Sunday, May 31, 2015


    Fidelity ended at midnight
    For Auden, not for me; yet
    Credit is not due;
    I chose one who like a fine
    Painting could be seen again
    And again with pleasure.
    Even now in miniature

    She is still the same,
    Or if different
    Not utterly hiding
    Her angelic past.
    She isn’t any
    Particular way
    And I marvel

    At what she is
    Even now in her
    Condition of mind the
    Symbols and metaphors
    Leap. My mind races
    Alongside her
    Astonishing smile.

Friday, May 29, 2015



    There are gates, doors,
    Passwords and coded locks.
    She has been locked away.
    I’ve called several times.
    Her nurses and guards
    Contend it is for her own good,
    She cries in the dark.

    She knew she must serve
    Her sentence, let them
    Find what had been concealed
    And take it away.  It was dark;
    Her room without comfort,
    And her mouth was dry.
    I called her nurse

    And bade her turn on a light,
    Give her a book, let Susan rinse
    Her mouth with water.  It isn’t
    Only her.  I’ve also been
    Judged, declared infirm
    From caring for her, and
    No time off for good behavior.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


    If she sees me, she will, a Siren,
    Draw me, “take me home,”
    She’ll wail and moan.
    I shouldn’t listen. 
    I’ve traveled so far,
    My boat is cracked along its seams.
    I’m stretched out on the sand

    Wracked by a hacking cough,
    Staring off toward her island.
    At night I hear
    Her call my name, “Why do
    You leave me here.  Do I
    Mean so little after all this time”?
    I roll over and look

    At the occluded dense sky.
    Her calls fall
    From the clouds,
    As brimstone and fire.
    “I’ll come when I can,”
    I promise but
    She cannot hear.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Further on Ben and coyotes

IR Bates left the following comment (on the blog) in response to the Ben & Coyotes note:

“I have a male that is also too attached, but would absolutely protect me and my husband if warranted. In the meantime he is the goofiest friendly RR I have ever met. And hates separation!

“We too have coyotes and have lost chickens when we let our guard down, the dogs(3 RR's 11,5 and 2) only chase them out of our yard, otherwise they ignore them.”

Two things: In regard to protection, I wonder what evidence IR has that her male would protect her.  I’m not doubting what she says – just interested.  I would have said the same thing about Trooper years ago.  He was a very formidable male and I could give (and have given) examples of his prowess.  But I doubt that Ginger would have protected me.  Maybe Sage would have or maybe she’d just protect herself I don’t know.

As it happens my dogs probably grow up thinking that I am responsible for protecting them rather than the reverse.  With the exception of Trooper, they have all run to me and stood behind me when trouble loomed. Sage did that at the river but on leash she stood up to some potential threats so I never quite understood her thinking.  Ben has on more than one occasion run over to me and stood behind me when he was spooked.  I don’t need a dog to be protective of me and maybe my dogs realize that.  In regard to Ben I want him to be protective of Duffy and I suspect he would deal with a threat to him.  I don’t know that for sure, but Ben likes Duffy and is more and more inclined to keep an eye on him as time goes on.

Since a female coyote chased Ben away from her den, Ben has been sticking closer to me, even closer than Duffy has.  I’m not sure what his thinking about this is either.  It might have something to do with being chased away from a coyote den but it might also have something to do with stress related to my being away so often taking Susan to her medical appointments.

If were in IR’s situation and coyotes were going after my chickens I would encourage my dogs to go after the coyotes and if they wouldn’t perhaps I’d add a dog that would.  However in regard to the coyotes at the river, I seem to have a truce in effect.  I won’t bother them and they won’t bother me.  When my RR’s are young they violate that truce but the coyotes are tolerant and don’t teach them to leave them alone until a den or pups are threatened.  After that they teach my dogs to  leave them alone.  This is the way it has always been.


Ben, Coyotes, etc.

Ben a few months ago was in the habit of chasing every coyote he saw, but then a coyote, perhaps a pregnant female, chased him away from her den and Ben became a new dog.  He looked back toward the coyote in the same way he looks at 25-pound Duffy on occasion.  He was chastised.  It was a social thing.  Since then he has not chased a single coyote; which is what I prefer.  All my Ridgebacks chased coyotes when they were young but at some point gave it up. 

On our last hike we were walking along next to some brush when several coyote pups began howling at us.  “Come on Ben, Duffy,” I said and urged them away from the brush.  I knew Duffy would come but I wasn’t positive about Ben.  In the past he would have gone into the brush to check things out, but in the past he had never had to deal with a coyote den.  This time he followed me away from the brush.  He exhibited no hackles – no big deal.  We’ll just leave them alone. 

It may be too soon to be absolutely sure, but this concern about Ben’s behavior at the river seems to have been alleviated, and much in the same way that Duffy taught Ben what was acceptable and what was not.  It wasn’t a matter of dominance or prey drive (IMO), but a social matter.

But then a new concern has arisen.   Susan is very ill and a few months ago she reached a stage where they started preparing her to be put on the List for a new liver.  She had to undergo a number of tests; so I was driving her to these various test facilities and the follow-ups at doctors offices often two or three times a week.  I didn’t have time and didn’t have the energy to take the dogs on hikes.  Interestingly, Ben and Duffy both ran about the house and yard when we got home and didn’t seem to mind not going on hikes or walks.  Once the round of tests had been completed it was back to hiking as usual.  We were all three a bit out of shape for long hikes but we are almost back to normal.  One day last week, I had to go to the store and it was too hot to take the dogs.  Susan reported later that Ben cried and paced anxiously up and down the whole time I was gone.   I’m not sure what to make of that.  Maybe Duffy didn’t behave similarly because he has a long-standing relationship with Susan, but Susan has been virtually bed-ridden the entire time we’ve had Ben so perhaps as a consequence he relates only to me. 

Back when we first got Ben, he didn’t mind if I drove to the store by myself, but now he does.  When I first got him he loved everyone.  He still makes a fuss over our guests, but if I go up stairs and leave them to Susan, Ben will follow me up.  He needs a rabies shot in a few days.  Will he complain when the Vet’s assistant leads him off to give him the shot? 

This “problem” is no-doubt exacerbated by my being retired and available to him almost constantly.  He is “high-maintenance,” more-so than any of my other Ridgebacks, but not more than Duffy who takes his role as “lap-dog” very seriously.  I might read the paper or work on my computer in the morning but at some point Duffy wants me to go to my lounge chair so he can sit in my lap; or if I insist on staying at my desk, he wants up into my lap and will find a way to rest his head on my desk while I’m doing whatever.  Ben on the other hand wants lots of petting, brushing, playing with toys.  He’ll put a toy in my lap while I’m at my desk hoping I’ll get up and throw it down the hall for him.  And, of course he knows which drawer the treats are in.

In discussions about whether an individual Ridgeback will protect his or her owner if the occasion warranted, I was doubtful about my last two Ridgebacks, especially Ginger, and Ben is at least as convivial as Ginger was; so I doubted he would be protective, but his need for me to be handy at all times recently (or at least noticed only recently) perhaps indicates a change.  While I don’t like him crying while I am away at a store, his behavior at least indicates that I am important to him.  It may consequently indicate that he wouldn’t stand idly by if I were threatened.