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Thursday, June 2, 2022

We had a sheepdog and a dogsheep


There once was a sheep who thought she was a dog. When Gracie was born, her mother either died or rejected her – I can’t remember which – sad stories are best forgotten on the farm. Luckily, she took to the bottle right away. She also learned to steal from other ewes when they had their heads in the feeder and weren’t paying full attention to who was under their udder. She wasn’t a dumb sheep, by any means. But she did have a very vacant look on her face. It was like a perma-smile. She never looked alarmed or sad – just happy. All the time.

While most lambs totally forgot about me as soon as they were turned out of the barn onto the fresh new meadow, Gracie had total recall. All I had to do was shake a pail of sweet feed or call her name and she would come running, bleating her excitement. I think she eventually got used to the sound of my rubber boots crunching across the gravel. You didn’t have to call for very long. Gracie was never very far away and she would let complete strangers pet her.

Gracie was also a bit of a show stealer. She loved the spotlight. I gave a presentation at the Literary Follies one year and my daughter held Gracie in the wings off stage. When I pulled a baby bottle out of my bag and clicked my tongue Gracie was released and came bouncing across the stage to be held and fed in my lap.

Years later, Gracie was part of the local Christmas Parade. She seemed to be smiling at everyone from atop the float. If she could wave, she would. Her little stub tail was wagging, like the dog she thought she was.

When we decided to get out of sheep farming, I just couldn’t say goodbye to Gracie. I kept her for a bit longer. The donkey and horse let her join them on their daily walks, and the three of them looked like the Bremen Town Musicians. At night, though, they stood while Gracie lay on the cold ground. She didn’t have her comrades to keep her warm any longer. I decided it was time to let her go to a nearby farm where they also had sheep. Donkey went with her, to guard the flock.

I heard that Gracie eventually found her calling, entertaining residents at a seniors’ home in the area. What a great idea, to have a bit of a hobby farm on site where many former farmers could visit or even help to take care of the animals. I’m sure Gracie basked in the attention.

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