Back in January I mentioned Bella, an ex-rescue collie living in Florida, and her heroic effort to alert neighbours to her owner, Adam's horrible accident with some farm machinery.
The latest news from Bella is that Adam's hand is healing well, and there seems to be some feeling coming back into his fingers. Once the recuperation is complete, Bella's planning on starting her cattle herding lessons, and will let Adam tag along too (if he can stay out of trouble, that is). It's really good news.
The more I think about Bella and Adam's story, the more impressed I am with Adam's neighbours. At what point did someone say, "You know, I think she wants us to follow her?" I was reminded of it on Tuesday morning, while Andy was out in the wood with the dogs, and I was cleaning the kennels and generally tidying things up. Quite unexpectedly Rita, one of Jill and Eli's puppies, came back to the yard all on her own, and seemed intent on getting in my way. After about 10 minutes, after she'd chased the brush for a while, and I'd tried to interest her in a tug toy to occupy herself usefully, it suddenly occurred to me that there was still no sign - or sound - of anyone else. Could there have been an accident?
Rita would have been a good choice to send back to raise the alarm (if, indeed, our dogs would be capable of deciding this between themselves). If any of the grown-up dogs had come back I wouldn't have been in the least bit surprised, and would have taken no notice. If the yard gate was closed, most of the other puppies wouldn't have been able to climb back in, and the rescue attempt would have been foiled. But because Rita is always the puppy who's climbing OUT of everything, Rita climbing IN to the yard would be sure to get my attention.
Happily, just as I was starting to organise myself and find my mobile 'phone, a great surge of collies through the stile, followed by someone muddy carrying a camera, reassured me that all was well. Perhaps next time I'll be more alert; someone might be depending on me.
Lupin and her leg continue to occupy us. Her cast has been removed, and because of sores on her leg it was decided not to replace the cast or to dress it in any way, so we have to keep her quiet and restricted for 14 days. Border collies aren't famous for being patient patients, but Lupin is quite remarkably stoic. She's always in good spirits, and since having the cast removed has started to talk to us again.
I mentioned that Rita is a puppy who loves to climb. In "Still Off Duty" we show Conan, a full brother from the previous litter of the same mating, resolutely climbing out of his pen. We were very impressed with Conan's skill and determination, but quite honestly Rita puts him to shame. Not only does she scale any wire fence or gate, she's even started to climb trees - and fall out of them! On Monday morning Rita climbed a conifer tree by the yard just because it was there - the gate was open and there was nothing to stop her just trotting out into the field. I guess that would have been just too easy.
Conan and Rita's mother, Jill, never objected to a bit of climbing in a Good Cause (and even a few Bad ones) - and a long drop on the other side never seemed to put her off.
We'll be taking steps to protect Rita from herself - one broken tibia is MORE than enough!