Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dogs, Goats, and Other Things in the Snow

Since we now live on two acres on a hilltop at least seven miles from the nearest town, I have a different view from my home office window.

Some things I see are puzzling, but probably could be deciphered if I were a more dedicated researcher. For example, in the city, the dominant birds were blue jays, robins, sparrows, and mourning doves. Here atop the hill I see mostly meadowlarks. Odd. Granted there are dismaying flocks of gackles and starlings, but there are not enough trees for them to plague us.

pedigreedpups.com
And in the country there are no leash laws, and so we have an occasional visitor. Some regular, like the neighbor's Yorkie or a large male yellow Labrador. Some occasional, like an Irish setter. And some unusual, like the Great Pyrenees this morning.

The big dog is one of the breeds people use to monitor sheep and goat flocks, the type of canine that actually lives with the flock. And I think today's visitor had lost his flock, for he was being trailed by a single goat. He came from the south, and I could see him stop and look around as he approached the house. At a distance, the goat appeared to be another dog, but by the time the pair reached the edge of our property, I could tell it was a nanny goat.

Each time the dog would stop, the goat would stop, always three or four feet behind. The dog would move, and the goat would move.The dog paid no attention, generally looking around for something familiar to mark his way home. The goat never took her eyes off the dog.

I suppose some farmer is missing his guard dog, and at least one goat. It's not a good time for a flock to be untended. My wife let our dogs out a few nights ago, and the pair jumped a pair of coyotes lurking along the highway. With ten to twelve inches of snow on the ground, the coyotes might be on short rations.
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