Woody: Ranch dog on the suburban micro-farm

November 14, 2009 at 7:33 pm Leave a comment

woodyWoody was born in Sweden and brought to Texas as an 8-week old puppy. His mommy is one of the top field-trial dogs in Europe; his daddy is no slouch as a bird dog, either. Neither one of them belong to people who care much about anything but working ability.

My friend Mary picked Woody out from his siblings herself, and as she brought him home — planes, trains and automobiles — she marveled at his composure. Nothing worried him, and then as now, he looked at everything with a calm expression, very Zen in his attitude to life.

He settled into ranch life in Texas, and showed much early promise as a working retriever. In Texas, I suppose they’d say he’s a birdy sumbitch, but he’s also smart and sensible.  He likes to please, but he also thinks sometimes he, himself, knows what’s best.  He keeps his own counsel.

When he was eight months old, Mary took him to the big dog shows in Houston. She’s not really a dog-show person — her dogs are hunting dogs first and foremost — but she puts championships on her dogs because that’s the way the game is played.  The game wasn’t a good one that day for Woody, who caught canine influenza, likely brought in by a dog from Florida, where the disease had just been discovered in Greyhounds by researchers at the University of Florida vet school.

Woody spent the next month at the vet school at Texas A&M, fighting for his life. He survived, but he was weak and lost many more weeks of training while recuperating.

It was around this time that my own boy retriever, Ben, passed on. Mary had another young dog or two in training, so we decided that Woody would come live with me, to help fill the hole in my heart where the boy retrievers fit.

But Woody is no Ben.

Ben was sweet, easy-going and not very bright. Woody is sweet, hard-working and highly intelligent.

I made adjustments for a more active life, and Woody settled in just fine. Now, it’s impossible to imagine life here without him.  He is the ranch dog on my suburban micro-farm, and before his life ends I figure him to be the ranch dog on a real one, such is my goal for us both.

Woody doesn’t need a leash and rarely wears one. When he does, it’s mostly for the sake of appearances, to put at ease those people who’d find 70 pounds of well-muscled black dog a little scary.

Not that there’s anything to be scared of. As with most retrievers, Woody loves people. But still, he knows when his affection needs to be put aside because he has a job to do.

Like today.

This morning Woody and I ran one of my favorite errands, to the feed store. With three bales of hay and 300 pounds of feed in the back of the ‘86 Mazda that’s now my daily driver (it was my brother’s truck before I stole it), I stopped at the Whole Foods for coffee on the patio and the use of their free Wi-Fi, leaving Woody in the cab.

From where I sat, I watched someone look into the back at the hay, no doubt wondering who would have an old pickup full of farm supplies in the heart of suburban Sacramento.

But Woody wasn’t buying the looky-loo behavior.

He woofed, one big booming woof, and then smiled at the man genially.  He never moved from where he sat in the passenger seat, his head cocked to see what would happen next.

The message was clear: “I’m a nice dog, but this is my mom’s truck, and you will not touch it or anything in it. I will thank you now to step away.”

Which the man quite sensibly did.

A few minutes later, I wrapped up my work on the laptop, and as I opened the door to the truck I told Woody what a good boy he was. He knew it, and acknowledged my praise with a double tail-thump and a grin.

A good boy, is Woody.  None better, in my book.


Technorati Tags:


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Looking After Your Pet Beagle Woody: Ranch dog on the suburban micro-farm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

November 2009
« Oct   Dec »

%d bloggers like this: