Yesterday we had a near catastrophe with Bramble Berry, our pup, and Hijo, our guard llama. Hijo started it, managing to escape from the goat pen when the latch didn’t catch when I entered to feed him. He saw the opportunity and ran full speed out of the pen. When I walked back to my studio, he was grazing by the west windows. Bramble Berry was waiting for me inside to return to the house. I grabbed the tray with my teacup and teapot and Bramble Berry’s leash to go back to the house to start the day, not thinking too much about the llama browsing nearby. But Bramble Berry knew! He jerked loose the minute I opened the door, upsetting the tray with my tea apparatus and charged full speed at Hijo. Of course, Hijo ran, Bramble Berry literally on his heels. I have never known a dog to run as fast as Bramble Berry, and Hijo was just as quick. They ran west, past the house, then looped back right by the window where Jesse was working in the basement and then on down past the greenhouse and into the woods.
I was panicked. Hijo could kill Bramble Berry with those sharp hooves and has tried before when Bramble Berry got into the goat pen, and Bramble Berry could injure Hijo, causing him to break a leg— or worse. And how far could this chase go? And where?
Jesse immediately ran out down the path when he saw (and heard) this commotion and jumped into the pickup to go after them. I grabbed my phone, yelling at Siri, “Call Casey!” Siri doesn’t put up with yelling, wanting me to speak more softly. I calmed myself enough to get Casey on the phone and sputtered, “We have an emergency!” I am not good at such times.
I ran toward the house to get my keys, leaving the broken teapot and the cup with the deer head bedecked in jack-in-the-pulpits at my studio door. I tried not to think about this second teapot broken by my dear pup pulling me yet again when I open the studio door, but I remembered another time of misjudgment, also involving Jack-in-the-pulpits. When I was ten my mother took us Girl Scouts to the Girl Scout camp in the spring and against our better judgment, some of us picked a Jack-in-the-pulpit. My mother was horrified and made it very clear to never do that again. Nevermind that her information about Jack-in-the-pulpits was flawed; it was effective. “That plant will never bloom again,” she chided. I have never picked one since. But on this day, I was in another Jack-in-the-pulpit moment, distressed that I had left the gate unlatched and then allowed the dog to pull away, again. What was I thinking? I hated Bramble Berry a little in that moment for being so instinctual and tried not to consider the frightful possibilities for them both. Grabbing the keys, I forgot my phone. I drove slowly down the driveway, listening for any thrashing in the forest. It was completely silent.
I missed the three calls from Jesse. He had found Bramble Berry on the driveway just before it makes its great ascent. I drove on, past Casey in the truck at the burn pile who said Hijo had just passed, fast, and was headed on down toward Dry Creek Road. When I got to Casey and Melissa’s, Melissa stood near the tall grass of the pulled vineyard. Hijo was there. He raised his ears when he saw me, walked toward me, then into their yard. I attached the lead Casey handed me and started to walk him slowly back up the mountain to his pen, but not before he rested his head on my shoulder. His left hind foot had a blood spot on it but otherwise, he was uninjured. He was jumpy, though, when the wind wrestled the leaves at the curve of the driveway before we got to the goat pen, his safely enclosed space.
And Bramble Berry? Well, it’s back to boot camp for him. This was the final straw. It’s easy to add up his recent infractions: the piece of smoked salmon he took off the counter when Jesse turned his back; the two pounds of hamburger in the bag just delivered by Raley’s; his leaping at Wesley when Wesley approached me sitting in the chair on Mother’s Day, Bramble Berry on my lap watching out the window for quail or turkeys. I can see he’s gotten the upper hand lately. Now it is my job to get it back.