Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

As the Tail Wags

More Mayhem

Part One

Being a herder by nature, Hemi the Australian shepherd had the occasional faux pas when it came to nipping. The boychild recieved the occasional reminder to the butt, which made me grin and him protest.
“Mom, Hemi bit me!”
“Well … what did you do to deserve it?”
“Me?” His voice full of protest, “nothing. She just but me.”
“She wouldn’t bite for no reason. Were you being all wild and running around?”
“Well … I was running,” he slowly said, “but she still should’ve have bit me.”
“Did she break the skin?” darn near laughing, I couldn’t help myself, “Here, show me.”
“I’m not showing you,” appalled at the very idea, he backed up a step, as if I actually might take a look, despite his adamant protest, “She really did bite me.”
“Did you bite your buddy?” I asked Hemi as she smiled up at us, big tail slowly waving back and forth, “I didn’t think so.”
“But she did mom, really,” he tried again, though little sympathy was coming his way.
“If it didn’t break the skin, it’s barely a nip,” I passed it off as barely anything, “When you’re running around like a mad kid, remember to warn her now and again to behave, or she’ll want to herd you. She doesn’t mean to hurt you. She just wants you to behave.”
Somewhat disgruntled, off he would go, and I would have a talk with Hemi. I would explain that nipping, like biting, were not acceptable behaviour. She would appear somewhat guilty, hang her head a bit, all the while slowly wagging her tail. It truly seemed as if she understood the seriousness of the matter, and I’m sure the look in those expressive, brown eyes promised she would do her best. Still, mistakes were occasionally made, but never serious ones, and she always apologized.
Mayhem loved to lie in the shade of the trees. The problem was, there were annoying, little, red squirrels that simply loved tormenting her from above. They would sit there, loudly chattering, scolding, throwing pine nuts at her. Hemi simply hated them. She hated them with a passion reserved for the most irritating in life, and she responded with angry barking. It was like watching neighbours who hated each other argue over the fence.
I’m sure it went something like this, “Hey, hey you, dog!”
Growling, Hemi would try to ignore the annoying rodent, only to fail miserably, “What do you want, squirrel?”
I swear, it’s what she grumbled. Anyway, the squirrel would go on to call Hemi every name in the book, and they would endlessly rail at each other.
“Hemi,” I would get her attention, “stop barking at it, or them. If you ignore them, it won’t be fun, and they’ll quit.”
“Woof,” though she was trying to listen, she couldn’t quite manage it, “woof woof woof.”
The squirrel was losing it’s mind, taunting and teasing the dog, clearly having the best time ever. It was easy to see that Hemi was struggling. She very much wanted to obey, but that darn squirrel was simply irritating.
“Hemi,” I encouragingly said as she looked rather apologetically at me, “honestly, don’t bark, don’t look. It’s messing with you. Sit, Hemi,” she sat, “lie down, and ignore it.”
Obediently following my encouraging orders, she lay there beneath that tree, doing her best to keep from looking up, and her struggle was real. Though she did her very best, put her best effort forward, her eyes still tried to look up, while her head didn’t. It was pretty much the cutest thing ever. That darn dog acted like she understood every word, and I’m sure she did. From that day forward, Hemi did her level best to ignore the squirrels. She’d lie beneath her tree while they scampered and taunted from above, and all you would hear was a low, quiet grumble of a growl. She still hated them, but they weren’t going to bully her like before.

Part Two

Ever since I almost died from E. coli years ago, I have trouble with the months of July and August. You see, I went to a popular, cultural festival in Winnipeg the first week of August, enjoyed food and drink, then became extremely ill from ingesting a homemade compote drink that was tainted with E. coli. The advertising and promotion of the festival begins in July, and increases as August draws nearer. Then August is full of the different cultural experiences, food and entertainment. For me, it’s a reminder of my near brush with death, and how I have to live with the consequences every day of my life.
When I was lying in that hospital bed, unaware of much other than the pain I was in, and how very ill I was, my family stepped up to do my chores. The girlchild used her brother’s truck to go and get hay. Now this truck had exhaust stacks that came up through the box, and though she kept the bales away from hot pipes, a spark still caught a bale on fire. Did sweetpea panic and lose the truck and bales? Of course not. She kept her wits about her. Pulling over, she swiftly moved between the bales of hay and cab, and pushed the load back further. Then she stomped out the fire and carried on her merry way.
When visiting me after work one day, as life goes on and bills must be paid, hubby had a very sweet and funny story to tell. He and I have our own, industrial style, lawn tractors. I used mine, to pull a water wagon, for filling water troughs, and did many farm chores with it. Filling troughs was its main job though. Anyway, about the third or fourth day that I was in the hospital, hubby was filling troughs, when Hemi suddenly came into view, wagging her tail like mad as she hurried along. As she neared him, she saw that it wasn’t me on that tractor, but an imposter, and she was completely let down. The happily wagging tail dropped. The huge doggy smile disappeared, and she was crushed. Try as he might to cheer her, to call her over for a pet and some kind words, she was having none of it. Turning, the very end of her tail wagged just a little as if apologizing, but he wasn’t the one she wanted. He felt so bad for her as she slowly walked away, the picture of abject misery. Every few steps, she would stop and look back as if to make sure before continuing on. That dog thought I was home, and was sorely disappointed that I wasn’t.
Now, I had been gone many times before, and for way longer, yet somehow Hemi knew that time was different. That time was strange and worrisome, and worry she did.
When I was finally released from the hospital, I found a friend who was, thankfully, able to drive me home. Everyone was at work, and though I could’ve waited, I just wanted to go home. When we drove up, and I opened my door, Hemi did something she’d never done before, she desperately tried to get into the car with me. She was whining and beyond happy to see me. Without a doubt, that dog adored me, and for the longest time, stuck to me like glue. Somehow, she’d known just how sick I was, and was ever so happy to have me back. That’s what real love and complete devotion is like.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB