Friday, January 27, 2012

Our woofers

Kerouac is certain there's something worth getting in there...
The three happiest dogs in the world right then.
Before we moved here, we worried how the dogs would fare living in the country... Not so much Chiquita, our Dachshund-Chihuahua mix. She lived out in the country in North Carolina... but Happy & Kerouac were the ones we were a little worried about. Okay, mostly Kerouac, the Jack Russell.. He's a little wild, and had been raised on leashes. Prior to moving here, we'd thought about fencing in a portion of the yard to let the dogs run around in. Once we got here, though, we found that it would be rather inconvenient to put in a fence, so we left it alone. For the first year we were diligent about taking Kerouac out on a leash. The other two are fine without leashes. We keep Chiquita on leash at night out of fear of owls and coyotes and the fact that she's black, and easily disappears in the pitch dark of the yard at night.  The first weekend we were here, I let Kerouac outside without a leash. I had been experimenting with seeing how he'd do during the day time. And he was doing great. Rich's sister, Casey, & I were sitting in chairs in the front yard, watching him explore. And then all of the sudden, he was gone. He wandered into the corn field, and just disappeared. He was gone for two hours. Rich, his Dad, his sister, and I spent time wandering through cornfields, driving down the roads. I had just gotten to the point where I was going to seriously begin grieving his loss when Rich & I see him walking down the road, back towards the house. We'd only been here for a few days, and he hadn't walked around beyond the yard much, so we were a little doubtful he'd find his way back home. And every night we'd been hearing packs of coyotes nearby, and I kept picturing him coming across a pack of sleeping coyotes in a cornfield someplace. But there he was, and when he saw us in the car, he stopped, wagged and ran over to us, seemingly grateful for the ride. After that we kept him on a leash pretty much all the time. Until around Christmas last year, when it was obvious that he & Happy enjoyed running and frolicking in the deep snow. Check out my blog entry from last Christmas to see how that ended up.

Chiquita with a persimmon this past fall.
 But all-in-all, these three dogs have adjusted to life out here in the country just fine. Sometimes at night, the dogs react to the proximity of the coyotes by keeping their tails and ears down. And I don't think Kerouac & Chiquita will ever get used to the house-shaking thunderstorms we get. Even Happy is becoming afraid of them. I'm writing of the dogs today because just a while ago I was watching them. During the day we almost never put any of them on a leash. Kerouac seems to understand what the limits of his exploring are (although he has been pushing further into the woods every day). Kerouac has been obsessed with one room in the barn (see the picture above). I don't know if it's because there's a critter living in there (likely) or just because the door's shut (also just as likely). Chiquita's been obsessed with the compost bin. If you don't keep an eye on her, you'll see her little butt & tail sticking out of the slats of the wall surrounding the bin. Then see her lying in the yard, eating on some half-rotten morsel. Happy & Kerouac are obsessed with bird poop. All normal things for dogs, I suppose. This summer, Kerouac showed the other dogs how to pick ripe tomatoes from the vine. And all three of them routinely check underneath the persimmon trees for any fallen fruit.
Happy & Kerouac still harvesting the garden even in January...

In the end, though, it wasn't the new surroundings, the miles of open space, the new smells that mattered to these dogs. It was that Rich & I are here with them. That there are rays of sunshine in which to warm oneself in, that there are blankets and food and treats and their humans to snuggle up with. And honestly, just as we probably made our dogs' transition to country life relatively seamless, they made ours just as easy...

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