Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Working it

We've had some unusually decent July weather lately so I've been taking advantage of the chance to get out and walk again. Sparky and I did 5.12 miles on Tuesday; Maya and I did 5.2 miles on Wednesday. I was doing over 100 miles a month until June, and I won't quite make 100 for July but I'll be back up to over 90.

Sparky is the best walking companion, but he doesn't need to go every day and Maya needs some structured outings so I've been alternating between those two. Maya is fine, but she's not quite as enthusiastic about it. I do think she's enjoying the time alone with me, however. She tends to walk out ahead as far as the leash allows and then stop when she feels any tension on the leash. I keep moving and then walk into her or I have to walk around. Sparky keeps more of constant tension on the leash, stopping for his sniff and piss breaks, but pretty much always staying ahead of me, and out of my way. Neither dog gives me any real assistance on the hills, I'm on my own.

Maya and I spotted a deer today, no more than 30 yards in front of us, standing right in the middle of the trail and staring directly at us. That got her excited but she's still relatively easy to control on the leash.

Sparky's walk on Tuesday
Maya's walk on Wednesday

Monday, July 28, 2014

My little girl Maya

I took Maya out hiking today. We had a good one, about five miles, but I managed to lose all the pics I took except the first one shown here.

The other two pics have been posted on Facebook but folks who read the blog may not have seen them.

This little girl is a pain in my ass on a daily basis, but she is also a true delight in my life. I swear that she's the reincarnated combination of the three great female dogs we've had: Gypsy, Emmylou, and Molly.

She is the smartest dog we've had, bar none, and she's still young, still learning, and still developing. I probably should take advantage of that and put her intelligence to good use in some manner, but I'm just not big on training dogs to be "useful" to humans. I believe in letting dogs be dogs. I think it's their highest calling and I envy them in many ways for it. Maya could be a great anything, but I think what she's best at is being a dog. She's working that out for herself every day and it's a joy to watch.

Meeting a turtle out on the trail.
She sniffed it and moved on.
At the brewery last weekend. She's friendly
out in public, but she's a bit subdued and
looks to me for guidance in dealing with human
situations. At home, outdoors, she looks to no one.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday with Sparky

I took Sparky for a hike on Sunday. We had the entire Pleasant Grove property to ourselves Sunday morning it seems. We saw no cars, no hikers, walkers, horses, or even any people on the baseball or soccer fields. It was nice.

When we got back I did some yard work while Clay was brewing up a new beer. It's a nice dark stout and it should be pretty good.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday adoption event

I drove into the heart of Fairfax County today to an adoption event held near the intersections of Rts. 29 and 50. I got there early and drove around a bit, recognizing virtually nothing because there has been so much change in the area since we lived there. Even more change from the years when I first lived in northern Virginia, but thinking about that just makes me feel old.  
Gambit with his short-lived tennis ball

I took just the two seniors, Gambit and Stella. The only place for a dog to pee is on the planted medians in the parking lot, but there was a nice covered (shaded) wide sidewalk in front of the store and a little breeze so it was a pretty pleasant afternoon.

One of the volunteers handling Gambit gave him a tennis ball and he popped it immediately and began to destroy it. We were outside a pet store, so his handler took him inside and let him pick out a new and more durable toy. He chose a squeaky one, of course, and proceeded to fixate on that most all of the time we were there. When it would roll away he'd go after it, or catch it if someone threw it back to him. As the day wore on, he realized he didn't need to get up to go after it, someone would always retrieve it and return it to him so he just stayed put.  He's not a dumb dog.

Stella on one of the bed provided
The organizer of the event had thoughtfully provided some large comforters folded into about 3' squares for the dogs to lay on.  Gambit and Stella both had one and Gambit pretty much stuck to his although he moved back and forth between the two. He was quite a clown and everyone liked him.

Gambit and his new toy, a squeaker
Former foster Trinity was there.
She is with another foster home.
She looked great and was sort
of glad to see me I think.
She is beautiful. 
Stella was more interested in the people and getting attention and petting. A couple folks did some more grooming on her and the shepherd fur was flying in the breeze. 

It was a 2.5 hour drive each way and I only lasted about 2.5 hours at the event so it was a long day and a lot of miles. No real prospects, but I knew that these dogs would not be fast turnovers. Although Gambit squeaked his toy non-stop while we were there, I didn't hear a sound from either dog on the drive home.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The heat is on

Sparky and I did five miles today and we crossed
a stream three times. We stop for a few minutes
each time to let him drink and cool off. 
I'm sort of a reverse hibernator. I'm much more inclined to hole up inside during the heat of summer than I am during the winter. I can't do that if I want to lose weight, however, so I've been trying to get out on the trails more often, at least for 2-5 miles. I took Maya the last couple of days and today I took Sparky again. On my way out the driveway, I stopped and snapped some pictures of the container garden, which is mostly still doing well.

We walk mostly in the shade, which helps, but the tradeoff
for that is the lack of any breeze, which never seems to
make it into the woods.

We came across this guy right in the trail.
Sparky stopped, gave me a WTF? look and we
walked around.

If you look closely, there's a deer in
this picture. We were pretty close.
Sparky's reaction was the same as to
the snake.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The canine social contract

It would be nice if republican teabaggers would read Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "The Social Contract" rather than just Ayn Rand Distorted for Dummies. Of course my suggestion is absurd on its face, "teabaggers read?"  Not likely, even if they could.

Rousseau's writing posits that individuals gave up certain individual rights in order to live in a society governed by the rule of law because of the benefits provided by that social contract. It explains why we have roads, bridges, spaceships, vaccines, and a court system while small, isolated tribes of humans living in the Amazon have none. You can romanticize primitive man being "rugged individuals" and "close to nature" but we don't see hoards of people giving up modern medicine and air conditioning. The social contract continues to hold sway with everyone except for a few militia assholes who think they prefer anarchy. Even they would come crawling to the nearest hospital when one of them had a toothache, kidney stone, or more likely, venereal disease.
Gambit and Stella are going to an
adoption event on Saturday and they
are still blowing coat so they both
needed a bath.

Aside from the social contract mankind made with itself, we also entered into a canine version. We provide food and shelter, they give us companionship, protection, and untold health benefits. In the fine print of the human/canine contract, however, is the dreaded bath provision. To live with humans indoors, they must occasionally submit to the bath. Today was that day for Stella, Gambit, Max, and Gigi.
Gambit seems to like a bath and Stella had
obviously done it before, many times.

It was a hot day and she had a lot of hair that
needed to be removed. It must have felt good.

Gigi wasn't thrilled about it.

Gigi isn't shedding but she was dusty.

Max was blowing coat still too.
Everyone got their ears cleaned out too.

Monday, July 21, 2014

On-leash adventure with Maya

It wasn't a major adventure, just a 5.5 mile walk that we did Monday evening. I had kept her in most of the day and felt that she needed to get out and I wanted her out on my terms, which means on my leash.

We saw a couple rabbits and scared up a deer at very close range. She alerts to the movement but doesn't demonstrate a real prey drive or a desire to give chase, which is fine with me. It seemed fairly cool starting out, but we warmed up pretty quickly. It was getting dark by the time we finished and we were both glad to get back home to a cool house.

She enjoyed it, I enjoyed it, and I hope it satisfied her wanderlust for a few hours anyway.