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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Negative Negatives

In my life, with my writing, I try to stay on the positive side (while not wanting to be a Pollyanna, who is not facing reality). That is why I don't write often about GW Bush. Oh I do a rant now and then, but I am showing self-restraint that those don't happen regularly. I believe in general we are better off if we can look to the good rather than the bad, but I can't always do that.

For me, this last week-end had a lot of good things in it; but it had some negatives too. The tragic one was a reminder of how abruptly life can end. That came from Steve Irwin being killed by a stingray. I felt sad about it and am sure others felt it more than me as I have rarely seen his programs. I knew he did dangerous things but was still shocked when he was killed. He seemed like a good man, trying to do good for the world, and just a shame his life ended in such a tragedy.

Did he die to feed the insatiable need for excitement that seems to be growing across this globe? Is this becoming a gladiator world where the risks must increase to feed that excitement? Is that why it's not enough to see a stingray swimming, but we have to see someone near it, someone facing danger, to make it worth our time? I have read that, as a naturalist, when he did what seemed reckless, it was to help others see the value in preserving the natural world. It sometimes seems the world is full of those who only get interested if there is some risk (but not theirs) added to the mix. I understand he wasn't forced into what he did, but maybe we need to think where we are heading.

For me this wasn't just about a sudden death of a young person who was contributing much to the world, but it was also why he was there. Yes, I know freak accidents happen, maybe it was his time; but he was swimming that close to make the pictures exciting and we all know it.

Then there was a personal negative that comes with raising livestock. I write about the beautiful and satisfying part of living on a farm, but there are other sides. Sometimes bad things happen.

This week-end, once again, the neighbor's dog showed up to chase the sheep. He's a big dog, a full-sized boxer, and he has killed their own chickens. When he comes here, so far he has only chased the sheep. One night that was right into the creek and if we had not been here, a lamb would have drowned. Another night possibly he did it when we weren't here as one of our lambs did drown in the creek-- something we can't prove as we didn't see him chase it in that time.

This week-end, the neighbor came to get her dog fairly quickly, but this has been a year and a half of them saying the same thing-- we just can't keep him in. This week-end he had been tied again with nothing but a piece of baling twine. He's a husky dog and he worries those things until they fray. Nobody was checking and why they figured a piece of twine would do it since it hadn't umpteen times before, I don't know.

The truth is they have not cared to keep their dog up. She said--well why do your sheep run? Why didn't your fence keep him out? What does it hurt if he chases them? I saw her reaction on her stubborn face when I told her it's not a question of if her dog will kill but only when. As a child, I grew up seeing sheep ripped apart by other people's pet dogs. She stared blankly at me. She simply didn't care. I didn't bother telling her all of the nights I have lain awake listening to hear if the sheep are running. She would not have cared about that either.

I was mad; so mad that to avoid saying more, I walked off. It was obvious words were not going to get either her nor me anywhere. I don't normally act rude. I try to keep good relationships with neighbors. But my sheep are scared and I am mad at her for not caring about her dog's rogue behavior.

I am also mad that, since they don't care, from now on every time their dog chases the sheep, the sheriff is going to have to be called. A formal complaint must be made, and these neighbors will get a call from an authority as well as a fine. Our county's law is that no dog is allowed to run off its own property, and any rancher having stock chased has the legal right to shoot the offending dog. Bringing the law into this doesn't make me happy, but shooting their dog would make me more unhappy. And it's not okay to keep having the sheep chased-- eventually to their death. The whole thing left me grumbling to myself and living in negative space.

So I am trying to put a positive spin back into my life energy. I know life ends abruptly as it did for Steve Irwin. I know we can't throw away precious days on anger that does nothing to solve problems, but sometimes... sometimes there just are negatives and this week-end, along with good things, had some of those times.


Dick said...

I don't know the answer to the dog & sheep question. I one time had to have a pet dog put down by the vet because she (a 125lb German Sheppard) chased sheep out in the field a couple of pastures away from us. My son was along & got the dog to stop by bopping her on the head with a stick before any physical damage was done, but we could not risk it happening again. People who own large dogs have to be responsible. I guess short of shooting it yourself the Sheriff is the best solution.

You bring up an interesting point about Steve Irwin. Was at least part of the reason he died just to provide entertainment for the rest of us? I know he was interested in conservation and did a lot of good, but you have to wonder if he wouldn't still be living if the drive to entertain in extreme ways wasn't so strong in his life. Too bad, for his family and the rest of us, too.

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

We live in the city but had sheep for awhile. A dog chased and bit our sheep and the injury became infected. Sheep are fragile and must be protected. I think you are too nice to your neighbor. We did not shoot the dog because it is illegal to shoot here.

Mary Lou said...

I have a similar situation here in a much lesser way. I have been trying for years to entice the squirrels to the feeders. I finally had a good population of them both Douglas and Grey Squirrels, and chipmunks. Now I have cats that sit there in the feeder and wait to ambush them. I do NOT let my cats out, and when theirs are hurting my squirrels I get really pissed! I LOVE cats, but I may have to do something like live trap them.

Anonymous said...

Now, here's a problem way out of my area of expertise, but I was glad to hear you say you are going to call the sheriff each time the dog got out. I know the dog is being a dog (Cookie is a herding dog and would do the same), just like Steve Irwin's stingray was being a stingray, but you certainly have your rights to protect your livestock. I'm smiling thinking about Babe right now; I love that movie and the sheep.

Anonymous said...

The way you started, I was hoping for a rant on Bush. Oh well, maybe next time...

I've known it to work that a gunshot at close range, into the ground close to a dog, will scare them so badly they won't come back. But it might scare the sheep too...

Anonymous said...

Certainly a situation calling for a 'rant' I would say. In fact, I could rant for days with regard to what I consider the underlying cause of your problem with the neighbor's dog.

People are becoming more and more oblivious to those around them. It is as if the world was created solely for them and regardless of the rights of others, they are hell bent to do what pleases them and their interests and the rest of civilization can kiss their ass.

They could control the dog if they chose too. But it is obvious that they consider their existence more important than yours, so you will just have to just like it or lump it. And as I stated in the beginning, sadly that attitude is becoming more and more prevalent.

There is no such thing anymore as "your space" and "their space"....there is only "their space"!

Anonymous said...

I hope things work out with you and the neighbor..Maybe if they get a hefty enough fine from the sheriff, they will tie the dog (which is sad to have to do..BUT...)
Anyway maybe they will watch it closer..

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

Sounds like your neighbos with the roaving dog are not really country folk. I have noticed that newly rich Californians come and buy acerage in Oregon and they are clueless. There are certainly many acres of old style farm land being sucked up. So yours is an example of the urban mentality in the countryside. Maybe they need some educating. I hope the sheriff is a good speaker and peace maker for you. I don't know if people are becoming insensitive or there is just more of us and less space between us.
Maybe some good will, also, come of Steve Irwin's tragedy. He has a capiable widow with the potential.