Then there were three
By CHRISTINE TAILER
So much of what we do is by happenstance. We started as goat keepers because a neighbor’s daughter decided not to enter her goats in the county fair. And then a wether joined our fledgling herd because he was fortunate enough, by goat standards, not to make fair weight.
When a friend moved out of state several years ago, she left us her laying hens, and lo and behold, we quickly fell in love with our flock and their freshly laid eggs.
Then, several generations of rabbits were quite enough for one grandfatherly farmer, and we entered the world of an ever-lengthening row of rabbit hutches.
The big black dogs were really no different. Our first big black dog found us when we still lived in the city. She followed the children home from school one day, and that was that. Several years later, after we lay her down beside Rooster Red and several other farm creatures down by the creek, we actually purchased another big black dog, only to find out shortly after that there was a matching, homeless stray, begging to be taken in. And so we ended up with two big black dogs to swim in the creek, chase rabbits and squirrels up trees, lie lazily in the sun and sleep by our sides at night. All was well with our doggish world.
Until I heard of yet another homeless big, black dog.
This dog had been dropped off on a country road by someone in a van who simply sped off and never looked back. A dog foster family had taken her in and had let her stay in their garage, but they could not keep her. Their world was not set up to be a permanent home to a big dog.
I asked Greg if we could just go to take a look at her, and we did. She bounded out of her garage and rolled over at our feet. She looked up at us, her whole body wagging. She let us hug her and rub her, and we had no doubt that she was indeed a good dog. I looked at Greg.
He nodded and I asked her foster folk if we could take her home, for just a weekend, for a “road test,” to see if things would work out, and only then decide if we would keep her as our own. Of course the family agreed.
So several days later, we left our two big black dogs in the pen at the farm, and we drove to pick her up. She excitedly jumped up into the truck and happily let the wind from the open window blow her ears back. Just as excitedly, she jumped down from the truck, and proceeded to lead us from farm smell to farm smell. In time, she calmed down, and we decided that it was time to meet our two.
We introduced her to them slowly, first the male. We kept both dogs on leashes and let them sniff and smell, and all was good. Then, we put the male back in the pen and let the two females meet for the first time. The new dog was happy and wagging her stub of a black tail, but our female was not so sure of this newcomer.
We cautiously let them sniff. All was tentatively OK.
And then we set off on a walk up the creek, all three dogs on leashes. After a while, Greg let first one and then the other of our dogs off the lead.
The newcomer stopped and sniffed at every creek smell. The other two ran ahead, looking curiously back at her. It all seemed so amazing to this third dog, who for the first time was exploring our familiar world.
I then realized how very fortunate, and truly happy, our own two dogs were. That first night she could hardly sleep. The sounds and smells were all too exciting. The second day we let her off the leash and let her run. She high-stepped in the creek’s shallow water as our dogs swam deep. Our two ran after squirrels and she followed them, not knowing what she was running
after, but happy in the chase.
And then, in the late afternoon sun, she lay down in the grass by the cabin. Our male walked over and lay down beside her. His paw touched her back. Our female sat on the porch and watched, still somewhat stand-offish, but seemingly at ease with the newcomer.
I took a photo on my phone and sent it to her foster family, letting them know that yes, this dog had found her new home. They replied immediately, thankfully promising to stop by and glad that she was home.
And so it goes, somehow by happenstance, we now have three big black dogs.
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 straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.