Our old Labrador died last winter, and Ginger the Half-Dingo is now completely deaf and sleeps much of the day. That left Bella the Bitsa, who isn’t really interested in chasing foxes, who now come brazenly into the house yard. The peacocks have dark suspicions that Bella is herself a fox.
So we decided to get another dog. I found one at the pound, a New Zealand Huntaway breed. They look like a cross between a Doberman and a Border Collie, and they are bred to move large mobs of sheep on snowy mountainous regions – just like Cockatrice Farm isn’t.
Buster was on “death row” – his time at the pound had expired, and he needed a home urgently to avoid being put down. A rescue group advertised this at my work, and he looked like he would make a fox think twice.
So I went to meet him. He was a friendly if boisterous dog. While driving home, a voice in my head said “His name is Buster”. Then another voice said, “That’s a stupid name for a dog, he should be called something like Thucydides or Montgomery.”
The voices were unable to reach consensus, so I left it to Allison. She met him the next day and checked doggie compatibility: Ginger and Bella both liked him. Allison agrees that, in all possible universes, this dog’s name has to be Buster.
Buster was already stir-crazy from some weeks at the pound. Then he had to go to the vet to have his nuts removed, and I picked him up after that. It was a 90 minute drive back to the farm from there, with Buster tied up in the back seat. He worked out that at full stretch he could force his head under my armpit, so I drove most of the way like that, with this huge whimpering puppy desperate for reassurance.
We got home, and Buster settled down quickly. So far he seems really well behaved. As his rescuer, I am to be eternally adored, and licked at every possible opportunity.
The next day, we took Buster for a walk in the paddock on a long rope. This proved a bad idea, as Buster is strong and fast, and whenever he reached the end of the rope I would be yanked a good metre. So we soon let him off the rope, and he did everything he was told and came when called. The next day the geese were in the paddock, and he ignored them. The horses were a bit of a shock to him but he’s adapted. He’s had a good formal introduction to the cat, but I sense that one’s not quite over yet.
This morning, as I was leaving for work, a fox was sitting outside the house yard taunting the dogs. So I opened the gate and told Buster to get him. Buster was across the field like lightning, and the fox got the shock of his life. I think Buster actually caught him, but didn’t know what to do then. Lots of pats and cuddles after that one! (Foxy has been back, but much further away.)
I’ll report on Buster’s further progress. I expect him to do something really naughty soon, to test the boundaries and see if we really love him.