The youngest of my three dogs is Natasha Marie, Tashi for short. She came to me in a roundabout way. A friend of a friend of a friend (her name is Patty) is a dog groomer and has two large dogs of her own. One night it was storming. She opened the door to let her two dogs in, and a third dog came in with them. She helped herself to some food and water and settled down to watch TV.
On Friday night, my friend and his brother came to my farm and asked me one more time to take the dog. Again I said no. They said that she was to be put down the next morning. I said yes, but if I didn't like her, she was going back. They had her in the car. I guess they know I am a patsy - they had already adopted her, assured that they could pawn her off on me given my penchant for saving the helpless.
I was a little miffed, but she really was a beautiful dog. I already had two alpha females - what was one more?
It took me several days to name her. I finally settled on Natasha because it sounds like a Russian ballerina's name, and Natasha is poetry in motion when she runs. She weighs about 55 pounds, is long and lean, was about two years old by the vet's estimate when I got her and had the boundless energy of youth.
It took me several weeks to warm up to her. There was a part of me that held back. I really didn't want three dogs, had just gone through a disastrous experience with a biter that I had agreed to take in and give one last chance. It was all for naught and the dog had to be put down. I was happy with my two lovelies, Bear and Ayn Chee, didn't need a third.
Tashi was always with me outside, just a few steps away. I noticed that she followed commands well and loved to have something to do. I melted. It took awhile, but I melted. One day I tolerated her, the next I loved her.
Tashi is chipped now. I fear losing her, especially since she ran a bit when I first got her - once all the way to the nursing home three miles away. The police called to tell me they had her in a cage up town, would I please come and get her? But she sticks close to home now, except for an occasional visit to see Clay, the neighbor boy who helps with the garden.
Margie is a professional dog trainer, and she came out to help me with her. She told me that it was very clear that Tashi had already been trained. Someone loved her. She had not been abused. She is confident and loving, no cowering or fear. She was well fed and healthy when I took her in. But no collar, no chip, no name tag. I fear that she is a victim of the economic downturn. People who lose their large homes and move into an apartment that will not take animals cannot find a home for their pets, and they cannot bear to put them down. So they put them out - out to fend for themselves, to cadge a meal here and there, to ingratiate themselves to strangers. Tashi was one of the lucky ones.
And I am lucky, too, to have her in my life.
Tonight there are 15 chickens, 3 calves, 1 small white cat, 3 heifers inside the fence, and 1 large black dog. All is well.