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The dog lived...

The dog lived.

That’s all anyone cares about, really.

The cats made it, too. And the chickens, although the chickens are routinely my responsibility, so I don’t get too many points for pulling them through.

Here’s the thing. I am a grown man. I’ve run farms, businesses, and I’ve been an elected local official of one kind or another for about 40 years. I’ve chaperoned band and choir trips, and four times parents have let me take their precious children to developing countries to repair hurricane damage and build church additions. I pay my bills and my taxes.

Yet, let my wife go out of town for a week and right away, everyone is worried about what sort of catastrophes will happen if I’m in charge.

A lesser man might be a little offended with the lack of confidence.

Plus, no one seemed too concerned about how I was going to handle the separation trauma.

That’s being tactful. My wife spent a week in the Twin Cities cat sitting for our daughter and son-in-law’s two cats and had social engagements almost every day. I spent the same amount of time alone on the prairie, taking care of two dogs, one house cat, an undetermined number of barn cats, and I had to keep the bird feeder stocked. And no one checked on me at all, except to express mild concern that I might be screwing something up.

I didn’t even get any help from the animals. I thought in these times of trial we would all pull together, the rising tide lifting all boats. How sadly disappointed I was.

The big dog had her usual sack of dog food in the shop, but one day some hungry kittens who’d lost their mother and couldn’t wait for their kitten chow and milk replacer sneaked in for a snack. After that, the dog carried the bag with her everywhere she went. It’s not that she didn’t have enough to eat, she just didn’t want anything else to have a meal. Clearly, our farm is not a Disney movie.

The little dog and the house cat just sneered at me when I carefully mixed their canned food with an appropriate amount of fresh dry food. I’d set the pans down, they’d stroll over, sniff a couple times, and then glance up at me to ask, “When is she coming back?” I didn’t think either of them could starve in a week, but I was still relieved when I noticed that they’d eat, just not if I was around.

For the past few years, the little dog has been sleeping next to my wife, but, in what I can only regard as a protest move, she not only didn’t sleep with me, she curled up on a pillow on an entirely different floor of the house.

That didn’t bother me too much. One of my odd personal quirks is that I’m not thrilled about sleeping with creatures that can give me fleas or wood ticks.

I didn’t expect too much from the chickadees and woodpeckers and that’s just what I got. I felt like I was the only dwarf left in the forest after Snow White and the rest of the gang departed on a cruise. All the animals were still there, but they were peeking from behind me, struggling to see if the one they really loved was just hiding.

Snow White is back home and all of us are very pleased.

That doesn’t mean I won’t be holding a grudge.

Copyright 2022 Brent Olson

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