Amanda Hopper Writes

A writer's tale of living and working in the country.

Unexpected Bonds

Have you even seen anything so bizarre? I asked myself this morning as I walked among the cacti on our land. And having been a stay-at-home mom for 9 years, I actually answered myself, nope. Ian and I were watching an amazing transformation of our beloved pets. We have two dogs, Jessie and Missy. Jessie is a 9-year-old nervous, slightly psychotic Aussie, and Missy is a hilarious, infinitely sweet 1-year-old Catahoula. Jessie hates other dogs. I believe this to be a result of her honest assumption that she is human, not canine. In stark contrast, Missy loves every living creature. Everyone is a friend…except for whatever was in the back pasture a couple of nights ago, but I’ll get to that later. Anyway, we began taking Missy to the land a week ago. She grew up, on her own, on acreage so she is a natural. I have been terrified to take Jessie, assuming that she would be a nervous disaster and attack our neighbors’ two dogs that have adopted us as family. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Jessie is a completely different dog out there. She loves her new job. I have always had dogs in the suburbs. In the ‘burbs dogs are pets, creatures that must be taken care of. You have to fence them in, tie them up, reign them in, and adorn them with permits. I love the dogs, but they have always offered little to me except more work. Maybe the reason Jessie was so crazy was because we have always forced her into a role that she was never meant to fulfill. Our roles have almost reversed at the farm. We rely on the dogs to protect us, warn us, defend us. They rise magnificently to the task. You can actually see them stand taller. Our two dogs, combined with the neighbors’ two dogs, almost immediately formed some sort of pack. They all follow us everywhere, if we split-up, they do too. Every once in a while one will break away and you would swear the chosen one is running a perimeter check. Last Friday, we had our first nightly visit to the farm. We made a fire in the back pasture, cooked dinner and s’mores over the fire, and gazed at the stars. We took Missy with us, thinking it would be a good time for her to acclimate. I must preface this story by saying that in the 6 months that we have had Missy, we have never heard her bark. No joke, the dog does not bark. Well, on Friday night, as the fire waned, Missy stood in front of us and so did the hair all over her body. A menacing growl starting rolling through her as she stared at something of mentionable size in the dark that we could not see. After positioning herself between us and the invisible danger, she continued to bark and inch slightly forward for two minutes. She then trotted back to us and layed down to nap. I have complete confidence that if she had not been there, we would have had the misfortune to meet whatever it was she scared away. My respect for my dogs has grown substantially over the last few days. They follow us unquestioning into the brush as we stake fence lines, and we trust every mannerism that warns us that some danger we can’t see is indeed ahead. They are the first to warn, and the last to run. Amazing.
The Builder and the concrete Contractor are marking the foundation piers as I write this story. The Plumber comes tomorrow to begin running lines. Concrete comes later this week, and another fencing expedition begins this weekend. All in all a productive week!


  1. The fun is just beginning!!

  2. How was Ian at swim lessons? Did he have fun?

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