We had SO much fun in the new play yard. When I first walked out into the yard — and realized there was no leash — I took off like a shot and went steaming down the hill, thinking I was free to bolt off into the woods. Imagine my surprise when this silver meshy thing was in my way! But it’s OK: we have so much room to run now that it’s almost as much fun as breaking loose and running off.
Cochise developed a medical problem over the winter and has been going to see his doctor through the summer. He hasn’t been feeling well enough to run much. But now he’s better. He ran and ran in that wide open space.
Then we went inside for dinner. Immediately after dinner the big lug went to bed and CRASHED. He’s so tired. Don’t tell him, but so am I, but I prefer to stay close to Doug & Marie, I’ll crash when they go to bed too.
Marie and I are highly involved in the care and rehabilitation of rescue dogs. We foster for local animal shelters and rescues.
Cochise was our very first foster dog. We fell in love with him (who could say ‘no’ to that face?), and could not let him go. The Shelter calls this “foster failure”. It is failure because while it is a win for the dog (who gets a home), and a win for us personally (who get a great dog) it does diminish our foster care capacity by one, thus making us that much less useful or effective to the shelter and their foster care program. Although, in Cochise’s case, he more than makes up for that reduction by being a superb mentor and interpreter to the foster dogs.
One of the things that caused us to fall in love with Cochise is that he is a talking dog. Yes, that’s right; a talking dog. He does not speak English (French nor Spanish either, for that matter), but he is quite clear in expressing himself, and once we learned to listen to him, we communicate with each other quite well. We do not speak his language — when we try he does that head tilt thing then glares at us — but we don’t need to: he has learned enough of our words that he understands us well. In fact sometimes I think he can read my mind because I don’t need to even SAY the word “bath” and he’s trying to disappear somewhere.
HairyFace made a trash run today, so Blondie and I got to go along. I rode shotgun (of course). Hairy won’t roll the window down enough for me to stick my head out, but he turns the vents up on high so I can get a good sniff of what we’re driving through. There’s always so much to see.
Blondie rides behind the seats. She gets an open wing window on each side and she can watch out the front and back as well as the sides, so don’t go feeling sorry for her: she likes the ride too.
At the end of our nice long truck ride we will be at this place called a Convenience Center. Hairy says they call it that because it makes it easy for peoples to dispose of their trash. I don’t know why you don’t just eat it: I would.
Anyway, when we get there Hairy gets out and takes some of the trash from the back of the truck and puts in this container, and some in that container and still more of it in that thing over there. He calls it RECYCLING. I have no idea what that means, but he seems to think it’s important. He’s pretty smart, for a Peoples, so if he thinks it’s important, then I say you should think it’s important too.
There’s always lots going on here. And sometimes one of the other peoples here will come over and scratch our heads (Blondie and I, not Hairy … that would be weird) and tell us what fine looking dogs we are. That’s one of the things I like best about our Saturday morning truck rides. Another thing is that it smells so GOOD here!
Some dogs like to play in water and even in the rain. Others do not. Blondie’s yellow Labrador side sometimes entices her to go walking in a light rain, but most of the time her Pit Bull side overrules that and she prefers to stay on the porch, in the dry, and watch from there. I am an American Bulldog. I dislike getting wet. I don’t even like getting my feet wet after a rain has stopped. But that’s partly because when I go back inside the house HairyFace will clean the mud off my feet with a towel. I don’t like that: it tickles.
I like being able to run outside anytime I need to bark at something. I like laying on the stone slabs of the porch steps in the warm sunshine. I can’t do that in the rain. Even though I have a home where I can stay dry and safe when it rains, rain keeps me from doing what I want, so I don’t like the rain.
Most any social system will have a hierarchical order to things. Even in a small social system, someone is in charge – someone is the top dog. This is true of people, it is even more so of animals.
Dolly Dawg was a free range mountain dog since before we got here in December of 2001. Someone had tried to train her as a hunting dog, failed, and disposed of her by dumping her here on Piney Mountain. After we moved into our place we spotted her sitting in a clump of boulders sixty or seventy feet up the mountain slope from our home, watching us as we worked at getting settled. But she would not approach, and would slink off into the trees if we paid much attention to her.
So we began accidentally leaving a pie plate of kibbles out by the tree line. While our backs were turned we would hear ravenous crunching. With time, kibbles, and a great deal of patience we became friends. We christened her Dolly because of her eyes, she looked all made up and ready to go out: Dolled up: Dolly. Eventually she decided that we could stay and she would look after us.
We learned that Dolly was queen of the mountain, all other free range dogs deferred to her. Some came to play with her, to hunt with her, to lounge in the sun with her. She was a beneficent monarch.
On cool days when the sun is shining, most of our dogs like to run. Our play yard is about 30 feet by 85 feet, so it makes a good space in which to run. There are also some obstacles in the way of lumber stacks that provide interest and challenge to the racing.
For as big and bulky as Blondie appears, she is quite agile and can make some amazing moves where she can dig in and get grip. She often initiates these racing sessions. She also knows that I prefer racing as a form of exercise over wrestling; wrestling often escalates into something beyond play.
Yesterday Joy O’Hare donated a narrow futon pad that she no longer wanted. She thought it might make good dog beds. I agreed, and was happy to haul it back here. I set about cutting away the excess fabric and Velcro on the back the webbing that connected the two pads but allowed them to bend and fold.
The result was two 28” x 35” x 4” thick pads with removable covers. Buster spent all afternoon enjoying the one I put down to try out. Joy was a little worried that the dogs might react to the cat fur she could not vacuum off of them. But that was of no concern to Buster.
When it was time to retire for the night, Buster was adamant that he preferred to sleep in the office on “his” new dog bed rather than in his crate. This was not an option, but it took some time to convince him of that.
This morning after The Fosters had breakfast and some yard time, Buster was again insistent on going inside and to the office. It was still a little chilly out – and Buster has been a bit jealous of the extra privileges Hercules has been getting during his final phase of house breaking – so I decided to allow it instead of insisting he go to a pen outdoors like the others.
Upon entering the office, he was horrified to find that Cochise had already claimed the new dog bed!
Hello again, Cochise here. You may recall that HairyFace & NiceLady are fostering me while I undergo heartworm treatment. We’ve spent the past month and a half preparing for me to receive these treatments. It has been quite an adjustment for me as I learned to live a civilized life and for them as they prepare to care for me while I undergo the heartworm treatment. I understand it can be rough.
When I arrived here, I started out staying exclusively in the Guest Quarters my People set up for foster dogs: a 10×10 chain-link pen with a cabin style dog house. But I managed to wheedle my way into their hearts and they decided to let me come inside the house with them; on occasion. Because I’m so adorable, these occasional indoor visits have turned into full time. I have one room of my own (they call it a crate) in the house and one in HairyFace’s office. This is partly because it has been so hot, they felt it would be bad for me to be left out in the heat while I’m so sick to start with. And partly because I’m very good at making a pitiful, “I’m seeick” face (see above) that just melts their hearts.