The Copperhead Country Expedition

Cochise tells the tale

There is a buffer zone between our “yard” and the tree line above the yard.  HairyFace calls that buffer zone ‘Copperhead Country’ because he is more likely to encounter copperhead snake coiledCopperheads (and other snakes) here than anywhere else; other than up in the virgin forest. This area is sloping, has a few scattered trees, the ground is covered with dead leaves (Copperheads like dead leaves because their coloring provides the perfect camouflage), and fallen branches. The ground is littered with big rocks, boulders and outcroppings. All make a great playground for snakes.

One afternoon HairyFace announced that he was headed up into Copperhead Country to do some bush-whacking. That’s like weed whacking, but includes saplings and honeysuckle vines along with large weeds. I told him he needed to stay as far away from snakes as possible. I was once bitten, repeatedly, by a Copperhead and spend a day in the doggy hospital and many weeks of recovery. It’s not fun, it is best to just stay away from them!

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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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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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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Volt Sneaks a Snack

Cochise, on
Cochise tells the tale

Volt spent more time outside than I did today. More time than he wanted to. When I wanted in, HairyFace would open the door for me, but tell Volt, “Not you; you stay outside with me.”

Volt sat and peered through the door at me. “Why won’t he let me come in with you Cochise?”

“Do you remember yesterday, when he let you come inside unsupervised.”


“And you got up on the dryer and ate all your door training treats?”

“Yeah: they were YUMMY!”

“That’s why.”


Volt WatchingWhen Hairy did come inside, Volt was eager to come in too.  But instead of curling up on a bed, he liked sitting at the window watching Blondie and the goings on in the yard.

It may be a while before Hairy trusts Volt with being on his own inside again.

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Dogs and Property Rights

Cochise tells the tale

Dogs appreciate comfort. Most living things do. Maybe not snakes: snakes don’t seem to appreciate anything. But dogs do. We like having comfy places to sit and sleep as much as Peoples do. We can be trained to stay off the Peoples furniture — especially if we have furniture of our own to be comfy on. But training dogs to respect the property rights of other dogs in the house is harder to do. We pretty much figure a dog bed is a dog bed and we’ll take whichever is available and looks most comfy to us.

Volt Pile sittingWe sometimes get a little opportunistic about things. Like the time HairyFace was going to vacuum the den and stacked all the dog beds from that room across the hall … and that looked pretty choice to Volt.

The thought that we can sit or sleep wherever we choose has gotten me into a pickle once or twice too.


But that was resolved easily enough. I’m not unreasonable … I can be bribed.

Now that Volt is sleeping in the bedroom with the rest of us at night they don’t put a snuggle bed in Volt’s room any more: just a folded up blanket. He only stays in there when The Peoples go away for a while and when we eat meals.

We do (technically) each have a dog bed that is “ours” and at night we do tend to go to our own place and get into our own bed without having to be told. But there is no hard-and-fast rule about that. And, if one of us gets up in the night, we will probably come back to find our bed occupied. But that leaves the usurper’s bed available, or we can go into the den: there is a bed in there all the time, or we can go to the living room: there are two beds in there. So it’s not like we don’t have options.

Of course we CAN make a fuss about having our bed stolen: whine about it until a Peoples wakes up and sends the bed invader back where they belong, but that tends to make Peoples cranky, so it’s usually better to just find another spot to sleep.

During the day, there are no property rights. We sleep wherever we want and no one can lay claim to anything. And we’re usually okay with that.

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Hoofie Sharing

Cochise, on DST
Cochise tells the tale

HairyFace broke out a new hoofie. A hoofie is an all-natural chew treat: a cow hoof.  It was Blondie’s turn to get first crack at it. We take turns at one hoofie because even if we each got one, we’d want the one someone else has.  When she gave it up, I took over.

Volt Waiting his turnVolt patiently watched me chew until I decided to go outside. Before I got up I rolled the hoofie over to Volt. He’s being a good boy about taking turns.

Volt was happy to get his turn, and enjoyed chewing until Blondie decided it was her turn again. But she would not take it away from Volt … she’s more subtle than that. We’re very civilized about the whole thing.

Blondie is good at the “Oh, look, what is this?” ploy to get someone to give up what they’re doing and go look.  Then she slips in and takes over the treat or bed, or whatever she was after.  She’s a clever one, that Blondie is!

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Blondie Needs Mud Flaps

Volt Breakfast Super

Cochise tells the tale

It’s Saturday morning so it’s HairyFace’s turn to fix a fancy breakfast. While he was doing that, Volt was being very good; supervising Hairy’s work, but staying out of the way and keeping four-on-the-floor.

When Breakfast was finally ready, so was Volt. “Smells YUMMY!”

It was a nice morning so we all went outside to play in the yard. Blondie has a kind of strange idea about what a Coolaroo is for… it is NOT a trampoline, sis.
Blondie Coolaroo Trampoline
Rain moved in this afternoon. That’s OK. Hairyface says he needs some rain for the lawn.

Cochise Rain Wait
I say it makes a great excuse to stay in and nap.
Blondie Rain Wait
Blondie, however, wishes she could be outside.

Oakley came calling when the rain stopped, so we all had to go out and “greet” our neighbor (by running along the fencing and shouting our joy at seeing him again).

Blondie’s stumpy legs and pounding stride means when she comes in from a muddy yard, the Peoples have to wipe off her belly as much as her feet.  I joke that she needs mud flaps.

Volt has twice the ground clearance that Blondie does, so he just needs his feet dried — but he likes being toweled off and insists on the full package.

Me: I’m light on my feet so I don’t send up such a spray. My belly stays cleaner than Blondie’s: unless I lay down on the mud, and I try not to do that.

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