Monday, December 12, 2011

Help wanted -- General Farm Dog

This may seem awfully callous, but we're going to replace our farm dog Haggis as soon as we can. There's a huge hole in my life where my dog used to be, and Aimee misses having a dog around the house too. I realized just yesterday that this is the first time I've been without a dog since 1988, which was the year the sainted shepherd dog of shepherd dogs, Liza Jane, appeared in my life (and promptly got herself pregnant by another dog I got that year, Thumper, a Blue Heeler cross, to begat, among others, Cocoa, who was definitely not a shepherd dog at all but who lived with me until we got Haggis in 2002). My college room-mates called Liza Jane "Mick's dog wife." She was a Montana dog born and bred, but lived in Maryland, Georgia, and Maine, and accompanied me on some huge adventures.

Before that, long before that, I had a different shepherd dog, a Border Collie-cross, called Paddy, which takes us back to about 1973 in the world of Mick's dogs. Paddy used to do my newspaper round with me when I was a teenager and accompanied the RAF Leeming Mountain rescue team on many an adventure. We often would follow the dog to find our way on the hill. This was more accurate than map and compass, although I'm not sure what this says for our map-and-compass skills. (Patrick Elvis McGinty Womersley was the full name my sister and I gave this great dog, who died of a very old age in the 1990s, 17 or 18 years old.)

Paddy, Liza Jane and Haggis were all what I've heard described as "velcro" dogs -- they stuck with me whatever I happened to be doing. They were equally as good at riding in the truck (or an RAF Land Rover) as going for a walk, flying a kite, or herding chickens. This is a characteristic of the various shepherd dog breeds, and probably why I miss them so much.

There's also an as-yet unfulfilled need around here for a shepherd dog that can actually successfully herd sheep. We move our sheep from pasture to pasture all summer, and although the sheep generally know where to go, it would be helpful to have a dog to help round up any strays.

The other more serious reason we need a shepherd is for the coyotes. These predators have already heard that Haggis is gone, and are moving in steadily. I've heard them within a few hundred yards each night since. I can keep them at bay for now by making sure to go outside early and late every night, and by leaving the scent of a man wherever I can. But this won't last forever. Lambs are due in April.

Help Wanted.

Vacancy at Womerlippi Farm
General Farm Dog

Shepherd breed or shepherd cross, prefer Border Collie or Aussie
Male or female, must be neutered
Must like sheep, chickens, old people, small children, in that order
Must hate coyotes, bad stranger dogs, bobcats, and hunters who can't read maps
Loud bark, must be worse than bite. Prefer no bite at all, except when applied to the types on the previous list

Pay and benefits
Room and Board, own bed, kibble and canned food, allowed to clean out pots and pans, treats, grooming, regular walks, own seat in pick-em-up truck, full health care, personal herd of eleven fully-trained sheep

Applications received until position filled. Reference, background and health check required

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Welcome to our Farm Blog.
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