Tuesday, April 28, 2015

This is it

Today's the day. The Supreme Court heard oral argument on the marriage equality cases. There doesn't seem to be any way to dodge a direct ruling on the issue. There's a conflict among the circuits on whether the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment requires equal treatment of same sex couples in the issuance of marriage licenses and the recognition of those marriages.  The Supreme Court will decide if gay people are equal under the law. I'd feel better if Obama had had one more appointment to this Court before this issue came up, replacing one or more of the catholic republican appointees, of course.

The great irony is that one almost certain vote against marriage equality will come from Clarence Thomas, a black man married to a white woman, whose marriage wouldn't have been possible if his "states rights" position had carried the day when Loving v. Virginia was decided.

The republican party has completely sided with the religious reich on the wrong side of history. You'd think that when the Westboro Baptist Cult supports your position, it's time to re-think that position, but no, the republican presidential hopefuls are falling all over themselves to prove that they are more anti-gay than the other guy. Fuck them all and anyone who votes for them. This shit is personal. They decide today if my marriage to Clay is valid. The Court typically meets and votes after oral argument. On the "big issues" there is likely to be little or no discussion, everyone's position is already pretty much set in stone. So chances are that this has already been decided.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Cooper and Teddy

Cooper enjoying the sun on Sparky's deck.
Teddy peeking around the corner.
Teddy and Cooper were both former fosters from here. Their tenure as fosters overlapped for some time and they were adopted separately but ultimately both to the same home. That was especially fortunate for Teddy, a shy beagle sort of dog who probably has an autism disorder of some sort. He had attached himself to Cooper, an outgoing and gregarious American Bulldog, and they made a canine Odd Couple. Maybe they were more like George and Lennie from Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" but whatever they are, it's a good relationship for both. 

Sparky had buried a bone and a few toys in
his kennel. Cooper and Teddy found them all.
Their adopter has been out of town for a few days but will be coming home on Tuesday. They will be back again for a few more days in another week or so, hopefully in warmer weather. I gave them Sparky's kennel and Sparky moved to the dog yard with Barkley. That was fine for the most part, but Sparky and Trooper had a run in so I'm keeping those two apart. Having fewer dogs makes that possible.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Scarlett's Happily Ever After

Several months ago a former adopter contacted me about a friend of hers who had lost a shepherd and would be looking for another. I spoke to the woman and liked what I heard, but I didn't have a good match for her at the time. She was more interested in finding the right dog than in having a dog right now, so we waited. She needed a dog with a solid temperament, good with grandkids, and wasn't a puppy.

I thought about her when Scarlett came along because she seemed to fit the bill.  We met, everyone liked everyone else. Scarlett had some digestive issues to resolve and I wanted them resolved prior to adoption to maximize the chance for success. She kept Scarlett while I was camping then I kept her again when the woman went out of town, but today we finalized the adoption.

I think it's a great match for both adopter and dog. They seem to have complementary qualities in terms of what they bring to the relationship and what they want and need from it. That usually results in the best bond and a happily ever after ending.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Social experiment

Sparky (front, bobbed tail), Barkley (rear, long tail)
I've got two dogs coming tomorrow to stay with us for several days. It's Teddy and Cooper, they are both former fosters and they've been here before. I want to put them in Sparky's habitat, which means moving Sparky out, at least temporarily. I've been wanting to get Sparky integrated with the pack, so this presents an opportunity to take a few more steps in that direction. Sparky has been hiking with Max and Maya and has been fine with them both, and he came indoors at night this winter so I have reason to believe that he's mellowed a bit and is more accepting of other dogs.

I walked Sparky and Maya for eight miles Thursday afternoon and when we got back I brought Sparky into the dog yard with Max and Barkley. He and Max ignored one another because Max is not right in the head and everyone knows it. I knew Barkley would immediately want to engage in play and that was the experimental part of the evening.

They met, jousted a bit to take the measure of the other dog, and got along fine. Barkley is all play and he's in-your-face about it, but he will scale his play to whatever level the other dog wants. Sparky has never really had a playmate as such. He's older and not as playful as Barkley, but I think this will be good for him. Barkley hasn't had anyone but Max to play with really, and Max doesn't know how to play, although I have seen him trying to engage in normal play behavior with Barkley on a couple occasions. Trooper will play for about 10 minutes in the morning, but then he's pretty much done.
Barkley doing a play bow

Seeing them together made me realize it's been a long time since I've had two rotties together. They sure look good together.
Drinking together is always a good bonding opportunity.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Brown Eyed Handsome Man

Jonesy is our newest Promises foster dog. He's a well mixed shepherd stray out of South Carolina. The shelter he was in thought so highly of this boy that they had kept him since last November and even found the money to treat his heartworms. That was just a couple weeks ago so he's still in the stage where he needs to be kept quiet. His shyness may work in his favor right now. He's content in his crate most of the time, but he's gradually becoming more comfortable around here and his inquisitive nature is beginning to show.

He's been fine with all the dogs but I've been keeping Scarlett with him a lot because she's relatively new too and I thought she'd clue him in on our operation around here. Yesterday he followed her upstairs to my office and he set about exploring the second floor of the house. He marks a little bit (he's not yet neutered), but only on places that other dogs have marked before him. If I get him directly outdoors when he comes out of his crate he immediately does his business so we really haven't had any problems.

He's not eating as well as I'd like and I'm not sure why. I've been adding panacure to his food just on the assumption that he's got some worms and maybe he doesn't care for that, but most dogs will gobble up anything mixed with canned food. He's just got one more day of Panacure; maybe I'll make him some chicken and rice tomorrow. He's probably only about 45 pounds, so he can stand to gain at least 10.  Wish I could give him 10 of mine.

Although he's shy, he wants human contact, you can see it in his eyes and it doesn't take too much to win him over. As soon as he trusts you at all, he turns his back to you for a butt scratch, it's his favorite form of contact.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Getting back to normal

This is normally just a small stream, maybe
10' wide and very shallow. It was much wider
today so we went another route.
Nothing special here, just a Monday, getting back to normal. I had been away from the trails for a week and the progress of spring in that week's time was really noticeable. The trees are leafing out, and the pollen is certainly flying. I'm seeing the world in a blur these days because my eyes are watering constantly.

Jonesy is slowly warming up and
getting used to the routine around here.
He's fine in the crate, good with the
other dogs, and he loves to have his
butt scratched.
Redbuds are beautiful right now.
I did four miles with Maya and Max. They were both glad to go. It's warm enough now that no one was pulling very hard. That's a big change from cold weather walking. We had about an inch of rain here overnight, but it must have rained harder upstream because the river was rising fast.

Later in the afternoon I went out with Sparky and we did another 4.5 miles or so, just before another storm was due. The thunder had us moving fast for the last mile, but the rain never came. That's ok, we may still get some this evening, but I'd be happy if that missed us too.

The dogwoods are out now too.

Sparky on today's walk.

The Rivanna River is already flooding low lying areas and backing up into the streams that feed it.
Not a good day to be out there in a canoe, but a rubber raft would be fun.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Scarlett, clean and pretty after her day at the spa.
Two things happen after I've been away on a vacation, even a short one.
1. I have a lot to do when I get back, and
2. I get post-vacation depression that makes me not want to do any of it.

Barkley is fast with the "sit" if he thinks
it will get him something, even petting.
I haven't hiked a single mile since I've been back, in fact all I did this week was work in spite of a long list of yard work projects that need to be done.

Max's OCD involves an oral fixation. At least when he's got
something in his mouth he's not screaming. I would encourage
him to take up smoking if I thought it would help.
I don't think Maya has minded being a little more sedentary since she's been home, and she has still made several trips in the car with me. Max is wanting to get out and run the trails, and so is Sparky, but at least Max is now getting dog yard time since I moved Ochie out of here Friday evening. Ochie went to another foster home, where I hope he will stay, and he's being evaluated by someone for something on Monday and I hope that works out. With Ochie away, I can give Max some dog yard time with Barkley, Trooper, or anyone else. Trail walking is still better for him, but at least he's not laying in the crate all day sucking on his blanket.

Tall, green grass, yellow dandelions, and Barkley.

Scarlett came back on Friday, but just for a week because her adopter was going out of town and I thought it better for me to have her back. The adopter will be back next Friday and then Scarlett's adoption will be final and permanent. Scarlett went to the groomer while she was away so she's clean, soft, and shiny now although that may not last the week. She did very well with the adopter last week. It's a great home and everyone thinks it's a good match.

I had been keeping Barkley out in the dog yard and the shed with Ochie because Barkley is the only dog around here who could tolerate him. With Ochie out of the picture, Barkley has moved back indoors, which he is very happy about. He runs directly to the house from the dog yard, no leash, and in the morning he runs directly from the house to the dog yard for the day. He and Max are the primary dog yard players now, and Barkley knows Max is crazy but he tolerates him pretty well.

Barkley and Max in the pasture. Barkley will match any other dog's play style, but
unfortunately, Max just doesn't know how to play with other dogs.

Jonesy meeting Vince when he got out of the van.
The other movement happened Sunday afternoon and it was a surprise shepherd who came from South Carolina on a transport for Promises Animal Rescue. Apparently the intended foster backed out and, well, you know the rest. I really need to get that "sucker" tattoo removed from my forehead.
These two shepherd-mix pups came
on the same transport but they went on
to other foster homes.

His name is Jonesy and he's nice enough but very shy, at least right now. I don't have much, or any, history on him really, but I was told that he just went through heartworm treatment, so quiet time is indicated for him anyway. He met Vince and Scarlet directly, and has met the others through the crate. He's not very big, maybe 45 pounds I would guess, and although he's not a puppy or a senior I don't really know his age.

Jonesey meeting Scarlett
Hunkered down in his crate. He's shy and scared
but not fear-aggressive. If he just had treatment for
heartworms, some crate time is just what he needs.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fairy Stone

Maya and I spent a couple days and nights at Fairy Stone State Park. We went away by ourselves to hike and just to get away. Monday through Wednesday are days that Clay is mostly at home so it was the best time for me to be away in terms of animal coverage.
Nine of cabins and many of the other structures
in the park, as well as the trails and the dam that
formed the lake were built by the Civilian
Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The cabins now
have plumbing, heating, and air conditioning.

Maya was a little concerned because we left home Monday morning with Scarlett, left her off at a potential new home in Charlottesville, and then we went on by ourselves. I don't know if she thought I had run away, been thrown out, or had suddenly become homeless. She was a little concerned but she stuck by me and she certainly enjoyed all the hiking and the chance to sleep next to me at night.

We had a great time and hiked over 30 miles in two days in spite of somewhat rainy weather. I hope to do it again this summer, probably in another state park.

When I got home I checked in with Scarlett and they were getting along very well. I'll have her back on Friday when the woman goes out of town for a week, but then she will have a new home.

It was only two days but I couldn't have felt better if it had been two weeks. Besides, I don't think I could have handled many more 15 mile days or nights without television or internet.

A small waterfall on one of the many trails.

Maya is a great hiking companion.

We saw deer, turkeys, several
pileated woodpeckers, and this guy.
A panorama shot from the dam. No motorized boats are allowed on the small lake.
It has a large beach for swimming and they rent canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats in the summer.

A view of the lake from the dam.

A view of the lake from one of the high points on the trails. I had enough 3G reception to post
pictures and receive messages up here, but not in most of the park. I had internet withdrawal.

This is a display for fairy stones, which are
staurolite crystals formed in four different
shapes. I didn't find any.

For dinner each night I cooked a small dutch oven
full of beef, potatoes, carrots, and onions.
Front view of the cabin in the evening.

Redbuds were in bloom and the deciduous trees
were leafing out.

An old iron ore mine.

Maya checking out one of the mine entrances.

Dogwood in the forest.

A bright green clump of moss.

Maya alerting on two deer barely
visible at the edge of the woods.
The girl has sharp eyes.
My only regret was that it was too warm to
use the fireplace in the cabin. There was a gideon
bible on the night stand as if it was a third rate
motel room waiting for a heroin-addicted hooker
about to hit rock bottom. Would have made a
good fire starter.
The mantle was a half sawn tree trunk supposed by
two stone slabs protuding from the rock chimney.
On the mantle were five journals going back several
years in which occupants of cabin # 7 had recorded
their thoughts and experiences. Cool idea, and yes,
I added a page of my own.

A hillside full of rhododendren and mountain laurel.
Imagine how pretty this will be in bloom.
Maya on the front porch of the cabin.

View from the front porch of our cabin.