“What Teddy? You are a herding dog. A herd? A herd is a big group of animals. The animal herd you’d know in another reality would probably be sheep. Sheep? Ah, a lot has been said, written, painted and poesied on the subject of sheep, but I don’t have any direct experience with them. Just a lot of hearsay. That’s a good point. ‘Herd’ is both a noun and a verb. When the animals are all in a group, that’s when they’re called a herd. Some smart person and his/her dog has to get them organized like that. No, I don’t think you’ll ever have a herd of your own, but you are doing a great job keeping Bear in line. No, she’s not a herd. Yeah, she’s big enough. What would Bear do with the sheep? That’s a good question, Teddy. You and Bear would be a team. At night when you’re sleeping, she’d guard your sheep so nothing could hurt them. From what? Everything. Coyotes, wolves, bears, eagles whatever’s out there. Sure you could help her. She’s taught you a lot about guarding, I know that, but I imagine if you had your own herd, you might not be Bear’s pal and sidekick because you’d both have your own work to do, especially during lambing. Lambing? That’s when the mom sheep have their puppies. Well, Teddy, it would be a pretty hard life for all of us if we were herding sheep. A good life, I think, but not as easy as this life. Yes, I’d like it — maybe — I think I would, but you, me and Bear came from circumstances not totally in our control. We have this life and it’s a wonderful life. We can still go out there and ‘herd,’ but we don’t have to survive on it, facing down a hard winter, or sick and dying animals, or you and Bear being injured, or me. Like everything in life, there’s always something we wish we had done or could do. Wish? Oh, that’s when you want a cookie and do everything you can to manipulate me into giving you one.”
Teddy might be done warming the bench. He was a little confused this morning without his bandage OR cone but then he said, “Put me in coach,” and I have — unless he messes with his foot. For now, the cone is relegated to a corner and we’re (as always) hoping for the best. He’s a passionate little groomer of all things Teddy and hasn’t had the chance for nearly a month to give himself a good wash. He’s at it now.
I’m without projects which is becoming a little uncomfortable, but, at the same time, I’m anticipating another shipment of books to evaluate. Maybe it’s just a momentary stasis in the relentless production of garden signs.
Not every day is Christmas, though the last couple of days have kind of felt like it with the amazing Chinese furniture, new boots and Donald Valdez, the guy I want to run for Lauren Boebert’s (CO D3) Congressional seat, throwing his Stetson into the corral. Valdez is currently on our state assembly. He’s from here (Heaven) and knows the concerns and interests of Southern Colorado which is, in many ways, the forgotten orphan child of Colorado. If you’re curious, you can learn more about him here. And if you feel like it, you could pitch in to his campaign. No one owns him, so it will be a true grass roots effort. The other good news on that front is that it appears Boebert will have a Republican challenger as well. Whatever it takes, AR 15 Barbie has to go. Meanwhile, I’m having fun making memes.
“I didn’t do it, Bear. I had nothing to do with it. How is it?”
“Best snow EVER. Fluffy! Light! Fast! Did you see Teddy run?”
That little guy looked like a little black furry blur out there, running numerous laps around Bear and then deciding through some coded signals that it was time to leap on her. She doesn’t even care about Teddy’s cone any more. She’s learned to maneuver around it.
His foot is still wrapped because though the wounds are basically healed, the one under his dewclaw still looks like something he would fuss with. Possibly today the bandages will come off and he’ll just wear the cone for a while. It’s been a long haul for this little guy, but he doesn’t seem to mind. I hope next week he can have his foot back.
It is really a beautiful snow. ❤
Thank you everyone who responded to my “Existential Crisis” post yesterday. I think Covid has pushed a lot of people there and probably contributes to my friend’s darkness right now. Anyway, I appreciate it very much.
I imagine I was a little girl exploring some rocky place when I first met the echo. I remember thinking it was absolutely the most mysterious and miraculous thing. And, of course, my brother and I tried to make it happen whenever we possibly could. My dad, true to form, offered up a detailed discussion of the physics behind the echo and some of that sank in, but over all it was just yet one more wonder of life on Earth.
Among life’s mysteries is that of the little dog who loves everyone. Teddy T. Dog got his stitches and staples out yesterday. He can be hard to control at the vet’s because he’s just so HAPPY TO BE THERE. Seriously. He LOVES the tech who has taken care of him. He ADORES the vet. He’s OVER THE MOON to see the people at the front desk.
You can tell dog lovers from dog not-so-muchers by the way they react to Teddy. Teddy will sit if you tell him, but what he REALLY likes is to jump up for a hug and a good face lick. Dog lovers seem to WANT him to jump up on them which challenges my best efforts to teach him not to. But I can only teach my dog, not all the people in the world. Everyone at the vet is perfectly happy to have Teddy all over them with kisses and snuggles.
As the tech held him down I put my hand in front of Teddy’s mouth so he could lick me — stress lick, I think. I told the tech I’d get down on the floor to help but it’s not easy for me to get up. He said, “Not that easy for me, either. My knees are a mess.”
He’s a young guy. I reacted, “Really?”
“I’ve already had both knees rebuilt.” I asked him why and he said, “Big animals.” Most of their practice IS large animals. “This will sound worse than it is, but once was a bull. He didn’t mean to. He leaned against me and that tore my ACL.” I imagined one of the gentler bulls doing just that, basically the opposite of trying to hurt him.
I felt again that I missed out on something not having grown up in the country. In fact, I often feel that way, maybe because I’m living in the country NOW and I’m surrounded by people who have always known this world. I don’t know this world. I just respect it. “The other was a horse. It spooked coming out of a trailer.”
We just get one lifetime. “At a time,” whispers Lamont.
To celebrate his liberation, I took Teddy for a short walk out at the slough. It was muddy and there was copious dog shit everywhere. For Teddy these were enhancements to the experience, but I felt mildly dismayed. People are pigs but a trash can at the trail head would really help, but no. It’s like a war between the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and dog owners, weirdly because this is an area where hunting is encouraged in the fall and dogs are welcomed. Since Covid, a lot more people are taking their dogs out there and letting them run. The people don’t even get out of their cars.
Teddy had a blast walking in the mud without his cone, bandages and boot, but when we got home he over cleaned that foot and opened two tiny sores where the staples had gone in. Sad to say, he’s wearing a light bandage now and…the cone. He doesn’t even mind any more.
“Why won’t the Bear play with me any more?”
“It’s that thing on your head, Teddy. It’s not much fun to have that thing crash into you.”
“But she WANTS to play with me then when I play back, she turns away!”
“I know, Buddy. 12 more days. Then we’ll say ‘adieu’ to the cone.”
“What does that mean?”
“Never mind. I don’t really know any more.”
“That was a nice kitty.”
“You REMEMBER that?”
“Well, yeah. I’m an Australian shepherd.”
“Oh yeah. Teddy, you’re doing a lot better with everything now that you have that cone.”
“Never mind. I love you little guy.”
“I love you too, Martha. Do you like the way I learned to give you my little foot when you ask?”
“Yes. That’s a wonderful thing you’ve learned. The kids will be glad to see you’ve learned to shake hands.”
“Listen, tomorrow you’re getting little boots in the mail, and I’m going to ask Dr. Crawford if it’s OK for you to go on walks.”
“WALK!!!! YES! YES!”
“I keep forgetting.”
“Now? How about now? And NOW??”
“No, Teddy, not now. I don’t know if it’s OK on your foot to take a walk. When it is, I’ll take you. I promise. We just have to wait.”
“I’ll wait.” Teddy stops still and sits on the kitchen rug, looks at me in pride. “Aren’t I a good boy?”
“You’re such a good little guy, Teddy. I really LOVE the way you stay completely away from the front door, but, thanks to you, I have to paint the damned thing.”
(you’d talk to your dogs, too, if you’d been more or less alone with them for 10 months)
The featured photo is Teddy licking the remnants of my coffee with cream from my cup. The cone is great. It’s not inhibiting Teddy at all but it does make it difficult for him to do things that would hurt him. For those who don’t compulsively follow my blog, Teddy is a 30 pound mini-Aussie who had the custom of launching himself at my front door from the arm of the sofa when the UPS guy came. As an old door, it didn’t have safety glass windows. Last week his front paw went through the glass. In the mean time, the glass has been removed and replaced with masonite.
I have a great vet, although he sold the practice to a couple of younger vets and is only “vetting” part time. Teddy and I were lucky and Dr. Crawford was our vet today. He is the vet who came to my house to put down Dusty. He was Bear’s first vet and Teddy’s first vet. From the very beginning, he made a very big and positive impression on me because he loves animals, is soft-spoken, thoughtful and kind. Here on my living room floor as we prepared Dusty to go to the Enchanted Forest, we talked about euthanizing dogs and he said, “You must love this dog very much,” he said, “I made a big mistake with my old dog last year. I just couldn’t let him go. He suffered because of that.”
I did love Dusty very much. I loved him so much that I (usually) cheerfully accommodated his behavior problems that stemmed from his having been pushed out of a truck on the freeway, kicked and left for dead as a puppy. When I adopted Dusty from a shelter in Bonita, CA, when he was 4 months old they said, “He’s not adoptable,” but Dusty really did want to be my dog. Dusty was complicated, but he loved Dr. Crawford. When Dr. Crawford knelt down on the floor and lifted Dusty’s leg to put in the catheter, Dusty sighed in relief. Dr. Crawford also put down my last husky and he did it with tenderness and understanding of THIS woman who did NOT want to let that dog go.
So, today, Teddy and I got lucky.
I spent more time at the vet’s today than I’ve spent in any public place since the pandemic started. I wore my mask and stayed away from other people as much as possible. It’s frustrating because I LIKE the people who work at my vets and I’ve known them 7 years now. But there it was… I’ve learned that people recognize me partly by my smile and now no one can see it.
Dr. Crawford took Teddy back to rectify what he either did not do last week or that Teddy had undone. Dr. Crawford wasn’t sure. I get that. All our brains are addled right now. As I waited, a little kitty who lives at the vet came to play with me then sit beside me and purr while I scratched her ears. Before we left, she kissed Teddy on the nose inside his cone.
When Dr. Crawford came back with Teddy, he sat down beside me, physically closer than anyone has been except the kids hugging me in the alley, and looked me in the eyes. “You have the sweetest dog there,” he said. “He’s a wonderful dog. Congratulations.” Then he told me that Teddy will wear the cone for two weeks and we go back next week to have the dressings changed, a week later to have the staples taken out.
It felt very strange to be so physically close to someone, to look into their eyes and spend the time it took to hear the whole message. It’s only been a year, well, nearly a year, it felt longer as we spoke to each other.
Since then I’ve been thinking about what it was like BEFORE. I purposely have not done that, but marched stoically forward to some other time (whatever that will be). I thought of summer walks in the evening and talking to all the neighbors. I thought of houseguests and spontaneous laughter in any random place, the grocery store, wherever. I don’t know.
My “group” is scheduled to be getting vaccinated on February 8. So far here in the back of beyond the vaccinations have gone pretty well. So, by March I should be good to go (which is what I imagined all along). I don’t think I like wearing a mask. The kitty did something this morning that awakened me to that. She reached for my mask with her little paw and tried to pull it down. I guess we will still be wearing them, though.
As I was leaving the vet’s, a tall and very handsome young farmer came in with his little girl. They were getting big bottles of medicine for their cows. He wasn’t wearing a mask. He smiled at me with all the interest, radiance and even love a human face can show. I have no idea why other than he was just a truly happy man. I liked it.
During this time I’ve seen the full faces of my neighbors, Elizabeth, Bob and Karen, my mailman, the kids. That has really been it. I feel a little right now like Miranda in The Tempest having seen human beings other than her father, Prospero, and Caliban, their “monster” slave, for the first time. “O brave new world that has such people in it.”
Teddy is 100% accountable for taking off his bandage, pulling out his stitches, and leaving one of his TWO wounds open. No way around it. It’s Teddy’s fault that I’m up at 6 am so I’ll be able to call the vet at 7:30. And Teddy will be 100% accountable for having to wear a cone (and the vet it accountable for not giving him one in the first place). He’s also accountable for being the drain of my stimulus funds. And I am 100% accountable for not having first aid stuff around the house. TOTALLY my bad on that. And God is accountable for FINALLY sending snow just when it would be nice not to have to worry about Teddy’s foot getting wet but it’s OK, God. We all like the snow and it was fun watching Teddy spinning around in the yard yesterday harassing the squirrel high in the alder tree.
So here I am. Up and doing chores a good (I hope they’re good) two hours before usual. And accountability really just means “Who do we blame for THIS mess?”
But in good news, I woke up this morning at 4 am SURE it was Saturday, and I’d only have a narrow 3 hour window to take Teddy to the vet, but it’s only Friday. I’m accountable for not knowing what day it is… Yay COVID. I hope someone writes a science fiction story about the COVID time warp.
I don’t know if it’s the effect of the last four years of 45 + the virus, but I find I don’t have the same “nerve stamina” I used to have. I wonder if all of us aren’t just a little more edgy than we would be in “normal” times. I think this has all been very wearing but, at the same time, life is just wearing which is, I guess, only to be expected. Truly every calm moment stolen from the chaos and stress is something to savor. I think that’s one reason I like the Refuge so much. Very very very often it is totally silent — or as close to that as any place can get with a road in the distance. Sometimes I head out with the dogs and after 1/2 mile I just stand there and soak in the silence, cushioned in the knowledge that right then, and right there, all I have to do is stand still and savor it. For however long that is, nothing is going to happen.
The Good X’ mom had four kids and sometimes she would just go sit in the tree-filled, shady VERY back of their large yard. All the kids knew that she just needed some quiet and they had to leave her alone. With all the noise in our world that’s just not easy to do and how often do we realize we need to do that? I used to get up at 4:30 so I could have an hour of peace before the noise of driving and teaching and driving and teaching.
Meanwhile, Teddy is on the floor behind me. His wound wrapped in a paper towel, fastened with packing tape. Over that is one of those little grippy socks they give you in the hospital, taped with packing tape. Yeah, duct tape works better, but it’s hard to get off. He’s wearing a t-shirt which MIGHT (though it’s doubtful) keep him from worrying about his foot. When I go to the vet, I’m going to ask for a cone and some bandaging material. I’ll also ask if can wrap the wound so his foot is free. That way he can go outside and play. There’s no way to keep it dry otherwise. I’m still not going to stores, so… I did try explaining to Teddy that it’s healing and another week will make a big difference, but Bear interrupted saying, “We don’t understand that ‘week’ ‘day’ thing you are always talking about.”
Australian shepherds are known for being passionate, wild-at-heart and driven — and, by and large, happy dogs. Teddy is all those things. He’s a sweet, loving little guy and I love him to pieces. But…like all Aussies and all young dogs, he has his “glitches.”
One of them got him into trouble yesterday and gave me something to do with that stimulus money (ha ha).
Until yesterday, my front door was a French door. It is the original door for this 96 year old house and the panes of glass are/were not tempered glass like you find in such doors today. My sofa is against the wall and at a 90 degree angle to the door. There are about 6 feet between the door and the arm of the sofa.
Teddy uses the arm of the sofa as a launching pad when someone leaves something on my porch. Yesterday he launched himself at the door and broke a pane. He cut off a dew claw from his left from paw. Blood was everywhere and he was terrified. He brought his little foot to me in the kitchen as if he were saying, “You have to fix this Martha. It hurts.” I grabbed some paper towels and held them against his little foot to stop the bleeding at least enough to see what happened. Called the vet, “Bring him right in, but you’ll have to leave him.”
“That’s fine.” Got to my wonderful vet and saw people I haven’t seen in nearly a year. That was nice. Teddy went back to a kennel and I came home and called my friend Elizabeth to see if her husband, Bob, could help me measure the door way. I thought I’d have to get a new door but Bob is a very resourceful, skilled and smart guy and he immediately came up with a solution. Replace the glass with Masonite. He immediately went to work. Bear was very happy to see him because she thinks he’s great.
When I went back to get Teddy, there were the most amazing clouds over the Sangre de Cristos. I learned later that recent snow storms (grrrrrr….) have almost brought the annual snowfall level up to break the drought.
The tech at the vet said she wanted to keep Teddy and apologized to me for thinking Teddy was a girl. “He’s just so sweet! We all want to keep him!” I handed over the leash, but she didn’t take it. What’s up with that?
I brought Teddy home and let him sleep in my room until 2 when he felt better and wanted to get back to life as usual with Bear in the living room.
I’m so grateful to good neighbors and friends. ❤
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.
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.