Monday, July 20, 2009


As the pack leader and only human of my social circle right now, I am enjoying observing the similarities and differences between members. The members consist of three cows, whom I have observed so obliquely that they barely count as pack members; one horse, who I have spent a few hours with over the last couple days, primarily on his back; and four dogs: two chocolate Labs, an Australian shepherd, and a Hoover.

For today's walk, I intend to hike around the pasture that the cows are in—I have to go in to town for some supplies (a cowboy hat from Tri-State, "Idaho's Most Interesting Store," for one), and so I thought that an easy walk, and perhaps this evening an easy ride, would be in order. Anyway, I will presumably at least observe the cows, of whom there are three, as more than just glints of hide: Butch Cassidy (named because, as A says, he looks like he's already ready to be butchered), The Sundance Kid (who is golden), and one I can't remember the name of.

Sikem is a sweet boy, but he's very mopey. This is the first time in his life that he's ever been without other horses longer than a couple hours, and he doesn't like it. He eats disconsolately, ignores Hoover's apprehensive grrUFFing disconsolately, trots and canters, eventually, if I make him, disconsolately. The first two days he whinnied with great frenzy, for several hours. Today, he is standing silently, disconsolately, in his pasture. He is funny when we're out on rides—I take Hoover and Sadie, the shepherd, and they bound endlessly across the trails from one side to another and into the woods where they rustle and crackle about, and occasionally dislodge huge wild turkeys. Sikem insists on forgetting, the moment they're out of sight, that they were with us in the first place, and looks anxiously about him at the noises, ears pricking this way and that. He was distinctly unhappy with the giant turkey that flew—somehow—right across his face the other evening.

The dogs I get to understand the most. Tessa, a chocolate Lab about six years of age, is a new addition to the family here. She is the former dog, from Seattle, of one of K's nieces, and was banned from the city for nipping toddlers. She is a lunchmouth who evidently takes food off the counters if any is left, and bullies her way into eating Sadie's food once she's finished with her own. She likes to sit by the new front door in the evenings. The door is mostly glass, and whenever Tessa moves, she sees a dim reflection of herself, which she interprets as a threat from outside, and she goes off into a volley of loud, frantic barks.

Sadie, maybe about three, is more of an observer in the house, although after we've all gone to bed her protector instinct comes out and she barks hysterically at nothing. At 11:30pm. And then 12:30am. I finally went and got her last night, and brought her upstairs to my bedroom, to sleep with me and my dogs, and she seemed to calm down. She did try to get me up at 7:30 this morning, but I told her in no uncertain terms that any dog waking me up at 12:30am does NOT also get to wake me up at 7:30am. She went back to sleep, and we got up at 9. She and Hoover are a very good match, both for playing together, and for simple energy. I cannot believe how much they can run around on our walks, and then on our rides, and then around the yard once we're back home in the evenings. I know that I estimated the walks that I've been on at around 3 miles; I'm sure they've done at least three times that.

Hoover is in his element. He's not on his leash, so there's no threat to him. Two stranger dogs came into the yard yesterday, and he greeted them cordially. He has also discovered the joys of swimming, and surprisingly, is perfectly willing to sleep on his bed on the floor of our room, even while Spackle is on the big bed with me. I somehow managed to leave his collar in Seattle and so he could be a feral dog, but I decided to put Spackle's collar on him and let Spackle be feral instead. The second night here, after our first full day of insane racing around, Hoover had a bit of an allergic response that led me to call the emergency vet (who Spackle visited almost 8 years ago when he caught a stick in the back of his throat, jamming a big hole into his soft tissues). His eyes were red and puffy, he was snorting and wheezing, and he threw up part of his dinner (which he found on the grass and ate the next day). He was very unhappy, and I freaked out a bit. He's a rough-and-tumble dog, though, and by the time I was speaking with the vet, maybe 10 minutes after I noticed his distress, he was already rolling around on the living room floor, play-fighting with Sadie.

Spackle is also in his element. He gets to run around in nature, then swim in a pond, then towel off in a manure pile (which led to him getting a shower our second night, which seems to have led to him avoiding the manure pile since then). Yes, I'm a proud parent, but he's a remarkably smart dog, and sweet, and funny, and calm. While Tessa is barking at her reflection, Hoover and Sadie are on high alert, growling a bit, ready to bark if need be. Spackle sits on his bed and looks wonderingly at Tessa. His back legs are not as strong as he'd like, I'm sure, and he's worn out by the end of the day when we go to bed. When I invite him up on the bed, he puts his front legs up and stretches out, but can't quite find the strength to get up completely. He looks at me ingratiatingly, wagging his tail, until I scoop up his hind end and deposit it on the bed. He then walks up to the head and curls himself up on my pillow. As soon as I am done brushing my teeth and ready for bed, I push him aside.

Anyway, I am certainly not bored or lonely with all these different creatures to observe, interact with, be annoyed by, love.


joel said...

Are you sure those "cows" aren't steers? Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid sound something like steers to me. Maybe some closer observations are in order.

CMT said...

well, yes, I'm sure they are steers. However, they were a no-show today on our walk, so I can't verify . . .