From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sophie Joins the Menagerie

Dog/cat issues slowly resolving



In April, a little Basset hound showed up at my husband's workplace. It was obvious to my husband that she didn't have a home.

Of course, Dennis gave her a few meals. Soon, every time he went outside, the little dog was waiting for him, begging for his attention and affection.

When Dennis came home talking about her, I knew what was bound to happen. Sure enough, in a few days, he called me at work and told me that he had brought the little hound home.

Sophie, as we named her, has never met a human she didn't like. She does well enough as a watchdog, but she's definitely not a guard dog. When the propane-tank painters arrived a few days ago, Sophie barked loudly to announce their arrival.  I walked outside to see what was happening, and Sophie was already lying on the ground, getting her belly scratched by her new friends.

I can't even begin to explain what a change Sophie has made in our cats' lives. They had always gone in and out of the house whenever they wanted, as long as someone was there to open the door for them. Then one day, a dog-monster took up residence in their territory, barking and charging at them whenever they dared to peek out the door. It was traumatizing to them!

The dog/cat situation has improved somewhat.Sometimes Sophie still has the momentary urge to chase the cats, but then she recognizes them and stops. "Oh, it's you again," she seems to think. We read that it is hard for Basset hounds to refrain from chasing cats because they're bred to chase rabbits. Cats resemble rabbits in a Basset's eyes, I guess. At any rate, I'm glad that Sophie has learned that the cats are "house-rabbits" who shouldn't be molested, at least when the people are around.

The cats know that Sophie is asleep at night, so that is their favorite time to slip outside. In the daytime,  Skittles is brave enough to walk in front of Sophie and come into the house. Casper is still a "scaredy-cat" and must be carried through the door if Sophie is present. However, he is slowly growing in confidence. He now understands that he is safe in a human's arms, and he no longer tries to escape and run when Sophie approaches.

Sophie has several interests beyond barking, getting petted, and chasing rabbits. She also likes to take break-of-day walks with Dennis, rearrange her bedding, take naps, and score doggie treats. In other words, she's nearly worthless. :) Her favorite human is Dennis, and she leaps around excitedly and talks eloquently to him when he comes home from work.

At present, Sophie's operations are conducted from a large wooden crate, laid sideways on the porch. This fall, when it's not so hot to work in the shed, I will build her a proper, insulated dog house. I've been studying doghouse plans on the internet.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.