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Farm Fresh Blog
Tuesday, November 30 2010
Steve Irwin & The Coffee Table
All of our dogs eventually end up with a nickname, so it's no surprise that Trace ended up with one too. The surprise however, is that he has assumed the unlikely name of "Steve Irwin." Yes, the Crocodile Hunter lives!
We began calling him Steve Irwin when we noticed his fascination with Oli, the Current Patrol Dog. Oli is young. Oli is fast. And Oli looked at young Steve Irwin like he was a fast & fluffy bunny rabbit. Steve Irwin was definitely on The Menu. (along with sheep, goats, cows, horses, and trespassers) But Young Steve Irwin was drawn to Oli like a moth to a flame.
He would dance right up to her kennel, peer through the bars, and say (in a thick Australian accent) "Blimey! Look at the Dangerous Beast! I wonder what would happen if I tugged its tail!"
Yes, our intrepid young Crocodile Hunter wanted to PLAY with the Dangerous Beast. And the Dangerous Beast wanted to play with him too. It was a match made in Mommy Nightmares. So we juggled Oli and Steve Irwin for weeks, waiting for young Steve to either grow up enough to get some common sense (not likely), or grow up enough for Oli to realize that he was a D.O.G. and not a bunny zooming across the yard. We'd been doing pretty well until Friday night.
That night I came home from work, and took Steve Irwin and the Pack for a walk. Then I crammed The Crocodile Hunter in the house and took Oli out. She cruised along with the rest of the pack while I checked the rams. When I was done I whistled them in. Lo and behold, Oli came zooming in with Steve Irwin bouncing along beside her. (Apparently I had failed to notice that the Doggy Door was opened.) I'm sure I paled. There he was, a pre-schooler with arm floaties, swimming in the ocean with a Great White Shark. Despite the fact that he bounced all over her shoulders, she trotted along, oblivious to the little remora on her neck. I swallowed the urge to snatch up that little pre-schooler, pull off his arm floaties and throw his ass in the outside kennel before she could change her mind. Instead, I watched them. Oli knew he was there. She knew he was a dog. And she knew he was a puppy. Oli was okay with her little remora. I removed him before he pushed his luck too much, but it was clear that they'd reach The Day - the day that the Crocodile Hunter became a dog and not a bunny.
Today we let them play in the house. At first she didn't see him as a playmate, but he was persistent . . . and cute, . . . and so she finally gave in and played with Steve Irwin.
They started on the couch . . .
. . . and moved . . .
. . . to the floor . . .
And like an idiot, I watched them, happy they were having such a good time. Yep, I watched them. I watched them crawl under a glass top coffee table. (why do Dog People have glass furniture!!!) And then I watched Oli stand up . . . taking the glass top with her. And then . . . then she said, "Holy Shit!" and she dropped like a rock . . . and so did the glass table top.
Steve Irwin was delighted. The resulting crash was very impressive. Oli ran. The Crocodile Hunter bounced beside her, "Blimey, Dangerous Beast! Do that again!!!!"
No, no one was hurt. Yes, we now have a new coffee table.
Monday, November 29 2010
There is a wealth of wisdom to be mined from the experiences of our elders. During a discussion on people who retire and then get bored, today's words of wisdom come from a long-time rancher and county judge:
"If you have a black bull and a windmill,
you always have something to do."
Black bull? Check!
Windmill? Not yet.
Clearly we are only halfway there to saving ourselves from retirement years of boredom. On the other hand, something tells me that we'll have enough to keep us busy . . .
I'm just saying . . .
Sunday, November 28 2010
Over the years I've discovered that dogs recognize members of their own breed. They speak the same language. They play the same games. Belgians play a distinctive "wolf & the sheep" game that other breeds don't necessarily understand.
"I am the wolf. You are the sheep."
They play this for a while and then the roles are reversed. It's fast. It's loud. It sounds like a dog fight. It's great fun for everyone. Since Ice lost her brother, Kona, in June, there has been no one to play "reindeer games" with her. Until now. . .
I cheerfully announced that she and I were going over to Grandma's to meet her new little brother.
Ice said, "Oh dear God, it's not another Border Collie, is it?"
"No! It's a two year old Belgian Tervuren. Just for YOU! You can play with him. And Lord it over him. And impress him with your Greatness!"
She allowed as how this DID have possibilities, so we went next door to G'ma's house. Stone was simply delighted to meet her. He dropped down into a play bow and spun around the room. Her ears touched and she pulled herself up on her tip toes to impress upon him that she was certainly the most exotic and queenly creature he had ever, or would ever, meet in his life. He was most impressed with her royal self.
And they played a bit.
He checked back with Mom from time to time.
And got hugs. . .
before running off . . .
. . . to play some more.
Ice settled down in the leaves.
And while she watched him run, I couldn't help but wonder . . .
. . . if she missed her brother as much as I did.
"Preludes Kona Winds" - Cadaver Dog & Best Buddy (2002-2010)
Saturday, November 27 2010
I apologize in advance for this:
But it was soooo much fun to make. Then when I viewed it, I laughed so hard that I almost peed in my pants. And THEN I thought about what Other Half was going to say when I told him that I sent it to all our friends, . . .
. . . . put it on Facebook, and . . .
. . . posted it on the website,
. . . . and I laughed even harder.
(He's going to have a cow when he reads this!)
Friday, November 26 2010
Christmas arrived early for my mother! Santa Claus (Lynne Foster!) drove all the way from Illinois to deliver CH M.A.J.I.C.'s It's A Family Affair (call name: Stone) to his new mommy in Texas!
It's a win-win situation for everyone!
Lynne and his breeder, Melody Jensen, know that Stone will receive a forever home where he gets to be the ONLY dog of a retired person who already has experience with Belgians. Stone gets his own Special Person. My mom gets the companion that she needs. And neither of them will ever be alone again.
Thank you so much Melody Jensen of M.A.J.I.C. Belgian Tervuren & Groenendael and Lynne Foster of Frostfire Dalmatians for making this possible! And God bless Lynne for making that marathon drive across the country to make someone's wish come true!
To read about why Mom was alone: Godspeed, Penny
To read More about people like Stone's breeder, Melody Jensen: The Unsung Heroes
Thursday, November 25 2010
There is one big reason why a certain grandpa . . .
. . . who only got four hours sleep last night,
. . . bounced out of bed . . .
. . . . to drive to The Big City . . .
Do . . .
. . . you . . .
. . . have any idea . . .
. . . why?
Wednesday, November 24 2010
Unlike what the media hype would have us believe, Thanksgiving is about more than the Black Friday Sales which will launch an Oklahoma Land Rush of shoppers armed with credit cards and holiday spirit. Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for the things you already have - family, friends, health, and hope.
This media-hype away from giving thanks isn't something new. When I was a kid it struck my childlike brain as odd that the high point of the Thanksgiving Day parade was the arrival of Santa Claus. That was over thirty years ago, and it hasn't gotten any better. Now it seems that the high point of Thanksgiving is actually the big sale after the holiday. How sad. . .
But it doesn't have to be that way. You can change things. A forest fire starts with a single spark. Just take a quiet moment, away from the madness of Butterballs and shopping malls, to thank God for what you already have . . .
tHanK Ewe fOr aWl mY fAmiLy N FrIEndz, FuRRy N nOt. tHank Ewe for mY puPPy choW, n mY shEEp, n mY toYz, n mOmmY, n DaDDy, n G'Ma. tHank Ewe cuz iM heaLthee n caN rUn fAsT. tHank Ewe tHat mOmmy n DaDDy haf joBs 2 puT puPPy chow on thA taBle . . .
"OOOh! N tHanK Ewe fOr awl tha pIg Eears!"
Monday, November 22 2010
I stepped out my back door to find this:
This is what happens when you leave a roll of blue garage paper towels out.
It wasn't a mystery who did it . . .
AND . . .
They are a team, the Usual Suspects . . . .
(I think "mentally", they are the same age.)
The mystery was not WHO vandalized the back yard. The big mystery was HOW paper towels and the core ended up . . .
. . . in the outside kennel with Oli!
"Should I call my lawyer?"
Now before you people with old dogs start feeling all smug because your yard and property haven't been trashed lately, let me show you this:
This mess was all over my kitchen counter.
I stepped into the house and was momentarily dumbfounded. What tha?!! My first thought was to blame Other Half for the mess. (A woman immediately jumps to this conclusion first!) But I remembered that Other Half was not home.
Then I looked closer . . .
AHHHHH . . . this was not mud smeared all over the counter! It was GREASE!
I had left a pan of grease and Lipton Onion Soup cooling on the stove so that I could pour it over the dogs' food.
But who?!!! The Usual Suspects had been outside with me. So who?
. . . who indeed!
There is a suspect . . a suspect who is as old as Methuselah. A suspect so old that her tumors have tumors. Half blind, like Gollum in the Lord Of The Rings, she slinks about in the darkness, and people forget she's there . . .
. . . a suspect so intelligent that despite her age, she can use a kitchen chair to climb onto the stove . . .
and . . . .
. . . help herself to an early supper.
Alice in her favorite barn chair
So to all you people who thought your dogs had outgrown making a mess . . .
There reaches a point where they are so old that they KNOW nothing will really happen to them.
What are you gonna do? Hit me? Pu-lease! We both know better than that. Hey! Go easy on the Onion Soup next time. It was a little salty."
Saturday, November 20 2010
Some days you tackle the farm, and some days the farm tackles you. Today was a big WWF Smackdown on me. Perhaps I'm just hormonal. You just shouldn't work livestock and water hoses when you're hormonal. I had some yearling rams that needed to be moved. Now common sense would tell you to wait until Other Half or Dear Friend could help, but NO! I was PMSing and it needed to be done NOW! So here's how it went:
Lock up everyone but Lily. Start to separate sheep. The constant barking in the dog pens has me thinking about handguns. Snarl at the Main Barker. Ice is offended that I would speak to her in this manner and shuts up. But barking resumes as soon as I start working sheep again. Thoughts of handguns dance like sugarplums in my head. Lily and I soon have the two young rams separated. (I know that lots of folks don't like them, but I LOVE my cheap wooden feedstore crook. It allows me to reach out and grab the one I want while Lily steps in to move everyone else off. It also allows me to hold onto his bucking little self when everyone leaves him.) So my Clunky Crook, Lily, and I get the rams separated and begin to move them through the barn, into the back yard, and toward an opened gate that leads to more paddocks.
All is well until the rams decide that the open gate is waaaay to close to a kennel of Foosas. (Ranger and Trace) Note that the kennel is not that close, but if the rams see it as a problem, it's a problem. Decide that it is easier to move the dogs than it is to convince the rams to move past the dogs. Trace is beside himself watching Lily work. ("Put ME in, Coach! Put Me in! Let me slip into my SuperSuit and I can work those rams too!") Eegaads. Not what I want.
So while Lily watches rams, I grab Trace and Ranger and throw them in house. Okay then. Problem solved. Begin again.
Rams decide that kennel which USED to contain Foosas is also too scary to walk past. Although I tell myself I have all the time in the world to do this, the idea of butchering these rams is looking better and better. Lily is much more patient and continues to slowly move two flighty, moronic rams, who should probably be removed from the gene pool, around the back yard and towards the gate. Her patience is rewarded and shortly they are through the back yard, through two small paddocks, and into their new Bachelor Pad Prison. God helps us. I know our style may look like a train wreck on a Sunday afternoon, but it gets the job done.
Safely in their new prison, the rams happily discover rye grass and wander off. Now that the marble that is their brain has stopped rolling around and settled back into its hole, they have settled down too.
Look around and realize that they need fresh water and the hose which feeds their tank has a giant hole in it. Probably because someone drove her truck across it. More water now sprays out the geyser than comes out the end of the hose. The hose must be replaced. Trudge to barn to find another hose. Drag old hose through barn, across yard, through dog poop, and into paddock. Replace geyser hose with ancient yellow hose. Turn on spigot. Note that Yellow Hose also produces a geyser. Did I drive over every hose on the property?!
Since this geyser is not as large as the Green Hose Geyser, I approve hose just for today. (which probably will mean that I won't get around to replacing it for months!) Pull hose toward trough. It is six feet too short. Lily is slightly confused at this round of cussing which does not involve sheep. Walk back into house for a dose of Calm Down Juice - cup of coffee.
Pull hose where I want it and discover that all I have to do is run it underneath the tongue of the trailer. FINALLY! Things are working in our direction again. Now the hose is only one foot short of the trough. Decide that I can hold it while it fills the trough. YES! We're on a roll!
"Huh?" I turned to look.
The rams who had been grazing in peaceful bliss were now perfectly upright, staring at a Foosa. This was confusing, since Lily was standing beside me. Where was the Foosa? Then I see him.
Apparently when I went into the house for coffee, Trace must have slithered his tiny little ass out behind me. Eeegaaads! A four month old puppy in a paddock with two yearling rams is a recipe for disaster. So I call to him. Deep in stalk mode, he barely glances out the corner of his eye, and says, "Sshush Mom! I'm getting my groove on!"
I am now in deep Freak-Out mode as I watched my toddler neatly gather two rams and start walking them towards me. (and I must say that despite my absolute hysteria, I was quite impressed too!) He walked; they walked. No running. No barking. Just smooth, deliberate stalking. And it was working for him. The problem I saw was that the sheep were walking away from Foosa A (Trace) toward me, but Foosa B (Lily) was standing in the shed beside me. Quickly project that all will be well until the sheep discover Foosa B and run back over Foosa A.
So I call Foosa A again. (Why did I bother?) He has on his Supersuit and he is in full Superhero mode. No running. No barking. Just slowly creeping the sheep in my direction. So I put Lily on a stay and walk out of the shed. The rams decide that on second thought, perhaps they DON'T want to go into the shed and turn to move away from me. Foosa A then moves his tiny ass around to cut them off, and heads them back toward me again. (Holy crap! What a good boy!) This time they move into the shed. I let them pass me, and as he slithers past, I grab up his bratty butt.
It is pointless to scold him. It was my fault that he got into the pen in the first place, and he's proud of himself for gathering the sheep. Despite the fact that I saw his life and working career flash before my eyes, I'm proud of him too. Lily is not nearly as impressed.
Then I whisk him back into the house where he belongs and pack his Supersuit away for another year until he is ready to be a real stockdog. (and count my additional gray hairs)
Friday, November 19 2010
Do other people live like this?
( I'm just askin' . . . .)
I keep an exercise pen beside my back door. All boots and shoes are placed in the pen immediately upon removal from your feet.
If they are not placed in the pen . . .
. . . this is what they will look like.
Sad, isn't it?
One is tempted, when one steps in the back door . . .
. . . . to kick off one's boots and set them against the wall beside one's sorting stick
But that would be a mistake.
So let's re-cap!
Boots in the pen!
Boots outta tha pen!
One would also be tempted to place the blame . . . .
. . . . solidly on the shoulders of this little suspect.
But that would be an incorrect assumption.
(This is the suspect responsible for cramming his head through the door and scaring the sheep when you are wondering why they won't move in that direction.)
So no, the little red monster is not The Boot Bandit!
The title goes to this clown . . .
For some reason, this goofball developed a taste for rubber boots during last winter's rains. It would appear that he hasn't lost that appetite . . .
So I ask you again, do other people live like this?
Thursday, November 18 2010
Milli Ann sent me a story that had me blowing Pepsi out my nose at work. (This can be slightly disturbing to people in the cubicle beside you . . . and it burns your nose . . . I'm just saying . . . .)
I immediately contacted Jane, the writer, and begged her to let me share it with you. If you love the adventures of my little red demon, Ruffy, you will thoroughly enjoy Mr. Chips!
I look forward to many hours exploring Jane's Literary Horse website. She is a talented writer with a sense of humor and attention to detail that has me embarrassing myself in public when I read her blogs! I urge you to click away and meet Mr. Chips for yourself!
Tuesday, November 16 2010
You can't fix stupid, or so I've been told. God, I hope they can fix stupid, because if not, I'm in trouble. You see, I had a major attack of The Stupid today.
Because I had been feeling out of sorts, I decided to take the day off, lay in bed, and read a book. BUT . . . then I remembered that I needed Goat Food. (SEE! It all comes down to GOATS AGAIN!) So this afternoon I tossed the dogs off me, and hauled my butt out of bed. Lily The Border Collie and I loaded up in my Monster Truck (I LOVE my Monster Truck!) and off to the feed store we went. That's when I noticed I had no gas.
So I headed to the gas station. I pulled up to the pump that I ALWAYS use, swiped my credit card, and pumped $62 worth of gas into that sucker while Lily and I chatted about herding lessons. (I was NOT on the phone!)
The pump clicked off. Lily pointed at the $62 total and gasped. I KNOW! Eegaads! My 4Runner only guzzles up about $28! You see, I bounce between two trucks. The 4Runner is my putt-putt car for running back and forth to work. Monsta Truck is my farm truck.
So Monsta, Lily and I headed to the feed store. A few minutes later we were loaded up with feed and headed towards home. And that's when life went to Hell In A Handbasket. It started with a knocking in the engine. Then I noticed the blue smoke. "Holy Shit!" (I said that, not Lily.)
I pulled into a parking lot and called Other Half - who didn't answer his cell phone. Then I called the house phone - no answer. Then I called his cell phone again. Still no answer. Then I called Son - no answer. Then I called Other Half's Guy Friends - NONE of them answered. "Holy Shit!" (Lily said that - pardon her French.)
So I called one of my old partners who is a K9 officer now. I described the situation to him.
"Leroy! (He calls me Leroy. It's a long story.) Did you put gasoline in your diesel truck?!!"
"Holy Shit!" (Lily and I both said that.) I got this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Could I have done something so stupid? I WAS deep in thought at the time. (I was NOT on the phone!) I DO have two vehicles that require two different kinds of fuel. I DO fill them both up at the SAME gas pump, but I'm usually careful to use the CORRECT nozzle . . . still . . . it was hard to deny that SOMETHING had caused the engine to knock and blue smoke to come out of the back. (It wasn't looking good for Stupid.)
Then he informed me that he would be happy to come help me but he was working a scene and his patrol dog had just bitten someone. Oh . . . ok then! Since he was on-duty and at least an hour away, it never occurred to me that he'd even consider coming to get me, bless his heart. He is a Real Friend. (Remember this, a friend helps you move. A Real Friend helps you move a body!) So I thanked him for his diagnosis of the problem. Then I asked him if it was covered under insurance and he said,
"I doubt it."
"What! Why not?"
"Cuz Insurance don't cover Stupid!"
"But if I'd gotten drunk and driven in a ditch, they'd cover that!!!"
"But not if you filled the ditch up with water and then drove into it!" (I didn't understand that statement at all. It must be a Man Thing.)
Anyway, I let him go back to work and called Dear Friend Debbie. (of Cornerstone Stables! Remember Chase and Chazz?)
Dear Friend Debbie was most supportive. She was on her way home from work and immediately called her husband (Dear Friend Doug!) who was also on his way home from work. (Note to self: Remember to get Dougie's cell phone number!) Anyway, Dear Friend Debbie called Dear Friend Doug (who is her husband, Are y'all able to follow this?) and informed him that Stupid had put gasoline in a diesel truck. (I'm sure she was more sympathetic than that. Debbie is a sweetheart.)
Just as she was giving me the happy news that Dear Friend Doug was on his way to the rescue, Other Half called. He did not say "Holy Shit." In fact, because this is a family-friendly program, I cannot print what he said. He did ask me one question though.
"NO! I was NOT ON THE PHONE!!!!"
So Dear Friend Debbie came to sit with me while we waited for the Men to rescue me. (Eegaads! How did I get in this situation?) Anyway, Dear Friend Debbie crawled into the passenger seat of Monsta Truck and Lily crawled into her lap. Lily, who is not a stranger to drama and cussing, realized that this was one particular Drama which couldn't use a Faithful Border Collie. So Dear Friend Debbie and I chit-chatted while we waited for The Boyz.
Other Half came in his patrol truck and Dear Friend Doug drove our Dually. After it was positively established that yes, Stupid DID put gasoline in a diesel truck, the Boyz put a tow rope between the trucks and we started down the road. Dear Friend Debbie was in front with her flashers on. Dear Friend Doug was pulling Monsta with our Dually. Lily and I sat in Monsta truck with white knuckles. I had white knuckles because I had no power steering, no power brakes, and what seemed like about 4 feet of clearance between the grill of Monsta Truck and the tailgate of our Dually. (Lily had white knuckles cuz all her feet are white anyway.) Other Half followed us with his emergency strobe lights on.
Because it was already dark and we were now in rush-hour traffic, it took us forever to get out of the parking lot and onto the roadway. We had just started rolling down the road when I heard something break. "Holy Shit!" (Lily and I both said that.) The tow rope broke. (What Other Half said cannot be repeated.)
So we were now broken down ON THE ROADWAY! And that's when I remembered that prayer might be a good idea in this situation. Dear Friend Doug quickly put on another tow rope (He was as fast as any Rodeo Cowboy with a calf.) Other Half was in the road with a flashlight, trying to stop traffic so Doug wouldn't get run over. The problem was - the traffic WOULDN'T STOP! These were commuters. They were tired. They were hungry. (They were on cell phones.) And Other Half was beside himself with anger. There was LOTS of cussing. I did lots of praying. So did Lily. (In fact, I'm sure I heard her say "Dear Lord, please watch over Daddy and Uncle Dougie, and Dear Lord, while I have you on the line, would you please make Mommy buy pig ears at the feed store next time.)
After much yelling, Other Half finally got the traffic stopped. I kid you not, I saw one woman actually point at herself with a question mark. Me? You want me to stop? Me? (Yes YOU!) She never got off her cell phone, but she stopped, and that stopped everyone else. Dear Friend Doug finished with the tow rope, climbed in the dually, and we were Back In Business!
So our unlikely parade rolled down the road - way too fast. I could barely steer, I had little or no brakes, and I couldn't see because the windshield was all fogged up. I'm normally a calm person, but panic clawed at me like a cat getting a bath. I whipped out that cell phone (YES! I WAS ON THE PHONE!) and called Dear Friend Debbie. (because I forgot to get Doug's number before our little train left the station.)
"MAKE HIM SLOW DOWN! MAKE HIM SLOW DOWN!" I screamed into the phone.
And she did. And the wet cat in my stomach calmed down a little.
It was still a long, white-knuckle trip home. When we finally reached the driveway, I leaped out to hug Dear Friend Doug! Then I hugged Dear Friend Debbie! Then I hugged Other Half. And then . . . Other Half and Dear Friend Doug announced that they were going to get a sticker for the gas cap of my truck that reads: Sheri! Use Diesel Fuel Only!
I was not amused. I KNOW it only takes diesel fuel, I'm not STUPID! (And I WASN'T ON THE PHONE!!!)
And I'd like to take a moment to thank God for dear friends like Doug and Debbie who race to the aid of members of PWAPA. (People Who Aren't Paying Attention) I am a card-carrying member of PWAPA, an ever-expanding group of busy women in their 40's and older who put the television remote in the refrigerator, put the milk on the washing machine, and put gasoline in a diesel truck. I encourage other members of PWAPA to step forward and let your voices be heard!
Proudly wave your membership cards at your husbands and repeat after me:
"I was . . . NOT ON THE PHONE!"
Monday, November 15 2010
The thing I love so much about your notes to me, is that you people make me feel NORMAL! God love ya! And I do too!
Diane is a perfect example! After Other Half squished his finger and mangled up his ring while the two of us were trying to pull a horse cart down the street with a mule, (read: Red-light Adventures in Carting ), Diane shared this with me. I begged her to let me post it. This is soooooo something I'd do!
".........your little adventure reminded me of something I did once....well, let's just say I was glad no one was around to see me in the midst of it.
I laughed so hard that I almost peed in my pants! That's me! That's me! I'd do something JUST LIKE THAT! In fact, I even have a roll of wire just like hers! See!
Fortunately I haven't climbed on the barn and launched myself off of it, but that is only because it isn't beside a building. Had it been close enough to the pump house, Gooberhead that I am, I "might" have tried that. Thankfully, I have Diane's little adventure to educate me!
See how much we learn from each other!
Sunday, November 14 2010
There is nothing quite so humbling as taking a herding lesson - except perhaps looking at a photograph of yourself. Nothing quite says "lay off the holiday fudge" like a photo where the photographer is focused on your dog and not on making YOU look good. Today I had both of those little humbling experiences and I feel like horse hockey.
(Holy Crap! Is that my butt?!)
Okay, in the grand scheme of things, it's not that bad . . . I'm in my 40s, I'm getting fat, and my dog and I suck at anything resembling something more than basic farmyard herding. Let me grab another piece of fudge while I tell you about it.
Here goes . . . We haven't had an officical herding lesson since last March. Now while other folks bemoaned the fact that their dogs haven't SEEN livestock in months, I bemoaned the fact that my dog works livestock every day but we do it WRONG.
Ironically, WRONG has been working for us. We speak the same wrong language. We dance the same Wrong dance. We get the job done, but I know that we can do better. Sooooo . . . it's time for lessons again.
I told our instructor that I was confident that she'd look at us and ask what we've been doing since March when she last saw us work. (She was much more tactful than THAT!) She watched us work, politely pointed out that my handling really, really, REALLY sucked, (She was much more tactful than THAT.) and that the dog and I had compensated for our lack of training by developing a communication that was INCORRECT. Add to that the fact that the dog had trained ME as much as I had trained HER (and we were both doing it wrong!) and you had two people (dog and human) who didn't have proper basic flanks. (I KNOW! How humbling!) So she tried to show me AND teach the dog at the same time. Simple flanking commands . . . But this time she wanted it done right, not this bizarre Pseudo-herding bullcrap we've been doing! Eegaads! When you took away our incorrect communication, we sucked. And God help me with a sorting stick! (I've been doing that wrong too!) Soooo . . . Bless her heart, she tried to show me what she wanted, while showing the dog. It just wasn't working. (The dog is clever. I'm a bit slow.)
You see, the dog and I have developed this language. It's wrong, but when you try to change it, we both get confused. Sooo . . . our instructor asked if Lily would work for her. (probably not) It made sense though. Teach the dog what she wanted, then give the Newly Educated dog back to me and teach ME what she wanted. That sounded good in theory, but in reality, there was not a snowball's chance in Hell that Lily was going to work for her. (because Lily is a titty-baby)
It was ugly. It was really ugly. Lily bucked like a marlin on a fishing line. She acted like she'd never had a collar or line on in her life. It was a rodeo! It was painful to watch. (In reality, nothing she asked Lily to do was unusual at all.) Lily's reaction to me leaving her and having someone else at the helm was, and I quote,
"I don't know you! I don't wanna know you! You ain't my Momma, and you can't tell me what to do!"
Lily Having a Hissy-Fit!
Friends and Neighbors, it . . was . . ugly. Lily had absolutely no intention of working for her while I was there. So after some discussion I left the field and went to hang out with other handlers. (Despite what the dog will tell you, she was not abusing Lily. Lil acted like she had NEVER been on a collar before. Talk about a Titty Baby!)
Lily is planning on LEAVING the field!
A few minutes later she returned Lil to me. (I think most of the time was spent convincing Lily that yes, she COULD and WOULD work for someone else. "You will not DIE if your mommy leaves you.") Then using some trash cans and a sorting stick, she taught me the concept. It's not like it was THAT difficult, but somehow when you had dogs and sheep in the mix, it was confusing me. (I felt like such a doofus!)
So we thanked her for her time and we went home. Then we grabbed up four of our own sheep and tried what we'd learned. Eureka! That simple little concept which had us falling over ourselves when the Instructor changed up our Wrong Language seemed easy now that Lily UNDERSTOOD the Right Language and voila, I was able to move from training trashcans, to working with a Border Collie and sheep again!
So we called the instructor, (who was still working in the cold with someone else because Lily and I had hogged so much time), to thank her for her time and patience and let her know that we FINALLY got the concept. I hope . . . unless of course we don't, then will we practice it wrong all month . . . And when we see her at the end of the month, we will be back at square one again. Oh dear . . .
So for those of you who are lamenting because you don't have livestock to put your dog on, just think of this . . .you could be practicing it the WRONG way, EVERY single day! Believe it or not, even though herding trial folks cringe when they watch us work, Lily and I always manage to get our work done. But just imagine how much work we could get done . . . if we were doing it the RIGHT way!
Ta Ta! I'm off to go eat another piece of holiday fudge! (and next time I will inform my photographer to not take pictures of my BUTT!)
Saturday, November 13 2010
Please indulge me for a moment while I climb up onto my soapbox:
What they fail to tell us is that there is a giant, yawning cavern which separates the Responsible Breeder from the people who have a purebred dog and "want to get their money back out of her." After all, she has papers, why not "let her have a couple of litters?" I argue that papers are meaningless unless you actually know what they say. If you don't know the dogs on those papers, they are useless.
A Responsible Breeder knows the dogs in that pedigree. They know their strengths and their weaknessness. They know their health problems and if they breed working dogs, they know their working ability. Not everyone is breeding for the same goal, and that's why even among responsible breeders, controversy can arise. But the singlemost important trait that separates the Responsible Breeder from the Irresponsible Breeder is this:
The Responsible Dog Breeder assumes responsibility for EVERY dog they have produced for that dog's ENTIRE life.
If you cannot do that, spay Fluffy. If you are not willing to devote countless hours on the phone and on the computer and driving across the country to pick up and deliver dogs that you bred four years ago who now no longer have a home because of death or divorce or a myriad of other tragedies that befall them, neuter Bruiser.
I have never bred a litter. This is not because I'm not willing to accept the responsiblity, but because when I'm ready for another dog, I can usually find a responsible breeder out there who produces exactly what I'm looking for at the time. I need working dogs, and I'm lazy, so I want to stack the deck in my favor. Just because you can train and "shape" many behaviors, doesn't mean I want to have to do that. I'm too lazy for that now. I research and buy a puppy that has been specifically bred for that job.
But what if I'm not looking for a working dog or a puppy? What if I'm looking for a pet? What if I'm looking for an older dog? My mother faced this issue after cancer took her beloved Penny. She scoured ad after ad of rescue dogs looking for a companion. Days later she was overwhelmed and disillusioned. We discussed it, and despite all the fluffy little-old-lady-dogs she was looking at, what she really wanted was another dog of the same breed as Penny.
"Well then, that shouldn't be a problem," I said. "Call the breeders."
Because of Responsible Breeders, we can be reasonably certain that we can find a dog with the traits we desire. I'm going to go out on a limb here to state that if you properly research your chosen breed, and if there are enough Responsible Breeders in that breed, the buyer can be fairly confident that most of the dogs of the breed possess certain traits.
The key components are this:
1) if you properly RESEARCH the breed
For years my chosen breed has been the Belgian Tervuren. Since I am no longer doing Search & Rescue work, I am slowly moving to the Border Collie because I must have a working stock dog. This is not to say that Belgian Tervuren cannot work stock, but the vast majority are not bred for it, and as I have stated, I am a lazy dog trainer. I like for genetics to do most of the work for me. But I shall always have a fondness for the Belgians and will probably always have one - which brings us back to my mother.
My mother has had two Belgian Tervuren and simply adores them. She doesn't need a dog that works, she needs a companion, but she wants a companion that has traits common to most Belgian Shepherds -
A) a near-fanatical devotion to the owner
For the most part, not many Belgian Tervuren end up in a formal rescue situation. The breed is rare enough, and the breed fanciers are responsible enough that most dogs needing rescue are fostered somewhere until an appropriate Forever Home can be found.
Many times the dogs aren't advertised except for word of mouth. That is why it is so important to do your research. Meet the breeders. Get in contact with fanciers of your chosen breed. You can find them on the internet. If you don't see the dog you are searching for in the Rescue System, don't lose hope of finding it. Contact a Responsible Breeder. Many have dogs that have been returned to them through no fault of the dog. A good breeder is responsible enough to take that animal back and find it another home. YOU could be that home. These dogs are not called "rescues," they are called "re-homes."
I've had three re-home Belgians. Both my Mom's Belgians were re-homes. There is nothing wrong with these dogs! In fact, if you are looking for a particular breed as a companion, then you cannot go wrong with contacting a breeder for a re-home dog.
Because many formal rescue organizations have developed a thick, indifferent skin from years of dealing with the horrors and the absolute stupidity of the public around them, many potential good homes are lost when the grieving become intimidated and overwhelmed by the system. And that's where Responsible Breeders and Fanciers of the Breed step in and shine.
As soon as my mother admitted that she really wanted another Belgian Tervuren, I contacted breeders and breed fanciers. I explained my mother's situation and described the home she could provide. And I asked the people who love this breed if anyone "knows of a dog who is in need of an old woman in need."
The response was overwhelming. Many people had dogs in their homes, waiting for a loving Forever Home. My mother's tears of grief turned to tears of gratitude. And she is now eagerly counting down the days until she receives her Special Dog. He will be her constant companion. He will want for nothing.
For years Responsible Dog Breeders have endured the stigma slapped upon them by politically correct rescue organizations who often look down their noses at anyone with an unaltered dog. But those of us who benefit from the time, tears, hopes and fears of Responsible Dog Breeders should take a moment to stand up and thank them.
I would personally like to thank:
Linda Newsome of Tacara Belgian Tervuren
and now Melody Jensen of M.A.J.I.C. Belgian Tervuren & Groenendael for allowing Stone to become my Mother's Special Dog.
God bless you all! Bless all the breeders and fanciers who are the unsung heroes for preserving and protecting the dogs and the genetics, so that future generations can be fairly certain they can find a dog with the traits they need - even if it's just making an old woman feel safe while she lies in bed with her dog and watches Jay Leno.
I'm stepping down from my soapbox now . . .
Thursday, November 11 2010
Dear-Friend-Married-To-Vet-That-Lives-On-The-Next-Farm-Over bought Trace's littermate. And Thank God for that! (Other Half and I were tempted to buy her ourselves!)
Look at this adorable little thing! Her name is Rue. (we think . . . at the moment it's Rue. Then again it might be Rune, or it might be Ruby . . .)
She was so cute and clean before she came over and played in the mud with her brother!
I've informed Cathy that if she looks away for a moment, then I shall stuff Rue into my backpack and keep her for myself.
Yes, she is that much bigger than Trace. He's a shrimp. (but we love him!)
I wish I could bottle that energy and sell it in six-packs!
It made me tired just watching them.
(You're welcome for that rather exhausting mental work-out!)
Thursday, November 11 2010
I have a dear friend who lives in Los Angeles. Despite the fact that I'm a gun totin' conservative in Texas, and he's as liberal as Hillary Clinton's hairdresser, we've had many intelligent "give and take" discussions regarding politics, crime, health care, national security, and foreign policy. I respect the fact that he was a journalist in different parts of Asia for 12 years and has the passport stamps to back up his views. He respects the fact that I've lived nightmares that he's only seen in bad dreams. His experiences tend to color his view on foreign policy. My experiences tend to color my view on crime and punishment. But the point is, we still respect the views of the other.
He told me something once that I shall never forget, (I'll paraphrase my National Geographic Explorer and edit some of the cuss words for you.)
"I've been all over the world. I've seen a lot of different political systems. And I'll tell you this . . . no matter how "effed" up our system is, it's still better than anything else I've seen."
Regardless of how you voted in the last presidential election, the peaceful exchange of power was something that should have given every American chillbumps. Here were two very different political camps coming together peacefully and exchanging the reins of an entire country. I remember watching that ceremony in awe.
How blessed we are to live in a society where two people of differing viewpoints can openly trade opposing ideas. How blessed are we to live in a country where we have the right to criticize our government without fear. If we don't like the way our elected officials are running things, we don't have to take up arms, Americans can take up the pen. Americans can speak up. Americans can vote. And they do. Over the course of this country's history, the pendulum has swung back and forth between liberal and conservative. Regardless of your political leanings, the important thing is not whether the pendulum swings in your favor, but that the pendulum has the freedom to swing at all.
And that's where the Constitution and the American soldier come in. Men and women have died, and continue to die, to give you these freedoms. Whether or not you agree with why America is at war, the American soldier will still stand up and fight for you and for your right to disagree with policy. Many people will argue that war is senseless, violence begets violence, we're fighting for all the wrong reasons . . . and the list goes on. But they often forget that the soldier is not the policy.
The American soldier is not a nameless, faceless, automaton, or an army of political puppets. The American soldier is your brother, your sister, the child you taught in school, the Little League kid, the Girl Scout, the Boy Scout, the Neighbor's boy, the kid down the street . . . the kid who takes a moment to share a kind word of thanks for the old man, the old woman . . . the veteran . . . who years earlier also fought for your right to enjoy freedoms that so many take for granted.
So please take a moment to treasure the freedoms you enjoy. Thank God, thank a soldier, and thank a veteran, that you live in a country where you have these freedoms.
Wednesday, November 10 2010
Other Half is out of town. He has gone to some "starched shirt something" which doesn't include his partner, Oli.
Because we have so many freakin' dogs, their care is divided into "yours, mine, and ours."
New Police Dog - Oli
Precious Can Do No Wrong Border Collie - Lily
Little Red Snot Border Collie Puppy - Trace
(Even though Ranger is in Other Half's stack of dogs, he believes he is MY dog, so I attend to his physical and emotional needs. And even though Trace is OUR puppy, make no mistake - he's MINE!)
For the most part, the care of everyone except Oli and Cowboy falls on me (cuz I'm tha Mommy!). Oli is his partner, and Cowboy is his truck dog. Since Cowboy tries to fight with Ranger (who kicks his butt every time) and he pees all over the house, he cannot run with the Big Pack. Since Oli still views Trace as if he's a high-priced meal, she is also not allowed to run with the Big Pack. (It would not look good if Other Half had to report to his agency that I shot his $7000 dog because she ate my toddler puppy.) So Oli and Cowboy are a small pack of their own. They putter around the yard together, they play together in the living room, but they have absolutely nothing in common. (just cell mates!)
* Oli loves to trot endless circles, chase cats, & kill sheep.
* Cowboy likes to run in large sweeping, slinking circles around livestock. He likes to stare at stock, and cats are beneath his radar. (and he likes to pee on everything!)
While Other Half is out of town, I must exercise his dogs. So today after the Big Pack got a morning walk, the Special Needs Pack got their morning walk. That's when this was caught on the surveillance camera. (or it could have been me sitting in the horse trailer with a Canon)
I took these shots for Other Half since he will not believe me without proof.
This is my driveway.
Robert! See that crater!
Look at the dog diggin' that crater!
Does this little butt look familiar?
No, it's not "out of focus," that's sand flying at the camera! Look again!
Does that look like my precious, innocent Briar?
No! In fact, it looks a LOT like your little red heathen dog, OLI! Doesn't it?
The State rests its case, Your Honor!
Tuesday, November 09 2010
A: load it up on a flatbed trailer
Stupid people that we are, we opted for "C."
It was late, in fact, it was dark. (I want to go on record here to state that "I" suggested that we wait until the next morning when the sun was up! But NO! He wanted to get that chore out of the way. Okie Dokie, Smokey!)
Sooo . . . he found a red lantern that flashes, (yes it is exactly like the red lanterns that the railroad men used to hang outside the prostitute's door, thus, "the red light" district was born . . . I read somewhere that this is actually a myth, but I digress . . . ) Any hooo, he used some hay string to hang a red lantern from the back of the buggy, sat on the tail gate of the little mule, picked up the shafts, and gave the order to proceed.
There was much yelling to get it out of the driveway. Other Half is a yeller and a screamer. Unlike Ranger, the Blue Heeler, I don't take it personally, I just slam on the brakes, hop out, and scream right back at him because he yells contradictory instructions. (It makes for a healthy relationship. Either that, or it entertains the neighbors, I'm not sure which.)
After much yelling, we navigated the driveway and headed off down the highway . . . in the dark - two fools, pulling a horse cart behind a Kubota mule . . . illuminated by headlights in the front, and a prostitute light in the back. All was well until we got to our destination. A sharp right-hand turn was needed to get into the driveway.
I slowly put on the brakes.
"You got it?" I asked.
"Yeah, I got it! Go ahead!"
So I did. And that's when he started screaming. Now this wasn't the deep-voiced, impatient yell of a man used to telling other people what to do. No, this was the high-pitched wail of pain.
"No! NO! NO! Back up! Reverse!!!" (Plus there was lots of cussing, but since this is a family-friendly channel, I deleted those words.)
So I put the mule in reverse. The screaming reached a whole new pitch. And cussing . . . lots more cussing. (Something about cutting his blankety-blank finger off.) So I leaped out of the mule and ran around the back to see what he had gotten himself into.
Eegaads! To make it easier to pull, he had wedged the shafts of the cart into the bed of the mule. This worked well on the straight-away, but it didn't allow for the turn. He was holding the shaft inside the bed of the mule. When our Hillbilly vehicle turned right, the wooden shaft of the cart pinched his hand against the metal bed of the mule. Ouch! (or . . . Bleep! Bleep! Bleepity! Bleep!)
There was more hollering as we lifted the shaft to release his fingers. (It actually made the skin on my butt crawl!) But . . . it didn't amputate his fingers. Fortunately for him, he was wearing this . . .
We had a doggone hard time getting that ring off. He refused to go to the Emergency Room to let them cut it off. (Diamond horseshoe ring) We finally got it off with dish soap.
I was looking for a frozen bag of peas to put on his hand, but he insisted that I run to his fancy, smancy tactical gear and get a chemical cold pack (yes, he actually has chemical packs as well as "if you get shot, open this packet" gear.) So instead of a bag of frozen peas, he wanted the chemical cold pack. He grabbed it with the good hand, ripped it open, and it exploded in his face. (uh oh! It was not a good night for Other Half.)
So while he was standing over the kitchen sink washing out his eyes, I was rummaging through bags of frozen vegetables.
"No peas. How 'bout some French Fries?"
Interestingly enough, despite the pain, the hand seems to have survived without much damage. The ring was a bit oblong, but nothing was broken. We discussed taking it to the jeweler's to have it fixed. I'm gonna let y'all in a little secret. Other Half is tight. Other Half is really, really tight. Why pay a jeweler to fix a ring when you have a pair of pliers? I kid you not. It ain't pretty, but it fits on his finger again. And now we have both learned a valuable lesson. He learned to watch his fingers when pulling the cart, and I learned to always drive the mule and let him pull the cart. (I'm just saying . . . )
Monday, November 08 2010
I tease about Ranger being Trace's Fairy Godfather . . .
But the reality is that despite his good humor,
Ranger is most definitely a Marlon Brando-style "Godfather."
Just ask Briar . . .
when she gets too rough with Trace . . .
"Don't play too rough with The Baby!"
After Ranger lets her up, Briar and Trace shuffle off to the more sedate sport . . .
. . . of hunting for cat poop.
While Trace's Godfather watches . . .
Sunday, November 07 2010
Other Half works nights, so he rarely gets to experience the best time on a farm . . .
. . . when the sun comes up.
As the sun rises, so do the animals.
(Some are a bit more enthusiastic than others.)
There are dogs to be walked . . .
"MOMMM!!! dOnT tAkE PicKcHerS oF mE pOOpiNg!!"
"MaKe LiLy QUiT LooKN aT mE!"
There are horses to be fed.
Goats and sheep to turn out . . .
. . . and cows to be checked.
(Note to self: Cows do NOT appreciate it when humans lie in the grass and rise up to take their pictures. Cows don't have much of a sense of humor. It probably has something to do with McDonald's and Big Macs. I'm just saying . . . )
Horses are okay with it.
Horses have a sense of humor.
Border Collies have a great sense of humor! Uh oh!
Saturday, November 06 2010
I want to take a moment to thank all the angels who flew to my rescue when I asked for help finding someone who could spin my Soul Dog Hair into yarn and make it into something I could wear as a remembrance of him. You guys are awesome!
The hair in the can will be going to Mary Berry of Fancy Fibers Farm (www.FancyFibers.com ) here in Texas. She thinks I have enough hair for a scarf and maybe a hat! (woo hooo!) I found another small stash of hair in a plastic garbage bag (more tears of joy!) and Sue Givens in Wyoming has offered to spin that into yarn. She thinks maybe we can make one of those earwarmer headbands. (Yee haaa!)
I cannot begin to thank you guys for all the support you have given me! You are like family! Over this year we've shared laughs, loves, tears of sadness and tears of joy. During this season of Thanksgiving, I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how much you, my dear readers and friends, mean to me.
. . . and Lily!
Saturday, November 06 2010
Last night Ice came home. Even though life for her is much better at Grandma's house, after a few days she realized that she wasn't just visiting, and she became more and more stressed. She missed her pack. She missed her mommy. I took her on the "pack walks" each morning with us, but it wasn't enough. She began waiting by the fence for me. She turned her back on "the good life" and wanted to come home . . . home to a half-life where she must share everything with the pack, but it was what she wanted, and so we honored that.
I was reminded of the street dog who belonged to the homeless man. We fed him roast beef and cornbread, but he left us and never looked back when his master hobbled down the street. (read: Moral Dilemmas) Ice is a devoted little dog. She still loves Grandma, but she wants to live over here.
On a side note: Ranger had taken to hopping the fence, going through Grandma's doggy door, and visiting Ice. Apparently he was also feeling the pinch of a pack divided. Either that, or he has decided that cleaning out the refrigerator with G'ma is the cat's pajamas! He is an odd little dog.
This morning he raced across 3 pastures when he heard lambs bleating in distress. Normally his attitude towards the sheep is "they are great toys to bark at," but upon hearing them in a panic, his Crazy-Overprotective-Greek-Mother genes kicked in and he raced to their defense. How utterly odd . . .
(They were fine, they had simply misplaced their mother.) Ranger was not satisfied however, until the lambs found their mother and all was well again. I'll say this, I was strongly against getting that little fruitcake, but he has proven to be such a good family dog that if I lived in some remote part of Texas, (and didn't have to worry about them biting people) I'd have a pack of little blue psycho dogs.
Friday, November 05 2010
This is Old Timer.
(Don't get excited, he's not staying!)
Last night Other Half and I attended a fancy suit & tie multi-agency thingee which necessitated both of us trying to get out of the house without dog hair on black fabric. (not easily done in our household!) Nevertheless, we arrived at the little shing-ding, met interesting folks, discussed national security, interstate commerce, and livestock guardian dogs (I kid you NOT! Another couple found out we had sheep and asked us about Anatolians! We ended up talking dogs most of the night. Go figure.)
Anyway, when the ride was over, and people were filing out, this little wayfaring stranger flagged us down. He ran up to Other Half, jumped on his leg and said, (and I quote), "HEY, I need some assistance! I've lost my human and my cellular phone. Could I borrow your phone to call my human?"
How this dog found the one K9 handler in a sea of suits I don't know, but he did. And from the moment he climbed into Other Half's arms, I knew that at least for tonight, he was coming home with us. So much for not getting dog hair on a black suit. A Secret Service Agent helped us with him and after calling his mom and not getting an answer, we drove around the neighborhood to talk with security guards, yuppies, and homeless people to see if anyone knew where this little guy came from. No such luck.
A few well-placed phone calls later and we had an address but it was nowhere near where he'd flagged us down. We also found another phone number but it only yielded another answering machine. It looked like Old Timer was coming home with us for a while. Oh joy, just what we need - another dog.
Fortunately Old Timer loves to travel, loves to be carried, walks on a leash, is familiar with a dog crate, is housetrained, and gets along well with other dogs. The night was not nearly as stressful as I'd thought it would be.
And bright and early this morning his mommy called Other Half to report that Old Timer had been staying with friends while she was out of town. He had gotten away from them, faced fast-moving cars, braved the pitbulls in the ghetto, forded the railroad tracks, and flagged down the three people in a sea of suits most likely to lend him a cell phone.
I returned him to his mommy this afternoon. She saw his little face in the passenger's seat and began running down the sidewalk even before my truck came to a stop. I rolled down the window and she ripped him through the open window and into her arms. He wriggled around, kissed her tears, and started to tell her about his big adventure. All I can say is that God must certainly look out for brave little dogs with big hearts.
Note: Old Timer made it home because he was wearing a dog tag with his name and telephone number and he was friendly enough to flag down a stranger. Dog tags and/or microchips are well worth the time. I would be hysterical if my little Lily had been lost in that neighborhood. Other Half says I would have had a police helicopter up looking for her. (He's right . . . I'm sure we could have somehow tied the disappearance of a Border Collie to terrorist activity and national security. I'm very creative that way.)
Thursday, November 04 2010
"What do we live for,
if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?"
There is a profound wisdom in that quote. We are all an army of angels. I hold firmly to the belief that God puts us where he wants us. Sometimes being in the right place at the right time means good befalls you, but other times, being in the right place at the right times means you are there to help someone else.
One of my favorite quotes is from an old Clint Eastwood movie, "Bronco Billy."
"A hand-out is what you get from the government,
(I only saw that movie once, but I never forgot that quote.)
Each and every one of us can be an angel for someone else. No matter how great, or how small they are, everyone can use a little "hand up" from time to time. Today while walking the dogs in the bird flight pen, I happened to run across this little Neighbor In Need:
A dragonfly had gotten caught in the netting. He buzzed and buzzed, but he was caught fast. I noticed him, even the dogs noticed him, it was simply a matter of time before he became an unhappy participant in the Food Chain's Circle of Life on the Farm. So I decided to help him. There was a problem, however. God had sent him an angel, but my little neighbor was probably 12 feet off the ground, and this angel is only 5'5" tall.
I also firmly believe that if "God sends you to it, He'll send you through it," and I wasn't the only angel that God sent to this little dragonfly.
Just about the time I wished I was 12' tall, the dogs just happened to find this really cool stick. (Huh! Whodathunkit?)
So I asked them to bring me the stick. And they did . . . (eventually it got to me.)
"Let go, Stupids! I'M bringing it!"
So I freed the dragonfly and he went off about his little dragonfly business. It got me to thinking about the chain of events leading up to his unlikely rescue and how God would use a human, a stick, and five dogs to rescue a dragonfly.
Perhaps there's a lesson in all that. Maybe it's this:
Maybe, just maybe, if we all slowed down . . .
. . . and took a look around,
just maybe, we could help "make life less difficult for each other. . . "
Wednesday, November 03 2010
My Black Wolf finally has what every Belgian wants more than anything else in the world - Ice now has her own person.
When Ice was a puppy she went to a Narcotics home. And she learned to be a Narcotics dog. Although she knew her job, she had problems handling the chaos of a Narcotics scene and was eventually "bumped from the team." I was contacted to help find a home for her and snapped her up as a companion for her brother, my Cadaver Dog, Kona.
She fit in well here. Life as a pet dog suited her just fine, but she, like all Belgians, wanted more. She wanted to be someone's Special Dog. The problem was that her brother was already in that spot. And in time, Lily the Border Collie also occupied that spot. Ice was happy for any attention I could give her, but I could tell she wanted more.
When my mother's dog, Ice's sister, passed away, Mom was left dog-less. (I KNOW! I shudder to even think about being DOG-LESS!) Mom needed the security of a guard dog, and the companionship of a dog who is hardwired in every fiber of her being to be someone's SPECIAL DOG. A dog like that lives to have a Special Person that they can shadow and protect. My mom needs a dog like that.
Ice needs a job. My mother is now Ice's job. It works - like peanut butter and jelly.
I love Ice, but sometimes truly loving a dog means letting them go to another home where their needs will be better filled. Sometimes love means letting go.
Now Ice has perks that she never dreamed of:
* She can sleep on the bed.
* She can sleep on the couch.
* She doesn't have to share bones.
* She doesn't have to share table scraps.
* She doesn't have to share snuggles & hugs.
And my mom . . .
. . . will never get to go to the bathroom by herself again . . .
Tuesday, November 02 2010
When's the last time you went through your junk closet? Don't lie to me! I know you have one! All sane people have one. If you don't, then your life is waaaay too organized and you probably don't read this blog anyway because the sheer unorganized, wackiness of bouncing between barn flies at home and maggots at work would drive you nuts. (but I digress . . .)
It was packed on a shelf, behind old riding boots that I can't wear anymore. One would have thought that like the board game Jumanji, I would have heard drums, but instead, I heard a heart beat. I'm not sure if it was mine, or his . . . but as soon as I saw it, I scaled over pieces of old dog crates, wrapping paper, and Christmas ornaments to reach it.
A moment before I cracked the rusty seal, I started to cry. I knew what was in that can . . . and I thought I'd lost it. The lid groaned as I popped it open. And there it was . . . there he was.
And I stood there and sobbed. I cried and I cried and I cried. Poor Ranger the Blue Heeler rushed into the room to save me from whatever evil had sprung forth from the closet. But as I sat in the floor sobbing, I hugged Ranger and assured him that these were Happy Tears. (a concept completely beyond Ranger's scope)
In 2002 I lost my Soul Dog. I was in district court when I got the call. He was down and couldn't get up, but he held on until I got home. We put him in the back of my 4Runner and I climbed in with him. He was barely conscious, but he laid his great head on my chest, and as my tears soaked through my shirt, I swear that I felt it . . . I felt him . . . soaking into, slipping into, my soul.
And I was okay with that. I missed him horribly. I still do. He wasn't a perfect dog, but he was my Soul Dog. For years when I brushed him, I saved the hair. SOME DAY I was going to get that hair to someone who could spin it into yarn and make a scarf for me so that I could wear my Soul Dog. I saved his hair for years. Then I bought his littermate, and I saved her hair too. Over time, and tervs, the stashes of hair became a bother. I'm not sure when, over the 12 years, I stopped keeping the hair, but I did. I even started throwing hair away. Then I lost him, and by that time, I couldn't find my stashes of his hair.
I mourned that dog like no other, and still do. He didn't just touch my soul, he became a part of my soul. And that's why I found myself sitting on the office floor, holding a rusty tin of dog hair, and sobbing.
I am determined now that Some Day has arrived. The dog and the hair have stood the test of time. God gave me a special gift in that dog. Now it's time to pull that lost tin of hair out of the closet and spin it into yarn. I know that several of you deal with wool sheep. Can anyone point me in the direction of someone who can spin Belgian Tervuren hair? There's a lot of it; it's clean; and it's precious, so very, very precious.
Monday, November 01 2010
Melody in Oklahoma sent me this hilarious story regarding Livestock Guardian Dogs and their choice of chew toys. I begged her to let me share it.
I can certainly sympathize with you and the "ugh" factor over Briar's stinky new Possum Chew Toy. Around here, when we find ourselves with a body to dispose of, we have a large ditch at the top of the hill, a result of a previous owner's attempt at terracing gone horribly wrong. (it's big enough to put a house in, several, actually, though the previous owner used it for "ditching" recently expired cattle & his household trash) Anyway, since we've been here, the "crack of doom" as we call it has become the semi-final resting place of quite a few animals including various armadillos, pack rats and opossums that met an untimely demise, along with chickens, goats, sheep, and not one, but two very old horses. I say semi final because once the buzzards start to circle, and the LGDs realize that "Hey, there's probably something good up there...", the dogs tend to treat the CoD like a personal larder. Every chance they can, while the goats browse nearby, they'll slip away looking for a little snack they can bring with them to work. Just a few weeks ago, we lost a chicken, a very old goat(16 yrs) and alas, Old General(12 yrs), a wonderful Komondorok LGD, all within 24 hours.
When his time came, even General went into the ditch; partly because it seemed fitting as it was a place he had spent many happy hours, but mostly because I didn't want to try to bury a dog that was almost as big as me. (I'm 4'11")
LSS, this afternoon as they came up to the house, I noticed the Anatolian and Fila/Anatolian cross had the unmistakable aroma that comes from canine treasure hunting in the CoD. I figured one of them would be proudly brandishing leg of goat, but no, there were no delightfully stinky treats. Instead, as they got closer, I recognized the long white tuft of hair snagged on one dog's collar as having belonged to the Komondorok. (I guess it's the doggy style equivalent of taking a carnation from the gravesite after a funeral and putting it in your lapel.) Apparently, having discovered their old Teacher and friend, they couldn't leave without having a good roll to capture that special Essence of General.
(note to self: keep the goats and dogs confined close to the house for the next couple of weeks...)
Meanwhile, back @ the farm...
Thank you, Melody! That certainly puts Briar's possum in perspective!