Aside from the farmer, his wife, and (of course) the farmer’s daughter, there is no other staple on the farm quite as iconic as the farm dog.
For most of my life, we have had man’s best friend on the farm. But this summer, sadly, we found ourselves without a farm dog for the first time in a long time. I’ll spare the details, but suffice to say it was a loss we were all struggling to deal with. One thing was certain though, we were going to wait to find our next furry friend. The pain was still too close. Mom also insisted that we wait until harvest was finished because we’re so busy and not home very much.
But life has a way of happening whether you plan it out or not. On October 15, 2016 (right in the middle of harvest!), we adopted Mischa.
Mischa was born in the late summer and rescued to a foster home in a nearby neighborhood. She was about 10 weeks old when mom saw her online and we all realized we had to have her. When she came home, we really were in the middle of harvest and super busy. It was kind of tough, but so worth it. Now that’s she’s getting a little bigger and braver, I’m confident she’s going to make an excellent farm dog. But to make sure she’s on the right track, I figured I’d provide her my insight from years of experience with our other farm dogs.
To Mischa and every other aspiring farm dog, here’s my tips to get the most out of your life experience.
Breath in all that open land.
Most dogs live on half acre lots and only get to take walks with a leash on. You have free reign (well, mostly) of the 150 acres that surround our house. Enjoy it. Run as fast as you can to the back of the farm, explore all the nooks and crannies, bark your fool head off, and enjoy all that freedom. It can be akin to paradise for us humans, so I imagine that it’s even better for a dog.
Go ahead and jump in the pond.
On hot summer days you are more than welcome to jump in the pond and enjoy that cool, fresh water. Sure, I’ll act like I’m upset and annoyed that I have to give you a bath before bedtime (because you are so not sleeping in my bed smelling like a pond), but in reality I’m happy that you enjoy it. We don’t use the ponds for irrigation anymore, so you might as well have fun. Just don’t come shake next to me.
Always accept the invitation to go for a ride
This one is probably just silly – of course, you will always go for a ride when asked. There will be plenty of opportunity: scouting fields, taking dinner to the guys during harvest, a parts run. Yeah, sometimes you’ll have to wait in the truck while we talk to landowners or sweep out the grain bin, but we won’t take too long. We will just be happy to have you tag along, and you’ll get to see all sorts of things while you’re out and about.
Watch out for all that big equipment!
Farms are dangerous for people; they are also dangerous for dogs. Quite a long time ago, we lost a dog due to getting tangled up with some equipment (quite literally…. I’ll spare you the details…). Be careful and keep a watch out. Our tractor operators will always try to watch out for you and any humans around, but you’re small and cannot always be seen. So, be careful. As great as this place is to live, it is also a working and fully operational farm. Be careful.
Just try the food, seriously.
We grow food. Eat some of it. One of our farm dogs would help us pick sweet corn just so she could husk it and eat some herself. Another one used to chow down on cantaloupe. She also liked to pick her own tomatoes from the plant and chow down. I’m not sure how these things compare to your dog food, but our other farm dogs apparently seemed to like it. So try it. On the other hand, I’d prefer if you ignored some of the other “food” on the farm – like mice and moles and other gross things.
Know that most dogs don’t get to tag along at work
Just like most dogs get walked on a leash, most dogs do not get to go to work with their families. You often do. You’re with your people a lot more than many pooches. Part of being a farm dog is getting to tag along while we do some of the work. We want you there because it makes it more fun, so be a good girl and you will get to do more and more. No, you probably won’t get to drive the tractor….
Seriously, could there possibly be a better place to live if you’re a dog? Before adopting Mischa we had an “interview” to make sure we fit with the rescue program. My dad’s comment was so fitting: “Wait a second…shouldn’t we be interviewing the dog to see who gets to live in this awesome place?”
Farm dogs are definitely a special piece of any farm, and I’m so excited to see how Mischa will leave her mark on our farm.