I never know what’s in store for me when Ellie invites me into the car. It’s a mystery until it’s too late to hide under the bed. That’s where I would rather have been on the day Ellie took me to the sheep ranch.
Now I’ve seen a few sheep in my day. Dr. Nick actually had one in a pen at his office. Ellie tried to get me to notice it and sniff it. Yeah, it’s a sheep. Smells like your sweater. So?
It was a really hot summer afternoon when Ellie invited me into the car. She brought along that box she wears around her neck that flashes and clicks; I should have known she was up to something. We drove for a while and then turned off the main road, followed a dusty lane and parked at a place that had a lot of animal smells—dogs, horses, and—you guessed it—sheep.
I could smell all of this but saw no living things, unless you counted the dry grass, trampled and still in the heat. We walked around until an old sweaty man with a crumpled hat and hair on his face came to see what we wanted.
“You’re the one who called about the sheep herding?”
“I just want to find out if he has the instinct,” Ellie answered.
“Give me a minute to round them up. We’ll be in that pen.”
We stood there in the blazing heat. I looked around for some shade or a water bowl. Ellie shifted from foot to foot and wiped her face with her sleeve.
“A real cowboy, Foxy!”
In a few minutes, the man invited us into a fenced area. Got water?
Ellie led me into the pen and took off my leash. The sheep, dancing on their toes and avoiding my glance, were huddled on the other side of the round pen. I found a sliver of shade and sat down.
“Foxy, look at the sheep! Let’s go get ‘em!” Ellie yelled at me in a very excited way, as if those sheep were the most interesting things she’d ever seen. The cowboy, if that’s what he was, stood with his hands on his hips. I looked at Ellie, then away. Still no water. What do you want?
Ellie started chasing the sheep, calling me. “Foxy, come on! Let’s get ‘em!”
She wanted me to follow her, I guess. But why? I moved out-of-the-way as she chased the sheep around the curved fence towards me. The box hanging from her neck swayed from side to side. I walked to the other side of the pen.
Ellie’s face was shiny with sweat. She stopped to catch her breath and propped her hands on her knees, head down. The sheep huddled away from her. I found my sliver of shade again and sat down. Once again, she chased the sheep. They ran around the curve and forced me to move out-of-the-way. Now Ellie was breathing hard. She opened the box and clicked at me and again at the sheep.
“Gosh, it’s hot out here,” she said, but the cowboy and I ignored her.
The cowboy left, after announcing, “I’ll give you a few more minutes, Ma’am.”
Ellie looked at me. I looked down at the ground. “O.K., Foxy,” she said, “I guess you’re not a shepherd after all.” Finally we got back into the car and relaxed in the cool air until we got home.
The next morning, Ellie got out of bed and dressed. She was sitting in a chair putting on her socks and shoes when I ran up to her like I always do. As usual, she held out a hand to pet me; I skidded to a stop and turned away, running and looking back to see if she was following. She was still fussing with her shoes, so I ran at her again, stopped short, nipped at her toes and turned away again. Come on. Walk time!
Ellie laughed and shook her head. “Foxy, I spent all that money to see if you can herd sheep and the only thing you’re interested in herding is me!”
About Foxy and Lenore
Foxy was abandoned at age two in May, 2001 at the Fairmont Animal Shelter in San Leandro. He was terrified of everything and lingered in the shelter for months, not selected for adoption. The Friends of the Fairmont Animal Shelter placed him in a foster home and posted his photo on the Internet. Lenore brought him home to the north bay in August, and the rest was history. Some of that can be found at www.myleashonlife.me.
Lenore hopes to publish Foxy’s autobiography in the near future. See more of her writing at www.lenorehirsch.com.
- Showing Up (ucucc.wordpress.com)