Have I ever told you about Buddy? He’s a bad dog. No, really. He’s a B-A-D dog.
He howls incessantly at night—right outside my window. He constantly picks things up on the ground and chews on them—even though he’s not supposed to. He picks up tennis shoes, flip flops, sandals and any other footwear and hides them—even though I don’t like playing hide and seek. He, ahem, “rides” Swirls the Cat whenever he’s feeling the urge—even though it’s against nature.
Buddy pees on everything, digs up holes, causes the postman to honk his horn, and slows down traffic when he walks in the middle of a blacktop road. And did I mention he has a nasty—no wait, NARSTY—smell that follows him on occasion?
Yep, Buddy is a B-A-D dog.
While some dogs start out their lives with pleasant beginnings, Buddy’s beginnings are unknown. Along with the outbuildings, a mountain of tires in a back pasture, and an enormous supply of feral cats, Buddy came with the farm.
When Adam bought the farm, Buddy– and his doghouse that he was chained to– came with the deal. He was the sentry to the back gate and if you entered his “territory”, you’d think an alligator was lurking in the doghouse.
You see, Buddy didn’t roam freely even though he had lots of space, and I’m sure he wasn’t allowed inside the house. Buddy spent the majority of his days in his limited part of the world—whatever a 30-foot chain would allow.
Once Adam took ownership of the farm, he released Buddy from his chains. Buddy was allowed to roam, to expand his territory, to pee on as many areas as possible. He was F-R-E-E!!! and apparently lots of feral cats lost many of their nine lives due to this new freedom.
Even though Buddy was unchained, he didn’t know how to behave himself. He wasn’t used to the fight or flight response options. He had only had one. And even after Adam released him, Buddy didn’t know how to handle himself in situations.
Because Buddy was essentially confined to a small piece of the country until Adam entered the picture, he had (and still has) some “issues”. One of those issues is being socially inept.
In the beginning, Buddy didn’t know how to greet visitors to the farm in a friendly manner. Buddy only knew how to growl, nip, ferociously bark, and then retreat to his territory—the doghouse. Buddy was always in the doghouse.
Buddy was not to be trusted. In fact, at one point Adam thought it might be better to put Buddy down, because he was a dangerous, bad dog.
Adam couldn’t do it though, and he kept working with Buddy. He’d be allowed to follow Adam while he was doing chores around the farm, he would be talked to, and he would be rubbed behind the ears (although at first Buddy didn’t like that).
Even before I meet Buddy, I was warned that he was a bad dog. When I went out to visit the farm for the first time, I brought a zip-lock bag full of dog treats—for Buddy, not Adam. I was greeted with a growl—from Buddy, not Adam.
I was cautious around Buddy (I still am, as one should be). I’d be aware of where he was, but I’d sweet talk to him (and give him lots of dog treats).
When I first knew Buddy, he WOULD NOT come into the house. In fact, he would hit the breaks if he was anywhere near the back door. We’ve patiently encouraged Buddy and to make a long story short, Buddy willingly enters the house—from the front door only—on occasion. When Buddy does come inside he thanks you by licking your hands, or arms, or feet until they’re raw. At least I think he’s thanking us—if not, he’s conducting a taste test.
He also thanks us by picking up and chomping on random items he finds on the floor—he really likes rogue dryer sheets and ink pens. When he finally gets to the point of just laying down on the floor, you know he’s relaxed and feels comfortable around us because he normally passes gas (see NARSTY).
Buddy lacks manners. He’ll lean into you while doing circles until you rub his hips.
He has no understanding of “personal space”. He’ll get in the way when you’re trying to have a peaceful June harvest picnic or when you’re trying to read a magazine.
Buddy wants to be included…to a fault.
Even though he may lack expected canine manners, he is loyal. If ever you turn around, odds are you’ll find him in your shadow. When we go on our walks, Buddy will stick with you the entire way, ready to take on anything that might be a threat including territorial raccoons, skunks, or plastic shopping bags. He’ll sleep on the shop floor to keep the guys company while they work on machinery. He’ll chase off coyotes when they are running through the nearby pastures (or the yard), day or night.
He’s constantly on patrol keeping watch over the farm.
He’ll help dig up potatoes in the garden—whether you like it or not…
I doubt Buddy would ever pass doggie obedience school. In fact, I’m pretty sure he’d be expelled—the first day. But he’s definitely passed the Baldwin Farms test—after all, he is still here.
That, plus the fact we tolerate and accept Buddy, the socially inept, mannerless, NARSTY smelling, B-A-D dog.