a different kind of heaven

Could this be Bubba’s new home?

We drove out to the country yesterday to meet the farmer who is interested in adopting Bubba. On the way there I gave Bubba a pep-talk that could have been an outtake from Best in Show. Things have been feeling so heavy this week, and I was nervous about how this meeting would go. As soon as we pulled in and the farmer walked up to the car, Bubba launched into a protective barking frenzy… unsurprising to me and fortunately the farmer was not phased by it, a good first sign. Once they met, Bubba was very gentle and relaxed around him and everyone else at the farm. We stood around the driveway and talked for a long time, then took Bubba for a swim in the farm pond. The farmer laughed at Bubba’s comical splashing and running around the shore. Bubba was having a ball and didn’t try to run away while he was off leash.

After a while I took Bubba for a long walk around the property, which is an enormous 250 acre dairy farm. There are a few big barns, and fields and pasture as far as you can see. I walked him on-leash around one of the lower fields, through the woods, and back out into the main fields where I let him run free. He exhausted himself within a few minutes and was happy to trot along with me. His energy at the farm was relaxed… for a dog who is usually very stressed by new situations, this was so good to see. We walked around and through the dairy barns a few times and he did much better than I expected him to around the cows. He was unsure about them but didn’t show any aggression, and I think once he has a little direction and time to get used to them, he’ll just leave them alone. He’s learned to do this very well with our cat Elvis, who can be more frightening than a cow if you ask me.

The farmer’s last dog, a lab, died of old age in July. His collar and tags were lovingly hung above the entry to a dog house in the dirt driveway. He is a kind old-timer who lives alone and is looking for a new dog to keep him company. He spends the quiet midday hours between milkings taking care of different projects on the farm. While I was there he mostly hung around the driveway shooting the breeze with a couple other old-timers who stopped in for this or that reason. They all greeted Bubba with a friendly pat on the head. Several commented on how much the farmer loved his old dog and how lucky Bubba would be to come stay there with him. The farmer was happy to see a young dog with so much energy, “Been a long time since I didn’t have to lift my dog up into the truck.” He liked Bubba’s size, because as he said, he’s not too big to sit up front on a snowmobile. These are the kind of adventures I want for Bubba.

It’s easy to picture him living there. My concerns are that he’ll need to be watched closely and taught about not roaming too far when he’s off-leash, and that the transition might be really stressful for him and he could revert back to some bad behaviors. But this guy has a lifetime of experience raising dogs, and I think they’ll figure it all out together. We’ll be bringing him back in a few days to give it a try. If it doesn’t work, we’ll take him back and figure out where to go from there. But I am very hopeful. I was expecting to bring Bubba to the vet on Thursday to be euthanized. Yesterday afternoon I got to cancel that appointment. Now, he will be going in to have his vaccinations updated before moving to his new home in the country. It will still be incredibly hard to say goodbye, but the relief of knowing he’s getting a chance for a much happier life makes that loss easier to accept. As a friend said, “its like he’s going to a different kind of heaven.”