Come Bye, Red
Red And Mike At The Recycling Station
We went to the town recycling station yesterday (the dump), Red always goes and visits Mike, the station manager. He is expanding his circling of friends in the town, and Mike is one of his few male pals. Red goes for women, especially blondes, I think it is the Irish in him.
Walking With Red
I walked with Red in the cemetery early this morning, he is a spirit dog, he enters into the spirit of the time, of the moment, he knows my heart and my mind better than I do, he knows where I will walk. He knows where he is needed. This morning, a woman was walking in the cemetery, she came with a purpose. I believe she came to visit the grave of someone she loved, perhaps her husband. Red came up to her – she had stopped a few feet from us – and sat down beside her, he looked her in the eye, and then put his head in her hand, and she sat silently by a gave marker, and stroked Red several times about the head.
I came up quietly to make sure Red was not disturbing her, and to call him away, but I saw she was crying softly, and Red was comforting her. I backed away – Red can make these decisions better than I can – and walked on ahead. In a few minutes, Red came up behind me, then took his position ahead of me, as he always does.
I knew he would come when he was ready, when he was done. And then walk ahead of me, and turn and make sure I was all right and was coming along.
Detente: The Adventures Of Red. Decisions.
A good farm dog knows when to push things and when to look the other way. This morning, Deb decided she just wasn't going to get up for Red and move out into the hot sun. Red seemed not to see her, or if he did (I'm sure he did) to not notice her. I often led Red make his own decisions out in the field, it's a way for dogs like him to grow and think and get smarter with experience. If I say "look back," a command I've taught him, he will turn and move the sheep. If I say "get 'em up!" he will get behind them and move them.
In this case, I didn't really care if he got Deb up, if he moved the other sheep, these two would follow. They are, after all, sheep and they will not sit alone in a pole barn if the other sheep are gone. Red moved up ahead of these two got the other sheep out of the barn, and sure enough, Deb and Ma followed. I love watching Red work, I always try and let him make as many decisions as possible. In his life, he usually makes better ones than I do.
I appreciate that he will not ever be aggressive unless necessary, he does not bother lambs or gentle ewes unless told. Deb is not belligerent or challenging, she just isn't afraid of him.
In The Barn: The Adventures Of Red
If people think the carriage horses of New York have it rough, they ought to spend a day with Red. He works in extreme heat, for long hours, surrounded by flies, knee-deep in manure, challenged by sheep and harassed by curious donkeys. He doesn't get one day of vacation either. This morning, he tried to get Deb and Ma out of the stall in the barn – they weren't having it – while Fanny came along to sniff his butt. He ignored Fanny, went into the stall and pushed the ladies out from behind.