A Dog’s Life
While this farm dog may be retired, she refuses to slow down.
Her name is Josephine, but we just call her
Jo. That was my line whenever we walked into the therapy visits we went on. Jo was certified by Therapy Dogs International, and together we visited nursing homes and assisted living facilities. A few times, we went to the local college so students could visit with a dog during finals.
Through the years, Jo has held many jobs, from therapy dog to 4-H dog to all-around farm dog. She is 10 now and retired from therapy work, but don’t tell her that. She’s taken care of kittens and helped me find many lost chickens, always knowing what I mean when I ask her to “find it.” She loves the farm life and thinks all of the animals on our hobby farm belong to her. (She is also a superb mouse hunter.)
When we met her litter, the first puppy to catch my eye was a tricolored male. I petted him and he stayed with me for a bit, but then he went back to play with his siblings. As I got up, I almost tripped over a female puppy who had been sitting between my feet. I got the male’s attention again, but again he went off to play— and again the female was at my feet. It was Jo, the runt of the litter. She found me, and bringing her home was the best decision I could have made.
As she grew, so did her interest in animals—after all, she is an Aussie. She started making it her job to follow me around as I fed the other animals, coming into each pen and checking on them as if she were counting them and making sure everybody was OK.
Once, after being gone all day, we got home to find that one of the chicken pens was open and four little bantam chickens were missing. We found one right away, but the others were nowhere to be seen. With Jo helping, we searched the whole farm. When I asked her to “find it,” she started sniffing around. Then she stopped at a pine tree and barked. We looked all around the tree and couldn’t find any chickens, but Jo wouldn’t leave the tree. Finally, I looked up. Sure enough, at the top of the pine were two bantams. The fourth chicken came back two days later.
Jo has slowed down through the years, but she is always up for rides in the truck and walks through the pasture. And she still has the skill to find any animals that might be lost. I’m sure glad she found me.
JO”) JOSEPHINE (“ Shepherd BREED: Australian AGE: 10 years CO HOME: Avondale, dog, retired JOB: Therapy lost chickens STRENGTH: Locating