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  • Writer's pictureKen Campbell

Farm Dogs

There are two dogs on the farm; both are medium large (60-75 lbs) mutts of indeterminate ancestry including some elements of pitt bull.

The oldest (Libby, 9 yrs) is a house dog and goes outside only when induced to do so by the younger dog or to follow Jay over the property as he does farm chores. Libby was born in the Yakima landfill and was obtained from a rescue organization in Yakima at 8 weeks old. Her looks indicate she is part Labrador retriever, along with an underbite inherited from some other bully breed. Her natural affinity for water would reinforce the retriever idea of her ancestry. She has a calm, confident, and happy demeanor, enthusiastically welcoming all human visitors to the farm.

Libby has a penchant for taking a position on the elevated aspect of the back deck where she can oversee the adjacent pasture and hayfield beyond. From this lookout, she announces to us all with loud barks whenever she detects the intrusion of some foreign creature into the territory she oversees. Otherwise, Libby sleeps on the couch or on her bed by the fire. Sometimes, Libby comes to visit Jean and me. When she does, her act is to solicit the petting to which she thinks she is entitled and then to lie down on the floor and go to sleep.

The youngest (Barley, 4.75 yrs) is an outside dog with a free run of the 35-acre farm. Barley’s origin story is more complex. Jay and Ellen didn’t set out to get a second dog, but through a series of events ended up with an orphaned 5-week-old puppy that Jean and Jody fostered for her 4th week of life. Her body type has the large powerful chest of a pitt bull, but her snout is long and she has one ear up and one ear down. Although Barley loves people almost as much as Libby does, her demeanor slightly more reserved, more submissive, and more energetic.

Barley is a watchdog. She is sincere in her watchdog duties even though she is not quite sure what those duties are. She watches the animals and attempts to put them in their place. She understands that the sheep and cows are supposed to be in one of the fenced pastures but she often doesn't know which pasture that would be. She responds by putting them in the barn. The chickens have her totally confused because they seem to have no proper place. Loosely scattered about in front of the barn, Barley runs into the flock pell-mell and tries to sort them out. By now, the chickens and sheep and cows have gotten used to Barley and hardly respond to her herding efforts.

Pigs are a different matter. Pigs out of the pen drive Barley nuts. Her extreme outrage at an un-penned pig evokes a vicious attack. A 300 lb pig is a formidable adversary and I usually need to call on Jay and Ellen to help Barley get the pigs back in the pen. Under her owners control she is a good helper for a pig round-up.

The story with the wild animals on the farm is a little different. With these, Barley almost always recruits Libby to help whether it be digging moles or chasing coyotes.

The two farm dogs are living in a paradise with lives that they could not wish were any different from the ones they have.

Me too.


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