Ollie, aka Dog-Man, living his best life by the campfire. (Corey Bullock file)

Farm life: an ode to man’s best friend

Are you a ‘crazy dog lady’ like me?

Are you a dog person? A cat person? Perhaps just an animal person in general? I am certainly an ‘animal person’, after all I live amongst many an animal.

Being a dog owner however, is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Almost three years ago now, I started searching the interwebs for a dog. My hubby and I knew that we wanted a mutt (preferably with border collie mixed in), who was at least six months old, and was under 60lbs. I searched for months. Almost every day when I got home from work, I would go to the various websites of nearby shelters and scour Facebook, waiting for the right pup to come up. I didn’t want just any dog, I had a few boxes to tick. One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to adopt.

READ MORE: Farm life: preparing for hibernation

To my delight, the day before St. Patrick’s Day in 2017, a pup named Archie became available for adoption at the SPCA in Cranbrook. He was 30lbs, a border collie/shiba inu/shepherd mix (they thought). He was $300, neutered, and had all of his shots. That was the dog.

I immediately filled out the paperwork, and the next day Ethan and I went to the SPCA. We were there 15 minutes before they opened and it was a good thing because there were several other families there to see Archie. We were first in line, and of course, we ended up taking him home.

Fast forward to today and I am so glad we made that decision. His name is Ollie now (we changed it a few days after getting him) and he goes everywhere with me.

He absolutely loves adventures. Going to the lake on a warm day is one of his favourite things (mine too). He is a little hunter, an adventure dog, he would live outside if I let him.

We often refer to Ollie as Dog-Man. If you meet him, you’ll understand. He has this sort-of wise look to him. He’s very much a wise old man inside of a three year old dog’s body. It’s hard to explain. It just suits him.

Recently, we were putting his name on his new collar and I thought it would be funny if we put Dog-Man instead of Ollie. That way if he got lost and someone were to call us, they’d have to say, “I have your Dog-Man here?”

To my protest, his collar says Ollie.

All jokes aside, having a dog is a big responsibility. Especially when you live on a farm. We don’t have a guardian dog, but right now there are four dogs total on our property and I think that’s enough. Ollie loves farm life as much as we do. He is great friends with the pigs, could care less about the horses, and loves being able to have the freedom that he does.

He wasn’t always the greatest listener though and he still gets into trouble from time to time. He is relentless when it comes to following his nose. Recall with Ollie has been the biggest struggle to date, because sometimes he just will not listen.

READ MORE: Farm life: this little piggy

When Ollie arrived at the shelter he was a stray dog, so they didn’t know much about his history. We suspect that he was a wanderer from the start, hence how he ended up at the SPCA in the first place.

His nose has lead him to rolling in dead fish (on a frozen lake that was too thin for us to walk on). That was a fun one. He’s rolled in various types of feces (I know, TMI), he’s gotten sprayed by a skunk multiple times and chased various animals.

One time, I could not find him for almost an hour. Turns out he was at the neighbour’s property chasing ground squirrels. I know he could hear me calling for him, but he was so involved in his little game of hide and seek that he pretended not to.

Over time, he has become a great dog and he listens extremely well. The more we continue to work with him, the better he is. If you want to have a well-behaved dog, you’ve got to give them the attention they seek and deserve.

I think of all of the people with working dogs, whether for hunting or for livestock guarding, and how amazing it must be to watch them work. When Ollie and I are playing or hiking or working on training, it is a pleasure for the both of us. He wants to listen and he wants to be rewarded for doing so.

All in all, I can’t even picture my life without Dog-Man in it. He brings joy to each day. He’s the best little snuggle buddy. Even when he rolls in smelly things, he is still my best bud. Here’s to all of the good doggos out there (and their owners) for bringing a little ray of sunshine into even the cloudiest of days.


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