Yesterday a new dog crossed the church parking lot with its human in tow. Xena was in the rectory back yard at the time and barked the dog its place in the scheme of things here on this corner of Norwalk.
Late last night I was in the upstairs office of the rectory with Xena sleeping on the rug at my side. Suddenly she starts barking, vigorously, warning, almost angry. I followed her as she ran downstairs. I let her out into the back yard and she streaked, barking, for the back chain link fence. I could see a slim human figure there in the shadows. It just stood there. Xena commanded with her barking and the person began to move on. By then I was with Xena and the woman, for this is what the figure was, was saying, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry" as she moved away. I asked what was wrong.
She said the dog got away from her. She's dog sitting for a friend and the dog got out of the house and she couldn't find him. She was, by now, almost across the parking lot and heading out to the street.
Meanwhile, Xena is barking, not at the woman, but off to the right, barking with great command, like I've never heard her.
And here comes the big white dog from this afternoon. Chastened. Not bounding, but coming up to Xena, at the fence, a little ashamed of himself. I called the woman back. Xena held that dog with her will, right there at the fence, barking at it, until the woman got to the dog and tied this pathetic little string she was using as a leash onto its collar.
Then the dog timidly moved its nose close to the fence and Xena let it to the greeting thing.
I have been on the receiving end of the herding instinct of whatever other breed Xena is mixed with, but I've never seen her heard another animal. And what I saw was just that - from a distance, and through a fence, Xena herded that dog, held it, and then, only when all was well, she released it.
That's my Xena! Labrador mix breed warrior princess of all Norwalk indeed!
And now I await Mad Priest, premier herding dog guru (border collies), to set me straight and I'll take it like a man. And still, I know what I saw.