Thursday, March 4, 2010

glimmers of a helpful dog

Dusty is officially eighteen months old now, and as he has done since he came to live with us, he delights and frustrates me with equal measure. Well, that's not entirely true. I love him to bits and his every motion is beautiful: his "plopping" on the floor at our feet, his graceful trot to and from the bus stop, his happy laughing face when we come home or wake up, his flat-out race across the lawn to get his soccer ball... I guess the balance is more on the "delights" side.

Plus every so often, he actually manages to do something to help around here. This morning, I needed to catch two ewes to treat them. They were already bunched in the shed, so I brought Dusty in the pasture with me (I usually don't, now that they are pregnant, because he sometimes just can't resist chasing them around, and the combination of him chasing and me hollering for him to knock it off understandably unnerves the poor sheep). I told him to stay with me -- a very hard task for him because he is really, really tempted by all that tasty sheep poop -- then sat him at the opening of the shed and told him to stay, so the sheep would be discouraged from leaving the shed where I could easily catch them in the confined space. Amazingly enough, it worked. He was a little concerned that I was getting jostled around but he more or less stayed put and I was able to easily get my hands on both of them, no crook required. B.D. (Before Dog) that would have been impossible.

But he still manages to drive me nuts on a regular basis. Last week we got a call from one of our neighbors, and we don't have many, to let me know that Dusty was paying a visit to her place on a regular basis, no doubt to sample her dog's poop. (See a theme? Dusty has a one-track mind. Never met a pile of poop he didn't like.) She called him her little "collie-flower", and exclaimed over how gorgeous he was, but expressed concern because (1) she lives on a very busy county road, and she was afraid that he would wander just a bit too far and (2) he pooped on her front sidewalk. I offered to clean up after him, which she declined, but I was seething. At him, not her. His free range time has been drastically curtailed as a result, so we have lost the night patrol dog we thought we had -- and Charlie is too old to do it, at this point.

But how can I stay too mad at a dog that loves his boys as much as this one clearly does?



  1. Ah yes, another sheep poop eater. They seem to be everywhere. But good for you getting him to help you with the ewes. I am impressed! (And thank you for the sweater link).

  2. What a good boy! Our pup likewise hasn't read the chapter on "just instinctively knowing what your owner needs" but didn't kill the chicken who got out of the fence yesterday and today he barked an alert about the strange cat in the driveway. Here's hoping they will keep maturing and we catch them making good choices.

    Also thanks for the fall retreat info, registration begins tomorrow. We might actually meet again someday!