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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Vitor of Barrhaven: city dog on the farm

This waking up at 4am is for the birds. Literally. The little squawkers are so excited about the rising sun; they just can’t keep their delight to themselves. They sit in the tree positioned directly outside my bedroom window and sing their song of love to the warm rays of the glowing orb, waking me from a deep sleep. A sleep that I have zero hope of returning to, now that the sun is up.
I try, for three more respectable hours, to get some sleep. I shut the window, pull the window shade down, fluff my pillows and squeeze my eyes shut. Then I hear the dog. He figures, if the birds are up, the people should be up, and that means he might be getting fed soon. He too, sleeps under our bedroom window, where we can hear every move he makes. His low harrumph wakes up the sheepdog, who starts yipping and yapping at the cows, just emerging from their night in the barn.
The cows call to their calves with a low moo that becomes increasingly agitated; a bellowing foghorn in the morning dew. Good thing I’m a morning person. I throw the covers back and get ready to start the day.
On my way down the stairs, my eye is drawn to the window where I am pretty sure I see a skunk making its way across the porch. Not paying attention to my step, I trod on and then trip over a cat. Adrenalin rush is better than caffeine. I’m awake now.
I put the coffee on, boil some water for my hot lemon, and feed the dog.
We have a houseguest this week: Vitor of Barrhaven is here while his human is away on holiday. My city daughter’s city dog watches me silently from his crate. I almost forgot he was there. I have learned to clip the leash on him as soon as I open the door. He’s very jumpy first thing in the morning and he also loves to chase cats.
We step out onto the porch and I take a quick look around for the skunk before feeding the cats. Six of them peer at us from under lawn furniture, scowling and horrified as if to ask, “what fresh hell is this?!”
Vitor’s owner works from home so I’m told he gets about three walks a day. He’s a lean, muscled Rottweiler / Shepherd mix, about 2 years old I think, and he needs plenty of exercise. We start each day with a good 45-minute walk and then I tie him up outside for a couple hours while I work around the house. Sometimes I let him run free around the property but he doesn’t know what the rules are so he keeps coming back to the porch and whining at the door. Either that or he chases cats, rolls in the spot where he found something dead or wanders over to eat whatever Cody has left in his bowl. I feed and water him and watch as he tips his food bowl over and picks the kibble out of the grass. It’s his morning ritual.
Chelsea broke off her chain last night and came to the fence to investigate this new smell/animal. The first meeting did not go well. I put Vitor in his crate in the house while the Farmer went to fix Chelsea’s lead. The little sheepdog, aka Houdini, found a gap in the fence and wriggled through it. She crept up onto the back porch and sniffed through the screen door at Vitor.
Vitor was named after a UFC fighter. He has a lot to live up to. He held his own in a swim meet with my other daughter’s four hunting dogs: she threw the rubber bird into the creek and they splashed in, racing for it and Vitor got it first, nine times out of ten. He quickly learned the hierarchy of dogs in that little clan, as Beretta the boss emerged onto the shore first to demand the duck be dropped at her feet. He only challenged her once. It was pretty neat to watch. Soon she had her own personal duck-fetcher.
My daughter might have a challenge on her hands when she returns from holiday. Vitor may not be content with a simple romp in the park anymore. He is ready for doggy Olympics. He has been training on the farm.

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