I'm not normally up at 5 a.m., but this morning I've been awake since 2:50. I was awakened by a bad dream -- I was in labor at my current age, and my teenagers were there. Like most bad dreams, it seemed real. As I tried to convince myself that it was just a dream, I heard Sovalye barking in response to the coyote's yapping, and I started thinking about all the events of the past two and a half weeks.
It scares me when I think of how close we came to putting him down for doing something that was not his fault. I feel guilty when I think of how we tried to push him to work when he was still sick. And it makes me mad when I think of how the vet let us down in so many ways. She said to euthanize him the moment she heard he'd bitten. She said to keep him quiet for a month after the heartworm treatment; she never said it might take him three months to recover. In fact, her parting words to me the day of the diagnosis were that most people find their dog has a lot more energy after treatment.
I am seeing that energy now -- at nearly four months after treatment. Last night at chore time, we started breeding goats. Sovalye was bouncing across the pasture like Tigger. I think he misinterpreted the buck's mating noises as, "Let's play!" We had incorrectly thought one doe was in heat, but we were obviously wrong. As the buck chased her around the pasture, Sovalye bounced after him like a puppy.
For the past few mornings and nights, Sovalye has been really excited when the goats are let out into the pasture in the morning and back into the barn at night. Most of the time, he runs ahead of them like a greyhound leading the pack. Sometimes, he stands at attention like a general watching his troops pass in review, never taking his eyes off of them.
To help him in his recovery, we've been giving him raw goat milk twice a day at milking time. Many people swear by its healing powers for sick people and animals. And recently, I've been thinking that he has grown to expect it, as he meets us at the door of the milking parlor twice a day. He is a very polite dog when it comes to food. He never takes food from your hand, and when we give him his milk, we have to step away before he'll drink it. Margaret wondered aloud two nights ago how he was going to feel when we started to run short on milk in the winter.
Then last night, we came out of the milking parlor, and he wasn't there. I poured some milk into the bowl for Sneakers the barn cat, and I walked to the back door. I looked out into the pasture, and then I saw Sovalye. He was laying down with his back to the barn and his head held high, looking out across the sheep pasture and the buck pens. As dusk turned to darkness across the pasture, he looked over his shoulder at me and wagged his tail. I walked back into the barn and poured the rest of the milk in the cat's bowl.