Monday, May 31, 2021

Chapter Two: The Perfect Farm Dog

My very first dog was a Dalmatian named Scrubs. My husband got him for me right after the doctor told us we probably would never have children. He purposefully picked out the most high-energy, high-maintenance, biggest piece-of-work dog he could. 
(We would go on to have four children in five years after his arrival. But of course, that's another story entirely and will have to be a different chapter in this book.)

Scrubs moved with us from Eglin AFB in the panhandle of Florida to Turkey to the Azores to Middle TN before finally helping us settle on this farm in Bulls Gap, TN that we have called home since 2015. 
In 2016, at nine years old, he decided his work was done, and we burried him at the hairpin -- a tight turn on the back road -- halfway between our house and my in-laws' house. Right smack between the people he most loved.

We knew we had to get another dog. We knew that our six-year-old Sidge, especially, needed another dog, and that the grief would be too intense for him without a new animal to pour into.

We decided that with a farm overrunning with chickens and geese and ducks and sheep, we needed to make sure we had good dogs. They had to be trainable. We couldn't risk having to get rid of a dog because he refused to not dine on peasant. Or lamb chops. I mean what would we do if he had a lamb chop addiction?
We researched extensively, and we decided to get an Australian Shepherd. But because they were expensive dogs, especially when purchased from the high-level breeder we were looking at, we decided to get two of them. (That makes sense, doesn't it?) But the two was so that we could breed them and make back some of the money we spent.
And that's the story of how Bauernhof Kitsteiner came to be a farm that raised Aussies. And that is how we ended up having Ritter and Arabelle.

Ritter is the big Daddy. He's over 60 pounds. A red-merle. And a huge pile of loving fluff. He has very few needs other than belly scratches. And he's yet to meet a person he does not like. While Sidge likes to claim Ritter as his own, he really does belong to all of us.

But Arabelle? Her black-tri-self is my dog. I didn't set out to make her that way. She just chose me. She was born a farm dog. Today, after dropping my daughters off at church camp, I went for a walk/run on the track that circles the hospital my husband works for. Arabelle ran next to me off-leash. She stays in a heel when I tell her, and runs free when I let her. Half a dozen people stopped me to comment on her impeccable behavior as I let her run off-leash next to a busy road and tons of people.

But that's Arabelle. She lives to serve me and to be out with me on our farm. John captured the video of her jumping over one of our electric lines today. She does this often. If I give her the command, she jumps. If I tell her to stay, she will. Her hardest responsibility is when I ask her to leave me. She hates that.

I'd like to pretend that I am a professional trainer, and I simply conquered this dog with my impeccable training techniques, but that would be a mighty large lie. She honestly, nearly completely, trained herself. She often looks at me as if to say: "C'mon human. If you could get your act together, I'd be able to do a whole lot more."

I never dreamed any dog could replace my Scrubby. But Arabelle has nestled herself deep within my heart. I'd like to say I'm a two-dog woman, but as I look around these acres, I know that I will most likely always have a dog by my side. 

They are made for these hills.

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