PJ arrived at HoneyBear Ranch a week ago. We saw him first near the pond, playing with Cora and Jax. Worried about how a strange dog would react to our animals, we tried to chase him off. At first, we were successful. He had a collar on so we assumed he lived nearby and was just passing through.
The next morning, he was sleeping just inside the pasture by the stone fence post that divides the drive to the house from the drive to the barn. Cora and Jax greeted him with enthusiasm; Phil and I, not so much. “We don’t need another dog,” we said to each other. He continued to lay by the post and watch our comings and goings. He was cautious – wouldn’t get too close. By late afternoon though, he decided to lick my outstretched hand. In that moment, a bond was formed and PJ, as we’ve come to call him, had found himself a home.
He is a most unusual dog, especially for his breed. Although he looks like a full-blooded Pit Bull, he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He’s content to be third in the dog pecking order, exposing his belly to Cora and Jax when they play. He lickes the faces of our Barbado Sheep - and they don’t seem to mind. Even Bonnie didn’t object to his washing baby Miracle’s face. Most of all, though, he just wants to be loved. At night when we watch TV, he puts his front paws and head in my lap, waiting for his ears to be scratched. He follows Phil on his rounds, or lays close by when Phil’s splitting wood. He’s the first to come when we call.
He does have one weakness, though. CATS! We think he wants to play with them, but he has such big feet that he scares them to death. Yesterday he chased poor Dora up a tree. Last night he learned that not all “cats” will run from him. We let the dogs out just before bedtime for one last bathroom trip. We heard Cora barking with great enthusiasm. When Phil openend the door to let them all in, he smelled the very strong oder of SKUNK! Apparently PJ thought that black animal with the white stripe was a cat. He took a direct hit in the face. Phil caught PJ just before he jumped up on the couch and threw him back outside. Cora was sprayed, too. Jax managed to escape. While I sprayed the house with air freshener, Phil took Cora and PJ to the run for the night. Today they will be powedered with Baking Soda. We’ve found that it takes the smell out of a dog’s fur better than anything else. Three applications seem to do the trick.
This morning, when PJ heard Phil calling Jax to come back inside, he broke out of the run. Cora soon followed. He just wanted his ears scratched and to know that he’s loved.
We don’t know why PJ showed up at HoneyBear Ranch. We can’t imagine anyone dumping such a loving dog. But no one has claimed him – except for us. PJ has found himself a home for life.
Last summer Phil and I lost our two beloved dogs, Honey and Harley. Honey, always the wanderer no matter what we did to protect her, ran in front of a car. Harley, our old faithful companion, died of a broken heart 10 days later. We were devestated. They had brought so much love and joy into our lives. To have them both die so close together made the grief almost unbearable. We didn’t think we’d ever want dogs again.
However, living on a farm without dogs is difficult. All sorts of critters began moving in to threaten our birds and livestock. First it was wild pigs rooting up the community garden. Then it was coyotes breaking into the chicken pen and killing a turkey, 4 guineas, and several chickens. With nothing around to protect them – to bark and keep them safe – our animals were in danger.
After much soul searching, we decided to adopt a dog from ARK, our local animal rescue folks. We agreed we wouldn’t get as attached this time. The dog would be a working dog, not a pet. I got on their website and searched through all the dogs they had for adoption. I was about to give up when up popped the cutest picture of two puppies, brother and sister, who had been dumped at a local greenbox. Part Boarder Collie and part Black Lab, they seemed perfect for farm life.
Cora and Jax came to visit on a hot August afternoon. At 3 1/2 months old, they were all feet – big feet – and tongues. They immediately took to Phil and whined when he secured them in a fenced area and walked away to get water. They wiggled all over when he came back. It was obvious that they felt at home. We agreed to adopt them after we returned from vacation. While we were gone, they were neutered and spayed and received their puppy shots.
In mid-September, Cora and Jax came home to live with us. It was love at first sight and all thoughts of not getting attached went out the window. What a pair they are! Full of energy and puppy enthusiasm. They have two speeds – full run or full sleep. Cora, also known as Cora Belle because of her southern charm, is the alpha dog. She pesters her brother constantly, pulling an ear or chewing a foot if he’s asleep and she wants to play. Jax, alias Trashman because he hauls stuff up to the back door to chew on, is more laid back. His favorite activity, when he’s not chewing, is sleeping.
They’re 9 months old now. They’re finally house broken. The sleep through most nights. Jax still chews on everything – shoes and socks are his favorites if he doesn’t have a bone around. They follow Phil everywhere! They “ help” him get his boots on in the morning, follow him on his daily rounds, chase the cats (who have learned to ignore them), chase each other, put up animals who’ve escaped their pens. Our remaining guinea runs at them, daring them to chase it, then flies up into a tree. If that bird had a tongue, it would be giving Cora and Jax the raspberry! Yesterday, they discovered the wild ducks who use our pond this time of year. They took off at a dead run and dove into the pond after the ducks. Neither had ever been in the water before. Jax quickly came back to shore. Cora swam all the way across. It was a cold day and the pond had recently had ice on it. Neither seemed to care. At Phil’s whistle, they came bounding up to the house, eyes shining. We could almost hear them saying, ”Dad, there are strange birds on the pond and we chased them! Aren’t you proud of us?” as they shook the icy water all over us! Cora and Jax will never replace Honey and Harley, but they are bringing a great deal of love and joy into our lives! They already have a special place in our hearts and our lives.