Yard Work Crew

Cochise tells the tale

It’s Tuesday. That’s yard work day. Not that it’s some sort of law or anything, we could do yard work any day. Saturday, for instance tends to be another day that is often consumed by yard work. But Tuesdays, somehow, generally do end up being yard work days.

It’s a nice day. It hasn’t rained for a couple of days, but there is a little overcast to break up the sun, it’s not too hot, and a breeze is blowing. A good day to be outside.

Cochise & Volt monitor progressVolt and I took up station inside one of the garden bed blocks. We were safe here from string trimmers, mowers and the cuttings these things toss around. We could see what’s going on, and enjoy being outdoors for a while.

Blondie in Equipment BarnBlondie Bear was pretending to be the Equipment Manager. She prefers the cool of the barn (she has a much heavier coat than Volt or I do). But she can still see and is safe from flying plant bits. She also likes to be more directly involved, so being where HairyFace goes to trade out (or refuel) pieces of equipment keeps her central to the operation.

Jasper watchingJasper was out on his tether early in the process, while Hairy was string trimming around things, but when the mowers started to roll, HairyFace insisted he go back inside his pen – for safety’s sake.

When HairyFace first went to get Jasper out, and had the tether in his hand, Jasper ducked his head and looked up through his eyebrows at Hairy saying, “I don’t need that: I’m a GOOD boy now.” When Hairy goes out to give Jasper a play session and will be giving all his attention to Jasper, he gets to run free (no tether). But while HairyFace has to focus on cleaning up the pen and changing out his water, Jasper gets tethered to a tree, giving him a 20 foot radius to play in while Hairy works. Previously, Hairy would then unhook the tether from the tree and let Jasper drag it around the yard. That was like tying him to the ground and he never made any attempt to climb the play yard fence.

HairyFace spent most of the day mowing and trimming. He took a break now and then to go in, rest up and get a drink. We have water bowls outside and can drink any time we want. Hairy could use them if he wanted, we wouldn’t mind, but he refuses. Well, that’s his choice.

We don’t mind going inside though: it’s usually cooler in the house – unless Hairy has done a bad job of window management and allowed hot air to be sucked inside. In our house, if you allow it to get hot, it just stays hot until evening when everything cools off.

So the yards are mowed – except for the High Yard (aka Copperhead County): he didn’t do that one this time – everything looks nice, and we’re ready to settle in for an evening of rest. It sure is tiring watching our friend work all day! But the results are nice.

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Sharing the Coolaroo

Cochise tells the tale

NiceLady bought us an outdoor dog bed called a Coolaroo. It’s kind of like a miniature trampoline except without the springs. We all like it.

This morning HairyFace went out to exercise Jasper. Jasper is a foster dog who is here for Behavior Modification: he was pretty wild. He’s doing better. He has been a total jerk toward Blondie Bear, though. She invites him to play, but he just wants to mount her. He has been neutered, but I guess old habits die hard for some. Blondie tells him off and gives him the cold shoulder for the rest of that session. As usual, Blondie went with HairyFace to work with Jasper … she keeps hoping …

Jasper REALLY wanted to come out and play.

HairyFace puts Jasper on a tether. Sometimes the other end of the tether is fastened to a tree, at least while Hairy has to focus on cleaning out the pen and getting him fresh water. When its play time, Hairy holds the loose end and they can walk around the yard together: it’s now a 20 foot leash and Jasper has some freedom to bound and run. If Blondie is in the house (or if Jasper does not know Blondie is in the yard because she’s hiding) Hairy lets Jasper drag the tether around behind him. Jasper can easily scale our 5 foot perimeter fence, but while he’s dragging the tether he “thinks” he’s dragging something around that would keep him grounded.

Today, when HairyFace finished cleaning the pen, he found Jasper on the Coolaroo with Blondie.

Blondie seemed to be okay with that too. That’s a first!

Since they were getting along so well, Hairy decided to proceed with a yard clean-up. When that was done he went to see if Jasper was interested in playing ball or going for a walk. But jasper had sniffed out Hairy’s treat hiding place atop the lumber pile and was doing his best to climb up and snatch the cookie. He could not be dissuaded and got rowdy when Hairy tried to redirect him into playing ball, so Hairy put him back in his pen and gave him the cookie.

Then he let Volt and me out.

Jasper and I don’t have any issues. I don’t play with him because I don’t like rough-n-tumble play. I like to run. So HairyFace keeps me inside while Jasper comes out to play. But I can walk past his pen or stop by to say hello and there is no friction between us.

Not so with Jasper and Volt. Volt is fine. Volt will stand up to Jasper if Jas gets mouthy, but he never initiates a disagreement. He does, however, come around in hopes of stealing some of Jasper’s food if he’s outside when Hairy feeds Jasper. So Jasper has flagged Volt as a threat and gets nasty any time Volt comes near. So we make sure they remain separated.

I took up position on the Coolaroo. I am The Big Dog, that is my right.

coolaroo line-up

Blondie and Volt lined up to wait their turn.

It was a nice morning and I had every intention of being here for a good long time. It’s going to rain later, and Hairy was working hard to get all his gardening, mowing, and trimming done before the rain moved in. So if we were going to be cooped up inside later, I wanted to lounge in the fresh air for a bit.


Volt was getting pretty insistent about getting a turn too. He wasn’t rude, just asking, “Cochise, when do I get a turn? I’d really like to have a turn too.” But he kept after me: kinda pesky-like, you know?

It was about time for my morning bowel movement So I decided to give the Coolaroo over to Volt and went off to search out the perfect place to do my business.

HairyFace was working in the garden. Blondie decided to go watch him. When she got there she spotted a pair of butterflies doing some sort of areal dance (or perhaps battling one another, with butterflies it’s hard to tell). For a good while they were just inches the other side of the fence and Blondie stood and watched, mesmerized.

By the time Hairy noticed all this and got out his camera, the performance was about over … and it started to sprinkle.

Blondie decided to take shelter in the barn. A few sprinkles don’t bother her much, but it felt like it could become more, so she was playing it safe. I went up on the back porch and started calling Hairy to come let me in. I do NOT like sprinkles. Volt came with me. HairyFace did not: he kept working even though it was sprinkling.

I kept calling – getting more insistent. Volt left.

May I join you, Blondie?

Turns out he joined Blondie in the barn. At least it was dry in there. They watched as Hairy performed his mystical ministrations with snippers and zip ties.

When Hairy finished up in the garden he came up to the house.

Blondie stayed out in the barn. The sprinkles stopped after a few minutes and Blondie went out on patrol.

Things had barely gotten wet so HairyFace went back out to do his mowing. Volt and I elected to stay indoors and guard the house against thieves and fiends. Someone has to do it!

Blondie took up position on the Coolaroo and supervised Hairy’s yard work. Jasper got excited by the mower and began running vertical laps in his pen (it’s amazing how he can do that!), and Hairy spent a few hours tending to the lawn.

He got all the mowing and trimming done (at least what he planned to do today, there is always more) and got Jasper out again for his afternoon play session … but he was all revved up and that was not going well, so he went back in quickly.

Then it started raining for real, so HairyFace and Blondie joined Volt and me in the house. I’m guessing no one will be lounging on the Coolaroo this evening. Oh, well … there’s always tomorrow.

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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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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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