Sunday, November 9, 2008

chores and a runaway

Yesterday, when I got home from Sarah's herding lesson, it was a little after noon. We had stopped at Tractor Supply and Whitman's feed (both allow dogs, which I adore, since it gets Sarah around a lot of people). We loaded the haytruck with a giant 65-pound compressed strawbale, a mineral block for the sheep, and some chicken feed. A pretty anticlimatic end to our dances with ewes, oh well.

While the herdng lesson was the big event of the day, weekends are the time to take care of farm stuff I can't fit in durring the work week. So I spent most of the afternoon mending the fenceline for escape routes, laying down fresh straw in the sheep shed and coop, collecting eggs, hauling water to all the menagerie and saying hello to the farm gang. But the big chore was prepping the four angora bunnies for their new homes. They are 7-weeks old, fully weaned, and ready for a new place to live. I brought them in the cabin one at a time to shear off any dirty wool, tattoo their ears, and make sure everyone was sound and healthy. When they were set, I winded down the night writing pedigrees by hand and getting the rabbit's paperwork in order. In the morning a woman was driving to pick up a pair. A nice morale boost since it meant the farm would get in enough income to cover the week's groceries, laundromat run, and firewood. Sweet.

So okay, a pretty calm Saturday, sure. But Sunday we had a mini crisis. Sarah ran away.

She's never liked the car. When we go outside together she gives it a wide berth and hunkers away from it. Soon as she see's we're not going in it, she relaxes and stays by my side. But since I was unloading laundry baskets and groceries, I kept going back to that evil car, and she took off. She wasn't getting in that car.

She ran off into the woods which she didn't recognize, which confused her and took her nearly a half mile from the cabin. She ended up on the dirt road where my neighbor Ed nearly hit her, which scared the crap out of her and she ran up west road with the speed of a thousand angry comets. Now I didn't see this, it was all explained my neighbors who fortuately could point the direction she ran in. I ran after her scared, panicked, yelling her name. (Kind of made me wish her name was Stella) Finally, I looked up the hill across from the red barn and there she was, 100 yards or so away on a high crest, sitting, shaking. I grabbed a stick and yeller her name, trying to sound fun (even though I was shaking too. The idea I would lose this dog so soon after making her mine rattled my core) but she started down when she saw the stick and me. She came up to me, then rememberd "Hey, you're the one with the car" and might've ran off again had I not lunged and grabbed her by the collar.

I picked her up in my arms like a toddler, and walked over the bridge back home. My neighbors Dean and Nancy were coming out of their house with a collar and lead to loan me. I snapped the lead on Sarah's collar, and we chatted a little. The whole time we were by parked car in their driveway, and Sarah shook. I don't know much about Sarah's past, but I do know she spent much of her puppyhood captive in New York City. Her original owner had her in the country but when he broke his hip he left for Brooklyn to live with his daughter. So mabe she was nearly hit by cars there, or hated the noise, or tried to herd one and it knocked her down? I don't know. I do know I'm glad we're both in Vermont and not NYC.

I hope this doesn't happen again, it'll be a while till I build up the confidence to just have her offlead by my side again. Which is more me than her, but still. I can't lose her. She's too much to me already.

P.S> comic above by


Blogger * * said...

Oh, man this story was making me stressed! : )
We had a Corgi, (also a herding dog) and as a pup he found it to be a really fun game that he would run away from me super fast and I would run after him, he would stop with what looked like a smile on his face and as I approached he would run like the wind then repeat. After a few times of this happening I figured out his little game, I would walk away back to the house he would run ahead and run right into the house before me. Meanwhile I nearly had a heart attack thinking I would lose him forever! These smart dogs! : )

November 10, 2008 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Jordan said...

I just got 2 rescue dogs (1 is a BC mix!) and am struggling with whether or not to get some sort of fence. I've had them a week now, and have had to "retrieve" them twice. Even though I am far away from any real road, I would still hate for anything to happen. Are you considering any sort of invisible fence?

November 10, 2008 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger Mama Pea said...

Even though it doesn't sound like a fun thing to do, and will take time, you might try taking Sarah for lots of short rides in the car for the next couple of weeks . . . so she gets the idea that it's a safe, not-so-awful-bad place to be . . . with you in a car. Make them happy little trips with lots of soothing talk and up-beat chatter. It does sound like she was traumatized by a vehicle in some way. She has a new wonderful life now and I'm sure as time goes by, she's going to feel more and more safe and secure with you. Even in a car!

November 10, 2008 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger BlueGate said...

I read the recent posts with my heart in my throat. Welcome to the farm, Sarah and congratulations to you both.

November 10, 2008 at 3:44 PM  
Blogger Moon said...

I second mama pea's suggestion and would just add one thing... ice cream. Had a border (Angus)that would vomit anytime we put him in the jeep to go anywhere. After three weeks of random trips to town that always included his own mini ice cream cone, he learned that the jeep was a pretty cool place to be. So, ice cream plus time and patience... two things I know you have in bucketfuls.

November 10, 2008 at 8:44 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

I've had positively car phobic dogs and had runaway dogs too (though, not so far, the same dogs)

This is really boring but it works ...
literally feed Sarah every time you walk past the car
the car becomes the source of everything good
just sitting there

then turn it on and repeat

or open the door and ask her to get in it and feed

dogs generalize REALLY badly so the car isn't the same thing - arked, idling, in it, moving etc

break each down and make each positive

like I said, BORING, but it will pay in spades and quite quickly...

November 10, 2008 at 10:16 PM  
Blogger said...

Hi Jenna, First I wanted to say that I love your blog and I've been reading it ever since our family left the burbs and moved to our farm in small-town, Ontario, this past July. You even inspired me to start my own blog about our adventures (it's just taken me a while to introduce myself), so thanks!

I found your post hit home for me as I just had a similiar experience with our 'runaway' dog:

I'm just happy to hear that Sarah is back safely at her forever home :)

November 11, 2008 at 8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that Sarah found her forever home, and am sure that her fears of cars will soon go away when she begins to connect cars with herding.

Just finished your book. It took me a bit to get to, as it was back in the queue a little bit. I loved it. It was wonderful. I was proud to say that I got to gloss over parts as I already bake bread, sew, knit.... but I'm fascinated by bees. Anyway, LOVED IT. Thanks.

November 11, 2008 at 2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, My name is Jonathan, I live on a farm in the northwestern corner of Alabama. I have been following your blog for some time now and just wanted to drop you a line and say "Good for You" I am very proud to see a young person like yourself who seems to have honest values and strive to reach your goals
I wish you the best. Take Care and God Bless. -- Bookmark it. It may save your life!

November 11, 2008 at 9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is kind of sad what I am going to say but a friend of mine who is a vet back there in France used to tell me that in is neck of the wood (which is mountain) the principal cause of death of the BC (they are mainly use to work on cattle the Aubrac cattle)is due to their ability to jump at cars and tractor, he as never seen any other dogs acting like them.

Hope your warm in your mountain, we finaly have our first real cold front this week in MN and oh boy what a change, I was wearing short and tee last week to vote for B !!!

November 11, 2008 at 9:15 PM  
Blogger Mare said...

I agree with some of the posts above. I think Sarah would benefit from some short rides in the car. At first, just sitting there parked. Then just maybe down the road. Then slowly lengthen the rides. I've had to do this with two dogs-one who liked the car but got terribly car sick, and the newest pup, who shivers and shakes all while in her crate right next to me. I make sure she goes to Mom and Dad's house to get spoiled and run in the yard, as much as she takes trips to the vet's office, so it isn't always scary stuff the car brings her to. Thank Goodness you caught her. That made my heart beat fast....

November 12, 2008 at 3:22 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

I have a Border Collie (Sophie) and know EXACTLY what you mean about giving something they are afraid of a wide berth and hunkering down!! Sophie also likes to look if she doesn't see it, it's not! Glad everything worked out okay though.....totally envious of a life on a looking forward to following your blog.

November 12, 2008 at 8:36 PM  

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