If one were from a distant planet and had had the good fortune to have been dropped on this farm on this day, one would think this world a most pleasant of places. It is an early pre-spring, fine, bright blue day with Martins chattering on wing, and the trees have taken on a new aura of pale green of emerging flowers and leaves. The slight cool breeze feels refreshing and the sunshine would make even an alien feel like laying on the grass to bask it all in. What the alien wouldn’t know is that this blithe scene is left in the wake of a devastating storm line that came through over the weekend, leaving many in sad situations. This is typical though, of spring in the south east, a dichotomy of both the blissful and of the violent. Today, here on this farm, it is gorgeous, and I will take it and enjoy.
I am presently sitting for the moment, at my dining table writing after my morning visit to the barn to feed the horses. While I let them finish their breakfasts, I am newly joined by a small fluffy dog bed at my left hand, just in front of the salt and pepper grinders, which is currently inhabited by a tiny sleeping Yorkie, the newest member of our pack, as of Friday. Her name is Gracie, and she is, of course, totally and absolutely, adorable.
After having waded the intrepid waters of the internet to find a breeder of this breed of dogs, and having survived to find one not too far away, my daughter and I set off on Friday morning to meet up with this breeder and take possession of the wee pup. I had googled a place and had set the time to meet at a half way point for both of us. We arrived at our destination and I called the cell phone of the breeder to let her know of our timely arrival and to see what her time frame was like. She laughed and said that yes she too was there and added that she had been there for an hour, hoping that I would indeed actually show up. I had forgotten there was a time zone difference between us and I was an hour late on her watch. We laughed, and I apologized. We traded papers, funds, instructions, and last but not least, the puppy. Armed with our new dog, homeward bound we went, my daughter driving my massive truck, with me as a passenger holding a tiny, new puppy.
I had recently been giving a whole lot of thought as to the risks and how’s of bringing a new dog into the remains of the old pack, the last survivor being the alpha, and albeit old, a force still to be reckoned with, the German Shepherd, Heidi. I hoped and figured that a puppy would be the easiest way to bring in a new member without a fight, but it would be a challenge and I was nervous about their meeting and learning the outcome. I was prepared to have to have two separate packs in case it didn’t work out, like if the Yorkie was looking more likely to be destined to be a light snack rather than to be accepted. With this trepidation, when I got home, I pulled into the carport and took the crate out of the truck and let Heidi smell the new puppy through the door of the crate I had the puppy in. No growls made me encouraged a bit, and so I got the puppy out and introduced her to the shepherd, and to her new world.
There were licks and smells and all of the usual doggy intro stuff that they do, and all was fine except for the part where the puppy wanted to do what puppies generally do and that was to jump quickly to lick at the mouth of the big dog. This did elicit a curled lip and a growl from the Nazi, and that gesture curtailed that activity very quickly. Good thing, as we are talking about a substantial size differential of major proportions. In fact it’s about a hundred to one, pound wise. Lesson learned for the puppy, the coast seemed clear, and I breathed a relief.
Long ago I had another elderly shepherd, who was also ruler of her kingdom, and who also did not suffer fools or other dogs gladly. One day our daughters had set off for school only to return quickly with a young brown pup they had found sadly sitting in the middle of the road. I told them we absolutely could not risk keeping the pup because I knew the shepherd would make very short work of it, that, and I really did not want a cur brown, little male mutt. I put the puppy in a safe crate and planned to take it to the animal shelter later.
After a while I had figured I needed to let the pup out to do its business, and while keeping a close eye on the ever present enormous canines of the watchful shepherd, I let the little guy out. There was a good distance between the two and each were quietly standing their ground. Something forced me to glance away but for a moment, and I turned back quickly to find the pup, not in the mouth of the shepherd, but cuddled in the arms of a surprisingly adoptive big dog. So much for not keeping the mutt. It had been adopted and my plan was foiled. It was in the remembering of this that made me now even venture into a new puppy attempt with this one.
My risk was rewarded this time, not by this shepherd adopting as the other had done, but by accepting and by then beginning to help me teach this new pup about its new home. Life on a farm is fraught with dangers in every direction, especially when one is about a pound in weight and can easily trip over a blade of grass, and the learning curve has either one direction, or not. So we, my shepherd and I, began the introduction to the routines of the day, and to the places to avoid, like getting under horses’ feet and the edge of the swimming pool. Also with that are the places that are very significant, like the most important one, the potty place. So far, Gracie is a star on that issue, which is a very good thing and is hopefully one trend that will continue.
If anyone had told me that somewhere in my life I would have ever voluntarily bought a Yorkshire Terrier, complete with a pink bow, I would have laughed in disdain. My life has been playing with brothers, walking barefoot through neighborhood ditches, riding horses that could carry fully suited knights, owning large powerful dogs, and not caring what color my nails were painted, or not.
Marley, our former pint sized dog, cured me of this Yorkie phobia. She taught me that a small dog can be as tough as any needs to be and that the smaller package has its own advantages, like being able to put them in a nice fluffy bed next to me while I write. The close companionship is nice and I feel my blood pressure drifting steadily downward when this tiny puppy is close by. And, their bows are removable.
The other night our elder daughter, her husband, and their new daughter came out for dinner and a visit. It had been a while since I had seen little Margaret, awake that is, and she was amazingly taller, stronger, more focused, alert, and much more conversational than last we had been together. I could not keep my eyes off of her and I kept scanning her lovely face, soaking in all of the sheer magic of her being here.
In our new granddaughter, and now too in this new puppy, there thankfully shines a new future of pleasant memories to be made. Their path’s are unknown at this point, and although surely there will be uh-oh’s and stormy days along the way, with luck they will both enjoy the best of times as they grow and learn.
And so for now, with another potty break for Gracie, and I am off to the barn to work the horses on this, a fine day in early spring.