Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Autumn Lace

In the fall spiders seem to appear out of nowhere, creating beautiful webs in unexpected places. Overnight frost outlines every strand, highlighting the exquisite patterns of the webs, and all the transport strands. My world is covered with sticky, strong silken strands of glistening spider string. The spiders are nowhere to be seen, presumably hiding in a warm corner, waiting for the sun to clear the frost and wake the bugs.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Millie Learns the Ropes

Millie has spent her first month here just getting used to the sights, sounds and smells, and realizing that she is here permanently. She has become less concerned about the other dogs, and is feeling much more secure.

Millie is in a temporary pen overlooking the pond. It's much more open than the kennel she's living in. Charlie oversees. The ram-who-thinks-he's-a-dog is pleased to have a dog to hang with.

Millie spotted or heard something of interest in the woods.

When her barks changed intensity, Charlie went to check out the situation. Given time, I think these two will work well together. Millie needs to learn more about not chasing roosters and hens first, however. She's learning self-restraint, but is still too excited by the new smells, sounds and movements of the poultry areas.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Even Brown Dogs Get Muddy

Berna, 2 yrs old, lays down next to Ursa, 13 yrs old. Ursa has finally decided to come in out of the rain and mud, and Berna is ensuring she can rest and dry unmolested by the rowdy herder dogs.

Real Dogs Aren't White

I was recently accused of having white dogs. You know, dogs that are clean, well groomed, pristine. Just so no one thinks that working dogs don't get dirty, here's Charlie after a rainstorm.

"Hi, I'm Charlie. I like to dig for moles."

Jesse thinks Charlie has been given food better than his. He is growling to tell Charlie to move on. Charlie is a Great Pyrenees weighing 120 lbs. Jesse is a Samoyed with bad knees, topping the scales at 60 lbs. Charlie protects the world for a living. Jesse's job is to be my best friend.

Charlie, just as clean on the back side as the front, walks away from Jesse's challenge. Part of being a Pyr is to know you don't fight family members.

That doesn't, however, mean you have to be happy about it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

First Storm

The wind was rattling the windows as I woke, trying to get in. The radio said winds 20-30 mph with gusts 40-60 mph were expected. As I stood facing the wind I thought, “What does it mean to blow at 30 mph?” I spent the morning filling every receptacle I could find with water, changing all the animal waters, and fastening down anything that might blow away. The wind increased steadily.

I got to Tumwater (50 miles north) about 10 minutes before the wind. It pulled at my hair and snuck into my coat as I walked from the parking garage to work. When I went out at 3:00 for an appointment the wind was at full roar. I was driving at 30 mph when I was passed by an orange leaf. That made “30 mile an hour wind” mean something real to me. The wind was going faster than I was as we both raced north.

Leaves of all colors and sizes galloped down the street, racing and tripping one another at the corners. A few seagulls hung in the wind, trying to move forward, losing ground. More were nestled into the grass in the park - gone to ground. When a man and dog walked through the park the seagulls moved to the edges, looking like a white and gray highlight strip on the green square. The dog was obviously not as scary as the wind.

Power was out in parts of town, and in some rural valleys where trees fell on the power lines. I drove home surrounded by the usual spots of light, and felt warmly greeted by my brightly lit aviary. First storm, no damage. Power on. It wasn’t even raining when I took Millie for her nightly walk.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Autumn Beauty

Some days I wish I had a wide angle lens. This double rainbow reached across the sky in a graceful arc. The breathtaking end of a blustery day.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Wind Season

Charlie, nose into the wind, watching over the lower field. The ravens have been hanging in the wind all morning, and need to be watched.

What do you do if it's very windy and you are very small? Hide in tall grass, of course. I couldn't find my flock of Seabrights or my hen turkey until I went into their field and noticed some things that weren't green.

Brave Millie

As I got out of the shower this morning two sounds grabbed my attention: the wind trying to overturn the house, and Millie's constant "something's wrong" barking. I quickly dressed and went outside. One of the kennel roof panels had fallen into Millie's kennel, and she was barking and snarling at it. She was very glad to see me.

I leashed her up and we walked around the property for awhile. She's doing much better on the leash, and is no longer acting aggressively towards the other dogs. She even initiated some friendship sniffs to Charlie. Once she'd calmed down I tied her to a post and went to work getting the roof back in place. I put in a crate in case she wanted a den for a bit more protection. When I filled up her food dish she got excited and went happily back in with me. She ran in and out of her den a few times, then settled in to eating her breakfast.

I thought she would not want to go back into the kennel, but as long as the panel wasn't directly attacking her she didn't seem to care. The scraps on the ground are the remains of her comfy pillow. I wonder how long the new one in her crate will last.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


Welcome Millie, a 2-year old Pyr from a shelter in Oregon. With her is Ilene, who was generous enough to drive to Oregon to pick Millie up, and meet me for the handoff in southern Washington. As you can see from the sunshine, this was one of the last summer days of the year.

Millie was spayed and had her dewclaws removed (!), then placed into a new family. She didn't work out there and went straight back to the shelter. We are both glad that my needs and hers coincided, and she now resides with me.

Rescue dogs are a reminder of how uneducated people are about dogs. No one taught Millie to walk on a leash, not jump up, and not mouth. She still has all her puppy behaviors - which should have been corrected when she was 3 months old. Now, at 80 lbs, it's much more difficult to teach her not to pull on a leash, and much more inconvenient when she jumps up!

Besides learning basic manners, Millie is living next to geese, turkeys and chickens, so she can learn their behaviors and hopefully figure out that these are her critters to care for. She can watch Charlie do his patrols, and the way he interacts with the animals. She can see the sheep, and get used to them. Once she's comfortable with the leash we'll walk amongst the chickens, sheep and goats, and click for good behavior.

We have a lot of work in front of us, but she's a smart, sweet girl and I'm sure it will all be worthwhile. For both of us.