Rugby’s Backyard: A Woodland Wonderland

I feel so very blessed to live where I do.  I absolutely love East Tennessee!  Our landscape is so beautiful, and the countryside ranges from mountains to valleys to plateaus.  I live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, and our roads are hilly and curvy as I drive from one lesson to another training dogs.  My city is the only place I know of, where I can drive fifteen minutes and wait for the exact same train three times!

Roads and homes were established based on the lay of the land as it was when this area was founded….back in the 1700’s.  There weren’t big earth moving vehicles to cut through the rock and level things out.  Early settlers built their homes according to the landscape, and the roads developed  around the homes and businesses tucked into ridges here and there.  As a result, there are many really lovely home tucked into the hills and hollers, and the views are just breathtaking to me.

If I were going to describe where I live in a color, that color would definitely be green.  My area is green, green and then more green.  And to me, after having grown up in the Midwest where everything turns brown in August, and stays that way until Spring….green has always represented new life… fresh hopes…. exciting dreams…and the promise of the end of a cold, hard, Winter.

Rugby’s First Yard With Us…

We’ve moved a few times since Rugby has come to live with us in North Carolina.  We started out in a standard subdivision, and we could see right into everyone’s back yards….and the property lines were a bit muddied as everyone sort of enjoyed the open space and treated it all as theirs.  On one hand, it was nice seeing a big yard that was open and clear, but for Rugby, that yard was the scariest thing ever.  My little dog needs boundaries, because those represent security to him.  Taking him out for a simple potty break meant stress for him, because he never knew who would wander into his yard.

Rugby’s Second Yard With Us….

Then we moved to East Tennessee, and found a house with a huge backyard, that was wide open in the middle, but had lots of shrubs and trees defining the edges, and Rugby was in love.  It’s actually rare to find a large, level yard in East Tennessee!  That house had one.  Rugby was about two years old and had more energy than any dog I’d ever lived with.  He delighted in racing as fast as he could go from one end to the other, over and over again.  Bunnies were plentiful because of all of the shrubs, and we had huge amounts of birds who came to snatch bugs from the grass.

It was a paradise for Rugby.  He finally felt secure enough to roll around and lay down and enjoy being a dog.  Those are such simple, simple things, and when Rugby did them for the first time….I remember tearing up.  It made me feel like there was hope for my little guy to be able to feel safe and to be a dog…doing simple doggy things that I had always taken for granted when my Corgis had done them.

Rugby’s Current Yard With Us….

After five years in that home, we moved again, to where we are now, and again, I think Rugby is in love with his yard.  I know I sure am.  This is our most secluded yard yet, and instead of having wide open spaces for chasing bunnies and birdies all day, this yard is more like a present to unwrap for Rugby.  So many adventures for him to discover and places to explore that are never the same two days in a row.

Our entire back yard is woodland.  We have a sloping backyard, as our house sits up on a ridge.  The houses behind and on either side all have sloping back yards…to a little draw, that collects water when we get enough.  Nine months out of the year, we only have one neighbor that we can actually see, as the other houses are swallowed up with the woods we all share.  We no longer have a big, level grassy area for running and bunny chasing, and we don’t have hosts of birds who snatch bugs from the ground.

What we do have are two Hickory Trees, Maple Trees, Oak Trees, etc. which invite all kinds of wildlife!  There are many more squirrels and chipmunks galore!  Rugby is nine now, and he doesn’t seem to need the open backyard for racing back and forth like he did as a younger dog.  He’s settled into middle age, as have I, and we both enjoy just watching and listening in our beautiful backyard.  We both like the peace and tranquility that we feel in this space, and as the sun moves throughout the day, we get different sunny highlights in our yard which are wonderful and feel a bit magical because most of our yard is shaded.

From his perch on the patio, Rugby listens intently…never missing anything.  His ears are constantly twitching, as he’s trying to hone in on a given sound that has caught his attention.  From time to time, he flies off of the patio in a mad dash into the yard….chasing something he’s seen or heard.  And then he slowly sniffs the ground around him, and moseys back up to the patio…only to repeat this cycle.

He often brings a piggie or two outside on the patio with him, and when he hears a trigger sound that sets him off, he tears into his piggie….grunting madly for a few seconds as he works out his stress.  When the moment has passed, he is back to his post…standing guard, and watching and listening his yard.

When the temperatures are mild, and I don’t need to use heat or air conditioning, it’s a magical time of the year for Rugby.  It doesn’t last nearly long enough, but quickly comes in for a few weeks, only to disappear sooner than we want.  It’s during these few weeks, that I’m able to leave the back door completely open and Rugby has freedom to come and go in and out of the house without having to ask.  He absolutely loves this!  It’s the best of both worlds for him!

However, what I’ve noticed, is that today alone, at least three times, Rugby has come to get me.  He loves being outside, but more than that, he loves having me outside with him.  And this is so interesting and endearing to me.  More than anything, it lets me know just how much my little dog wants me.  He is asking me to stop work and relax with him…to do something that he really wants to do!

I love watching him explore the yard.  He loves poking around in the tall weeds, and chasing the chipmunks over and around the wood pile.  Sometimes one will run under the patio or air conditioning unit, and Rugby is beside himself to get to it.  He has a look of delight on his face, and his excited barking alerts anyone in the county that he’s on the hunt and not just that….but he’s GOT one cornered!!

His favorite place for observation is from the deck.  When I go sit outside with him, I’ll bring his big pillow bed so that he’s got a comfy place to rest and relax.  He loves to hang out on his pillow, and watch his yard.  I love watching him.  The birds are so very loud, and it’s so relaxing listening to one call and another answer back.  There’s usually a nice breeze, and Rugby loves to feel the breeze in his fur….and tip his nose up and sniff the good outside smells.  For all the stress that life can bring at times…..hanging out with my little speckled and spotted pooch remind me of just how good life really is!



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