I've heard it said that of all the things a person misses, they sometimes miss their dog the most.
I miss my dog.
Callie was an Australian Shepherd. She was black and white and looked more like a Border Collie, but wasn't.
A church friend was selling their dog's latest batch of puppies, and I'd wanted a dog in the worst way. Dogs put such an exclamation point on a home. For me, a dog signified stability, laughter, family and all good things.
I picked up the pup on Christmas Eve and tried to hide her upstairs in the bedroom, while the kids were fast asleep. The first thing she did was make herself comfortable right on top of the Husband's pillow. The next thing she did was urinate all over his pillow.
I put an enormous red bow on her head and brought her downstairs on Christmas morning. There are no words to express the elations emanating from my children. They were enamored of her, as was I. She was smart as a whip and had a spunky little personality....and, curiously...she was very....snouty. As in, she used her 'snout' a lot. To unearth things, and almost as another limb. Like an ardvaark. It was funny to watch.
Being an outside dog, and living on a farm, she learned the parameters of the acreage and rarely crossed them. We didn't have fences up yet, and so I was impressed with this. I was irritated, however, when we rode the four wheelers around the track we'd constructed, taking them over the jumps at high speeds, only to find Callie waiting for us at the end of the track, too late to stop sometimes. I ran right smack dab over her, once, and felt terrible about it. It seemed like every time we turned a corner, there she was. It was causing me to take oaths.
It wasn't until the trampoline incident...Callie had leapt up onto the trampoline to join the kids up there, much to their delight... (where she was actually nipping the kids in the leg to collect them into a tight, circular group), that it dawned on me. I smacked my hand on my forehead....of COURSE, of course! She's a herding dog! She was HERDING us!
The appearance of a dozen chickens solved that problem. Callie had her work cut out for her, trying to keep them all confined to one little circle....all the livelong day. We all felt somewhat sorry for those chickens....acres and acres to roam on, and the dog made them stay in just one tiny spot, all the time. She was very O.C.D. that way.
Adding to her joy was the adoption of two turkeys, male and female, named Tom and Girl Turkey. Then, the ducks...also a couple....Daffy and Darla. Callie was in her absolute element.
She was an ideal dog, in every way but one. Scads of room to relieve herself, and she had but one favorite spot. The very middle of the very front of our yard. And not only that...she never failed to squat but at the exact, precise moment that a car was driving by.
It began to be a joke among the neighbors. Need to find their house? Just look for the black and white dog, doing its 'business' front and center of the yard!
I got fed up with it once, and yelled (as if she understood) out the front door while she was in the very act, with an audience driving slowly by in a roadster on a Sunday drive....."WHAT!" I yelled at Callie, "Have you no PRIDE, Dog?"
She merely glanced at me. She was too busy...concentrating.
"We have a BACK YARD, too, ya know!" I hollered. She didn't seem very interested at the moment.
The only thing I could do, after years of trying to dissuade Callie from using the front yard...was to own it. We had a farm with a publicly defacating dog. A ranch, really, with all of the animals grazing and roaming (when Callie wasn't looking). In my mind the idea was forming for an archway at the head of the driveway, with a lovely sign, in fancy letters. Perhaps if we put it into a foreign language....like Spanish...it would sound better.
"Squatting Dog Ranch" was what I'd wanted to name the place. But that was hard to translate out. So, I tried, "Ranch of the Dog that Squats". Which in Spanish is:
"Rancho del Perro que se Pone en Cuclillas".
A bit long, but there you have it. I thought it had a certain 'ring' to it. Not unlike the urination ring that was forming in the dead-center of my front yard. Perhaps we could further assist her, by painting a bull's-eye in her usual spot, I suggested to ExMan. He didn't think that was very funny. Being the private type, this blatant display of Callie's bodily functioning was extremely painful for him. At church and around the area, he'd been teased mercilously. Somehow, that made me love Callie just that much more.
Years later, when the kids and I made a run for it, needing to leave the situation at the 'Ranch', we took our Callie with us. She spent one miserable day and night in the little square, fenced backyard that didn't have any foul at all to chase...and we knew. You can take the country kids out of the country...but you can't take the dog. It would have been animal cruelty. The farm was all she'd ever known. We brought her back and released her onto her beloved pasture, with her friends the chickens, the turkeys, and the ducks....and her favorite yellow spot on the lawn. It was where she belonged, after all.
I haven't seen Callie in a long, long time. I heard that she wore reindeer antlers for Christmas, and had a sweater on last summer. It doesn't seem right, somehow, for such a spunky dog to have been brought so low. Does her 'new' mistress know that if you're not nice to her, she'll wet on something very personal of yours? Does she know that Callie is a passive-aggressive, like me, and will chew up the Italian shoes of the very person you're trying the most to impress, while they're visiting your home? If not, she had better beware...
Love that dog. Always have, always will.