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Farm Fresh Blog
Saturday, 23 February 2013
Aja (pronounced like "Rajah") is a 4 year old sable German Shepherd. She is Other Half's 5th patrol dog in his 34 year career. Just watching her play in the yard reminds me how much I do love a German Shepherd.
Friday, 22 February 2013
Well, Other Half returned home with his new patrol dog yesterday. Since I was already at work, I met him in The Big City so I could meet Aja before I came home.
Rule #1 When You Live With A Police Dog - Make sure the dog knows YOU!
It is probably not a good idea to walk into a dark bedroom in the middle of the night with a dog that bites if that dog does not know you. Even if the dog is in a kennel, it's a bad way to meet said dog.
So I met them and played with her before he took her on home. She is an AWESOME dog. Very personable. Very friendly. Very high drive. Girlfriend will stand on her head for tennis ball. So satisfied that the dog knew me, I went back to work, and he went on home.
Here is his report on his arrival at home:
Briar wanted to kill her. No surprise there. Aja is a Predator Deluxe.
Ranger and Cowboy think she is the sexiest thing they've ever seen.
In fact, Ranger is her new best friend. He is the only dog she has been loose with thus far. They met in the yard. She ran straight at him with her hackles up. He froze. She landed in front of him with a play bow and he dropped into a bow himself, and round and round the yard they went. From that moment they were friends.
Dillon is still in shock. He was aggressive at first but now he's re-thinking his initial impression. We still won't put them together.
Oli likes her just fine. They have no reason to be friends, but at least they're not trying to eat each other. Oli is not jealous in the least bit. She is happy to be a house pet.
Since even on a good day, Trace is a troll. We haven't let him meet her yet.
Ice doesn't care one way or the other. She lives in her own little world and just wants the other dogs to stay out of her way.
But the most amusing reaction came from Lily . . .
. . . Other Half reported that Lily took one look at this new member of the family, silently turned her back on them and walked away. She refused to even be curious.
"You brought home ANOTHER dog?!! Really?!! ANOTHER dog! Are you freakin' kiddin' me? Alright Mister. You need to understand that I have seniority around here. Me!!! This better not affect my pay or benefits not one bit, Mister!"
Thursday, 21 February 2013
Other Half is on his way home with his new patrol dog, Aja.
Early reports are that she was quite enthusiastic about being sprung out of "doggy jail" (vet clinic kennel) and is tickled pink in her new role as Other Half's new partner. He has introduced her to such novelties as Cracker Barrel cuisine (a new favorite!) and hotel room beds. (another new favorite.) Aja reports that clearly Life has been holding back on her. Other Half is now her new Best Friend.
Meantime, on the home front, Oli is settling into her new role as a couch potato house dog. Oli LIKES being a retired dog! She reports that retirement was "under-rated" and everyone should try it.
Since she is adapting so well to retirement I don't expect any complainants from her when Other Half comes home with this new patrol dog. Oli has announced that she is now "Mommy's dog," and has moved into the house full time.
Aja is due home this afternoon, just about the time thunderstorms will be sweeping through the area. Joy. Joy. Thrill. Thrill. We will be trying to integrate 9 dogs while dealing with the weather. Trust me, Ringling Brothers has nothing on this family . . .
Tuesday, 19 February 2013
Each morning after I feed the livestock, I take Briar for a walk so she
Note: Early morning=shavings still stuck in her fur.
It's a peaceful time for reflection . . .
. . . and rolling in horse poop.
I like the above shot because you can actually see the horse cookies shoved into the air by her antics. But I notice something else too.
"Hey Briar, you need your toenails clipped!"
"Ewe keN rEeLLy sUk tha LIfe rIte owtta a WaLk, mOm!"
Wednesday, 13 February 2013
I put dishes away this afternoon and found a tennis ball on the kitchen counter beside the clean dishes. I don't play tennis. It was a dog ball. On the kitchen counter. Beside the clean dishes. (groan)
Also on the counter was an electronic dog collar. It was charging. Right beside the cell phone. And the loaf of bread. And the stack of canned dog food I had to buy because Ice has lost most of her teeth now and can't eat dry dog food.
Last night I went to bed and found a tennis ball underneath the covers. Then I found another one. The walls in this house are supposed to be white. The odd thing though is that about 21" from the floor, there is a muddy scum line in the hallway where muddy dogs rub against a white wall. This can be scrubbed off, but it magically appears again. I ask myself, "Do other people live this way??!!"
The white tile in the foyer is dappled with muddy pawprints and don't even get me started on the carpet. Around here, dog crates serve as pieces of furniture. Ikea should really look into that concept. It's a marketing idea whose time has come.
As if this is not proof enough that we live in a dog house, I give you more. Other Half and I have a Queen size bed. That bed must accomodate us, a Border Collie, a Labrador, and sometimes a Blue Heeler.
Except for the Livestock Guardian Dog, no one is a 100% "outside" dog because we believe they all need social time as part of a family. This means breaking everyone into "sub-packs" according to personality and juggling those packs. The packs vary according to weather and what job is currently required, but the 'dog house shuffle' goes something like this:
Trace picks on Dillon so they can't be alone together. Lily picks on Oli and Briar so she can't be alone with either of those dogs or she'll get her tiny arse whipped. Cowboy picks fights with Ranger, even through a fence, so they cannot be loose with each other or across a fence from each other. Cowboy and Ranger pick on Trace but don't fight, so they can be in the yard with him, but not in a dog run where he can't get away from them. Briar would eat Oli because a good LGD knows a predator when she sees one, and so if Briar is loose in the yard, Oli cannot be. And the list goes on . . .
I tell you all this because despite the fact that we live in a DOG HOUSE, we are getting another dog. (crickets chirping)
Yes. (that was pretty much my thought too, except the crickets were hopping in and out of my opened mouth)
Other Half's newest police K9 partner, Oli, has just been medically retired.
The long and short of it is that she has a knee problem. There is little point in pinpointing the exact problem because she is not a good candidate for any kind of surgery or anything that involves crate rest. As far as the agency is concerned, it is not cost-effective to spend a lot of money to diagnose the problem, then fix the problem, only to have her re-injure it doing bite work. Their money is better spent in buying Other Half another dog. Yeah. . . you see where this is going.
Don't get me wrong, I do want him to have another dog because his work is dangerous and he needs a K9 partner. I just feel better knowing that a dog is watching his back, but that means we will then have NINE DOGS! (9!!! 1 more than 8!)
And it will most likely be a male dog. Oh goody. Here are some possible candidates:
Handsome boys. I am praying that this new dog is laid back like Zena, his last patrol dog. She was the epitomy of the perfect dog and I still miss her.
It hurt to give her up, but she is this dear old lady's sunshine, and Zena deserved to be that for someone.
So what will happen to Oli? Well, don't panic, she's in no danger. She now belongs to us, but we're still looking into re-homing her because at our home, she is simply one dog among nine and like Zena, she deserves to have a home where she can be someone's "special" dog.
On the other hand, unlike Zena, Oli is also a very active Belgian Malinois as well as a former police dog. Homes who are qualified to handle that are few and far between. Thus, if we cannot find a suitable forever home for Oli, she will assume the new job as Dillon's Best Friend.
Since her retirement, we are more concerned with her mental health than her physical health. If we confine her to rest the knee, she will simply spin off her excess energy, thus causing her to limp. If we leave her loose in the house with Dillon she richochets off furniture, plays tug of war, drags him across the room, is dragged by him across the room, and generally has a romping good time. And guess what. It doesn't bother her leg. They exercise each other, and she's happier than I've ever known her.
And so for now, she will be Dillon's full time buddy, and as her limp improves, I guess I'll start jogging with her. She would actually be a perfect jogging companion for jogging through the ghetto, but then again, I don't live in the ghetto, and I don't really jog, (and when I do, I take my Border Collie,) so Oli's more likely to get exercised by bouncing off the furniture with the Labrador. But if I ever find myself jogging in the shady parts of The Big City, Oli is my go-to partner!
So stay tuned. Yes, I definitely live in a Children's Book.
"Old dog. New dog.
Red dog. Blue dog."
Sunday, 10 February 2013
Now I ask you, would you walk past this sign?
Would you read this sign, look in the yard and see a police K9 truck, and STILL open the gate to walk into a GATED COMPOUND?
I'm just askin'.
It happened like this:
I'm getting ready for work. In the shower. Nekkid. I point this out merely so you can understand my predicament. Other Half is in bed. Asleep. Deep sleep. Now I'm happily scrubbing up with my goat milk soap when I hear the sound of blue heeler peeling out of the bathroom so fast that he broke the sound barrier. Stick my head around shower curtain. See nothing. Hmmmm.... go back to shower. Then hear all hell breaking loose at the front door. Peek around shower curtain. See nothing. Darn. Tip toe nekkid to bathroom door. See power company truck at front gate. Double darn.
Do mental headcount:
Briar - in yard
I count them on my fingers to make sure I haven't forgotten anyone. (when you have 8 dogs you have to do that!)
Definitely sounds like five dogs raging at the front door. Hear echo of two dogs in kennels raging. They almost drown out the knock at the door.
Yes! You read that right. A KNOCK AT THE DOOR!
I am standing in my hallway, naked as a jaybird, still wet, with five dogs raging at the front door, and someone at the door. (note: husband has not even rolled over in bed)
Tiptoe back to bedroom and wake up husband. Inform him that someone is AT THE DOOR! Someone has ignored BEWARE OF DOG/CAUTION POLICE WORK DOG signs and walked right through the gate. Other Half jumps out of bed to get door. He lacks social skills on a good day, but I am less than concerned about him hurting anyone's feelings at the moment.
After all, it takes a special kind of person to ignore those signs.
I hear him snarling at dogs. I hear him walk outside. Then I hear muffled talking, but no shouting. Still, I get dressed quickly and head out there myself.
By some miracle they are talking civily. I listen as the man explains that he "reads dogs really well" and wasn't worried about being bitten. I assure him that when a blue heeler is attached to his leg or a malinois is attached to his a@# he might re-think his actions. He is clearly unconcerned. He tells me that EVERYONE has these signs and he walks past them all the time with no problem.
I then ask, "Everyone has a BEWARE! POLICE SERVICE DOG sign?"
He allows as how not everyone has that particular sign.
"With a POLICE truck in the yard?"
He allows as how he saw that too, and no, not everyone has those either.
Other Half and I are clearly dumbfounded. The man is nice enough, but we cannot get him to understand that it was pure dumb luck that out of eight dogs, (four of those that would probably bite), he happened to walk through the gate when only the most friendly dog was loose. He is still confident that he wouldn't be bitten. Even by the unfriendly dogs.
Even by Blue Heeler The Space Cadet that we have to drag across Texas on every vacation because he's such a freakin' psycho that no one else wants to take care of him.
I emphasize to him that for the safety of THE DOGS he must respect these signs. I explain that the DOGS are the ones who get into trouble when someone ignores all warnings and walks through closed and chained gates, and gets bitten by a dog. Society and insurance companies blame the dog and the homeowner.
He still doesn't get it. He has a job to do. He needs to get in the yard.
I point out that our phone numbers are in his database. He agrees that they are but he didn't call them.
Did he honk the horn?
No, the dog seemed friendly.
I ask myself how many police dogs look like Briar.
After much discussion, we still couldn't convince him that for his safety and the safety of our dogs, and every other dog he encounters, he needs to stay out of the freakin' yard! (And call the phone number provided) Will he do it again? Yes. Yes, I'm sure he will.
(I bang my head in frustration!)
However do we protect ourselves and our dogs from these people?!!
Thursday, 07 February 2013
I like to take pictures. Lots of pictures! Years from now I will be able to look back at my digital library and say "This was my life!"
Now I'm not claiming to be that good at it, but it doesn't stop me from taking bunches of them. People ask me all the time what kind of camera I use. Both at home and at work I shoot with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT. It's not a fancy camera, but it's sturdy and dependable. It can handle a lot of abuse and cow poop.
I don't have any fancy camera skills, I just shoot a lot of pictures. Out of several hundred shots, I usually find a few that are keepers. And lots of times even the ones that aren't perfect capture something that I want to preserve. I'm less about perfection than personality. I want to capture the personality of my subject. For instance, take Trace:
These pictures aren't all that great, but they make me smile because they capture the essence of who he is.
Not perfect, but I liked the colors, so I'll keep it.
Now let's move on to my next secret to getting good pics.
This is a good piece of equipment to have in your camera bag.
No, not just a horse, a horse that allows you to use him as a tripod.
I wonder if I could use him at work. He could carry all my camera equipment. Do you think they make booties in his size?
Tuesday, 05 February 2013
Yesterday we had to move cows again. Since I didn't get to ride my horse on Sunday, I really wanted to use the horses to move cows, thus killing two birds with one stone. So I load up two horses in one trailer and Other Half loads up one Border Collie in the cattle trailer and down the road we go.
We end up short one rider, and thus have to table the cowpony idea. But although we are short a rider, we are not short a cowhand.
The plan is to back the trailer up to the gate. Build a small working pen out of cattle panels. Lure or push cattle into the pen (with horses or dog or cattle cubes) Close pen shut. Push cattle from pen into trailer. Slam trailer doors. Roll off down the highway.
Fortunately the cows come up. In fact, the dog has to chase them back while we build the pen. The thing about a cow is if you tell her that she ISN'T allowed in an area, just as soon as she can, she will ENTER that area. Thus, once the pen was built, we simply back off, toss some cubes down, and let cow nature take over.
Once the gate is closed, that's when the dog's job is so important. The cattle soon understand they have been duped and will begin to push on the panels to escape. The dog MUST convince the cattle that it is a BAD idea to push against the fencing.
Cowboy knows his job.
From time to time, Cowboy attempts this horribly dangerous move whereby he slides under the panel and into the crowded pen with cattle that WOULD cheerfully kick or crush him to death.
I do not encourage this behavior. I happen to be snapping pictures outside the panels when Cowboy slips under the bars, and nails a cow. What comes next is straight out of the movie The Matrix. A foot snakes out in response, and Cowboy arches in the air in a pure Matrix-like ninja move. Then he lands on his butt. Sadly the camera does not capture the Matrix bend. Bummer.
Before the cows can turn on him, he slips out of the pen like a wisp of smoke.
Leaving an enraged Paisley
The cows are now convinced that Ninja Dog will get them if they get too close to the panels. Their only option is to climb in the trailer. Which they do with enough encouragement. Ninja Dog follows the closing door just to make sure.
Another job well done, Cowboy!
Dude! You've got cow poop on your face. . .
PS: Peter, thank you for your sweet comments. I tried to send a private reply but you didn't include your email address.
Friday, 01 February 2013
As we have already established, I have a drinking problem. Frappuccinos. Starbucks Frappuccinos in little glass bottles. They are sinful. They are addictive. They are expensive. They are 180 calories!
I decided on Sunday night that I would quit. Monday afternoon Other Half brought home a 4-pack. I'm not sure if it was for me or him. It didn't matter. I'm weak. I drank them.
One day I'm gonna whip this caffeine addiction. Just not today. And tomorrow isn't looking too good either.
Other Half is back at work now. He is currently working day shift. His patrol dog is not. He drops her off at vet's office yesterday because she is limping. Off to work alone he goes. He calls me to go pick her up for him.
I do. She has a bum left knee that looks to be career ending. Great. Just great. I call Other Half to inform him that I have picked up his dog. He informs me that Son's truck has just been stolen. And the day just got darker . . .
But like a Ginsu commercial, I hear "But WAIT! There's more! All his police equipment was inside the truck!"
OMG! Ohmygosh! Son has just joined the police department and picked up his gear. He and his sister then stopped in The Big City to buy more gear he would need in the Police Academy and his truck was stolen. Great. Just freakin' great.
Chew on that all day. Thanks to fantastic work by night shift officers the truck is recovered around midnight. Other Half and Son get it and Other Half returns home at 3:30 am. Gear is still inside. Oh Happy Day!
This morning Other Half goes to pay vet bill and confirms that this is indeed a career-ending injury for Patrol Dog. The agency will be getting him a new dog in May. Probably. Maybe. We'll see. And the looming question: What do we do with Oli? We have 8 dogs! Now 9!!!! Nine!
Get ready to start my morning chores. Phone rings. Wonder of wonders. Paisley the Problem Cow is out again. This is the cherry on the sundae of my day. Paisley is a supposed to be a red angus but I think she is really a goat that merely looks like a cow. Am beginning to hate that cow.
Must now abandon plans for the morning, pack up Border Collies and drive to property to round up stupid cow. Call Other Half to scream at him about Paisley. Load up dogs. Load up a sack of cubes. Drive through gate.
Get out and lock gate. Drive down road. Pass police car on highway. Note car turn around in rear view mirror. Call Other Half to cuss him out because I am about to be stopped for speeding . . . because of his stupid cow. (Woman Logic 101)
Yes indeeed, am being stopped by police. Grrrr... Why aren't they out catching REAL criminals. (evil grin) Give husband my location in case I'm arrested and he has to come rescue dogs. (just kidding) Get off phone. Step out of truck. Note officer is tiny female. Makes me feel old and fat. I looked like that at the beginning of my career too.
She introduces herself. I have been stopped for going 40 mph in a 30 mph. I happen to note that she sees that I am wearing an FBI Academy sweatshirt. I inform her that there is a gun in the car but I am a police officer. Then I yell at Border Collies to shut up. Deputy introduces herself. She must be a rookie. She shakes my hand and takes my word that I am a cop. She then asks for driver license. I am happy to retrieve this item and open truck to reach into bag and get it. To my horror I realize that I only have one Border Collie in the truck. (Cue Psycho soundtrack music here)
At this point, I completely forget that I am on a traffic stop and thus being detained by the po-lice. I have bigger problems. I have LOST a dog! I jump on running board and begin to climb into vehicle in search of a dog that isn't inside. Rookie Deputy is intrigued but does not stop me. I explain that I have a loose cow and am racing to get said cow back and SOMEHOW have managed to lose an adult Border Collie! Clearly this was not covered in the police academy but she figures that I am not a real criminal and thus not worth more of her time. She gives me back my license and bids me farewell. And is probably off in search of less psychotic people to stop.
Now I must now drive back home and find Cowboy.
Decide that he either hopped out of truck when I was loading cattle cubes or he hopped out when I closed the main gate. Speed home. No, I didn't learn the first time. Bounce into driveway to find that Cowboy is in the yard, fence-fighting with Ranger. (They both have disfigured noses because of this behavior, thus we try to keep them apart.) Thankfully neither dog is mangled. Grab Cowboy and throw him back in truck. Speed back toward Stupid Cow. (Yes I know, but I looked for the deputy this time!)
Am about to arrive when I get another call from neighbor. They got Stupid Paisley back inside. This news clearly disappoints both Border Collies. Their help is not needed. Now we must fix the fence. I cuss Other Half one more time as I will be late for work AGAIN because I must help neighbor fix fence. It is not his responsibility but he is big-hearted and so we roll up our sleeves and do it together. Cowboy sneaks off and bites Paisley. I snicker. It is the high point of my day.
Finish fence. Race back home. I have only thirty minutes to do chores and take a shower. (not gonna happen) Walk in house to find that Labrador has busted out of bedroom and spread trash all over the kitchen floor. Kick trash in disgust and leave it, just LEAVE IT for Other Half to deal with when he gets home. (YES, I DID!) Get in shower. Put on uniform. Feed dogs. Note that we have no more dog food. Alrightie then. Call Other Half to inform him that he must get dog food on his way home and finish chores when he returns. He argues that feed store will be closed and thus he cannot buy food. (Implied: "Since you're already late, you might as well stop by feed store and buy dog food.")
That was NOT going to happen. I don't care if dogs are eating frozen hamburger patties and breakfast sausage for supper. I'm going to work and what they eat tonight is his problem.
Look at gas gauge. Empty. Figures. Text the office to advise them that I will be late AGAIN.
This surprises no one.
And you wonder why I'm addicted to caffiene.