Saturday, July 3, 2010

Patchy Feets

Patch was named for my husband's New Hampshire farmer friend, Norris Patch.

Momma Fox, I presumed.
A year ago today, Patch, the original alpha male of the Pond puppy trio, went off into the woods or the sunset and never returned. The worst thing is not knowing what happened. We suspect he got in a tussle with a fox that was sited lurking around on the property a few days before he left us, or maybe even a raccoon or a poisonous snake. Of the three puppies, Patch was the most aggressive in terms of hunting: off they'd go at all hours, running into the woods after something or other: rabbits, squirrels, anything that moved. No hole was too scary for Patch and it's likely he encountered one mad mother, like this worried-looking fox.

As for the chickens, we'll just say that Patch's attentiveness (and John's) when I was feeding the young chicks was not meant to be helpful: they were just eying potential future chicken dinners. As for the ducklings in the pond who lasted about four days, I'll spare you the details. Only a mother can forgive her dogs of being true to their nature and these were the first mutts we'd ever had. It has been a lesson in mixed breed traits, triumphs and tribulations. You get what you get and you love them all the same.

This is my favorite picture of John, Tom and Patch, taken when they were c. four months old in spring 2009. Who could refuse this barnyard trio?

Patch had my heart at hello. After only six weeks after losing Lucy in early December 2008, we got three farmyard specials, brothers from the same mother (but we question if they share the same father), at a Mennonite farm. The females of the litter had already been euthanized and we couldn't stand to know that two of the remaining three would suffer the same fate if not found a home (yes, birth control is not practiced much here as few owners get their pets spade or neutered and then think nothing of tossing them out or doing them in if no one wants them). So, we took home all three. Not my initial idea but when I met them, I soon agreed with my husband and boys. Besides, I'm a sucker for cute puppies living in a hay mow.

Patch tackles Tom in a typical puppy moment. I nicknamed him "Patchy Feets" because he, like the other two, always liked to jump up and gently press his feet on my torso for a friendly chat. Tom and John still do.

But Patchy had that distinct puppy personality: all presence, a bit of an observer, and cute as all get-out. His quiet demeanor belied a true alpha male, however. He was the one who led the trio over hill and dale on our farm: John would scream a high-pitched yapping bark of excitement, following close behind Patch, also barking. Ambling along at the rear was Type-B Tom, who really wouldn't hurt a flea but didn't hesitate to haul out dead carrion when he ran with the boys. Patch and John, especially, had the Jack Russell traits in them but it was Patch who also had, what I can only term, an Irish street scrapper persona. He wasn't fierce or scary but he'd get right in the thick of things and then back off, on his terms. When I first saw him I sensed an old dog soul, someone who had been here and back before, perhaps, a quiet observer of things but not afraid to speak his mind when necessary.

Patch had the most lovely blue-green eyes and red coloring. He had a lot of Irish in him, I'm certain, mixed in there with the Jack Russell-ish traits he seemed to exhibit.

We often speak of Patch and imagine him emerging from the woods one day, in full Rambo gear, his floppy red ears framed by a bright red bandanna and brandishing weapons and knives like some kind of pumped up dude in survivor mode. You could also imagine him in a little tweed vest and pants, tucking in by the fire with a glass of bourbon and a good pipe. I think, in the end, Patch's enthusiasm for everything that moved was his downfall. I hope he died on a happy mission. We still miss him.

John and Patch on my favorite old-style chair.
See what I mean?
The last two photos I took of Patch: late June 2009, age 7 months.

John and Tom, late June 2010: remarkably, Tom's coloring has gotten more blonde and his fur more shaggy.

"The puppies," as I will forever call them, follow us all over the farm and wouldn't miss a thing.
John is one lucky fellow, having been given a lifetime stay of execution for numerous poultry offenses. Like everyone else, he just wants to be loved and accepted for who he is and his positive traits outweigh his fierce need to kill small things.


FireLight said...

Hello, I come to you via Willow Manor. I really appreciate the heart and love and story here. The Pond puppies photo montage is adorable. I am so sorry you have lost Patch. We had a black & white Aussie-Bob Dawgg-- for 7 years, who just vanished during Christmas holidays. That was probably 23 years ago now. I sometimes dream I am looking down the stairs and see him sitting there by the front door to our house. The not knowing never goes away. God bless that Little Old Soul, Patch.
I like what you have done to explore it more!

Ladyfromthewoods said...

In a related story, I am currently trying to find a home or shelter that will take in around 12 cats. Ages range from a litter of 6-wk old kittens to a old, scruffy tom. My neighbor, on a fixed income, loved her kitties but population control meant letting nature (woodland predators, disease, etc.) take it's course. She just couldn't afford to have them spayed/neutered then disappear into the woods a week later and then have no kitties to love or feed or talk to in her lonely holler - financially or emotionally. But now, here we are at a place where the final bunch will need to find a new place or become lunch or be done-in. I wish I could do MORE!!!