The puppy is now about a year and half old. She has come a long way from berserk. four pound sheep hunter to wily, seventeen pound combination persistent nuisance to all things and loving, loyal member of our home pack. She still has miles to go before we all sleep well, but the girl is on a good path.
I know a lot more now than I did “B.W.” (Before Willow). My two other Jack Russells lulled me into a smug sense of security that time and training would produce a calm, stable, companionable dog in a year. Willow has dispelled any notion I had that nurture can override nature, sort of like the false security you have that your software will protect you against Heartbleed or some other such insidious virus. She has a prey drive second only to a hyena with the scream to match, and only another piece of prey can pull off one scent to another. There’s yet to be a cookie invented that can compete with a chattering chipmunk. Perhaps if I rolled myself in raw meat, I might have greater appeal to her, but I have this image in my mind of being taken down by coyotes or bears, or at least every other dog in the neighborhood save mine.
Her recall is spotty. I don’t chase her any longer. Long gone are the days when she would take off through out rural area, this mostly small white streak, with me in pursuit (usually in my bed slippers), through horse pastures, cow pastures, pig sties, and chicken coops. If she leaves the farm perimeter (which is, admittedly, less often) for far-flung fields, that’s her choice. It isn’t that I don’t care or that I don’t worry: I’ve simply learned that the less I holler for her and simply take Martha and Gus inside or continue playing with them, the game is over. She can’t stand not being the center of attention and comes back of her own accord out of curiosity about what she may be missing. Like the new raw food treats.
She’s also taught me you can put everything you’ve got into a dog, but the dog has to want to meet you halfway. A dog makes choices, good and not so good. Sometimes, you just have to wait until the brain is more mature and just hope the dog survives its less stellar choices. Willow isn’t Gus, who walks at heel through the forest off leash, looks up for permission to chase a squirrel, and, now that he has the Tasmanian Devil as a little sister, has the patience of Job. Martha, blissfully deaf and much less patient with Willow’s antics, snarls. Any resemblance to my own human family life is purely coincidental. Or maybe not.
I am hoping one day, in our dotage, to be glad after all that I brought her home. I want to look back and, like labor, not really remember how the early days of our lives drove me to the brink of psychosis. I want to be able to buy good sheets again without resigning myself to the holes that will be chewed in them. And I would like to answer the front door like a normal person, not hiding behind the tiny crack like a hoarder, with dogs snapping at my heels to charge the unseen intruder. I’m certain at this point, we’ve been removed from the Jehovah’s Witness visitors list, and I must admit, I miss having someone to talk to occasionally.