Time for the afternoon walk with the dogs Carrie and Spotty. Everyone wrapped up warmly and walked, taking in this beautiful sight of the frost and mist covering the hills and fir trees.
We began by going into the big barn. As the door opened Spotty just looked. At this point I would like to tell you about what I think Spotty must have thought. I could see it in her eyes and actions.
“Joy, oh joy. Hey this is familiar. Spotty ran into the barn. Sniffing, she re-called familiar smells. This was where she was born with her brother and sister. Her first steps, playing with her brother, now gone to another farm, and her sister, since died. There was the bench where J. and Mary had sat, getting to know the family.
How she remembered, how she’d tried so desperately to get Mary’s attention and go to live with her. Working on the farm was not her choice. Instinct had implied there was abetter life elsewhere.
But it happened, her sister, when old enough to leave Mum had gone with Mary. She remembered the visits when Katy and Mary came back. Katy had told her all about the ‘town’ life. Being on a lead, being taken for walks and all with nothing to do. Spotty exchanged news of ‘farm life’.
After that first visit it was decide to see if they could swap places. Humans were stubborn and a lot of working out had to be done. So at each of the visits they planned and many ways were tried out but in gentle ways. The last thing they wanted was to hurt the Humans’ Katy was stubborn with Mary. She was taken to training classes where she just slid all over the floor. She pinched things off the table, stole from the plates, chewed everything she could but none of this worked. Once she devoured nearly a whole bottle of pills.
When on the lead she would pull and tug. Then there was the time she was off the lead walking up the mountain path. She knew at the top was a field where lots of sheep were grazing. With what she did next Katy anticipated that would make Mary see that her life was as a working farm dog. She rushed on ahead and as it was up hill, Mary was slower than her. By the time reached the top Katy was really involved in rounding up the sheep. No amount from the voice calling would she take any notice. Her concentration was on ‘sheep’. And the work she loved doing.
On the next visit to Jan’s Katy reported how Mary had re-acted. It was decided she would have to give her a nasty bite, enough to cause treatment at the hospital. She had been giving her ‘nips’. Drastic action but it was this that done the trick. She was ignored only to be given food and let outside to do her business and shut in the kitchen. The love that was given to her was stopped.
Luckily it only lasted a few days. She was put in the back of the car and transported back to the farm.
Spotty was not around at that moment they arrived, being out with G. driving in the van. Had she known when the swap was to be she would have stayed home. Arriving back she recognised the grey car and Katy inside. Eagerly she left the van and went to sit beside the other car.
And so the swap happened. The collar and lead was taken off Katy and put on Spotty. She had always wanted a collar. It felt real cool. She jumped into the car and waited while the Goodbyes were said.
She’d missed the farm and other dogs to start with but it would soon fade into the past. She had cried a lot but Mary gave her lots of love and Spotty returned the same by being obedient, house trained and never straying far from Mary’s side when out walking. So the tears disappeared as Mary and Spotty bonded.”
‘Come on Spot’ the familiar voice called.
Behind that barn door were a host of memories. On the opposite door, leading to the grassy area, the pups had managed to make a hole to escape through. Plans were thwarted when J. had blocked it up.
Time to leave and go out to the grassy area where she had romped with other dogs and familiarised herself with ‘sheep and lambs’.
This was all so exciting to remember. There was the cow-shed. Look the cows were in there too. Mmm the smell of manure. Perfect.
Next the lambing shed. Reluctantly she followed everyone in. Oh how she hated being in here. She remembered how one sheep had spoken severely to her, saying ‘go near us and you’ll be dead meat’ and domineering and had given her a kick. That was the time when she became very frightened of ‘sheep’ and from then on he blocked out her instinct of rounding sheep up. From then on she avoided sheep by spending time wandering the fields and getting round G. or I. to take her out in the van.
Last year’s lambs were in the pens, waiting to go to market. At least they only went half way then turned. Hastily Spotty dashed out of the shed. The group had walked halfway up, she hastily retreated out of the barn.
Out on the hillside the cold air touched the bodies other group. Carrie, J’s dog, and Spotty ran and jumped over ditches. Above two Kites were flying. Back at the farm it was now time to say good-bye and see you again soon.
© miss mary