Gandy’s Workshop

A dog's work is never done: Gandy's Workshop
A dog’s work is never done: Gandy’s Workshop

Dogs are pack animals, and they follow the lead of the alpha male.

But some dogs are more inclined to lead than to follow, and it takes them many repetitions before the stupid alpha figures out what he’s being told to do.

In this case, our pound pup, Gandy, clearly sees how quickly our wood stack is dwindling. The woodstove, flickering and comforting, is a big part of her winter pleasure. Her prompts to get me off my ergonomic office chair are entirely self-serving. It is all about her.

She sees how worthless I have been this fall, not having my usual “beginners pile” of small dry wood that will usually get us to Christmas when the real bulk of covered and stacked wood becomes our winter fuel.

And so Gandy has taken it on herself to instruct me, every trip down the New Road and back. I make the trip empty-handed, save for my camera. She, on the other hand, never makes a useless trip back.

She will find a length of wood somewhere along the old logging road, and seems to like 4 to 5 foot lengths best. She has learned, through trial and error, how to find the balance-point near the middle.

Then held deftly at that point, she not so much walks as prances back to the house–a haughty, prideful canter. I am going to try to capture her Wood Walk on the iPhone‘s SloMo setting, and set it to music befitting such conquest and ceremony.

Back home (a good quarter mile carry) she deposits her find in her Workshop. I have my wood stacks, she has her workshop. And it has grown a good bit since this shot was taken a couple of weeks ago.

I haven’t the heart to ask for order here, since she confines her collection to just this one triangle of sod just off the back porch–placed, I am certain, so that I feel a certain guilt every time I walk past the window, with another hot cup of coffee in my lazy hands.

And if it makes her feel any less disgust at my sloth and lassitude, I do have a truck bed full of ice-storm deadfall from last January’s storm that I fetched from up the road a couple of days ago. I will make sure that she sees me carrying my part of the load so that, at least temporarily, I will have one less disgusted female ready to put me out .

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Gandy Gone Gimpy

IMG_1409tarynGandy480She simply walked up to the dinner table Tuesday night and stood there at my feet, waiting, as if to say “Why doesn’t this work anymore?”

After a full, normal, active (if not hyperactive) day around the domain, she should have been standing there for a pat on the head. Instead, she showed us her right back leg was injured. No whining, no fretting, just a statement of fact: she couldn’t stand on all four legs. That was the first time we were aware she had been injured; we still don’t know exactly when or how.

To make a long and ongoing story short, the best we can hope for is a very expensive report to tell us there are no orthopedic interventions required, but only keep her confined for a week or two (the horror!) and it will probably self-correct. After all, she was able to walk on it during the day yesterday, just not load it by running or jumping. Maybe it’s just a hip muscle bruise. Maybe…

She’s only two, and not overweight, so the kinds of hip issues seen in larger, older dogs seems less likely. The more probable outcome from my observations, when the vet examines her first thing this morning, is a knee injury. A torn ACL maybe.

So the wee hours were filled with scenarios of how human affairs will be reordered over the next day, days, nights and weeks. If next week’s demands were not such as they are, I’d have elected to give this a few days to see if she recovered on her own. We need more immediate and definitive answers, and there’s a weekend looming. So we left her last night and she’ll be first on the docket this morning before the day’s scheduled vet surgeries begin.

The way she flies up and down these hillsides with reckless abandon has been a vicarious joy for two old souls who do well to walk the level path. My greatest angst is the thought that she may have run her last victory lap around the pasture for a long, long time.

It’s a sad and deflating situation, as that dog’s impediments diminish her two human admirers more than they care to admit. She has been our representative of tireless, boundless victories over gravity. When she runs, we get belly rushes. You know what I mean? Will she be, from now on, leashed forever? We would feel her chains.

Image “art” by MySketch iPhone app from a photo by the blogger.

Kennel Cough

IMG_1078gandyHarness480…and sneeze and gag and wheeze. (No cough, actually, but this is as close as I can come to a name for this situation.)

Whatever it is, the dog had it when we picked her up from the vet’s office Saturday. I fault them for not mentioning–maybe not even noticing, especially since my guess is that Gandy is not the only dog in the facility with an infection coming out that they did not have going in.

Granted, one risks a “day care” infection, and the vaccines for the offending organisms are not inclusive of all potential pathogens. This does not make you any happier to bring little Johnnie home with the snots that he didn’t have before. At least these dog respiratory illnesses are not transmissible to people. They say.

The dog spent a restless night (with all that that implies for her helpless human companions) and around midnight, was struggling to breathe so I thought we might have an emergent situation on our hands. Shades of Tsuga’s rush to the vet ER and that tragic ending.

So be sure I will be speaking to the vet as soon as the place opens to ascertain what this condition is, how my dog came to acquire it, and what can be done to fix it this time and do a better job of prevention–and at least surveillance of animals on hand at the time of an outbreak.

I rather imagine this will change whatever plans we had made for our day.

Considering what we pay per night of boarding, I had hoped for better than this. I guess it is not noticing or not mentioning the very obvious condition  before we brought the dog home that bothers me most.

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The Bear Went Over the Mountain

Raspberries & Wild Hydrangea

But first, Gandy had a play date with the cute little bear cub.

It was the scenario we dreaded for 15 summers, prepared for–once upon a time–but figured would never really happen in real life as we know it.

So no whistle. No walkie-talkie. No bear spray. No Ruger .44 short-barrel brush rifle. Just a skinny she-dog and her skinny human side dish.

Ann and dog are as far back in the valley as you can get on our land in the rugged parts of northeast Floyd County, and a momma bear and cub cross their path. It’s summer, after all, and the berries are getting ripe. Dog gives chase.

Heck, why not? These are, after all, only animated versions of the twenty-five-cent stuffed toys from Angels in the Attic, right? You can get to the white fluffy stuffing in five minutes or less. Let’s do it!

After all, the little one is about the size of her creek play buddy, the 130 pound golden retriever, Jesse. So Gandy, unfettered by fear or the sting of experience, leapt at the larger bear’s bare bear butt. Wife was terrified and vocal about it.

So the dog, sensing the alarm, came down the side of the hillside and broke off the chase.

But the mother bear, having deposited little Teddy a safe distance away, turns and heads down the steep hillside in pursuit of the pitiful little rodent that had the nerve to threaten her baby.

Our drill paid off: In the flash of terror with an approaching bear, Ann flailed her arms and shrieked and hooted and was generally so obnoxious that the bear decided she’d rather be back up on the top of the ridge where things are quieter and free of rodent-dogs.

Did the episode likely make the clueless caninc think twice before doing such a fool thing again?

What do you think?

IMAGE: Black Raspberries ripen along Goose Creek below the barn, wild hydrangea included in this natural floral arrangement. These bushes, by the way, are somewhere between home and the Atlantic now. But that is part of a developing story. More soon.

Butter Flies

Our dogs, like us, enjoy the coming of spring, marked by the arrival of the swallowtails. Gandy thinks the first part of the butterfly name implies an imperative verb. Tsuga believed them to have magical properties.  

Tsuga–who would have celebrated his 10th birthday in about a month–was not interested at all in the Tiger Swallowtails on a cloudy day. One could fly just in front of his face, and he yawned. But on a sunny day, the chase was on. Except it was not the butterfly but its shadow he followed. And where he lost the trail, he dug, just knowing that the shadow had burrowed underground. Our lawn was channeled this time of year with dug-out butterfly bunkers. 

Gandy, as I said, thinks swallow means grab a mouthful of them. And with the puddling behavior that aggregates a dozen or more butterflies at a single seemingly-unremarkable spot on the driveway or road bed, coming away with a mouthful is not that hard for her. (Still, I have to think she is disappointed that they don’t taste like their namesake.)

And so she’d leapt at a gaggle of swallowtails heading away from us, and then proceeded down into the creek bed. As she started up the other side, she lifted her head, and opened her mouth. And one at a time, yellow swallowed-tails fluttered to freedom in a celebratory fashion, the dog oblivious. All in a country dog’s late spring day’s work.