Fate who love people, all people anywhere, is not so generous when it comes to other dogs.
It took her two weeks to get used to both Gus and Bud when we got them. I imagine it will take her as long to get used to Zinnia.
I don’t worry about Fate hurting Zinnia, she stalks her like she stalks Minnie (not Flo, she’s afraid of Flo and does anything to avoid her) and lifts her lip to show her teeth.
But I know soon they’ll be playing just as she eventually played with Gus and now plays with Bud.
Jon picked up this doggie playpen for Zinnia at the thrift store in town. This morning when Jon took Zinnia for a ride, I was upstairs in the office/guestroom doing my shipping. When I came downstairs, Fate was sleeping in the bed inside the playpen.
She obviously got in(probably to get any treats that Zinnia left behind) but couldn’t get out.
When Izzy first started spending time alone away from the other sheep, I wanted to believe she was just being independent.
But as time passed, I began to see that something else was happening.
She began calling out for the other sheep not seeming to know where they were. And they didn’t answer her or join her as sheep usually do. She became more easily startled and confused.
Izzy was very friendly when we first got her, but in the past six months or so, she wouldn’t let me get close to her.
And since we started feeding the animals hay a few days ago, I saw that she wasn’t eating it. When all the sheep ran to the feeder, Izzy would go out to the pasture and graze alone.
With the recent snow, there is little to eat. She would never survive the winter not eating hay.
I didn’t think much of the strange way she was walking till I read the symptoms of Huntington’s Disease this evening as I was researching dementia in sheep.
That’s what both Jon and I thought might be going on with Izzy. Her behavior was just too unusual for there not to be something wrong with her and dementia seemed probable.
But then I found out that sheep do get Huntington’s Disease. Actually some of the research into the disease is being done on sheep.
The symptoms that I see in Izzy are a lack of coordination, and a jerky “unsteady gait”, problems with mental ability and an inability to eat and dementia. It is mostly a hereditary disease.
This morning Izzy stayed in the pole barn while the other sheep ate their hay. Later Izzy wandered out alone to the far pasture to graze. She was out by herself all day, sometimes calling to the other sheep but never with them.
This morning Jon and I talked about euthanizing Izzy. I wasn’t quite ready to do it, I needed a little more time to get used to the idea. But this evening, after reading about Huntington’s Disease, I have no doubt that it’s best to euthanize Izzy as soon as we can.
Now that I understand what is happening to her, I can only imagine her confusion and fear.
Since she is so skittish now, it won’t be easy to get Izzy into the barn. Maybe because of the cold weather, she’ll stay there again tomorrow morning, as she did today, while the other sheep eat. Then I can close the gates and give her some grain to help keep her calm.
Jon and I decided that it’s best for him to shoot her.
I can’t help but think how Asher and Issachar, our two new wethers, came to us this fall and we are about to lose another sheep. It’s hard for me not to believe that those twins came to take their places.
Because of the cold, I knew I wouldn’t have to even think about ticks today. So I went to the woods behind the farm, knocking down the tall grasses as I walked.
The snow on the Gulley Bridge was untouched, but I did see footprints in the woods from the bobcat whose tracks I saw for the first time last winter along with rabbits, deer, mice (they have a line between the feet that their tail makes) and something that looked like a small fisher.
There were a lot of small dead trees that fell on the path since I last walked it. I moved the ones I could and next time I’ll go back with a clipper to clear what I can. The bench that Ed Gulley made was turn upside down. I can only guess a person did that, but I can’t imagine why.
I visited the old Shag Bark Hickory and walked the perimeter of our property. Fate ran and ran, then met me on the other side of the gate where the sheep and donkeys were picking what grass they could find out of the thin layer of snow.
Lenore opened the door with Zinnia in her arms. I was in the house first, so Lenore handed her to me.
Zinnia looked so different than when we went to visit her at Lenore, her breeders, three weeks ago. So much bigger, soft and soulful. Lenore told us she just fed her then played with her to tire her out for the trip home.
And she did, first in Jon’s arms then in mine.
The closer we got to home the more snow there was. At one point Zinnia squirmed in Jon’s arms. “Pull over at that rest stop,” he said, “I think she has to go.” On a leash for the first time, she walked leaving bigger footprints in the new snow than I would have imagined.
Then she peed. “Good dog good Zinnia,” Jon sang to her.
Back in the car, she chewed on a toy for a few minutes then fell asleep again.
At home, she romped through the snow as if it were the most natural thing in the world although she had only seen snow for the first time that day. She followed Jon around the back yard and when she sat, he gave her a treat and praised her. “Good sit,” he said, reinforcing her behavior.
At feeding time, I gave the animals hay and after a while, Jon came out of the house carrying Zinnia. He bought her over to Lulu. They sniffed each other then Lulu went back to her hay and Jon took Zinnia back to the house where she fell asleep in her crate.
Little by little we’ll introduce her to the farm and all the animals.
In the house, she ate and slept in her crate getting used to Bud and Fate just by seeing and smelling them. As I write this Zinnia is sitting on Jon’s lap while Bud rests on the ottoman at his feet. Fate is watching it all from the floor next to me.
Zinnia is bound to cry in her crate tonight, but we’re ready for that, I think. I can’t remember the last time I had to listen to a puppy cry in the night.
So far Zinnia seems at ease where ever she is. She’s as comfortable in her crate as in our arms as she is on a leash in the snow. And she’s doing all these things for the first time.
I know it will get crazy at some point, but so far it’s been a gentle day and I couldn’t have imagined a better puppy.
Zinnia’s gotten pretty big since we saw her a few weeks ago. She looks more like a dog now with a belly she’s worthy of.
Jon and I are going to Connecticut today. We’re staying overnight and will pick Zinnia up tomorrow morning. It’s a good excuse to get away a little and then when we get back on Tuesday afternoon we won’t be tired from driving and they’ll be plenty of time to get Zinnia introduced to her new home.
We’ll be back on Tuesday evening with Zinnia (or Zin Zin as I’ve come to think of her).
I had taken the lead. I stood in front of Emily and Trish, doing a taxeem trying, too hard, to think about what move I’d do next. I awkwardly transitioned my arms above my head to go into a corkscrew turn when the music suddenly stopped.
It was sudden to me anyway, I didn’t know the song so instead of ending the dance gracefully, I dropped my arms and cringed embarrassed by my mistake.
That’s when Kathleen, one of my teachers said, “Keep dancing even when the music stops”.
Kathleen said if the music stops and I’m in the middle of a move, I should just keep doing it as if it’s what I meant to happen. And then she demonstrated and what I felt as I watched her dance that one move said so much more than any words she could have used.
Because she wasn’t just demonstrating a dance move, she was demonstrating an attitude. An attitude of confidence that demanded attention from anyone watching her.
“Look at me,” Emily said from across the room. “That’s what you’re saying when you’re up there dancing.” She too saw how I crumpled in on myself embarrassed when the music stopped. “I just told my daughter this morning that she should be making mistakes, that mistakes are how we learn.”
It was the attitude that I saw in the dancers the first time I saw Bellydancing that made me want to learn how to do it. And I knew Kathleen’s and Emily’s words were about life as much as dancing.
After getting my MFA in sculpture, I decided not to make art anymore. I believed I couldn’t do what it took to be an artist. The music had stopped and I went into hiding.
But years later, when I accepted the barn that Jon offered me as a studio, made my quilts, got a blog and started my business, I was dancing after the music stopped. When Jon decided he didn’t need to publish a book to be a writer, he was dancing after the music stopped.
I now believe in my art and my ability to be an artist and make a living at it. Not in the traditional way, but in my way. And I have more confidence in myself now than at any other time in my life.
But there are still times and places where I’m afraid to make a mistake and don’t really believe I’m worthy of “being seen”.
That’s part of the beauty of my Bellydancing class. It’s one hundred percent about dancing, but like most art, it often blurs the boundaries between art and life.
I am learning to Bellydance every week, and so much more.