Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), and several Kindle ebooks.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Border Collie Report

by Maggie (15-month-old border collie)

I’ve been living outside in the kennel for about six weeks now. When the weather is cold, Mommy keeps the heat on in the house, and it’s way too hot for me. I try to tell her that we’d all be more comfortable if she’d just turn the heat off and open a few windows, but she doesn’t believe me. So I pant. A lot. Or else I stay outside in the kennel.

Mommy doesn’t want to have to take me out to walk when the temperature’s in the teens. She doesn’t even like to go out and play in the sleet. I try to tell her that it isn’t really cold—just brisk and invigorating, but she doesn’t believe that either. And I’ll never be able to convince her that playing in sleet is fun.

Of course, the cold temps can sometimes be a nuisance even for a border collie. A few weeks ago at the farm, I had to break the ice on the creek so I could have a good wallow in the water. Some days, my tubs have been frozen in the kennel and no matter how much I dug at the ice, I couldn’t get in for a good wallow. When they thawed last week, I was so happy I had to get in every few minutes and sling water.

Well, I spent much of the afternoon in the house today, and I had a lot to catch up on. A dog’s work is never done. How I got back inside today is that Mommy took me to the farm to play frisbee and to walk. (Well, she walks, but I run.) Yesterday, Jack went to the farm with us, but he was too stiff today to want to go. Anyhow, since I’d washed all my mud off in the creek (several times!) I was pretty clean, so she decided I could spend the afternoon inside.

I think I finally trained Mommy to throw my squeaky ball in the air so I can catch it instead of throwing it so I’ll have to chase it. It took her awhile to catch on. Anyhow, I have a lot to tell my faithful readers.

Emma had to go to the vet a couple of weeks ago because of her bad hair. She has really thick stock-dog hair—even thicker than mine. However, her hair mats up easily, and she had frozen “poopsickles” hanging from her hind legs. Mommy couldn’t stand it anymore, so Emma had to get some of her hair mats and the poopsickles cut off. And the long hair on her feet that would get full of ice or mud, depending on whether the ground was frozen or not. Don’t worry, Emma still has plenty of hair left.

Anyhow, Mommy didn’t want to take just one animal to the vet at a time, so the two most evil cats—Dylan and Eddiepuss—got to go, too. Emma said the vet told Mommy that Eddiepuss has a heart murmur. So, I shouldn’t plot against him anymore. Consequently I was nice to him today. Not that he noticed. Emma said Dylan was a coward and hid in Mommy’s coat. I’m not surprised. Dylan stayed with Daddy while I was in the house today.

Not long ago, I got to try my hand—er, paw—at herding. Once, when Mommy was opening the gate to put me back in the kennel, she wasn’t holding my leash very tightly and she’d forgotten to tell me to “sit.” Well, I saw those two horses up at the bale and decided to practice my herding skills on them. (My dog-mama Daisy was a cow-herding border collie and my dog-daddy Dillon was a sheep herder, so I have all kinds of herding skills in my genes.) I made a dash for those two horses. They weren’t really going anywhere, but Cupcake—the old mare who likes to tease Harley the Catahoula and make him bark—gave me an evil look and muttered that she didn’t “do” herding and I’d better watch myself. I ran half circles around the horses and tried to get them to move away from the bale and go to the shed, but they just wouldn’t listen. Still, I kept my eye on those stupid mares. Then Daddy came along and told me to sit. I did, and that’s when he grabbed the leash. Well, it was fun while it lasted.

Today, Mommy walked me past the horses and let me sniff Melody through the fence. Then Melody followed us to the barn. I wanted to make Melody move faster, but Mommy wouldn’t let me.

Before we started to the barn, we got to witness stupidity in action. Mommy had just put my leash on in the kitchen, and we’d no sooner walked through the garage when we saw Mr. Redneck across the road. He was moving the metal folding chairs closer to our driveway. He does this to make fun of Mommy. Sometimes Mommy doesn’t walk very well, so we have lots of benches in our yard and lots of chairs all over the farm if she needs to sit down. Right now she has plantar fasciitis again which slows her down a lot. (She was really slow at the farm today. I had to keep running back and checking on her.) Anyhow, Mr. Redneck looked up and saw us watching him. I wanted to go have a word with him (OK, I wanted to ask him why he was stupider than the average human), but Mommy ordered me to sit and stay, which I did. He started walking and didn’t look back. Everyday he walks past and moves the chairs. It’s good that he has a hobby that fits his intellect. Mommy’s friends think the chairs are funny, too. (One of her friends started calling “redneck musical chairs” because they get moved around by the rednecks, and now lots of her friends call them that) A lot of other people ask Mommy about them, too.

Fortunately, all our neighbors aren’t hateful like Mr. Redneck and his kin. The boy next door is very nice and a good farmer. He played ball with me the other day, and he throws a lot better than Mommy can. He and his mother were the ones who gave me my squeaky balls when I was a baby. I love those squeaky balls!

One other thing before I have to go back to the kennel: Saturday a week ago, I rode in the truck to the Union Hall farm. On the farm road, we saw a big flock of turkeys—about two dozen—cross in front of the truck. I barked at them and wanted to herd them, but Mommy and Daddy wouldn’t let me out. Later, Daddy tried to teach me to hunt groundhogs. He told me that Abby, the border collie before me, was a great and mighty groundhog hunter. Mommy worried that I’d try to go down the hole and get stuck.

I’d rather play frisbee or herd horses than hunt groundhogs, though.

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