Miss Soggy Paws

Cochise tells the tale

It rained last night.

Pretty much all night. It was a gentle rain, nothing damaging, nothing scary: no thunder or lightning or high winds. Just a nice, gentle soaking. HairyFace says that’s a good thing: it helps the vegetable garden, and the grass, and NiceLady’s flowers. That may be … but it also makes everything all wet.

Just after dawn the rain stopped and HairyFace took Jasper’s breakfast to him.

Mist_Rising 160422The mists were rising. Jasper was curled up in his igloo, snug as a bug. He poked his head out as HairyFace approached, Hairy caught him napping. When he saw Hairy he stretched and came to the door of his pen to get his dish. He ate and went back to his igloo. The roof offers some protection from rain, the igloo offers more.

We'll get sticks, but also have paws dried.

As HairyFace came in, Volt went outside and took care of his business. Blondie and I discussed the situation.

If we all go outside to take care of our needs and come back, we all get a small chew stick before breakfast. That would be good: we like “sticks”. But because it’s wet outside, it also means that HairyFace will accost us with a towel when we come back in. We don’t like having our paws dried. We decided to pass on the sticks and just stay put for a while. Maybe it will dry out.

Volt got a small treat, but not a stick. That disappointed him, but it was still more than we got, so he was kind of smug about that.

After breakfast, it started raining again. We missed the window of opportunity. I could hold it for a while, Blondie Bear was getting antsy.

We were all in the den with Hairy. He was doing that button-pushing thing that he does on the fold-up picture box he has. He calls it a lap-top. Whatever that is, he seems fascinated with it, because he spends a lot of time tapping on the button thingies.

Blondie went to the window several times. It was open a crack and she could tell it was still raining just a little. She whimpered, “I need to ‘go’ Cochise…”

“Then go out and go.”

“But it’s raining.”

“Yep, it is.”

“You’re horrible.”

She went and laid down again next to Hairy.

Then someone’s car alarm went off. That got all of us revved up enough that we forgot all about the wetness and went outside to bark at the noise. It was barely raining then and we all stayed out to do what needed doing.

Volt went back first. It was about lunch time and he didn’t want to risk missing that.

Normally at lunch we each get a large dog cookie. But because we’re trying to fatten Volt up a bit, HairyFace gives him ½ cup of kibble for lunch instead. So he got that for Volt and put him in his room (crate) to eat.

I heard the kibbles being dished up and came in. I rushed past HairyFace as soon as he opened the door. He did not come after me with a towel. He did close the doors to the carpeted rooms, and gave me my cookie while I sat on a dog bed in the living room. My paws were clean, just wet.

Blondie was wandering around out in the yard. She often takes her lunch outside because she prefers to be outside on nice days. This time she wasn’t wandering because it was a nice day, but because she didn’t want to face having her paws dried: it tickles. HairyFace took her cookie outside and handed it too her, “Here ya go, girl, you may eat outside if you prefer.”

Blondie took the cookie and galloped up the pathway toward the back door. HairyFace laughed and followed. When he caught up to her, she was standing at the back door with her cookie sticking out the front of her mouth like a brown tongue, huffing, “Eat outside? Are you nuts? It’s WET out here.”

Blondie hides, doesn't want paws dried

Hairy opened the door and she bolted through before he could grab her to dry her paws.

She took the other picture box watching room dog bed and hid behind the rolly-foot-chair while she ate. She continued to peek out at Hairy, sure he could not see her, wary for the approach of a towel. No towel came.

Eventually we all relaxed again and continued our rainy day activities. Mostly that involves sleeping while HairyFace makes soft tap-tap-tap-tap sounds on his button thingie. It’s kind of soothing, really. He says it helps him earn dog treat money. If that’s what he’s doing, I say he should keep at it and it’s much easier to sleep through than vacuuming or lawn mowing. Not that he’d be doing any lawn mowing on a rainy day like this, but vacuuming could be a threat. It’s better that he just sits there tap-tap-taping.

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Volt’s Excellent Adventure

Cochise tells the tale

On most Saturdays, HairyFace makes a trash run to the local convenience center – that’s a place where trash dumpsters hang-out. Blondie and I always go with him. That’s a law! Or it should be. Volt always wants to go along, but there’s just not enough room for three big dogs (and Hairy) inside our truck, so he gets left at home with NiceLady.

But, today: after the trash run, teh Peoples left US at home and took Volt on a truck ride all his own. And it wasn’t even to a vet appointment!

The Three Pooches and NASCAR

Cochise tells the tale

Our Peoples are into NASCAR racing. They used to go away and watch a race live once in a while, but we convinced them that they need to stay here with us and watch it on the picture box instead.

We like racing nights too – because on racing nights we get special chew treats after dinner. But once the chewies are gone, we tend to settle in and nap through the race. But this time was kind of special. Let me explain.

NASCAR at Bristol This race was at the track at Bristol, which is the NASCAR track closest to our home. Our Peoples have actually been to the track at least twice, but not when a race was running. So that makes the race interesting, but what was more is that Carl Edwards, one of our favorite drivers, did well in practice and qualifying. This could be a great day for him.

NASCAR HairyFace recorded the race elsewhere and we watched it that evening on DVD. As the race got under way we had our dinner and treats. NASCARVolt and Blondie were pretty excited about the race, so they did their yard watching from inside the house so they would not miss any action on either front. Only once did anything require direct intervention (meaning we went outside to bark at it) and that trip was kept short.

NASCARVolt is new to NASCAR racing and doesn’t pull for any driver in particular, so he’s what we call a casual fan, just enjoying the racing action. This is easier to do if HairyFace keeps the sound down a bit. Roaring engines can be annoying to those of us with super-sensitive ears.

NASCARBlondie was happy about Carl leading the race, so she stayed alert and smiling. She’d like to see him win a race again because he does something unique to celebrate when he does.

NASCARVolt stayed pretty mellow except when Kyle Bush crashed out. Kyle didn’t get hurt or anything – that would be bad, we don’t want anyone to get hurt – but Wylie Kylie is not a NASCAR favorite in this house. So the report of that crash got Volt’s attention up and tail wagging. once they moved beyond that incident he settled back into casual monitoring mode.

Me? Meh! Noisy cars driving in circles … I’d rather nap. If I could chase them, that would be different.

As the evening wore on, Volt drifted off to sleep. Blondie was fighting hard to stay awake and see her hero win a race. It has been a while.

She did come back out when the race was over to watch Carl do his thing.

Then she went right back to bed and waited for HairyFace, Marie, and Volt to button up and get ready for bed.

Volt is still taking Prednisone so to get through the night he has to go outside and make like a firetruck before he settles in to sleep. The Peoples close up the house while he’s outside. Sometimes Blondie goes out with him, because she likes being outside in the dark. But not tonight:

When Volt came in and went to bed we got our bedtime cookies (for settling into our proper beds and getting ready to sleep). Hairy and Lady sat in bed and read for a while, then it was lights out.

It was a good Sunday. We had beautiful weather. We got to spend more time with NiceLady than on weekdays. We got racing treats, and Carl won a race. We could all drift off to sleep, content.

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Play Time With Jumping Jasper

The Dogtor is in

This update on Jasper will not be especially impressive to anyone who is not familiar with Jasper because play time with him now looks much like any other dog. But to those who know him, this example will bring a smile to your face.

Jasper watching intently ready to playJasper was sent to us because no one could manage him. He was just over-the-top energetic. He was being playful, not mean, but when a larger dog puts a certain level of energy into play, there is little apparent difference to the recipient of his affections. He jumped on people, he pawed them, clawed them, mouthed (gentle biting) them, sometimes tearing clothing, breaking jewelry, and leaving scratches on skin. And worst of all, he could not be deterred! If you defended yourself, he thought you were playing and ramped up the play efforts. Telling him to stop or get down were totally ineffective: he paid no mind to anyone. He had no idea what those words meant.

Jasper Goes Houdini on Us

Cochise tells the tale

Jasper got out of his pen and ran off. He was gone about 4 hours. HairyFace went out to track him down (on foot). That was doomed to failure, but Jasper did get returned safely. This story has a happy ending, let’s state that right up front.

Hairy wasn’t sure how he got out, but knew he didn’t tunnel out and the door was still securely latched so he didn’t jimmy that. But he can do this:

So we suspected he managed to get up and squeeze through the mesh HairyFace created with cabling across the gable ends of the dog pen roof. We were warned that Jasper was an acrobat and HairyFace took precautions. Just not enough precautions, apparently.

Hunting Jasper

When HairyFace was getting ready to go look for Jasper, Volt was exceptionally excited, “Take me with you, Hairy, take me with you. I’m a hound, I’ll track him for you!” If he could be sure Volt wouldn’t drag him through the woods, hot on the trail of some rabbit or groundhog, he’d have done it. But in the end he decided to search alone, much to Volt’s chagrin.

Old Mountain RoadI told Hairy that Jasper was last seen heading up the old mountain road. This winds its way up to the peak of Piney Mountain, but it is unlikely he stayed on the road. There are many dogs who live at houses between the old dirt road and Piney Mountain Road. Jasper, being a gregarious fellow, would probably go introduce himself. But he started here anyway.

He got to the point where the dirt road makes a sharp bend to swing around and head back the other way as it climbs when he heard a group of dogs “discussing” something in a fairly unfriendly manner. They were (of course) down by the hard road. HairyFace could have gone straight down through the woods, (I would have) but that’s a great way for a peoples to break an ankle, get snake bit, or attacked by a bear. Maybe (if you’re having a really bad day) all three. So he hustled back to our shop driveway, down to the hard road, then on down to where he thought the ruckus had been. By the time he got there (he is NOT the track star he was 45 years ago) all was quiet and there was no sign of Jasper. At this point there is little he could do without a helicopter.

Blondie_Pining for JasperWhile we waited to see if he’d come back for dinner, Blondie pined away. I wasn’t sure if it was because Jasper ran off or because she didn’t get to go with him. Volt and I kept watch from up by the workshop. Hairy set about alerting local friends and asking them to keep an eye out for Jasper.

When it started to sprinkle, Volt and I came in. Blondie dislikes the rain, but she chose to sit out on the wall, watching the woods, until the sprinkle turned into a rain, then she too came in. I guess that answered the question of why she was upset.

Not too long after, Jasper returned: seeking shelter and a meal, I suspect. HairyFace’s Mom spotted him out in the yard between our houses, called him, he came eagerly (hoping to be invited into her house), and she snagged him by the collar and started hollering for Hairy (although that’s not what she calls him). She managed to hang onto him until Hairy got there. Not bad for an 80 year old Peoples in a wheelchair!

Jasper Looking remorsefulHairyFace returned him to his pen, where he looked properly remorseful. Yeah, like we’re going to buy that!

HairyFace rigged a tether to keep him “grounded” until he and NiceLady could work out some other means of keeping him inside the pen.

HairyFace tended to his wounds: nothing too serious, and stayed with him a while, then brought his dinner.

It was a couple of days before they were able to go into Newport to buy the supplies they thought HairyFace would need to fortify Jasper’s pen. As he prepared for this work, Hairy was in the yard when we heard Jasper’s frantic “I want to come with you” barking and the chain-link singing as he hurled himself roof-ward. Then something made Hairy turn around and look …

There was Jasper, extruding himself through THE ROOF above the door of the pen!

Hairy rushed back and pushed on Jasper’s chest with one hand (trying to keep him from climbing all the way out – which failed) and unfastening bungees with the other (not as easy as it sounds, even when you have fingers). When the corner of the tarp came loose, Jasper fell back into his pen: and the immediate emergency was over.

Jasper's Escape RouteHairy’s theory was that this gap between tarpaulin and frame rails offered just enough hope that The Amazing Jasper made like Spiderman up the pen door and managed to stick his head through the gap. Once he found that the bungees stretch (thus so does that gap he was in) it was just a matter of determination.

Jasper's Escape Route BlockedInstead of fastening the piece of hardware cloth (metal mesh) across the gable end, HairyFace and NiceLady hung it under the tarp and wired it securely to the frame poles.

For the past couple of days, Jasper has been running up the door and bonking into the mesh, which now prevents his utilizing that particular escape route again. But there are others, and it’s just a matter of time before he finds them. To block them all will require a major re-design of the dog pens. Until then, maybe we need a ball & chain made from a 5’ tether epoxied into a bowling ball – or have him fitted with a harness that can be filled with lead shot to double his weight. But if he wore that for very long and we ever took it off, he’d be jumping over the moon.

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Volt’s Horse Blanket of Happiness

Cochise tells the tale

It has been unseasonably chilly recently. HairyFace says it’s because there aren’t enough degrees outside. I’m not sure what degrees are; maybe they’re like gnats. When it’s going to rain there are a lot of gnats and they swarm around our eyes and fly up our noses. But if Hairy wants more degrees, so it will be warm, then degrees must be less bothersome than gnats.

This evening NiceLady built us a fire in the fireplace. That makes the picture box watching room nice and warm. Volt is so skinny and has such short fur he has no insulation against cold. Volt should come lie in front of the fire. But there is stuff going an around the house that Volt want’s to keep an eye on. Lady also ran a blanket through the hot-box for him, but he wasn’t willing to lay down on it. He had a different idea. NiceLady said, “Well, it works for horses!”

As you can see, he did eventually settle in and fall asleep in front of the fire.

Hopefully those degree bugs will start arriving and drive away the cold weather. Volt will be more comfortable when it’s not so cold.

Volt is a good fellow and one of the few that I let go on patrol with me. He runs along, but doesn’t get in my way. Except for when I get all lathered up about a delivery being made at Hairys Mom’s house and I start leaping onto the fence to be my most scary self. Then Volt stands up and pushes me off the fence, saying, “Don’t DO that Cochise, Hairy doesn’t like it. That’s why he installed those extra wires on top of the fence.”

That annoys me a bit, but most of the time he’s my Big-Dog Back-up:

Volt is a good fella to have around.

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The Buzzy Beetle Thing

Cochise tells the tale

That big buzzy beetle like thing has been flying around our house again this morning. We hear it almost all the time and see it frequently. It doesn’t get very close most of the time, so I don’t bark at it, but I watch it closely. It MAY turn out to be like that Scoobus Monster. Maybe you’ve seen them around you too: big yellow beasts that come snorting through and eat children in the morning them spit them back out in the afternoon – so gross!

One time the buzzy beetle thing came through just above our trees and I barked at it then. HairyFace told me that it’s not a monster, and it’s actually doing good things. I should think of it like a truck that people drive around in the air.

“Oh! A truck, like in truck rides? I like truck rides! Do you think I could have a ride in that flying truck?”

“Noooo, buddy, I don’t think they’d allow that. Besides, they are really busy up there trying to chase away all that stinky smoke that was making our eyes and lungs sore, remember?” Yeah, I did remember. I didn’t like that at all. “Well, there are lots and lots of Peoples on the ground fighting a BIG fire …”

“You mean like we have in the fireplace? I like fires, they make me warm and toasty.”

“No, not like a fireplace fire. That is small and we can control it. This is a very big fire, where the trees are burning for as far as you can see and it’s VERY hot.”

Nooo, I would not like that at all! Okay, I will not bark or be mean at the … what did he tell me … fire chopper? I will not be mean to it. If I do bark it will be to say, “Thank you to the buzzy beetle guys and all those brave peoples who are trying to keep the rest of us safe.

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Blondie’s Miffed About Digging

Cochise tells the tale

Blondie is a gregarious gal and likes to break out and run off to play with vagrant dogs that wander through our realm. She uses any means possible: climbing, digging, leaping, wiggling, any means she can come up with. She has lead HairyFace on many (not so) merry chases as he tried to track her down and get her back where she belongs. Sometimes that worked, sometimes he had to give up, and sit and fret about her well-being until she decided to come home on her own.

digging in for a runHaving the big (1/3 acre) fenced play yard has helped settle her wander-lust. At least now she has room to do some serious running. She likes to run! It’s funny when she does because she gets down low, with legs out wide. She can corner on a dime! And she’ll be grinning ear-to-ear as she zigs and zags around the yard or runs The Maze (Hairy’s garden boxes).

But the gorgeous spring weather seems to have ramped up that old wander-lust.

The neighbors across the road have several small dogs that stay in the house most of the time. When they need to “go” they just get turned loose to run where they please. Often, they please to come taunt us big dogs.

I get all territorial and fierce, especially if HairyFace is watching: gotta put on a good show as Guardian of the Realm. If he’s not paying attention I usually downgrade the alert to fall in with Blondie’s “come play, come play” invitation.

This morning one of them was over here singing, “Look at me, look at me, I can go anywhere I want! Too bad you’re locked up in there or we could go run the woods together!”

That was too much for Blondie and she began excavating a route under one of the gates where we like to lay in the sun. We’ve killed off all the grass there, so the digging is easier … and we’ve kinda started testing that route by surreptitiously removing some dirt under one end of the gate.

HairyFace caught her with her head under the gate and claws scratching away like a mole. He scolded her, then gathered up some tools and supplies to address the issue.

Blondie says, “Oh, sure: when I’m digging in the dirt it’s ‘Bad girl, Blondie. No digging, Blondie. Bad girl!’ But when YOU do it, it’s just FINE!”
Of course what she's really miffed about is not the scolding but the fact that Doug was digging in and pinning down a landscape timber under the gate to thwart any further excavation.
Of course what she’s really miffed about is not the scolding but the fact that Doug was digging in and pinning down a landscape timber under the gate to thwart any further excavation.
“Oh, what might have been …”

HairyFace says he’s going to haul in more dirt to fill in the depression we’ve created in front of the gate. This was not so much an attempt at digging out as it was just scratching up the dirt to get a fresh surface to lay in. When we do that, because of the slope here, wind and rain carry the loose soil away and leave just the hard-pan clay. The more we scratch, the worse it gets.

digging hairy has thought about leveling it up, laying in poultry mesh, pinning that with landscape staples, planting grass seed, covering that with some good soil, covering that with straw, and hoping the whole lot doesn’t get washed away in the first hard rain.

The poultry mesh would stop us from digging: our claws would get snagged in the stuff.

HairyFace says that sounds like a good plan initially, but after a while that mesh will start to rust away. In time it will be gone, but for a while it will become fragmented, pointy, rusty metal just under the grass. If we dig there then, we may tear up our paws on that rusty wire. Not good!

NiceLady has suggested that they put down pavers in the area that’s all rain eroded, hard clay. HairyFace agrees that’s a good idea, but it will take a lot of pavers because they’d need to do the dog track we’ve worn into the dirt too.

I don’t like the those rocks, but I can walk the balance beam.

They could dig that out, lay in landscape timbers on either side and fill the space between with rock to make a path. That would be good. As long as they don’t use crushed limestone like they did on the path around the house: that hurts our paws. Pea gravel – like what’s in the dog pens is comfy, but washes away easily. Maybe a larger form: small river rock. Something smooth so it doesn’t hurt us, but heavy enough to stay put. That would work.

You’ll have to excuse me now: I have to go tell HairyFace about this idea. Maybe he’ll give me a cookie!

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The Chicken Hollow Fire

Cochise, on Chicken Hollow fire
Cochise tells the tale

It is the evening of April 4th, and Chicken Hollow is on fire! We can see the smoke billowing up. I’m taking a protected position as I watch the big buzzy things flying overhead. Chicken Hollow is an area not far from here: two miles by road maybe 3/4 mile at the crow flies, just the other side of Stone Mountain.

smoke chicken hollow fireThrough the trees we can see smoke billowing up from the brush fire. NiceLady says she saw several fire trucks and an ambulance at the Exit 440 truck stop when she came home. Reports say every available unit is involved in fighting this fire. Homes are threatened, but they dug fire breaks to protect them. Maybe. It’s windy today … that does not help the firefighters!

Chicken Hollow watching position I want to watch the action, but am keeping a low profile.

chicken hollow fire chopperOne or more of these big buzzy things keep flying overhead. HairyFace thought at first it was an aerial tanker, but on closer inspection of the pictures he took, he thinks that’s an equipment rack or stretcher underneath, not a water tank.

Jasper, on the other hand is not perturbed by smoke or flying buzzy things. He’s so happy to get out into the yard that he just wants to play with his ropey toys.

April 5, 2016

chicken hollowChicken Hollow is still burning this morning, smouldering at least. And it’s spread out – no doubt driven by yesterday’s winds. But the wind is gone, so that should help the firefighters in putting it out. We’re keeping good thoughts for their safety: fighting fires in mountainous terrain is a special challenge.

As Scooby Doo would say, “Ruh-Row”, not only has that fire in Chicken Hollow spread along that valley, but it’s topped the ridge and is coming down on our side of the mountain. I think that’s Stone Mountain, but don’t quote me on that: I’m a dog and not very good with maps. Still not a worry to us, But they were staging fire fighting equipment and a bulldozer at the church at the end of our road.

chicken hollow fire
This is the view from my friend, Boots’ house just down the street.
chicken hollow fire
The view from the Edwina-Bridgeport Road
Chicken Hollow Fire
The view from Newport, eight miles away, shows how far it’s spread from what was a small brush fire to start with.

April 6, 2016

The smoke was bad this morning, so I decided to stay inside. Mostly. When those buzzy things would fly over I’d have to go out and bark. At least at first I did. Then it got to be too much trouble so I’d just growl out a window at them.

The smoke is eased up now. Maybe those bucket toting buzzy things had an effect. Must have, ’cause I don’t hear them any more either.

Jasper and Blondie are glad too.

chicken hollow fire Jasper enjoyed lounging in the grass during his free-play time. Blondie kept an eye on him while HairyFace cleaned out and re-supplied Jasper’s pen.

Afterward Hairy & Jasper went for a walk around the yard. Hairy got out the ropey toys, but Big J wasn’t interested in rowdy play.

chicken hollow fire When Jasper went back to his pen for his Good Boy cookie, Blondie went back to manning (errr … dogging) the fire watch station.

When HairyFace finished his yard work, Blondie decided to come in with him for a nap. It’s hard work keeping an eye an all that activity!

On their way home from church tonight the Peoples found where that big, buzzy, bucket-toter takes its rest breaks!


The Forestry Departments web site says they have the fire contained now and are working on mopping up hot spots. This chopper will be heading off to it’s next assignment. We appreciate the Forestry department and the local fire fighters who turned out (over 200 men and women) to battle this fire in some pretty rugged territory, working long hours, all because some yahoo decided to burn his trash even when the Forestry Dept refused his burn permit because it was too windy and dry that day. I hope they send him the bill.

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