Every afternoon, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom takes a walk. Which is different from the hike that Farmer H sometimes suggests she take. If suggests means yells at the top of his lungs, and hike means a trip to the netherworld without veering left nor right.
A couple of days ago, her faithful companion, Puppy Jack, darted across the gravel road again and barked at the neighbors' horses. They gave him their bemused expression, and went back to mouthing the remains of a round bale of hay. Jack did not heed my calls to return to our yard. UNTIL...two of the neighbor dogs ran up their driveway. Then he scampered back.
I will admit that I was afraid. One of the dogs was the big black-with-tan bobtail that got Juno down in our yard and bit her. The other was a loose-skinned boxer. They (thank the Gummi Mary!) stood at the end of their driveway and barked. I think more at me than at Jack. I barely glanced as they ran up, because I wanted to see WHICH dog would be the instrument of my death, and I didn't want to meet their gaze and challenge them. I went back down to the garage, and put Puppy Jack away. My Sweet, Sweet Juno made herself scarce. I continued my walk until I made my three laps. You can't let the terror-dogs win.
Yesterday Jack behaved himself and stayed in our yard when I scolded him. Oh, don't think he didn't PLAN on going over to bark at the three horses. He started his rabbit-leaping, but I hollered, "JACK! NO!" He's usually good the day after he's been put in the garage and missed our walkies.
Today, Jack ran ahead of me, putting his head down in the hole he's dug out by the end of the driveway. THEN he perked up and started across. "JACK! NO!" He DID stop. But started barking his fool head off. Then I saw it. A horse was loose! It was outside the fence, standing in the neighbors' driveway. I turned around immediately and called for Jack. He came running, so proud to be a good dog that he jumped up against me, and pranced along on his hind feet.
As soon as I got to the garage, I lured Jack in with some cat kibble. No way was I going to have Jack chasing a LOOSE HORSE! You never know. It could get hurt. It could hurt me. It could get hit by a car. It could hurt the car. I continued my walk. On the next-to-last lap (I did 4 today), that horse made the whuh whuh whuh whuh sound, and galloped down its own driveway. Then the terror-dogs started going crazy. I couldn't see them, but I could hear them. AND the neighbor lady came home a half hour early, and stopped her car halfway down her driveway. I guess she doesn't have a horse-catcher mounted on her bumper.
On my last trip up the driveway, I saw Neighbor Lady (let's call her NeighLay) walking through the horse pasture, inspecting the fence. I didn't want her to think I had let it out! I HAD been walking back down my own driveway when she got home.
"I see you had a horse loose. I just saw it about 15 minutes ago when I came up to get the dumpster."
"Yes. She's a tricky one."
"I put my little dog away in the garage. I know he comes over and barks at them, and I didn't want it to get hurt."
"I'm not worried about my horses. They don't spook easy. I'm more worried about your dog."
"We're getting a shock collar. He has Little Dog Syndrome. He's always after something."
Juno had come up through our yard while I was walking, and crept closer and closer to the road, head down, hackles raised. That is very unlike my Sweet, Sweet Juno, who is a timid sort unless she sees something from afar. Then she'll bark, and sometimes run up to it. But has a force-field kind of distance where she stops.
And then, as if in a horror movie, four dogs filtered out of the cedar trees in the neighbor field, and came to the edge of the road, silent, looking at me. I swear. It was like the canine version of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. There was the black-with-tan bobtail, the loose-skinned boxer, a little buff-colored fluffy thing wearing a baby-blue sweatshirt, and a funny-looking cur with a face like a boxer, but mottled with white, and not as big. I could hear the killer poodle barking down by the house.
NeighLay spoke sharply to the black-with-tan bobtail. "You go lay down!" And it did. I told her that was the only one that scared me, because it had gotten Juno down twice in our own yard, biting her, until Farmer H intervened. "She's a rescue dog. They couldn't place her. She's afraid of people. When people went to pet her, she turned to look at the wall. If she's bothering your dogs, you let me know."
Huh. I can tell you ONE thing. THIS people is afraid of HER. But I didn't say that.
"What kind is it?"
"Mixed, but we know she's got some Rott in her."
"That's the one I see over here most often. But not since last Saturday. I never see your poodle anymore."
"We have a pen for him in the back yard. But this one goes crazy in a pen. She's not right."
WOOHOO! You ain't a-woofin', lady!
"Now this one right here, you should NEVER see." NeighLay pointed to the fluffy thing in the sweatshirt. "She isn't supposed to be out."
"I know my little dog comes over and barks at the horses. But we ARE trying to stop him."
"Yeah. He's half heeler and half dachshund, and all stubborn. I shot him with my old BB gun because he was chasing a chicken. We used to have 30, but now we're down to 6. Something keeps killing them, but we don't find the bodies." Let the record show that I know for a fact her poodle and bobtail killed several of them, and took the bodies home. We even found one at the end of their driveway where they put their dumpster. But I didn't mention it, and neither did she. "A guy at work told Farmer H yesterday that it might be a fox. They kill and take the chicken with them."
"Well, you can't have anything like that if you live in the country." (I suppose chickens are for city people?) "We used to have ducks, and something killed them all. Ate the heads off, and left the bodies." (Okay. That's really creepy.) "You know, a paintball gun might be the thing to shoot a dog with. It doesn't hurt the dog, and the owner sees the paint and knows their dog has been somewhere he shouldn't."
"Yeah. That's what Farmer H talks about, but he doesn't have a CO2 cartridge for the paintball gun."
I don't know if NeighLay ever found her horse hole, but I went walking back to the Mansion, and called Juno along with me. She's a good dog.
I guess I'll know that Jack has been a bad boy if he comes home sporting purple paint spots. That's the color WE use, anyway.