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She ran up the hill for the last time.  Her hips were giving her some trouble, nothing a baby aspirin wouldn’t help.  She’d been our constant companion for fourteen years. Wherever we were on the farm Sassy wasn’t far behind.  She grew up with our boys, ran along as they learned to ride bikes, fished in the pond and raced their go-cart around the fields.

Cookie and Sassy

The boys would get mad at her when they went fishing because she loved to swim in circles around their bobbers waiting for fish.  She didn’t understand that she was a fish deterrent. Eventually the idea caught on that they were displeased with her, she’d swim back to shore, chasing frogs instead.

Sassy and the Boys

Every new life on this farm was welcomed first by Sassy. It didn’t matter if they were chicks, calves, lambs, goats, piglets, or a foal. She was the first to greet them, sometimes even before their own mother.  When the cows calved Sassy would watch over them, too.  She’d sit on the hill and scan the horizon. From her lookout post she could oversee the farm.  She knew where every animal was and where they belonged.  If the sheep wandered to close to the garden she’d bark and chase them off.  She kept them from creeping under the fence and eating the apple trees. She kept wandering piglets from stealing eggs out of the nesting boxes. Sassy was proud and well mannered. She kept all the other dogs in line and corrected them if they broke any of the rules. Chasing a chicken was unacceptable to Sassy’s code of conduct.  When Miley was new here Sassy caught her chasing a young chick. She pinned Miley down.  Miley, showing her belly, quickly learned the rules. When a stray cat had kittens in our barn Sassy watched over them while their mom was away. She’d clean them, allow them to climb on her and when the cat returned Sassy would leave the barn. She respected her place.

Sassy, Nifty, and Alice
Sassy and Sammy
Sassy and the Goslings


Sassy helping burn pastures

She loved to be warm. When we’d burn each spring she’d lay in the smoldering grass, twice she’d caught on fire. Once it was the end of her tail and another time it was her rear end. She sat on the burning embers and Keith had to extinguish her with water. It didn’t phase her, she just found another hot spot to lay on. She also loved the warmth of our wood burning stove, she’d sleep close, soaking up the heat.

We’re all going to miss her.  I think Keith will miss her most of all. He hasn’t built a fence, moved cows, or fixed equipment without Sassy’s help.  She rode with him to check waterers and walked miles and miles checking fences over the years. Sassy loved to run alongside our Willy’s jeep. When she was too old to run alongside, Keith would lift her in, she discovered the joy of riding shotgun.

Sassy fencing with Keith

It was apparent that she was slowing down, her weight was dropping and her hearing was about gone.  One morning she woke up and couldn’t move. We figured she’d had a stroke, the vet confirmed it. Saying goodbye was heartbreaking, the boy’s said goodbye, dug her grave, and buried her on the hilltop overlooking the farm. She was a wonderful friend and a great dog.


Late in the afternoon I enjoy visiting our pond.  The spring peepers are back. They sing throughout the night. It’s a song to welcome spring. I couldn’t see them but I heard them. As I walked down the hillside, as quiet as I was, they still felt my presence and went silent.  A few teal ducks were swimming. They took flight as I approached, too.

Esme, who loves swimming, grabbed a stick and begged me to throw it into the water. It was just the two of us, playing and splashing, throwing and retrieving. She dropped the stick, her ears perked up, off she ran, racing to scare away an intruder.  Being the smallest dog in the pack, she doesn’t usually get to play stick without interruption so she wasn’t ready to give up being the center of attention.  There was no need for concern, it was only Hobo. Old Hobo. He wouldn’t, or couldn’t, for that matter, chase a stick much less swim for one. He’d sink like a rock, at least in his present condition.  He’s extremely overweight, we’re working on an exercise plan.  Every day when I walk up the lane to the mail box he tags along.  He’s makes it about a quarter of the way, then lays down to rest.  On the return trip, with much encouragement, he’ll groan, get up, and waddle back to the house where he takes his usual position; prone. He spends the rest of the afternoon recovering. That’s why I was surprised to see him at the pond. With steep hills, a valley, and a fence to crawl under, the pond is a harder trek than the mailbox. It was nice to have his company. He's He's the ying to Esme's yang.


©Glenda Plozay, Forest Hill Farm Products, LLC

What's in your wallet?

Garrett, Spike, and Sammy
Garrett, Spike, and Sammy

I’m going to miss the 4-H fair this summer. This year Boy Scout summer camp is the same week as the Clayton County 4-H fair. The Boy Scout troop is going to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico for two weeks.  Making a choice between camping in the mountains and the local fair, camping won.   I love the fair.  We’ve had so much fun with 4H every summer.
A couple of years ago Garrett signed up for dog training classes through 4-H.  He and Spike went every week and learned to communicate and work together.  Spike loved the attention, the other dogs, and getting off the farm.  Every afternoon they practiced their obedience commands.  On the day of the dog show we packed Spike’s water bowl, snacks, leash, and collar.  He was bathed, brushed and cleaned up pretty good.  The 4-H dog show is an all day event.  On show day Just about every dog in the county gets dragged to the fair.

There wasn't much shade on the fair grounds so we kept Spike well hydrated; very, very hydrated.  When their class was announced Garrett and Spike headed into the arena.  All the dogs circled to the left, walking at their handlers side.  Over the loud speaker came the command “Reverse your dog, Reverse your dog.” All the dogs circled and walked to the right.  “Sit your dogs, sit your dogs” came the next command.  So far, so good.  After the 'down stay', Garrett picked up Spike’s leash beginning the next command, “walk your dog”.  As I looked across the arena I noticed that Spike wasn't walking, he was three legged. I realized what was happening.  Spike was relieving himself  into a woman’s purse!  Pulling on the leash,  Spike wouldn’t budge.  Being a farm dog, Spike takes care of himself; we don’t walk him. Our farm has 35 acres of timber, that's plenty of trees to accommodate him.  It never occurred to us that Spike might need to visit a tree.

Panicking, I grabbed a water bottle, paper towels, and pushed my way to the bleachers where the woman was seated.  Spewing apologies, I began dabbing and wiping the outside of her purse.  What’s correct etiquette when your dog pee’s in someones purse?  Has Miss Manners ever addressed this issue?

Dear Miss Manners,
My dog relieved himself on a woman’s purse.  What should
I have done?


Embarrassed in Iowa

At the time of the fair we'd only lived in Iowa for a few months, we didn’t know too many folks yet.  The next Sunday, during church coffee hour, a woman tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Hi, remember me?” At first I didn’t.  Then it dawned on me, “Were you at the 4-H fair?  Do you have a cloth purse with a floral pattern?”  She had, at one time, she threw it away, though.  I felt my face turned crimson.

Spike was the Reserve Grand Champion of Obedience that year (despite relieving himself ringside). This year I’ll go and watch. It won’t be the same.  The horse show and project displays will bring back a flood of memories as frantic mothers run past me dragging kids, dogs, and food. I’ll breath a nostalgic sigh of relief and enjoy this years reprieve.  Next year the chaotic joy resumes.

The boys in Clover Buds


©Glenda Plozay, Forest Hill Farm Products,LLC