It was a gorgeous day here in Central New York. The kind of day that makes me feel blessed that I work for myself and can enjoy a little freedom.
Having myself as a boss is awesome. I’m like the nicest superior ever and I get along great with myself. It’s like I’ve known myself my whole life, so unless I really screw up, there’s no real threat of me being fired. Job secure, we decided to tackle a few items on Dory’s Bucket List by visiting my in-laws’ farm.
Not wanting to leave our Greater Swiss at home, even with his bilateral dysplasia, we loaded him and Dory into the van. Getting Dory in the van was easy. Even if she doesn’t jump, she’s an easy lift. Jackson, however, is another story.
Forced to live a rather sedentary life due to his hips, he weighs roughly the same as a mastodon. While his breed typically ranges between 100 and 140 pounds, “Ol’ Fatty” clocks in at 145. We do our best to keep him active and nutritionally sound, but between his age and debilitating joints, he has his limits.
And so do I. Lifting a barbell with 145 pounds of weight, I can do. What I can’t do is gracefully lift a squishy 145-pound mass that squirms as I struggle to cradle its underbelly. To load him up I have to prop his front legs on the bumper and then lift his quivering rear-end like a forklift without pressing on his bladder. Otherwise, I may as well have a fuzzy 145-pound toad in my hand.
Upon our arrival we were welcomed by Graham, the resident farm dog, who made a bee-line for Dory’s rear end to extend an invasive “How do you do?” greeting.
Dory and Graham were apparently quite pleased with each others’ backside aromas because they soon shifted into a dehydrating game of “He Pees, She Pees”.
In this battle of wits and bladder stamina, the goal is to mark more areas of the lawn than your opponent. You can also negate any of your opponent’s territorial dribbles by masking his or her mark with one of your own. Play continues until the winner is rewarded with a few dozen urine-scorched patches of dead grass.
Our intention when we got to the farm was to just take Dory to an open field and let her run around to her heart’s content. But when I saw my father-in-law’s tractor hitched to a hay wagon, I knew she had to experience a good old-fashioned family hayride first.
The problem was getting Jackson on the wagon. With the wagon being twice as high as our van’s bumper, I skipped the part about propping up his front legs and just tried lifting him onto the platform. When my hamstrings separated from my thighs, I set him back down.
Heather’s dad suggested we angle a pallet up to the wagon like a handicap ramp and let him walk aboard. It looked a little precarious to me, and judging by Jackson’s apprehension, I think he believed we were trying to off him.
The hay ride itself was rather uneventful. I mean, how eventful can one be? Unless a wheel flies off or the wagon separates from the hitch causing us to careen two whole feet down a ditch, it is what it is. A hayride.
Next up was the Freedom March in the wide open pastures behind the barns. We walked with our mutts close behind and wondered if Dory would actually come back once we released her. She’s rather hard of hearing and we weren’t entirely sure our bond was strong enough yet to where she’d stick close.
But, as the saying goes, “If you love something, set it free. Then hunt it down if it doesn’t return.”
We had to try.
At first, she just kind of meandered around not doing much. Then, once she realized that she was no longer tethered to the leash, she was off and bounding. We shouted her name several times, clapped loudly, yelled, but she was either oblivious or uninterested.
Heather got concerned when Dory galloped to the other end of the pasture but all of our fears were alleviated when Dory ran back to Heather and stayed by her side. We felt like she knew she was right where she belonged. It just took 10 years and a mutual trust to get there.
Today’s little adventure was a great one. We learned that Dory won’t just run into oblivion if given some freedom and I think Dory learned that we’re here for the long haul. Jackson made it back to camp safely, and while I don’t have photos of it, he laid on his side while side-swiping his water bowl with his tongue hoping to lap up an occasional droplet of water. It was pathetic. But equally hilarious.
We laid out on the lawn for a few minutes to allow the dogs to rehydrate and rest, and it was then that I realized just how at peace Dory was with her new family and her new surroundings. Everything about today just reaffirmed how blessed we feel to have her, and following her first lick on Kamryn’s face, I think the feelings are mutual.