Animals, Farming, Friendship, Pets and Livestock, Rural Living

No Matter What: Contrarian Pets, and the Owner Who Loves Them

As some of you know, I’m currently owned by two dogs: Xena, an elderly Great Pyrenees, and Odo, a puppy of the same breed. My last experience with a puppy was in 1986 (Wulfie, the Old English Sheepdog), and I’d forgotten how exhausting, challenging, charming, and occasionally hilarious, such a thing can be.  In the intervening almost-four-decades, I’ve had dozens of dogs in my home, all of them (including Xena) rescues or strays, and all of them adult when they–by chance, luck, or the kindness of strangers–came to me.  The same is true of the cats and the bunnies.  It’s true that I chose the sheep and goats.  But I didn’t choose the chickens, at least the first of them, which I found abandoned on the side of the road in January 2021.  (As usual, a tale hangs thereby.)

Odo the puppy came from a farm in Southeast Ohio, where he was raised with his parents to guard goats and chickens.  So he’s not a “show dog.”  Which is a really good thing when it comes to living here.  I’m not a “show” sort of person, given my general air of personal and household dishevelment and uninterest in what the world at large thinks of me.  Like his predecessor Levi, Odo’s very fond of his stooge.  Why, just a couple of days ago, when I let him back into the house after his early morning romp, he decorated my pajama top with a valuable signed art print:

My little baby.  He’s not quite four months old.  On his last visit to the veterinarian, he weighed in at 52lbs.  The bottom of his pawprint on my pajama top is four-and-a-half feet high.

(My cats have also recently made their own contribution to culture around here, imprinting themselves in a paint spill on the top of a bucket of  joint compound. Dunno which of them it was.  But I have my psuspicions.)

I’m thinking of contributing both these unique artistic endeavors to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art where I think they’ll be appreciated and valued in the millions.  Really.  Have you seen some of the [expletive] that gets valued in the millions nowadays?  My stuff, and that of my pets, is so much better, or so I think.

Meanwhile, back to the puppy.  He’s hilarious.  We’re still working on the “house training” issue.  And–most of the time–we’re doing quite well.  Unless and until Odo decides that I’m not serious in my commitment to him.  His concern on this part may take the form of my chatting on the phone with my sister (which he takes as a personal slight). Or talking to others in my home while excluding him. Or any other situation in which he perceives that stuff is going on in which he may not be the center of everyone’s attention.  (LOL.  He’s so like my mother in this circumstance it’s not even funny.  Although, TBPC, it is. Funny, that is.)

Usually, his reaction to things of this sort is something along the lines of: “Well, I’ll just go in here (pick a room) and poop on the floor.  Let’s see what that does to change the dynamic.”

And although what it does never redounds to his benefit, he’s still trying.

A couple of weeks ago, Odo disgraced himself on the kitchen floor.  I invoked my “Nanny from Hell” persona (fairly easy when you’re British, although hard not to laugh in this instance) to rebuke him.  I love that–when I say his name–his ears twitch.  And that when I say “look at me!” he does.  The rest of it–his assumption of the Ralphie-from-A-Christmas-Story vibe, when he tries to convince me that he’s only trying to help me find the culprit, and why–for Pete’s sake–am I even addressing him? just makes me laugh.

Lord.  So many pets over the years.  So much laughter.  So much love.  I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I spent most of today painting inside the house.  At some point, I threw Odo and Xena down into the field to get some exercise, something they love.  I kept an eye on the weather (which was ugly) and cannot have missed the onset of bitter windy sleet by more than ten minutes or so.

Still, when I went out to bring them both in, Xena decided that she really loved bitterly windy sleet and rain, and I spent the next fifteen minutes or so chasing her (and her little mini-me) down and bringing them inside.  By the end of it I was–crimenutely–totally ‘[expletived] off.

Subsequently, I took a look as Xena and Odo’s “Whistle” profiles.  (“Whistle” is the GPS product I use to keep track of them, in case they escape or find themselves otherwise off my property.)  It’s a great product, and useful, but my primary interest in it is the GPS tracker.  It does many other things, including tracking the energy and activity of each dog, day by day.  I rarely look at that, but, today (and relatively speaking), I find the same dynamic day-in, day-out, for both of them:

LOL.  They’re together all the time.  (Odo makes sure of that, most often by (charmingly) waiting for Xena to catch  up with him.)  But somehow, Odo the puppy manages to multiplex, times four or more, Xena’s activity by running circles (literally) around her.

Posted in memory of The Greatest Pyrenees.  Odo’s got a tough row to hoe when it comes to surpassing Levi in my affections.  But equaling him?  Now, that’s another story!

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