When Ann and Pat married, each brought along a dog. The dogs hated each other when they met in Ohio and moving to a farm in Wisconsin didn’t change their attitude. Ann and Pat went for dog counseling, which tapped into their latent dog sensibility, I suppose. I don’t “get” dogs, but I do get what the two of them have done for dogs in the more than twenty five years I’ve known one or the other of them.
Everything I know about handling a dog I’ve learned from watching and emulating the two of them. A visit to Ann commences as the spoke of a friendly wheel and generally a new dog to meet and an old dog to sadly (or not) miss. Ann has never given up on a dog, but I have not missed some who have gone on to their reward.
So, how did they come to have all those dogs? I understand it started the first winter they were married. A co-worker of Pat’s, knowing he liked dogs, called him late one night and said something was wrong at a house with an outdoor kennel of Malamutes he passed daily. He investigated, found the house empty, the dogs apparently abandoned and no authority wanting to intervene. The dogs needed rescued.
There were four or six Malamutes, as I recall, moved to a makeshift kennel on the side of the Pat and Ann’s granary for the winter. They were not indoor dogs! They all earned names and one name included Psycho. In the spring Pat built a proper kennel behind the granary, and while he was about it, big enough to house say ten or twelve dogs. The beginning of being the farm that acquired homeless dogs.
The first Wisconsin dogs of their own were a pair of rangy Doberman mutts they named Motz and Colby. The start of the pack. Pat and Ann each have their own favorites at all times. So do I. My current favorite is a husky named Bandit. Ann is between favorites; she recently lost her beloved Shepherd mix, Ginger. Her favorite before Ginger was Whoopi, a black lab Ann and Pat rescued from death row. Whoopi bit the child of her former owners, who not only brazenly bestowed the name, they brought her into a house with a two year old and expected the best. As Ann said, it was not Whoopi’s fault.
I made a list of the breeds and names of all the dogs I can remember, and it is long. Breed is a loose word at the house; Pat and Ann usually are able to identify the several strains apparent in the dogs in their house and in their kennel. From the list I have to pick Herman, a long legged, short hair white terrier with a pointy nose. Probably the smallest dog they ever took in, Herman spent his years before I met him as a homeless man’s dog. He lived in a shopping cart, which kept him at eye level with much of the world. When his owner died he moved along to the farm house, where every other dog occupied the windows along the drive way to see what car was coming in. Herman had to jump four feet up and down to catch a glimpse out the back door window. A couple of summers ago Herman was no longer there when I visited. I missed him.
The house dogs right now are Seamus, a collie mix that looks like a Holstein cow. He and his mother ran away from a neighboring farm when he was a puppy. They were returned, but he made his way back alone and the farmer said just keep him. Seamus is good at keeping new dogs calm and helping with the rules.
Zoe is also a house dog. She’s mostly Akita, and usually twice as puffed up, but still growing out her summer shave. Zoe is extremely needy and oozes into the verboten kitchen frequently. She’s a dog who outlived her mistress and was abandoned by the heirs and assigns. In their wills Pat and Ann have provided for their dogs. It’s something people should consider.
Freyja is the current rescue. She was abandoned, together with a litter of pups. The puppies all were placed and the mother taken in by Pat and Ann. She is named for the Norse goddess of fertility, although she won’t be having any more puppies. Freyja is about a year old and just learning her place in the house and the pack. Out of the kitchen still doesn’t mean her, to Zoe’s great dismay.
Bandit has been my buddy for several years. He’s a ten or eleven year old Husky and I don’t recall his history. He parks his head on my lap when I sit on the counter stool and doesn’t leave. Pat says that is bad behavior and I told him to humor us. Bandit arrived a scrawny dog with every bone protruding. I’ve watched him fill out over the years. Last summer Bandit was loping along, caught his foot and went down. When he couldn’t get up Ann helped him, then scooped him up and went to the car. I trailed along and opened the door. They went to the vet.
Bandit not only suffered severe osteoporosis, his compound fracture of the femur could not be set. Pat and Ann looked at each other. Well, that’s his fifty dollars (the amount in veterinary costs they tell each dog it is allotted). Bandit’s back right leg was amputated, and he came home to spend his last several years. He’s quite protective of one of his two beds, and he still puts his head in my lap.