Wednesday, August 5th– EO Group A
Seven months pregnant, with the farm season looming, we decided to get a new dog. We missed having a dog around, as our old dog, Ruby, died in November. It was kind of a crazy thing to do just before having a baby, but we knew it was the only time we’d have to devote to training a new dog for a long time.
Meet Willa. She’s a black terrier mix with cute white patches. She’s about two years old, and when she’s not lazing in the sun or her bed, she’s like a naughty little toddler. You can’t help but love her.
On her score sheet, let’s start with her naughtiness. She’s constantly up on the furniture and always pretends not to hear you when you ask her to get down. And let’s just say she loves the plethora of little kid toys that litter our floors. I think we are up over 2 dozen casualties to date. (Though on the plus side, her penchant for chewing is a great motivator for my kids to pick up after themselves!) She will eat just about anything – including chicken feed and hog feed. Several times I’ve caught her just after the act. She thinks she’s gotten away with something, but the yellow dust from the feed rings her snout, giving her away.
Lately she’s taken to stealing cucumbers from the pack shed. She picks them up in her mouth at the base of the brush washer where they fall on the floor. She will sneakily take the cucumber out the yard and eat in almost like a cob of corn, working long ways across its cylindrical shape. This little habit of hers, we don’t really mind. It’s pretty funny watching a dog steal a cucumber with all the same stealth one would steal a piece of meat.
Back to her score sheet – here’s for the plus side. While she sometimes exhibits selective hearing, she has trained amazingly well where it counts. Living on a farm means we have a lot of open land and no fences. It is very important to train a veggie farm dog to 1) keep away from the highway and 2) to stay on the drive paths and never walk where the vegetables are growing. Willa is amazing at this. After just one week of being at our house and training her along the highway, I was able to let her off leash permanently. She understands the boundaries, and in places where she doesn’t, she listens to a stern call to change direction. She’ll walk the fields with me in the evenings, and does well on a leash when we walk farther afield.
And as for being a good CSA dog, she’s learning. Every other Wednesday we have 70 members that pick up food here. And then there is our crew, different babysitters and worker shares every day. She’s learned not to bark at everyone… except the poor FedEx delivery person. Her reaction to this man, who is scared of dogs, poor guy, leaves me with no doubt Willa would protect us fiercely if a situation over arose.
What Willa really wants to do, like any dog, is to be showered with love. Her place on the totem pole in a 3-kid family is pretty low, but we do our best. We play dog rodeo with her and indulge in illegal couch cuddles. And she responds with the eager loyalty dogs are famous for.
Now if we could just get her to stop chasing our little cat and go after some field rodents instead!