I called an animal behaviorist I knew at the Cornell veterinary school and told him the story. He just laughed and said he had to get to a meeting. "Wait," I insisted. "What's going on between my dog and my ram?"
"Can't imagine," he chuckled, before hanging up.
At moments like this, I'm glad I'm a photographer, because people might not believe this stuff. But I have pictures. I get a lot of e-mail on my Web site, but I've rarely gotten as much as when I posted photographic evidence of Lenore's love affair with Brutus.
People sent me poems and song lyrics, gushy awwws, and cautions about sex.
"Please, please don't separate them," Heather e-mailed from London when I joked that I was considering imposing a strict curfew. "They belong together. Give them a chance to work it out."
"Obviously, Brutus is unhappy and lonely," wrote a farmer from Nebraska. "Make sure to give them support. Nothing wrong with it."
Other people fretted about Rose. Could she handle this? Would she be damaged in some way?
I was a bit worried about Rose myself. The world had turned upside down for her and no longer worked in comprehensible ways. She glowered at the couple.
So, I took Lenore aside, issued heartfelt cautions. "Theother sheep will turn on Brutus," I warned. "Rose doesn't approve. Life is hard enough. It has to end badly."
But animals are nothing if not adaptable. After a week or two, Rose simply seemed to stop noticing the odd couple and concentrated on moving the rest of the flock around. Lenore and Brutus became invisible to her.
This is the new normal. This morning, the sheep trotted into the meadow to graze, and Brutus chomped for a few minutes, then sauntered right past Rose and over to where Lenore and I were sitting. He lowered his head to the ground.
Lenore whined, wagged her tail, rolled over on her back, then righted herself and licked the big guy right on his fuzzy nose.
This relationship can't go anywhere, for obvious reasons. Love does hurt. But sometimes, it's nice while it lasts.