Monday, December 20, 2010

I am no Alpha Dog

Bea searching for a treat under my jacket
Last week I came home from work in the morning and decided to take the dogs for a walk.  In the recent weeks, both dogs have been great in the back pasture, coming back when called and generally staying out of trouble.  I let them out the gate and off they ran.  They started with a perimeter walk around our property and quickly made their way through the hole in the fence and into our neighbor's property. 

"No big deal," I thought.  We'd gone that far before and only once had trouble getting the girls to come back home.  They continued around the perimeter and started walking the very back line along the fence.  "Girls!" I called.  Both dogs looked up, pausing a moment from their furious sniffing.  "Come!".  Still, they looked at me, but neither dog made a move in my direction.  Instead they continued at a brisk pace, down the fenceline and away from me.

By this point I was starting to get worried.  I made my way towards their fluffy white forms in the grass.  Unfortunately, my pace was substantially hampered by my shin-high, $6 rainboots and the soggy pasture, it having poured with rain the night before.  Despite my perilous footware and difficult terrain, I began a jog down the feild.
It is true that I was once a bit of an athelete, skiiing, volleyball and rugby.  But those days are behind me now.  As I was running through the mushy grass filled with puddles and holes, I huffed and puffed and watched the girls run farther in the distance.  When I finally caught up with them they were at the back fence of our neighbor's property, looking for a way to get out.  Fortunately for me, the fence held them back.

I got the girls to acknowledge my existance and got them turned around in the opposite direction.  I started back towards the house.  Looking back, both dogs had their heads buried in the grass.  Bea came up with a large, dead mouse in her mouth.  "YUCK!"  I screamed, and dived towards her.  I got her to drop it but when I turned around, Gretel had a dead mouse in her mouth!!  I ran the other way towards her and thought my lungs were going to explode.

Brian was in the house during all of this fiasco and I started sending silent prayers to him, hoping he would come and rescue us.  I made it out to the dirt road leading to our house and trudged back towards our property.  Thankfully the girls followed me.  But they didn't stop at the house as I did, they ran toward our other neighbors house and away from me.  "I am no alpha dog," I thought. It was time to call for back up.

By the time Brian made it outside, I was doubled over in my neighbor's front yard, tears streaming down my face. 

"Where are the dogs?" He asked.

"I don't know," I replied through sobs "They went that way."  I pointed behind me, over the hill and out of sight.

Brian ran off behind the hill and within several minutes, both dogs had returned and Brian was able to corral them into the fenced area where they live.

I felt humbled and defeated and a little disappointed.  Gone are the days when I could take my sweet and slightly obedient pups on a walk in the pasture.  Even Brian now occasionally has trouble with Gretel and Bea.  He had to carry Gretel home the other day when she ran away and found a dish of bacon grease on our neighbor's porch.

Otherwise, things have been pretty quiet around here.  Arthur attacked neighbor dog Pepper yesterday and she ran off with her tail between her legs.  Amazing that a larger dog could be afraid of a 10-lb Chihuahua!  Rambo and Betty White continue to spend more time outside (and continue to catch mice and moles!), although Betty still comes inside at night.  The goats have started stripping the bark off all the trees in the pasture.  They definitely miss having varied vegitation in the colder season.

We are preparing to have a quiet Christmas and we hope that everyone has a Happy Holiday!

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