The sheep dog incident

So last Thursday I came home from a hectic day at work and completely overlooked the side glances the kids gave each other.  I should have known that something was up when they chorused in unison “Mama is home!”  It was the perfect set up signal.  That part when you know the inevitable surprise party is being thrown in your favor, and you are the victim to a joke known by everyone.  In short, I was being punkd.

If you know my family, you will know that we have rescued chicks that have fallen off nests.  Wandering turtles on roads have been picked up.  Slithering reptiles have not been beaten with a stick but have been gently deposited in some sanctuary near by.   In the recent past we even inherited roosters and hens that thankfully no longer inhabit my yard.

Anyway, I walked in and the girls said “You should go to the back yard and lie on the hammock.”  Normally spider senses tingle, but that day was especially tough so the brain was fried and I walked out like a zombie and nearly shrieked when I saw three billy goats gruff standing still and giving me the down low.  Now I think I handled it admirably when I turned around walked back inside and hit the bottle.

At this point, the girls looked at each other and at their dad and said “Wow, she is taking this very well.”  One of them actually came up to me and said “Mom, I am really proud of you.”  They didn’t know that I was hyperventilating and my left arm was tingling.

Why goats? Normal families buy lawn mowers, but not mine.  We rent goats to eat the grass in the backyard.

Fortunately, you guessed it, the goats were not permanent guests.  They would leave soon.  So I thought to myself  “There, Shaku, that is your silver lining.  Go back and have one more drink.”   The weekend progressed and I would walk down and jump out of my skin to see them standing in the patio.  Now not sure if you have seen goats up close and personal.  They are unnerving and stare at you as if they can glean all your secrets and tell you about your past life.  There was a kid amongst the three which was particularly cute.  But not that cute that I ventured to make friends.

You know my dog, Lanie, right.  Beautiful, friendly Border Collie/Mountain Bernese mix.  She was downright perplexed.  She had no idea if she was supposed to be the leader of this pack or if she was supposed to just observe.  Since there was a kid in there, we had to keep an eye out.

Over the weekend, I decided that the grass looked none the better.  There was goat poop on it now, the dog was decidedly not happy and I didn’t want this temporary existence to become permanent.

So Sunday morning, I announced that it was time for the nice goat family to head back.  We went to the quasi farm where there were sheep and other goats and took Lanie with us.  Now something strange happened.  Lanie was invited into the pen by the owner and he said to her “Go Lanie”.  She started herding the sheep and the goats and as she was chasing them, she was barking.   Not her usual bark.  But short sharp sheep dog barks and she didn’t bite them or hurt them.  She was herding the entire group and running after the stray kids.

I was stunned to see the transformation in my dog.

I realized that this was Lanie in a natural environment.  She was accessing her Border Collie instincts with relative ease without any practice.  Animals do this all the time.  Birds too.  Being natural, aligned to the core is what Nature does best.

As human beings, we often forget what comes naturally to us.  When we stray so far that we become dis-eased.

I leave you with this exquisite poem by Rainer Maria Rilke translated by Robert Bly.

The Swan

This clumsy living that moves lumbering
as if in ropes through what is not done,
reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.

And to die, which is the letting go
of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,
is like the swan, when he nervously lets himself down
into the water, which receives him gaily
and which flows joyfully under
and after him, wave after wave,
while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,
is pleased to be carried, each moment more fully grown,
more like a king, further and further on.

Nature's lawnmowers
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