Learning to Walk

When we first got Zip he hated to go on walks.   It gave me pause because I picked my little terrier because of their energy level and my desire for another walking partner.  I have blogged previously about his lack of outdoor experience and it turned out that this was part of the problem.   He really did not know how to walk.   When he walked his legs went every which way.   They did not move in conjunction with one another. He spent untold amounts of energy in forward momentum.

He has now learned how to walk.   He has found his rhythm.  Now he begs to go on multiple walks each day.   I have found my walk partner.

He wants to know why we have stopped.

He wants to know why we have stopped.

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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.

Is a Laser a Dog or a Cat Toy?

We have a Cairn Terrier who likes to chase all sorts of things that dart around.   By his breed he should be fascinated and want to catch mice, gopher and rats.

We recently bought our cat a laser to play with.    It has turned out that that our dog loves it as much as the cat.   I imagine some day that the dog and cat will smash heads one day when they both attempt to capture the light.   It almost makes me laugh to imagine them like two stooges hitting heads and falling back stunned. Hopefully I will have a camera handy when it happens.

Life with a Dog is Better

Mr. Ranger Sir & Harley

Mr. Ranger Sir & Harley

We went out exploring and I captured this snapshot of the men in my life.  It captures how in tandem they can be . As we were walking down the country road, they both heard something that made them stop, look and listen.   This is remarkable because we did not raise him from a puppy, but got him when he was five-years old from a shelter as someone’s cast off pet.  In the three years we have had him, he has become ours.

For me he is a constant companion.  Working from home he spends  hours with me.   His days are spent in the office, lounging around not asking for much, but always there.     He is my walking and hiking partner, be it paved road or forest trail he is always ready and a tireless companion.   Lastly I have discovered he is also my protector.   When the man of the house is gone, he sleeps not with me, or in his kennel as he usually does,  but watching out the window, providing notice when someone arrives friend or foe.

For Mr. Ranger Sir Harley is the calming and diffusing element for the stress that his life brings.   When Mr. Ranger Sir gets home from work Harley knows the fun half of the family is in the house.   He gets himself all wound up, barking and twirling in circles as terriers are suppose to do,  because it is time for  play.   I am not sure if Harley does that because he needs some activity or he senses his man needs to unwind and a mental diversion from all that has happened in a hard day at work.   The are inseparable when they are both home.   They bring out the best and worst in one another and only boys can do.

Harley is by no means a perfect pet or dog.   He is a Cairn Terrier and has a bit of a terrier attitude at times, and does things on his own schedule, his own way.   He may be a small dog, but by no means a lap dog.   Don’t think you will lower your blood pressure by petting  him as he sits on your lap.   He’d rather lay on the floor.  After we had him about two years he decided he’d like to chase the few cars and trucks that come down the road ; luckily it is a dead end.   Lastly he came with mental baggage and dislikes others fees and hates men’s workboots.   No amount of consistent behavior modification work as stopped or changed any of that.

In spite of it all our life is better because he is in it.   Life is better with a dog in it.

My Favorite Ankle Biter

Me training with my favorite ankle biter.

Me training with my favorite ankle biter.

I am training for a half marathon.   It means I must do more than just casual walking that I normally do.  I have a treadmill, but only use it as a necessary evil.  I prefer to walk outside.     I am careful when I walking, know that bad things can happen to good people.   Last year a Montana woman was nabbed when she was out running.  She was going much faster than I will ever be able to move.   It happened in a small town with an oil boom.   It doesn’t stop me from being out there trying to get ready for my race.   It means that I am conscious of the choices I make and try to make choices that lower my risk.

One of my risk reducing activities is walking with  my little Cairn Terrier.   He is not much to look at as far as a protector goes.     He does not strike fear in people the way a Rottweiler, German Shepard or other full-sized dog may.   In spite of that he is my guardian when I walk.   He keeps watch and lets me know what is going on long before I notice.   He was a rescue  dog and is not everyone’s friend.   He is unsure of men, folks with boots and folks who sneak up on him.   He has terrier energy and is glad to walk miles with me.

He is a perfect companion for me  as I train.   My dog and my favorite ankle biter.

Harley’s Chicks

Untitled-1My dog is a Cairn Terrier, which means he loves things that dart around…mice..gophers…vermin.   Now for some reason he does not go crazy when we have little chicks that dart around the brooder.   Instead for some reason these chicks are his charges.   He will sit for hours just watching them race around.   I always think at some point he will bolt into the crate that is holding all the baby chickens.

I don’t kid myself if there was a loose one he would likely gobble them up, so we need to be careful that doesn’t happen.   In the meantime this process makes him a good companion for our flock of chickens because he is integrated with them like a good sheep or cattle dog is with their heard.  He hangs out with them from their first days, until their last