In For the Love of a Dog I wrote about how Luke’s daughter and I grieved for him after his death for almost a year. Finally—
“Last night Lassie and I played her favorite game together. Again and again, I tossed her favorite toy across the rug. Each time she leaped after it, then came back to me with her face glowing, her eyes soft and luminous. Her neat little body seemed unable to contain her joy and her love of play. At some point in the middle of our game, I realized I was beaming, a huge smile plastered across my face. For that moment, I was truly and completely happy.
In some ways, it’s really that simple, isn’t it? At their best, that is what dogs do: they make us happy. At our best, we make them happy, too. That can only be true because we share so very much with them, and the foundation of what we share is our emotions. Dogs are emotions–living, breathing embodiments of fear and anger and joy, emotions we can read on their faces as clearly as any language.
We can read those emotions on their faces, except… we often don’t. I can’t count how many of my clients said “Oh, he’s not afraid of you,” when their dog was metaphorically hiding under a blanket in the corner of my office. I’ve found that sometimes we are very good at “reading dogs.” Other times, not so much. That’s why I’m doing a Facebook Live Event this Thursday at the Ruth Culver Community Library in Prairie de Sac, WI, 6:30 PM central. Click here to go to the event page on Facebook.
I know not all of you are on Facebook, but if you are, come join us. I’ll be doing a much abbreviated version of a day-long seminar, titled Lost in Translation: How Dogs Use Sight, Sound and Smell to Communicate. (I promised I would mention that you can get the full version as a DVD, and it is now available for streaming on demand.)
I hope you can come play, it’ll be great fun.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Okay, village, a new sheep needs a name! My good friend Donna and I bought a new ram, who came to visit a select group of our ewes on Sunday. He is a card carrying member of the Royal White breed, bred in the US as hardy, hair sheep who do not need to be sheared. He is a “ram lamb,” meaning he was born spring of this year. So he’s not very large or tall yet, but he is definitely ready to go to work.
The blue shading you see on his chest is marking paint that alerts us to when a ewe has been bred. When he mounts a ewe the paint transfers to her rump (the paint is a powder mixed with vegetable oil… yeah, vegetable oil, really) so we know when she was bred. That way we can predict when she will lamb about five months from now. The trouble with hair sheep is that the paint doesn’t last long. The wool on wooly sheep acts like a sponge, but on hair sheep it just slides off, so every day I have to remark him. Not a problem except that I am running out of gloves…
So: Any ideas about what we should name him? I keep thinking about the words Royal and Blue. Blue Blood? Blue Beard? Prince Harry? Royal Blue? Note: Happily for us and the ewes, he got down to business immediately and bred Snow White within the hour. Given how short he is and how tall she is, I did wonder if he’d manage. So he gets lots of points for stamina and, uh, agility. Here they are standing side by side (Snow White is the fat one in the middle, ram lamb is on the right.
There’s always a mystery though. Snow White has clearly been bred on based on all the blue on her rump. (They are mounted often within their estrous cycle of about 36 hours). But, ah, what about the faint blue paint on Lady Godiva’s ewe lamb in the middle of the group? I think she hasn’t been bred. I saw him jump on her once right after he came, but I don’t think it has been repeated and she dashed off before anything happened. You can also tell by their behavior, because ewes in estrous are comically flirty and the ram tends to stick to their side like glue. I’ll keep you posted.