His given name was Clancy, though it had nothing to do with his being an Australian Shepherd. After all, neither The Clanster, Clanston-Heimer nor Mr. Digglesworth is any more down under than Dozer or Emma; what’s in a name, other than good memories?
As odd as this sounds, Clancy was one tangible connection between me and my teaching career, our Aussie having joined our clan in June of 2005, three days before my last official day of teaching. I remember Gluten-Free Mama fretting because she did not want to leave the eight-week-old pup alone at home.
Home alone. Other than sounding suspiciously like the title of an epic film, it is just not sound practice, if it can be avoided, to leave a pup unattended. SmallBoy has a litany of sad stories about the antics of Dozer, in the first year of his life, the most noteworthy being his consumption of an I-Phone. OK, make that the destruction of an I-Phone.
Clancy was fearless. As a farm dog, his job was to protect that which was defenseless: all that was growing in the earth-from the deer-and all that walked around-from the coyotes and bobcats. And wild boars. And 1,500 pound wandering steers. And mountain lions. And bears.
|Taken shortly before he left for Willits|
Add to the list of defenseless critters that Clanster looked after, tiny fawns. Power-walking up our driveway early one spring morning, with Dozer on his retractable leash, I was startled by one of the most unearthly wails I have ever heard, and looking to the north across a wide gully, I saw a bobcat take down a fawn.
Without processing what I was seeing until after the fact, I registered that this big cat had emerged from a grove of manzanita, just above the fawn, and had streaked down the side of the hill silently, and launched itself at the little critter. The screech I heard would have been the last sound the baby deer would ever have made, had it not been for Mr. Digglesworth rocketing up the green field on the other side of the gully, right for that cat, barking his lungs out.
Emma, the farm’s great dane mix who was still a pup, followed in Clancy’s wake. It is testimony to the old dog’s fortitude, that his looming presence was enough to send the big cat on its way, as silently as it had appeared. I waited, uncertainly, to see whether or not the fawn had survived the cat’s attack, and was relieved to see it stagger to its feet, with the onrushing Clancy now rapidly approaching, and disappear.
Needless to say, it departed heading in the opposite direction, from that of its assailant.
Clancy was renowned for his peculiar tendency to chew rocks. It was a habit he picked up from his now-long-departed cousin, Zoe the dog, from down at Unc Matt’s spot. Rocks being in abundance here on our ridge, it gave Clancy job security. It also muffled his barking at the arrival or departure of anyone.
So, yes, as you have undoubtedly figured out by now, the old boy is gone. He has been struggling lately, so the other night when he suddenly developed serious technical difficulties, just trying to stand up, we knew the time had come.
Gluten-Free Mama enlisted the aid of SmallBoy, he who has been called on so frequently as of late, and between the two of them, they eased the old farm dog down to the necessary spot in Willits. There the deed was done, as the old boy reclined behind the seats of our little pick-up, relaxed as he has been of late, by the cannabis oil that was administered to his paw.
As most dogs will, Mr. Digglesworth was wont to lick anything foreign on the top of his paw, and this is how we made things easier for him at the end.
In bidding my old friend good-bye, I said simply, “Be a good boy and do as your mom tells you.” He looked at me as if to say, “That’s my job.”
And that was it, a good dog who had a good run, here at HappyDay Farms.
I should be so lucky as to have someone say the same about me, when my turn comes.