11 January

Tales Of Satan’s Spawn

by Jon Katz
Tales Of Satan’s Spawn

Gus has gotten much of the attention here lately but Fate is a large presence on the farm.

I call her “Satan’s Spawn,” she is my greatest challenge when it comes to sheep herding and sometimes, patience. Fate is her own dog, the smartest dog I have ever known, with the possible exception of Rose.

Mara thinks Fate is the sweetest thing in the world, and we both love her very much. But she is wily, intense, and quite independent…er, rebellious.

She sleeps downstairs at night, right by the wood stove and I keep telling Maria she is conferring with Satan through the fire she loves to be near. She was sent her to make a fool out of me and keep me humble.

I imagine he talks to rebellious and disobedient dogs that way, through fire in the winter, and passes along instructions about how to torment me. He might also be present in her blue merle eye, which sometimes glows in the dark.

Fate often escapes the house through the back door, and I am never quite certain how she does it, and I have never yet seen her do it. But somehow, she opens the door, even when I pull it closed. She must have figured out how to nose it open somehow.

I go outside to get the mail or check on the animals, and there she is, standing by the pasture gate.

I correct her, yell at her, threaten her, and when I really get ticked, she scurries back to the door as if she has been trying for hours to get in. She knows she is not behaving.

One every month or so, a piece of sausage or cheese or bread vanishes from the kitchen counters. I have never seen her take anything since the first time a year ago, and she rarely, if ever, even goes into the kitchen. Same with the bathroom, tissues and rolls of paper will vanish from the wastebasket and are found shredded on the bathroom floor, we’ve never seen her go into the bathroom either.

She has driven me nearly to madness around the sheep she is fiercely devoted to being with them, racing around them, giving them the eye but she will under no circumstances try to herd them, move them or challenge them.

She loves the sheep, it is pure joy to hang out with them, but not to work with them.

I have given up trying to change this Ferdinand like mentality, Dr. Karen Thompson believes this is my fault, as Rose is from Wales and a wonderful herding line. I’m sure she is right, I am no match for Fate.

She can be a sweet dog, and she loves to curl up in my lap and pretend to be adorable. She stalks Gus – the two of them love to play – and steals his treats and bones when no one is looking. It is amazing to watch the myriad ways Fate has of stealing Gus’s things, she lures him away, distracts him, even charms or intimidates him.

Fate is a smart dog, she knows what she’s supposed to do, and she knows when she isn’t doing it.

She loves to ride in the car and navigate with us, she leans over and gives me a kiss on the cheek. She loves to sit by my feet when I write.

She is the perfect dog for Maria in many ways, and for the farm. She loves to sit outside Maria’s studio for hours and come inside to rest. She often comes up to Maria and puts her head on her knee. She never steps on a quilt, the ultimate dog crime in Maria’s studio.

She is the best dog in the world to walk in the woods with, she never runs off, she sits and waits if we stop, and guides us home if we get lost.

Fate is a lot sweeter than Rose when she wants to be, Rose was never into cuddling. And she is not very businesslike. But she is a great spirit, independent, vigilant (she is a good guard dog, she makes a huge racket when somebody comes to the Open House) and sensible. She never goes near the road, except one time when she didn’t want to come in the house and blew me off and I was furious, foolishly yelling at her and chasing after.

She ran to the road to greet visitors to the Open House. She is so much faster than I am, and in most ways, smarter.

We picked up our training after that and whenever she escapes, she goes to the pasture and waits. The other day, when it was -10, she slipped out again and was sitting happily by the back gate when we found her.

I have no doubt that she is Satan’s Spawn, and that he sent her and instructs her drive me mad and remind me how much patience and love and thought it takes to train a smart and willful. dog.

She is, no doubt, the Spawn of Satan. Maria laughs when I say this, so that’s how I know she believes it too.


  1. I think that Fate probably has some Airedale genes hiding back in her pedigree somewhere! That would explain a lot. Dira says that she would love to meet Fate – the two of them could create a lot of mischief between them. – Barbara and Dira, the Airedale

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