Today is our dog, Nikita's birthday. She is twelve years old today. Seems like only yesterday that I brought our little puppy home in my cat carrier. She howled like a wolf all the way home so I thought she would be a noisy little thing and be howling pretty regular. Her grandmother was a wolf so I figured she'd sound like one too. Nope. Our little girl is a pretty quiet girl. She does have a rough growl and bark. Doesn't bark very often at all. In fact, I can't remember the last time she barked.......and we had a workman here this week. She loves the element of surprise.....being black, she can surprise intruders pretty easily at night. All of a sudden there she is......and they fumble and run rather than face this very big dog.
I know most of my friends and people I know from the homesteading forums, like Homesteading Today, think that dogs are a natural enemy of chickens. When I had my pet hen, Lil' Red, Nikita and her were quite close. Nikita would protect her from other visting dogs. I remember one time she wanted to play with a dog that was here but felt like she could not leave Lil' Red's side until I brought her inside and put her in her kennel. Then she ran off to play with the dog. When Nikita was chewing on a bone, Lil' Red would stay right beside her and pick up the little bits of bone and marrow that would fall on the ground right under Nikita's face. Nikita would growl and sometimes do a sharp bark at her. But never even a nip at her, she was safer with her than our smallest horse who tried to kill her once! To tell you the truth, Nikita liked Lil' Red to do that and would get her bone and settle down near Lil" Red to chew on the bone.
Our cat Callie has a special attachment to Nikita also. When she was born my husband worked at a farm training race horses. Callie was born in the barn with two other kittens. Nikita and I went to work with my husband every day. Nikita loved those newborn kittens! She would just stare at them for the longest time. As they grew, the mother moved them into the main barn where the horses were stabled. Nikita would take her place laying in the hay with the three kittens snuggled up against her. She would just stay there till the mother cat came back. So when we ended up taking Callie home with us, she just turned to Nikita as if she was her mother. To this day, nine years later, Callie and Nikita have a very strong bond. It is nothing to see them sharing a dish of food or a bed. Or seeing Callie wash Nikita's ears or face........Nikita will just stay very still as she enjoys that very much.
Every morning at the horse farm where my husband worked Nikita would get excited at the prospect of chasing all the barn cats. She loved to chase them even if she did not hurt or do anything to them. So one morning she ran into the barn ready to chase them, when this one gray cat we called "Sawdust" did not run. She ran toward him and he held his ground. Then the other cats did the same.........then they turned and ran toward her! She did not know what to do then! Later in the week, we found her in a stall with the cats around her! So they learned how to handle that chasing business. After that they were all on equal ground.
Nikita is the type of dog that has never needed to be leashed, chained, locked up or constricted in any way.If she is in the road for any reason and I do not want her there, I can just motion with a quick wave toward the yard and she will get out of the road. She never leaves our property and goes off on her own or with another dog. One dog that used to be her friend would try his best to get her to leave with him, not Nikita. She would sit and wait for him to come back and many times he brought her a deer bone he found along the way. Male dogs were really attracted to her so we figured in the dog world she must be considered very beautiful.
The only times she has ever ventured away is when hunters have gutted a deer by the creek near our house. She will sneak away, just down the road a tiny bit, and get some of that and bring it back. Many times I already knew what she intended to do as she would stand out front in the yard and keep looking toward the creek and then look at me to see if I was watching. So I would pretend I wasn't watching and next thing I knew she was scurrying away across the road toward the creek. Then pretty soon here she was dragging part of the deer back.
She used to be so happy to travel along on horse rides leading the way, sniffing the area around the road as she traveled. But it has been a few years now since she was able to do that. Her legs won't carry her that far or for that long. She has to take it easy and can't even go for the long hikes her and my husband used to enjoy. He is pretty sad about that and doesn't go either now since it is just not the same. It is sad that a dog doesn't live as long a horse. Seems their lives are pretty short compared to many other animals. Doesn't seem fair. She will be the only dog we will ever have as we just do not want to go through this emotional thing over and over again. She has given us many, many happy memories.