In 2001, I met my first Australian Shepherd up close and personal. A Blue Merle, she was alpha and intense.
A dog lover since I was a kid, I had lost my dog Chief in 1991 to cancer. Chief was a goofy Doberman, and I was so heartbroken I didn’t get another dog. Everything changed 10 years later when I met Tessie.
Opening the door of my truck next to the barn, she came out low and swung wide around me. Growling, she didn’t like it when I looked right at her.
I did catch a good look at her as she circled behind me. She was lean and ragged. She looked young and had a beautiful white chest with copper markings.
Wondering who she belonged to, I tried to ignore her as I walked into the barn. She followed behind, growling lightly. She seemed fearless and I was hoping someone would call her so she would stop growling at me. I have to admit, I was a bit intimidated by her.
I finally saw Abby coming my way from the other end of barn aisle.
“I see you’ve met Tessie,” said Abby. I laughed.
“I think it is the other way around! She met me. Whose dog is she?”
Abby looked at me and smiled. “I guess she is the barn dog. Right now she is living in the barn and I feed her every night before I leave.”
“She stays in the barn? How did she get here? Is she a stray?” I rattled off questions anxiously.
Abby angrily said, “Garrett never came back 2 weeks ago. He left her in the other barn in his apartment and Lisa found her scratching at the door. We finally had to fire him.”
I looked around the barn. It was large, with 2 aisles in an L shape and room for about 20 horses. The horse paddocks were large and grassy, with beautiful horses out grazing. There was a chestnut horse in the front paddock all alone. He had a crooked white blaze on his head and 2 white socks.
Abby had followed my gaze. “That’s Tango, Megan’s horse.”
My eyes turned to Tessie, who had settled down and was gazing at me intently. She had brown eyes and her expression had softened.
“Would you like to see the apartment?” Abby turned and started walking and I followed her. Tessie was right behind us, it was her place after all.