This time last week I didn’t even know of Jack Marley’s existence and I defiantly wasn’t in the market for a new puppy. Long ago my husband and I had agreed that we would never have anymore than 3 kelpies at one time. Why, may you ask? Well for us:
Ω Three were easy to handle.
Ω There were only three chains on the back of the UTE.
Ω Only 3 kelpies fitted comfortable on the back of the quad when they tired after running around up and down the paddocks – we have a lot of hills on our farms and kelpies love to run flat out!
The power of three – a nice number that worked for us. A trio of dogs – in fact our trio were rather like the trinity: Mummy Meg, Daddy Red Dog Rex and their tomboy Daughter Jessie James; known affectionately as JJ. So the rule of 3 made sense and I do so hate to break the rules – I can thank this to my decade of living in Germany where there are rules for EVERYTHING. Little did I know, however, that this was all about to change when a fortnight ago, I accepted an invitation to my dear fellow farmer friend’s sons’ 1st birthday party. It seems the day I said “Yes” to celebrating wee Charlie’s 1st birthday with him the wheels were set in motion for Jack Marley to enter my life.
Only five days ago, I was at said birthday party – let me recap and paint the picutre. The party was humming along nicely with little ones running around everywhere. The cake was cut, candles were blown out, cake was eaten and the little ones were getting restless when our host asked “Who would like to see the puppies?” Being the biggest kid there I jumped at the chance. I am a sucker for puppies but normally I can look and enjoy their cuteness and walk away – not however on Saturday. There he was…….. timid and shy in his little cage. A replica almost of my first dog (Rex whom my husband gifted to me almost a decade ago to commemorate my Australian Citizenship – and for those of you who watched the landline eposide on the origins of a kelpie the other week will know how apt this gift was for me to mark this major milestone in my life http://www.abc.net.au/landline/content/2016/s4443372.htm) except that he had more white, a slight green colour to his adorable eyes and white on the tips of his paws. Looking back I think it’s safe to say that it was love at first sight. Jack Marley had me with that first puppy whimper that seemed to say “look at me, love me – I’m yours”. I resisted as I led him around the paddock on his lead rope (I doth think the lady protest too loudly by SHAKESPEARE comes to mind here) when my friend said “I think you should take him home” by trotting out all the reasons why not – in particular the rule of 3! Jack Marley ,however, was reeling me in. By the time I got home I was hooked. That night I couldn’t stop thinking about him; in fact dreaming about him. I think I lasted all of 48 hours before texting my friend to say that I would have him.
I picked up Jack Marley yesterday afternoon and brought him home in time for tea. Whilst Jack Marley seems more interested in his fellow fur family members than they are of him, I am sure that once he settles they will accept this new little bundle of puppy energy into the family. Strangely, Rex has accepted him the most and is cute to see Rex and his little minature friend run around the paddocks together. The girls really aren’t that sure about him what with Meg being in her twilight years and JJ long out of puppyhood – BUT I know that given time Jack Marley will win them around.
Last night at end of day farm checks, Jack Marley ‘helped’ bring the chooks out of their roost rather than bring them into bed but hey he’s little – he will learn. Jack Marley also had Harry the horse running around in circles – Harry is defiantly not sure about this little brown animal who defiantly isn’t a cat but can he be a dog when he’s so small? So this afternoon we will have some Jack Marley – Harry the horse desensation chill time. I will keep you posted on their progress. This morning Rex and I enjoyed a sunrise walk with Jack Marley as we took him to explore some of the paddocks on a farm familiarization exercise. Jack Marley loved chasing Rex around and I think he will look to Rex for leadership in the field. It was heart warming to see my two kelpie boys bonding.
Until I became a proud pet owner myself a decade ago, I never really understood the phrase that you don’t choose your puppy but your puppy/dog chooses you. Four dogs later I wholeheartedly agree – as in each and every case our dog/puppy chose us . Maybe puppies and dogs speak direct to our hearts and bypass our logic mind? I don’t now the science behind it all but I do know that our kelpies seem to have a magical language of their own. Every farmer deep down knows this. As farmers we spend more time with our working dogs than we do with any other sentient being – and that often includes our partners! Our dogs learn to watch us. Our dogs learn to read us. Our dogs learn to anticipate what we want them to do next. It’s like a magical silent language and our dogs truly are a farmer’s best friend. As well as being great working dogs, our dogs are also great listeners – how many of us talk to our kelpie as if (s)he is a real person. Whether sitting on the back of the quad or sitting beside us up front in the UTE (come on farmers, admit it – we all start with our working dogs in the back of the UTE but before long they worm their way up front to claim the passenger seat; who hasn’t been on a road trip with a working dog, if such a farmer exists I would love to hear from you) our kelpies are fantastic listeners and always know how to cock their heads at the right time and lock our eyes to let us know that they really do understand – and the best part of all is that they ALWAYS agree with us. Companion, colleague and confidant – that’s our legend kelpie dogs.
Getting back to the rule of 3 and rules in general, some more words of wisdom from my dear wise grandmother to finish this week’s blog.
“Some rules are made to followed,
some rules are made to bent ,
some rules are made to be broken
– and some rules are just plain stupid”.
Yip, I was blessed with an awesome grandmother and I am blessed to have Jack Marley in my life. It hasn’t even been 24 hours since I picked him up and already he has a huge slice of my heart. I am looking forward to all the adventures that Jack Marley and I are going to have with the rest of the fur team here at Merlewood Angus, and seeing what Jack Marley has to teach me.
Join the cattle conversation. Tell us:
Ω Who stole your heart?
Ω Which your own rules have you broken, bent or just ditched as you realized one day that they were ‘just plain stupid’?
Ω How many kelpies do you have?
Ω Can a farmer really ever have too many kelpies?
Ω How did your first kelpie come into your life?
PostScript:I know this article hasn’t mentioned border collies or blue heelers. I know – not from personal experience as I have never owned a dog of these breeds – that these are fabulous working dogs too. However my blogs are about our life on Merlewood and my experiences as a farmer……… and what can I say I am biased towards the kelpie as that’s all I have known and loved. Feel free, however, to share your border collies and blue heeler stories too. Sharing our stories helps us grow.
Note:This blog was written Thursday morning at 10am – 18 hours after Jack Marley came to live with us and he was in bed for 11 of them. I will let you do the maths!