Through the years there have been several errant, wayward animals that have wandered onto Ricci Vineyards. Some have stayed permanently, others have only stayed for brief refuge and then continued on with their nomadic ways...but of all these animals, none have been quite as remarkable as Dutch.
Dutch, a terrier of some type with a stocky build and visibly weary from the road, appeared mysteriously at the vineyard on a random day with no illusions or intentions of staying put. This dog was not looking for a home, or a family to care for him, he was simply an opportunist looking for a scrap of food or two. Extremely wary of humans and exhibiting severe trust issues, it was clear that this poor animal had given up pretty much all faith in people. Despite this, Dutch was provided food and shelter and stuck around. It was fully expected that his tenancy would be short-lived, that at any given moment he would depart like a shadow in the night. Except he didn't. Days turned to weeks, weeks turned into months, and Dutch remained in place.
Still, even with regular meals and a bed to sleep in, Dutch remained unsure of humans and would not allow himself to become too attached. It was common practice at the time, as it still is today, that at the end of the work day all the dogs would be gathered up and taken on a collective walk around vineyard for play and exercise. Dutch desperately wanted to be included in this group, but he wouldn't let himself. He would reluctantly watch the rest of the dogs saunter off as he stayed behind, fearing that if he left, he would not be allowed to return.
As time passed, Dutch's confidence and trust gradually grew. He started letting in affection and began to start feeling like he had a home; yet he still wouldn't go on the walks. One day, as the assemblage of other dogs were preparing for their daily jaunt, Dutch stood at his typical guarded distance, except this time something was different. It was clear he was ready to be part of the pack. With a little bit of encouragement and coaxing, Dutch jolted forward and raced towards the rest of the gang. He belonged.
Once Dutch's trust fully materialized, it was time to take him to the vet to make sure he didn't have any serious health issues that needed to be addressed. During this vet visit, it was discovered that Dutch had been micro-chipped by whomever was responsible for him last. Our hearts sank. This little animal that had slowly become accepting of us might have been simply lost all this time by a family desperate to find him. When the number on chip was contacted, a person indifferent to Dutch's well-being picked up: "Oh, you found Pluto? We got rid of that dog years ago...". Nobody was quite sure what "getting rid of him" meant, whether this dog was abandoned by his previous owners or surrendered to somebody else who clearly didn't care about him. Either way, it was clear that the life that Dutch lived before was over; he was finally with a loving family that wanted him around.
Now, as years have gone by, Dutch never misses an opportunity to go on a walk. He longs for love and affection. He even rides in the work truck to the local deli at lunchtime (yes, he gets his own plain turkey sandwich too). Every dog has a special spirit, but there are also some that are even more amazing for their ability to persevere after so much neglect. Dutch is one of those dogs, and simply put, he has become a staple of life in the vineyard to the point that continuing on without him would be unthinkable.