Me and mom keep asking ourselves what to do. Ever since Mama and Shiloh came to Asherpark there has been tension. It’s because Tess hates Shiloh and wants Shiloh to go away.
Tess was our first rescue dog. She came to us four years ago right after Codie died. The shelter papers said Tess was an Australian Shepherd like me, but that’s not right. Tess is most likely a mix of border collie and chow.
Since she has been with us, Tess has come a long way. When she first got here she was so nervous we couldn’t leave her alone. Now she’s fine by herself and waits quietly for mom and dad to come home.
Tess trained with the sheriff just like me. She learned to leave the goats and chickens alone. She comes when called and behaves better on a leash than I do.
Tess loves to go for rides with our dad. She’ll stay in the car for hours without complaining. Tess doesn’t fight over toys or food. She’s nice to everybody she meets, though she’s a little timid around small children.
Tess doesn’t mind walking next to busy streets. Traffic noise doesn’t bother her. There are only two things in this world that make Tess hide under the bed – thunder and fireworks. But even then she’s not anywhere as scared as she used to be.
Tess is the most loyal dog a person could have. Mom often says Tess would give her life to save her people. Tess has so many good qualities.
You might wonder why I’m telling you all this stuff about Tess. Unfortunately Tess has one bad trait that gets in the way of her being happy at Asherpark.
Tess is a dominant female. That means she thinks she runs the pack and every other dog better do what she says.
If a guest dog acts disrespectful Tess will fight. The same is true with the resident dogs at Asherpark. Everybody but me has to do what Tess says, or else.
When we brought other rescue dogs into the pack, Tess let them know right away that she was boss. Darcy, Jack, Nellie, even Mama agreed she was top dog. Tess never had any problems with those dogs.
But when little Shiloh arrived with Mama, things didn’t go so well. Tess strutted over and hissed at Shiloh to mind her manners. Shiloh was already minding her manners, so she thought there was no reason for Tess to get uppity. Shiloh growled real low and told Tess to leave her alone.
Nobody growls at Tess in her house and lives to tell about it. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating but Tess launched on Shiloh and pinned her. It wasn’t a fair fight because Tess outweighs Shiloh by fifteen pounds and Shiloh is crippled.
Shiloh submitted but didn’t act scared. That made Tess really mad, so she pinned Shiloh again. Tess never used her teeth on Shiloh but the noises were terrible.
Each time Tess pinned Shiloh mom or dad grabbed her and put her in time out. The sheriff came to the house and trained with Tess until her manners were near perfect – except around Shiloh.
The funny thing is nobody ever got hurt and the fights didn’t seem to upset Shiloh. They sure upset the rest of us.
Finally mom said she couldn’t stand it anymore and now she won’t let Shiloh and Tess around each other unless Tess is on a leash. That makes for an uneasy peace in the household.
We basically have two packs – Mama and Shiloh and the house dogs. Because only Tess and Shiloh don’t get along, me Jack and Mama can move back and forth from one place to another.
Sometimes Mama and Shiloh stay in the studio while Tess has the big house to herself. Other times Tess sleeps in the studio while the rest of us mutts are together in the house.
Lots of times me and Tess hang together. We like to visit the alpacas and chase the neighbor dog along the fence. It’s not a bad life, but it sure isn’t the way it should be.
Our good friend took Tess home for a week to work with her. She said Tess was so happy being the only dog. Tess didn’t have to share the couch and got all the attention.
When Tess came home she told me she wanted to go live somewhere else. I burst into tears. Me and Tess have been best pals for four years. How could she suddenly decide she didn’t want to be my girlfriend anymore?
“Oh, Ash, you’re such a silly boy,” Tess said. “You get along with everybody. You only fight if some other dog attacks you and even then you don’t know how to fight.”
It’s true. I don’t like to fight. I want everybody to be nice and get along.
“Couldn’t you just try to ignore Shiloh? She’s had a hard life and she doesn’t deserve to get beat up all the time,” I said.
“It’s not just Shiloh,” Tess responded. “I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. I really want a person of my own. I want to be the center of attention. I want to be the queen.”
Later that day I told mom what Tess had said. Mom grabbed my flying saucer and told me to follow her down to the pasture. We played Frisbee for a long time, then mom motioned for me to sit next to her on the grass.
“Ash, sometimes things happen in life that we don’t expect,” mom said. “When we brought Tess to Asherpark we expected that she would live here the rest of her life. Now Tess is trying to tell us that she’s not happy here and she wants a new home.”
“But we love Tess!” I blurted out.
“Yes, we do,” mom said. “That’s what makes the situation so difficult. We want Tess to stay at Asherpark but we also want her to be happy. Tess is telling us she isn’t happy at Asherpark anymore.”
Tears were dripping off my snout and my heart ached. Mom grabbed me in a bear hug and rolled me on the ground. I broke free, whirled around in midair and knocked her over. Then I pinned her and quick washed her face before I ran off to find Tess.
We don’t have any answers yet, just questions. What can we do for our beloved Tess? I hope that if we send a message to the universe, somebody will answer. If you’re listening out there, we need a special place for a beautiful dog.