Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chaos and Sunshine

I heard the dogs whining.  When the dogs whine, it's usually the goats or the dobies across the way.  I was in the middle of a phone call, so I dawdled, until finally I got my butt upstairs.  

Goats.  Goats everywhere.  Well, near the barn, anyway.  Gah.

I apologized to my DH and headed out in mud boots.  The so-called cunning plan was to get one dog on a leash, head out there, and herd the herd back into their enclosure, followed by an investigation to try to figure out how they got out.  Finn sat tidily and calmly, so he got the coveted leash.  Now, normally, I can squeeze through the fence and through a combination of mild expletives, snarls, barks, shouts, shoves and admonitions, I can get me and just one dog out the gate.

Not today.  

Beast rammed past me with surprising force.  The goats scattered.


I shouted at him, but the airedale is strong in this one.  Goats climbed onto the stack of straw we have on our archery range.  Goats circled and faced him off with horns.  Scooter disappeared into the barn, and Beast went after him.  A second later Scooter came out, Beast appeared to bound onto him, and Scooter went down.  And lay still.

My heart leapt into my throat, just like in the cliche'.  I managed to snag Beast.  It was like a fight, but luckily he didn't use his teeth on me.  I knew if I scared him enough, he might panic and bite.  My throat was raw and I couldn't get enough air to fuel the effort of getting a very powerful dog so he can't slip away while simultaneously getting the chain collar off another dog that's trying to help and get that collar on him.  I think it took about four minutes.  

For the record, four minutes of giving it your all sucks.  

I finally succeeded.  Finn is good with the goats, so he was fine off leash around them.  He trotted into the pasture and started a perimeter patrol.  I couldn't take Beast over to what was left of Scooter--I had to get him back to the dog run.  I couldn't get the thought out of my head.  I have to shoot my dog.

No, I'll adopt him out.  Can I do that?  I don't think so.  What if he hurt a cat, a dog ... maybe an owner with no animals, maybe if I put out a plea--

Negotiations of a desperate mind.  I got him in and started back toward the barn.

And Scooter, the little butthead, stood up.  He was fine.

Fainting goat.  He must have fainting goat in him.  He overloaded and collapsed.  He was down, oh, I don't know how long.  Four minutes?  Another long four minutes, the kind where you have death in your hands and you don't want it.

So relieved on so many levels I was on the verge of tears, I looked Scooter over.  He didn't have so much as a scratch.  He wasn't limping.  He was fine.  Beast didn't hurt him.  He didn't hurt him.  He just scared him.  It still wasn't good, but it wasn't a death sentence.

I got the goats in, still relieved by my near miss.  Next time, the good dog gets to go in through the house.  It'll be like an air lock.  If one or both get by me, they might trash the upstairs, but they won't get out to the goats.  Brian would be fine, but Beast ... Beast was born and bred to chase deer, and goats are the next best thing.

Exhausted, I gasped my way back to the house, tasting blood in my throat, trembling from adrenaline.  It took fifteen minutes or more for me to feel like I might not pass out.  My DH called back and we talked while I sipped a shot of Navan to soothe my throat, and then I went back out.

I found what I thought was the hole, plugged it, dealt with another weak area for good measure, and thought that was that.  I was filthy, smelled like wet dog, mud under my fingernails--and it was sunny and gorgeously warm, beautiful in only the way a day can be after a near miss.  Time to garden.  I planted a tree (not the Christmas tree--I'll need help to get it off the deck) and some bulbs I'd left out in the weather just before the storm (all of them except a few anemones looked good, and I bet even the really pathetic anemones will be fine too,) did some weeding, placed a couple of edging boulders, leveled a couple sections of path.  About that time the goats got out again.  This time I had help from the kids.  I managed to notice that the truck gate was leaning.  Aha!  Andrea and I got it tied back in place.  No more goat escapes.

Chaos and sunshine.  It was a very good day, but I'll be sore tomorrow.  I feel it coming on already.


Molly said...

Worse case scenario, if something like this happens again - you probably WOULD be able to adopt him out. Not in a farming community, obviously; but, he is a good, loyal, beautiful, friendly, Beast - and who can really blame him for following his nature? I'm glad that you got them all in with no casualties. How boring would life in the country be without the intermittent chaos?

Kami said...

I would definitely give it my all to adopt him out, but the reality is that between the economy and the gizillions of pet choices out there, it's unlikely that I'd find someone willing to take him on. He is beautiful, good (most of the time, heh,) loyal, friendly --but he's a handful, needs to run, is jealous of his food (fortunately he's the only dog we have who is) and the longer we held onto him hoping someone could adopt him, the higher the chance he might get out again. He may not get to our goats, because they're fenced tight, but how awful would it be if he killed the baby alpaca down the road, or one of the sheep or goats up the road?

I would have given it a chance, and probably held onto him longer than I should. Honestly I'm not sure I'd be capable, which is horribly irresponsible of me. But I doubt someone would take him in. There are just so many other dogs out there who aren't a problem in any way who need homes too, his chances would be slim.

Thank goodness it all worked out.