The Dancing Voice

I normally go out to clean the dog kennels at 10:00 AM. That’s my winter schedule, I go at 7:30 on the summer schedule so I’m done before it gets hot. It usually takes a couple of hours to get it all done.

PMFC’s kennel building

This morning I was sitting at my desk working when the thought, “Go clean the kennels” danced through my head. It was not so much a voice I heard, like someone else in the room, as it was a “knowing” in the back of my head. But different from a typical thought that occurs to me.

I used to get these communications frequently: I’d be working on some piece of furniture and the dancing voice would say something like, “Go mow the lawn.” At first I’d tell myself (and the voice) “I’ll do it later, I’m busy now.” I knew the lawn was in desperate need of mowing, but there was time later. But later it would start raining — and rain for 3 days. By the time it was done the yard was a mucky mess and the grass was 2 feet tall. I should have listened.

So I started listening. And more often than not, just as I was finishing up and putting away the lawn tractor … it started raining. Perfect timing! And I could go back to working in my shop all afternoon and just let it rain.

I wondered if this was the voice of the Holy Spirit, tipping me off to potential threats, but these instances seemed so insignificant that I couldn’t say for sure. I mean, does God care if my lawn is shaggy? These instances weren’t always about grass and rain, sometimes the answer to a problem I’d run up against and was racking my brain over would just come to me in that special way. Not a detailed explanation, just a few words: “Reverse bevel cut.”

“What? How would that solve this? OOhhhhhhh … yes, I see it now.” Some brilliant solutions to confounding problems in woodworking and computer programming came to me that way.

Whether it was God, or intuition, or an halicinacion, I haven’t heard that voice in quite a while. But it “spoke” to me again this morning. And I responded with:

“What? No, it’s too early.  Why would I do that?”

Then I started thinking about it. 

I usually wait until later so it’s warmer, but I can’t wait until afternoon: when it is warmest.  Usually.  Some days I have to wait because of bitter cold. That depends on the dogs and their personal habits: I don’t want them walking through their own filth.  But it’s unusually warm this morning, and it might, possibly (100% chance) rain later.  “It would probably be better if I do it now.” I decided.

Dancing voice: “Good boy!”

I went out to find that the rain had already started, but just a light rain, and I’d be working under a roof, so it was okay.  The dogs I evict from their “rooms” to clean will be out in the rain, though, so I didn’t do the 10 minute long disinfection step.  That was not really needed anyway since they have all been good about not “going” in their rooms.  Sweep, hose, scrub, hose, squeegee.  Get all three outside kennels done, and their occupants back in them, then I’ll go inside.

Just as I was finishing up the last step: scrubbing and squeegeeing the sidewalk in front of the kennels, the rain intensified to a downpour, the breeze freshened to a stiff wind, and the temperature dropped 6°. I was SO glad to be going inside!

This front didn’t let up until almost noon, when a dog trainer is supposed to be showing up to work with one of the dogs and my cleaning kennels would have been a distraction. Thank you, Dancing Voice!

The New Toy

The furkids decided to pool their milkbones and get me a birthday present: a GoPro 7 Black video camera. This is a replacement for my aging Sony Handycam – which is my THIRD Sony Handycam and although some improvements have been made over the past decade, their main fail remains an issue. But that’s a rant for another day. Today, we’re stepping up to a GoPro!

This thing is DINKY! But that’s not to say it isn’t impressive, just that all that photographic power is packed into a petite parcel.

The manufacturer offers a plethora of mounts: it’s made to be an action camera so they make it possible to mount the camera to anything from a bicycle, to a helmet, to a surfboard, to a windshield. I have no need of most of those devices, but because it’s quite small, holding it by hand is difficult. However one of the benefits of it being small is that it can mount to a hat, or a head strap, or a chest harness to capture the action while leaving my hands free to do what I need to do as I work with the dogs.

It does have a hand grip (above) that splays out to become a small tripod, that even telescopes to be a bit more versatile. I have that. I also have a head strap that allows me to affix the camera to my forehead to make a POV (Point Of View) video. There is an example below. I’ll need to more aware of sudden head movements – or hand out Dramamine before airing my videos.

I also have a chest harness. This would be better for training sessions, as long as I remember to lean over, not just tilt my head down, so the dog stays in the shot at close range.

A suction cup window mount is inbound that will allow me to video the dogs as they ride in the truck.

One accessory you will NOT catch me using is a selfie-stick. I’ll leave the narcissism to those young YouTube moguls.

It’s going to take me a while to learn all the controls and features that this thing offers (including voice control!) but I expect it will help me improve the quality of my dog vids for Piney Mountain Foster Care. I hope you enjoy them.


An acquaintance on Facebook, someone we go to church with: Lorryn, celebrated her 17th birthday yesterday.  She posted it as celebrating (number) days of life and proclaiming it a wonderful adventure.  I thought that was pretty cool and wondered how many days it will have been when I celebrate my birthday in a couple weeks.  A few taps on a calculator gave me a number.  But wait, that doesn’t take into account leap years.  How many leap years have I lived through?

I found an on-line tool that answered that question.  Guess how many leap years have occurred in my life.  17.  Lorryn was celebrating her 17th birthday and I’ve lived through 17 leap years.  I found that interesting.

You may now proceed with your day.  Hopefully you will be able to function normally after that astounding revelation.

Kennel Update: Walk-Through

The ongoing kennel project has come to the point where I thought you might enjoy a walk-through.  It is no where near finished, but progress is being made.  I am thrilled to be able to offer our residents secure, heated “bedrooms” to stay in on the cold winter nights that are coming.

Ready to go?

So, what do you think?  Please leave a comment below.

Kennel Update: Guillotines

Our Board of Directors approved the purchase of three Kennel Clad guillotine kennel doors.  You’ll know why they’re called that when you see the video.  I ordered them and they arrived quickly.  I spent my afternoon today installing the first one.  It went into Rebel’s bedroom.

I wanted Rebel to go out into his outer room so I could open his inner door and work less encumbered by having to open and close the door every time I went in or out.  But Rebel was having none of that.

However, he perched himself on his bed and lounged there watching me work.  He never got in my way and never tried to squeeze out the door with me.  He watched intently as I worked as though it was the most fascinating thing he’d ever seen.  He was SO adorable!

There were several challenges to overcome.  The biggest was the fact that the walls I’m mounting the door slides on are not even close to be being flat.  Warping the rails causes the door to bind.  I got around that by shimming the rails where needed.  Fortunately, as a former furniture maker, I have a fair stock of ultra thin pieces of wood laying around to stack up for the perfect shims.

It took me a couple of hours to unpack the boxes, decide what tools I needed, get everything staged, and then install the first door.  But the end result is satisfactory.  I should probably go buy some sheet metal to cut up for shims instead of using wood shims: wood will rot.

The final door has been installed and is working properly.
Check out my Walk Through video for the result.

Kennel Update: K2 is move-in ready

Some time ago Debbie Ramey, who rescues dogs and horses was renovating her horse barn and had a bunch of 5 feet wide by 6 feet high American Kennel Club welded wire kennel panels in there that she wanted to be rid of.  She asked me if I could make use of them here at Piney Mountain Foster Care.  Oh, yes, I could!  So she donated them to us and my friend, Trucker Tim, and I went down there with his truck and trailer, loaded all those panels on his trailer, and hauled them back here.

K4 For short term and emergency housing

Tim lives near by.  Tim also has a barn.  A barn with lots of extra space inside.  He offered to let me store this trove of panels in his barn where they would be out of the weather until I found ways to use them all.  I used 6 of them (one with a door in it) to build kennel 4.  The rest went into Tim’s barn.

With the north wall of Kennel 2 Inside complete I just need a front panel for it to make it usable.  The 10 foot long kennel panels I have on hand are too long for this application.  One of those worked okay on Kennel 1 while I built a proper front panel with door, but in this position it just won’t work.  I am rapidly filling up the empty space that was created by selling  the stack of white oak lumber.  So I went down to Tim’s place and retrieved a few of those 5 foot panels.  I mounted 3 conduit hangers, which I use to attach the tubing frames to the concrete walls with concrete screws, in the opening.  Then I used those as a hinge for the 5 foot panel.  I hold the other end tight to the wall on the other side of the opening with rubber straps to keep the dog inside.  This is just until I get a proper front panel with door built.

Then I got Josie’s Karunda dog bed and water bowl out of her outside kennel (K1) and moved it into the new inside space (K2) — leaving  the barrier I have over the small door between inside and outside areas because Blade is still in  K2 Outside.  I took out the small igloo style dog house that was in K1 Outside for Josie and assembled a large one in there for Blade.

Josie had been running in the play yard while I did all this.  Now it was time to get her back into K1 outside and let Blade out for his turn.  While he played with Blondie Bear I removed his Karunda and water bowl out onto the sidewalk outside the kennels, closed the outside door to K2 and removed the barrier between K2 Outside and K2 Inside.  Then I removed  the barrier to K1 Outside and moved Josie into K2 Inside through the kennel building and secured the makeshift door/front panel.  I put the K1 barrier back into place and went outside.

I moved Blade’s bed and water bowl into K1 Outside and called Blade to come get his treat and go into his room.

He came running, stopped short and gave me the side-eye, “That’s not MY room.  What are you trying to pull?”

The short version is that he became Blade the Belligerent and I had quite a time getting him into his new room.  But that’s another story.

Josie, on the other hand, was delighted with her new expanded living space.

Now when I give her a treat, instead of munching it down where she stands, like she always did before, she takes it to her inner sanctum, gets up on her bed and noshes on it there.  Also, she has been kind of bad about barking at anything that’s moving about in the woods above the kennels at night.  Last night she curled up in her “bedroom” and slept all night.  We didn’t hear a peep out of her.

I swapped Blade and Josie’s rooms because Kennel 1 does not have an inside room ready yet.  Blade has a plush coat of long fur to keep him warm.  Josie doesn’t.  Josie is still underweight too.  She needs this shelter for the cold snap we’ve got coming this week (Low of 20 predicted Tuesday night).  It’s just a couple of nights, then it warms up again.  By the time it turns cold again I should have Blade’s (new) room done as well.  Then everyone can get inside and away from the cold.

I need to sell another lumber pile.  That will free up some more space and give me funds to start buying insulation to go in the roof and buy paint for the walls.  Getting rid of the bare concrete block will go a long ways toward brightening the place up.

And doors.  I need to install guillotine doors that can be opened remotely via a cable and pulleys.  These will keep the cold and wind out at night and keep the dog inside or outside when I need to do that.

Step by step, we are getting there.


Kennel update: K2 wall complete

North wall of Kennel 2 complete.

I got the wall for Kennel 2 (Blades room) done this morning.  It’s not as pristine as my first wall, but the issues are probably not anything visitors will notice.  I notice because I’m a self-flagellating perfectionist.  But I know that, so I’ll move on anyway.  But first I need a rest, some Ibuprophen, and a meal to rebuild my energy reserves.

Work table, tools and supplies moved to K1

After lunch I moved my work station and tools out of K2, swept the floor in there, and set up my work table and tools in K1.

I had to rearrange my stack of blocks because (dummy me) the next wall goes right through that stack.  I remember thinking that I’d use enough blocks to shorten the stack enough to not impede the wall.  But I didn’t bother to count them.  I should have counted.  Not even close.

K2 lacks only an interior door panel to be usable.

The pass-through door in K2 remains blocked with crate board and a couple of propane cylinders because I don’t want Blade roaming around in here- or slipping out and running off while I have the roll-up door open.  Once I have a door across the front of that area, he will be allowed, if he chooses, to enter and utilize his inner sanctum.  I doubt he’ll make much use of it.  He prefers to be out on the front lines of the outer run to see as much as possible.

Once K2 was all squared away I laid in the first row of block for the kennel 1 north wall, making sure it is square and level.  I’ll let that set up good and hard to form a solid foundation for building the rest of the wall.

I’ve almost got my “mud slinging” technique down.  Almost.  The trick seems to be in getting the consistency of the mortar just right: wet enough it will cling to the trowel a little, but not so wet it sloughs off of the block after I scrape it onto the edge.  It needs to be the consistency of cake frosting.  Very gritty, dark gray cake frosting.  And there is a trick to moving the mortar from mortar bin to block without making it fall off on the floor or fly down the holes in the center of the blocks.  This is my first attempt at block laying and I’m working with knowledge I learned from watching YouTube videos.  I may be slow, but the end result seems to be good.  I’m happy with that.

If I don’t get this last wall done before it turns cold I can move Blade into K1 (Josie’s room) and Josie into K2.  I’ll go get a 5′ welded wire kennel panel out of Tim’s barn tomorrow (where I have stashed a bunch of them that were donated to us).  I can use that as a temporary interior door to K2 until I get the chain link frame installed and sheathed with mesh.  I’ll go into chain link mode once the blocks are laid and I can clear all those tools out of the way.  It’s getting tight in here!  Need to sell the rest of this lumber.

Blade doesn’t mind the cold.  He seems to prefer it.  With the full-body Parka he has for fur, I can understand why.  Josie is not so well insulated.  She needs the shelter.

I have found the vertically sliding doors I need to close off the small doorway between inside and outside runs.  They’re expensive: right at $200.00 each for the Standard version, over $300 for the insulated doors (I’ll skip those).  But they’re good quality: made by Kennel Clad for professional kennels and shelters and should last a long time.

There is another brand: Ecco(something) that makes doors for zoos, and are heavy duty enough to stand up to lions, and tigers, and bears (oh my!).  They come fully assembled using roller bearing tracks.  But they run in the $600 price range!  Although Blade thinks he’s a lion, we don’t need anything THAT heavy-duty.

There are cheaper ones, too.  Other brands can be had for as little as $60.00 per door.  But these are light plastic panels in sheet metal rails and do not come with hardware and cables.  My time working in a shelter proves to me that plastic doors get chewed up post haste and need to be replaced often.  The Kennel Clad doors are plate aluminum with aluminum frames, stainless steel fasteners, that ride in extruded aluminum rails that are heavy duty to resist dogs trying to bash through the door.  They will also stand up to frequent cleanings with disinfectants without rusting.

I need to get Board of Director approval to spend the money on them, but I want to get them ordered ASAP because heating a building with holes in the side is … problematic.

But for the moment, I’m building block walls.  I’ll focus on that until our Board meeting.

Zadie: the bilingual pirate dog

This was written in early 2012 for another web site, but I’m re-posting it here because it ties in with Cochise’s story and as a tribute to Zadie, whom we miss very much.

Zadie sleepingThis is Zadie.

Nah, she’s not spoiled, not a bit.

She does have an unusual vocal habit though. Many dogs will grumble as they settle down to sleep or roll over. But Zadie uses her grumbling to converse… but not in Dog. When we talk to her or ask questions (like we REALLY expect to get an answer!) she responds in this grumble speak of hers. But she has, apparently been spending too much time in the cow pasture up the road. Her grumble speak sounds for all the world like the lowing of those cows. I don’t mean just a little, but very much like it. Not a dog-like sound at all. I’m convinced she’s bilingual. Continue reading “Zadie: the bilingual pirate dog”

The Bookie

As you (probably) know, canine rescue is a passion of mine.  In learning to care for the dogs we’ve fostered over the past 8+ years, I often encountered dietary and nutritional challenges.  Finding solutions to those challenges opened the door to a LOT of research into dog food and the differences between food for humans and food for canines.  I even started making my own dog food!
This is today’s batch of doggo stew coming together: Chicken, sweet potato, spinach, oat meal, and assorted nutrition additives. All proportioned according to the recipe plan set out in my latest book: Questions and Answers About Canine Cuisine available at:

Q&A Canine Cuisine
Written  with Dr. Sandra Manes DVM

But it’s much more than a cookbook. 

This is a concise compendium of nutritional information to help you keep your fur baby healthy.  Don’t want to do the cooking?  That’s fine, it covers what you need to know to find a commercial diet that is safe and healthy.  Want to know about the new fad diets?  Dr Sandra Manes DVM and I cover those too.  All in a handy 7×10 paperback with full color photography. 

This book covers all aspects of canine nutrition and discusses everything from choosing a good commercial kibble to cooking your own dog food (including recipes). We also cover raw diet, grain free, all-meat, boutique meals, and we have a hard look at proper nutrition for dogs dealing with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer.  Tons of useful information presented for the average person in a lighthearted writing style.  This is one of those books you’ll refer back to often because it offers so much great expert information.

 ALL proceeds from this book support Piney Mountain Foster Care, a GuideStar gold seal rated 501(c)(3) rescue. EIN: 84-3593563.  Do your dog a favor, and support PMFC’s life-saving efforts: buy this book!

Kennel Update: K3 Complete (almost)

Scout‘s inside room is now secure and accessible by humans (I mean aside from getting down and crawling through that hole in the wall – which I have done).  The building is still pretty crowded with lumber and stuff, so getting a good camera angle is difficult.
I still need to find the channels that go on either side of the door hole so a sheet metal clad wooden panel can slide up and down in them to close off and open up the doorway.  The channels are shaped like a lower case “h”, the panel rides in the three sided channel, the flange bolts to the wall.  A cable (to prevent chewing it in half) goes up to a pulley on the wall, that splices to a rope that runs out front to a cleat.  I pull the rope to open the door and tie it off to keep the door open.
I cleared out and swept the next section.  I need to go get a load of block, then can get started enclosing Blade’s room: K2.
I finished the day by organizing my parts box.  This will save time as I build the next panel: no more sifting through random parts looking for the one I need.  I also put away all the wrenches, the pliers, wire cutters and such I used in building the chain link panel.  Time to go back into masonry mode, those tools will just be in the way and maybe get lost in the shuffle.  Tis better to straighten up before moving on.