Posted 12-16-2004 at 04:16:34
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There's always a new dog at the farm. The latest is a little red guy with a white mane and one blue eye and one brown one. He looks a lot like an Australian Shepherd, despite the coloring. He's a sweet little guy with a good disposition and fairly good manners.
He stands at the front door at feeding time and when he hears the rustle of the dog food bag, his head cocks to the side, his ears go up, and his tail goes back and forth like a metronome set for "Flight of the Bumblebees."
I feed him, and I let him hang around because I'm hoping his behavior will rub off on my dogs and they will pick up some good manners of their own. Unfortunately, despite the fact that he comes and goes and doesn't cause a soul a second's trouble, the new dog is not immune to the natural working way of things here at Triple J.
All of our nannies have kidded. Everything went smoothly; all normal healthy births, the nannies and kids in good health and bright-eyed. Which means of course that Billy, our standard buck, is tripping all over himself seeing to it that all the nannies remain 'faithful' to him and setting up the next batch of bouncing kids. At any other time, Billy takes no notice of Brutus, our dwarf buck. Brutus is kind of like a lava lamp--nice to have around but pretty well so useless. But when all the female goats are 'receptive' and Billy is knocking himself out trying to maintain his harem, suddenly he takes notice of Brutus. He not only takes notice of him...he seems bent on trying to kill him every chance he gets. So, at times like this, its best to let Brutus out of the goat pasture and give him the run of the farm.
Brutus is about three feet tall at his highest point, a coffee-with-just-a-touch-of-cream color, with a belly as big around as he is long. He's got a short face, big bug eyes and a six-inch beard. The only thing really threatening about him is a massive set of horns that curve out from his head about fourteen inches on either side. Horns notwithstanding, he's an amiable old buzzard with few enemies save for Billy, and...strange dogs.
Every dog on the place has had a run-in with Brutus at one time or another. All they need to know is that Brutus is in the vicinity and they steer well clear of him. With very good reason. Lacking the size and strength to find his notch in the pecking order of the goat herd, Brutus has settled for being "top dog" and lets no canine go unchallenged. Clearly he will never be unseated from his lofty perch as "top dog", as he has the advantage of what amounts to two twin boomerangs protruding from his head and he's not afraid to use them.
One evening Brutus was grazing quietly in the front yard when the new dog showed up for the evening feeding. Having not yet been introduced, the little dog walked straight up to Brutus, stuck his nose right in Brutus' face and proceeded to lick his chin, his tail waggin' in welcome for what he must have perceived as another new guy on the farm. Brutus' eyes promptly bugged out even further than normal, and if he could speak he probably would have said something in the nature of...
"Oh...no, you didn't!"
I knew what was comin'. Everybody but the new dog knew what was comin', especially the other dogs, who systematically searched for and found places to hide before the fur started flying. Blissfully ignorant of his appalling lack of respect for the "top dog", the new kid strode up onto the porch and assumed his normal position...staring at the door, head cocked to the side, ears up, tail waggin' a mile a minute.
Brutus wasted no time in setting the stranger straight. He made a sound in the back of his throat that was kind of a mixture between a bullfrog croak and healthy beer belch, and began his stiff-legged, hip-wiggling approach. When he gets like this, his head goes back and to the side, making it appear like he has a broken neck and its all he can do to keep his head from falling off. In reality what he doing is lining up his target, and at the moment, one of those buggy eyes was fastened neatly onto that waggin' tail.
It all happened too fast to try to stop it. Brutus took off at a comical gallop, his little feet hitting the ground too close together and too quickly to be impressive, elegant, or even threatening really. He closed the gap, and the little dog had no idea what was coming until Brutus hooves hit the porch behind him, but by then it was too late for any kind of evasive maneuver. Brutus rear-ended him, rolled him up in a knot, and slid him across the porch, pinning him in a whimpering red and white wad against the cold concrete steps.
Brutus backed up for another charge and the little new guy, seeing his chance, clambered to his feet and took off like a shot. He showed me the brown eye and then the blue one, as he frantically checked over both shoulders to make sure he wasn't being pursued. He was.
"Brutus! Come back here! You made your point!" I yelled, just after the dog, and just before the goat--passed through the gate headed down the dirt road.
Brutus came back almost right away, but I haven't seen the colorful little dog since. I suspect he'll come back once the shock wears off, but if I don't miss my guess, he'll give the bug-eyed dog with the beard a good wide berth.