The adventures of Red Dog

Olivia Fowler

Olivia Fowler

On the Way

By Olivia Fowler

Red Dog lives a life full of adventure and challenges. He is constantly pulled between his view of his responsibilities on Fowler Farm and his wish to obey and please Fowler.

He sticks to Fowler like glue and follows him everywhere he goes, whether invited or not. When the first furrows are cut into the rich dirt on Fowler Farm, Red Dog walks behind the tractor, making sure the rows are straight and investigating any interesting things turned up with the dirt.

He considers it his duty to follow faithfully up and down the field until every row has been ploughed. He only takes a break when Fowler does, no matter how hot and tired he may be. He is joined in this noble endeavor by Sebastian, one of the rat terriers, who doesn’t have as much stamina but makes up for it with the abundance of terrier energy.

When fertilizer is loaded in the back of the truck to take across the road to the garden on the hill, Red Dog and Sebastian ride along in the cab.

This wasn’t always the case. Fowler would order them to stay in the yard, and there they would stand until he turned his back. Then Sebastian would lay low to the ground and slink along in the ditch, then pop up into the road when the truck left the driveway.

Red Dog, larger and more easily spotted, would take off through the trees in the side yard as though he planned to check out the pasture. But the moment the truck pulled out of the driveway he would backtrack, running right behind the tailgate.

Now, Red Dog is a very fast dog. We’ve clocked him at 37 miles per hour, a speed we consider exceptional in the world of dogs.

Little Sebastian has the quick burst of speed at the beginning of the race but is quickly left behind. He has put on a little extra weight recently and is not in top condition at this time. This weight gain is accounted for by his surreptitious visits to the neighbor’s porch, where scraps are often put out for others.

I myself witnessed him trotting back to the tractor shed carrying a jumbo hamburger bun in his mouth. He’s leading a double life, but we have yet to find a solution for this problem. Usually the extra activity required in spring and summer whittles off the extra pounds.

Red Dog and Sebastian not only help during planting season, they offer assistance with other duties on the farm. They are part of the woodcutting team every time a tree is felled. When firewood is needed, they are there when the trees are cut into stove lengths. They make every trip between the woods and the wood shed and are there when the wood is stacked.

Anytime a piece of equipment needs work, they are right there supervising the repair. Their box in the shop lies right next to the wood heater, and there you’ll find them when rainy-day projects are under way.

Red Dog has recently assumed another duty. He has discovered a rat hole underneath the chicken pen, just by the door.

He will lie for hours, unmoving, watching the rat hole. He may sometimes get distracted when needed elsewhere but he isn’t absent long.

Two bodies have turned up in front of the tractor shed, so we know his vigilance is paying off. And he has killed a few in the feed room, protecting the horse and chicken feed. We aren’t sure he considers this work. He may think of rat hunting as a hobby with the side benefit of being a useful one.

He is secure in the knowledge that he is useful and that his work on Fowler Farm is essential to the success of the venture. And his trusted companion, Sebastian, can be called upon for assistance when needed. Red Dog leads a rich and satisfying life. He is to be envied.