"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Bird sightings and Ruth update

On a splendidly sunny Friday morning, Ruth did the most amazing thing.

I had taken both dogs out to the back yard, and was on the deck watching them down below. Ruth had been rolling round in the patch of black-eyed susans, as she does, and Lola was just standing about.

Suddenly, and for the first time since arriving, the little dog went into "Border collie" overdrive. She raced around the yard in a broad circle, following the perimeter of the entire fence in an anti-clockwise direction. She flew across the grass, low to the ground, as Lola stared at her, bemused. After one circuit, Ruth ran up the stairs, then quickly down again for another tear around the yard. Then another. Three in all.

I've been around Border collies and seen them working, for most of my life. On a cattle farm down South. Herding sheep in the Highlands of Scotland, arcoss the mountains and valleys of Wales, in the lowlands and uplands throughout England. At sheepdog trials, here and abroad, year after year.

So I'm familiar with an "outrun," and know one when I see it. And that's exactly what Ruth was doing in her sudden burst of energy and high spirits. It was instinctive--and beautiful to see.

Does this mean we must get get her a sheep?

After Ruth's grand performance, I drove her to our vet's office, where she had a check up and acquired a lot of new fans and friends. We returned home with some pills and potions, no major concerns, just some bugs to clear up, plus the heartworm and flea/tick preventative we've used for all our dogs.

On the way back we saw a wild turkey cross the road in front of the car. Well, I saw it--Ruth happened to be looking out the wrong window.

That afternoon, my husband looked out our kitchen window and announced, "You know you've had way too much rain when the ducks are hanging out in your yard." And there, in the driveway, was a pair of mallards.

They headed for the woods beside the driveway, where there is a very large vernal pool. We suspect they may have had a nest on the lake, but that high water damaged it, and they were looking for a new site.

In the evening we attended a dinner party at the opposite side of town from where we live, our first outing since Ruth's arrival. I felt like a new mom leaving the infant with a babysitter for the first time. Although the weather was fine where we were, the view was vast, and we saw thunderheads moving towards our area. We got home later than expected, and all was well. We hadn't got much rain at our house, both dogs were dry. I suspect Ruth used the dog house. Lola had done a fine job of looking out for her little companion. Their behaviour towards one another was unchanged--Ruth very fond, Lola very patient--so no tensions erupted while we were away.

Saturday was mostly sunny. The dogs "helped" me on the deck as I potted up some plants and organised my herb table. We had a busy morning, followed by a long and vigorous walk along the road and up a tall hill. Even so, after supper, Ruth was still surprisingly energetic. She was playing with her favourite toy, a fuzzy ball with a fuzzy tail that has a squeaker inside. She throws it for herself, and chases it--for about 15 minutes that night, while we sat there watching and laughing. She likes to drag it all over the house, and eventually places it in her lair under our bed.

It's one of those toys that the other dogs never cared for much. All her favourites are the ones that have gone unused for a very long time.

Eventually the pup ran out of steam, and lay curled up beside me while we watched Good Night and Good Luck, which was excellent.

Today we left them alone again, outside on their porch, and went to church. On our return, we found that Ruth had gnawed the zipper out of one dog bed, which she then dragged down the stairs and into the backyard. I mended the hole, and when we left for a Historical Society meeting and New Town Library tour, we put some chew toys outside. We came back to find the bed intact, and toys strewn across the grass, so apparently she played with them.

We've been enjoying the orioles, two males and a female are infrequently sighted on the orange.

Having a little "kid" around means we're getting up earlier than we used to, but after feeding time we all go back to bed. We're still puppy proofing the house. Baby Ruth definitely has a shoe fetish, but hasn't drastically harmed anything. We're hyper-vigilant, and promote constructive chewing as best we can.

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