Gandy’s Workshop

A dog's work is never done: Gandy's Workshop
A dog’s work is never done: Gandy’s Workshop

Dogs are pack animals, and they follow the lead of the alpha male.

But some dogs are more inclined to lead than to follow, and it takes them many repetitions before the stupid alpha figures out what he’s being told to do.

In this case, our pound pup, Gandy, clearly sees how quickly our wood stack is dwindling. The woodstove, flickering and comforting, is a big part of her winter pleasure. Her prompts to get me off my ergonomic office chair are entirely self-serving. It is all about her.

She sees how worthless I have been this fall, not having my usual “beginners pile” of small dry wood that will usually get us to Christmas when the real bulk of covered and stacked wood becomes our winter fuel.

And so Gandy has taken it on herself to instruct me, every trip down the New Road and back. I make the trip empty-handed, save for my camera. She, on the other hand, never makes a useless trip back.

She will find a length of wood somewhere along the old logging road, and seems to like 4 to 5 foot lengths best. She has learned, through trial and error, how to find the balance-point near the middle.

Then held deftly at that point, she not so much walks as prances back to the house–a haughty, prideful canter. I am going to try to capture her Wood Walk on the iPhone‘s SloMo setting, and set it to music befitting such conquest and ceremony.

Back home (a good quarter mile carry) she deposits her find in her Workshop. I have my wood stacks, she has her workshop. And it has grown a good bit since this shot was taken a couple of weeks ago.

I haven’t the heart to ask for order here, since she confines her collection to just this one triangle of sod just off the back porch–placed, I am certain, so that I feel a certain guilt every time I walk past the window, with another hot cup of coffee in my lazy hands.

And if it makes her feel any less disgust at my sloth and lassitude, I do have a truck bed full of ice-storm deadfall from last January’s storm that I fetched from up the road a couple of days ago. I will make sure that she sees me carrying my part of the load so that, at least temporarily, I will have one less disgusted female ready to put me out .

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. How funny! I wish Baby Dog would find a hobby other than tattling on the cats. At least Gandy’s hobby could be put to use. Does she mind if you take one of her logs for the fire?

  2. She plans to stay warm this winter and her hobby provides the means to that end! What a wonderful photo. Looking forward to the video!

  3. How adorable…and what an intelligent dog! I am so glad you decided to keep her, after your initial uncertainty. I would prefer to think that she is not chastising you but, rather, is helping you!

  4. What a great helper! She definitely looks proud of the job she has done. Can’t wait to see the video when you get it done.

  5. How cute, and useful. The only dog I’ve had that collected things wasn’t nearly so helpful. She took all our towels from the bathroom and kitchen and put them in a circle around her dog bed.