Sheepish Quotidian Update that Goes to the Dogs

When I was a little kid going to Sunday school and then church with my mom I often heard about the “lamb of God” who “taketh away the sins of the world.” Of course, I didn’t understand that at all. Traveling around Europe and seeing a lot of art, I saw the image of the lamb in many places. Sometimes it was Jesus, sometimes it was one of us being carried on Jesus’ shoulders.

The lamb and the shepherd is a visually beautiful image, probably far more accessible in a time when people could be expected to see lambs and even more when people could be expected to have seen them sacrificed on an altar for a religious holiday. As a kid I already wondered why God would want a bloody sacrifice as a sign of human devotion, but as I grew up and learned more I understood it to be someone else’s symbol. Nikos Kazantzakis was helpful in that.

Now that I am no longer enveloped in that metaphor, animals are a lot more real, especially living in a farming and ranching community. In my usual journeys, there is only one sheep. She lives with the beef cattle at a small ranch where there is also a livestock guardian dog at work. Sometime in June, the cattle will be trucked up to the mountains, but if last year is the model, the sheep will stay behind.

West of me is a small sheep farm that employs three Great Pyrenees. I haven’t met the farmers, but I like them VERY MUCH. Why? When I used to walk Bear in that direction — which I no longer do though it’s a great walk — there was often a loose dog. The three Pyrenees were very opposed to this and the family would often post on Facebook that people had better keep their dogs confined up there because their Pyrenees could make short shrift of stray dogs.

I stopped walking Bear out that way because there’s a family with a small pack of huskies, and I have no self control around those snow dogs. I can SEE the huskies want to join Bear and me, and I want them to. If they howl, I will talk back to them which doesn’t help anything. I’m also not sure they couldn’t get out of their fence if they wanted to (I’m sure they could). It’s very difficult to let go of some things in our lives, and my life with Siberian huskies is one of those things. It’s better if I don’t even see them. Not just that, I don’t think Bear understands the howling language at all and it made her a little uncomfortable.

Here are my huskies. The featured photo is Jasmine and Lily who came to live with me the very day after Ariel died from a rattlesnake bite to the eye. It was a little cosmic, in fact. Ariel was bitten in my front yard after sticking her head into a gopher hole. Putting her to sleep was necessary because the venom was in her brain. It was gut-wrenching because she was the most amazing dog and friend on a trail.

I woke up about 2 am, thinking, “I don’t have anyone to go hiking with!” My other dog, Lupo, was very old at that point and not up to it any more. I went online, found a local husky rescue and a notice of a private party who desperately needed to find a home for her two huskies, Jasmine and Lily. She’d been in an abusive marriage. The husband had been in jail for two years and was about to get out. She had found an apartment of her own, but couldn’t take the dogs who were a bonded pair. She came out the next morning with these two beautiful dogs in crates in the back of her SUV.

Huskies are not known for being loyal dogs, and they were totally happy to stay with me and Lupo. Naturally, I took them to rattlesnake avoidance training. Lily was three at the time, Jasmine was 6. Another cosmic event led to my adopting Cody. Cheyenne came from a family who didn’t have any idea how to contend with these intelligent, independent dogs. She was pretty wild but training and love and a pack to belong to helped her become a really wonderful creature to live with. It was great belonging to a pack of Siberian huskies, but I’m pretty sure that, with their intense prey drive, a lamb wouldn’t have a chance.

16 thoughts on “Sheepish Quotidian Update that Goes to the Dogs

    • They were wonderful to live with. They had tremendous character, each unique. Cody was VERY loyal and protected me from the Evil X. ❤ Jasmine was a black and white fluff of affection. Cheyenne was kind of a lost soul, but happy and passionate about life. Lily was wild-at-heart. I still miss her. And Ariel was a low content wolf dog which made her kind of complicated to have as a pet, and she was desperately loyal. I loved them all very much. ❤

  1. Just as friends and acquaintances come in and out of our lives, so do pets, largely because of their shorter life span. As we mature, then, it is nice to have pets with personalities that match our own — Bear is perfect for you at this time in your (and her) life, and Teddy will be when he’s a little older. You are fortunate that you understand the language of the dogs enough to stay away from those that could be a threat to you or your dogs.

    • I worried about enticing the huskies out of their yard. That would not be good for them. Last time I was out there we “talked” and as I left they cried. I said to Bear, “We’re not coming this way again.” I looked back several times to be sure they weren’t behind me. They were in a fence they could see through. The breed has wanderlust. ❤

  2. Martha–I love how your love for all your dogs doesn’t just shine through in your writing, but rather it bursts forth. You all were so lucky to have each other.

  3. I just love your writing and how you wrap everything you want to share in this beautiful package that I love taking my time to open. So many times in my life I have felt more connected to my dogs than humans. And how beautiful you could communicate and understood the nature of your neighbor huskies. Just like with humans, the more we can understand the nature of one another, the better we can communicate ~what to say or not say, do or not do, and approach or NOT approach! What beautiful dogs you’ve had. Ariel’s story is sad and scary too. I have this vision now of the huskies walking with Jesus and the sheep. ❣️❤️🐶

    • The huskies would be OK with Jesus, but the sheep wouldn’t last long. 😉

      I think humans are a lot harder (for me) to understand and maybe even communicate with than are dogs. It’s amazing how you can hurt someone’s feelings or make them angry just by saying something simple and truthful that, in a way, has nothing to do with them. Since I got my second shot, a friend let me know she wants to come down and told me when. I told her straight I wasn’t sure about that, that I’m trying to find “me” in this next step and (for various other concrete problems at her end) we should wait and see what happens. She was disappointed and rude in response. I went away from that thinking, “Hmmm, a friend would get it.” So… A dog, disappointed at not getting a walk, has the faith that maybe the next day. I expected that this “claiming my space” might not be easy for me. ❤

      • Since I hit “like” on your response I had a similar situation. “Claiming my space “~I understand. My best friend (she’s 69) and I were going to get together tomorrow for a brief time to make a goods exchange. She texted me and asked if I had CBS and if she could watch the Iowa Hawkeyes game while she were here. I said that I’d prefer not to and suggested we meet another time and she enjoy the game at her place. It didn’t go well after that. I decided I’d better call and further explain and we chose another time. Communication has been difficult during the Pandemic. I’ve worked myself to soreness (especially neck) raking rocks (Stone County lol) and a neighbor came over and asked about sharing equipment. We spoke of communication and the issues we see in kids and in adults where instant gratification or an instant answer of yes is expected at all times. It shouldn’t be so hard and I try to be very understanding as a friend. And just as a human to have heart driven hearing. I would take no offense if I was told we should wait. But then again I’d never call a friend and announce when I’d be arriving without a discussion of plans (boundaries again!). So back to dogs🐶…Finley wanted more steak (a rare treat for Mom too after working so hard in yard this weekend and and the last 3 months of house hiccups lol)…she sulked. And us now waiting by the bed knowing it’s time for she and I to call it a day together. And she’ll snuggle and forget the steak ~at least until I heat leftovers. 😂❤️🐶🤗

  4. Kazantzakis. Beautiful. I love when you slide such references in. I call them “brain bangers.” The Last Temptation… Wow!
    And washed in the blood of the Lord/Lamb.
    Easter is coming. Little lamb cakes will be every where. 😊

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