Well, we figured she had gone away, we hadn’t “heard” from her in a few months. But today we found another little note package from her. She spent some time and effort crafting this collage of messages again (and I say “she” because it looks like a woman’s handwriting)- a cardboard printed sign, a green spiral notepad sheet with more writing (and again, she ran out of room to fit all of her thoughts, so had to switch to a smaller “font” and write up the side of the sheet), another torn scrap of paper with a separate list, and a cut-out newspaper blurb. All of this was carefully bound in a sealed cellophane wrapper, presumably to protect it from rain (which I wish we had).
Here is a list of her current concerns:
- She underlined the word “shade” in the newspaper article offering advice for caring for dogs in the heat.
- “Every animal deserves a warm bed and a pat on the head.”
- “You know the character of a man by the way he treats a dog.” (A misquote of Doran’s “A man’s soul can be judged by the way he treats his dog”?)
- “Dogs need: love, attention, bed, clean shelter sun, snow, rain, play time, just like you”.
- “Please shelter your dog. We are all sad for it.”
- “Be Kind, shelter your dog. You shelter your camper!”
What confuses me is that we meet all these needs, I think… If only she would come and talk to me and I could show her.
We have shade in the pasture, there are three 4×8’ metal-roof shelters. Plus the doghouse I built to address Anonymous Sign Lady’s earlier concerns. But, Bronte doesn’t use any of these: she seems to prefer to dig elaborate tunnels in the reed canary grass, which is 8’ tall along the ditch spoils. And sometimes she chooses to lay flat-out in the sun to sleep, just like our Border Collies do. She is a clever dog, sometimes cleverer than I’d prefer. So I’m certain that she is not confused about how to get in the shade if she wants to.
Water: Bronte has a 50 gallon stock tank out there, that not only can she drink from, she can get in it and soak if she wants.
Love: sure we love her, as we do all animals, even the ones we are going to eat, even the coyotes we sometimes shoot at in order to protect our livestock. And this is another interesting thing to me: that Anonymous Sign Lady doesn’t complain about the welfare of the sheep, who live in the same conditions as the dog. Does ASL believe that domestic dogs have a higher moral standing than sheep, that they deserve superior life circumstances? And how does this differ from wild dog species; should we be concerned whether the coyotes have adequate love or beds?
Attention: Bronte gets it (from me) every single day. I bring her fresh homemade food from my kitchen to supplement her very expensive brand of kibble. And each day, I spend 5-10 minutes giving her a full bodywork massage, to work on her fear issues, and to acclimate her to handling of feet, ears, teeth, tail etc so that health care is always feasible. I’ve also gotten her mostly leash-broken now, and she comes to me when called, which is a huge training accomplishment that has taken many hours of patient schooling.
A bed: well, I’m not sure how to define “bed”- she doesn’t have a mattress, per se. But she does nest in the grass, which seems to be her preference over the dog house. Should I do better here with some kind of cushioned bed, do you think? We have cushioned beds for the Border Collies in the house, but they mostly choose to sleep on the hardwood floors or in a dirt hole they’ve dug outside. Sometimes its hard to account for dogs’ preferences- they certainly aren’t consistent with my preferences! Especially their tastes in food!
Play time: Bronte seems to get plenty of play. In fact, she can play all day if she wants, but she picks sleeping most of the time. She likes her $25 purple Jolly Ball, and she also likes to throw around and chew up anything plastic left in the field. She enjoys the pursuit of digging up rodents and leaving big holes in the pasture. She takes pleasure in hassling the llama, at times when the llama chooses not to join the sheep in the inner fencing. She doesn’t play with me much- she mostly wants me to chase her. But I don’t allow this with my dogs, I want good recalls, so I never let them play keep-away. She won’t play with the ball with me, she only does that in private.
I called Animal Control to see if they’ve heard from Anonymous Sign Lady, and they hadn’t. The employee I spoke to confirmed that our care situation and use of the dog as a livestock guardian is lawful. She put a note in our file to ask ASL, or any other concerned citizen, to call or stop by for a conversation.
I’m inclined to think of Anonymous Sign Lady as mostly an amusing curiosity, I think it’s kind of funny what she does. But, what does concern me is that its evident that she’s emotionally distraught over this situation, ruminates on it a lot, does not go through legal channels to address her concerns, and appears to spend a lot of time and energy on these weird notes left in the middle of the night. The way the notes are glommed together suggests kind of a fractured or haphazard thought process- she thinks of something, scrawls it down, runs out of room, and then tries to squeeze in more angry thoughts in the margin or on the back, or on another scrap of paper. Why always the scraps of cardboard, foam and paper? Wouldn’t most people write or type a well-formed letter on regular stationary or printer paper? Wouldn’t most people start first with calling the police or Animal Control office?
This is not necessarily healthy behavior, and is often known to lead to bigger things over time as frustration grows- vigilante justice behavior, like trying to steal the dog, vandalize or sabotage property, etc. So, that is my only concern, is whether this could escalate over time as Anonymous Sign Lady gets more and more wound up about this and feels that her anonymous notes are not affecting the change she wants to see.
Last night I awoke to a lot of barking from Bronte. I always get up and go down there to back her up in case she’s facing down a coyote or cougar. But this time, the sheep and llama were relaxed so it was not a predator B was worried about. When I got down there, a car sped off from the tree farm property next door. Was it ASL up to no good? A would-be tree thief? Or just some teenagers messing around? Hard to say.
So, I also filed an incident with the Sheriff’s office this time. The Sheriff advised to keep documentation of the events, copies or photos of the notes and signs, and incident numbers. If they find out who it is, then the next step is to file an anti-harassment claim against the woman. Then, if she leaves any more notes, she will actually be arrested! Wow, it’s crazy to think it could come to that. I hope instead she just stops by and we can chat over coffee, and talk about what would alleviate her concerns. But, polite conversation or jail- I guess it’s up to her to decide!