August 06, 2002

Labrador Tractor Abatement Policy

Labrador Tractor Abatement Policy

Buster is our second pure-bred Black Labrador Retriever. Those of you who own Black Labs (and I have gotten quite a few comments from those who do) know that they have probably the best temperament of any large dog (I have no idea that this is gospel truth, but have never seen anything to the contrary). And being pure-bred, there should be considerable consistency of characteristics down a lineage and in the breed in general. Our first Lab was Zachary. And he and Buster share the characteristics of being broad of chest, and black. At that point the similarities pretty much end.

Buster here, we have concluded, has a distinctive home-schooled quality about him. He is totally trusting, akwardly sociable with strangers, polite and never pushy; he does't bark, doesn't chew up things, and is remarkably naive about life in general. He doesn't tolerate change very well, or grasses touching his underbelly. He is most comfortable sitting in his place on the back porch, and when he comes up missing on a walk, you can pretty much know that he is already back home, curled up in front of the door.

Zachary, on the other hand, was more reform-schooled. Gentle with the kids and intelligent, but headstrong. He was fully aware of how strong and formidable he was, and when a stranger drove up in the yard, Zach would charge at full speed, intent on intimidation, with a line down his back and teeth bared, and the visitor stayed in the car until we called the dog back to the house....or if it was a salesman of some sort, apologized that we were sorry but maybe they had better not roll down their windows very far, and more often than not, they would just leave. Handy dog to have around. But Zach chewed up, barked, and ran off frequently to who-knows-where and came back when he got good and danged ready.

When we belonged to Zach, many years ago, there was a an old farm across the dirt road from us, with nothing but an empty and collapsed old farmhouse and a few decrepit outbuildings. This particular country person/owner came from time to time to tend the field corn that was planted there. For reasons which we never understood, Zachary could not stand that fellow, and the grizzly old farmer was likewise terrified of Zach. We wouldn't realize the man was over there until we would hear his high-pitched, squeaky voice hollering at the dog to 'get away from me!' which made the dog all the bolder. It was one of Zach's favorite sports.

One day, the farmer had slipped in over the way and was walking around in the new furrows when the dog spied him through the hedge. Zach was off like a shot, the old codger saw him coming and ran in a panic for his tractor, which was idling nearby, and he was shreeking at the top of his obnoxious shrill voice and flailing his skinny arms. He mounted that tractor in a bound and hit the throttle and sped off, opposite the direction of the dog, coming hard upon him.

Little problem, though. He had forgot that the plow was sunk deep in the clay soil, and as he made his panicky zigzag getaway, a two-foot-thick rope of clay and grass was laid up in a wavy line all the way back to the old barn, as old Zachary, the reform-school dog, closed the distance. It was one of the funniest sights I had seen in my short life of country living, like something off of an episode of Dukes of Hazard.

This was all quite funny around the dinner table that night, and until the geezer called me on the phone the next day and told me my dog had made him ruin his pasture, and it was my responsibility to make it right, by gawd. So, every afternoon for the next week, I rolled that clay rope of fescue and dirt back into its furrow, sweating and cussing that dog, but thinking what a great memory this was going to be some day, when the blisters healed. That Zachary was his own dog, and there was nothing to do about that.

Now, on the other hand, had Buster seen our farmer and his tractor across the road, he would have gone over and introduced himself, and asked the man if he could watch the plowing because in his home schooling, he was on a unit about farmers and farming, and he would promise not to get in the way, please sir. And he could not stay long, because he really needed to get back to his post up there on the front porch, thank you.

Posted by fred1st at August 6, 2002 09:16 PM
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