My Smart Little Dog

In other news, I took the dogs out on this spring-like day (grrrrrr) for a walk. I’d hoped only to go with Bear but Teddy is smarter than both Bear and I. On the first half, Bear walked beside me while Teddy pulled to the left and smelled things and left his own smells along the way. On the other half, Teddy decided to walk beside me at heel on my right — Bear’s side. Noticing this, I loosened my hold on Bear’s leash and let her ramble and smell to my left.

To my total amazement, Teddy walked at heel on my right the whole way back, allowing Bear to sniff and pee and roll in the snow. He has learned this ON HIS OWN and decided to do this BECAUSE HE WANTS to. Until now, if Bear was going to get a slow dog-ramble, I had to take her by herself. I can’t let each of them walk loose-leashed because they are pretty powerful together and will find things to fascinate them that are in opposite directions. 😀

I’m so impressed by the intelligence of that little guy. As we walked along he kept watching me to be sure he was doing it right. It’s not like I didn’t teach him this; I did but this is the first evidence I’ve ever had that he remembered the hours of training back in 2019 when we had more opportunities. He seems to have put the whole thing together and determined that if Bear gets to ramble and sniff on our walks, he gets to go every time. He discovered the appropriate compromise.

The Fruits of Consistency

Things are always relatively relaxed around here. Even Teddy — who’s pretty energetic and wound up — is a very chill dog. I’ve been realizing more lately what a great dog he is. I’ve experienced life with a lot of puppies and how — until they’re about 3 — they’re more puppy than dog. Teddy is almost 3 and he’s turning into a very responsive, intelligent little guy. There are some things I think — because of his breed — he’s never going to “learn” such as heeling on the leash 100% of the time. I don’t really care if he never learns that. He’s never going to stop being over the moon when people he likes come through the front door (including me). Every breed of dog has a behavior blueprint in its DNA. I guess we do, too.

All dog trainers stress “consistency” when training a dog and that is the most important thing, keep doing it even though the dog doesn’t seem to get it at all ever because there will be a moment when suddenly your dog “understands” what you’re asking. Teddy has reached that point and it’s wonderful to watch, to participate in. Lately he’s been responding to hand signals without my ever having taught him to. When I saw him do that the first time — and it was a complex “sentence” (Come around the table and you’ll avoid Bear) — I realized how much attention he pays to everything I do, looking for messages. Since then I’ve tried a few more signals with him and it’s amazing. One signal is as if I were happily wagging my tail at him as he is happily wagging his little nubbin of a tail. He wags his tail even faster and smiles. Another is a silent call with a “come here” gesture either with my index finger or my whole hand combined with raised eyebrows, “Come and get a cookie.” I never “taught” him these things. Val, from “A Different Perspective,” said Australian shepherds attempt telepathic communication with their people. It is something like that — but not just from him to me but from me to him.

In all my 20+ dogs, I’ve never had a dog like Teddy. If it’s not his turn for a walk, and I tell him to stay, he stays. I am not sure — but it seems — he stays in the same place the whole time I’m gone OR returns to that spot when he hears the car (which is actually cooler).

I’ve now taken both of them on a walk together — a big relief for all of us. I waited until the injured shoulder was indisputably as good as it’s going to get. Bear walked perfectly at heel on my right the whole time. Teddy trolled the edges of the road for smells. It was as if Bear knew that, with the little guy along, she needed to make my life a little easier.

Yesterday I had to take Bear to the vet for her shots. I always hope there are no other dogs when I arrive with Bear, and I was lucky. We had the waiting room — the entire practice — to ourselves at 4:45. Bear doesn’t like unfamiliar things and she didn’t want to climb onto the scale so I got on with her then hopped (ha ha) off quickly. She gets a lot of attention at the vet because she’s so unique. There are not many Akbash dogs around and most of them are farm dogs that roam the countryside with their sheep. If they are vetted, it’s at the farm. Very few are pets. I love watching people meet her. She’s so gentle and calm. She stood quietly while the vet examined her and gave her the shot which made me feel a little proud of myself for having made a point of “examining” her often when she was a puppy. I could just imagine a vet trying to examine a giant livestock guardian dog who was unwilling to be touched.

I think dogs are great teachers for the universal truth that every other being on the planet is a separate self and doesn’t automatically submit to our will. From living with multiple dogs at once, I’ve learned a lot about that from watching them together, establishing their boundaries with each other, usually ultimately amicably, sadly not always. I seen them adopt each others behaviors and form packs of dissimilar beings just to live together because that was the reality of their existence.

Quotidian Update Update

It’s been a weird few days but after a wonderful walk with Teddy, and all the helpful comments on the post I put up this morning, I realized there’s nothing I can do about “those people.” I don’t even have to understand them. And, while I’m not a praying person in the usual sense, this is the time for it. Someone or something with more influence than I will ever have is going to have to bring home the point to “those people.” It’s not my job. Anger and bewilderment over them is just a waste of my life.

On our walk today, Teddy had a great time with many splendid smells and I enjoyed the comparatively cool breeze. The same three cranes (I’m pretty sure) I’ve been seeing flew over us. Later on, I watched a young bald eagle carry out a successful hunt. Lots of raptors right now as they’re migrating south.

Teddy would like everyone to know he had a great time.

“That was great, Martha.”
“I think so too, little guy.”

The featured photo is one of the larger ponds. The cattails right now are so pretty. This is looking southwest.

Singing

I was driving home from the shelter with Teddy, I’d just gotten him, ostensibly to foster (ha ha) Eric Clapton started singing from Mohammed’s Radio. Little Teddy, still with his puppy coat, sat in the seat next to me. Teddy is absurdly friendly and manically alert. He was hiding his nervousness (fear?) in a little coat of cuteness. For some reason I started singing along with the radio, and Teddy’s little ears perked up. He cocked his head, he looked at me. I put my hand on his little head and I kept singing. In the back of my mind were the words to the song. Promises. I’d just made one.

How had Teddy — the cutest smartest little dog ever born — ended up tied up and abandoned outside a convenience store? Who would not want him? I thought of the nice lady who’d rescued him and then brought him to the shelter in case someone was looking for him.

I didn’t know it, but only a few weeks later my 15 year old barky black dog, Dusty T., would have a stroke, and I would have to put him down. I didn’t think that in Teddy I was bringing home a pal and a job for Bear who was going to mourn that big black dog as much as I would. I didn’t know any of this.

Teddy took to Dusty right away and Dusty protected that little dog when he thought Bear was playing too rough. Here’s a video of Dusty protecting his little “son”, hopefully, you can see. I couldn’t download it from Facebook 😦

As I drove home, I kept singing. Teddy clearly liked it. Now, I always turn the radio to some soft rock stuff when I’m in the car with Teddy and if it’s humanly possible, I sing.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/10/18/rdp-sunday-promises/

Pretty Day in the Big Empty

The sky is clouded over. The smoke has dispersed. The wind is blowing from the west. Drops are falling. The temperature is cool. Teddy got a new harness as a present. Clearly the imperative is a jaunt to the Big Empty.

It was lovely. No dramatic photos, but this beautiful primrose was blooming by the road and Teddy is, of course, superlatively cute.

Walking with Teddy is a different experience from walking with Bear, but it’s still fun. He’s alert in a completely different way and his method for showing his happiness is as over-the-top as his personality. He just stops in front of me, stands on his back legs, wraps his forelegs around my arms and looks at me in adoration.

For that he gets a big hug.

No cranes today, but HUNDREDS of Canada geese moving from pond to pond.

I also found a huge nest fairly low in a cottonwood tree. I’m pretty sure it’s a magpie nest since they LOVE the four or five trees that line the road in one spot, there was a male in those trees in the spring ACTIVELY begging for love last spring. and photos on the sagacious Internet look a lot like what I saw. Like this…

Today we heard a truck coming and turned out it was driven by a friend. Seeing friends in these times is just incredible, and that should remain the case when this bizarreness is over.

Cool, Windy Day <3

Looking East toward Mt. Blanca. Note the cool mammatus clouds on the left, facing!!!
Looking West toward the San Juans

Teddy and I headed out to the Big Empty on the spur of the moment because I had a theory that it would be cool at the Refuge, and the wind would be blowing. I was right. I do know my world. Fantastic skies the whole time. I don’t know anywhere where you would find — in one 45 minute walk — a variety of cloud formations like I saw today. I’m sure such a place exists, but where? Mongolia? Montana, certainly. Canada’s wide open spaces? I would add Iceland, but Iceland hates me. Fuck you, Iceland. 😉

The goslings of the two geese families have grown, and some of the babies didn’t make it. There are feathers in the carnivore scat along the road which probably explains that. The “little” ones now look like small versions of their parents. The Yellow-headed Blackbird who appeared so tame the other day behaved similarly today and I now think he’s guarding his nest. It should be up off the ground, but even so since it seems they build their nests in reeds, it would not be very high. He’s vigilant but very chill about his guardian job. I kept Teddy from testing the bird’s patience, though. I’ve studied that bird at length at this point and he has a sharp little beak.

I also decided that my Indian name shall henceforth be, “She Who Walks in Bad Weather with Dogs.”

Changing it to; “She Who Walks with Dogs under Wild Skies.”

Teddy’s Gotcha’ Day Conversation

“It’s been a whole year, Teddy. You’ve lived with Bear and me for a whole year now.”

“What’s a year?”

“It’s an arbitrary unit of time based on the rotation of the earth and its journey around the sun.”

“Earth? Rotation? Journey? In the CAR? I love that. Are we going in the car? I’m really good at jumping up into my seat.”

“You are, Teddy. Everything I’ve taught you, you’ve learned well. I’m very proud of you, little guy. I’m really happy you’re here with us.”

“Bear’s not. “

“What?”

“She thinks I’m going to steal her rawhide cookie.”

“Well, are you?”

“Well, yeah. I’m a dog. But I won’t chew it. It’s too big.”

“Ah, Teddy. So what do you want to do on your big day?”

“This day is BIGGER than other days? But there’s no snow.”

“True. It’s pretty much just Monday.”

“Monday?”

“Never mind, Teddy. I’d just like to celebrate your day somehow.”

“I celebrate every day, Martha.”

“Good point, little guy.”

“Are you going to give me your coffee cup sometime today?”

“What’s ‘today’?”

“Monday. You said so.”

Teddy and his morning cup-o-dregs

~~~

Teddy is ALWAYS leashed, by the way. He’s the kind of little guy who would bolt off and chase a car.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/06/01/rdp-monday-bolt/

Medicine

“Many are the stories in the naked city.” Same with the naked Big Empty. Today temperatures remained almost Bear comfortable meaning that The Big Empty was comfortable at midday, my favorite time to go out. At that time of day, my brain goes on walkabout, and all I can really do is physical stuff. It’s not the prettiest time of day or even the most interesting, but you know… I took Teddy as it was his turn.

I love nature for nine million reasons including my conviction that it loves me. “Come on,” it says. “You know you want to.”

Midday is a good time to watch raptors and the other birds at the Refuge are pretty active then, too. It’s not the time of day to see mammals. Coyotes and cougars are crepuscular (great word, isn’t it!) and Teddy pointed out a lot of carnivore scat today. Whose? Farm dogs? Coyote? No idea. It will be easier for me to tell when it’s dried out and the contents revealed.

Today I saw two hawks. The Harris Hawk flew low about 50 yards in front of us and when I caught up to the spot where his flight had passed the road I saw he’d dropped his lunch. My best guess is that he’d grabbed the mouse, taken flight and something came up behind him. It could have been one of the Red Tail hawks I see often.

Poor hawk…

Later, towards the end of the walk, just passing the marsh with the small walking loop around it, I heard a sudden commotion among the Red-winged and Yellow-headed blackbirds who call it home. I looked over at the racket and saw the male Red-tail hawk was flying low over the marsh causing the blackbirds to send up the alarm.

At one point in our walk, Teddy (who’s only about 18 inches tall at his highest point) ducked. I saw a small black and white duck flying low over the trail in front of us where Teddy was walking. Cracked me up that Teddy literally DUCKED (c’mon, laugh, you know you want to). I don’t know what the duck was; possibly a Coot.

There were people out there today, too. An elderly couple sat at a picnic table then took off each in their own cars. As he passed Teddy and me, the man rolled down his window, “Isn’t this great?”

“Yeah. It’s not hot, it’s beautiful.”

“Right? And the goddamned wind isn’t blow 60 mph. Have fun!” He waved.

“Have a great day,” I said, still feeling that COVID-19/we’re all isolated tug at my heart (and eyes)

Early in the walk, I had noticed a strange looking plant that was hit by frost last night. What could it be? I saw more of them as I went along, and figured it out.

Mystery plant

Here’s the thing about nature. Even if you walk the same 1 1/2 or 2 miles on the same road every single day, and you THINK you see things you’ve seen before, you really haven’t seen anything before. I had never seen milkweed in its “baby” stage before, but I’ve “known” milkweed since I was a toddler. Now I can look forward to the beautiful flowers, the arrival of Monarch Butterflies and all that comes with this amazing plant.

The familiar things — Canada geese, for example — anchor you. They’re like old friends at a party full of strangers. Then you get more comfortable at the party, more curious about the strangers and you see more. I’ve only seen Northern Harrier hawks twice (to know it).

The yellow-headed blackbird is found all over the U.S. EXCEPT in the part of California where I lived so long and hiked so much. Wetlands? I’ve never spent time in this landscape.

The sky tells me we will get rain in a couple of days. Weather.com agrees with the sky.

Free to study Nature’s mysteries,
He breathes in the divine;
His spirit grounded in Truth,
Sure of himself, he casts off all restraint.
Wide sweep the winds of Heaven,
Grey loom the distant hills,
And with true strength is
Creation spread before him;
He beckons sun, moon and stars,
And washes his feet in the stream where rises the sun.

by Sikong Tu

Brave Little Girl

The kids came over today with a beautiful present for me — a planter they had made and painted me for Mother’s Day. That was awesome but what was REALLY awesome was Michelle.

When she met the dogs in my house last week, she was terrified and panicked. It was bad. Bear went into major livestock guardian dog to try to comfort her which just made it worse since Bear’s way of comforting a scared little animal is to get on top of them. And Teddy was apeshit because of the chaos. Michelle loves them, but they terrify her.

Last week, Bear “wrote” Michelle a letter and explained about herself to the little girl. “Bear” also explained to Michelle that Teddy is still basically a puppy and very excited all the time about everything. Today Michelle wanted to come in and see the dogs again and try everything Bear told her in her letter.

Again, she was terrified. I sat down on the sofa with her and wrapped her in my arms. I was amazed that instantly she relaxed. Bear relaxed, too. Little by little, Michelle was ready to try again. She even stood up and got a toy for Teddy. She sat back on the sofa with me. That is when Bear saw that Michelle was scared of Teddy. Bear put herself between Michelle and Teddy and didn’t move. I told Michelle what Bear was doing and she understood that it would make it easier for her to interact with Teddy if Bear were between them. I told Michelle how great she was doing, told Bear what a good dog she was and told Teddy he was a good boy when he sat or went down on command. I told Michelle to tell them, too. She learned that Bear would rather have pats than cookies.

It was really, really cool. When she left she apologized for being afraid. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such a brave kid in my whole life.

The box is really beautiful and they were so proud of it. There are good paintings of Teddy, Bear, me and one of their kitties. There are GREAT color combinations. Rumor has it that the orange glows in the dark. I’ll check that tonight.