On Grief And Farming (A.K.A. Me and My Arrow) Pt. 5

Approximate Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Arrow and Rubic

Once we knew we would not be able to keep Rubic, we started looking for a replacement.

Rubic

This is one of the many many places where having a reputable, caring breeder comes in handy. Not only did Rubic’s breeder (Grazerie) help us find a new puppy, but she ALSO helped us find a perfect new home for Rubic (where she still lives happily ever after). I’ll write more about Rubic another time. This is (in a round about way) Arrow’s story.

Arrow (behind) and Odin (in front) in early 2014.

Enter Odin.

Odin (LGD 4.0) came from the same breeder as Rubic, and we took him knowing he was born with a number of challenges (another advantage of dealing with a knowledgeable, ethical breeder). He was not entirely sound, but that was absolutely OK.

Together, Arrow and Odin were an ideal team for a small holding like ours. Up until this spring, that is.

You see, Odin’s eyesight is not the best (he has cataracts). He gets around just fine, but he really doesn’t like going into a dark place from a light place (such as from the sunny outdoors into the dim rabbitry. That’s not really a big problem, and in some ways, it’s useful. It means I can leave the door to the rabbitry ajar and know that Arrow can get in and out, but that Odin won’t. Arrow can escape the heat and snooze in peace. He can also hide away from thunder (which he hates).

Arrow always likes to take his dinner out to the field. Perhaps he likes to eat in peace.

Arrow turned 12 years old in May 2017.  Last year he had a number of tumours removed from four different places on his body – all of them benign. However, over winter, he started having occasional trouble getting up. He’s a BIG guy – about 130 lb – so helping him up is no small task.

He’s been slowing down slowly for some time, but this spring I realized he was no longer effective.

We lost 8 of our remaining 11 ducks. At least 3 of them were taken right out of the duck house while they were sitting on nests.

 

Arrow meets Sammy – the only duckling hatched in 2016. Note Odin (and Carlton the turkey) looking on from behind. Note also how Arrow is avoiding eye contact with Sammy. That is exactly how he should behave around his charges.

 

I KNOW it wasn’t Arrow or Odin. Both are exceptionally patient with the birds.

However, it is part of the job of the local predators to know when something is not adequately guarded. We don’t have bears or wolves or big cats, but we DO have foxes and coyotes.

Both have no problem coming right up to the house.

 

When we were struggling with Rubic and needed to confine her during the day to keep her from the turkeys, it wasn’t very long before the foxes started sneaking into the yard and trying to steal ducks.

This spring, I lost 8 ducks within a few weeks, and realized that I’d have to protect them better if I wanted to keep any.

It’s not Arrow’s fault.

I should have seen the writing on the wall sooner.

Lagoland

So now, our ducks are confined to the inner yard – the area known as “Lagoland”. This where the dogs spend most of their time and so the fox will not chance taking a duck from there. There is no easy way to get in and out without being noticed – especially not if you are carrying a duck.

Kipa (our cat) and the foxes knew and respected each other.

I have no illusions that it is fox-proof – I’ve found fox poo on TOP of the rabbit hutches – but I DO know that foxes are unlikely to push their luck too far.

So, we have a new puppy “on order”. She is another Sar (like Odin and Rubic), and should arrive sometime in October.

If Arrow is still around then, he will likely pretend she doesn’t exist – just like he has with the other four puppies (2 of them Rotties) he has helped raise.

Arrow, at about 10 weeks.

You see, if Arrow had a religion, he would be a Buddist.

He is fundamentally non-violent, and he expects us all to handle things in a calm, reasonable matter, and is deeply insulted when we fail.

If I yell at him, he simply leaves. He has, in his ENTIRE life, growled at me but once, and that was when he was about 10 weeks old and I tried to take a piece of raw chicken from him. I took it from him, of course, because I HAD to win that argument, but the only reprimand he required was for me to growl at him and hold him by the scruff of his neck. After that, he would drop any treat I offered him if he felt his mouth touch my hand.

One time, when he was grown but still young, he was pestering me to pet him. He would do this by walking beside me and pushing his head up under my hand – he is tall enough to do this easily. I obliged a few times, but then I told him to stop. He didn’t. After the 3rd or 4th time I told him to stop, I finally swatted him across the face.

Now, my Rotties would think this is perfectly fair, but Pyrenees come from a different culture and in their world, this is simply not done. I had forgotten that. There is no way I hurt him physically, but Arrow’s reaction was to stop dead in his tracks and stare at me as if to say, “SURELY, you could have figured out a more reasonable way to communicate your displeasure!”

Then he walked away and wouldn’t come near me for three days.

I learned.

In my twelve years with Arrow, I have learned a LOT.

For that, I will be forever grateful to him.

He taught me at least as much as I taught him. Perhaps more. And in return, he has kept my birds, rabbits, cats, etc., safe.


This is the fifth and probably second last in a series of posts about Arrow, and about grief.
I will write the final installment after Arrow has passed, which I do hope is not for a a while yet, but the more realistic part of me knows will likely be in the next few months.


If you are at all curious why I named this guy “Arrow”:

Listen:

 

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