Grounded

It was my day off after a long week. The girls were spending the day indoors, both because it was 30 degrees outside and because they were in trouble. Both of them were tracking mud all over the floor and Cashew was once again soaked in dried urine. Her rump, her legs, her belly, and her feet. I tried occasionally to give her wipe downs with organic baby wipes (which i bought in droves). I had taken to petting her on her head and avoiding the rest of her. That didn’t stop her from trying to wipe it all on my clothing as if she was using my pants as a bath towel. In the summer i would have put her in the tub and given her a bath, but in the winter when temperatures sat consistently in the teens, twenties, and thirties, without a holding tank for my well water, it was very cold and my water heater was on its last legs. I was looking at 2 minutes of warm water in the tank on cold days. It wasn’t enough to make a bath with the boiled water from the stove. By the time i had one batch of water boiled, the first batch had gone cold in the tub. She stayed dirty because i felt it would be cruel to subject her daily to wet fur in the winter temperatures when we struggled so hard to keep the tiny house warm. The dog refused to use the pee pads. Every day she would fold them and urinate next to the neatly folded pee pad. It was something i prayed to God about and it was an ongoing struggle. I bought many many packages of organic baby wipes. It seemed that would be our damage control strategy until the arrival of warmer weather. If she didn’t chew electric cords i could just leave her outside when i went to work, but lately outdoor electric cords hadn’t been the only problem with releasing her free range in the yard. I looked out the window one day and saw my dog carrying a railroad tie. She was prancing round the yard, tail wagging, with one of my wooden steps that had previously kept the land from eroding in a slightly sloped area during rain. I dropped the dish i had been washing and opened the door, “Hey!” She turned sharply, almost whacking herself with the end of the railroad tie. “Drop it!” I yelled. And so the chase was on. I charged about the yard following this dog of mine in an attempt to recover the remnant of a chewed-up rail road tie that had once been my step to the side of the house. And she, delighted at the attention i was paying her and enjoying our little game of chase, trotted about balancing the behemoth thing carefully in her teeth. It teetered this way and that, tilting her head as she ran. Sili sat a good distance away from both of us, staying out of it and trying her hardest to see what was going on from behind the plastic cone on her head. When i finally caught up to her i grabbed the railroad tie and placed it back in the trench she’d left in the earth. I disciplined her and put her in the crate for an hour and thought that was that. Over the course of the next 3 days she would dig that railroad tie up and carry it through the yard past the window 11 more times. When the heat lamps were on to keep the young fruit trees from freezing Cashew had to be chained in the yard or she would go shred the extension cords connecting them to the source of electricity, thus electrocuting herself. It was winter so she found herself on the chain a lot. One day i walked out the door to the house and my mimosa tree was sideways. She had dug up the mimosa tree; the only young tree she could reach on the chain. She had literally dug it up. Furious with her, i placed the mimosa tree back in the hole, moving the displaced dirt back around it to cover its bare and traumatized roots. “Stop ******* digging everything up!” I yelled. “Enough, that’s enough!” She wagged her tail. To Cashew, any attention was desirable attention, whether praise or yelling. She was bored and wanted my full attention all the time. I needed to build her an obstacle course and spend time training her brain, or lend her to someone who would teach her to herd sheep. I wondered if my neighbor needed a dog to help with his herd. She would certainly keep the coyotes away from them, and i had heard he was losing sheep to them and so laying in wait to shoot them when they came for his sheep. With Cashew nearby, he’d not have to worry about such an undesired reduction to his flock. But, i’d never met my neighbor as all of our houses were far away from the gates and one had to drive onto the property past a locked gate for a ways before encountering a doorbell to ring. And i would want the dog back at the end of the day…when he would probably need the dog most to guard the flock. I wasn’t sure what to do with her. I knew she needed me home more and hoped one day to have a career that would allow that, but for the time being at least, my attention was divided between many things and Sili and Cashew were only getting a fraction of it. Sili was well suited for this routine. She enjoyed my attention and company when it was there to be had and busied herself with sun bathing, chasing cars and deer, and chewing bones and sticks in the yard when i was not available. Cashew was not so content. If released on the acreage without a specific job and direct supervision, she would assign herself one. Because of this and my inability to cope with the needs of our mortgage and payment plans in conjunction with her needs as well, she became grounded. The dog could not roam the 2 acres unless i was staring at her. That meant, through laundry and dishes and all my other indoor chores, she had to be in the house with me. Sili was also grounded. She had licked a raw hairless spot on her leg in response to the itchy tree pollen that covered everything this time of year and she sported a white plastic head adornment to keep her from gnawing the leg clear off. She was grounded for her own safety. Even the skunks and the raccoons felt she was an easy target with the giant satellite dish obstructing her view and causing her to graze the ground every three steps. She too was getting baby-wipe sponge baths to try and keep on top of the pollen situation. They were a mess and i was mentally exhausted.

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