We have five dogs here in Virginia. Two of those are Julia’s and she takes care of them herself.
I’ve told stories about Ethyl, our man-eater who adores Watson. We also have a Newfoundland mix and a Great Pyrenees named Rocker.
Great Pyrenees are livestock guardian dogs. They’ve been bred to be independent thinkers and are pretty good problem solvers.
Rocker is an outside, working dog. He’s pretty big – not quite a hundred pounds – but Great Pyrenees are very gentle and they truly do have an instinct to guard and protect.
They also have a tendency to make their “rounds” on the outside of the property, checking things out and “guarding” their territory.
Rocker did a great job of walking our almost four hundred acres, although he especially loved our chickens and spent a lot of time in our yard, lying in the grass, with his head up, keeping watch over them. lol It’s fun to watch. He takes his job so seriously. : )
So, anyway, the end of July, beginning of August was an extremely busy time for us. We had one of our 20K laying barns to flip, plus mom had been diagnosed and there were meetings with Hospice and an evaluation with a nurse and there was a meeting with a social worker and I drove to PA to be there with her for all of those. Plus I was writing books.
None of our dogs are leashed when they’re outside – our property is fenced and our house sits in the middle. There’s no need.
I don’t know if your dogs do this, but ours love rolling in dead things. So, anyway, Rocker came home smelling pretty bad one day in late July.
The girls gave him a bath, but his collar still stunk, so they took it off to wash it separately.
You can’t see nearly all of our property from our house or driveway and it’s not uncommon for Rocker to be walking the perimeter during the day, and with everything we had to do and how busy we were, no one noticed that after his bath, he disappeared.
I need to explain that the previous owner of our farm donated the old railroad bed that lies along the northern edge of our property to the county and there is a rails-to-trails trail that goes along the northern edge of our land. It pretty much follows the river as old railroads often did. We own this side of the trail, and we own the land and river on the other side of it.
We have about three miles of land that borders trail and a lot of it is fenced. The dogs can get through – under the fence where the creek flows through, and Ethyl and our Newfoundland mix duck under and cross the trail to swim with the girls when they swim in the river.
Rocker doesn’t like swimming and he doesn’t like baths. Maybe that’s what made him duck under the fence. I’m not sure.
Anyway, we didn’t realize that’s what he’d done when my youngest called her dad and said she hadn’t seen Rocker all day and not since the day before when she’d given him a bath.
I was making one of my day trips to PA. Watson was at the chicken barn trying to get the manure out and Julia was trying to homeschool the girls while feeding them and taking care of the house, cows, horses and chickens. Plus, we were all upset about my mom and the future seemed uncertain as we slowly began to realize that the 6 months to a year that we’d been told was a gross overestimation.
Watson said Rocker was probably out checking the cows and would be back soon, but if he wasn’t back by the next day (Friday) she and her sister could go house to house down our road and see if anyone had seen him.
The next morning two of our ten chickens were dead and eaten. Nothing but feathers left. Rocker was obviously not around doing his job.
I think I had another meeting on Monday that I had to go to, and Watson was trying to get the barn back together. But on Tuesday we called the animal shelters in our county and the neighboring ones.
Ha. Rocker had been “found” on the trail by a family who lives next to the trail just a mile or so from where our property ends. They’re on the trail weekly and almost certainly know that Rocker belongs to us. However, they’d taken him to the animal shelter in the next county over.
That would have been great, except Rocker’s collar was at our home – the girls had taken it off to wash it after they’d given Rocker his bath, so no license – and the policy is that once the shelter has had an animal five days and the owner hasn’t come for it, the animal can be put up for adoption.
The people who had “found” him, waited the five days, and had adopted him as soon as he was eligible.
He’d barely been taken out the door when we called. Watson protested, of course. It seemed crazy, but in the eyes of the law, Rocker now belonged to our neighbors.
You just have to laugh, right?
It’s true that Rocker probably had been a little neglected at the end of July. We’re always busy, and we were a little more than normal, plus we were kind of preoccupied with the news that my mother was dying.
It’s also true that we don’t own the ground on the trail – just the ground on both sides of it – so Rocker wasn’t technically on our property if they picked him up on the trail.
Since Rocker didn’t usually hang out on the trail, one of the girls speculated that maybe he’d been lured out. That’s pointless speculation, but I understand. They were upset and angry. Watson was too, and wanted to fight it.
I’ve always kind of figured that if people want something of mine bad enough to steal it, they can have it. All of my books have been pirated and are offered all over the internet.
A dog is a little different than a book, of course, and while I guess I was flabbergasted that our neighbors would be so…I’m not sure what the word is…it didn’t really matter. The law is the law and we could fight it, but chances were good that we’d lose anyway, and there’d just be hard feelings on both sides.
With everything else that was happening, it was a blow to lose our friend and companion and protector. But in the end, we decided that the Biblical way to handle it was to let it go.
So, Rocker now lives with our neighbors.
Alright, summer has been nuts here. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen this fall. lol Bring it on, right? : )