The past couple of weeks have been hard on my dogs.
First, it's been rainy and cold, and I don't like wet, dirty dogs in the house. So I make sure they are locked up in their kennels before I leave in the morning, and that doesn't set well with the dogs.
Jan and Peg are great fence jumpers, and every morning as soon as I let them out the back door they head for the fence. If I scream loud enough, and quick enough, I can stop them. Maybe. Sometimes they just ignore me, and they're down the field in seconds.
Lenny has gotten a bit too old and fat to do much fence jumping these days. So he whines and cries when Jan and Peg go over the fence, and I actually feel a bit sorry for him. Just a bit.
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But what really threw the dogs into a tizzy was a dog that came to visit for a while.
While I was driving to work right before the new year, a dog appeared in the middle of a busy road, almost hidden by the fog.
She was a purebred bassett hound, and she was cold and tired. I stopped the truck, called her and she came right to me. I pulled her into the truck, and she spent the day at work with me, snoozing in the truck.
No collar and no tags and no microchip meant that the nice dog went home with me. Man, were my dogs appalled.
First of all, I had brought a strange dog home. Again. No matter how many times my dogs have tried to convince me that we don't need to do any rescues, I keep bringing dogs home.
And this one was a doozy. Bassetts may be short, but they are not small dogs. This girl was a big dog, with big feet and a big bark. And she was one of the most opinionated dogs I have ever been around.
Bassetts don't like the cold, I found out. If that poor dear dog was in my house with no heat, she let me know that she didn't like it. I finally figured out that if I put her in a crate and turned a little space heater on for her, she was fine. Otherwise, I was going to hear that deep, annoying bark all night long.
But it wasn't what the bassett did that bothered me. It was my dogs' reactions to her.
Len just plain hated her. That's nothing new, he pretty much hates all dogs. He showed his big teeth to the bassett, and she just drooled and flapped her ears and walked past him. She wasn't very impressed with Len's badness, she just took him in her stride. And of course, that infuriated him.
Peg and Jan spent a couple of days making faces at the poor lost dog, and Peg actually took to getting out of the house any way that she could. An open window, an open door, she even jumped over the bassett once to get out the door as fast as she could.
And Peg wouldn't come back once she got out. She would sit and glare at me, just far enough away that I couldn't convince her to come in the house. No way did that little dog want to come in, there was a big, stupid, drooling, barking dog in that house. So Peg would just sit and stare at me, her black eyes furrowed, wondering why in the world I was making her life so miserable.
Meanwhile, Jan was going through a false pregnancy. She had a fixation on the stupid screaming monkey, making sure that the monkey was with her at all times. For two weeks, Jan went almost crazy, freaking out when another dog got too close to the monkey. By the time the bassett came, Jan had almost given up on being fixated about the monkey, but that darn big drooling dog brought it back home to Jan -- she was a mother and that screaming monkey was her baby.
So I had one dog lurking on the edges of my life, glaring at me with his black stare, one dog trying her darnedest to escape, and one dog that was driving me crazy trying to protect the screaming monkey.
After a week of this, I lost it. I took the screaming monkey away from Jan, told Peg that she could spend her life out in the pasture for all I cared, and told Lenny that he was a complete ninny and I was tired of his drama.
About this time, I got in touch with bassett rescue. I was assured that the dog would be welcome in the rescue, and that made me feel a bit better. As nice as the dog was, she wasn't a ranch dog. She didn't like the cold, she didn't like the mud and she was intent on being my shadow. If I turned around too quickly, there was a big, solid bassett looking up at me.
I hope that the dog gets a good home, she deserves one. If I was looking to have just one dog, I might think about keeping the big, sweet girl. But I guess I'm a border collie person, no matter how much I enjoy other breeds.
My dogs will be happy when the bassett leaves, and I'm sure that the bassett will be happy too. Despite the fact that she is extremely good at ignoring stupid, mud-loving border collies, I'm sure that she was pretty sick of all of the drama. I was pretty sick of it too, and I'm kind of looking forward to things going back to normal. Well, as normal as things ever are with me and the crazy border collies I live with.
Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or firstname.lastname@example.org