Doggy Delegation: I Come in Peace

A year ago, every time the neighbors shaggy white dog Feather would appear at the margins of our property, Gandy would bristle and charge and invariably run Feather back across enemy lines.

About three months ago, something changed between them. The two dogs, about the same age and size, came to some kind of an agreement. In one of the clauses it must have stated the terms:

1) Feather comes and goes as she pleases but Gandy agrees to remain close enough to home to hear us calling, and NEVER goes to visit at Feather’s house.

2) Feather will arrive not later than 8:00 a.m. (adjusted earlier as the days get longer) and will obediently “go home” upon the command, although if it is too early of an afternoon, she did not sign the agreement to stay home.

IMG_4041feather1

3) Each new greeting (upon a human arriving home in a car or upon exiting the back door for any reason) will result in a token offering of any kind (stick, rock, leaf) as act of appeasement.

Yesterday’s offering as I crossed the footbridge fresh home from town struck me as Feather’s Olive Branch of peace. It is a fragment from a privet bush.

IMG_4045feather2I came in and put up groceries, only to come to back door and see that I had failed to adequately accept the dog’s symbolic  indication of her peaceful intentions on our household and our resident dog. The latter was let out the door, promptly to begin the mock-combat they so dearly love, to heck with Feather’s silly gift.

I retrieved the Olive branch to a safe place indoors. It was the diplomatic thing to do.

And even as we speak, four thrashing dog paws are stripping away any remaining grass that once grew in what once was a yard before it became a Saturday Nite Wrastlin’ Rink.

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fred

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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