The country life is so different from the life I lived in the city. The one thing both places have in common is they both have their own kind of trouble. Some of it just shows up and is hard to avoid, yet there is that certain kind of trouble that we bring on ourselves. I guess I need to rely on one of our former presidents Teddy Roosevelt for some help with this one: If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.
One of the worst situations I can recall since I’ve been living out in the country happened the summer my dog, Mae (Pay It Forward), made her appearance on our front porch. It never occurred to me that a mean dog could show up as well. One rainy afternoon, a full-grown pit bull appeared in our backyard.
We called the police (it’s a small town…that’s what you do), and the policeman told me that they had recently passed a law banning pit bulls in my county unless the owners complied with the provisions stated in the resolution; I lived on the county line, and the policeman guessed that someone had just traveled there to get rid of the dog to avoid the $100,000 liability insurance required to keep it.
The policeman stated that the dog appeared to have been abused and was a trained fighter. I was scared and sick to my stomach when I heard the gunshot in the dark. The policeman guessed how upset I would be. He came in and told me how sorry he was that he had to put that poor stray down in my yard. It had attacked his partner. Trouble visited that night, and it was something that I could not control. (Note: I have nothing against pit bulls. This dog just happened to be one of the many unlucky pit bulls that had a heartless owner.)
My dog, Mae, spent her first summer with me as an outside dog, but because we don’t have a fenced yard, we decided to kennel her when I went back to work. We still spent lots of time outside, so when she took an interest in the farm road in front of our house, I saw how Trouble was interested in visiting again. My dog was great, but she was stubborn and would not come when I called her. She thought it was a game and would run away…sometimes down the middle of the road. I can’t tell you how many times I would have to stand in the middle of the road hoping the cars saw me just so I could protect her. I know. That was stupid. I realized I was offering Trouble a chair by continuing to overlook this flaw in my dog. No. It was a flaw in how I trained my dog. This was my fault because she was my responsibility.
I decided to enroll Mae in puppy school. She was the most stubborn dog in school right behind the giant Mastiff, but we continued working AND practicing every week. She graduated, but would still not come to me consistently when I called her. In October I got a call from the puppy school instructor. She wanted us to walk with the other dogs and trainers in the Christmas parade. She was offering “refresher” courses to prepare us for the parade.
By Thanksgiving my dog had learned to come to me when she was called. Now when we are outside and I see her getting a little too close to the street, I yell out, “Mae, come!” in my best teacher voice and she comes galloping to me. I look Trouble in the eye and ask it to please leave.
Mae wanted to demonstrate, so we made you a video. If you don’t like people kissing dogs, you probably don’t want to watch. I kiss her. A lot. (It’s just too cold to go outside, so this is an inside video.)
I hope you have enjoyed my 2011 Ranch Hand Guide. We aren’t perfect out here, but by following a few simple rules, we like to think we can get pretty close. A lot has happened out on the ranch this winter, and even though winter is not over, we are getting ready for spring. I saw a bluebird that needs a home. Greg is putting up the bluebird house today!
Enjoy your 2011!
To read the Ranch Hand Guide Week 4 click here.