Another Life Change

My last day of my summer job we learned we were going to have to put down our dog Harley.   We had adopted him from a rescue shelter as an adult.  We soon figured out he had been abused, but it would be a long time before we heard via the local grapevine how terrible his abuse.  It was reflected in some of his behaviors, that we we could never convince him to let go of.   All this aside he was a great little companion in our family.   I worked from home all but the last three months of his life, so we were constant buddies.   Yet when RangerSir got home each night he followed him around and tried to make up for the time they did not have together while he made money to buy dog food.  Harley was a little Cairn Terrier (think Toto), and his terrier attitude and energy level made him a perfect match for our household.   He was the world’s best hiking partner, tireless but alert.  As a Cairn he should have seen anything that was small and darted as prey, but he was the protector of baby chicks and our adult flock.   Never made sense, but it was a role he took seriously.  He fit into our lifestyle, energy when he needed and quiet when we were.   He was our pet, a member of our family.  He is gone now, but he will always hold a special place in our heart.

One of my favorite pictures of Harley doing what he loved sitting up on a rock looking out on the world.

One of my favorite pictures of Harley doing what he loved sitting up on a rock looking out on the world.

After we put him down we had a hole in our hearts but we were not sure if or when we would want another dog. We started to look at the local shelters and the online shelter pages after about a month.  Sometimes thinking yes it was time and other times thinking not so sure, and if you are not so sure – you really aren’t ready.   It is hard to know if and when you are ready.

We talked about the four dogs we had owned in the 35 years we have been married    We were honest about their quirks, good traits and the bad traits.   Our next dog could take us into our 70’s easily and so as we thought about the things we wanted in our next dog, some things were negotiable and others nonnegotiable. We were getting closer to making a commitment to a pet for their lifetime.

Five weeks later we were fairly certain we had found a match.  We had found this dog from an online shelter notice. We had asked lots of questions and RangerSir and I had discussed his pros and cons. Sunday we drove nearly four hours to a shelter to meet this dog and see if when we met him it was a match.   We are now the owners of another rescue dog.   He is a teenager mixed breed, likely of Cairn origin.

I am sure that we will do some pet posting on the blog as we move along the continuum of learning about this dog and his quirks.   There are sure to be lots of bumps in the highway and some long learning curves for all of us.  In spite of it all pets bring so much to our lives that years from now we will only remember a few of the challenges that come with a new pet, Zip.

Our new teenager, Zip.

Our new teenager, Zip.

What A Difference A Day Makes

Today was a polar opposite to yesterday.   Yesterday was nothing short of miserable.  I did get out and walk, but wore hiking boots in the snow and slush and left the dog at home.   Our dog is  too close to the ground and too old to be walking in the miserable cold.   Today he was once again walking with me in the Montana sunshine. harleytrains

Harley is our Cairn Terrier and he walks regularly with me.   He is a tireless terrier and still sets the pace for our walks even though he is 11 years old.   We are in training for him to once again do the Tails on the Trails 5K though he already does three miles easily currently, so the training is really a moot point.      Last year it rained and snowed on us, but we finished in record time  This year’s walk is on the 9th so who knows Harley may set a new personal best again this year while raising money for dogs and cats still looking for their forever home.

Tender Heart

Everyone has things that bring out their tender heart.   For me it is senior animals in shelters.   I wish I could bring them all home.  It breaks my heart to see them there.

I have a dog that was eight and a cat that was ten when they were turned into the shelter.   Their stories are like so many others who should being enjoying their golden years, instead are uprooted from the only home they have known and sent to a shelter environment.   Our dog only spent a few weeks in the shelter, unfortunately our cat spent over half a year before we adopted her.

Senior pets are often slow to be adopted because folks are generally attracted to those young cute kittens and puppies.   Most senior pets have some basic skills and likely a couple bad habits as well.  What is unique about the senior pet is that they are very anxious to please and forever grateful when rescue them.   They will forever be thankful to you for picking them.   This gratitude makes them much easier to train and teach them the rules of your home.

Now that I have more time of my own I find myself stopping at the local shelter volunteering  and spending time with the animals there.  I know I can’t take them home, but I can make their time at the shelter a little less lonely.  Sooner or later a senior lover like me will find them and take them to their forever home.

I just learned that November is adopt a senior pet month….how cool is that.

 

And You Wonder Why- Shithead Dog Owners

I tried to think of some other title for this posting, but somehow this seem to be the only thing that fit. I apologize if I have offended you, but I really think it is the best I can do.

I just returned from a week long holiday.    For the first time ever we took our dog rather than board him.   It was an enlightening experience.   The add on fees for places to bring your dog ran the whole gamut, from just a little extra to fees that altered what we would do and where we would go.   I could understand this after all my dog is not perfect, no far from it, but I do think I am a responsible pet owner.  I did wonder why there were not add on fees for kids because I suspect that they can do as much damage as some dogs and there are many more of them that travel.

My dog is a house dog and yes he his allowed on the furniture (track dirt that is in his toes).   He barks at folks who walk by our car and when we are home barks at strangers who pull in the drive.   That is the downside.   The upside is he sleeps in a crate, and goes in there when we are away.   He is low to the ground and stands by the door to be dried off and paws cleaned when it is damp out.   He doesn’t bark when left home alone in the crate.   That is the upside.

Having never traveled with a dog before I spent some dough decking him out to make traveling with him easier.   The first thing I got him was a travel crate.   I had planned to collapse his home crate and take it along until I saw the travel crate, then I knew he did not care but I had to have one for this week on the road. It was lots like the collapsing lawn chairs with the bags you sling over your shoulder.  Of course we put his wool blanket from home in it. What was so interesting is that in the evening our dog heads to his crate long before we head to bed and with this one we found the same to be true when we were on the road.  He quickly figured out it was his safe place just like home.  It was a safe consistent place that he knew, no matter if it was a hotel on the road for a night or a house for the week.   Thousands of people will argue against crates and I will continue to argue that it is like a den that canine in the wild seek out.   You are feeding your domestic dog’s wild side.

It folds up like lawn chairs and works great if your dog is used to being crated. If your dog hasn’t already been trained to be in a crate I am sure they would rip their way out in 10 minutes tops.

I also decked myself out with a poop gather for walks since I did not do it at home since he had nearly 25 acres and he choose to do it out of what would be considered the lawn here at home.  One of the advantages of having a country dog. My contraption hooked on the dog leash, dispensed bags and even had a pouch to hold the full nasty until I got to a place to throw them out.    Nothing I hate worse than seeing dog poo that has not been picked up.    (Now you understand my blog title).   I know my dog his healthy and even though picking up dog poo is not my idea of a nice time, I know he is vaccinated, healthy and does not have worms or other intestinal nasties.   I can’t same the same for anyone who is so ignorant they don’t think that they have to pick up after their dog.   If they are that stupid about that simple responsibility, who knows how much more stupid they are about responsibilities that cost money like veterinary care. I was absolutely flabbergasted that the hotel and other places furnished bags and special waste cans and still people were so stupid and lazy as to not pick up after they dogs.   RangerSir was sure I was going to get decked each time a dog owner would walk away from a pile and I would call after them and say hey there are bags there pick up after your dog.    Stupid, lazy dog owners allowed their dogs to poop everywhere and I suddenly knew why the fees…at least most children are potty trained.   Children must toilet train themselves , because obviously if they had to depend on their parents many would never learn if devoted dog owners are any indication.

Now how stupid or lazy can you be? I sure found out on this trip.

It worked out well taking the dog along.   He went with us many times and stayed home in his crate when we didn’t want to take him along, no different than home.    We included him on the daily walks on the beach and we left him home when we explored towns.   He spent his day sitting between the seats watching where we were going in the rig.   When he got tired of that he would curl up and sleep until we got to our  destination. It was a vacation for him and us.   I would repeat taking a dog a long, it worked great for us, but was an eye opener as well.

 

Pissing Match ~ Dog Vs. Fox

On of the common phrases in the American vernacular is phrase pissing match.  It is one of my favorites to use to describe when that contest of wills kicks in between two parties, most often men.   Recently I have been reminded of how this phrase may have come into being in a very primal way by my dog.

One of my local foxes.

One of my local foxes.

Ten of the last 12 years we have had a family of foxes have their kits on our property.   It seems that the family of foxes is back again this year right on time.   The foxes have been busy scouting out the chickens and marking their territory in our pasture and yard.   Our dog, Harley, though likely no match for Mr. & Mrs. Fox, is out there squatting the same place the Fox Family left their mark.      He is determined to make sure his is the last calling card in the pissing match between the fox and the dog.

This dog Vs. fox pissing match has resulted in some restrictions on Harley.    He suddenly has gone from a dog who has free range to a dog who is on a leash and to a dog who  has an owner with him at all times.    He desire to remark everything has made he travel too far from home, have complete disregard for commands and in general practice reckless behavior.    A Cairn Terrier is likely no match for a single fox, let alone two.    It has become a burden to us  because we no longer can open the door and let him out.   Now every time he goes out it is a twosome effort and we have to  leash him up as well.  In so many ways this pissing match has so many of the same characteristics that we humans demonstrate when we get into pissing matches.   We get so caught up in the one-up-manship and having the last word that we don’t think about is this really right or worth the effort.  Pissing matches often impact others on the periphery of those who get caught up in pissing matches.    I always thought pissing matches were testosterone gone awry, but I have decided that hormones may have a part in all this, but more likely this is more about our animal instincts resurfacing.

Magic Words for Dogs

I was leaving for a meeting the other day when I came upon an elderly lady with a little Yorkie running wild on the road.  My mind is cranking away that this lady somehow thought it was alright to pull onto our dead-end road to let her dog do his duties.   In spite of it all those less than gracious thoughts running through my mind I was acutely aware that my dog loves to chase a car given a chance and I slowed down.  It was important for me to stop until she had her dog under control.

As I slowed and came to a stop, I felt sorry for this woman whose little rat was having the time of his life running in Montana open range.   Each time she approached the dog he got more excited then running as though playing a game.   He was a indoor city dog gone wild.

This little gray-haired lady approached my rig and sighed.   She told me a tale of woe how she was unable to capture her dog  after she let it out for just a second.   She was wondering if I would help her capture her little critter.  Lucky for her we always carry in our glove box some dog treats.  I got out of my rig and called the two words guarantee to bring any dog in.    Treats and want to go for a ride?   Before I had it out of my mouth that little critter had his feet on my running boards and begging for a bit of food.     I picked him up and handed him to his owner and was on my way.

One minute I was feeling frustrated because I was running late, then the anger because someone was letting a dog poo in on my road….the next a silly little dog in a tartan jacket was making me smile and I was happy I could help a stranger.  All a reminder that life is what we make of it.   It can be full of stress and anger or I can choose to change how I look at it and embrace it in a positive sort of way.

Joy of Pets

blog-04-13I just spent the better part of the week on the road for work.   I am home again and reminded the joy of owning pets.  Each of them brings something different to the the household.   My dog brings a sense of spunkiness and a challenge of a stubborn personality.    My cat brings that that quiet acceptance.  All of it so enjoyable after a week away from it.