Peevish Pen

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

© 2006-2018 All rights reserved

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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), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Maggie’s Tale

My Side of What Happened Yesterday

by Maggie Mae Mushko
(23-month-old border collie)

Just for the record, Harley and I weren’t exactly lost Saturday night. Well, maybe Harley was. But I wasn’t. At least not most of the time.

While Mommy was gone off doing some kind of writer-thing, Daddy took me and Harley to Smith Farm in Union Hall. We were having a good time running around and playing in Standiford Creek when Harley decided to chase something. A coyote, I think. So we took off. Daddy was busy with his chain saw and wasn’t paying attention. By the time he noticed, we’d run a long way.

Now, you have to realize that I’m a border collie. I’m cow dog on my mother’s side and sheep dog on my father’s. I’m born to look after a herd.

Since we don’t have either cows or sheep (and since Mommy told Daddy that I’m not allowed to round up the horses anymore because Melody might kick me), my herd is either Mommy when I’m with her or—when Mommy isn’t around—the other dogs in the kennel.

Mommy wasn’t around. Harley, one of the kennel dogs, was. My job, therefore, was to watch Harley. I did my job.

The problem is that Harley is a Catahoula. A couple of hundred years ago, Catahoulas were bred to run wild boar. They were bred to run really fast in big spirals (until they’d circled the boar) and to not bite (if they bit, then the boar would squeal and its friends would come and get rid of the dogs). Today, there are bad people who use Catahoulas to run bear, which might have been how Harley originally got to our neighborhood. The game warden once told Mommy that there were bear-baiters in our neighborhood. But I’m getting of-track here.

Anyhow, Harley runs fast. I run fast too, but I couldn’t get in front and turn him the way I usually can. I knew I shouldn’t let him out of my sight, and I didn’t. I’m a border collie and I know my job. Harley is hard of hearing, so it's hard to tell him anything. I have to do the hearing for both of us.

We ran and ran through woods and fields and down the creek. Then we were in a place I’d never seen before. There was a lot of water and boats. We looked around and decided to explore. We went through some farms and saw cows. By then it was dark, and Mommy knew we were gone and she was worried. She called her friend who “talked” to me and Harley. I can’t explain how Karen did it, but she sent pictures into our minds and we sent pictures back. I wish more people could do that. It would make a dog’s life so much easier.

I showed Karen pictures of what we’d seen and she told Mommy the general direction we’d been. Mommy went on the roads Karen told her about, but by then we’d gone to other interesting places. Karen had told us to wait in a field for Mommy’s truck or else to try to go up the creek back to Daddy. But we’d left the creek by then. And the world is very big and has lots of smells that tempted us.

Because Harley runs spirals and I run circles, we sometimes got separated. But I always found him. I’m a border collie, and I watch my herd. Even if my herd is only one.

When it was very dark, I told Karen to tell mommy that we’d be home Sunday morning. I told her to tell Mommy that I could find my way home if I wanted to. All the times Mommy has driven me around Union Hall in her truck, I always watch out the window and pay attention to where we are. Once I’ve seen something, it’s programmed into my memory bank.

My problem was that I knew I had to bring Harley back. Harley told Karen to tell mommy that he was smarter than Mommy thought he was. I sent Karen a picture of Kemp Ford Road (that’s the road that intersects with Dillard’s Hill Road, where the dumpster is—a place with lots of good smells). She told Mommy about Kemp Ford and that we’d be home Sunday morning.

Early Sunday morning we started for home. We were both tired and hungry, so Harley was easy to convince that we should go home. I kept close behind him so I could drive him in the right direction and so I could probably catch him if he took off. While we were walking in the direction of home (plus that way passes close to both Union Hall farms), we came to a field along Kemp Ford Road. I sent thought-pictures to Mommy to let her know where we were. We were walking through the field, when I saw Mommy’s truck pull into view and stop. Harley and I stopped walking. We watched Mommy motion the car behind her to go around. (Some border collies are bad to chase cars. I do not chase cars. I only herd living things.)

When the road was clear and it was safe, she called me. I told Harley that he’d better come too, and he listened to me. We ran flat out to Mommy, and I told her we were fine. Even though she was crying, I could tell she was happy. (Humans can be very confusing!)

Harley and I jumped into the truck at the same time. Mommy had brought food for us, and she stopped at the farm to feed us and to tell Daddy that we were safe.

She let me sleep in the house Sunday night, and she spent a lot of time combing burrs out of my hair. I’m glad she’d trimmed off the “feathers” from my legs a few weeks ago. I hate being combed, but I hate burrs in my armpits even more, so I didn’t complain when she combed them out with the horse-comb.

Harley has been sleeping a lot in the kennel since we got home. Mommy says he looks like he’s sleeping off a drunk. I slept soundly all Sunday night. I have several old bathmats that I arranged into a nest beside Mommy’s bed. She keeps straightening them out, so I have to fix them back. I didn’t wake up once during the night.

Even though I played ball a little today, I’m still tired. Maybe I’ll just lie down with my little blue squeaky ball in my mouth and rest for a few . . .

. . . .ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.


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Blogger Amy Hanek said...

I am so glad to hear Maggie knew her way to an adventure and back again! She is such a responsible little thing (with good typing skills too).

2:45 PM  
Blogger Becky Mushko said...

Border collies can do just about anything. (OK–I confess: she usually dictates what I write. It gives her something to do while she waits for me to throw her ball.)

3:20 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Miss Maggie, I completely understand that you have the need to herd Harley, HOWEVER, you shouldn't put your poor mother through such turmoil. After all, she is a writer and writer's don't need anymore turmoil.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

Maggie, I don't believe a word of it. I think you're just trying to blame it all on Harley.

10:49 PM  

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