Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Job Security

While it looks for all the world like Weaslie's zooming in to pick up a straggling sheep.




She's not.


She's skirting around the outside.


Nobody tells Large Lila what to do ;-).


"Except Kate!"

*     *     *    *     *

I've had some questions about how Weaslie and Kate get along.  Weaslie (aka Miss Tilly) and Iris always seemed to be more rivals than friends.  In fact, there were times we'd have to "Knock it off!" as they'd get a little snarky with each other, jealous that one was getting more attention than the other...  

When Iris died, we wondered if Tilly would even care.  She did.  She and I sat with Iris for a good while after Doc left and when I got up, Tilly stayed next to her for the rest of the afternoon until Tim got home.  She was devastated.

Iris had always been "The Police".  She watched our farm and Stella's, too.  Nothing missed her attention.  Dogs coming up the road, a cat down by the creek, a strange car driving up Stella's driveway...  She didn't like the sheep coming up to the gates either.  They needed to Stay Back.

Doing chores that next day was so weird.  And sad.  The sheep knew immediately that the sheriff was gone.  They rushed up to the gate as I was dishing up feed.  I then heard some very nervous barking. "You, you sheep..." she stammered.  "You, you get back.  You get back off the gate."  

Tilly, who'd never barked at a sheep in her life, knew that was against the rules.  She was scared, but she was going to try to handle it.  Somebody had to.  Even though I personally didn't care if the sheep stood at the gate (that was Iris Law ;-), I praised Tilly profusely.  I understood The Law and knew what it had taken for a small, timid Corgi to step up.

The next couple of months we got along like that.  Without Iris to hang out with, Tilly shadowed me even closer than she already did.  Corgis are very loyal anyway, but Tilly had been loyal to both of us and I was all she had left.  While she did enjoy all the extra attention, we never walked up to the barn without her looking back for Iris, thinking maybe this time she'd race around from the front yard where she liked to sleep.

Kate had been a hard working "professional" dog.  She'd had big jobs to do and she took them seriously and we were concerned how she'd feel about a corgi shadow.  That she might not suffer a fool gladly...and Tilly could definitely be fool ;-).  Not to worry.  Professional Kate concentrated on her job here (bossing sheep around) and left Tilly to her job (farm security).  

Tilly was greatly relieved to be off sheep duty.  She was still nervous about the farm security part, but she'd had years of watching Iris for basic training.  For the first nine years of her life, all she had to do was look cute...and Stop Barking At Iris ;-).  Now she had been promoted to Assistant Security Officer, even if we did make her keep her bullets in her pocket ;-).

The other night we were all headed in from the barn.  Unless it's super cold, everyone comes out to the barn for evening chores :-).  I could tell by the cat's behavior that something was amiss.  I started looking around and just a split second after I saw the black cat hiding in the dark behind the Wool House, so did Tilly.  "RRRRR!!! YOU GET OUT OF OUR YARD!!!" as she chased hard after him until he cleared the fence into the side paddock.  

I was stunned.  I called Tim.  He was stunned.  Seriously.  We'd never seen something like that out of Tilly.  Ever.  Tilly doesn't chase cats.  Tilly has never chased anything.  I again praised her as I thought, wow, that was showing some real initiative.  Maybe listening to the Mrs. Murphy stories and hearing about "the mighty little corgi" (one of the main characters) had made an impression!

Two nights later, as I was finishing up chores in the barn, a big pack of coyotes started yipping and howling off in the (not so) distance.  Hank was on it of course, racing out through the arena, sounding off with his deep growling bark.  At his heels?  Tilly!  She'd busted through the end gate, raced through the loitering sheep, under the short fence and out through the arena doing her best to sound quite ferocious as well.

While we sure don't want her out mixing it up with coyotes - they'd tear her to pieces - I again let her know she'd been very brave and thanked her for doing a Good Job (and carefully latched the gate ;-). We've just been astounded by all this and I wanted to share the story.  How does all this tie together with how well Kate and Tilly get along?

I think because the two female dogs each have their own separate "professions" there is less rivalry between them on a basic level.  I think also that having to go it on her own for a few months was really hard on Tilly.  We now know that she truly loved Iris and really missed her.  She is back to being a happy, excited (and barking...sigh ;-) corgi, racing to the barn with her partner...and friend.

How many people made it to the bottom of this long story?  Leave me a comment and let me know and I'll draw for something fun as a reward :-D.



60 comments:

MaryAnn said...

I never realized that dogs make such close friends until I saw it myself. It does take them a while to recover a loss. Glad Tilly is doing well

Benita Story said...

Awww!!! Tilly really stepped up and found out she was a brave Corgi after all. The story both made me smile and brought tears to my eyes. Bless her heart!!!

Sandy said...

Is it weird that I read that like a children's book would read? You have a gift!

Julia said...

That is a lovely story, old dogs and new tricks and all that. Good for Weaslie!

Lisa W said...

Tears in my eyes as I read about the changes in Tilly's (and your) life. She truly is one mighty little corgi!

The Dancing Donkey said...

I think we very seldom recognize the real relationship between animals because we have such a strong tendency to overlay it with our human bias. Different aspects of an animals personality comes out when the pack/herd dynamic changes so much. It sounds like Iris was a very strong alpha and Tilly may not have wanted to overstep Iris' boundaries by taking up sheriff duties. Without Iris to tell her no and with Kate, who doesn't mind the help, some of that true Corgi grit is coming out:)

littlehawkyarns said...

Love it. I love watching how all the critters interact. I know my young dog was seeming lost after we lost my old guy. She is tickled pink to have a puppy to mother.

Little Lamb said...

I really enjoy your writing and you post the best pictures. Thank you for sharing.

Jane B. said...

Beautiful storytelling. I have cats, not dogs, and even though they weren't best buds during life, they certainly did mourn when one was gone.

Deb W said...

Blubbering over the part where Tilly lost Iris. Indeed interesting in the changes in personality as the pack reconfigures. One question left....are there any friendships forming?

Auntie Reg said...

Wonderful story. Ms. Tilly is the little Corgi that could and will .

Tee said...

I love watching dogs do their thing. Thank you for sharing her story.

Thirteen Sheep (Or More) said...

I was so glad when you got Kate. It's funny about dogs and their reactions to each other. Sort of like kids I guess. You'd think that, left alone in a room together for 10 minutes they would kill each other. But underneath the scraping they really love each other.
This is a wonderful story! Part of a book for little people! I can see little short Corgi legs going in a blur to keep up with Hanks long stride! Corgis are just too cool. I also have a mental picture of Tilly wearing a spiked collar and spiked chest plate, looking beyond cute and Tuff.! :)

Thirteen Sheep (Or More) said...

Ha! No word verification popped up. I just hit publish and off my comment went!

Jenny Glen said...

It's very common with the loss or addition of a new "personality" that the other "personalities" will redefine their order in the scheme of things. It seems to have mixed up and then settled into a routine that everyone is happy with!

thecrazysheeplady said...

Iris wanted no help with anything. She had it ALL under control thankyouverymuch! ;-)

thecrazysheeplady said...

The last line says Kate is her friend :-).

thecrazysheeplady said...

If you ever see the word verification box pop up, don't fill anything in. Just hit "publish". Works like a charm :-).

Leslie said...

What a fascinating post. I believe there is stuff going on between animals that we only see the bare surface of. How can one animal live closely with another for years and *not* develop a complex relationship? How lucky you are that you pay attention and try so hard to do the right things by the animals in your life.
Anyone who thinks animals are 'dumb' is an unobservant fool.

auntmeanie682 said...

I always read all of your posts. I love reading about all that goes on with the dogs and sheep....

Tammy said...

Wonderful story! It kept me to the end. I've witnessed the sadness animals have when they lose their best animal buddy. I got Ashley (my oldest collie) way before I was ready after I lost my collie, Ariel-- because Boone my mastiff was in deep deep grief for Ariel--and I didn't even realize they cared about each other. My pack of three now have very interesting dynamics, but I know that they would behave very differently individually.

Thanks for sharing!

Tammy

DianeOart said...

What a lovely story, I love to read all of your posts, I'm simply not commenting very often.

Shirley said...

That was a wonderful story. I think dogs really like having a job and a purpose in life (even if, like Merle, the job is to sound the alarm at EVERTHING that drives or walks past our place). Now she needs to learn where her boundary line is so she doesn't get into coyote trouble!

Jean said...

God Bless Miss Tillly -- she found out she was braver than she thought!

Susan said...

Not only did I make to the end of this great story, but I was hoping for another chapter.... :) Good girl, Tilly!

ineedorange said...

Of course we all read the whole story. :-) :-) :-)

Those corgis -- gotta love 'em.

I think they can have really complicated relationships with other dogs. My first corgi never had much use for other dogs. They couldn't throw a ball, so what use were they?

We had another dog from when Molly was one until she was ten. I don't think she and Spot (a shepherd/husky) were friends, but they got along except when Molly was too TOO bossy (when we had spats and one time a torn cheek [Molly's, because Spot outweighed her by double!]). After we lost Spot to cancer, Molly started to get very unhappy when left alone. She got to the point that when we were away for an ordinary day at work she would be distraught when we got home. We got a (corgi) puppy.

Molly never liked Sophie. If you had asked her "should we get rid of the puppy?" she'd have said "DUH!!!!!"

But she was better, immediately, after Sophie came home. Even though Sophie was crated when we were gone. Molly was no longer ALONE. There was someone else in the house. Even though that someone was a stupid annoying puppy.

They never became friends. We had armed truce, and we had blood-drawing spats. But Molly was just not ok as an only dog.

Sophie, on the other hand, was FINE as an only dog, when Molly eventually had to leave this mortal coil.

So -- did Molly love Spot? I don't think so. But the dynamics of her world were rocked when she became an only dog, and she did not do well. Did she love Sophie? Nope. I'm sure not. But was she happier with her stupid little sister in the house? Yep. Over all, she was.

Corgis love structure, and routine, and order. For Iris to be gone left Tilly with no boss to annoy her. A huge hole in her structure and in the usual order of her world. For that order to be restored, she knew someone had to do Iris' jobs. They weren't jobs Tilly felt very comfortable about, but she was the only one there to try to do them......

I'm sure she's very glad to have Kate to Manage the Sheep, and it sounds like she's growing into the Assistant Security role. :-)

I, too, had wondered about your intra-canine relationships. I know guardians sometimes are not pleased to have herding dogs near THEIR sheep, and I wondered about that, as well as the two herding breed girls together.

I'm glad you have canine peace. Well, as much peace as you can have, with a mouthy corgi on the premises..... :-)

amyfibre said...

I love hearing these more in-depth stories of animal relationships. Fascinating...and touching. Thank you for sharing!

janna e said...

The little corgi that could!

Rebecca said...

I read every word and cried at the part of you two staying with Iris. Been there, done that. :( You could write a novel and I'd be right there with you.

Tyche's Minder said...

All the way to the end. I love stories. Even more than photos. ;)

Karen Battersby said...

I'm so glad that Weaslie got a job. And it sounds like she's very good at it. Does she need a sheriff's badge?

YarnKettle said...

My first cat, Bitsy was raised by me after all his sisters and brothers died. Bitsy thought I was his real Mom and even purred with a breath break in it because that was the way I "purred" to him. Purr breathe purr breathe.

Bitsy moved into the bachelor pad with Mom so he was Mom's boy and Gus was Dad's boy. Till Bitsy passed away, then Gus became a comfort cat. Whenever I cried he would hunt me down and comfort me the best he could. There were many tears shed into his fur and he bore them with dignity.

Even now when I am sick he reverts to comfort cat.

So yeah we get what Miss Tilly went through. May she find her place to play again and get some rest.

KC said...

Of course I read the entire story and loved every word. Thank you for sharing it.

farm buddy said...


That was a GREAT story! I have seen how upset a dog can be by the loss of another dog, and it is really heartbreaking. I am so glad that you gave Tilly the gift of Kate, so she does not have to bear the burden of shouldering all the responsibility on the farm. It is not always easy being a farm dog!

Windswept Farm said...

This is a great story and I could have read more.

Marcy Doane said...

What a sweet story. Our beloved animals seem to find wonderful ways of communicating. What a brave girl Tilly is. I once had a dog that howled the first night his partner was gone. From then on he slept in the house next to my bed. He couldn't bear to be out in his own house alone. Bittersweet.

Arlette Seib said...

Enjoyed reading your post all the way to the end. The relationships dogs form with one another are amazing and are even more so, to me, when they don't appear to be best buds, but still have a clearly workable arrangement.

Shiralyn Yates said...

sweet story. I wonder if she will get more brave as time goes on.

Lori Skoog said...

Of course I made it to the bottom of this sweet story! You have three great dogs.

Sheepmom said...

Some dogs look for a job, Tilly felt the job needed doing so she stepped up and tried her best. Whew! She must be so relieved to have Kate take over! But her time as Top Farm Dog gave her the confidence to try another job - Assistant Security Dog! Everybody works so hard at Equinox Farm! Good story!

Tombstone Livestock said...

So happy to hear Kate is adapting to her life there and becoming friends with all the other critters.

Juliana Ellington said...

Loved your story. Love your blog. Love your photos.
Juliana

English sheep gal said...

I made it to the end of the long story - I make it to the end of every post. Thanks for sharing those memories and current doggy situation with us. Especially liked the series of pictures you started with.

Linda said...

Pretty sure every single one who starts one of your stories finishes it. I love your posts!

Bonnie K said...

It made me cry. When I was a kid we had two ponies. We all learned to ride on them. One day Misty died. Thunder spent then next week going around the pasture whinnying for his partner. He seemed so lost after that. We got another pony to hang with him, but it wasn't the same. I'm glad that Tilly is adjusting. It was a good story. People think ranchers are just out there to raise animals. They have no idea all that goes into it.

LannieK said...

With tears.... Please give Miss Tilly, and her new BFF, Kate. )))hugs(((
(don't miss Hank, Betsy, Comby, Eli... where's the Kleenex...)

T.L. Merrybard said...

I'm late but still wanted to say, I made it to the end no worries. :) Dogs are my number one. I'll read about dogs any time anywhere. :)

Michelle said...

Of course I read to the end! It is a wonderful, touching story with a happy ending. :-)

Elaine Lim said...

What a beautiful story about Tilly and Iris. I guess we don't realize the depth of their feelings. Give Tilly a big hug for me!

Kaye Myers said...

Dear Kindly Shepherd,
The story IS the reward.
Thanks

Lee Anna said...

I'm glad Tilly is doing so well... it's hard on everyone to lose a friend.

Lee Anna

Jan baby said...

Tilly Bobby found her calling . . . . I told City Boy she can't come home with us ever, now! I can't wait to meet Kate! And catch up with all the rambunctiousness of Equinox farm! (how's that for a descriptive word, ha!)

Fiona said...

Are animals not too amazing for words! But the words sure help us see your wonderful animals and their interactions!

Far Side of Fifty said...

Sounds like Miss Tilly has come out of her shell! You never can tell how dogs will react after the death of another in their pack or the addition to the pack. We had a shy Sheltie once and his not so shy sister...after she died he mourned but became an only dog who loved attention and was not shy anymore. He was a great companion. (Before Chance) I still miss him just about everyday. :(

jordiw said...

Just wanted to say that I always save your blog posts for "dessert" and this one was great. I do hope you are working quietly on a book. You've got the moxie. Do it!

jordiw said...

Just wanted to say that I always save your blog posts for "dessert" and this one was great. I do hope you are working quietly on a book. You've got the moxie. Do it!

Spinners End Farm said...

Verra sweet, as usual!

Cappy said...

Love to hear that Tilly and Kate each have their own job and Tilly is still being very brave! Gotta love the herding dogs!

Mollie Kay said...

And people say that animals don't have emotions. Miss Tilly has proved them wrong. Good girl!

Lisa Smith said...

Thank you for this post, Sara. I read it with great thought and care. I guess I was audibly saying "Ahhhhh....." out loud so many times my Caregiver came to check on me! You have such a wonderful way with words, and your posts are so richly intertwined with your amazing photography. I totally get what "jordiw" meant about saving your posts for dessert! I get very upset with myself if I get behind for a day or two. You enrich our lives so much, and I appreciate each and every post you do. I hope some day my health will permit me to be able to come to one of your events/workshops, etc. (I secretly wish I could be your neighbor!!!) :-)
Warm Regards, Lisa in Oregon

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