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We did something a little crazy…🤪

Anyone who knows me even even a little bit knows that I am an animal lover. Not the superficial, “aww, that ____ is cute!” I’m a bona fide, lifelong, animal lover, and a crazy one at that. Crawling on floor, pretending I’m like horse? My whole childhood. Jumping into bushes in pursuit of a frog? Yep. Me. Happy with a bird on my shoulder, a squirrel climbing on my leg, a snake slithering through my fingers, or a rat on my lap? It’s perfectly natural to me.

Thirteen ADORABLE puppies for us to play with! 🥰

It may then come as a shock that I have never owned a puppy. I’ve had several dogs of my own, and cared for countless others, but puppies were elusive. The occasional batch would come through the vet’s office where I worked, but until recently, the longest I’d even held a puppy was about ten minutes, max.

No one can resist a puppy.
Raven has been an integral part of our farm since the day Jack brought her home, but as with everyone, time has marched on, and she is slowing down. I’ve been thinking for a while that I’d like to get another dog, so we could transition from Raven’s golden years to another dog’s youth a little easier. Hopefully, a new dog would pick up on the good things Raven had to offer–obedient, gentle, good with the livestock, and an overall adept farm dog–while also bringing a few things Raven lacked, namely courage.
The wily fox that lives in our fox.
Thunder and gun shots drive Raven to either run or tear up the house, and if we ever do have unwelcome visitors as foxes, coyotes, or stray dogs have stopped by, Raven has never showed the slightest interest in scaring them away. We need something at least a little more… confident.
Enter Panama. That eight-week-old ball of adorableness is a Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherd cross, and she joined our family a few days ago. In an instant, we were in love!
She’s even cute when she eats! 😍
It happened when a friend posted photos of her kids’ fall break, which included them holding a whole lotta cute puppies. First thought? I want to hold those puppies, too! So, I got in touch, made arrangements, and we visited a friend of a friend, who lives only ten minutes from us, to see her thirteen puppies. They were only about five weeks old then, but were some of the sweetest creatures I’d ever seen.
Wore herself out playing in the snow!
We met the mom, who was kind, if a bit aloof, as she was busy watching her puppies, and keeping an eye on the property. Momma had been guarding livestock her entire life, and had the courage it took to act when necessary–only the week before, she’d killed a coyote on the property who was after the chickens. So, all the puppies were coming straight from working stock who knew how a farm was supposed to run. Destiny? Fate? Answered prayers? Maybe a pinch of everything.
Meet the Momma
Our initial visit was to see the puppies and ask questions, but as an animal lover, I’m also very cautious when acquiring anything new. Especially with animals like dogs and cats, whom I assume will be with us until their death, I don’t agree to anything without serious contemplation. So we left the puppies, I discussed it with Jack, tried to ignore Kate’s incessant questioning, and did a lot of pondering if it would be the right thing to get another dog.
Even our resident cat lady has decided Panama is alright.
My answer came a few days later when I was returning from dropping off the older girls at school, and saw the resident fox couple sleeping on our round bale like I was running some sort of day spa on the farm. I do my best to strike a balance with nature–even foxes have their place–but I’ve also lost enough chickens and cats (yes! They’ve lured a few cats into their sharp teeth! 😥), that allowing any foxes to feel so comfortable, so close to our livestock, irritates me. We need something to watch over our homestead.
So, we went back to our friend’s friend’s homestead to choose one lucky puppy to come home with us when they were ready. Most of the kids didn’t give a lick one way or the other which puppy we chose, because they were all so cute and mellow (WAY more laid back than the Australian Shepherds we visited in summer). As our dog lover, Kate had much more of an opinion. She carefully considered each dog, and with some guidance from Jack and I, decided that we needed the daintiest girl of the bunch. Of course, even though she’s dainty, she’ll still end up being about a hundred pounds by the time she’s an adult. Heaven help any predator that wanders onto our property when she’s grown up.
All beach and/or sea related names in honor of the puppy’s sandy coat.
I endured two weeks of Kate asking and begging and prodding if we were for sure getting a puppy (I PROMISED her I wasn’t going back on my word), and a repeated assault, asking what we were going to name her. I was in the middle of completing my latest book, and didn’t have the brainpower to facilitate choosing an important name, and frankly, I’m not that good at naming things in the first place. After accumulating a list of suitable names, I told everyone to vote for two. Some of the kids couldn’t make up their minds, some didn’t care, and Kate and Claire, who cared, took advantage of the lack of voting and voted for their siblings. I laughed, told them that was voter fraud, and agreed that Panama was a perfect name for her.
Uh oh. Kate’s been crushed by the dog food.

We prepared ourselves for Panama’s eventual arrival, and the day she came home was a beautiful autumn day–warm, sunny, perfect to bring home a puppy. Then, Mother Nature got cranky, cold blew in, and it snowed. The true measure of devotion is being willing to take the dogs for a walk for a potty break when it’s cold and dark outside, and Kate has rarely missed an opportunity. It took a few days for Panama to adjust and I can’t blame her. She was used to being around a dozen other siblings, and had been an outside dog her entire life. Now, she’s living as a spoiled indoor dog until the day comes that she’s big enough to watch out for herself while patrolling the farm.

I *also* acknowledge that I am slightly crazy for agreeing to a puppy while I still have a human puppy in the home. Adam bites, chews on everything, needs to be potty trained, and is as wild as an animal. I guess we’ll kill two birds with one stone this year. Heaven help me.

This is a new adventure for me–for us–and thank goodness it comes wrapped in a cute package. I’m confident that Panama will be a vital, helpful, and welcome addition to our homestead…as long as we survive puppyhood. I’ll let you know in a year.

Almost always snoozing by Jack’s feet. Awww! 😍 
Welcome to the homestead, Panama!

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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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