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Posts Tagged ‘dog’

My wife and I are very lucky living on the side of a mountain in Central Pennsylvania. Clary, our 100 pound Great Pyrenees loves the woods. We have made a habit of going on daily walks down one of the three trails that run through our 11 Acres. Every now and again when walking the trail furthest from our house Clary decides she doesn’t want to walk anymore she will stop and sit. Getting her to move forward is akin to moving a mule that doesn’t want to be moved. The only direction she will go is home dragging me the entire time.
I was telling one of my co-workers about Clary’s refusal to go into the woods, he told me she probably hears the barking dog.

 At the furthest point on the trail, mainly in the fall when the leaves have fallen off the trees you can just make out a little hunting shack on the next ridge, sometimes there is a little smoke from a fire and one can hear a dog barking and if you squint just right you can just see it running back and forth barking it’s fool head off. 

“Well, there  is that dog in that hunting shack off the back of our property” 

“You have seen and heard this dog?” He asked?

“Not often, but yes”

“Have you met the owners?”

“No, I can’t even figure out how to get to that house, there doesn’t seem to be a road or path that leads to the house.”

My co-worker looked at me strangely and said, “I guess it’s time somebody told you about the barking dog.”

Seventy five years ago a young family built and lived in that house lived off the land in true homesteader fashion. Nobody is sure exactly what made the young man snap but one evening he shot and killed his wife, both his children and the dog, set the home on fire sat down on the front porch where he perished in the flames. To this day nobody goes near the place, some still claim to hear the dog barking. Hunters who try and hunt the land say it is barren of all wildlife and in the wee hours of the morning some see wisps of smoke coming from where the house used to stand.  

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Tonight, when I took Sequoia out of her kennel she immediately started to drag me across the driveway to the far side of the garage.  I knew something was up because she always, and I mean always heads to her regular spot to complete her business before doing anything else.  So I indulged her as she tore my shoulder from my socket in an effort to get to where she wanted to go, and there on the other side of the garage was a flock of wild turkeys.  Older birds, younger birds some already headed to the safety of the forest.  Huskies are hunters, Sequoia is no exception.  A technique hunters use while going after their prey is to smell like their prey.  While I stood there gawking at the turkeys like an idiot my wifes dog was rolling in some turkey poop.

For those of you with no experience with turkey poop let me assure you, it really stinks and it is hard to get out of husky hair.

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My wife reminded me that Dorian was not the first time Sequoia was wary of a cat.

We went to Cook Forest State Park here in Pennsylvania.  Sequoia and I waited in the car while my wife went into the information station to find out where we could picnic.  My wife was taking a long time to get the information so Sequoia and I decided to wait outside the car.  Even though we were in a parking lot it was very rustic, very beautiful.  Amongst the people, cars and quaint cabins I spotted a cat a bunch of yards away.  The cat was watching us, watching Sequoia.  Sequoia for her part was ignorantly sniffing the ground, I did not particularly like the way the cat was watching us.  People would be walking between us, carrying canoes making all kinds of noises, cars would pass by kicking up dust and all the while the cat just stared. I started looking for my wife, where the heck was she? I’m about to enter a Stephen King story and my wife is taking forever getting directions to a picnic table…or did the cat get her?

Then the cat started to move, it started moving towards us.  It would stop to let a car pass, it would negotiate its way around a family, it would check out something on a stone wall but it was coming closer and while it would pretend to take interest in something else, clearly we were its target.  I was pretty confident it wasn’t going to approach a husky, where the hell was my wife?  While still some yards away Sequoia finally took notice.  She strained at the end of her leash whining as huskies do when being denied chasing pray, and the cat kept coming.  Then the oddest thing happened, Sequoia started backing up.  The cat kept coming and now it wasn’t walking around people, it wasn’t stopping to check out the bird, the cat was coming, and it was coming for us.  I was looking at the information place for my wife.  Sequoia was no longer strained at the end of her leash, she was standing by my side.  When Sequoia broke her stare from the cat and looked at me her expression was priceless and unmistakable, it said, Dad, perhaps we should wait in the car. And that is exactly what we did and it was only when we got back into the car did the cat change direction, still keeping an eye on us, but no longer approaching.  A few moments later much to my relief my wife emerged from the building.  Not knowing what had transpired my wife pointed at the cat so I would not miss seeing it.  To the horror of Sequoia and myself, my wife actually bent down and started calling “here kitty kitty”  Could she not see that this was no ordinary cat?  Could she not see that it was some sort of demon?  Lucky for us the cat (if that is what it was) paid her no heed, it just wandered off probably looking for another dog to terrorize.

My wife had her own tale to tell. While Sequoia and I were being hunted by a demon my wife was dealing with a hummingbird.  Some children had found a wounded hummingbird in the parking lot and brought it to the information station (yes I like saying information station) in hopes that the bird could be fixed.  A wounded hummingbird is not an easy animal to fix.  But you can’t tell children that, they were so hopeful, and the information people didn’t know what to do.  My wife as always, stepped up to the plate.  She told the children that we knew a lady who might be able to help.  They put the bird in a shoebox with a little towel and kept the bird in a warm quiet place inside the office.  My wife made an arrangement with the park people that on our way out we would stop by and pick up the hummingbird and drive it the two hours (with a prey driven tramatized by a demon husky in the car) back to State College where we would take the bird to a wild animal rehabilitator.

True to our word we stopped by the office on our way out of the park(amazingly the bird was still alive) and we brought the bird to Sparrow our local wildlife rehabilitator.  Sparrow tried her best with the hummingbird but its very fragile wing was broken and the bird refused to eat and didn’t survive the night.   I wasn’t surprised, first off it was a hummingbird, delicate to begin with secondly it was probably the victim of the demon cat that haunts Cook Forest State Park.

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Pets don’t have many choices, they are completely at our mercy, I know it doesn’t always feel that way but they are, and we are responsible for them, every last one.  They are bred, for the most part, with little or no thought for the thousands of other dogs and cats who don’t have homes, don’t have anyone to look after them.  Most people don’t understand that when a dog is purchased from anywhere but a reputable breeder or some sort of humane society we are supporting puppy mills, supporting back yard breeders who out of ignorance are producing dogs that are probably going to end up with temperament or medical problems if not both, breeding dogs that are statistically going to end up on the loose living a miserable existence, or living in a shelter.  Either way it’s no way to live but at least at the shelter they have just that, shelter, food, people who care about them and with any luck, eventually a good home. 

Animals in our society don’t rate for much in any legal sense, they are simply property and not just property but the lowest sort of property.   In an emergency (such as a fire) the rule of thumb according to Emergency services is you save people, property and then animals (the last is usually optional).

Our pets give us so much otherwise why would there be so many of them?  No matter what we do to them they love us unconditionally, they help us in so many ways. How many times on the news do we hear about the pets that alert their owners to a fire and end up saving the family?  They are our constant companions, they are our eyes, there are alert dogs, rescue dogs, dogs that help us find criminals, find mines for soldiers and the list goes on.  

clicking on this link will enable you to donate to the Clearfield County SPCA where every bit helps.  Plus if Sequoia is one of the top donation earners she will be featured on their 2011 calendar.  Raising money is not really what my blog is about and I promise this won’t be a regular theme, but every once in a while you have to give back.  So thanks in advance, thanks to those that have already given. 

As always thanks for reading, and next post we will be back to our regularly scheduled programing.

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Husky Fun

Husky fun
Husky fun

You know you are in for a trying day when it is 5:30am and the snow in the driveway is up to your huskies belly.  My saving grace is that it is Saturday which means that instead of securing the dog on the porch and dragging out the snow blower and moving snow for two and a half hours, I can turn around, stick the dog in the laundry room and go back to sleep and worry about the snow later.  I’m not a fan of snow, yes its pretty, but pretty is only skin deep and ugly is to the bone.  Watching Sequoia play in the snow does add a whole new element.  I wish I had set the camera to video mode but at 5am I am not thinking that clearly, it is amazing I had the presence of mind to grab the camera.  I seriously had to laugh as she bounded through the snow, tail in the air, mouth open tongue lolling out to one side.  Every now and again she would dunk her face in the snow then pull it back out totally encrusted in snow up to her ears, her blue eyes sparkling. Then she would stretch out her neck, her eyes would narrow to slits as she put her nose high in the air and breath in all the scents the world has to offer her. The next moment she would be bounding through the snow again. If Sequoia has taught me anything it is to take the time to live in the moment.  It is a lesson I forget all to easily, thankfully she is there to remind time and time again.

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It was a difficult week at work, and it doesn’t look like it is going to change in the near future.  But it is Sunday and I’m not worrying about it, just enjoying a lazy day.  I am sitting with my feet up reclining under a blanket on my recliner. We are catching up on some tv watching and I’m wondering what the next post on my blog will be about. A cat is lying down in the crook of my arm, my wife is beside me working on her cross-stitch, dinner is in the crockpot smelling wonderful, dog is lazing on the deck. It is a Norman Rockwell moment.

Suddenly the house explodes in pandemonium.  The dog is on her feet thundering down the deck snarling and growling, hitting the end of the zipline so hard that her paws came out from under her bringing to a sudden stop on her back. Inside the cats are on full alert, hair standing on edge, tails fluffed twice their normal size.  I’m already half way out of my chair untangling myself from my blanket, my wife is on my heels.  Something is going down outside and it’s not pleasant.  I’m expecting to see a full-blown dog fight.  Husky doesn’t like other dogs and its even worse when they are on her territory and very little else causes this kind of reaction.  I step out the door and there is Husky at the end of the porch, while there is no sign of another animal she is clearly agitated and looking down the driveway.

At the end of the porch I grab husky as I look in the direction she is looking, keeping just out of her reach are 3 soaking wet, half-grown english bulldogs.  I grabbed husky and brought her into the house while my wife checked on the three stooges.  With a little food my wife manged to coax the stooges into Husky’s kennel where we could keep them contained and safe. Now, it just so happens that at the end of our street there is a guy who breeds old english bulldogs.

We hop in the car, minus the dogs as there is no way I’m letting three soaking wet muddy dogs into our vehicle, and no, we don’t have his number. It turns out the family had just gotten home from a shopping trip.  He knew the dogs had escaped but he decided the dogs would probably find their own way home and if not he would look for them once he got back. I’m not sure how going shopping would be more important than looking for three of your lost dogs but a lot of things I don’t understand. Luckily, everything worked out in the end, as it usually does.  Eventually the adrenalin stopped pumping (except for Husky who is still agitated)  and we were able to settle down and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. 

This serves as another example of how one moment you are happily relaxing secure in your life enjoying your time when bam, suddenly even if only for a short time your life can be tossed into sudden upheaval.

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Fate Or Circumstance, Part 3

Once at  Sandra’s we found the kennel, made sure Husky had food and water, we promised her that Sandra would be home soon and that we would visit during the week, and with great reluctance we walked away.

Husky screamed!  She didn’t bark, growl or howl, she screamed.  Never had I heard such a noise, it sounded like somebody had taken an old rusty spoon and used it to carve out her heart.  We couldn’t take her with us and we couldn’t wait all night.  Husky was safe, she had water and Sandra would soon be there to take her inside.  Being the cruel heartless people we are we walked away with heavy hearts and tears in our eyes and the most horrific sound echoing in our heads.  The neighbour promised us he would check in on Husky once Husky had settled down.   As we drove home with that god awful noise still reverberating in our heads we started thinking up ways we could keep her with us until we found a suitable home.  Logically we knew husky was fine, emotionally we were drained.  Some would argue that this was when we decided to keep Husky, and again they would be wrong. 

We made a vet appointment with Lee (the best vet ever) who gave us a lecture on dog ownership and given our situation and the temperment of our cats, how owning a dog was probably not the smartest idea.   Lee also forced us to see the obvious, if Husky did  kill one of the cats, how would that make us feel? then what would become of Husky?   Lee did admit that this husky was not a typical husky.   Husky took all her shots, gave blood and submitted to the exam without all the usual husky drama.  For the most part she lay on her back paws in the air waiting for somebody to rub her belly.  Lee who is not only the best vet, is also a friend who cares about her patients and despite her lecture informed us that she would support our decision and help us any way she could both as a friend and a vet.  Did our vet just open the door a tiny crack?  There were a lot of issues and the potential for deadly disaster, I was still focused on finding Husky a suitable home but maybe there was a way to share the household, maybe we could find a way to separate the cats from the dog when we were all in the house at the same time, maybe…just maybe…

During this time we took Husky everywhere getting her as much exposure as possible figuring the more people who saw her the better the chance we had at finding her a good home.   My wife was busy being a detective and with only Husky’s rabies tags she managed to uncover  a lot of  information.  The previous owner owed the vets money, making them reluctant to give us any information, but with a little explaining on our part each vet we talked to agreed to release Husky’s records our vet.  We found out that Husky was a mom but the dog law officer realized this guy was unable or unwilling to look after Husky never mind husky puppies and forced him to have Husky fixed.  He did comply but once again never paid the vet.  From there my wife was able to track down the breeder.  Husky was a purebred and we got all the information we needed to get her papers from the American Kennel Club.  We had no interest in getting her papers but it was a good ‘selling’ point to tempt a possible owner. 

Finding Husky an owner was a difficult task,  we were not about to ‘dump’ her on just anybody, how would that help her?  how would that put her in a better situation?  Most people want a dog that they can throw out the door on a cold day and then give a whistle and the dog will come running back, unfortunately with most huskies you can’t do that, once they are outside and unrestrained, they are gone.  Training a  husky is not as easy as training a lab.  Before a husky will do anything they ask themselves “whats in it for me?” and there better be something as they are certainly not out to please you.  Huskies are not always good with children or other dogs and other dogs don’t always like huskies.  In our studies we learned that huskies have their own language which other dogs don’t understand.  A husky owner in northern Canada who has working huskies warned us that huskies play a lot harder than most dogs and the difference between husky play and a husky fight is the amount of blood spilled.  To make matters worse our husky is very dominant and doesn’t play well with others.  If another dog doesn’t respond the way Husky wants them too she goes on the attack. 

One Sunday we went to Sandra’s to drop Husky off, (thankfully we could now do this without the screaming)  there was a pen set up in the yard with all the husky puppies playing inside.  We brought Husky into the pen and she immediately went into mothering mode.  She played with them, let them crawl all over her but when they crossed the line (as huskies are prone to do) she would roll them on their backs and hold them there until they calmed down.  We stayed for a while, playing with the puppies (we really liked zag and Sandra actually tried to get us to adopt zag) and really enjoyed watching Husky play with the pups.  Once again that dreaded time came when we had to leave we said goodbye to Sandra and the woman helping her, said goodbye to Husky who was only paying attention to the puppies but just before I got into the car I happened to look back and noticed Husky had stopped paying attention to the puppies, all her attention was on us. Later when my wife mentioned that particular behaviour to Sandra she told us that Husky always watched us leave and looked for us once we were gone and on Saturdays she would wait by the door for us to pick her up.  I though back to when we first met Husky, she didn’t look at her previous owner, she never looked back.  Some would say it was at that point we decided adopt Husky the truth of the matter is Husky had already adopted us.

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