Monday, June 13, 2016

Jessica the cheerleader

I've taken to putting the barricading board in the doggy door between the garage and the back yard so the dogs, Jessica primarily, would be forced to stay out back -- rather than rush back through the doggy door, into the house and up the stairs where Jessica would interfere with the used absorbent pads I was picking up and the clean ones I was putting down.  She liked to grab them if she could and go dashing off with them.

Jessica doesn't mind being in the back yard as long as someone keeps her company.  Usually it's Ben.  And one of Ben's favorite sports is to "fence-fight" with the neighboring dogs.  In the past, before Jessica, I would hear his big booming barks for about 30 seconds and then he would rush inside.  But yesterday his barking went on much longer.  Perhaps, I thought, it is because he can't get back into the house.  I went downstairs and looked through the patio window.  There was Ben rushing back and forth, sticking his head between some rose bushes next to the fence, barking furiously, and then moving between a different set of rose bushes to bark some more.  And there was Jessica about five feet back from him, running parallel to him, stopping each time he stopped, with her little tail wagging furiously.  She wasn't barking, but I'll bet he knew she was there with her little tail, and I'll bet he felt egged on to fence-fight at his best.


Today I decided to start working with Jessica so she could come down the stairs.  I couldn't in good conscience be mad at her for using (and missing) the absorbent pads I put down for her in my study if she had no recourse to the back yard.  She could go up the stairs fine, but she couldn't go down.  I had been putting it off teaching her because tearing things up in my study was one thing, but did I really want her to be able to go downstairs and have access to the whole house?  Someone once wrote to the effect that if we insisted on knowing how things were going to turn out before we did them, we'd never do anything.  So this evening, starting at the top of the stairs I eased her down from step to step until she was at the bottom.  "There," I said encouragingly, the first lesson done, took the leash off her and began cooking my dinner.   A few minutes later I looked and saw her up at the top of the stairs looking down.  "Come on," I said.  "you can do it," not believing anything of the sort, and she ran in a stumbling way down the stairs and slid several feet out onto the tile.  I was astounded.  I rewarded her (and Ben and Duffy of course) with some little bits of ham.

I went back to cooking but stopped at one point to see what Jessica was up to.  I went up stairs and saw she was in the hall leading from the study.  "Well, perhaps the turn in the stairs leading to the landing and then making the right turn down to the ground floor is confusing her."  Not so.  Jessica followed me back down without difficulty.  Once downstairs she began exploring a bit more, causing me some worry.   So I took her upstairs and put her into the little barricaded area in front of my desk.  Back downstairs cooking I looked around and there she was again.    I put Jessica and Ben in the backyard, took my dinner upstairs and saw that the barricade was down.  Jessica must have jumped against it.  Her little ten pounds of weight was enough to do it.  I fixed it more substantially, let Ben and Jessica back in, and was prepared to put her back into that area once she did something objectionable which she always does, but she didn't do anything wrong.  Has she learned that if I tell her "no" a couple of times and she keeps on doing it, it is off to jail she goes and she is being careful to avoid those infractions?

Is she turning into a well-behaved little girl?  I doubt it.  She is extra tired today because of the vet visit, the shots she received, and all that time in the back yard and other excitements.  But it seemed like progress.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Jessica's third hike

This should take you right to the June 2016 gallery.  Only the first three photos for today were of Jessica because she didn't want to hike on leash.  She wanted to ride and rode in the camera bag about 90% of the hike.  I think what happened is that when I put her down at the beginning, Duffy and Ben bounded ahead feeling good.  Jessica tried to do that as well but was restrained by the leash and so pouted.  Probably just as well because the next photo after the three of Jessica shows Ben and Duffy having run ahead and looking with intensity at something.  This photo doesn't show the coyote that had been there but subsequent photos do.

The dogs didn't notice the coyote following behind us.  Come to think of it I've never seen any of my dogs check our back trail. I'm not positive this coyote was interested in us.  He may have followed us for a while because we were going the same way he was.  I noticed when we got up on the levee that the nursery supply people had their sprinklers on.  Coyotes cross the levee to get water from the nursery.  I've heard people say that they walk only on the levee to avoid coyotes, but coyotes walk on that levee too.  Fortunately for these people the local coyotes aren't interested in them, only the nursery water.

Not terribly good photos.  I've got my smallest camera set so I can do everything with one hand (the other being occupied with Jessica).  Thus, anything moving too fast on an early darkish morning will blur a bit.


Jessica's second hike

If you go to the above site and then go to the June 2016 gallery you will see some photos I took this morning[comprising the first several photos in the June 2016 gallery}.  Jessica is gain strength noticeably each day.  When she first arrived, May 27th on her 8 week birthday her legs were so weak she was wobbly and occasionally fell over.  Yesterday without coaxing and without my even watching she climbed the stairs by herself.  I noticed her back there having gone up three or four steps but continued on with something I wanted to take up stairs.  I planned to go back and get her.  I suspected she would have given up and perhaps turned around but as I turned there she was.  I walked back and looked suspiciously at Ben to see if perhaps he had helped her, but he was lying on the landing looking innocent so, despite the improbability that she actually climbed the stairs on her own I concluded she must have.  And just a bit ago to put it once again to the test, I took her down stairs for something and then went on back up by myself.  She was a bit slower than yesterday, perhaps because of the hike which tired us all, but she came up by herself once again.  She has yet to master going down the stairs however -- maybe tomorrow.

Given her progress I wondered if I needed the camera bag for her to ride in.  On the way out she whimpered for me to pick her up but she was only in the bag for a few seconds before she wanted back down.  On the way back however (as you can see in the photos) she wanted to stay in the bag for longer periods.

BTW, my last note which seemed a sort of "Hallmark moment," later on made me feel silly.  Because she soon turned into a berserk wild creature, rushing madly around, grabbing stuff some of which I tried to grab back to no avail.  Ben and Duffy simply got out of her way.  She didn't quite bounce off of walls but came close. She wound down and I tried to take a nap in my lounge chair but soon woke as a result of her jumping up and biting my arms and whatever else she could reach.

If you look at the photos she seems sweet and gentle.  Maybe in a couple (if I uploaded them) you can see a little perversity in the corner of one eye.  I mentioned in my last note how Duffy put her in her place, chasing her under the hall tree when she misbehaved, but last night out back in the dark, I shown my flash down on Jessica and she was crouched down ready to spring at Duffy.  The look in her little eyes seemed to say, "I think I can take you," and given her energy level I wasn't sure she was wrong.

No one should get the idea, however that I am complaining.  Note that on the hike everyone was getting along perfectly.  This has been my experience.  Whatever social hangups anyone has at home (and Duffy has a lot of them), they are all forgotten on hikes, and soon the camaraderie of the hikes extends to the rest of the time as well.  Jessica may be an extreme test of this thesis, but she is progressing and learning at a remarkable rate.

One other thought I've had, given the example of Jessica's prowess at not quite 9 weeks of age:  I probably don't need a dog more formidable than she to deal with anything untoward entering our yard in Sandpoint.


Jessica at 8 wks 4 days

[written 5-31-16]

[As of today Jessica is eight weeks and four days old]

Yesterday Ben finally had enough of Jessica and began growling at her when she went after him.  Duffy was more demonstrative and ran at her snarling:  In each case Jessica would back up; although when Duffy chased her, she got under the hall tree.  But Jessica is learning.  After being out back for a while this morning, all three dogs were thirsty by the time we got upstairs.  Duffy went to the water first.  Jessica moved up along side him and stuck her head in the water.  Duffy emitted a soft "grrrr."  Jessica backed up several feet, sat down, and waited until Duffy was done.  Ben wasn't about to get involved in that and waited until they were both done.

I had her in my lap last night and she was going after my fingers as usual.  I rolled her on her back and began rubbing her stomach.  She liked that a lot, but she wasn't done chewing on my fingers which she could not reach without interfering with the belly-rub; so she chewed the air, back and forth, chew, chew, chew, pawing the air at the same time with all four paws.  This went on for several minutes.  Eventually her need to chew something overcame the joy of the belly-rub so she rolled over and I set her down and she grabbed up a toy bear.

Later she wanted back in my lap so I immediately immediately began rubbing her belly.  I remembered that my son had recommended singing to her so I decided to give that a try.  Sure enough, she watched me with fascination and with no thought of my fingers.  By the time I was into my third song she had fallen asleep.

When I'm in my lounge chair, she likes to get underneath the part that comes out as a leg rest.  She's done that so often I lean forward to see if she's there before bringing the leg rest back against the chair, but earlier today I had Duffy in my lap and I put my feet along side the leg rest to look down for Jessica and must have stepped on her because she squealed.   I scooped her up, kissed her on the head several times, told her I was sorry four or five times, and she turned then and licked my cheek.


Moving to Sandpoint


I was going to use the blaze orange during hunting season only, but you are probably right.  I'm not worried about coyotes, even the eastern ones, for several reasons: 1) Ben and Duffy have adjusted to the coyotes here.  They are coyote wise and wouldn't do anything foolish with them in Sandpoint.  Hopefully I will get Jessica that we before we move up there.  2) the house pets coyotes typically kill are small dogs or cats in unprotected back yards.  Duffy is the only dog I will be worried about up there, but he is trail wise.  He is cautious and ready to dart away if threatened.  I've seen him do it.  I will be more worried about raptors.  Duffy doesn't regularly look up.  3) out on a hike with other dogs along, Duffy is fairly safe.  4) I was a USMC rifle coach and have spent a lot of time since with weapons and shooting.  Here I take a Walther 22 on hikes.  Up there if all I expect are coyotes I would take a 9 mm.  I'm not totally happy with either of my two 9 mm for that purpose and might get a Glock once I am up there; which model I don't know at this point.  5) if there is the slightest hint of bear or wolves I have a Mossberg 500 that can be loaded with rifled slugs.  I plan to get a 45-70 once I get up there and work with it compared to the Mossberg to see which one I want to take regularly on hikes.  I am leaning more toward the Henry than the Marlin at this point.  6) I plan to have a fence but I also plan to get a llama to help with the weeds, guard the back yard and carry a pack on hikes.  If one gets a male, has it gelded at age two, it provides first rate protection against predators getting into ones yard.  My dogs will be inside dogs but will have access to a doggy door.  They will rush out if the llama is making a fuss about anything.  7) I am planning to install overhead lights in the back yard in order to be able to see what I'm shooting at should their be a night coyote or wolf invasion.  8) on hikes I would be very surprised if we were attacked by anything.  Our llama, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Irish Terrier, former Marine would probably be left alone by predators who depend on not getting injured.  I hadn't given that much thought to errant hunters but I'll start.


I don't know why I would take any heat from anything I've recently written.  I'll be 82 this coming October and have been doing this sort of thing off and on my whole life.  Someone might think, "well yeah, you have all these plans but they've never been put to the test.  When reality happens you might be overwhelmed," but I have been put to the test.  Up until I was in my 40s I free dived; which means going after fish with a spear gun and without tanks.  I speared all sorts of fish over the years, keeping my freezer full while my kids grew.  Years later I discovered that my spear-fishing translated into a steady hand while hunting.  Someone would be right in saying I have never shot big land animals, but with the experience I have I don't believe I would flinch if it came to that.  My dogs won't be in any more danger than I am, and I expect to put myself forward as necessary to deal with any threats.

If truth be known I would apply heat (if that is a good word) to those who erect boundaries about themselves and their dogs rather than learn and having them learn to deal with what's out there.   A modern person doesn't need to but 1) the sedentary modern not only flees where no man pursueth (my impression from zillions of hikes at night when my dogs and I were essentially the only one out there) but shortens his life as a result of inadequate exercise.  2) he doesn't familiarize his dogs with "what is out there" and so when a dog is confronted he is nonplussed and at a disadvantage.  3) and if he doesn't get enough exercise his dog probably doesn't either making him even more ill-equipped to deal with threats.

But you are right and I have taken heat in the past.  One irate breeder turned me in to Homeland Security as a terrorist threat.  One day two gigantic men in suits showed up on my front porch wanted to know if I had said the things in an email.  They had a copy in their hands which they showed me.  They were my words saying something similar to what I've written above, but in an on going argument in which a few forum members said they would never put there dogs in the sort of danger I was describing.  The forum member (could have been an RR-Folk breeder but I'm not sure.  This occurred before I got Sage and I was briefly on other breed forums, the Vizsla forum for example) took an immense dislike to me for putting my dogs in danger and thought I was some sort of ill-defined threat.  The guys on my front porch were pretty sure I wasn't a terrorist even before they came out.  I had Ginger at the time.  She was as sociable as Ben now is.  I called her out front so they could see my dangerous dog (the lady said I was turning my dogs into dangerous threats).  One of the guys said something like, "yeah, yeah but we don't appreciate wasting our time on nuisance calls like this; so quit provoking her."  "Who," I asked, but they wouldn't tell me. 


Jessica's first hike

[written 5-29-16]

Jessica woke full of energy.  The prospect of a morning hike depended
more on me than her, but after a second aspirin and a cup of coffee I
felt marginally able.  Since Ben liked Jessica better than Duffy did I
put her in the back seat with him.  I noticed last night in the backyard
when Jessica felt apprehensive about her surroundings she got between my
feet and peered out from there.  Jessica did the same thing with Ben in
the Jeep.  He liked her okay, but he didn't like her crawling underneath
him.  He tried to get away from her to no avail.  Fortunately the trip
to the river was short.

One of my camera bags was a perfect fit.  Jessica could fit totally inside it
if she wanted to, but mostly she'd look out for a while, chew on her
leash and then fuss so that I would let her down.  She like all puppies
disapproved of linear hikes.  She wanted to stop and play.  Tugging her
a bit would get her started and she'd make it 10 or 15 feet before
fussing and then putting on the brakes; so I'd pick her up and carry her
in my arms for a while.  If she'd fuss to be put back down I'd do that. 
But the next time I might put her in the camera bag.

When I'd had enough we turned around and headed back.  Jessica was
content to stay in the camera bag for longer periods on the way back.

Back at the Jeep Duffy and Ben hopped up into their usual places.  I put
Jessica in with Ben once again.  I stopped at Stater Bros on the way
home to get some more absorbent pads and some adult dog food.  I had
been so worried about Jessica that I forgot to replenish the boys kibble.

When we got home, and after I put the groceries away I closed the garage
door and called for Ben, Duffy and Jessica to get out if the Jeep.  The
first two did but I couldn't find Jessica.  I checked under the front
seats and didn't find her but knowing she had to be somewhere, I reached
as far as I could and touched her. Going around to the passenger door I
saw that her head was sticking out beneath the seat and resting on the
camera bag.  She was sleeping.

Upstairs in my study she fussed for about 30 seconds after I put her in
her little private area and then she lay down and went to sleep.

The hike wasn't a very challenging one.  It was on the levee north of a
dairy for the most part.  I don't know how well Jessica can see at her
age.  She looked off toward the cows a few times but was more interested
in the sand right beneath us as we walked.  A rabbit darted out in front
of us and ran down toward the dairy with Ben after it.  He sailed
gracefully over a barbed wire fence but didn't chase it too far. 
Jessica of course missed all that, but when I called him back and he
sailed over the fence once again, Jessica saw him do that.  I couldn't
tell that she was impressed.  She stopped a couple of times to look all
about but her greatest interest was in the sand.

When I would take this hike in the past we would go underneath the State
Street overpass before cutting across to the levee on the south side of
the river, but there are people living under there now.  Ben went toward
them, stopped and stared at their junky set up.   I called him away.

One of the more interesting events was Duffy touching noses with
Jessica; which he did on two occasions, looking for all the world like
he was encouraging her.  I don't know about her, but I was. I've
forgiven him big time for being a grouch.