I find that life here on the farm never has a dull moment. That when we opened up our home and our hearts and welcomed animals onto our property, we invited with them all kind of trials and tribulations.
I am constantly learning. And while it always seems to go that the lessons you learn best, you learn the hard way, they are the ones that stick for life.
It’s taken me some time to begin this blog today. To decide which direction I’m going and how I am going to share with you my latest lesson. Because it was a hard lesson to learn. But one that was eventual in coming.
I have decided that the best way to put it is, that it was a lesson in forgiveness.
Here on the farm we have two lovely farm dogs who protect and watch over us, who provide us with companionship and love. Sophie is our Great Pyrenees Maremma cross. She is an old regal soul. Her bloodlines are for livestock protection, her ancestors had been used countless times as large guard dogs to flocks and herds. Lily is our Newfoundland Bernese cross. She’s our big goof who’s always good for a laugh or smile. Neither of our girls are malicious or have ever showed any signs of bad intent towards our farm animals. They get excited at introductions and quickly fall into a routine with our animals. While the pigs and chickens are both kept in separate closures away from the girls, we have made sure to make introductions and to have them in the pen with us on occasion to teach them right from wrong.
In the last month, we acquired some new additions to the farm. Farm cats to be exact. They are adorable, with their little pink noses and funny coloured eyes. And while I know they are here for a purpose, that purpose being to catch mice, how could one not fall in love. I became attached and maybe that’s where the problem really began.
In the last couple of days we have been letting them out of the garage to peruse around the yard at choice. We kept a close eye on the dogs and had decided we were in the clear. Everyone was getting along just fine. For two days we watched them roam around the yard, frolicking around in the grass being completely ignored by the dogs.
Until last night.
Last night my lesson began.
We had been sitting out on the deck enjoying an evening together. We were sipping away on a Sunday fix of Pumpkin Spiced Whiskey and winding down the weekend before a new week began.When Lily came around the corner.
I will spare you the details that I still can’t help but replay over and over in my head. The wave of emotions that seemed to flood over me as I took in the situation. Anger. Sadness. Hate. Disgust.
I came inside while Dan dealt with the situation. I don’t know what I would do without that man. He is my superhero, my knight in shining armour, my shoulder to cry on and my biggest support. He is amazing.
Needless to say, of course, my favourite little kitten of the bunch was gone.
In the moment I hated Lily. I hated that she could kill something when she was such a kind and loving dog to me. I hated that she had been so good for a couple of days and that out of nowhere that happened. I hated that there wasn’t even a way to punish her because she would never know why.
And that’s when it started to sink in. She didn’t understand. She was a dog. It was in her genetics to be a hunter. It was her purpose in life to chase and prowl on her prey. A dog, unless caught in the act, can’t be punished for something because their brains aren’t capable of putting it all together. And how could you punish her for doing what she was bred to do.
I went to bed last night in tears still. Couldn’t hardly sleep. Woke several times to rush to the bathroom feeling sick to my stomach. When I woke this morning I was still angry inside. I avoided going out so I wouldn’t have to see my bad dog. And when it was no longer possible to postpone it….I ventured out.
She was of course waiting for me. Like she always is. Tail wagging, eyes lit up with excitement. At first, I admit, I pushed her away a little. Muttered under my breath that she was a stupid dog. Went about my chores. When I finished, she was sitting under the tree watching me and all of a sudden I felt like a terrible human being. She didn’t understand that I was mad at her for killing my cat. She looked so sad when I had pushed her away.
So I forgave her.
In the moment, I needed to forgive her for acting like a dog. I needed to find peace in the fact that the kitty was gone and that it may have been terrible and heart wrenching, but that I could do nothing to change it or bring it back. I needed to realize that Lily was my dog. She was night guardian and my watch dog when I am by myself at the house. That sometimes when the world is too much, she’s the fur I cry my tears into and the hug I need to be ok. And she is just a big goof, who maybe just loved a little too much.
I can’t continue to be angry. And I can’t continue to blame Lily. I think we’ve both learnt a valuable lesson. So I am moving forward. Letting it go.
How can I not when just this week, I too took a life in my own hands. This was my second year venturing out hunting, and as excited as I am to say I got my buck and our freezer will be full for the winter, I killed something too. So who am I to be mad at a dog for acting like a dog?