willow is still with us. like the old codger in monty python and the holy grail, she’s stubbornly “not dead yet” and every time i think it’s time to load her on the plague cart, she decides it’s a fine time to go for a walk (and she does), followed by days of badness, inability to even get up by herself, followed by another walk.
in the meantime, we adopted a sparky little mongrel from a local all-breed rescue. his name is oakland (a name he arrived bearing and that we’ve been too indecisive to change) and he seems to be mostly boxer with a smattering of other breeds.
he and lola have become inseparable, joined at the teeth, two glossy black rockets of doggy joy. incorporating him into the family has been fairly easy: he’s an amenable little fellow and not unintelligent, although his natural prey drive is a little more robust than a labrador’s. he doesn’t seem to be trying to catch and kill, just chase and catch, but this is annoying to the cats and dangerous to the chickens and rabbit. the cats are incurably disgusted and the chickens have been relegated to a small outdoor yard during the day instead of being able to roam far and wide. the rabbit gets out to kick up her aging heels when oakland is in his crate, either at night or when we’re all away from home. it’s kind of sad for the hens, but i must admit that the flower beds are looking better than they have in years and it’s rather nice to go tromping around the property barefoot without dodging chicken poos. the girls are getting weeds and dirt clods and bundles of grass several times a day in addition to kitchen scraps. the compost pile is suffering, stinking more than it ought since it’s not being stirred and picked regularly by a herd of hens, but, all-in-all, the new arrangement is working out to almost everyone’s satisfaction.
oakland is a very nice little dog, very sweet and affectionate and mostly quite gentle, not as bumptious and roughneck as lola. he’s as well-mannered as you’d expect a six-month-old pup to be. he has responded well to clicker training, although i’m not as dedicated to it as i should be. with my work, kids in two spring sports, gardening, and the rest of the menagerie to tend, i often just want to spend the brief rest period in the evening petting on the puppy rather than schooling him. he’s very submissive. in some respects, he’s a little too timid. he is sometimes fearful to the point of being paranoid and he has snapped at one visitor already because he was afraid. we’re working on socializing him, bringing him places with us (although his carsickness makes only short trips possible). he’s very good on these outings, very friendly and laid-back. it appears that his fearfulness at home might stem from some territorial tendencies. he’s also afraid of the vacuum cleaner, the goats, the bathtub, and the lawnmower.
he came from a southern shelter, was found wandering with another puppy at two months old. he and his sibling were picked up and put into the shelter system. his sibling was attacked and killed by another shelter dog; oakland has scars on his legs and face, but survived. nevertheless, he adores dogs. he’s pretty gentle with old willow and when he meets other dogs on outings or at the vet, he is immediately animated, but respectful and submissive.
and so we’re in a holding pattern, which is nice for now.