There are times that I truly envy our creek valley dogs. When we are working on the farm or building one of our many outside projects, they explore the woods and fields nearby, rarely out of sight and never out of calling range.

When we do call, they come bounding up and lean into our legs, ready for some hearty loving. If they happen to get hot when we go for a walk along the creek, they find the perfect spot to lie down, water up to their shoulders, where they can rest and easily lap up the clear water to quench their doggish thirst.

As they climb the bank, they happily shake themselves somewhat dry. I know that their coats will glisten and be soft and smooth to my touch when we settle down to relax in the evening. But what I truly envy about our dogs is their wonderful ability to sit still, and simply take it all in. Their favorite outside place is just at the bottom of the front steps to the little cabin where we used to live.

From there, they can see all the way out to the orchard. Front paws crossed, they casually watch as the creek valley deer pass among the fruit trees. The deer do not seem to worry in the least about the dogs, and the dogs seem to simply enjoy watching the quiet deer pass from one tree to the next. The deer have actually done an excellent job pruning every orchard tree to the perfect mowing machine height. I could not have done any better myself.

The dogs also have a perfect view of the rabbit hutch row and the goat yard from their place at the bottom of the little cabin’s steps. If the goats are out wandering freely, they will often join the dogs and even climb the stairs, where they will lie down and relax in the sunshine, a community of four-footed creatures.

We tell ourselves that the little cabin is now our guest house, where friends and family stay when they come to visit, but if I kept track of its use by the day, I would quickly realize that it is more likely our four-footed friends’ daytime home.

The dogs also have a clear view of the pigeon gazebo. When the pigeons leave the gazebo to fly up and down the creek valley in ever- widening circles, the dogs turn their heads to follow the aerial performance with interest, but they never flinch a muscle, even when the birds swoop down low over their heads.

At the end of the flight, if the birds gather on the ground outside the gazebo, searching for whatever edible pigeon delights they might find, the dogs lose interest and turn their gaze elsewhere. On occasion, the chickens will wander up from their coop and join the dogs and goats by the little cabin, but the chickens do not usually stop by for long. There is always a worm to find just over there, or a seed to gobble up just ahead, and the chickens are soon on the move once again.

The dogs simply lie still, heads up, and watch as they pass by. Squirrels and chipmunks bound across the field and scamper up the trees just down the hill from the chicken coop. The dogs watch. The shadow of a turkey vulture or hawk might pass overhead, and still they lie, taking it all in as only a dog can, and this, dear readers, is why I am so envious of our dogs.

At a glance, it might appear that they are just dogs and are simply being lazy and doing nothing at all, but I know differently. They have this wonderful ability to tranquilly partake in what might seem as the trivial minutiae of our creek valley world.

I have learned to recognize that they are actually the masters of an enduring art, an art at which I am woefully far from perfecting. I am certainly able to stop by, sit on the cabin steps and join the dogs for a while. When I do, I can feel my blood pressure drop and my breathing slow, but I cannot stay still for long. No matter how hard I try, I find myself standing up to gather the eggs, lead the goats back to their yard, scatter scratch grain for the pigeons or to do any of the many other things that I do. When I do look back over at the dogs, there they are, quietly looking back at me. I realize that yes, I am also a part of their creek valley world just passing by, though I also believe that I am a special part. When I call them for a hug, they are there, lovingly right by my side.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at