Before my eyes, at the pasture gate, our two Great Pyrenees were lying side by side with our two best barn cats stretched out one beside each dog. Salvador and Anna, the two big dogs and Rusty and Recon, the barn cats were dozing pleasantly with their tour of duty to protect things almost done as dawn would soon break. But the smile came from realizing what they could teach us. It wasn't always this way, for Great Pyrenees, like all dogs, naturally will chase cats and cats will drive dogs crazy if they can. But we have an operating principle on our little piece of heaven and it involves making all of our animals live by our rules for the farm. If they can't live in peace with the other animals who are part of our external animal family, then they can't stay. The two big dogs, guardians by nature from their lineage in Spain guarding sheep, were quickly taught upon arrival who were the good guys and who weren't. Simply put, if an animal is part of our extended family, they are the good guys. The bad guys are those who don't belong here and the dogs religiously carry out their job and the cats now realize they have large guardians who will protect them as well. That's why those smart cats love to sleep with those big and lovable dogs. They bring safety, meaning that the cats are free to catch and destroy rodents who love to come for feed in the barn, knowing that those two great "critter gitters" are nearby who has their back.
So, what do they teach us. Well, it's simply this. They teach us that they can be taught what is expected of them by learning the consequences of not what is expected. It wasn't always an easy task, for early on each dog took a chicken, an animal they were told was off limits and they paid the consequences. No dog likes being penned up but after only a few such timeouts, they learn. And when they do, they are a wonderful addition to the family. And then there are the barn cats, nocturnal animals that sometimes you can't see but you know they are around. And when a rodent heads toward the barn seeking spilled feed from messy horses, WHAM! He doesn't have a chance and, what's more, snakes don't like cats either. While we have many neighbors with lots of snakes, including moccasins abounding, we have very few as they stay clear of cats. It all boils down to dogs and cats carrying out their assigned duties religiously and only requiring a little food and water and a word of encouragement.
Gee, just imagine how much better off we'd be if we took the time to train our children as well as we train our animals. After all, if dogs and cats can get along, why do so many people go out of their way to create agony and chaos for others. And all I can figure is that if we don't train our young people with good moral values and an appreciation for the good life as God intended, they are likely to find someone else who will train them in other ways. And this is a fact of life in America today as it goes haywire. But I'll stick to the happy side, for life when it is lived right and with love in our hearts, it makes for a wonderful existence and that indeed makes me smile. There is, however, one little thing. What am I going to do with Charlie? And the answer is and I can hear my wife telling me, I just have to put up with him. And all druthers aside, that's not too bad either, for SSHHH! Sometimes he makes me smile, too.