Monday, March 28, 2011


Suka's not perimeter-defensive, but she sure lets folks know when someone's coming! And she has opinions about people, too. Dakota, rather less so - Unless someone actually knocks, rings a doorbell, or enters the back yard.

Yesterday, new washer and dryer were being delivered, and poor Suka about lost her mind.

Being the only one home at the time, I crated The Girls, and set about opening up the house for the delivery guys to work. Suka announced the arrival of the truck. She announced the first delivery guy - vigorously. Then the second - not so vigorously - I guess he was more acceptable to her. Then she announced the door I'd popped off the hinges to make space - with extra alertness in her eyes and carriage - Clearly, disassembling bits of the house did not meet her approval.

The delivery guys were commented upon again as they went out to the truck. They got a special emphasis when they brought the dryer in. She's not barking the whole time, no - only as things and people passed through the front door.

Then, the guys removed the old dryer... I thought Suka would turn herself inside out from sheer frustration - Strangers were REMOVING stuff! Our stuff! HER STUFF!! (dunno when she got so possesive of the laundry, but apparently it's very important to her)

Dakota, meanwhile, sat quietly and watched the goings-on.

In with the new washer - announced. Out with the old washer - denounced. Back in with the workers, as the made connections and tested the appliances - announced! Workers departing - announced again.

Dakota still had nothing to say. She just sat there and patiently watched the action.

Even though everyone keeps a wary eye on Dakota, Suka is the one to which they should be paying attention. Dakota doesn't take strange folks all that seriously. As big as she is, she doesn't need to, I s'pose. Suka, though..? She's got opinions about strange folks, strange goings-on, and especially about what comes and goes(!!) in her domain.

She spent the rest of the evening suspiciously eyeballing the new washer and drier. Not sure what nefarious activity she expected from them, but it's clear she thought they were up to something!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Been a while - not been peaceful

So, I've been absent more than a bit - Preoccupied with things in my world, much of which I frankly don't care to share in detail. In this day and these times, there's no need to go on about more people losing jobs, nor about the pressures that puts on those of us who whom are fortunate to manage to retain theirs - There's already enough of that out there already. So, yeah, times, they be tough, but I still have a paycheck.
Enough of that already.

I did manage to find a very little time to help at the farm, but nothing at all compared to what those awesome kids from the Alternative Spring Break program did. I hucked a few felled trees, and convinced a recalcitrant chain saw to function. Oh, and transported down some of my wife's excellent lasagna for the kids to eat. But compared to the labors of the kids, the other volunteers, and Sarah, I'm a serious piker this year.
No excuses.

Sarah tells the tale better than I ever could:

Not everything has been peaceful on the homefront, nor has it been as happy as the ASB crew.

Suka took a run at Dakota, and paid for her rude behavior in blood. It's to Dakota's everlasting credit that it ended as well as it did, because she had Suka utterly at her mercy before I could take even one step out of the shower.

The tale runs something like this - Early AM, and I'm in the shower. The dogs have been walked and fed, and would normally be engaged in their favorite activities - Dakota watching birds out of the back door, and Suka stealing a few minutes on the couch whilst no one is watching. But, for some reason, Suka chose to do a lap of the house with a high-value toy that had been somehow overlooked and left in-reach. At some point, Dakota either got too close, or maybe expressed some interest in the toy - Not sure, but my first warning of trouble was the sound of Suka's distinctive snarl-snap, followed by a general uproar as Dakota responded in-kind.

I was all of ten feet and one door (plus shower curtain) away, and it took me only seconds to get to the scene, flinging water everywhere as I came. By then, the fiight was already over; Dakota had Suka's head gripped firmly in her jaws, and had bodily crushed her to the ground onto her belly. Suka was still making chainsaw noises, but it was clear that she had no recourse and was entirely at Dakota's mercy. And when I say 'mercy,' I mean it. I commonly watch Dakota crush cattle bones in her jaws; Suka's head would've been no challenge. Or she could've whipped her head to the side, breaking Suka's neck and shredding her throat. But instead, all she did was grip Suka firmly and pin her decisively, ending the fight almost instantly. Better and more gentle manners, frankly, than Suka sometimes deserves. Despite her great size and intimidating power, Dakota is, at heart, a gentle soul.

Suka came away with a superficial abrasion and a minor puncture/laceration to the crown of her skull, and a rather more bloody puncture to her lower jaw - none more than 1/2 the depth of Dakota's incisors. They healed cleanly and well, and if you don't know what you're looking for, you can't find any of them.

So... That's what happened. Who is at fault..? Me, of course. I don't know how it is that the squeaky pig was down and in-reach, but I do know that Suka is highly defensive of it, and that it should be up out of reach whenever there's not responsible supervision immediately present. I don't *think* I left it down, but in the liklihood that one of the kids had taken it down for Suka, I've clearly failed to drive home the importance of having it put away properly. Well, they've get that NOW, but I didn't do my job well enough previously. Fortunately, it all ended with painful but ultimately minor consequences.

Minor abrasion

Fairly minor laceration

1 cm deep pocket - no stitches (to allow for drainage), no penetration into muscle.

More serious (and bloody)

1 cm deep puncture, some pocketing, bled freely for quite a while - No stitches (to allow for drainage), some penetration into muscle.

Scalp scar

If you don't know it's there, you won't find it.

Jaw scar

Even if you DO know it's there, good luck finding it!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cold, but no snow...

Chill days. Bright sun, brisk winds, short daylight. But no snow. A couple days ago we had an entire day that looked and smelled like snow, but it all fell south of us. The ground is still green-n-brown.

Suka and Dakota have come to extra-energetic life - Cold weather is simply a God-send to these heavy-coated girls. Dakota, especially, has taken to bouncing and looking at me wth her head turned sideways every time I get to my feet. She *knows* the routine, but still she's looking for an exception. Every. Single. Time. Suka mostly reacts by being much more noisy than usual, and more persistent.

Dakota has made things a bit more interesting... She and Suka had a resource spat a week or so ago, and Suka bellied-out immediately - and Dakota stopped. This is a good thing; Exactly the way a dog fight - if you *must* have a dog fight - should go. But it was Suka submitting. That's a first. And yet, at any other time, including after the fight, Dakota still defers to Suka, whom hasn't changed her pushy, bitchy ways one iota. It's as if, having made her point, Dakota has decided to humor Suka. And smart as Dakota is, I'd not be surprised if that wasn't exactly the case.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Corrupting youth

I firmly believe that as parents, we have a duty to warp... ah... help our children expand their horizons. With that in mind, I took my daughter Lin with me to The Farm this past weekend, and put her to work. Since we were going down with nothing but work in mind, I didn't bring a camera. So tough, folks! no pictures this time, either!


Lin had a choice between going to a museum to see a really spectacular touring exhibit of art, or stay home and help clean with her mother, or come to The Farm with me and get really dirty and a bit cold whilst working. I'm quite pleased that she chose The Farm, and she did me proud.

We got there a bit later than I'd have preferred, but some random idiot took off with my gas cap, and I had to replace that, first. But we made it, and Lin immediately discovered Puppies. As in a pair of female rescuees, maybe 16 weeks old, wandering about the place busily being cute. Then she discovered barn cats, also busily engaged in the demanding task of being prime distractions for a young teenager. I left her to play with kritters while I filled food bins at various places, but soon enough, I was ready for the main event, which was putting an end to the last chaos and mess in the feed trailer. Lin immediately dropped the play, and turned-to with a will. She toted, and carried, and ran back and forth on various errands without complaint or slacking the entire time I was up to my elbows in disordered and spilled flats of canned food. She lifted and hauled while I was moving out bags of kibble and cat litter (yeah, it was another donation from Fibber McGee's closet o'stuff). Once the food was sorted, she happily shifted surplus cat food over to another trailer to be hauled over to the local shelter, then helped me transport and off-load it at the shelter.

Back at The Farm, she helped clear out a truck, and load yet more food for distribution. And she picked shredded fiberfill from destroyed dog toys out of the grass and fences. And helped shift a pen for the puppies and learned how to corral puppies whom don't wish to be caught. Oh, and still somehow found time to play with puppies and dogs and kitties, and stare at sheepies and other livestock, and generally have a good time. And get generally filthy - It *IS* a farm, after all!

All in all, and without over-working her, Lin's help made it possible to get done more than twice as much as would have otherwise have been done without her. AND she had time to play! She made a strongly favorable impression on the HBIC, and I daresay my job of corrupting... Um, expanding her horizons... was a major success. Certainly, I was pleased to spend the day with her, and there was none of the teenaged angst or whining that can often come with a bored child. Just a good day of doing good.

Now it's time to sing one of my favorite songs again:
Times are hard, and volunteer-based organizations are hurting for resources and man-hours. It doesn't matter if you have no major skills and are tight on resources yourself - there are things to be done by all. A little lifting, a little organizing. Maybe a load of laundry or two. Perhaps something needs be driven from 'here' to 'there'. Maybe it's just stuffing envelopes for an afternoon, or making some phone calls. Who knows? Find a cause that speaks to you, and find out! It doesn't matter if you haven't a lot to give - Small help is still help.

OK, OK - *ONE* picture:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Puppy lust...

Before anyone freaks out... I am SO NOT getting this puppy.

But I want him so bad my teeth hurt.

Financially-speaking, I have no right to even make a bid for him, but he needs a home... And he's SO my match in temperment and attitude. And he'd add some much-needed male energy to my small pack... If the economy were even a bit better, I'd snap him up so fast, his breeders would think he'd vaporized. :)

So who is this? He's Zeus - A nearly* breed-quality male ISSR Shiloh Shepherd (same breed as Dakota) puppy, 16 weeks and 48 pounds. A bit defiant, but laid-back and confident, and with a medium temperment. Pretty much describes me, yanno? Also my wife... And my daughter... And my son. :p

Can't afford the cost of healthchecks and potential puppy-type disasters, although I could possibly pull together the actual up-front costs. Since I can't afford the care, I can't afford the puppy. :( Would that more people thought this way... Though that would mean a lot more frustrated dog lovers. But fewer hurtin' pups.

Mind you, if someone reading this decided Zeus (or his sister Hera) were their perfect puppy, I'd hardly be offended. ;) Their breeders are trying to do things the right way, but responsible breeding is a good way to lose money, and with only two puppies in this litter, they're hurtin' too - the economy hits responsible breeders FAR harder than it hits puppy mills.

But DAMN, I want this puppy. ;)

*Technically, a "Pet-Upgradeable" puppy - One with faults, but might be upgraded to breeding status, if he shows offsetting strengths as he matures.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stacking it up

Another 'day at The Farm' post...

No pictures - not this time.

The HBIC got another donation shipment, and with volunteer time at a premium, it helps to have the food sorted so that she and the other volunteers can get to the food quickly and easily. So I again went south and sorted and stacked food. I quickly ran out of space to maneuver and stack food, so will have to go back after the current stack is whittled down a bit. But that's still a useful thing... Whilst I was climbing in and out of the trailer, categorizing, moving, sorting, seperating, and stacking, the HBIC was free to do a behavioral consult, and another senior volunteer was able to focus on conducting a class on behavior and manners for a goodly number of students, and they neither one had to worry about the lifting and toting whilst they attended to tasks requiring more nuanced skills.

I've sung this song so many times, but I feel the need to sing it again:
It doesn't matter if you're lacking in fancy or highly developed skills, or if you have no money to spare - there is something for everyone to do, when you volunteer. Find a spot where you can put your hand out to help. You don't have to carry the whole load. If you can't lift a whole load of work, you can lift a little bit - Every little bit sets the stack that much higher. Find a cause that speaks to you, and help stack it up.

In only peripherally-related news, Suka is free of the 'Cone of Shame.' Poor thing was having a terrible time navigating with it, and actually shattered it on the final day she was to wear it by jacking herself up slamming into the furniture. So - Even if she were *supposed* to still be wearing it, she couldn't.

Oh, and I have some spectacular linear bruises on the backs of my calves - I never really thought about how closely she follows me, or how little free space there is to navigate when The Girls are zipping around me.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


An unplanned visit to the vet this morning. Suka popped up with a bloody wound and ragged fur on her right rear leg, on the muscle pad of her thigh just above the stifle joint. A quick call, and a trot over to vet, to determine that she's got a classic 'hot spot' injury, which she has worried at until it was bleeding freely.


So, spent some time, and she got clipped, and and cleaned up, and some steroids (Prednisone) and a goofy collar which is giving her no end of grief in navigation. Poor girl is getting hung up on everything... Even the ground. She lives to sniff stuff, and likes to do it at a trot... But when she lowers the cone, it snags on anything, including polished floors, and suddenly stacks Suka up on end.


All told, US$223.01 I wasn't planning on spending.


Suka looks like a dork today.
Poor girl - All the other dogs are laughing.

Classic hot-spot, with minor self inflicted lacerations:

Shouldn't oughta do that to yourself, girl!