Dogs x 6

It’s a beautiful morning here in Colorado Springs where I am hanging out until tomorrow. My friend L plays in a little band and tonight they’re performing so I came up (north) to see the show and see my friends.

Among my friends are three dog friends — Shoe, Satchmo and Coda. My dogs love them and they make a very cute extended pack. Shoe (the black and white one) hurt her paw on some garden edging so she’s not quite herself but as she is a dog, she is putting a good face on the fact that her foot is bandaged, has a sock on it, and a plastic boot.

Shoe and her boot and her bestie, Bear

To get here is a 3 hour drive, the first half over the mountains. La Veta Pass is nothing now, but in winter it can be a nightmare. The long, straight road through the big empty that leads to the pass is one of the deadliest in the United States, and now the Colorado Department of Transportation and posted this on the lit-up sign that normally warns of elk and avalanche ahead, “313 Deaths in 2016. Don’t meet by accident.” People are careless on that stretch of road; most deaths result from illegal passing. I think a lot of drivers look at that landscape and feel oppressed by the emptiness and eager to get it over, or they think, “Let’s GO!!!” or they want to make time before the get to the pass. I have no idea. I’ve seen a couple bad accidents and I’m extremely cautious when I drive it. An example of driver stupidity, I was tailgated yesterday by a gas truck… Why? I just don’t play. I pulled over and let him get WAY ahead…

Yesterday was beautiful, and as I got to the top of the pass, Jimi Hendrix started singing “Voodoo Child” — one of his two songs that I actually like  — and I thought that was cool.

It’s probably glaringly obvious from this post that I don’t have anything to write but that’s the way it goes. 🙂

Too Much Drama

Periodically WordPress does something with the blog editor and it’s almost always buggy. Then the kinks get worked out then you go on to use the new blog editor with its spicy alterations and then they do it again. The most recent iteration has hidden my favorite blogs from view on my Reader, has given me a strange jumpy screen that will not properly load, has frozen my laptop attempting to load. Yesterday it told some of my readers that my blog was “not on this server.”

I’m a paying customer (as it happens) so this annoys me a little bit. I’m the first to say my blog is not the most important news of the morning, not to me or anyone else, but it’s a thing I do while I drink my coffee, the dogs chew their rawhide and I make the transition from sleep to wakefulness (probably obvious from my posts). Sometimes I am even inspired to write a spicy story.

Writing a blog is a completely elective activity for me. I’m past the point in life where I want drama or gratuitous change. In fact, I feel that’s a problem in this country. Rather than changing important things, we fuss about a lot of stuff that doesn’t matter.

In other news….

Yesterday my dog ran off. Bear. It was a terrifying event since I love Bear probably more than I should AND I live on a highway. She dived through the lilac hedge and got to the front sidewalk. I saw her and yelled, “Bear!” and I guess she thought she was in trouble because she high-tailed it toward the golf course, away from the highway, thank goodness.

Dusty and I went out to find her and failed. I came home to be sure Mindy was still inside because I left everything open. My neighbor, E,  texted me that she had some freshly picked green beans and I texted back, “Bear ran away,” and headed out the front door with Dusty. I unleashed Dusty so if he saw her, he would go get her (he would). I hadn’t gone 30 feet when I saw first, my next door neighbor, Tom, was outside in his front yard and Bear was coming up the street. I was behind a honeysuckle bush so my neighbor didn’t see me, but I saw what he did. He called Bear to him. Dusty went to Bear and both went to my neighbor. By then I’d caught up to them and we had a happy reunion. Meanwhile, E caught up to all of us. It was a really beautiful moment.

“I saw her run past so I decided to get out here and see if I could catch her and put her in my yard,” he said, “then come get you.” Tom is an old guy who just had a hip replacement.

E is in her mid-seventies. We stood in Tom’s yard and I tried to introduce Tom and E properly, but I was distracted so E finished what I started. We chatted and Bear leaned against me and Dusty got pats. I was pumped with adrenaline — a feeling I don’t like and have felt far too many times in my life.

We all went home — well, Tom stayed home — and Bear was exhausted. She was also strange. I realized she felt she’d been bad. I didn’t think she’d been bad. She came home. She was headed toward me when she saw Tom, whom she knows and likes. Probably when I yelled “Bear!” she thought I was angry — though I’ve only been angry with her twice. The day wore on, the adrenaline was slowly backing off, but I decided to take everyone for a walk at the slough before it started raining.

It was a miserable walk. It was humid, the air hung heavy, there were mosquitoes everywhere and none of us were happy. It was so strange. We came home and the afternoon routine unfolded in the predictable way dogs prefer. Then someone posted on Facebook a video of Glen Campbell singing “Gentle on My Mind” with John Hartford, who wrote the song. I’d never heard them sing it together. It was on the Smothers Brothers show.

I’m not a big fan of Glen Campbell and all of that was so long ago, but somehow it seemed to bring back eons of time, memories, events, visions of the future (in which I’m now living and it’s NOTHING like I envisioned) and the sense that it’s too late now for me to straighten THAT out (ha ha). I began to cry — I know it was an emotional release of the adrenaline and fear of Bear being hit by a semi-truck.

Bear climbed up on my lap (she is an 80 pound giant breed livestock guardian dog), put her muzzle on my cheek and looked at me. I was still crying. Bear went to sleep. I thought of the day and the incredible sweetness in that moment when two friends stood beside me because my dog had run away and I needed help.

Later on, a police car went by, its siren going. Dusty looked at me as if to say, “Well? It’s the right time for a howl, Martha” and I agreed. Dogs and wolves howl for many reasons, but one is to reaffirm their ties to their pack. When I had the Siberian huskies, it was a common thing at the end of the day when I came home, if they heard a “howl” (coyote or siren) they would come to where I was and we would assert our unity. It’s strange, but it’s what they do. Dusty learned this from his Siberian husky mother/sisters. I don’t remember Dusty EVER starting a “howl” but last evening he did. He doesn’t howl well, Bear mostly barks, Mindy only gives it a shot, but we all put our heads back and did our best.

Dogs aren’t people. Sometimes you have to meet them part way.

OH BTW, I’m composing this on WordPress’ old editor which is reliable, not difficult to use, and is accessible under WordPress Admin in your drop down menu.

Just a Casually Terrifying Bark

Dogs are everywhere and if you’re walking with Dusty T. Dog in the evening, it is never a casual walk. It involves strategy, lightning reflexes and a good, strong hand on the leash. Why?

Dusty T. Dog is known in his inner circles (me) as “El Barquero Grande.” Part Doberman Pinscher part Labrador retriever (two barky dogs), Dusty T. Dog has a formidable and quite barbaric “Yawp.” It usually means, “Hey Dude, ‘sup?” But you’d never know that. And, if Dusty gets “wound up” — shudder.

My neighbor in CA wound up Dusty with the intention of getting Dusty to bite him. He hated my dog (I kind of don’t blame him) and wanted him hauled away and put to sleep. What my neighbor didn’t understand is that, because they were seldom at their house — it was a part-time home for them — Dusty felt it was his duty to protect everything in sight, all Dusty was doing was protecting that man’s house from intruders. He also didn’t understand that Dusty loves his yard and he loves people.

It got very ugly with a note pushed into my fence saying the neighbors were all afraid of my dog, that my fence wouldn’t keep him in the yard, that there was fecal matter everywhere because I didn’t clean up after my dogs (completely untrue as I have always done that daily), that the cops had been called. In reality, Dusty COULD but wouldn’t jump the 4 foot fence and, when I was not home, Dusty and the girls were all confined to a 100 square foot dog run behind a 6 foot fence. The dogs were always inside for the night by 8 pm so it wasn’t a question of their barking all night, either. Most of all, if the neighbor had ever come into my yard and met Dusty, he would have understood the whole story, but it was more interesting for him to curse and yell and bait my dog and call the cops.

So the Animal Control officer came out and I happened to be home. I saw him taking photos of the yard from outside the fence. Dusty liked the guy and was just standing beside the fence waiting to be petted. He didn’t bark. I let the guy in, showed him the dog run — into which all the dogs happily ran when I said, “Go to yard!” — and explained our routine. The guy looked for fecal matter and found none. Then he said, “One of your neighbors complained.”

“Yeah, I know. I got a letter from them.”

“Can I see it?”

I went in the house and got it for him while he hung out with “The Models” (my Siberian husky girls) and El Barquero. After he read read it he said, “I guess I need to talk to all your neighbors. I’ll get back to you. Sounds like a problem between neighbors more than a problem with Old Dusty here.” Dusty was leaning against the guy getting his ears scratched and groaning happily. “I wish every dog complaint I answered was like this one. This is Dog Heaven.”

I felt tears welling up.

The upshot was my neighbors were educated that I was a very responsible dog owner but I would be taking steps to keep Dusty quiet. I ended up buying a bark collar that was supposed to train Dusty while I was gone by delivering a shock to his neck when he barked. The collar worked great, but Dusty LOVES to bark and he would rather be burned than stop barking. Ultimately I took out the battery and left the collar on Dusty’s neck for show. I put up a higher fence in front of my yard as well, not to keep Dusty in, but to make my life more peaceful.

Here in Monte Vista people are a lot more tolerant of dogs and things dogs do. I even apologized to a guy for Dusty’s bark and he just said, “He’s a dog. Dogs bark.” The delivery guys think it’s good because I’m here by myself. “It’s better for you, ma’am,” they say. But, on a walk, if Dusty becomes aware of the presence of anything that might threaten me, he will bark fiercely. To some dogs, it’s a provocation.

El Barquero’s nemesis — Ace the Chill — is a black lab who lives on the corner by the alley. Ace has been known to occasionally go to the fence and bark at El Barquero Grande and El Barquero remembers this. When we walk by, Dusty gets nervous and alert, smelling the presence of Ace the Chill. Ace usually just watches us go by with nary a flick of his tail. He likes Bear and sometimes lumbers over to the fence to say “Hi!” if he sees Bear and I are alone. He has no interest in meeting or engaging with El Barquero.

Dogs all have different, sometimes complex, “dogonalities.” Even a fierce barky dog like El Barquero Grande is more than one thing. But I totally get it that he can sound scary to the casual observer.

Disastrous Post

I live in an alternative universe in which workmen take on jobs and then never show up. I’m about to fire the garage door guy. I wanted to fire him last night in a voice message at his work phone, but when I called it, his wife answered and I hung up. Ha ha, that should give them an interesting conversation. Not disastrous, I hope, but interesting. Anyway, I’m torn between calling him and firing him or waiting for him to call me and firing him or waiting for him to show up ( ha ha ha ) and firing him. A little voice inside says, “Don’t call. He blew it,” but that reminds me of dating…

In other disastrous news, the US has, as a “leader,” a guy who doesn’t see anything wrong with his son having met a representative of a foreign and inimical power to get the dirt on the “leader’s” campaign opposition. This is a person with absolutely no ethical center. Such a person cannot be moved or defeated in any normal way. There’s no appealing to his “better” nature. “My son is a quality person.” Well, yeah. Low quality. The “leader” is not the disaster as much as are the people who elected him and the representatives who continue to support his bizarre and nefarious agenda. OH WELL.

Disaster was averted yesterday when Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog got out of the side yard. Once out of the yard (a major highway 50 feet away) Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog dived through the self-same lilac hedge into the front yard where Mindy was lying on the front porch waiting to be let in. It could have gone so wrong, but thankfully Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog has a strong attachment to her house, her pack and person. But she no longer gets to “run” FREEEEEE in the side yard. Her person has a strong attachment to her and doesn’t want a disastrous outcome.

Dusty T. Dog Speaks Out on Dog Food

I haven’t written a blog post before because I’m a dog, and the whole idea is silly since I don’t have disposable thumbs. What? OPPOSABLE thumbs, and I can’t see in two dimensions and, as my human says the whole process is fraught with problems so lets go take a walk. But it’s important that everyone know what my sisters and I find edible. What? It’s NOT important? My human says it’s not important.

When it comes to things to EAT it’s important to note that Mindy T. Dog, my sister, especially finds poop edible. I, personally, do not and neither does my “little” sister, Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog though, what Bear? I know you tried it when you were a puppy, I was about to tell everyone that. No, they won’t think you are a poop eater. For the record, Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog no longer eats poop.

Some of the food our human eats is very edible. Especially apples. All of us love apples and tomatoes, peas, zucchini, raspberries, watermelon, cantaloup and carrots. When Mindy T. Dog was on the slenderizing program, she never got a proper cookie, only carrots. Many humans think dogs are carnivores but we’ll eat pretty much anything we find edible. That can include cardboard and junk-mail. Some dogs will eat anything, but I know that leads to the V-E-T where I don’t want to go so I only eat what my human gives me.

Most of the time we eat dry dog food. This is good for us because it keeps our teeth strong. I’m 11 years old now and I still have all my own teeth. Mindy has hers, too, but they’re pretty ground down from chewing on rocks back in the sad days of her early life. Once in a while our human gives us tuna fish with our kibble. Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog gets wet food with her kibble every day because she’s a giant breed dog and some long story about that I don’t understand.

We also get a cookie in the evening and rawhide after breakfast. Our human gives us special treats, too. My special treat is the coffee and cream left in my human’s cup in the morning. Mindy gets a bit of banana and a strawberry every morning and Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog is the only one who gets wet food. The treats our human gives us are for each of us individually which makes them very special.

That’s the story on dogs and food as I know it.

Your friend,

Dusty T. Dog


Yesterday I talked to one of my cousins, the remaining son of my Aunt Jo and Uncle Hank. It seems my Aunt Jo — 94 and dealing with dementia — is on the way out. That right there is not news. The word “imminent” is the big change. My cousin — whom I like very much — and I talked a long time. He doesn’t like his mother much, and I thought it’s interesting how most of the cousins — children of my mom’s sisters — don’t like their mothers much. Something in the gritty past of all those girls left them warped in some mysterious way. They could all be very, very mean given the right (or wrong) concatenation of events.

After my cousin and I talked, I was very sad. I love my Aunt Jo and she has been unfailingly kind and loving to me. I owe her many of my good memories, some of my good habits as well as the knowledge everyone needs that they are loved.

I fed the dogs but didn’t feel like cooking or eating supper at all. I’d told my cousin i would come up to Montana, so I sat down and tried to find a good air fare and a place to stay. “I still have the folks’ house,” he’d said, “but there are no beds in it. I don’t feel right about you spending all that money to come up here and stay in a hotel and all that.”

I haven’t gone to Montana for 7 years for that very reason. To fly, stay somewhere and board the dogs is a huge chunk of change. It’s more than a garage door. It’s a third of a garage roof. It’s money I don’t have.

Finally I gave up. I couldn’t think clearly, anyway. Memories and images of past moments pressed against my eyes; I could SEE them. I sneaked out the back door with Bear and went to the slough. Besides sadness, I was carrying loneliness. When someone we love dies — or stands on the brink of death — loneliness is part and parcel of mourning.

It was nearly 7, an hour away from sunset. A good wind was blowing, promising rain to someone but not to us. Perfect. The light was soft and healing. The clouds blue gray. We hit the trail. I noticed the milkweed were still blooming, and I wondered if I’d ever see a monarch butterfly (I never had). Soon, I did. She flitted up above Bear and then in front of my face. “Bear, we’ve finally seen a Monarch butterfly,” I almost whispered to my dog who was watching it fly away.

We turned the corner and there in the near distance stood a large mule deer doe. I was downwind of her so she was calm and unaware of me for a while, then the wind shifted for a second or two, and she looked right at me. I watched her. Bear was very still. The doe finally decided that while I didn’t seem to be a threat, better safe than sorry, and went bounding back in the direction from which she’d come. I watched her go and saw her stop in the tall chamisa a ways away, still watching me. Bear and I continued. A large bird approached and flew overhead; an osprey.

The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nature”

Mindy T. Dog

Mindy has pluck and a good attitude. When the bombs were bursting in air last night (well into the wee hours of the morning) Mindy was chill. She was chill during the fireworks the night before and the night before, while big, strong, fierce Dusty T. Dog was about to shit himself (expression only, please, don’t get all imaginative). Even Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog did not have the resilience or fortitude of little old Mindy T. Dog.

Mindy is an Australian shepherd with, apparently, a congenitally bad hip. When we (a friend and I) adopted her 6 years ago, we thought (and the rescue though) she was a 10 year old dog. Nope. She was probably 3 or even 2 — in any case, she is today the same calm and plucky creature she was back then. My vet examined Mindy soon after we moved here and said, “She was born with one leg longer than the other. Maybe a puppy-mill dog.”

She is now an old dog, but she still dances in rapturous joy when she sees me and hears the word, “Eat.”  She also plays with Bear who is twice her size.

Mindy was the victim of a divorce. Her “person” (the wife) left and the husband had no idea what to do with Mindy so he left her in the back yard and put out bags of dog food. When we first saw Mindy, she looked like Jabba the Hut with curly fur…

Now she’s svelte and fit. She has a heart-melting face and a sweet personality. She has the magical ability to make everyone around her feel better.

Ode to My Dogs

When I was a kid I wanted a dog more than anything in the world. My parents tried a couple of times, but they didn’t know anything about dogs and twice adopted beagles… Then they gave up.

When I was in high school, I found a big red puppy and brought him home. That didn’t go well. He was great to go hiking with in the hills, but he wanted more than that — and deserved more than that, but I didn’t know how to train him. He was adopted by a farmer and went to live on a “farm.” We all know that can mean anything. Then my boyfriend brought me a puppy (I think he was a corgi) for Valentine’s day and I managed to train him. He fit in well, but soon I went away to school, dad went away to the nursing home, my brother went away to godnose where in downtown Colorado Springs and mom was home alone with the dog. The dog went nuts. Mom found a home for him. A real home this time.

20 years later I brought home my first real dog. Since then I’ve had nearly 20 dogs. At least that childhood dream came true.

I was out with Bear this evening. Usually Dusty T. Dog, Bear and I take our walks in the evening in summer, but sometimes Dusty doesn’t go. Tonight, being the 4th of July, I have drugged my poor hysterical boy, and by the time it was time for us to head out, he was too sleepy. Bear and I went alone.

When I’m out with Bear I don’t even want to come home. I could go forever and ever with her. She’s one of the dogs in my life who is not “just” a dog but a companion, an accomplice, a friend. There have been four others. I have loved and appreciated all my dogs — and they’ve been very different creatures from each other — but these five dogs have something unfathomable and precious, and all were — are — fun to be around. I have no idea what creates that bond between human and dog. I think it’s like people. We don’t like everybody the same way.

None of these dogs “Lassie” or “Rin-tin-tin.” None of the five have been especially “trained” or did any tricks. Instead, they’ve been somehow wise and slightly wild, or, rather, independent. I never thought any of them were trying to please me, though Bear is unhappy if she knows she’s made me unhappy.


Maybe when I was a kid, I already sensed the greatness of dogs and how happy I would be living with them. I don’t know. But it was always there.

Fourth of Whatever….

They woke me up before I wanted to wake up, damned dogs. Now they’re happy. They’ve been out, fed, given their morning “toothbrush,” and they’re back to living large. I’m sleepy and cold, wondering what to write for “dash” since I don’t dash, they don’t dash (particularly Mindy and Dusty don’t dash; Bear been known to dash around the yard). It’s kind of a “dashless” world I’m living in. I’d say Monte Vista in general is not big on the dash, maybe at track meets.

So here we are at the fourth of July — almost. Tomorrow. People are already shooting off firecrackers and fireworks. Dusty is actually taking the explosions more in stride than he was wont to in the past. The noise terrifies a lot of animals. Over the years, I’ve found lots of lost dogs seeking shelter in my yard. Once it was a beautiful German short-haired pointer, quivering and quaking against the fence outside my kitchen door in San Diego. I kept him over night then called Animal Control. Thank goodness his owner had reported him missing.

I have some philosophical and political thoughts of my own this Fourth of July, Every day I get disgusted anew by the antics of that ugly, stupid man. That a man with the poor judgment and lack of class to Tweet (I could just leave it at that) a video inciting violence against the media IN HIS OWN COUNTRY is allowed to speak to the leaders of Japan, China and South Korea on the phone regarding North Korea sickens and terrifies me. That the Republican leadership of this nation is not equally horrified sickens and terrifies me even more.

Anyway, there isn’t much I can do about it.

In other news, Bear’s most recent Barkbox included an incredibly cute toy — a sloth. I finally broke down and gave it to her, and she is tearing into it even as I write. She’s gotten the plastic squeaky part out, has shaken the life out of it and is about to proceed to the disemboweling. Fortunately, she doesn’t eat the fluff inside.


The Bear Report, Chapter 1, My Real Human

My Real Human says most stories start at the beginning, but my story has to begin when I remember something. Forever and ever I was with my mother and brothers and sisters in a warm barn, but then I was in a machine going very fast, and then I was all alone. Someone said, “Blue eyes,” and another voice said, “No one will want her. They’ll think she’s blind.” The Humans put me beside the road and drove away. I waited but they didn’t come back. I smelled something to eat and went to find the food because I was hungry. Then a man came and picked me up and put me into a machine and took me to my second home. There were many other dogs there and we lived in our own cages.

Maybe this sounds like a sad story, but if I hadn’t been left like that in Center, Colorado, and picked up and taken to My Second Home, my Real Human never would have found me.

There was a Kind Human there and she took lots of pictures of me. I know about this because my Real Human also takes pictures of me.

When my Real Human came, I knew her the moment I saw her. She walked toward me in that strange, awkward way humans have. If I walked that way I’d fall. I was jumping up against the fence to see and make sure there was no danger. When my Real Human looked at me, I sat down so she would know I recognized her. She understood.

The Kind Human said something to my Real Human. They both came into my cage. I felt shy. I put my paw on my Real Human’s lap and she pet me. I could feel she knew I was her dog.

The Kind Human said some words, that my Real Human would have to wait.

“OK,” said my Real Human and she left.

When my Real Human returned, I was happy. Other humans had come to meet me, but they were not my Real Human. The Kind Human knew this, too. My Real Human brought what I now know is a way for me to stay close to her to keep her safe. She fastened it to my collar. We took our first walk. I smelled other dogs mixed with her smell. I sensed she was not sure they would like me.

“Take her home and see,” said the Kind Human.

For the third time I got into a terrifying machine — now I’m used to it — and went to Our House for the first time. There I met the Other Dogs. El Barquero Grande, (Our Human calls him Dusty) and Fluffy Poop Eater (Our Human calls her Mindy).

El Barquero sent me messages that said, “Leave me alone. I am sad. You are not Lily T. Wolf.”

Now I know that Lily T. Wolf is one of the Old Ones, and she is in the Great Forest now. Our Human explained this to me. I understood because there was a smell in our house that did not match Fluffy Poop Eater or El Barquero.

After a while, Our Human put me back in the machine and we went back to the Kind Human.

In two days, my Real Human came back for me. I was so happy!

The Day I got Bear

My human showed me where to pee and poop. That was easy because the smell of El Barquero’s pee and poop was already there. I put my smell there, too, so El Barquero would understand.

El Barquero was inside sleeping on the floor, so I laid down next to him. His body tightened, but I didn’t move. I was very quiet. I know if a creature is nervous, the best thing is for me to move slowly and to be gentle. El Barquero relaxed a little bit.

When it was dark, and time for me to go outside and guard animals, Our Human tried to put me into a cage. She did not put El Barquero or Fluffy Poop Eater into cages, so I did not want to go. I did not want to be different, and how would I guard our house if I were fastened in a cage? I kept trying to tell this to Our Human. Suddenly I saw that she got the message. She went into her Sacred Sleeping Chamber and I slept with El Barquero and Fluffy Poop Eater.

And that was my first night at home.


On Facebook, Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog has a small following (because I have a small following). Some people think I should write her story. Here’s my first attempt… Do you want to read more?