Chiens du Matin

The wily and intrepid Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog is guarding her breakfast. Not eating it. She’s far too intrepid for that. She’s guarding it. The workings of the brain of the livestock guardian dog are often beyond the comprehension of we mere mortals, even canine mortals such as Teddy Bear T. Dog who’s here with me as I try to write a blog post that’s even remotely interesting.

“I’m not going in there,” he says to me, telepathically. “You taught me ‘NO!’ Martha and I believe you. Even though there’s tuna on Bear’s breakfast, I’m not going near it because you said ‘NO!’ and she curled her lip that time. Anyway, you in your graciousness put tuna on mine, too, and I’m grateful.”

Meanwhile, he gets all the morning rawhide pencils.

The differences between these two are so fun. Yesterday I got to enjoy them fully. Bear and I rambled slowly around the slough. Bear caught scents, I caught vistas and we were happy. I came home, put Teddy into his harness, put a bag of treats in my pocket and we headed out for 20 minutes of training in the empty parking lot of the high school. Besides, “sit,” “down,” “stay,” “heel,” I’m teaching him to stay with me without being tightly leashed. For a puppy, concentrating on any one thing for any length of time is a huge challenge, but he’s getting it, even, sometimes to the point of walking at heel when he’s on a loose leash. It’s a little challenging with the leash fastened to his chest because it easily gets between his feet, but he’s a stalwart and intrepid little guy.

“What, Bear? You really aren’t hungry? OK. Do you want me to cover that and put it in the fridge?”

“Yeah, otherwise I have to stay here and guard it, and I’d rather be with you and Teddy in the living room.”

“OK, but it might be your dinner.”

“Or Teddy’s?”

Bear’s Official “Gotcha” Day

Every family has its special days, and four years ago today, I brought my Bear home from the shelter for real. It was the most painless puppy integration I remember, though Teddy has been easy, too. I wasn’t sure about having a giant breed dog, but Marilyn of Serendipity told me what that kind of dog is like and I was persuaded. Bear was four months old and already had the gentle wisdom of a livestock guardian dog. Her very first night, when dusk arrived, she went outside to guard. She gave Dusty time to get to know her and there was a magic day when, for the first time in his life Dusty played. Bear taught him how. She treated my old Aussie, Mindy, with gentleness and respect.

I have enjoyed getting to know her. She’s not the dog to do tricks or anything like that. She was born with great self-confidence and inherent knowledge of who she is. There are things she will never do — so she’s always leashed when we’re out and that’s OK with both of us. Teddy is already learning to stay with me without a leash.

I love her, but I also like her in the way you might like a human friend. We’ve shared so many experiences and feelings. Back when I was suffering from advanced osteoarthritis in my hip, before my surgery, it was Bear who helped me understand WHY I should persevere with an operation I’d already experienced (the other hip) and dreaded with all my heart. “Because I’m here,” she said one afternoon when I was really in despair. Pain fucks with our minds; never doubt it. Somehow Bear reminded me of my “job” which is to be her human, caring for her and loving her all her life. I was truly standing on a precipice and Bear pulled me back. ❤

When we go out and ramble in the snow we share the experience and, I think, enhance the experience of the other. Bear loves snow as much as I do and as soon as she smells it, she’s outside, letting me know our “bliss” is falling. She’s an amazing being. Her beauty attracts people when we take walks and little kids always have to meet her. She’s gentle and slow moving around them and while, generally, I wouldn’t let a little kid hug one of my dogs, I don’t worry about Bear. I am sure the little kids believe they’ve entered an enchanted fairytale world when they stand beside a gentle creature as large as they are. When the little kids at the end of my alley get to walk her, it’s as good as a parade.

So, to honor her day, we went out to the slough to walk, something we haven’t been able to do because the river pretty much covered the first parts of it. The trail hasn’t been mowed and the weeds are high. There were mosquitoes everywhere and flowers — that’s a good description of life, I think. We had a great time.

Getting Bear in 2015

Quotidian Update 19.2.a.iv

Yesterday, I didn’t get to the dermatologist because I got a stomach bug night before last and got no sleep, so, wasn’t really prepared for three hours on the road.

In spite of all that, yesterday ended beautifully in a long long long walk in a place we usually don’t get to visit except in the cold season. When I headed out with Bear in a chill, blustery, thundery wind, I saw there was no one at the golf course. Nary a car. Not a single golf cart. Nothing. No one. This meant we could walk through it out to the Big Empty. True, the Big Empty is never far, but it’s nice when we don’t have to drive AT ALL. Bear was happy and so was I. She signifies happiness by stopping for no reason and leaning against me and walking beside me so my hand rests on her back.

I came home, put Teddy into his fancy harness, and took him on a different golf course walk. It was his first time. I can’t imagine him in deep snow, but I suspect he can imagine himself there. He’s an undaunted little guy.

So, you are asking, why was no one on the golf course? Was it the thunder storm? What’s the story?

I learned that the country singer who’s headlining the Ski Hi Stampede, Randy Houser, had played golf there that morning. I guess everyone figured that was as good as it was going to get and left.

I slept in this morning dreaming about a wedding to a great love of my life (GLOML) that nearly happened. You know you’re tired when your brain sends you amazing dreams of impossible outcomes to keep you in bed. Had we moved forward with the GLOML’s idea that we have a family, it would have led (in his father’s actual words) to “A crucifixion.” But, dreams are something else entirely, and though I kept suggesting (in the dream) that it wasn’t such a great idea, his family and mine (and he and I) moved forward. At some point we were dressed as clowns. Fate’s marionettes, maybe. Most of the time we were in a labyrinthine European city (Genova, I think). I stayed asleep until 8:30 to see what would happen.

It’s cool when you have a dream that keeps you hooked, waiting for the ending, even when you know you’re just going to wake up.

Here’s the guy who gave me the golf course yesterday. Not my kind of music, even for country, but it’s still pretty good.

The Teddy Update

Teddy has been with us for six weeks and is coming into his own with his unique little personality. Actually, it’s a large personality, but a wonderful one. He loves learning — he’s learned to fetch. He is beginning to understand he needs to sit when he meets someone. He’s learning not to react to barking dogs on our walks. He has a great memory. When we meet people on our walks he remembers the houses and he looks for them just after one encounter. Yesterday I took him to meet a little girl who lives down the street — not Michelle, but another kid who loves dogs. They met. At her house there is a 4 foot wood fence in front so Teddy had to jump up to get meet her. As we passed her house today, he jumped up on that fence looking for her.

The bright side of the sore shoulder is that I have to walk each of them alone so Bear gets her long, slow rambles which I also love because I just love being with her, and Teddy gets trained.

He and Bear are really opposites. Bear doesn’t do anything to please me; that’s not one of her motives at all which is, I think, why it upsets her so much if I get angry at her. She has no idea why and she will never have any idea why. From the very first night she lived here I understood that she was exceptionally independent and far more likely to cooperate than learn tricks. Considering her breed, she’s happy and extremely well behaved, doesn’t mind living in a small house with a small yard. But she must guard, she must bark when she feels a need (not that often), she must have a fairly set routine. She has never had an “accident” (Teddy and every other dog in my life has) and has never really done anything wrong. She babysits Teddy every morning (he’s still a puppy) while I sleep until a human hour, then takes a break after breakfast. She KNOWS she’s babysitting and she does not let him bother me. She has taught him a lot, like not to eat the stuffing out of toys, where to pee and poop, where it’s OK to dig holes and where it’s not. Teddy, on the other hand, gets very happy when he has done something that garners praise and will work as hard for “Good boy!” as for a treat.

It’s really the livestock guardian dog (Bear) and the herding dog (Teddy) team here in this sheepless house. Both of them are very affectionate to me and even to each other. They are just nice dogs. ❤

My yard is a mess but I guess it could be fixed… Not this year, though. 😦

I’ve been so lucky — I was born into this world wanting a dog. It took 35 years before I had one of my own. I have had the chance to live with some very incredible beings, like Bear and Teddy. I know living with dogs might not be everyone’s life dream, but apparently it’s been one of mine.

Red and White Blues

The best discovery I’ve made in a long time is an Apple program that makes it a lot easier for me to make Kindle books. I have found that process tedious and boring, never mind not knowing if they work or not other than the various simulated eReaders offered me by Amazon’s publishing platform.

I’ve long had the theory that no one WANTS me to do that particular formatting task myself because people want me to HIRE them to do that for me. I’d love to, but I haven’t discovered buried treasure, well, there were three antique burlap potato sacks in my crawl space that were pretty cool. The name of the program is iBooks Author and maybe it’s been around for a while and I just didn’t know it.

Anyway, I’m now putting the trilogy of Savior, The Brothers Path and The Price together in one Kindle book. I can’t see putting them together in a paperback unless there is a market for door stops that I haven’t heard of.

Meanwhile, here we are at the 4th of July. Other than the random firecrackers being blown up in town, scaring Bear (and though through it all she feels she must protect me) I think it best to draw a veil of silence over the whole thing. I have a lot of opinions, substantial anger and even more substantial sorrow over the state of things in “my” country.

I’m telling my dog — and myself — it’s just one day and soon (maybe next Monday?) our wildlife area will be open to the public (and the black Angus herd that’s there now). Hopefully the shady trail by the river isn’t underwater, but I think it probably is. I can’t wait to see how things are going out there.

If you live in the US, have a safe 4th of July.

Teddy Bear Day Three

It looks like Teddy will be staying and I’m very happy about it. This morning I got up and put them all outside, shut the back door and went to bed. When I got up for “reals,” it was clear they’d all be playing hard. I was very happy. I got Teddy as a playmate for Bear. At first Bear’s nose was out of joint and she sulked in the back yard

I got to see them play this afternoon — it’s pretty funny to watch a giant breed livestock guardian dog play with a small mini-Aussie puppy. First they chase each other, then they wrestle. Teddy needs to be neutered, and it’s obvious in his play strategy which starts with him humping Bear, Bear walking away and laughing in his face. There’s no way he can dominate her.

I think dog play is good for dogs. It develops good manners in puppies, entertains them and makes them tired. I’ve felt bad that Bear has had no playmate since she moved here. Dusty also appears to want to play, but he’s bad at it. I also noticed he is protective of the puppy which astonishes and pleases me.

They get very dirty in the yard they’ve customized which is OK. It’s a chance for me to teach Teddy to like getting his face washed.

This afternoon, we took our third walk and practiced “stop/sit” commands again. Teddy met the kids at the end of the block, and that was great. We haven’t seen them in a while so Bear and I were also happy to find them outside. They loved Teddy but in their eyes NOTHING compares to Bear.

Teddy is younger than I first thought which is fine. Someone already did the hard work of housebreaking a male dog (thank you unknown person) and I just have to teach him good manners in the house and with people. He has Australian shepherd nature which means he’s loyal to his person. I went out to get the mail and found he’d climbed up on one thing that would allow him to look outside to watch what I was doing — the coffee table. I didn’t like it, but I couldn’t be angry. I just have to teach him that’s not OK and an easy way to do that is to put barriers there.

I’d say so far we’re happy he’s here. Bear has her hiding place from him, his from her and Dusty has the potential to be VERY assertive (which I want to avoid), but so far it’s just been a very clear, “No!” when Teddy trespasses Dusty’s space.

Bear and I Attend Winter’s Goodbye Party

“See, Human? It’s not over.”

“Bear, don’t be fooled. It’s just a spring snow.”

“But it’s been falling all day!”

“It will be gone tomorrow.”

My dog is suddenly on high alert, looking ahead at something that moved on the snow-covered dirt road. I look.

It’s a robin. I think the scene is a perfect metaphor for this moment of the year when winter drags its feet on the way out.

“That’s what I mean, Bear. It’s spring.”

“THAT’S spring?”

“No, that’s a robin, but there are more of them, see?”

“I can catch them all.”

“It won’t help. There are millions of them all over the place. I think one is even building a nest at our house.”

“OUR house?”

“Every year, Bear.”

When we return to the golf course after our long ramble in the fields, the groundskeeper/superintendent has just arrived. He hops out of his truck.

“I see you found your dog.” When Bear ran away, I alerted him.

“Yeah. Thank goodness.”

“Does she run away a lot?”

“No. That was the first time.” In fact, Bear has gotten loose a couple of other times, but she never ran away. She ran TOWARD. It’s very different.

We talk for a bit, he relates a saga of a woman who came that morning, let her dogs out of her truck, how they pooped right by Mark’s workshop and then the woman and the dogs went on a walk around the golf course.

“I put a note on her windshield,” he said. “I was nice, but I asked her to clean up after her dogs. She did.”

“I think we need more trash cans.” There are none.

Mark threw his cigarette on the snowy parking lot and smashed it with his foot. “Maybe. I’m not worried about you. You and your dogs are all right with me.”

Maybe because I take time to talk to him? Maybe because I’m truly sympathetic to his situation? Maybe because my dogs are leashed so I know if and where they poop? Maybe because, for me, the golf course is a way out to the fields and dirt roads, not my real destination? I thought about that and I think it’s the first. His job is pretty lonely and most of what he hears are complaints. Or maybe because my dogs and I are just all right with him.

Winter’s goodbye party ended with a nice gift for Dusty, Bear and me. We get to “keep” “our” golf course.


Meanwhile, I’ve deleted more than a thousand posts from this overgrown blog. I’ve reposted several and found a few good short stories. I’m clearly not writing stuff equal to the stuff I was writing a couple of years ago which is mildly discouraging. Maybe I’m done or maybe I’m done for now, I don’t know. Time will tell. OH should you decide to do the same with your blog, I found the easiest way is to go into WP Admin and use the old blog list and old “Classic” editor both for eliminating posts and images which is a separate chore.

Interviewing Bear as a Puppy

“What’s your full name?”
“Polar Bear T. Dog, but I just go by ‘Bear’.”
“Are you a bear?”
“No. I’m a puppy. I’m a big white puppy. That what she says I am. She says, ‘You big white dog, you’. The vet, too. He says I’m just a ‘big ol’ white dog’.”
“How old are you, Bear?”
“Seven months and change.”
“And you’re already THAT big? You’re as big as your older brother, Dusty T. Dog!!!”
“‘I’m quite as big for me as you are big for you‘.”
“How do you like living with your – mom? Is that your mom?”
“Adopted mom, I guess. We call her our human. I like it a LOT. I LOVE my big brother, Dusty T. Dog and my sister, Mindy T. Dog. Our human is nice to me and loves me and takes me for walks and gives me food. We even took a long trip to Colorado Springs and I got to visit my cousins, Shoe, Coda and Satchmo and we went on two hikes! She even teaches me things. I love learning things. I’m pretty smart. Our human says I’m VERY smart. But I just want to stay here so I try to make sure that everything goes OK.”
“Where were you before?”
“I was in a big pen. There were a lot of other dogs around. They had their own pens. I was only there a little while. Before that I was just wandering around trying to find a place to live.”
“When was that?”
“Three human months ago. I know this because my human told me. I was a young puppy when she found me.”
“Where did she find you?”
“On that stupid Facebook thing she looks at when she could be playing with ME. I knew when I saw her the first time that I wanted to live with her.”
“How did you know?”
“She came out to meet me. She stood a few feet from my pen and I started to run to the side near where she was standing and I was going to jump up, but something about her told me ‘No. Sit.’ So I sat and looked at her. Then the nice girl who takes care of the dogs in that place let my human come in my pen. At first I was shy, but when my human started to leave, I was afraid she wasn’t going to take me with her after all.”
“What did you do?”
“I was just a puppy and I lost control. I jumped up on her back.”
“What did she do?”
“She turned around. She put her hands on both sides of my head. She told me it would be OK. Then she kissed me and held me close to her. She came back a few days later and brought me here to meet Dusty T. Dog and Mindy T. Dog.”
“Then what happened?”
“She took me back to the place. Now I know she wasn’t ready for me yet. A couple of days later, she came and got me for reals.”
“So you’re happy now?”
“Oh yes, and I have work to do every day.”
“I help my human break down cardboard boxes so she can put them in the trash. I have other jobs, too.”
“Like what?”
“I have to guard our stock against large predators such as bears and mountain lions.”
“How’s that going?”
“Pretty well. So far, they’ve all stayed away.”


Snow Angel(s)

“It’ll be a long time, won’t it.”

“It could snow again this year, Bear, but it’s not likely.”

“Who took it?”

“See that thing over there? That bright thing?”


“That’s the thief. He stole the snow and he bullied winter out of the way.”

“Where did winter go?”


“I have no idea what that is.”

“I know, Bear.”

“I’m really thirsty, Human.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t bring us water. I had no idea it was going to be so hot.” The human, worried about her dog, was already resolved to find water somewhere between here and home. When they saw a patch of snow hiding in the shade of some willow trees, they both headed straight to it. Bear looked at it, and at her human. “It’s OK, Bear. It’s for you.” The human took some steps toward it, but didn’t want to stand in it. There was barely enough for her dog. Bear always wanted to share. The human hoped she was close enough that Bear would feel they were sharing the winter’s white gift. The big white dog put her nose down and took bite after bite of God’s sno-cone before lying down and rolling in it.

At home, the human, feeling sticky and melancholy, took a shower and, for the first time in months, put on a cotton shirt instead of a wool one.

Great Love Begins with Limerence

In 2015, few months after I put my last Siberian Husky, Lily T. Wolf, to sleep (she was 17) I saw a puppy on the Facebook page of the local shelter. I was instantly obsessed with this dog. She had my beautiful Lily T. Wolf’s blue eyes but something else. Some je ne sais quoi. I contacted Brandi, the girl who ran the shelter. She said, “We have to wait two weeks in case someone claims her, but you can come visit.”

As I stood about 10 feet away from her cage — the quarantine cage, a big one off by itself —  she ran to the wall and then stopped. She cocked her head and looked at me seriously, as if she were thinking. Then, she sat as if to say, “See?” Brandi came out of the office with the key to the cage and we went inside. The dog was gentle, happy to see Brandi, curious about me. I didn’t want to stay too long because I wasn’t sure at all. She was beautiful but at four months almost as big as my Australian shepherd! I was in love with her, but since I turned 60 I’ve developed a brain.

I didn’t know what kind of dog she was. I hadn’t lived here long enough to know the breeds that are most common out here in the wild and (literally) woolly west. I thought she was a Siberian Husky/Great Pyrenees mix. I knew Huskies well, having had several, and I was afraid I wouldn’t have the energy to be her person. I researched Great Pyrenees, and I had big doubts about being able to deal with a giant breed livestock guardian dog who wasn’t intrinsically very social and who liked to roam. I had visions of being dragged down the street by this immense white, blue-eyed dog.

The two weeks passed and I went back to see the dog. When I approached her cage, she was clearly happy to see me again. She’d been moved to the regular kennels. Brandi brought her out, I put Lily’s halter on her (it nearly fit) and took her for a walk. She didn’t quite get what was going on, but she kept checking with me (looking up at my face) for clues about whether she was getting it right. That’s a very good sign in a dog.

“Take her home and see how she does with Dusty and Mindy,” Brandi suggested.

“OK,” I said and we loaded the puppy in the back of my car. I turned on the mysterious oracle known as the car radio and this began to play:

Dusty wanted nothing to do with her and Mindy was gently indifferent. The puppy liked Dusty anyway and snuggled next to him on the floor when he napped.

Once at home, we faced the house-breaking challenge, but within the first few hours, the puppy knew where to pee. I took her out with Dusty and Mindy and she saw what they did. She never had an accident.




When the “test drive” was over, I took the puppy back to the shelter, knowing that someone else could still adopt her. I still wasn’t sure. I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking. There was the “Oh my god, she’s going to be a BIG dog. Can I handle her or am I too rickety and too old?” I sought advice from everyone — and Marilyn had experience with Great Pyrenees and explained how it might work. I read everything I could find online about Great Pyrenees. When morning came, I called the shelter and said, “I’ll be there at 10:30, is that OK?”


“Am I going home with you, Human?”  “Yes Bear.”

Her name was “Silver” and if I’d see the Lone Ranger at that point, I’d have kept the name, but I hadn’t. I named her “Polar” but she didn’t like it. She responded very well to Bear.

I have had upwards of 20 dogs, all of them have been good, some of them have been good friends, wise, funny, goofy, wonderful beings. But this one? She turned out to be something completely different.

She’s not a Siberian Husky and not a Pyrenees. She’s an Akbash Dog — a kind of common dog around here though generally pretty rare in the United States. She’s a Turkish breed of livestock guardian dog. These dogs are gentle, calm, patient, and affectionate — but also intelligent, independent — bred to be a partner to man, not a pet. That’s fine with me. Akbash Dogs are powerful enough to protect a herd of sheep from bears, wolves and mountain ions. She has the most amazing intuition. She’s wise, funny, low-energy and very very very loving. As a friend said recently, “Bear is just love.”

Mysterious forces — limerence? —  brought Bear to our lives at just the right moment. Her calm, dedicated love for Dusty helped him recover from the loss of his best friend — Lily T. Wolf who’d raised him and whom he’d known all his life. Now they are close, close friends.


Bear and Dusty at Noah’s Arff Boarding Kennel

Bear’s love for me persuaded me to go to Colorado Springs for hip surgery.

In less than two weeks they get to come home from the kennel where they’ve been while my hip replacement healed. I can’t wait.