On the Farm: My personal assistants

Horse Nation columnist Rachael Walker may think she runs her farm, but her two Corgis–Tug and Dually–know better.

From Rachael:

Everybody could use an assistant. Because of the many job titles I hold (CEO, accountant, main arena dragger, captain fence fixer, coach, trainer, Head of State, etc.), I actually have two assistants.

They do what all good assistants do – keep me on task, fetch things, carry things, and alert me when anything is amiss. Managing a stable takes me outdoors quite a bit, and my assistants are always eager to tag along and help me place cavalletti poles, move manure piles, mark off fence posts or keep an eye on my students. Best of all, they require little pay for the wonderful job they do.

I am, of course, talking about my two wonderful Corgis. Anybody who has met a Corgi knows that they run the world. You may think you own a Corgi, but the reality is the other way around. My two dogs watch the goings-on of the entire farm, inside and out, and make their own remarks about just about every situation. My older dog, Dually, is convinced that nothing on the farm runs without him.

He is always right next to me, keeping an eye on the horses, chickens, cats, goats, sheep and pigs. The younger one, Tug, doesn’t wait for me to find a job, but is always jetting off on his own adventures. In the morning he watches the farm out of the big living room window and plans his day (plot plot plot).

These two are actually a helpful duo. Apart from the obvious barking to warn me of approaching strangers (or friends), they have a rudimentary knowledge of herding (which would
probably be better if somebody would have actually trained them to herd). They aren’t too bad at helping herd the horses into their rotational paddocks in the summer, and definitely try very hard to herd the chickens when they escape from their moveable pens. Also, I have found that if a Corgi can bounce through a line of cavalletti at an easy run, the poles are well spaced for trotting. Both dogs could probably teach a beginner riding lesson, having watched thousands in their lives, and Dually in particular likes to check in with all the girls after a riding camp session to make sure they’re OK after dismounting.

And there is the equally important job of keeping me company. I truly believe no dog has a personality as large as a Corgi (small-dog syndrome and all that), and the vocabulary to match. My dogs can bark, blork (that would be barking-with-my-mouth-closed-so-you-don’t-notice), snort, snarl, snarf, growl, grunt, groan, squeak, rowr, grumble, mumble, raba-raba, whine, moan, snuffle and squeal.

Whether I’m stuck in the house doing paperwork or far out in the fields taking a tree off a fenceline, these two dogs are always near. Sometimes they’re just as mad about being stuck in the house, and every five minutes Tug comes over to squeal and squeak at me to ‘hurry it up! Let’s go outside!’, and other times it’s a welcome break to watch them careen through the pasture chasing each other. They love (love love!) attention, follow me just about anywhere and are great for cuddling when we are all tuckered out from our days.

So I am truly lucky. Not only do my assistants perform tasks like any other (although I haven’t managed to teach them to make coffee yet…), their jobs are so much more. My assistants keep me in the wind, cold, rain, snow, sleet or boiling sun. They are with me when I slice my finger open and have to wrap an entire roll of pink vetwrap around it, and they are with me when I decide it’s so incredibly wonderful outside that we should all take a break and lie around in the spring grass in the sun for a while. They sleep, of course, snuggled up in bed with me, and spend their days working hard right along side me. I couldn’t ask for any more than this.

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