One Chilly Morn

ShareThis It is bitter cold this morning. Of course that is “bitter cold” for Tennessee, other places might find this a pleasant respite. Or maybe not: Billings Montana is showing 34° this morning!

Blondie dozingWhen I got up: around 4:00 AM, Blondie followed me out to the living area and curled up in the small snuggle bed to doze. She was not sleeping soundly because if I got up to get coffee or retrieve a book her eyes would pop open and track me until I settled into my chair once again. She didn’t move otherwise, but she was monitoring me while I studied.

Blondie bathroom monitorWhen I’d head down the hall to the bathroom she’d hop up and follow. She sat outside the door, then follow me back to the living area and her snuggle bed when I turned again to my books.

Cochise on Rainy Days and Feet Cleaning

As I explained above, I don’t like rainy days. I especially dislike thunderstorms, but even drizzly, gray days like today are a serious bummer for all of us. I don’t like getting my feet wiped with a towel, but at least I’m cooperative. When Doug says, “Give me a foot” I lift a foreleg so he can wipe it off with a towel. Then he asks for the other foreleg, and I give it to him. I make him lift the hind feet, but I try not to fight him: he’s going to win anyway.

Blondie has a different technique: she struggles. She fusses and refuses to cooperate and it can take quite a while to get her cleaned up. Especially since she likes to tromp through the mud. I avoid mud, stay to the grassy areas: my feet may get wet but I rarely get muddy.

Lancelot has a style all his own. When Doug picks up Lance’s first foot, he just flops over on his side, saying, “Here they are, all four of them, do what you will. I’m just happy to be able to come inside.” He’s a funny one, Lance is.

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Dogs and Go Get Help

get help
Kind of short for a cape isn’t it?

We all occasionally hear stories about dogs that do amazing things to get help when their owner or a family member is in a serious fix. The TV series, Lassie, was filled with such rescues. So much so that “Timmy fell down the well” has become a colloquialism and occasional gag. But real-life instances do occur and are no joke. Here is one such story:

Cochise Calls Me Out to Get Help

It was a crisp but sunny November day. Blondie and Cochise were out in the fenced play yard. Cochise, being our Chief of Homeland Security often barks at something or other: wandering animals, loud cars, the horrible school bus monster. The UPS truck sends him into a frenzy, I have no idea why. I heard him barking but there was something different: the tone was not his normal “I’m going to get you” bark, it was more of an “Alert, alert” bark. And he was out back of the house, not over in the yard. I went to the bedroom to see what he was barking at. Maybe it was a deer in the woods or a turkey; both were plentiful that year.

I parted the curtains, expecting to see him barking up the mountain slope toward the woods that start about 50 feet behind the house. Instead he was facing the window, looking squarely at ME as he barked. The look in his eyes matched the tone of his bark… something was wrong. He had come to get help. I rushed out the back door. Cochise was peeking around the corner. When he saw me he turned and ran.

Cochise’s Monster

It was November 1st. Yesterday’s rain had turned to snow: we had a couple of inches on the ground when I got up just before 5:00.

Blondie-Cochise warder-offers of monstersNormally Cochise gets up when I do and comes out to keep me company in the living room where I will study for an hour or so. Not today. It’s cold this morning and he decided to stay in his warm bed. I couldn’t blame him.

I lit a fire in the fireplace to chase away the chill and settled in to read. In a while Cochise decided to come lay in front of the fire.

I heard a sound. To me it sounded like snow falling off the roof to the ground with a “fwoomp”. Cochise jumped up and ran through the house barking: “Monster, monster! There’s a great beast outside: I must go scare away the monster. Let me out!”

Still in Infirmary Mode

infirmary monitors

Cochise tells the tale

It is chilly and rainy today: a great day to stay in, snuggle up, and light a little fire in the fireplace … just to take the chill off.

We are still in infirmary mode: NiceLady is doing a little better but still feeling pretty poorly, so Blondie and I are taking care of her. HairyFace helps us with those little tasks that require thumbs.

All of us dogs did go out this morning despite the rain. I surprised Hairy a little by staying out quite a while, sniffing the trees and bushes and generally patrolling the yard. Having a real yard to patrol instead of just a 25 foot arc around the front porch is much more motivating even in wet weather. And it was just a drizzle, had it been pouring, I’d have stayed in.

Advantages of a Mentor Dog

Cochise Mentor dogIn previous posts I have talked about Dolly and her amazing ability to nurse, mother and mentor other dogs who have come into or though our home. We lost a really good one when she passed away. But Cochise, who was a paduan learner of hers, has stepped into the void and has proved immeasurably helpful with the dozens of foster dogs that have come here for recovery, socialization and training.

Because we are not dog “trainers” we do not get into the advanced stuff: we focus first on civilized behavior and socialization, then a few basic commands like “sit”, “come” and “shake”, then we get into housebreaking.

The first lesson for any dog is that I am the head honcho, the giver of food, the dispenser of affection, the praiser of good dogs. I share that role with Marie, but since I am the one who is here full time, they see me as the primary honcho: Marie is co-honcho. Then we make sure they recognize Cochise as The Big Dog.

Windy Play Day

Cochise talks about
Cochise tells the tale

We all had a good play time this morning. I was running with The Boys: that made HairyFace happy. He wants me to do more running.

It’s part of my job to be Playground Monitor, so when they’d start getting too rowdy I’d come galloping by, practically side-swiping them, and get them to chase me. And they would. The three of us would run like a little freight train all over the place until one of them (usually Drake) got tired and lost interest. Then we’d all wander around panting for a while.

Smokey always got stoked up again first. That boy has tons of energy! Sometimes Drake would go lean against Hairy’s legs and say “Save me from him, I’m tired!” One time Drake and Smokey ganged up on me and wore me out so I had to go to HairyFace for salvation. That made him laugh, but he shooed them away.

I’m big and I’m powerful, and I’m faster than any of them, but I run out of steam sometimes. Because I came down with a thyroid condition, it’s been a long time since I’ve had the desire to run. Now that I’m on medication I feel much better and am ready to resume my duties. But I’m overweight. Running will take care of that.

Yesterday was not such a nice day as today. It was a windy day, but we managed to have some fun. anyway:

Doggie Tales: New Play Yard

Blondie 140907 Smiling-cropped
As told by Blondie Bear

We had SO much fun in the new play yard.  I walked out into the yard.  Then I realized … there was no leash!  I took off like a shot and went steaming down the hill.  I thought 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 crashedCochise got sick over the winter.  He’s 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. 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.

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Cochise the Talking Dog

Cochise the talking dog
I’m Seeeick.

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.

Dogs and Weather

The Dogtor is in

After seeing Marie off to work I left Blondie Bear and Cochise on guard at the house while I went to spend some time with Babes and Smokey, our foster dogs. After that I went to do the daily gardening chores. There wasn’t much of that to do and it didn’t take long. When I was done with that I considered getting back to work on our deck/boardwalk project. This is a large project I’ve been working on for months, but had to interrupt to build a couple of items that were ordered.

It was a nice cool morning. I scanned the skies: partly cloudy, they were fluffy and white, not gray and ominous, and there was enough blue showing through to be encouraging. It should be a good day to work outside; at least for a while.

Bweather dogut Blondie and Cochise both were insistent that it was going to rain and they wanted to go inside NOW. The weatherguessers said rain was possible later in the day: I should have at least 5 hours to work before that. But they are often wrong, the dogs are generally right. The workshop is a good 200 feet away from where I would be working. Do I dare drag tools and lumber over from the shop to work out in the open? MMMmmmmm … I don’t think so.