It seems as though a bit over a year ago I was writing about the loss of , Tigger, our beloved brindle pit bull mix. I am now going to tell the story about Heidi, our Rottweiler/black lab mix. We put her to sleep last week after a long, happy, ranch dog life. We had the pleasure of having her for 16 years and what an addition she was to our lives.
Let me tell you a bit about Heidi, our young families first dog. Actually she is credited with being the starting point of the Hierarchy of the Erickson Ranch Dogs. When our children were in grammar school it seemed to me a good idea to include a dog in the farm. Erickson Ranch just wasn’t complete without a dog! Made perfect sense to me.
One day after school, I packed up the kids and off to the pound we went. We made our way up and down the aisles of the animal shelter as each dog made an effort for our attention. What a difficult task, for we wanted to take each and every pup home with us. The decision came down to two completely different dogs. One was a terrier mix and the other was our Heidi. We will never forget the beautiful two year old, Heidi, sitting in the pen and looking at us with those big brown eyes asking, “Please give me a chance to be part of your family and be with those two young kids”. She appeared quite calm and was a bit over weight and of course my thinking was that she would be a calm “lab-type” dog. Well not quite!
As we put on the pink leash, into the truck she went bounded. As soon as we got out of the shelter the calm affect changed to a renewed lease on life. She was full of energy and on her way to a new adventure with those two kids. The kids and I were so thrilled to have a new pup and they couldn’t wait to introduce her to their dad. We dressed her up with a red bandanna and hid her behind them as I brought Ray into the back yard for introductions. You must remember, this was a surprise to Ray and perhaps not the best thing to do to a farmer at the end of a very long day. Live and learn!! He wasn’t quite as thrilled as we were and his response was, “What the heck is that”? Of course Heidi responded with a barking growl at this tall, seemingly unfriendly person. Oh No! What had I done?
It wasn’t to long before Ray and Heidi were fast friends. We soon learned about Heidi. She loved to run and I mean RUN!!! It was almost as though she needed to get her “wiggles” out each and every day. She was certainly meant to be a ranch dog. We lived in Fairfield at the time and the ideal beginning of her day was to climb into the truck with Ray and off to her “job” at the ranch she went. She could run and run and run and run. The other outstanding trait of this pound pup was her strong will and I mean STRONG WILL!!!
Several stories come to mind amongst many that we could tell. Not soon after we settled into life with Heidi, our son Ross and I decided to take her for a long walk in town. Of course she was on the leash but once we got to the local school we “let her go”. That was perhaps not the best idea as she began that “run” thing I mentioned earlier. She ran like a bolt of lightening in a diagonal pattern across the school ground. She also exhibited that ” strong will” I made reference to. Her free spirit and strong will became one at that moment and she quickly became a spot in the distance. Ross was off full- speed ahead to capture her as I was made a feeble attempt to call her back. He quickly gained on her but she ran through traffic on a very busy street and his effort came to an end. She finally ran her wiggles out in the nearby neighborhood. We were happy to get her home as she was exhausted from her “Bolt”!
She was an independent sort and when she wanted to be somewhere she made it very clear. Heidi liked to be under our computer desk amongst the cords and of course our feet. I wonder if it provided her the safe feeling of being protected from the back and able to peer out from the front. Needless to say, Kristen our daughter, tells of many a time doing homework with Heidi. It is not as though Heidi was invited to be there during homework but she decided it was time for her to get in the cave. She did not wait politely for an opening under the desk but rather bulldozed her way in and made herself very comfortable because she wanted to. Kristen would scoot out from the desk and allow Heidi to make herself comfortable for the duration and then complete the homework.
Heidi and Tigger became fast friends and were trouble from the get-go. Though he was the Protector and the Man of the Erickson Ranch Canines, he realized she was the Alpha- Female and these two companions created adventure after adventure. They would be sitting in the sunshine one moment and the next moment they were off. They must have looked at each other and said, “Okay, the humans aren’t looking, lets make our get away”. Many a time they were gone for hours on a foray that we will never be able to imagine. Upon their return they were exhausted and slept many an hour to re-energize for the next short vacation.
Heidi was never the cuddly lap dog that curls up on the couch at the end of a long day. She was an independent soul and made it clear to all other dogs that she was most certainly the Alpha Female. We have had more that one vet visit because Heidi had need to make it clear that she was in charge and don’t mess with her. Animals are amazing and they certainly establish their pecking order. Once our dogs (and cats) all realized Heidi was at the top of the food chain all was well with the dogs at the Ranch.
It seems strange to not see her on the front porch in her special spot. Old habits die hard and each time we walk up the steps to the front door we automatically look to the right to be sure she is okay, settled in for the night, has enough water and the heating pad in positioned under her during the night.
As I look out my office window I see her final adventure spot next to her beloved Tigger. They are running free at their Big Ranch in doggie heaven. We miss her terribly.
Dogs do make life on a Ranch!