Saturday, January 31, 2009

In the Mind of Lark

(photo by Randall Wiseman)

Note: I apparently made the pictures too large when I uploaded them and when I tried to resize them within the blog, it's made them all funky. I guess I learned that it doesn't keep the aspect ratio, even if you drag from a corner. But since it took me a good hour and half to upload all this and write the blog entry, and I have a very bad cold and am not feeling up to doing any more tonight, anyone reading this is just going to have to deal with funky photos. If I get the time and the energy tomorrow, I will try to reimport all the images in an appropriate size. Gah! :End Note

Larky, Larky, you are one impossible, funny little dog. And you are most assuredly the CUTEST DOG ON THE PLANET. You were an adorable puppy and you're still adorable, even when you're playing mind games with me and making me think I've gone mad.... Lark is the first picky eater I have ever encountered. Where Laura likes to talk about Nick and his "not food," Lark takes it a step further to This. Must. Be. Poison. Just the other night I had gotten carry out from Wendy's. Lark was begging and begging a french fry off my housemate, so he obliged. Lark took it very gingerly and within a microsecond: Ptooey! Ejection onto the carpet. That's not food! That. Must. Be. Poison. Okay, at least until Twist comes along to try and mop things up, at which point the poison french fry becomes the BEST PRIZE IN THE WHOLE WORLD! Granted, it's still inedible as far as Lark is concerned, but Twist isn't going to get it no matter what. Okay, if we want to be charitable, perhaps Lark is simply trying to save Twist from a gruesome fate from the poison french fry. Except that I've gone through this with Lark over and over again. The best way to get Lark to eat? Just make sure there's a pushy gluttonous dog around who is willing to lurk and threaten to eat Lark's food. It's clear she's eating it only to prevent the other dog from getting it. How on Earth did I end up with a dog like this? Every other dog I've ever had has been a Hoover vacuum when it comes to food. So perhaps Lark entered my life just to test my patience when it comes to feeding time.

Lark has other quirks. She is the barkingest border collie I've ever known. But barking only happens when she's playing, so at least it's not all the time.

Lark loves poultry. Today while I was cleaning all the layers of old wet straw and hay out of the ram's stall, which is also where the big chickens perch at night and nest, Lark spent the entire time eyeballing a hen sitting on a nest. Once the hen had completed her egg-laying mission and vacated the nest, Lark went over to examine the fruit of the hen's labors. No worries, though. Eggs fall into the category of food that must be poison.

Lark likes to crouch on the bank to the creek and wait for me to say "Go, Larky, Go!" before she dives into the water. She also does this at the edges of ponds. Why she feels that she needs that special encouragement is beyond me, but it clearly makes her happy, so being the easily-manipulated human, I comply.

If a cat gets into my lap or under the bedcovers with me, Lark has to get right up next to me on the other side so she can put her face as close to where the cat is as is possible. She doesn't want to touch the cat, doG forbid!, but she's got to be close.

Lark is the only one of my dogs that has figured out how to jump through the stable window to get to the paddock behind. She doesn't do this unless I am out there doing chores, but if she thinks I'm ready to go feed the sheep in the paddock, she's through the window and holding the sheep off the feed bunk patiently until I get there.

Who knows what goes on in Lark's mind?

And why this special post about Larky. Well, it's hard to believe, but Lark was born three years ago today. At the time I had just two dogs I was trialing, Twist and Kat, and no youngsters coming along. My friend Kay, who had bred Twist's litter, told me about these pups when they were already a few weeks old. It was an accidental breeding, but the dam was very closely related to Twist. And when Kay said there was a smooth-coated, tri-colored female in the litter, how could I resist? Her mom's name was Scout, taken from To Kill a Mockingbird. I like bird names, obviously, but Mockingbird is a bit long by any standard and doesn't really roll off the tongue very well. So I thought a bit, and then seeing a Meadowlark on the wire above me, decided that Lark would be a fine name, with a double entendre. The obvious meaning--the bird, and the less obvious meaning--the fact that I was taking this puppy pretty much on a lark.

So here's what Miss Larky looked like at between 5 and 6 weeks old. She was impossibly tiny. And impossibly cute. She's still pretty tiny. And she's definitely impossibly cute--the cutest dog on the planet.

This series of photos was taken the week I got her home, at 6 weeks old. She came to me that young because there was transport available, and I was dog savvy enough to deal with a young puppy, not to mention that I had a houseful of dogs to help teach her doggy manners. It had hailed right before we went out in the yard for a photo shoot. What do you think she's looking at?

And walking up on?

Yep, my tiny flock of sheep: Coalie the dorper, the four border cheviots, and the two Scottish blackface.

In the following photos Lark is between 7 and 8 weeks. She was already enjoying trips to the pond.

Of course I never spoiled her. Here she is sleeping in her wicker basket.

She adored Boy, who didn't return the sentiment.

Note that when they're this little and cute, you can get away with a rhinestone cat collar.

Snoozing next to the desk while I worked at the computer.

In the spring, I went up to help Becca shear her sheep. Lark was small enough to fit through the openings in the cattle panels of the round pen, so there was no keeping her out. Then we lost track of her. Watching us shear must have been pretty hard work--we found her crashed in a big pile of wool, dead to the world.

In May, when she was about 16 weeks old, Lark's ears started to do some amazing things. I've never seen an ear curl backward.

Note that this phenomenon switches from ear to ear. No playing favorites here. By the way, Lark is chewing on a felted wool ball that's meant to be a cat toy.

Then Lark grows up. Here she's somewhere between nine months and a year old and working my rams and wethers. She was new enough at working to still be dragging a line.

But the best part of working is the "after party" in the water tub!

In June 2007 working Tony Luper's Tunis flock.

In September 2007 working the sheep at home.

We have set up a shed, but I had to pause to get this neat photo of Lark framed by the legs of the sheep. I think Laura may have taken this picture.

Calling her through on the shed. This photo was taken by Laura Carson.

Lark last fall lying on my bed and trying her best to ignore the camera.

Besides working sheep, Lark loves to dive off the bank into the creek.

So Happy Third Birthday Miss Larky Malarkey! I may never figure out your strange little mind, but I love, love, love you anyway!


Marilyn said...

I loved Lark from the second I saw her first photo you posted. She reminds me SO much of my Lena who is gone now. 26# and also a tri (although long coated) Lena also was an expert at training her handler to participate in her doggie games. Does Lark change the rules on you?
Was the breeding ever repeated???

Allie Oop said...

Happy Third B-Day, Lark! Lark will always be one of my favorites (although I've only "met" her on the i'net). I'm so glad that you posted the pics of her with her charming little rhinestone collar and the one of her in the wool.

Best Wishes,


Darci said...

love Love LOVE! Your new template! Beautiful! And Miss Larky, well Happy B-Day little one! I have to say as far as cute puppies go, if you'd have been in Chris' litter, she may have gotten left in the barn! Great pics Julie! But then, how could ya go wrong with such an adorable subject!

Laura Carson said...

Happy Birthday Larkilicious! I'd have to agree that she just may be the cutest dog EVAH. Yep, that photo between the legs was taken by me with your camera. ;) I was feeling artistic.

Paula said...

Reading this post just made my Monday! I'm a bit late, but Happy Birthday, Larky! You are one of my most favoritest border collies ever. Oh, and that shot of you as a puppy, napping on the wool is one of my favorite photos, too.

Thanks for sharing this special little girl with us, Julie!

Kelly said...

Happy Birthday Lark (I know we are late) your long haired twin says so too!! I feel your pain Julie, I have food poisoning :(

Rachel said...

Happy Belated Birthday Larky! You are the cutest dog ever!!!

Teri said...

Lovely pictures and endearing growing up story! Love to see a happy dog!

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