Some day we’ll have a dog at the farm. I have a pretty specific idea of what characteristics comprise the perfect farm dog. I’m thinking some sort of Labrador/retriever mix. A fifty to eighty pound dog that can run all day and scare deer from the orchards and garden. One that will dissuade raccoons from hanging out in the barn and other outbuildings. I also find Australian shepherds and blue and red heelers appealing though I don’t love being herded by a dog when I’m out walking with one or more other people. And these shepherds and heelers can’t help themselves. Turns out some day was today. But due to a variety of circumstances, this was the puppy that we couldn’t keep.
Today, we stopped out at the farm to check on things, get the paths and orchard mowed and to find out how the apples are coming along. We had some friends out to have a look at the place as well and when we walked up to the garden to look at the potato plants and the apple trees, there was a dog in the orchard. I think she barked a little and she was kind of skittish, but I kept getting a little closer. She was so skinny that her ribs showed through her short hair and she startled easily, possibly like a dog who has been beaten, but she was also friendly. At one point, I thought maybe I heard someone whistle for her, but there was no one around and I think it was just birds and wind. The neighbors who live in front of us have dogs and I thought maybe she came from there. I gave her some water, but she also had no trouble finding the stream that comes from the spring both lying in it and lapping it up at the same time in the 90 degree heat. I walked all the way to the road to see if they were around and I didn’t find anyone. No dogs in their kennels either. The dog didn’t appear to recognize that house and instead ran up the road, found some animal that had been run over some time ago and of course rolled in it.
I gave up and turned around, walking back to the barn to get a bucket so that I could pick up the fallen apples in the orchard and pull any obviously bad apples off the trees. No point in letting those continue. The dog turned around and followed me. She stuck close most of the time I was in the orchard, once wandering off and I thought maybe she’d found her way home, but after few minutes she came bounding back. She followed me the entire time, a couple of times putting her head into my bucket only to grab an apple in her mouth and to drop it back on the ground. I told her she wasn’t exactly helping. She was so skinny, we wished we had some food to give her, but I’m sure that would have just encouraged her to stick around. If we lived there full-time, we could have fed her and we would have had time to check around with more of the neighbors and a couple of the veterinarians in the area to see if anyone was missing her. If no one claimed her at that point, under those circumstances, we’d probably end up keeping her after a few weeks of trying to get her home.
I hope this dog has a home and I hope she gets back there within a couple of days. We couldn’t really bring her home because this lifestyle of working long hours away from home and driving back and forth between city and farm is no good for a dog. Even as I write this that sounds more like an excuse than a reason. Most of all, we didn’t have the time to assess whether or not she belonged somewhere.
As dogs go, even though this one isn’t what I pictured, she seems like just about the perfect farm dog. While we will get a dog on purpose, someday too, a dog might just show up like this one did and after exhausting all avenues for getting it back home, we’d end up keeping it. Today just wasn’t that day. I have mixed feelings about it.