Neffie, formally named Queen Nephele, was our livestock guardian dog here for 12 years. She came as a half-grown dog, being about 6 months old.
Part of her breed characteristics as a Maremma included an independence and certain “stand-offishness”. She took that to the extreme, and wanted no part of being petted or handled by humans. The only person she tolerated touching her was me.
Our neighbor across the street has a dog named Gracie. She’s a bitch.
Hey! You know female dogs are called bitches!
But I’ll have to admit, our dogs probably think of her in the more derogatory sense of the word.
She has claimed not only her yard as her territory, but the neighbors yard next to her, and our front yard across the road from her yard. This can be a good thing, because she chases away the pack of dogs from the neighbors at the end of the road.
However, she also sometimes gets on the other side of some of the fence around our pastures and bugs our dogs. I imagine the conversation goes something like this:
Gracie: “Ha, ha, you’re stuck behind the fence and I’m running free.”
Our dogs: “Just let us get hold of you… ”
Toby isn’t always behind a fence though. He goes out to the mailbox with me and then Gracie tries to assert her authority. Mostly he ignores her.
But sometimes he just has to show her what he thinks of her. . .
Yep, he’s looking for a place to mark his territory. I believe it’s his way of saying. . .
“Here’s what I think of you …”
And he probably adds that other word too.
Today I have a little story to tell you about something that happened over the summer.
You see, I have this cousin, Rita, who is most definitely the queen of malapropisms, non sequiturs and tangled truths. You know, one of those people who slaughters the use of words and never has a clue she’s said anything wrong. A person who takes a set of facts and draws conclusions that have no connection to reality whatsoever.
I mean, we’re talking about someone who believes everything she reads on the internet or in the National Enquirer. If somebody at work tells her something, it must be true. Taken all together, this means conversations with her are always interesting in one way or another.
Consider a day this past summer, when we were both attending our family reunion. Sitting there at a picnic table, she started telling me her recent troubles. It seems that it was a downright bad week for the pets in her household.
“You wouldn’t believe it,” says she, “but we lost almost half our pets this week in one fall swoop.”
I’m thinking that’s probably one “fell” swoop, but I just asked her what happened.
“First off, my koi drowned.”
“What do you mean your koi drowned? It’s a goldfish, so how could it drown?”
“Well,” says Rita, “it got stuck down in some rocks and couldn’t get up to the surface to breathe, and it drowned.”
I told her, “Rita, fish breathe through their gills. Whatever happened it didn’t drown. Dolphins and whales come to the surface to breathe, but they’re mammals, not fish. Your fish did NOT drown.”
By then she’s getting exasperated with me, and not to be confused with facts. She says huffily, “I’m telling you, Billy Bob at work said those koi have to come to the surface now and then to breathe, and the fish was dead, so that HAS to be what happened.”
I give up. I know that fish was in a well-oxygenated pond, so there was oxygen in the water. It didn’t suffocate; it didn’t drown. But better change the subject before she gets thoroughly upset with me. I inquire what else happened to make it such a bad week.
“The dog ate my wristwatch and got really sick.”
You’re kidding, right?
“No, really! Butch ate my watch and threw up, but it didn’t help. The watch never came up, and he was really sick.”
So, did you take him to the vet?
“No, about the time I decided I’d better take him, he went to the bathroom and the watch came out. Time passed and he got better.”
I look at her thinking she’s joking, but she’s sitting there with a completely straight face and entirely unaware of what she just said.
Suppressing a grin, I decide that for us, too, it was time to move on.
Was that all that happened?
“No, the worst was Albert. He died.”
Albert was her pet tarantula. Rita had him since high school, so this was bad. I prepared to sympathize.
“Yeah, he was molting,” she continued, “and he couldn’t get that final leg out of the old skin and he couldn’t move, so he couldn’t get anything to drink and finally he was all desecrated and died.”
At this point, I’m absolutely positive she’s putting me on, but once again she sits there totally oblivious to what she just said. No way am I going to point out I’m sure she means “desiccated,” not desecrated.
By this time I’m choking down laughter, and no matter how hard I tried to disguise it, it must have somehow shown through.
“I don’t see what’s so amusing.” Rita was clearly upset with me. “Here half my pets get sick or die, and you think it’s funny!”
I rushed to reassure her that I was indeed sorry she’d had so many problems with her pets that week. Once I finally mollified her, I decided it was time to head for the recreation center to find something to drink.
After all, it was mighty hot out there, and I didn’t want to get desecrated.
Yes, it was that time again. Toby needed his annual shots. So off we went to the vet. Except for the doing wasn’t near as easy as the telling. Toby is a farm dog so the only time he leaves the place is to go to the vet. Once a year. Hmmmm…
I figured we’d have trouble getting him into the vet’s office. What I did NOT expect was that he wouldn’t want to get in the truck. I don’t remember having such trouble getting him into the truck before, but then, it has been over a year.
At any rate, when cajoling, commands and food bribery all failed, eventually I lifted the front end and the Cave Geek got the back end, and we got him lifted up into the truck enough so that he scrambled in the rest of the way.
Happily, he was actually eager to go into the vet’s office. (Maybe he remembers she has treats?) As long as he could explore and come over for a pet now and then, he was happy.
He wasn’t too thrilled about the second shot, however. He squirmed around and knocked the needle out… I had to get a firmer grip and the vet got it all in the next go round.
And he actually lost 5 pounds! As many treats as he eats, I was afraid he’d have gained weight.
Must be all that chasing rabbits (he never catches).