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Age is all in the mind

From the Farm

October 28, 2011
By Kerry Hoffman

It's good to see Chopper, the rat terrier, snapping and growling at the big dogs.


He always has been a bit of a grump. He has microscopic tolerance for other dogs. Even big dogs like Lilly don't seem to diminish Chopper's hefty ego.

Article Photos

Kerry Hoffman

Chopper does love people. He loves to sit on laps and get a good back rub. I can think of one person that pushed Chopper's the feed guy.

He was trying to shove Chopper out of the milk house. Chopper didn't think it was time to leave and let him know it. The feed guy left him alone after that incident and let him stay exactly where he was resting.

Last Friday, we didn't know if Chopper was going to be able to snap at any person or big behemoth dog the same way he always has for years. So much for keeping the feed guys away.

The other day, Joey, Russell and I decided to go to Mankato.

When we returned home, we all rolled out of the car and Steve shared the somber news.

Apparently, Chopper picked on the one wild animal that was tougher than him. Chopper doesn't mind that he is 12-years-old (ancient in human years) and probably not as tough as he used to be; he'll still attack any kind of creature.

It takes a lot to defeat Chopper. He's always been the boss around our farm. He may be little in size, but he is big on being King of the Mountain. He has defeated rats; decimated coon; whupped wood chucks; and obliterated opossum; and who knows how many other animals.

Chickens must scare him. I have yet to see him take on one of my chickens.

Anyway, that day, Chopper came home looking like he went through a meat grinder. He had deep wounds covering his body.

Joey and Steve wrapped the wounds and made him a comfortable bed in the milk house.

Chopper looked awful, and upon having a secret meeting with Joey and Russell, the three of us decided to take Chopper to the vet. Once again Steve was over-ruled by the masses. At least our house is run by a democracy.

The vet examined Chopper and found him to be in pretty tough shape. Chopper was in shock, couldn't lift his head, was shaking like he just stepped out of the Little Cottonwood River in the middle of January; and he didn't snap at the vet. Now we knew he was sick.

We chose fixing Chopper up, rather than sending him to the dog pound in the sky. Only, the damage was worse than we originally thought. There were more wounds uncovered as the vet shaved Chopper's hair. (At least now he won't shed as much. We have to keep him in the house until he is better.)

Two hours of surgery.

Sixty-five stitches later.

Steve's nightmare when the vet bill totaled more than a few bucks.

Saturday morning we brought Chopper home to rest with us. I wanted him here so I could care for him. Chopper loves us, more than feed guys, and feels right at home with us hovering around.

The first two days Chopper was a zombie. He barely moved other when I carried him around the house. Maybe he was totally embarrassed by the satellite dish he has to wear around his head. He doesn't realize he cannot chew on the drainage tube that inserted into the biggest wound.

I gave Chopper water through a straw. He sniffed at the canned dog food and turned his head the other way. He always has been kind of a picky little snob.

Four days after his traumatic event, Chopper started to come to life.

He walked over to a water dish and would eat nothing but the shaved ham I had in the refrigerator. He really is a picky snob.

Wednesday morning, before I was heading off to work, I let Lilly back into the house. She trotted (literally) over to Chopper and started to sniff.

That's when Chopper bolted and bared his teeth. Maybe he thought she smelled like the feed guy.

I walked over to Chopper patted the little bit of hair left on his head and said, "Good boy Chopper! I'm glad you're feeling so much better!"

For questions, or comments, e-mail me at



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