My fluffy little Maple has grown up in his eight years of life as a very spoiled city dog. He enjoys long, leashed walks around the neighborhood, pet grooming, and a plush doggie bed.
He must remain on a long chain in our yard so he doesn’t terrorize the neighborhood, or break the law. Our dream is to someday have a fenced in yard so he can roam free like his farm dog cousins that he sends his only jealousy toward.
Over the course of the summer, as we’ve visited the family farm, Maple has being trained how to live life without his leash or chain or any sort of tie to us. The beginning involved a pocket full of treats, that way if he got too close to the road we could bribe him to come back to us.
Worked like a charm.
We used to watch him like hawks when he went outside at the farm, and now he knows the drill. If he needs to go out, he can, when he needs to come back in he can bark or the door will be slightly open so he can let himself in.
We go for long walks together – sometimes I walk, and sometimes I drive the golf cart around and we race. Luckily he doesn’t chase vehicles and this activity just leads him to a fabulous night’s sleep.
Knowing that I will get to see Maple enjoy that kind of freedom – with the wind blowing through his thick hair, and him running around as fast as he can – has me looking forward to it during the whole car ride there.
As soon as we arrive he’s greeted by his dog cousin, Tucker. Tucker is a farm dog through and through. As a herding breed, Tucker shows Maple how he messes with the family horses, how to run like a torpedo through the front yard and then look in the windows to see if anyone is watching, and I’m sure there are many more lessons when we’re not watching.
During our most recent trip I just couldn’t believe how well behaved Maple appeared. He listened, he was calm – he was a perfect angel.
That should have been my first clue.
A while later Maple wanted back in the house. There he sat on the front step with two small dirt smudges on his face. It looked like he was getting used to his freedom and he had been playing.
I let him in and picked him up to show my mom what he had done to his face. That’s when I came face to face – and nose – with his collar. It was not the same shade of blue as when he left the house and it was very clear that he found the horse pasture and rolled around in a pile of manure for a while.
“Ewwwww!” I hollered as I put him down. That collar came off and had to be washed.
“We’ll turn him into a farm dog yet!” Dad laughed.
The city people in the room thought we should bring the chain and leashes back. But we did what farm people should do – we sent him back outside to get the stink off him.
If he did it again, we would just hose him down.
I think Maple’s groomer would be horrified.