The man waved to me as I got out of my truck, “You called about the dogs’ right.” It wasn’t a question. I told him I had, and he motioned me towards the barn. “They’re in the corner stall on the left, go on in and I’ll be down directly.”
As I walked into the barn I stopped and closed my eyes for a moment— an old habit that told me a lot about its steward. The horses had just been brought in to feed, one of the few times when a barn was eerily silent of nickering but the sound of teeth meant for grinding feed and hay was palpable. The air smelled of the molasses used in sweet feed and it was as enticing to me as it was to them. Absent was the smell of urine and shit and fresh sawdust mixed with the myriad smells that told me these animals were well cared for. My eyes opened to confirm what my nose and ears had conveyed— I was at ease.
Their stall was next to a beautiful, dapple grey, Percheron who watched me carefully as I entered the stall. He nickered a warning, telling me he took his sentry post seriously. At 17 hands and weighing close to a ton, I could feel him through the ground as he paced around his stall; he needn’t be concerned.
Among the trio was a tri-colored ball of fluff who, although cautious at first, soon gave in to her herding instincts as she tugged on my jeans trying to position my leg where she thought it out to be, a trait not uncommon to Aussies, and of course she kept on tugging straight into my heart.
When the farmer came in he knew he had a sale. I asked a couple of question about the mom and dad, but they were just feigning a sense of due diligence (as much for me as for him). Still tugging on my jeans she stopped for a moment and looked at me as if to say, “Are we going for a ride?” We most certainly were.
Heading home, she was in a cardboard box next to me. The setting sun was putting on a dazzling show of color common to the early fall—now she had a name, she was Sundown.