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Crying the New Puppy BluesPosted Wednesday, April 15, 2009, at 8:41 AM
Competition begins in the Tillman Dog Soccer Games at the DeJournett farm. Sassy the border collie (left) defends her territory against newcomer upstart Bucky (right). Though Bucky has youth on his side, his untrained playing style results in his rarely getting possession of the ball. A goal is out of the question! Sassy, being the Alpha Dog, has many calls against her for unnecessary roughness.
I figured he would be right at home, since I had to drive out to the Arab Outback to get him, where he was being fostered by a sweet, kind-hearted lady named "Ruthie." Tillman looks like downtown L.A., compared to the hills of Arab.
Fact is, I was down to only two dogs, since my faithful coyote dog Wuz had a stroke and had to be put down, and my sister-in-law "re-homed" Tilley, a rescued rat terrier, who (by the way) offered little in the way of predator protection.
Bucky is black with white socks, a blocky head and big feet. Because of the markings, I thought he might be part border collie (my favorite), but he's growing by leaps and bounds, and I suspect he might have some enormous breed lying somewhere in his DNA. I may have a lab/Great Pyranees/St. Bernard cross on my hands.
Fine with me. If he's big enough to eat a coyote, he'll work out just peachy keen.
So far, he hasn't shown any coyote-eating tendancies, but it's early yet. Last night, when my other two dogs went roaring out into the darkness to patrol the perimeter, Bucky whined and scratched at the front door. He'd better get over that; I don't need a lap dog - I have two lap cats.
Adjusting to a new puppy has its own set of frustrations. I hope I'm up to it. Last night he and Chigger, my daughter's blue-eyed hound, had dragged one of my cushions off onto the porch and were lying in comfort, when I opened the front door for firewood this morning.
It's not as if there's no place around here for dogs to sleep. Years ago, my husband built a fine 5-dog doghouse on the back porch. It has straw in it and faces the kitchen window, so they could look right up at us, as we sat at the kitchen table. (That was back when we actually had meals there.)
As if that's not enough, I cleaned up two of the big plastic doghouses that I had used for the goats, filled them with straw, and put them on the front porch! (It looks a lot better than the old futon I used to have out there.) I have doghouses all over this farm, and there they go, pulling the nice new floral cushions off my porch furniture! At least I caught them before they chewed out the stuffing and distributed it artfully all over the front yard.
I laughed once at one of my student's stories, when he mentioned that their farm dogs destroyed all his mother's Christmas decorations every year! Yeah, that's the way it goes on the funny farms across the nation.
One year we tried those cute lights lining the walk. That was an exercise in futility, I'll tell you. Dogs simply have no appreciation for exterior lighting. I have no doubt that they'd drag the baby Jesus right out of his nativity scene, if I tried to put one out.
I've also discovered that this is a bad year to plant flowers. Bucky bites off the blooms and digs them out of their pots. Last Wednesday, before winter came back, I planned to work on my flowers. Bucky was up before daylight, getting ready. He chewed a hole in the bottom of my big bag of potting soil, scattering it on the porch.
Though I appreciate his enthusiasm for gardening, I now have all my flowers huddled together in pots on the patio table. Hopefully, he won't learn to climb like a goat and get those, too.
Actually, the flowers were the final straw in my decision to get rid of the goats last year. For Mother's Day 08, my son and daughter-in-law re-planted my pathetic flower bed in front of the house. The hostas were especially beautiful. I came home from work one day to find goats all over my front yard and the hostas demolished. That was the last straw! No more goats.
Now, here I go, getting another puppy. I need to have my head examined!
I've tried giving him chew toys, so he won't chew on my air conditioner cover, my outside furniture, my plants, the hose nozzle, and anything else he can get his teeth on. The other dogs make sure there are plenty of cow and deer bones in the yard to chew on.
My two older dogs think I got the puppy especially for them to play with. I have to walk them on the lane twice a day, no matter what the weather, so I can divert their attention from their various "construction projects."
My son's outside cat takes a dim view of all these proceedings, slinking around and waiting for a chance to sink her claws into puppy flesh. Ah, best Bucky learn the facts of life early. Just when you're having the most fun, here comes some spoil-sport to burst your balloon...
Time will tell whether this venture will end in success or failure, but one thing for sure - It's certainly not dull out here anymore!
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 573-722-5322.