talking-to and penned her up for several days. We also put a stronger battery in her invisible fence sensor collar and we all sort of crossed our fingers that when this great dog was released from confinement, she would decide to stick to her boundaries. We dished out a few treats to entice her to stay close.

New development

On top of all of this, though, is a new development here on the farm. Our barn is filling up with young Holstein calves and the twice-daily chores require more and more time. My nephew, Todd, is here for a good long while in the mid-morning, and my hubby and son take the nightly chores every evening after they return home from work.

In the midst of this coming about, my friend Cindy asked me if I knew of anyone who would take some kittens that she had paid to have spayed and neutered, as well as brought up to date on all shots. I told her we would be glad to take two of the litter, but before the transaction was complete, I had brought all four here.

We have the stately Charles and his sister, Dickens (because she is uglier than the Dickens, poor thing!), and bright-orange Sundance and Cassidy. They seem to think they own the place already.

Our great neighbor, Sharlene, decided we needed a few more cats and she contributed to the cause. We now have Patsy Cline and Minnie Pearl hanging out with the rest of the crew, always on high alert for leftover milk.

Now, Channing has plenty of work to do and she is loving her new busy schedule! When this English Shepherd isn’t out hunting for groundhogs or chasing the squirrels that can keep her occupied for hours, she is busy inside the big barn. The cats don’t run when they see her coming. Instead, they sort of lean in to her for a little affection.

No surprise

When we traveled to Columbiana County to choose this great dog from a litter we had seen advertised in Farm and Dairy a couple of years ago, we were amazed to learn that the mama dog had welcomed two orphaned kittens in to the warm nest while her puppies were still quite small. That mother dog allowed the kittens to nurse right along with her puppies, then licked them and cared for them as if they were her own.

So, it is not surprising that Channing sees the barn cats as something akin to kin. When she isn’t baby-sitting the feline brood, she is busy checking on the Holstein calves throughout the busy barn.

For now, it seems, our two-timing dog has changed her ways and has decided she has too much work to do here on the farm to go visiting. Let’s hope this new wrinkle continues to hold.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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