My folks always had a rule – actually, it was probably more so my Momâ€™s rule – that there were to be no farm animals in the house for longer than they needed to be there.
Baby goats and lambs requiring some extra TLC under a heat lamp and training to drink goat milk from a pop bottle tended to be in and out in 24 hours – maybe 48. It never seemed to be longer than that, because the babies would perk up and want to jump out of the cardboard box that served as their temporary home.
Box babies became barn babies just about the time they could hop out and take a run for it through the dining room and down the hallway.
Said mom, â€œAnimals belong in the barn,â€ although sometimes she wondered if her own children didnâ€™t belong out there as well.
How many of you have ever heard a parent say, â€œWhatâ€™s the matter – were you born in a barn?â€ (That was if we didnâ€™t clean up after ourselves!) Then there was, â€œSit up to the table – youâ€™re not eating in the barn!â€ (I think that was mostly because our north-facing dining room window has a perfect view of the barn, and my brothers tended to lean back on their chairs.) And then thereâ€™s the saying, â€œYou left the barn door open,â€ which, as you probably know if youâ€™re a country kid, has absolutely nothing to do with the door on the barn.
Anyway, the story goes that animals are to be in the barn, and humans are to be in the house. At the Buntjer farm, the pets were lumped into the â€œoutside crittersâ€ category as well. Cats and dogs did not belong indoors – certainly not to roll on the rug, snooze on the sofa or claw on the chair.
The rule worked fine for many, many years, but then along came my Molly. My parents â€œadoptedâ€ her when I bought my house in town. (I thought bringing her along with me broke some kind of â€œcruelty to animalsâ€ rule.)
Molly loves to run and jump and play. She fetches her rubber chicken, chases rabbits and deer, and barks to her heartâ€™s content down there on the farm. She is also â€œtrainingâ€ my parents how to raise a completely spoiled pooch.
This winter has been kind of rough on everyone, including my Molly. Iâ€™m pretty sure sheâ€™s never been cold (she has a dog igloo in the garage filled with straw and her favorite quilt) â€¦ sheâ€™s just been lonely.
There isnâ€™t a day that passes that she isnâ€™t in the house, under foot (literally – both of my parents have nearly tripped over her), snoozing on â€œherâ€ rug, eating her breakfast, dinner and supper, and even watching â€œWheel of Fortune,â€ with her adoptive grandparents.
I used to tease my parents that they were just house-training her so she could come and live with me in town. Then, afraid they might actually force the issue (Iâ€™ve become like my parents – no pets in the house), Iâ€™ve reminded them how much theyâ€™d miss my Molly if she wasnâ€™t there every day.
Hopefully Mom remembers that the next time my Molly scratches at the door at 5 a.m., and barks in intervals until said kind-hearted Mom opens the door a crack for the pretty pooch to weasel her way inside.