Blaze Goes Missing

Blaze gave me quite a scare today.

As Marie was leaving for work she used her “good bye” treats to get most of the house dogs into their crates so I could go outside to clean kennels without having to worry about anyone starting trouble or tearing up a dog bed while I was outside.

When I was finished with the kennels and had the outside dogs back in their rooms, I let the inside dogs go outside.  They rushed past me as I held the door like a flood or fur and raced around the corner to bark at one of the many vagrant cats who like to walk by, flipping the tips of their vertical tails in arrogance because they know the slavering pack of hounds cannot escape the fence to come after them.

After a bit the cat moved on and the dogs settled down to sniffing the grass and freshening their markings.  All except Blaze.  I could hear his distinctive hound dog bawl coming from around the house on the back porch. It occurred to me while I was watering the garden that while I do not think Blaze can get over the retaining wall back there, he was making a convincing try of it last night.  Maybe I should go bring him around to where I can watch him.

As I walked to the house the barking stopped and as I rounded the corner I expected to see Blaze laying on the porch waiting for me to come open the door for him so he could go inside to lounge around in greater comfort.

But he wasn’t.

In fact he was nowhere to be seen!  Just then the baying started up again, but it was just over a rise where the trees take over. “Oh, no! He got over the wall and is chasing that cat!” thought, I; painfully aware that today, of all days for this to happen, is when I’m supposed to deliver Blaze to the rescue van for his long ride out east.

The baying wasn’t moving.  Maybe he treed the cat.  Maybe I can get to him and bring him back.  But first I need to secure the other dogs.

I called them and, to their credit, every one of them came running.  Just for good measure I called to Blaze again, but he remained fixedly baying at the cat.  I turned to open the door to let the herd in so I could crate them and there, peering through the door glass at me, was BLAZE!  He was looking at me as to say, “What? I was sleeping.  Why are you yelling for me?”

I was so relieved I gave him a big hug, which really confused him.

But who the flibbiddygibbets is out in the woods sounding just like Blaze?  Doesn’t matter I guess, Blaze is here and safe.  And … maybe I’m getting too old for this job!

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Foster Dog Updates for July 5th, 2019

The noise comes from gun powder. We could do without the gun powder and just enjoy the pretty colors.

Well, we survived the Apocalypse of July.  Buddy spent the evening in his hunker bunker, Josephine managed to squeeze under our bed (amazing!) then poked her nose out and said, “Come on in, Blondie Bear, it’s better under here.”  Blondie (4 times Josie’s size) just looked at her with exasperation and poked my elbow with her nose.  Her signal that she desperately needs scritchies.  Callie Roo curled up in a ball on a snuggle bed and trembled.

I don’t know if rain intervened or if the revelers ran out of combustibles, but, mercifully, the noise fest did not drag on into the night.  Once all the noise subsided, the entire group of us heaved a collective sigh of relief and drifted off to sleep.


Foster Dog Notes for May 27, 2019

Little has changed in the past week.


Rocky is doing better at leash walking, he is now consistently able to walk a full circumnavigation of the play yard without needing serious coaxing. He does tend to watch my hands and the treat bag all the time. But that’s okay.

Rocky is still keeping his kennel clean, preferring to poop in the yard. He will be transferring to another Steele Away Home foster for formal housebreaking early in June; once her foster dog has gone out on the rescue run.


Blaze has lead the charge in munching down my berry bushes. I grow blueberries, blackberries, Boysenberries, black raspberries, and red raspberries. These grow in a berry patch in the play yard and have gone mostly unmolested by the dogs until now. Blaze decided that the ripe red raspberries were a refreshing snack, then he started on the others, and now is chewing on the unripe blueberries. Rocky and Sable are following his example. This is rather distressing since they are eating the bushes as well as the berries. These doggoes seem to think they’re GOATS!

Foster dog notes for May 18th, 2019

Lennon has been accepted by Lucky Dog Rescue in Wisconsin.  He will be leaving us on June 1st.  I got a preview of how that’s going to go over yesterday: I took Lennon on a trash run.  When we got back, he decided to stay in the yard while I went inside.  Blondie and Josephine mistook the situation:


Our wild child is learning self-control, and that when she does control herself (not jumping up on me and grabbing at my arms or hands with her teeth) she gets petted and belly rubs.  When she gets demanding, she does not.  If she insists on being demanding, she goes back to her kennel and that play time is over.  She’s got a ways to go, but she’s learning.

The Pop-up Thunderstorm

We had a pop-up thunderstorm roll in this morning as we were getting our day started.  It gave advance notice in the form of continuous, distant thunder so I dashed out to feed The Brown Dog Gang and let them run in the yard to relieve themselves before it arrived.  Lennon and Blondie went with me to help.  The rain started just as we were finishing up and getting them back into their kennels.

Blondie trotted up toward the house with her ears down on the sides of her head (her Yoda face) muttering, “It’s raining, it’s raining, I don’t like the rain.  I need to be inside.”

While Marie fixed breakfast, Buddy Beagle cowered in his bunker. He still barked at the thunder — until we had a close lightning strike with it’s BIG boomer that rattled the house and the power blinked. Then Buddy admitted defeat and was quiet: curled up in the back of his crate until the storm passed.

Josie hid too. In her own way.  She tried to wiggle in behind the chair, but it had been pushed back to make more room for crates.  She often goes and hides under my desk, but this morning she preferred to be where the Peoples were, so she made do with this corner.

Silent Nights

When our current gang of foster dogs arrived, the nights were not silent.  Definitely not silent!  Rocky and Blaze were vocal day and night.  They barked at anything they could see or hear moving around, they barked at other dogs on the mountain, even quite distant dogs, who were barking at something or just being conversational.

Their first few nights here were exhausting for I had to keep going outside to sit near their kennel to convince them to not bark — and awake our neighbors.  Thank God it was spring, and warm enough I didn’t freeze out there!

After a few nights they caught on and were far less vocal at night.  And that trend has only improved since.

Breaking Brotherly Bonds

Rocky and Blaze, bonded brothers

Blaze and Rocky are bonded siblings: two of 6 puppies that were surrendered with their mother to Animal Control.  The others were all taken away as they were adopted, leaving just these two, clinging to each other for moral support in a scary environment.

When I pulled them from Newport Animal Control, Blaze (the bigger one) tended to cower behind his brother, who would bark fiercely at anyone who stopped at their kennel door.  They were so unruly they had to be carried out to my truck because they would NOT walk on a leash.

Since coming to Piney Mountain Foster they have remained quite close, but not so fearful.  They’d still sleep in a pile, and they love to play together in our big yard.  But Rocky has been nowhere near as protective, and Blaze has started to develop a will of his own.

For example, The wind brought down a good sized Y shaped stick from one of the trees.  Blaze found it and declared it his most favorite thing in the world.  He’d run around waving it, and lie in the grass gently chewing on it.  Rocky came over and grabbed hold of it, intending to take it away.  Blaze was having none of that!  They growled at each other threateningly and had a tug-of-war.  Blaze is a quiet fellow, Rocky tends to yap.  So Blaze waited until Rocky yapped at his brother to demand the stick and Blaze jerked it from Rocky’s mouth and ran off with it.  I’m sure he was laughing!  He’s quiet, but he’s not dumb.

Installing Chain Link Panels

Work on the new kennels progresses.  I spent yesterday afternoon figuring out how to cut down a 10’ wide door panel to be exactly 92¼” wide.  I ran the math three times to be sure it was right because I only get one shot at this.  If I mess it up I buy a new panel: or have one built to the correct size.

I started out cutting the tubing with a metal blade in a saber saw.  A reciprocating saw would have been better, but I don’t have one.  Almost immediately, I broke the blade.  I had more, but it was clear that this was not going to be as easy as I hoped.  The only way to do this – in this manner – was to run the saw around the tube, not cutting across the tube from one side to the other.

I did get the first three cuts done that way, but it took a long time and was nerve wracking – and not especially neat.  Then the bulb lit up.

I went in the shop, put my metal cutting blade on the chop saw and dragged that saw outside.  I’ve used this many times to cut the steel tubing I’ve used in trellises.  I used that to make the inboard cuts and it went MUCH faster and did a much neater job: just needed some work with a file to remove the thin scruff that is left on the back of the cut so the splice tube fits over the pipe.

I also found that I was able to re-use the retainer clips that hold the end rod (it fits along the ends of the chain link) to the vertical pipe and the ends of the mesh.  These bent steel bars use a special tool to form them around the pipe and fold a tab over the rod, kind of like a giant staple.  I don’t have that tool.  But I have a big pair of channel locks.  I was able to unbend the part that folds around the rod and pop the clamp loose.  Then after I cut the tubing and reassembled the frame with splice tubes I unstitched a run of the chain link to remove the excess, inserted the rod in the end loops of the mesh and pulled it tight by hand while I popped the clamp strips back in place.  Folding the tabs back over the rod with channel locks and securing the top and bottom of the mesh to the rails with fence ties finished the job.

Kennels Coming Together

Now that the exterior new construction of our Big Doins project has been completed, it’s time to start bringing the kennels back together … well, almost.  There is one more step to complete first but it’s not construction so much as destruction.

John Kaprocki brought his concrete saw and is cutting doggie doors.

Cutting concrete makes a LOT of dust!

We set up a big fan to help blow the dust out.

With outside and inside cuts made and the block removed it’s time to pretty things up.

Holes made, rubble removed, wall and pad power washed.

Wall painted and panel mounting hardware installed.

Kennel panels going back in.

Rocky and Blaze move into their new rooms.

An idyllic cabin in the woods for homeless canines.

Roof, Roof, Roof!

John Kaprocki of Great Smoky Mountain Woodworks and I spent all day yesterday and half a day today framing up the roof for the new kennels in our Big Doins on Piney Mountain project.  John is an expert at this stuff, I just try not to get in his way.

Actually John did comment on how much faster these things go with two people than with one. And it is not as physically straining.  Let’s face it, tossing a bunch of 16 foot long 2x8s (in Southern Yellow pine) up on top of the beam and ledger is rough enough with two of us horsing them around, doing it all day long single handed would be murder.

Building Inspectors

Blaze and Rocky watched us work both days and were not disruptive at all, they seemed genuinely interested in what we were doing.  Maybe Blondie has explained to them that Robert, Terry, John, and I are building them a new house.  I think Blaze LIKES that idea!

I have ordered the metal roofing and it should be ready to pick-up on Monday.  We should be able to get a fair bit of that done Monday.  The big issue will be how fast it warms up up there on our hot tin roof.

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