In her post a while back on child rearing she gave the penultimate nudge that caused this:
This is our brand new black hole for time and energy; Bruce.
He's a little hard to photograph on snow; his points- face, legs and tail, are very black; quite striking.
Bruce is 10 weeks old, acquired from the local shelter- he's a Chocolate Lab/ Collie/ Newfoundland, with maybe a little Husky. Our very good Amish friend Joe was hearing all about him from Smidgen, in the grocery store where we were after puppy chow, and commented deadpan; "Oh, you mean he's a Farm Dog." Judging from his huge feet and loose skin, he's heading towards somewhere between 70-100 lbs.
We haven't had canine livestock here before; never really needed one; but we'd been thinking about it now for a year or so. Lots of reasons; we could use a dog to chase wildlife out of the crops just a bit. Having the truck stolen made us a little nervous about midnight visitors, out here in the boonies.
Two things tipped the balance. Sharon was the first, her point #8 in that post pointing out the value of a good dog in helping keep an eye on children that are likely to stray. And the Smidgen is 3 now; entirely mobile; totally fearless; and already was undertaking long unaccompanied journeys last year.
The second - was coyotes. When I first moved here, in the mid 70's; the locals had never seen one. This was originally wolf territory- and the two almost never overlap. A few years later, coyotes started moving in- killing almost all the foxes. 20 years later, a few red foxes are showing up again- but I never hear the distinctive bark of the grey foxes, that used to be a standard part of summer evenings. I miss them.
I don't resent the coyotes; change is inevitable, and I really enjoy hearing them chorus from time to time. But. Smidgen is 3- and yes, coyotes have been known to attack children, in places where the coyotes get too abundant, and too familiar with people. (Google "coyote attacks" if you don't believe me- or look here- one of these 3 kids was 10.)
But, last week, for the first time ever here, we saw coyotes; near the house, in broad daylight. Twice.
Thanks to Sharon, we were already veeeery close to the puppy edge; the coyotes finished the job. When my first crop kids were small, coyotes were very rare- and you never saw one. But just like everywhere else; they're moving closer and closer to people, even here in farm country. Basically, I'm delighted to have the coyotes on the farm; they eat loads of rodents, the occasional fawn- fine. But watching us in daylight- no thank you. They knew we saw them- and didn't run.
"Eventually" - we expect Bruce to be a highly valued and valuable member of the family; pulling his share of the load. At the moment, of course..... it's way too cold to keep him outside (below zero again last night) - he's too young to be reliably house trained; and this is a tiny house...
On the up side; it looks like we were incredibly lucky at the shelter- he's a total sweety pie; absolutely snuggly, quiet, unspoiled, already retrieves things, very playful, willing to listen, and seems very smart. Highly promising, I think.
On the other hand; this is our passive-agressive tom cat, who previously had us, and the house, to himself-
He's sitting right smack on the puppy's bed- after the puppy slept on it for hours, so the cat certainly knows it- and giving the pup the evil eye whenever he comes close. Pup's had his nose scratched just once by the cat; now the cat only has to hiss a little, and the pup yelps.
Never a dull moment.