Dusty T. Dog and His Scary Bark


Dusty loves Bear

Everyone who gets to know Dusty T. Dog realizes he’s an exceptional being. Sure, other dogs are big, black and barky, but how many of them are also incredibly sweet, can jump six fee straight into the air and do yoga?


Which is the REAL Dusty?

In the three years I’ve lived here, Dusty has blossomed. His true nature has been allowed to flourish because people here like dogs, big dogs, and know how to be around them. Last week — the day Dusty wore his hunting vest for the first time on our walk — we encountered a dad with his son and his son’s friend. The dad was teaching the boys to fly-fish. Dusty, of course, started barking as if they were deeply violating everything he held dear. I said to the man, “He only sounds mean. He’s not.”


The man smiled!!! Then he said, “You want to run, boy?” (Dusty was leashed). I took that to mean I could unleash my dog. The man held out his hands in welcome and Dusty ran to him for pats. The man loved on Dusty and Dusty ate it up. Honestly, Dusty’s wonder is often eclipsed by Bear’s beauty. Then the man said, “Your other dog is pretty, too.” ❤

So Dusty made a friend. On our return trip (it’s a loop) Dusty didn’t bark at all or run over to meet them. He’d checked them out, found them safe to be around me and all was well with the world.


Dusty and K at the Sand Dunes

Dusty’s job (as he sees it) is to make sure nothing bad happens to me. He really likes people. He loves my neighbor, K, and I think she’s fond of him, but sometimes I think of all the times she and her husband walked past my house before I had a fence to keep Dusty out of the front yard. He must have terrified them.



Dusty’s De-Cloaking Device

It is now hunting season out here in the Wild West, and on our walks, Dusty T. Dog wears his hunting vest. Most of the year, Dusty looks like a moving shadow, but between now and March next year, Dusty will have heightened visibility — day or night. This vest has reflective strips so if we were EVER to go out walking in the dark where there are headlights, Dusty would shine.

He also wears a little LED light on his leash for that purpose. It’s great because it lights up the ground where we’re walking.


It’s been said that Dusty is not the brightest dog on the planet, but I think that depends on the time of year.



First Snow

Three years ago today I was living in South Fork waiting to move into my house. Dusty T. Dog and I took a walk in “our” field and a few flakes landed on his black fur. I thought, “Wow. I’m really back in Colorado.”

Right now, though, I have no doubt. Gotta’ go dig out my boots and take Bear out to revel in her bliss…

October 9, folks… Could be a LONG winter… And those poor people in Santa Rosa. Wow. One of the most beautiful spots in California now on fire 😦 Maybe our president will toss water bottles at the victims.

Beautiful Hike <3

Yesterday marked the three year anniversary of my return to Colorado. We celebrated by taking a walk along the Rio Grande in one part of the Rio Grande State Wildlife Area, basically across the street from our usual little loop. It was very beautiful and verdant, and we saw a great horned owl at lunch. He was on the ground with his mouse, vole or bunny sandwich and the vibrations of my trekking pole startled him, so he took flight leaving a crumb or two behind. I don’t think we would have seen him at all otherwise. Later my pole startled a snowy egret and later on a little green frog.

I like seeing animals and birds very, very much. But yesterday, in this place that was so sheltered and so quiet, I felt like an intruder. If I didn’t need the stick to walk and take pressure off my joints, I’d be far more Natty Bumpo about the whole thing and quietly make my way through the landscape.

The landscape itself has great things growing in it such as currants and wild asparagus. Yesterday I saw a little plant — Maianthemum stellatum —  whose fall appearance was new to me.


Hunting season starts in a few weeks — three weeks — and after that (ironically?), in March this side of the area is closed so that waterfowl can breed. It reopens on July 15, at the height of mosquito season.

It was a perfect anniversary party! 🙂


Rio Grande looking tired


“This is awesome, Martha!”


Mt. Blanca in the distance


The way through the woods


Quotidian Diurnal Redundancy, 2.2

Last night I made spaghetti. First, I like Angel Hair pasta, not spaghetti mainly because at this altitude it cooks better, but this was spaghetti. Second, I have had to go “gluten free,” and it was my first attempt with gluten free pasta.

Don’t try it. It’s as flavorful as weak string and about the same texture. Barilla makes a gluten free pasta that I will try when it arrives from Amazon. No such thing in the stores in my big valley. It’s hard because pasta and I are good friends. We go back a long way.

“What’s for dinner?”

“I don’t know.”

“Cook up some pasta.”

“There you go.”

Plus, I grew incredibly flavorful Genovese basil and plum tomatoes this summer, besides the zucchini.

In other news, the weather is such that Dusty, Bear and I have returned to afternoon walks. I’m so glad. It’s really nice to be outside when my biorhythms say, “You want to THINK? Good luck with that sweet cheeks.”



Fall is coming early to the San Luis Valley, too. The aspen on the mountains to the west, anyway (can’t see the mountains to the east that well) are already turning — a week or ten days early. Not for them, of course. They set their own clocks, but for ME. The one remaining task of my summer home repair list is a working thermostat on my furnace.

The chamisa (auto-correct originally corrected that to “chamois” which are nice, too) are already going to seed. When winter comes, they’ll be black bushes and appear dead. But for now there are white and yellow butterflies all over them.

Summer's Last Hurrah

Chamisa in bloom (and going to seed)

Yesterday, when I took the dogs out to put in the car for a walk at the slough, I took a look at my garage. I felt a surge of pride. There are still things I want to get rid of, but, for the most part, it’s a real garage now. There’s still a leak on the base of the north wall and I’ll deal with that next summer.



Electric Collar

Obedient dogs?

When it matters. But I try to give them orders only when it matters or I’m simulating a time when it matters. I’ve never had a dog from a breed that really liked doing tricks or lived to please its owner. Most of my dogs have been working dogs which means they have a brain already wired for a job. Only Dusty T. Dog gets joy from obeying me. But there was an exception.

Cheyenne T. Wolf (the husky in front in the photo above) was a completely untrained and very stubborn Siberian husky. Lucky for me, she was also friendly. When she came to live with me, she knew NOTHING. When she jumped up on the kitchen counter and opened the door to the cupboard, I knew I had a problem.

I found a professional trainer. She was reluctant to take on a husky saying, “They can’t be taught. I don’t even like the breed that much.” Well, what trainer would? Finally she agreed and Cheyenne went to live with Lisa for a month. Lisa got NO where with that dog for the first three weeks then, out of a kind of rebellious desperation, she put an electric collar on her. She had to work at that, getting the pointy-zappy things to the skin through Cheyenne’s thick ruff of fur. And out they went.

Cheyenne responded not just WELL to the E-collar, but happily! She LOVED it. She really GOT it. She walked at heel and got treats. She sat and got a treat. She did tricks and got treats. When Lisa brought her up to my house to show me how to work with her, Cheyenne was a happy dog. I realized she WANTED to do things right but somehow voice commands weren’t penetrating her Siberian husky skull.

She did tricks. All I had to do from then on to make my stubborn wild girl obey was put the collar around her neck. She didn’t even need to be zapped, in fact, I never even brought out the hand device that was my end of the training program. If the collar was on her, she started showing off and obeying like it was the greatest thing in the world. She LOVED that collar. It occurred to me that Cheyenne was just not an aural learner.

Dusty T. Dog went to the same trainer, but not so much for obedience training as to have a shot at becoming a well socialized and less fearful canine companion. He LOVES obeying. It makes him so happy to do what he learned to do. Bear is another creature completely from any dogs I’ve had before. She learned everything I had to teach her pretty much the first time. She does what I ask about 90% of the time. If she doesn’t, she has a reason. Sometimes her reasons are good and sometimes they’re pure whimsy like, “C’mon, Martha, I want to run around out here and hide behind this lilac bush just a little longer.” What matters to me is that the time she ran off, she came to me the moment she saw Dusty and me, before I even called her.

I don’t think I’d like an obedient dog or a dog who depended on me to know what to do. I have always enjoyed being surprised by some of the really wonderful things my dogs have done because they wanted to. ❤


Educate? Ha ha ha ha ha ha, OMG! Ha ha! Laugh Emoticon

Been there. Done that. 38 years. Made a difference. (Ha ha ha ha ha ha, OMG! Ha ha! Laugh Emoticon.) Moved on.

Still working on the hiking with dogs book. I decided to include photos of dogs. Who doesn’t like photos of dogs? No one. Everyone yearns — secretly or openly — for more photos of dogs.

The white dog is Ariel Punky, she was a Siberian Husky/low content wolf. Her sidekick is Mathilda, a sheltie chow mix I had only for a short time. I found her another home. She was an awesome dog, but too feisty to live with four old dogs (Truffle, Molly, Kelly and Lupo). Ariel was unlike any other dog I’ve lived with. To find out how, you’ll have to read the book 😉

Ariel and Matilda in the Laguna Mountains! copy



Continuation…and Summing Up

Hmmmm… I’m working hard (it isn’t hard. It’s fun) on the little compilation of nature essays based on my years of hiking in San Diego. It is a focal point for a book that is SO SMALL as to be almost invisible. 5800 acres out of the vastness of the world. But it was there I learned my true size. 9 inch feet and a stride of just under two feet on a good day. 7 writing classes, a shitload of grading, some dogs and a few friends. That’s the book.

I’m continuing to refine the prose at this point and I decided to add photos. I don’t know if it will ever be for sale. Some people will be inflicted with it for Christmas.

It’s an answer to the question no one is probably ever going to ask me, “So, Martha, what did you do with your life?”

“I went hiking a lot with my dogs.”

At 18 I would not have thought of that as an answer worthy of my brilliance and my energy, but I didn’t know much about life. Now I think I did good.



Boring Quotidian Post # 42

Not the morning I planned… I actually WOKE up and it was already nearly 10. That’s 2 HOURS later than usual. What??? Then…

Mindy’s been under the weather for two days. I don’t know if it’s the stress of the moved furniture or something more critical… But I spent a good part of (it wasn’t all that good) yesterday cleaning, and I had to clean this morning before breakfast (coffee).

If it’s just the moved furniture? I don’t want to move the furniture back where it was. I LIKE it this way, but…

I might have slept so late because Dusty and Mindy got into a fracas this morning at 1. I think Mindy jumped (relative term) off the sofa, landed on Dusty in his sleep and his first reaction was to bite her head. That resulted in a lot of noise, woke me up, sprang me out of bed (relative term) and into the living room. Mindy was sad and scared. Dusty was repentant, Bear wondered what she had done wrong.

This left me so discombobulated this morning that after I put my coffee together I opened the fridge to put the coffee pot inside.

I had plans this morning but as there is no longer a morning, I’ll have to figure something out.

In other news, I decided to put all my hiking stories together in a book. I worked on it yesterday 🙂 I like it but I also saw that they are ordinary stories about hiking in an ordinary place in which I acquired extraordinary vision and had a lot of fun. ❤


The Dogs Don’t Like It

The dogs don’t like the rearrangement of the living room. I think they find it unlivable. Mindy in particular is having a very hard time with it. Now I see how much she doesn’t see because with things in unfamiliar places plus she has to “make do” with the other end of the sofa. She is no longer able to get to the front door in the same way, either and she LOVES the front door where she can go out to the lawn and visit all the people who come by in the morning. She could still go out the front door, but the floor freaks her out. She’s not a happy dog. She had clearly memorized her route. The wood floors are slippery and someone ( dum dee dum dee dum, who?) needs to clip her nails. I don’t mind clipping them. SHE minds me clipping them. We’ll probably go see uncle vet next week and someone will do that for us…

Uncle Vet hasn’t seen Mindy in three years. Last time I called for a refill of her meds I was told, “Uncle Vet says you should bring in your dogs for a check up. We haven’t seen them in a while and they all need shots.”

“OK. How about today?”

“We’re booked solid.”

My vet treats large animals, even bigger than Dusty and Bear. Sometimes people bring their bull, cow or horse to the vet in a livestock trailer. I’ve been there when the vet was outside in the parking lot checking out four sheep in a trailer. I like my vet very, very much. The first visit was in September 2014 and the “patient” was Mindy. The vet lifted her up on the examining table, checked out her musculoskeletal structure and said, “This poor pup was born with one leg longer than the other.” Mindy’s limp explained, and an explanation of why she’s always had a hard time getting around and why she was not an old dog when my friend adopted her, just gimpy.

In other news, though you cannot tell it from where you are, I am writing on a new laptop. I’ve had it for months, but as the other one was working mostly OK, I didn’t feel the need to switch. Yesterday the track pad on the old computer began acting as if it had a mind of its own and the “e” key decided it was done.

This MacBook Pro looks very like the old one (one wants more change when one invests a lot of money) but it is different. It’s lighter. the on/off switch is now a key. The trackpad is more responsive than the old one ever was. I’m sure in time the keys will wear down as they have on all my laptops (and desk tops). It’s faster than the old one ever was. I plan to use it differently, too.