Boreal

IMG_1365After our post about the deer coming a little too close to our livelihood and helping themselves to a few choice plants, I thought it may be time to explain why this is really happening. I know we mentioned in the last post that we no longer have a good nursery dog. This doesn’t mean that we don’t have any dogs here, or that they aren’t good dogs. We have two at the moment. Miller, our big loveable, goofy Lab, and Lucky, the mixed breed that came to live with us after our daughter rescued him from being perpetually tied to a porch post. They are both wonderful dogs, we love them, and one of their all-time favorite things to do is to greet customers who come to the nursery. They’re good at this. They take their job as ‘greeters’ quite seriously. They get paid in extra love and pats from the many people who find them irresistible. But let’s talk about our old dog, Boreal, who we lost this last summer. He was fifteen, had terrible arthritis, and began developing tumors that we were fairly certain to be cancerous. He had a difficult summer. He was a great dog, a champion really, and took his job as complete overseer of the property with serious intention. Boreal was at least half Border Collie. Border Collie’s like to have a job. They tend to fret over things. They are more serious in nature than most other dogs. They are wicked smart. This was Boreal. He was devoted to us, to the farm, and to every creature who lived here. Every morning he would go out and patrol the entire 20 acres of our property. We know this because he developed a well-worn trail around the entire perimeter. He did the same thing every night before we went to bed. Often we would hear him barking off in the distance, no doubt warning any intruder that our property was off limits. Boreal came to me many years ago, almost 13 years ago, after I had lost another of our beloved Labs ( old age). This time, I figured I’d check out the shelter for a new dog. There he was, looking nervous and out of place, with sad eyes just begging me to give him a try. He’d been adopted and returned several times. Not because he had done anything wrong, but he wasn’t a squishy, cuddly kind of dog, and that happens to be what a lot of people are looking for. He was a serious dog. A thinker. A doer. He needed a job and he needed someone to love him for all of his amazing attributes. So, I took him home. At first he was a little nervous about this, he had left the shelter only to be returned a few too many times. Did I mention that he had lived in the shelter for almost two years? Did I mention that his future wasn’t looking so good? So off we went in my truck, me feeling pretty excited and him looking really nervous. I stopped briefly at the store for some gas. When I came out, he had chewed through three of my seat belts. He began looking even more nervous. I spoke to him in a kind voice, said “we’ll work on this” and drove on to the farm. When we got home, he was in between his constant state of nervousness ( he did recover from this condition) and astonishment. ” All these smells, all this room, all these critters to keep in place!!” He had found his home. I like to believe that he was so grateful for this chance of living that he made a pledge to watch over all of us for as long as he lived. He did this with intention, determination, no-nonsense, and with tremendous pride. He really was a champion of a dog, this Boreal. Once a visitor came to the nursery with a Griffin, the owner asked if he could let him out for a moment and assured us that he was a very well mannered and trained dog. Out he came and immediately spotted our free ranging chickens, and then…point and off he went. Boreal took off after him, caught up with him, gave him a good hit from the shoulder, which knocked the dog to the ground, and then he stood on him, looking back at us with an expression of ” get the hell over here, can’t you see this dog was going to eat one of our chickens!!”. Boreal did not like being in the house when we were outdoors and would do almost anything to get himself outside to be with us. He didn’t like to be cuddled, but he loved praise and belly rubs. If you went hiking he would always go on his own walk-about and might not return for hours later, he’d always know his way home. He was slightly particular about who he liked though he never bit anyone…he’d just ignore you. He seemed to always know how to adjust his behavior to each and every circumstance. He loved puppies. He ignored children. He loved to swim, he was scared to death of thunderstorms, and never got on the furniture. He was an independent sort of guy. He had an unbelievable understanding of vocabulary, we often had to spell words to avoid him knowing what we were up to. No matter how many times he came back from one of his daily patrols with a face full of porcupine quills, he never gave up trying to kill them. They just weren’t supposed to be tramping around on our farm. He meant business.
So, if you are wondering why all of a sudden we have deer coming into the nursery, feeling like it’s o.k. to sample some of our hard work, it’s because Boreal is not around to keep law and order. We miss Boreal for all that he was….our serious, Dudly Do Right of a dog. Our champion nursery dog. Our beloved friend.