One of the many things I loved about my late Aussie, Sundown, is that she somehow knew our attachment to certain animals and always showed them special consideration. That isn’t to say she bore no malice to other animals at all. Being a farm dog, she patrolled the farm for intruders and would get into fights with foxes, groundhogs, and occasionally other dogs and cats. She bore the scars of several of those encounters, especially the ones with groundhogs. But to the animals that shared our house, she gave much leeway.
Her relationship with one of our cats named Midnight was particularly funny. In those days we had a California King Size waterbed that was heated and Midnight loved to curl up in the middle of it. On occasion, Sundown would catch her snoozing and jump up on the waterbed and lie right on top of her until he was satisfied that the point about being Queen of the bed was established.
The funny thing was the Midnight never moved. She would just lay there until Sundown decided to let her breathe and continue to nap away as if it had never happened. I sometimes wonder if this pissed Sundown off even more.
Midnight kept the maxim that revenge was a dish best served cold. The retaliation, normally days after the event would come when Sundown lay napping on the floor somewhere. Midnight would casually walk by Sundown and suddenly turn to face her; with claws retracted, she would reach out and smack Sundown soundly on the nose and then stand there and stare at her. Sundown would wake with a start and after clearing the cobwebs, nod at Midnight as if to say “Okay you got me” and then promptly continue her nap as Midnight walked away satisfied.
Midnight was not the only bane of Sundown’s existence in those days. We also had a Ferret appropriately named Frank Burns. When we first brought Frank home and introduced him to the other animals, the first thing he did was the Crazed Ferret dance and then immediately attached himself to Sundown’s back leg. Sundown tried to walk away with Frankie firmly latched on to her back leg. All she could do was cast a “Please get this thing off of me” look at us that made us double over with laughter.
Needless to say Sundown never liked Frankie but always tolerated his little Ferret hijinks for our sake. And yet, Sundown ended up saving Frankie’s life.
The farm we lived on was surrounded by woods and we allowed the Frankie supervised walks outdoors. One day he ran under a truck on me and as I stooped down to get him, I found he was no longer under the truck. I searched for a few minutes and called for my wife Jackie to come out and join the search. We probably searched for at least 15 minutes before we realized he must be in the woods.
Jackie ran into the house and got Sundown and brought her outside and started asking her “Where’s Frankie? Find Frankie!” Now keep mind that Sundown had never done any formal nose work or tracking in her life but she immediately started to search. Sniffing around the truck and then towards the edge of the woods where she took off faster than we could follow. Jackie and I were both afraid that we were going to lose two animals, but after about 10 minutes of walking after Sundown we heard a rustling coming towards us. It was Sundown, herding Franking back towards the farm.
To this day we have no idea we have no idea how she understood the meaning of those other animals to us or how she understood how to get Frankie back, but she did; two more stories about why we loved her and miss her so very much.
Enjoy them while you can.