I’m Helping, I’m Helping
Clancy arrived three days before school got out, the year I retired, in 2006. He was a bundle of soft, luxurious fur, an Australian shepherd, born to herd, with nothing to round up. Of course the kids all loved him; he was so cuddly and quiet. We brought him back up on the mountain, and he was the sweetest pup imaginable. I’ll never forget the first time he let out a genuine, grown-up bark. We were all in the kitchen, and it sounded like a sonic boom.
Well, as much as his barking did nothing for me, it seemed to suit him, and he became the official town crier, if you will. It’s not that he barked incessantly; there was always a reason for his comments, mostly in the form of deer out front, wild hogs crashing along, down in the creek-bed, or a neighbor maneuvering up the driveway. Clancy was bound and determined to keep us informed.
We understood why he performed this civic duty; what we couldn’t understand, was how excited he got when I-or someone else-would start up the quad. He would go frantic, and nip at the tires, and in general, endanger his life through his rowdy behavior. Annie used to say it was because of his herding instinct. As farfetched as that might sound, it actually makes the most sense.
When we took the apartment in Willits, there was a no-pets rule. For that matter, there is still a no-pets rules, and when it came to Clancy, the rule makes sense. Clancy is loud and his fur, once so soft and luxurious, now is more long, than anything else. It’s the classic instance of the gift that keeps on giving. So we never felt that it was OK to violate the no-pets rule with Clancy.
With Dozer, it’s another matter. He has short hair, rarely barks in an unfamiliar habitat, and sulks so badly when left behind, it’s easy to pretend that the no-pets rule is just window dressing. We have accommodated Dozer’s need to be with us, ever since the beginning, leaving poor Clancy out of the loop.
Because I felt so guilty, leaving the Clanster behind, I started trying to find an alternative to just leaving him on the mountain, with Casey feeding him, and letting him out to run around every day that I was gone. He really is a great dog, but his overprotective nature gives him an air of being aggressive. So I worried that for that reason, I would not be able to find him a new home.
Then, right out of the blue, Casey’s partner, Amber, suggested that Clancy might fit in well on the farm. The deer had been making a regular practice of lurking about, waiting for a gate to remain open, so that they could partake in a delicious, fresh salad bar. Amber thought that with Clancy’s propensity for barking at strange critters, he might prove to be an asset.
Annie and I were exultant at this remarkable turn of events, and Clancy took up residence, accompanying either Morgan, or Courtney, the farmhands, as they went about the business of taking care of the organic vegetable gardens, that make up Casey and Amber’s business.
Then, recently, when Casey added the three hogs to the farm, the price of poker went up. I told him before the pigs came on board, that my experience with hogs, was that they are very adept at jailbreaks, having watched Robert chase them around from both when I was a child, down on Fellowship Street, and from up on the mountain, back in the ’70’s. Well, my prediction was not delayed long, before coming true. The other day, as Morgan was shifting the pen, from one location to the next, which simply involved pulling up fence posts, and doing an end-for-end maneuver, the three pigs got out.
Enter the arena, Clancy! Dashing! Sprinting! Dodging his way amongst the three, he rounded them up and herded them in the direction they needed to go, as though he’d been doing it all his life. Born to herd. Instinct was his guide, and his blood drove him to perform the duties of a true farm dog. In one of the most obvious examples of a win-win situation, Clancy proved his worth, and will probably have to do it again.
Go, Clancy! Round ‘em up!