We’ve (i.e.Bowie and I) have been working with my friend Sarah Todd recently, so that she (i.e.Bowie) can come when called, and walk on a leash without chewing it to shreds. Bowie is nine months old at this point, these should be as easy as breathing for her, but my long trip to London in the Fall put a halt to much of our momentum. Sarah’s expert help is critical to Bowie’s safety and my sanity.
At any rate, one of the issues I’ve struggled with is what kind of dog is Bowie? Is she a livestock guardian meant to be with the sheep and at their side 24/7? Is she a farm dog meant to live barnside and keep watch as well as be a companion to farmer me? Or is she a pet meant to live as our Sophie does – inside the house at night and free to go in and out?
The last option is not an option at all, really. At 110 pounds, and with a polar bear’s thick coat, she loves being out doors even when the weather is as it is today: 0 degrees at nine in the morning. She would be miserable spending her day by the woodstove, as Sophie does.
So, it’s the first two options that I’m juggling at the moment, with Sarah’s wise and kind advice. Bowie clearly loves being with the sheep. On good days, she helps me get them in and out of the barn, and she is happy sitting with them while keeping an eye out for possible interlopers. Other days, she has a teenager’s wild glint in her eye (she’s actually middle school aged in human years, an age group I am all too familiar with, having taught middle school for over two decades), and cannot be left alone with the sheep. She loves people, and her strongest bonds are clearly with the Smith family – she’d rather be with us than the flock, any day. Thus, the conundrum: what kind of dog is Bowie?
The most important thing, no matter what Bowie turns out to be, is that she is a well behaved dog. So, multiple times a day, I trudge out to wherever in the farm she happens to be, and we do the homework Sarah has assigned. Another farm chore to master.