Photo courtesy of The Old Cowboy Archives
The New Puppy
A few weeks ago now we lost Marie’s little dog Toby. Toby was supposed to be a miniature Australian Shepherd, but Baby Jim’s own theory was that he was a cross between a nomadic wanderer and Sylvester the cat. Toby was a rescue dog that came to the Poor Farm from Georgia via Aussie Rescue. Marie saw his photo and that was the dog she wanted. It was up to Baby Jim to make it so. He did and Toby became an erstwhile member of the Pipe Dream Farm staff, eventually.
Toby spent the first year or so with us trying to find a way to get to Pittsburg or some other foreign and exotic locale. For a long time to venture outside, he was required to be on a leash as unfettered he would simply head down the driveway and take a left on Old Ridge Road. As an Alternative he would sometimes continue straight through the woods and cross the Smith Farm and as a breathless Baby Jim pursued alternately calling and cursing, Marie would drive around to Coatesville Road and pick him up there. It was not that he didn’t care for the hospitality of Pipe Dream Farm. He just had places to go and things to see. Baby Jim said he apparently had the wanderlust gene. The folks who had fostered him before his arrival here said that they had experienced several explorations of the far flung reaches of their suburban neighborhood. He had originally surfaced in a pound somewhere in Georgia after being picked up for vagrancy, with eye problems and a full complement of worms including heart worms.
In later years, Toby had better resisted the urge to leave. He had become comfortable with sleeping on the bed and eating regular and he learned that Marie was a soft touch for treats. He would occasionally look down the driveway but apparently gave up on his quest to see Tahiti. He would however take out after the hounds that run 365 days a year in our locale. If Toby spied them he was off to drive the marauders away from his home with 25 lbs of vicious intent. Baby Jim does not think any of the hounds ever noticed the danger they were in as they continued their single minded quest in pursuit of the quarry of the season. Apparently something is always in season here, because the hounds go on forever. This weekend it has been the spring fox hunt with nary a horse in sight. Just hounds and pickup trucks. It was supposed to be Thursday and Friday and Saturday but it started on Tuesday and dogs will still be alternately on the trail and looking for something to eat, sad looks, anything really, can you spare a quarter, have you seen my truck?, for the next week.
But we digress. Toby fell ill. At first it was occasional incontinence for which he was always ashamed. Pretty rapidly the lethargy set in and then he lost his appetite. Marie would cook chicken or beef for Toby and shove a nice TV dinner in front of Baby Jim. Finally he (Toby) quit eating and was in obvious pain and Baby Jim took him on that last ride in the truck. The young women in the Vets office were somewhat unnerved to have an ornery looking 250 lb old man standing in their midst with a little dog in his arms with tears rolling down his cheeks and barely able to speak. Thankfully Toby was not aware of where he was, he hated the vets office, and soon it was over and he was interred with the great company of those who had preceded him here.
Baby Jim missed the little rascal terribly but was glad that he no longer suffered. Marie was heartbroken. Even Rose went through a grieving process but she did benefit from the increased attention and not having to share her people.
Eventually Marie started dropping hints about a puppy. Baby Jim had become accustomed to the dogs that came here with a layer of civilization already installed. There has not been a puppy here since Maggie came to live here. Maggy was a shy and quiet type and she had Lore who was a year or so old at the time to raise and train her. Our Aussies have always raised and trained the young ones. Maggy grew to be an 85 pounder who was as meek as a lamb unless she thought one of us needed protecting. She lived a good long life with us and we buried her in 2008.
But…… then someone, whom Baby Jim previously had thought to be a friend, called and advised him of an Aussie Puppy in the local pound. Baby Jim stopped by on his way home from work. For one who has been thought of in many areas as a mean old SOB, Baby Jim does not do well in that environment. A hundred dogs in cages all clamoring for their people, or any people, or just a little love and attention. He tried hard to shut it out and not look at the faces…….Then the lady opens a cage and deposits a black ball of fur that is all feet and tongue and energy and love in your arms. Once you have your face licked and your arm peed on you are pretty much committed.
A few minutes later, Baby Jim opened the front door of the poor house and put the pup in and closed the door and went out to retrieve his gear from the truck. He returned to the house to find Marie with her face buried in dirty stinky pound puppy hair.
Even though on one on earth knows what this mutt is…..she can pass as an Aussie as a puppy…… and there might actually be some little bit of Aussie in her pedigree but it is too late to care. She is more likely a cross between a starving hyena and a manure spreader. Nothing is safe from those needle teeth. Not shoes or pants legs or even poor Rose. Rose is such a great dog and accepted this new trial with grace and aplomb. She tolerates the chewing, and jumping and stealing and wrestling and outright adoration. Right now there is a large black fuzzy dog lying by the feet of Bay Jim and nestled up to that is a small black bundle of fur, asleep thankfully but chasing something in her puppy dreams.
Her name is Dee Dee and she knows her name already but often still chooses to ignore those who don’t use it appropriately. She must be kin to Marie as she is strong willed and determined to do things her way. But unlike Toby, she took all of five minutes to claim title to her new address. She is still exploring her new realm and finding new things to chew on. She knows what “NO” means but has serious backslider tendencies. She knows the kitchen counter is the source of Maries Treats. She knows she has to sit to get a treat from Baby Jim but will snatch one out of Maries hand in an airborne leap of unbridled enthusiasm. Rose can still seek refuge by getting up on a sofa or her table bed by the window. But only because Dee Dee prefers not to get up there. She can jump up because as Marie was doing dishes one evening she found that Dee Dee had jumped up in a chair and onto the kitchen table to make sure Marie had cleaned everything off. Maries solution is to warn and chastise Baby Jim to push the chairs all the way under the table.
Baby Jim is too old and infirm to run and play with her. Mostly he fears that he will step on her or take a fall trying to avoid stepping on her. Some think a fall has already been narrowly averted, but he aint talking. He has been observed lying on the ground wrestling with her however. Dee Dee is still not a big fan of truck riding, but she does not get car sick as so many puppies do, and she is going wherever her Rose goes, and Rose loves to ride and is also happy that she can now once again lay her head in Baby Jims lap to be petted in transit.