Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Doing nothing

The federal holiday for Christmas was Monday. But being the day after Christmas I found myself with nothing to do. I should have gone hiking, but it is cloudy, damp, and chilly, just not very inviting. I did a couple errands but I did nothing else. Literally nothing. I don't do nothing well. I can't really enjoy it because I feel like I should be doing something. I justified my sloth, in part, based on the fact that I had Tuesday off as well as a vacation day. I persisted in nothingness all day but went to bed early and with the determination to do better with Tuesday.
These first two pictures show Toquima
and Maya at one of the partly intact
chimneys at all home sites along the trail.

Samantha got me off to an early start by waking me up at 4:30 a.m.  I worked the dogs out slowly and  got them fed as quietly as possible so Clay could sleep. I started laundry and started unloading Christmas gifts. We ate Christmas leftovers for breakfast and I got together a box of stuff to ship off. Then I loaded up Maya and Toquima and we headed off to Mint Springs Valley Park out near Crozet.
The first half mile of the hike was all uphill. I
stopped at this sign post and sat for a bit.

I had been there with Maya once before but we had only done a short walk. Today we hiked seven miles and covered all the trails at the park, some of them more than once. It was raining when we left home, but the sun was out in Crozet and it was unseasonably warm for this time of year.

Toquima is a very good hiking companion, friendly with people and dogs, which is good because there were quite a few folks out today taking advantage of the warm weather. When we finished the hike, we stopped in Crozet to visit Daphne and Mary Jane. Then we stopped in Charlottesville on the way home to deliver the well-exercised Toquima back to his home. Maya and I were invited in for a beer. I had one, she did not, but Maya seemed very excited about seeing where Toquima lived.

We still made it back home with enough daylight to give Theo, Xochi, Max, and Trooper a romp in the pasture. Theo played ball.  Xochi ran after him and would retrieve her own ball on a shorter throw. Max dropped his stick and exchanged it for a ball. He hung around the rest of us mostly, and he didn't chase his tail at all, but he didn't really engage in play with the other dogs either. Trooper did his thing running along the front fence. It irritates me that that is all he wants to do out there, but I gave up trying to change that behavior long ago.
These two walked really well together.

Even Gigi joined us in the pasture today. She doesn't play ball and doesn't really play with the other dogs, but she occasionally sprints past them, maybe hoping someone will chase her?  Xochi hasn't ever had much opportunity to interact with Gigi and she tried to get acquainted and initiate some play, but she's really too much of a puppy for Gigi to be very interested in her.
Our seven mile route.

In the evening I fed the dogs, did some more laundry, talked to my mother, and sat down with a beer to do this blog post after talking myself out of going out for the evening. It wasn't the busiest day I've ever had, but it was a big improvement over Do Nothing Monday.

The sun was out for a while today, but the wind came up and the clouds moved in again.
Still, the Blue Ridge is always pretty.

A brief visit with Daphne was our first stop
on the way home after the hike.

Xochie (foreground) and Theo playing ball.

Theo with ball, Max is also carrying one now.


Xochi trying to get acquainted with Gigi.

Max, acting near normal

Xochi still trying to play with Gigi.

A nice Gigi pose with landscape.

I used a flash for the dog pictures but they are still blurry because the sun was going down.

Vince came out to the pasture at the end
to mark the new powerline pole in the
pasture and help herd up Trooper.

Trooper was the last to come in, as usual.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Keep your loved ones close

Fortunately, there were only 2 or 3 cookies left in this can.
She didn't manage to open it and no one can now. 
When we first got Maya she was a scared little girl who was given up to a shelter because she couldn't be contained and wouldn't stay at home. She got away from us before "homing" here and she was on the run for four weeks, running the roads and living out of trash cans. Miraculously, she wasn't killed and we eventually got her back with a large live trap.

The plastic tub in the center of the picture holds
mixed paper for recycling and it's fairly full.
She pulled it out of the laundry room through
the open door on the left, somehow without
dumping it over. 
I kept her on a very short leash after that and she bonded, first with Trooper and then with me. This was her home now, but she would still climb the fence and roam every chance she got, being gone anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours or more. I would go insane with worry, fear, anger, and grief. My stream of consciousness went something like this:

Where is she?  Why did she take off?
We were out having a good time, and she just took off. WTF?
She's got everything she needs right here, there's nothing out there but trouble.
We have things to do today and now nothing is going to get done until she's back.
Why would she leave her pack?  She loves it here, I know she does.
There are too many assholes with cars and guns out there to be running around this redneck county.
She belongs here, there's safety here.
I can't protect her when she's not here.
Trooper will miss her and the other dogs too.
Get your ass back here and stay here. This is your home, damn it, stay here!

Opening the freezer door was last week's new
trick. The ice melted enough that when it re-froze
it was a solid block. She didn't take out any food.
I think it was last year during hunting season I decided I couldn't stand it anymore. This girl's wanderings were aging me fast, so I decided she wouldn't go to the dog yard anymore. I'd let her out into the small yard next to the house for doing her business and her exercise would be limited to leash walks like a city dog. She adjusted to that very well, actually. I regretted that she couldn't go out and play with the other dogs, but she only spent a few minutes with them before taking off anyway. She loved the on-leash hiking that we did and the fact that it was her only exercise gave me the incentive to do it most every day.

Chewed up corner of a box containing Christmas
presents. Fairly minor damage, just opened a
bag of pistachios. But to get to the box she
turned the knob on a closed door and jumped a
dog gate to get into what we thought
 was the "safe room."
Our bond grew even tighter, so tight that she would act out when left alone. I had to give up crating her because she would break out and even managed to hurt herself one time in the process of doing so. She would find something to get into, chew up, or destroy to express her displeasure almost every time I left the house without her. She would target something of mine, something I had touched. Most of her targets were in the kitchen and she was ingenious. After opening and emptying a cabinet every time I forgot to lock it, she would move on to something else, always something new.

This is not generalized separation anxiety; it is directed specifically at me. When I go out of town the behavior would abate after a day or two when she came to accept that I wasn't there. Consequently, she was very well behaved for our housesitters and rarely engaged in household destruction. No, her behavior expresses her displeasure with me. I can only imagine that her thoughts sound something like this:

Where is he?  Why did he take off?
We were out having a good time, and he just took off. WTF?
He's got everything he needs right here, there's nothing out there but trouble.
We have things to do today and now nothing is going to get done until he's back.
Why would he leave his pack?  He loves it here, I know he does.
There are too many assholes with cars and guns out there to be running around this redneck county.
He belongs here, there's safety here.
I can't protect him when he's not here.
Trooper will miss him and the other dogs too.
Get your ass back here and stay here. This is your home, damn it, stay here!

She and I are very much the same creature. Shy and distrusting of strangers. We love an adventure and being outdoors, but we are happiest at home with those we know and trust. Worry and fear can morph into anger, but it disappears in a poof when we are together again.

So Maya rides with me whenever possible now. It's cool enough that I can leave her in the van when I run errands. She's fine with that although I have to think it's pretty boring for her. It's easier than leaving her at home and wondering what she's up to while I'm away. She's coming with us to grandma's house for Christmas this morning too.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Lesser photographed dogs

There are some dogs around here who just don't get their pictures taken as much as others.

Here's a selection of photographs of the less frequently viewed dogs. Chief among them is Vince, and that poor guy is underrepresented even here so he's getting the top spot.

Vince is pretty easy going, but the one thing he insists upon
is having this spot next to me at night. I had to move Toquima
from it last night so Vince would settle or no one was going
to get any sleep.

Trooper's morning face. He has a condition called Pannus that
clouds the eyes and obscures vision. I've been pretty good about
doing the daily eyedrops lately and he's gotten very good
about coming into the bathroom at night to sit for me to do them.

Trooper waiting to be let in and fed at the back
door of the dog yard shed.

It was raining this morning so I wasn't in a hurry to get out of
bed; Trooper came over to see what was taking me so long.

Sparky is spending more and more time indoors.
He's getting along fine with everyone, but I still
don't entirely trust him and Theo together.

Gigi in her natural habitat, our bed.
She did go out on a hike with
Maya and I last week.

She is showing more gray these days but
she's aging gracefully, of course.

Last but not least is Samantha. She is vying for the least
photographed title along with the Vince, however. That's
mostly because she and Vince do their own thing. They go
out on their own, patrol the yard, and take care of dog business.

Samantha "helping" as I filled bird feeders.

She's a sweet girl, but she's part rottweiler and she's very old, stubborn, and set in her ways.
We let her do what she wants, mostly because it's not unreasonable and it's impossible to
convince her to do otherwise. She has us well trained although she would prefer
a three meal per day eating plan.

Friday, December 23, 2016

A few former foster photos - 2016

This is Sophie, a/k/a Bug
Notice the "I've been a good dog" stocking hung
on the stairway behind her? I suspect it's a lie,
or wishful thinking at most. But she is sweet.
I love getting pictures of former fosters at any time of year but I always get some around Christmas and I stole a few from Facebook as well.

Paul and Felix after a run.
"Thanks for the run, it was fun!"

The shepherd is a former foster now known as
Marty, formerly Hardy. He looks very happy.
I love the picture although you don't see the dogs'
faces. The one on the left is Daisy. It's safe to say that
she's happy, content, and well-loved in her new home.

This was an e-card I received and it's the oldest foster
I've heard from in a while. The dog is Molly, a shepherd
mix, although I recall her looking more like a border
collie. She was young when adopted, but she's got to be
pretty senior by now. Living in Louisiana. 
This is a scan of a card I received. The shepherd in the front
is Grenache, formerly known as Kip.
I can't believe how big he has grown. 
Tessa and Santa
This is Tessa, one of the most beautiful
female shepherds I ever fostered.