Where There’s A Willow, There’s A Way

                                                                                 How Could You??

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.

In A Blink Of The Eye

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Willow is now five months old.

I have been sick for a week. All the photos this week have been taken with my iPad, and mostly in my bed. Dogs make great hot water bottles when you are shivering with a fever. Time goes by slowly when you’re sick but seeing Willow’s snapshots and how much her body has changed from teeny puppy to small dog, time also speeds by like a bullet. Or a terrier running through the garden with your sock in her mouth.

I haven’t been able to do much to find an outlet for their rambunctious spirits. Therefore, three pillow cases, two wool socks and one lovely cream coverlet have become victim to what looks suspiciously like puppy gnawing rather than damage done by gigantic lunar moths from another planet. I’m telling you this on the q.t. I can’t complain to my trainer because none of them are supposed to be on or in my bed. Ever.

Martha has slept on the bed for 16 years. I’m not about to take that away from her now because the Bed Thing is spoiling the other two. It’s come one, come all, I’m afraid. Gah.

We did have the most amazing murmuration of starlings this week I’ve ever witnessed. Thousands of them swooped around the fields of my farm and around the garden like a symphony of notes of a Rachmaninov concerto. Incredibly choreographed by some instinct, they went to ground, then swooshed up in formations in the air around the house and fields until they finally flew away. I managed only to catch a quick shot of part of their last swoop. Oh, for my Nikon, a wide lens and a perch on the ridge line of my roof.

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Rosemary’s Puppy

I am losing my mind.

Think Damien from “The Omen.” The head twisting horror of Linda Blair in “The Exorcist”. I am living with Rosemary’s Puppy.

It's Alive It’s Alive

Don’t let this sleeping dog lie–she’s as alert as a highly caffeinated college junior during finals. We just returned from what can loosely be called a walk (she dragged Angus, poor Martha and me down our “practice” road, the one so boring it gives me a small chance of getting a tiny portion of her attention span) and while everyone else is knackered, she is merely cuddled next to Gus, pondering her next fiendish move.

We begin puppy school next week. In the interim, I’m supposed to be loading her with a Marker Word. And it can’t be “Nooooooooooo!” Damn. It’s actually “Yes”. I say “yes” and then shove tasty treats into her mouth.

The idea is any time she does anything that could remotely be construed as good behavior, I say “yes,” shove food, and she will magically make the connection between the word, the desired behavior and the food. Uh huh.

I’m meant to ignore all undesirable behavior. Digging up the plants in the garden. Chewing my sandals. Chewing the legs of my chairs. Chewing her crate. Jumping on Martha. Basically, ignore her at this point.

She does sit. She learned that the second day. So I reward that. “Yes,” I say, and shove food into her mouth.

I will either have the fattest, worst trained dog on the planet, who sits on command but tears my arm out of its socket when I walk her, chases cars, bikes, cows, horses and chickens, or I may have to start looking for a priest to perform an exorcism on a tiny puppy.

A New Leash On Life

Willow is learning about the leash. She needs boundaries. Badly.  She has no clue about property lines, roads, cars, or the cows and horses that live around us on the neighboring farms. Given that she’s a terrier, all of these things are curiosities to be examined, chased, or played with. She’s incapable of perceiving them as dangerous. Hence the 15 foot web leash attached to her harness. She pulls like a little freight train and goes in so many directions at once, it is a lot like capturing tiny balls of mercury after the thermometer has shattered. Her fascinations and desires extend so far beyond being with me, unlike my older, educated dogs.

Like shampoo instructions, “lather, rinse, repeat” and get out of the shower. You’d think being the center of the universe would have some appeal, but what lies beyond the end of the lead is as compelling to her as the allure of dead fish is to my lab. Sigh.

Did Someone Say Cookie?

Did Someone Say Cookie?