I have had my JRT mix, Stewie, for 14 years. He is without a doubt my OG sidekick, having outlasted many relationships, had many horse-brothers, and been on all kinds of crazy adventures with me (fact: he LOVES kayaking, and he’s also finished a 5k.). I got him when he was just 6 weeks old, sourced through a post on an online horse bulletin board of someone giving away some “oops” puppies. He’s the first dog that was ever completely my own, and I must say, he was the cutest puppy ever.
He’s been around horses for his entire life, too, obviously. I couldn’t bring him to the barn with me daily, because he wanted to stay right on the heels of whatever horse I was riding, but he still got to come out on a pretty regular basis and roll in dirt, wallow in ponds, and try to sneak bites of horse poop (why, dogs, why?).
It’s gotten a bit harder to do that in the past several years, though. Some barn owners don’t want you bringing dogs out, which I completely understand and respect. Stewie knows Henry, but they’re more like cousins who only see each other a couple times a year on holidays. They get along well though. Henry isn’t worried about dogs, and Stewie is scared enough of horses to generally keep himself out of harms way, but not so scared that they can’t interact.
Not to mention the elephant in the room – Stewie has aged. He’s still got a lot of that natural JRT zest, but he’s a little more… senile than he used to be. Plus he’s gotten quite hard of hearing.
When I moved out to the farm I decided to bring him with me. I prefer having a dog around when I’m alone, plus he really isn’t happy at home when I’m not there. He’s been my best dude for 14 years, and he’s not that “into” anyone else. Not to mention that, if we’re being totally honest, he much preferred being an only dog. He and Quinn the corgi aren’t enemies, but they aren’t the best of friends either. So Quinn and the cat stayed in Austin with the SO, and Stewie moved out to the farm with me. At 14, he’s finally a full-time barn dog.
And well… he loves it. He sleeps all day when I’m at work, then when I get home he comes out to the barn with me and hangs out while I do chores. He rolls in the grass, chases lizards, and goes around cleaning up whatever few pellets the horses dropped in their shavings. When I drive the spreader out to the way back, he waits for me about halfway down the alleyway, and as I come driving back he gallops along in front of me, leading the charge back to the barn. He’s delighted, and it’s adorable.
I do have to watch him extra-closely, especially since he’s almost deaf. He’s got that terrier instinct to want to put his nose in places he really shouldn’t, so I always have to keep an eye on where he is and what he’s getting into. There are snakes and coyotes and other critters out here. I also can’t call him if he gets too far away, since he can’t hear me. When I’m working directly with the horses, he has to stay inside.
Living the barn dog life, I can really see how much he’s aged, which makes me sad. But on the other hand he’s still pretty spry and happy and energetic for a dog that’s creeping up on 15. I do know that he’s quite enjoying his new role, though… he definitely LOVES being a barn dog again. That makes my heart happy too.