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Monday, June 26, 2017

A full house on the farm

My daughter Anastasia needed a place to stay between houses. We agreed that she should move in to the farm for a week. That was great news, because it meant I would get to see my granddaughter quite a bit. Unfortunately it also meant I would be seeing and hearing more of Annie’s German Pointer, Skor.

Skor is a beautiful dog. He is a sweet, energetic and fun-loving three year old. But he has a bad case of nerves. He is constantly jumping up on things including people, the furniture, parked cars and the door to the house. Within a few hours of being at the farm, Skor had scratched the front door beyond repair, busted a doorway through the wooden lattice work under the porch and formed a path through the three-foot-tall flowers in the front bed. Annie said she would repair whatever Skor wrecked. It’s a good thing she is only staying a week because I don’t think she could afford any more damage.

Our pup Fergus loves having Skor and his considerably better behaved brother Rupert the Yellow Lab on the farm. Rupert puts up with Fergus bobbing up and down under his chin, nipping at his jowls and his ears. The bigger dog even teases the pup and engages him in play. Fergus is in heaven.
One day Annie needed someone to watch the baby. Of course I volunteered. Leti and I were having a great day together, splashing in the pool and playing with her Barbie and pony collection. Then I noticed Fergus was missing. He had wriggled under the snow fence that I had strapped to the bottom of the barnyard fence. He was standing on the rock pile on the cattle side of the fence, challenging a groundhog he had discovered within. I called him to come back but he ignored me. I picked up my 18-month-old granddaughter and started toward him. He’s a smart dog, and he knows he isn’t supposed to be in the barnyard, where he could be harmed by a bull or over-protective cow. I approached him carefully. The trick is to catch up to him before he notices and starts running in the opposite direction. That’s when I saw the coyote.

Not much bigger than Fergus, the young coyote was bounding along the fencerow toward my little dog. He appeared to want to play, but my instincts told me to get Fergus out of there. I picked up the pace, Leti bouncing and giggling along on my hip. I waved my free arm at the coyote and made as much noise as possible, hooting and hollering. Leti helped. That seemed to scare him, because he turned tail and ran back in the direction from which he had come. Then I bent down and scooped up my gangly and awkward Golden Retriever pup. A dog on one hip and a toddler on the other, I turned and headed back to the house. It must have been quite a picture. Fergus was all wiggly and squirmy in my arms. He wanted to be released so he could go back to investigating groundhog hill. Leti kept trying to reach around and stick her fingers in Fergus’ mouth. I tried to keep them separate while walking as fast as physically possible, back out of the barnyard and across the lawn to the house.
It’s possible that the coyote thought Fergus was one of his kind and just wanted to play, but I wasn’t taking any chances. For the next two days my back ached from the effort of carrying nearly fifty pounds of human and fur baby while running across a rocky pasture.

The Farmer was less than enthusiastic when he learned we would have houseguests – some of them with four legs. We kept the dogs in the basement or out on the porch when the Farmer was around – no use in poking the bear.

On their second night with us, the baby wasn’t feeling well. Fever kept her up most of the night and so no one got more than a couple hours sleep. In the morning, Skor tested our bedroom door and found it to be unlocked. He bounded up onto the bed and licked the Farmer right across the face. That day my husband packed up his fishing equipment and took off to the lake with a few of his closest two-legged friends. The only full house he wants to see in the next week is in a card game.

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