The first time Tupac got his head stuck in the fence, Dylan told me that she prayed to God about it and pretty soon he got unstuck. He's gotten his head jammed between the heavy gauge wires of the stock panel fence five times since then -- mostly because of his lust for fresh grass -- and today I had to use a hacksaw to get him out. Dylan worries to the point of tears about Tupac, but Biggie just stands back and watches. I'm sure he thinks Tupac is a dumbass.
I'll explain. Dylan's been feeding three bottle calves all winter. The orphans -- Biggie, Tupac, and Timmy -- came to us under different sad circumstances and Dylan has logged hours and hours taking care of her boys. She and Grady hand-feed fresh grass to them daily and Dylan can now lead Biggie (the friendliest) around with a halter and twice she's climbed on his back. Orphan calves, we call them leppys, are pretty common on ranches and usually resemble pregnant dwarves. Their growth is stunted a little and they get big bellies. But Dylan dotes on her babies and these calves look the opposite of pregnant dwarves. Sterile giants? Maybe.
While Grady's eyes light up when he gets to run the levers on the backhoe, Dylan's heart is belongs to animals. Odd for a child whose first
three years were spent tormenting our cats so badly that she looked like she'd been tossed into a blackberry bramble. She still has a decent scar from one especially pissed off cat. Somehow that crazed toddler affection has turned into genuine care.
Dylan's love of animals and Grady's love of heavy equipment somehow comes together in the form of our newest pet, Lardo, a St. Bernard puppy I got Regina and the kids for Christmas. Last fall, when Regina told me that "someday, maybe in a couple of years" she'd like another St. Bernard, all I heard was, "Go buy one now, please and thank you." Lardo is, essentially, a happiness machine. He puts on more weight than a feedlot steer and takes about nine naps a day. When he runs at full speed it looks like he's in super slow-motion. He brings us nothing but joy. And slobber. And sometimes rotting squirrels. The kids beg me to let them bring him into the school nearly every day, and it's hard to say no. Who doesn't want to see a puppy? I have a theory that if you aren't interested in, at a minimum, petting him, then you're an alien. Or a psychopath. Or an asshole.
We seem to be in the business of acquiring ride-able pets. If you're cruising Eastside this fall, don't be surprised to see Dylan riding a calf, Grady riding a puppy, and, for once, Tupac and Biggie living together in perfect harmony.