Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. #EIN# 82-2236486

All images

©Katherine Dunn.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Bonding with the mystery

I am working a lot to acclimate White Dog. While it appears he will be staying, I said to Martyn last night,

"This dog could break my heart."

By that I mean, he is bonded to me, and Marcella, but I still feel he is not bonded enough not to wander. He is even more of a shape shifter than Marcella. He made it down to a field the other day and slipped under a low point in the fence ["Thank you White Dog, I didn't know it was there and fixed it!"], and wandered about 1000 feet down the road. The property up there breeds bulldogs, so he probably got a whiff. When I saw him, I was up at the middle barn and I have to tell you, my heart just stopped,

"He's leaving," I said out loud.

I ran the 3000 feet or so from the barn and he came to me right away, a good sign. I'm lucky to have a few good contacts who not only work with Maremmas and other guarding dogs, but one is knowledgeable in Maremmas and wolves. So I contacted him and was pleased that I am doing all the right things for White Dog. He just needs to believe that this place is not worth leaving. He needs to be nurtured not only with food but attention and clearly shown his property lines and boundaries. Maremmas are very attached to their leaders. You can't just stick them in a field and expect results.

This will take time. I have him contained with some Misfits day and night, ample outdoor room with secure fence. He gets nose time with the barnyard that way, including Marcella. Then three times a day I take him out with Marcella and we walk some of the lower fields so he can peruse the property line. Feeding is a challenge. he can't eat around the goats as they want his food and he will go for them. Marcella is the same way. I have to be really diligent in how and where she is fed. So I finally started bringing him after Marcella eats and staying with him in the hay barn and hand feeding him. I had to do this with Marcella as a pup, she had to eat out of my hand. They both are slow eaters. I assume this is one more bonding experience for him and me, so it is all fine-although my chore time is increased. I know this is just a temporary thing.

Like any new inhabitant of the farm, this creature takes leaps every day and settles more and more as I work with him. Yesterday, he squeezed through a barn gate letting him down to the donkey fields. This is actually what I will want him to do, but not right now, I want him closer so he bonds with all of us and knows we are the real deal. He seems very happy. Again, he came back up and cried to get back into the barn. Some shepherds tether their dogs for intervals out in the fields with the flock to allow them to bond. I am hoping I don't have to do that. But I don't want him straying. It would kill me to lose him at this point.

The photo above was taken, obviously, in direct sun. The effect was almost mystical to me. It is as if the novel I have been working on in my head is right there, only now there are two white dogs of importance, carrying messages.

We have an appointment at the vet next week. I didn't want to try and get an unknown 150+ guard dog stray into my truck without knowing him better. So I wanted to work with him awhile at first. We'll neuter him and I expect he needs a good worming as he has chewed or rubbed off the sides of his fur on his middle. This accentuates his slight underweight body-he's not horribly thin though, he just needs weight. Some of the photos certainly emphasize that though. His nails are really long which makes me think he might have been tied somewhere.

I am glad he's here, despite the learning curve and extra procedures needed during the day.

I look in his eyes often–deep, deep brown eyes–and ask him where he came from and will he stay. He just stares back into my blue eyes. I suppose he is asking me something too,

"Will you show me you are a leader that I can trust this time?"