Saturday, February 25, 2012

Belle the Horse Dog

I rolled out of bed at 6:00am this morning with the wild idea that I might sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee by the fire before going outside to feed Grace. While daydreaming under the covers about moving slowly on a Saturday morning I forgot to take one thing into consideration – Belle theHorse Dog. I am convinced that Belle and Grace have some sort of agreement worked out and it goes something like this; Belle gets me to feed Grace before the neighbor’s horses get fed and Grace won’t kick her in the head. Belle, who had already been out to do her business within the last hour, sprang out of bed as soon as I started to stir.

After starting the coffee I got to work on the fire with Belle attentively watching over me. Anytime I looked in her direction she spun around and ran for the door. Keep in mind that this is 6:00am – on a Saturday. I am in the office at 6:00am during the work week, so sleeping in until 6:00 is a real treat. Grace is fed no later than 5:20am 5 days a week, so in preparation for the possibility that I might sleep in on Saturday I always throw her a little more hay on Friday night. With the coffee still brewing and my dog waiting at the door I gave in, there would be no relaxing until Grace was fed.

I suppose it is really is my own fault that Belle is like this. I made it her job when she was 8 weeks old to feed Grace with me twice a day. Being the herding dog that she is, Belle takes her job very seriously. She had only missed a handful of feedings over the years when she was sick or injured and we wouldn’t let her go outside. Even then she managed to get past my husband when she was recovering from Ivermectin poisoning; with limited eyesight she found her way up to the pasture.

Belle had made it very clear to me that she is a horse dog. She accompanies us on most of our rides and takes on the role of lookout/bear bait when we head down the trail. Years ago I had her enrolled in an agility class which was held in the indoor arena of a local barn. Belle was a stellar student, often getting frustrated with me for not keeping up with her. One night we were in the middle of a course someone brought a horse out into the attached round pen. Belle broke off course ran to the gate and sat waiting for someone to let her in with the horse. She let everyone there know that she had a job to do and didn’t have time for playing around. She had a unique relationship with Grace and has claimed Grace as “her” horse. There is no better illustration of this than the greeting I received from my loyal dog last weekend. After getting home from the horse show I unloaded Grace and tied her to the trailer so I could get Belle. She hadn’t seen me in 24 hours so I was expecting a big celebration when I let her out of the house. I opened the door only to see a flash of blue heeler run past me; headed straight to the trailer. Only after she confirmed that I had indeed brought her horse come did she greet me before hightailing it up to the pasture for feeding time. At least I know my place in the herd.

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