Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Time to move on

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.


Nancy K. said...

It seems that things have come full circle. I'm happy that you've gotten to a place of peace. It sounds like you'll have your guardian dog back and hopefully the nightmare of the last year will be a thing of the past. Is Margaret comfortable being around Sovalye?

May your next few months be BORING!!!!!


Jody said...

It's hard to understand animal behaviour sometimes but I think you have done a great job in trying to understand your dog. It sounds like you care deeply for him and I am glad you didn't listen to that Vet. He is a lucky dog :)

Deborah said...

Thanks! I was just thinking that it would be nice to have a boring life for awhile.

Yes, Margaret is comfortable with Sovalye. She knows it's not safe to be around a dog that scares you, because they can sense emotions. Understanding why he bit has helped her understand that it was not an unprovoked bite.

I certainly hope that between the llamas and the dog, the coyotes will decide to move on. I still can't believe that we lost 8 of our 10 lambs from 2007. They all came from a ram that we no longer have, and they were the prettiest fleeces we've ever had -- all so colorful and spotted!

I'm ready to start blogging about gardening and food!

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Such a wonderful chapter to read after the year you've had. Here's to boring!

I guess the good news is that there are always a lot of nice rams to pick from, and this year with hay prices so high, many are offering their sheep for less.

Tammy W. said...

Deborah - what a wonderful post to read. I am so glad that the healing has begun for everyone.

Dave said...

As I read all these posts, my first reaction was to put the dog down, and in my alpha way I probably would have done it before heading to the hospital. Thank God you didn't react as I might have done. As I continued to read, I reflected on my own, usually, more thoughtful manner, and how that suddenly changes when our children are involved. I applaud you for your insight and caring and I know the healing will continue in such good hands.


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