Monday, August 6, 2012

When the Dog’s Away

When we lost our big yellow dog last August, it left a hole in our hearts and an empty space in the middle of the living room where he used to lie to supervise household activities.  We had Tucker for 17 years, and he was an almost perfect dog that took care of us more than we did him.  We are still discovering some of the caretaking duties he performed.

One of his jobs was maintaining order on the ranch.  Unbeknown to us, Tucker acted as a gatekeeper for critters that came and went in the yard.  I credited him with keeping coyotes at bay, but he apparently also made certain deer, turkeys, and hawks stayed far from his family.  Now that he is gone, these creatures visit with impunity. 

This trespassing offends our little terrier and make him wonder why he can’t maintain order like the big dog did.  It may have something to do with his shrill bark and small stature compared to Tucker’s deep roar and pony-sized body.  Even I got scared when Tucker barked, and I knew I was allowed on the place since I fed him.

We have enjoyed seeing occasional deer at a distance; we now have a regular deer thoroughfare in every direction around the house.  My husband nearly ran into one in the driveway as he drove home the other night.  The terrier and I had a stare down with two bucks in velvet and three does on our way to the mailbox the other afternoon.  Watching out the window morning and evening  guarantees we’ll see a doe or maybe a doe and her fawn.

Since we enjoy wildlife and they don’t seem to cause harm, we mostly enjoy this and think how busy Tucker must have been shepherding all these four- legged creatures away from the place all fifteen years he stood guard duty out here.

Sitting on the back porch last, I watched fireflies dance until the wee hours.  Suddenly, I heard  a racket from  the bushes and trees that border the backyard.  Keep in mind, it was dark, dark except for a sliver of light projected by the yard light into the back yard.   Straining my ears and eyes, I determined where the sounds came from and focused on the tiny bit of light in that direction.  Soon, I saw shadowy figures emerge from the trees—a doe and two older fawns.  Totally unaware I was sitting within fifteen feet of them, they browsed a currant bush and then meandered across the yard to try out some other greenery.  I realized why I frequently heard Tucker barking through the night. 

While I miss our old dog enormously, it has been interesting to discover how busy he was as a guard dog.  No wonder he napped so much when he was in the house. Bbased on what I’ve seen since he’s been gone, he had a full time job keeping critters away.

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