Every farmette needs a farm dog. We’ve just been waiting for the right one to come along. Of course, while you’re waiting, there are certain things you must do to create good doggy-adoption karma. First, you must pine longingly, and like Dorothy, click your ruby-red farm boots together and say, “There’s nothing like a puppy. There’s nothing like a puppy.” Then, you must spend a few illicit hours scanning websites like petfinder.com. Lastly, you must “accidentally” drive past the MSPCA one day.
It happened to us two weeks ago. We were over on the Cape running errands. Riding from Hyannis to Falmouth in Roy’s truck, I had my eyes shut, daydreaming about dogs. Roy piped up, “Look, we just passed the MSPCA.” And I said, “Turn around,” and the famous words, “We’ll just look.”
Roy saw him first. I was wandering around the kennels, amazed at how many dogs there were, when I heard Roy say, “There’s a black Lab over here.” I came around the corner and saw this skinny black thing with soul-searching brown eyes. I crouched down low, and the pup reached out a paw through his kennel door to touch me. I gave my hand to him, which he licked and kissed with his funny pink-black tongue. Then he rolled over on to his belly. He had me. No way were we getting back on the ferry without this dog.
Riding home in the truck, the puppy (really about 8 months old and a mix of Lab and something short-eared!) sat on the big wide seat between us, butt pressed against Roy, shoulder rubbed up against mine, tongue reaching out for frequent kisses. He looked for all the world like he belonged right there, right then. We decided to name him Farmer. We told Farmer all about his new home on Martha’s Vineyard, and that he was a pretty lucky dog. We laughed, imagining him sending a postcard back to his friends at the shelter after a few days at the farmette: “DUDES! DUDES! I scored! I scored! You wouldn’t believe this place.”
Sure enough, Farmer loved his new home instantly. Loved the bunny and the chickens particularly…Seems Farmer needs a little training to understand the farm dog thing—that bit about protecting the animals, not chasing them or wanting to eat them! Fortunately, the animals are secure and Farmer already steers around them when we head out (always on a leash) for our long walks.
And truthfully, we didn’t really get Farmer to patrol the farm. We got him as a pet. Which is why I waited with great anticipation for Farmer and Libby to meet. I couldn’t imagine they wouldn’t get along, between Libby’s love of animals and Farmer’s sweet disposition. But I wanted to be sure. We took Farmer on the ferry with us to pick Libby up last weekend. On the way back in the car, he lay with his head in her lap, her tiny fingers stroking his muzzle. Saturday there were frequent games of squeaky-toy catch and ring-around-the-rosy. Sunday morning Farmer insisted on running upstairs, jumping on Libby’s bed and waking her up. He reached over to put his paws around her neck and she put her arms around him. I smiled. Lucky dog. Lucky Libby. Lucky us.