Friday, March 16, 2018

The Big Creek

That was the title of one of the Morris books I'd done a few years ago.

However, I felt it appropriate for our Charlie Adventure yesterday. I'd call it more like The Big Creek Plunge.

Our creek is very small, sometimes it can be ankle deep with little pools that are up to knee deep. On my neighbor's land there are some nice pools with muck for bottoms.
On my land, the creek is mostly rock.

So I asked Charlie if he was up for an adventure. I swear he is already figuring out when I am going to go for a walk or hike. I used to have to put Morris in his crate because he'd run in circles and whine like crazy when I put together my camera bag.
I negotiated the electric fences and the cattle while holding onto Charlie, when we got to the edge of the summer pasture, I set him down and headed down the trail into the woods.
I had an enthusiastic pup on my tail.

The woods are so full of wonderful distractions. I found out that Charlie has a nose for deer tracks. As we went further into the woods, Charlie took off suddenly and went exploring around a big hollow log.
Charlie is tiny and critters could live in these logs, I snatched him by the tail and pulled him out.
He didn't appreciate it, but I was able to get him to come to me after I put him back down.
I picked him up again when we got close to the bank where the drop off to the creek is rather steep.
His first look at the water was pretty neat. He was cautious and curious.
The water was tasty and he kept licking at it.

The whole world of Awesome Creek was his to behold.
He was not too impressed.

We continued on and pretty soon he was climbing rocks and roots in order to follow me. We stopped at the little rock 'steps' to sit and enjoy some warm sunlight.
I set up the camera and tripod to take a few long exposures with the ND filter. Charlie took that moment to assist by climbing onto my legs.
Oh. Be still my little boney heart.
Charlie seemed quite content to warm his feet on my pants. When he got bored, he decided to walk off and explore the ice and water.
Soon, Charlie's confidence was soaring. He began running ahead of me and climbing rocks.
I felt like a new mother watching her child do daring things on the playground. I found myself talking to him just like a mom.
"Now be careful Charlie, don't fall off that rock! Oh! Hey, watch it! Now Charlie..."
I realized that my running comments had no affect on his curiosity and that I just needed to be quiet and watch him.

Charlie ran ahead of me and hit some slushy ice/snow mix. He lost his balance and plunged headfirst into one of those knee deep pools.

I reached down and scooped him out. He sputtered with water dripping off from his face, he gave me a look and didn't make a sound. I unzipped my jacket and stuffed Mr. Wet Pup into it,  settled my backpack onto my shoulders and used my sweatshirt sleeve to wipe off his face.

Charlie nestled in and didn't ask to get down.
We learned some important things on our adventure.
Charlie is scrappy and curious, just like most pups. He quickly figured out that the warm jacket was a fine place to warm up and view the world.
If something is big and frightening, then RUN to HER! She will save you!

By the time we got home, Charlie had recovered fully from his big plunge. He entertained my husband before passing out.

Charlie survived his first adventure in the Big Creek.

All is well.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Tough as Nails

The first time I took Charlie for a little walk just a week or so ago, I had my doubts that he would ever be able to go for hikes with me.
I mean, his legs are so short! He seems so tiny and well, frankly sort of fragile in a way.

However. I learned different on yesterday's morning walk.

Here is Charlie in the Merry Meadow. The world looks rather huge doesn't it?

Charlie's view...

The meadow's grasses and weeds are a tangled mess now that it isn't pastured any more. I followed some old beaten down trails through the weeds.
I was playing hide 'n go seek with Charlie.
He'd get distracted and I'd move forward and squat down. I'd whistle for him and call and then wait.

Pretty soon I could hear his little bell and he'd come charging through the weeds, leaping and dodging. When a weed knocked him over, he'd roll and get back up and charge again.

Charlie is no wuss. His short legs are powerful. He can make some incredible jumps for his size.

He is impressive to say the least.

Charlie doesn't seem to have that Little Dog attitude. He just is.
And that is good enough for us.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Small Dog Training

I've been researching and looking for puppy socialization classes and small dog training classes. As I said before, I thought this would be good for Charlie.

Small dogs present with a bigger challenge than large dogs to train. I did okay with Morris but I think I could have done a better job.
Charlie may be smaller than Morris.

Most classes that are what I am looking for are one hour away from home. That means a fairly long drive. It appears they may be a puppy class held at a local vet's office but I haven't seen any updates on classes since 2014. Hmmm, that does not look promising either.

So I took Charlie on his first solo hike yesterday. Since he is so small, I figured the woods would present a huge problem for him. But I also figured if he felt lost he'd respond by coming to me faster than he did in the yard.

I thought it best to see if he would learn to come to my whistle and when I call his name.

Charlie's aptitude was rather surprising.

You can see that I had to hold the camera on the ground to catch a shot of him. By my boot imprint you can see just how small he really is.

I was reading that to train a small dog like Charlie, a person must get down on their level. Uh-oh! Well, I can do that. I want Charlie to always come when called, always. I want to teach him also not to jump on people. Even though he is tiny and cute, jumping on people is just poor manners.

So I let Charlie become distracted by something and then ran ahead on the trail and whistled. He saw that I'd moved away and came on the run.

However since he is part mini dachshund, he does have a nose. When something too interesting distracted him, he couldn't help himself.

Look at those raccoon tracks in comparison to Charlie's size! He was fascinated by the smells and followed the tracks.

Soon the cold wind and the icy snow was making him shiver. Well, I think that is why he was trembling.
So I decided to see if he'd travel in my sling camera bag. I'd stuck a towel in the bottom of it and had taken out the camera holder.

Apparently this was satisfactory to Charlie as long as he could see out and chew a bit on the edge of the bag.

After about 10 minutes in the bag he was ready to rock and roll again in the woods.

I figured he'd wimp out over large logs. However I was very wrong. He scrambled up onto the log and walked it like a tight rope until he decided to leap off.

His balance and dexterity are amazing for such a small creature.

When we got to the gravel road, I put him on a leash. He doesn't like being constrained. I walked with him on a loose lead and when he decided to fight it, I stopped and waited until he figured it out.
It took a lot more time, but in the end I think it will be worth it.

We also did a 'come when called' exercise on the road. I let him loose and then ran like the devil while whistling loud.
Charlie is fast! He came on the run, even while temporarily distracted by an mystical oak leaf that fluttered before him.

I kneeled on the road and praised him and pet him.

I picked him up to walk the rest of the way home with him. I figured he'd had enough of the outdoors.
No, Charlie struggled and wanted down.
He walked from the mailbox to the lower end of the driveway on his leash.

I try to keep things short for him as puppies don't have a huge attention span. But the walk in the woods was excellent exercise and training at the same time.

I see an independence streak in him which is fine. He is a bit mischievous also. But he has caught on to potty training rather quickly. Yesterday he only had one mishap. That really was my fault for not paying attention.

Adventures with Charlie. This coming year should prove to be interesting!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

And Dixie passes it on...

When Morris was a puppy he was shown 'the ropes' by Queen a black and tan hound.
This photo was taken in 2004. Queen shows puppy Morris how to play. They rough and tumble and Morris learns his first lessons by following Queen. Always, always follow Val and keep an eye on her....

Morris goes on to teach hound dog puppies for years. Thelma and Louise.


...and then Dixie in 2012

I see a pattern here...of dog butts...

Dixie had no idea that she would be part of the tradition.

Dixie's kind temperament and laid back attitude absolutely shined through today as she was patient with that tiny black and tan pup that kept leaping on her and chasing her.

But somehow I think, dogs love playtime with their own kind no matter the size.

And in the end you can become best Mud Buddies.

Two beautiful black and tan dogs.
Playing together.

I am actually thinking of introducing Charlie to a puppy class, then obedience, and then Therapy Dog Class.
His disposition is excellent for a tiny dog. I think after visiting hospital rooms this week and the nursing home, that he could do a lot of good.
Maybe he isn't a 'working' dog, but he sure is a calm little guy and he makes both my husband and I feel good just petting him.

Sorry Charlie!

I've always wanted to use that phrase on a pet. My father coined that phrase many years ago when he created Charlie The Tuna.

Charlie came into our lives on the first of March. It was not planned. On the 3rd we had Steph, Steve, and the grand kids come for the weekend. Charlie got to play with their beagle, Angel.

I mean really, is this not cute? They really did so well together. I even thought of titling this photo as "Charlie's Angel". Oh how retro TV!

Charlie explored the great outdoors. I could not resist laughing at the size of him next to Rich's truck.

Little Puppy, Big Dreams.

How on earth will Charlie ever pee on that tire???

When we got the call that my MIL had fallen and 'can't get up',  the tone of everything changed. After a stay in the hospital and several evaluations, my MIL has been taken to a nursing home for rehab and further evaluations.
It has been a very stressful week with family.

But Charlie has been the source of laughter and amusement along with distraction.

Charlie discovered snow during the little blizzard we had. He got stuck in the deep snow and figured out how to make his way around in tracks and footsteps of humans.

Yesterday was nice in the afternoon.
When we got back from the VA. Charlie spent time with me outside exploring.

His potty training has gone very well considering all of the disruptions we've had this week.
He has excelled at crate training too.

He is learning ... or teaching me some Charlie communication. One or two whirls near the rugs at either door mean poop time. Sometimes a paw on my foot with a whine means pee time or nap time.
No problem, we are figuring it out.

He has developed a ravenous appetite.

I don't have any action shots of him tearing about with his toys but he spends a lot of time running around with them.
Sometimes he gets the zoomies. When he hits the slippery kitchen floor he simply drops onto his tummy and does a four paw drift as he slides and in a wink he is up and running the length of the kitchen.

He has begun leash and 'area' training. I wish I had a lighter rope to use. I think I will have to go see if I can find something at the hardware store.

What I mean by 'area' training is letting Charlie understand that he can only go about 20 feet from me and stay in that 'area'. He needs to keep an eye on me and pay attention.
He is too young for much, but he can learn to come when called and to stay close. He is doing that fairly well except when he is in the yard pouncing on pine cones and maiming them.

During this week, Charlie has acted like a therapy dog. He makes people laugh with his antics and without thinking, Rich scoops him up and carries him while petting him.
We know how well petting an animal can sooth the soul.

We've needed some soul soothing this week.

He is little. His heart is big.

And yesterday morning when he got under foot I must have stepped on his toes. He squeaked and I said a big laugh, "Sorry Charlie!"

Monday, March 05, 2018

When things go Wonky

I am constantly perplexed at human nature.
I am a sibling who lives far from my own mother. So I can understand this quite well. In fact I will probably say that I am guilty of being 'off the hook' when decision will be made regarding my mother.
There is more too it than that of course.

This weekend after months of trying to get my mother in law to accept help and care, she had a fall in her apartment and was admitted to the hospital. I am not going into the family dynamics but I did start wondering what the heck was going on?

Quoted from Family Conflicts over Elder Care

"1. Injustice

When one sibling shoulders a disproportionate burden of Dad or Mom’s care, that sense of unfairness can foster resentment. Often, by virtue of distance, the siblings who live further away are “off the hook” when it comes to caring for an aging parent, while the nearest siblings are obliged to take on a caregiving role. When the caregiving sibling asks for help from other siblings, the other siblings often don’t fully appreciate, or choose to ignore, how much help their parent needs, and how much work one sibling is doing."
These articles have some incredible information in them. 
I guess I'm just going to leave this entry as it is and say that my mother in law is being evaluated and it is time for the family to get together and help make some decisions. As a CareGiver for my husband I understand that my mother in law needed care a while ago.
However, legally no one can force another person to seek medical attention if they refuse or help if they refuse. My last resort was going to be calling the Vernon County Aging Unit and report Adult Protective Services to intervene where I was not allowed. My mother in law had denied she needed assistance or even medical care.
After the fall, we now as a family are forced to figure out how to approach the conversation that no one has really wanted to have.
Life is interesting.
More fun stuff after we get through this next phase.

Friday, March 02, 2018

What Good IS He?

I walked into my tax preparer's office and sat down in the waiting room.

I knew I'd have a wait, but I also knew that if I didn't get this job done, I'd put it off.
I'd put in an application to look at a 2 yr old dog and a 10 week old dog on an adoption site. I figured to get myself 'approved' and then look around.

The phones were ringing and the accountant's daughter was trying to answer phones and keep her 3 year old daughter busy. I called Ginger over and asked her to show me what she was playing with. We talked quietly, she showed me her DVD's and told me who was in the videos.

Then she said something about puppies and I inquired with her mom when it was my turn to hand in my paperwork. The little girl scooped up a puppy and handed it to me. It was tiny! So little! And it looked like Dixie!

Mini Dachshund and Pekingese? Well. Not a terrier, not a robust large dog, but...
The little male pushed his nose into the space under my chin. Oh no. I was in trouble.
I had thought about this before. For me, trying to repeat a pet that has died and then always trying to compare the new dog to the old was sort of a mistake.

This guy would be a whole new experience.
"I'll take him."

I dropped off my taxes and then went to pick some things up. I wondered if I'd just had made an awful mistake. What on earth was Rich going to say?

When I picked up the pup, I announced his name. Charlie. Charlie The Tuna. Now those who may have followed me from a gazillion years ago would know that my father created Charlie The Tuna. He'd also worked on the Morris the Cat campaign.
Now you know where these odd names come from.

Charlie rode home with me.
I walked up to the porch and saw Rich through the window.
He didn't see Charlie until I set him on the floor in front of him.

A look of displeasure crossed his face. He frowned, he said. "I thought we were going to wait. And...what is this?"
"This is Charlie. Charlie The Tuna, but you can call him Charlie. He is mini doxxie and Pekingese."

"What is he good for?"
"You'll see."
In fact, I was pretty sure he'd soon see.
"What is he?"
I told him again.
"Good for?"

I started to set up dishes and food.
"He is black and tan colored," I offered.
I put Charlie in his arms.
Charlie snuggled in.
Rich smiled.
That was what Charlie was good for.

Soon after Rich was telling me how to set up Charlie's dishes and food. He and  Charlie supervised my work.
Rich laughed.

We had to give Charlie his first 'crate session'. He barked while we did chores. I was feeding the bulls when Rich called up to me.
"I'm going in. Charlie is setting up a fuss!"

Charlie was being let out of his crate by the time I got to the door. They supervised my cooking.
We took a break for some play time. The Lime Green Grunting Hedgehog was a hit as well as the tennis ball chasing. They were huge though compared to him.

We decided to sit and watch a program on the couch. Rich arranged the red blanket so it was next to him. He reached down and picked up Charlie.

This morning Rich is having his coffee with Charlie in his arms.

What Good is He?
Oh, you tell me.

I think you have it figured out.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

The Talk

Him: You don't want a pup during this weather you need to wait until spring.
Me: Spring is here. Look at the mud and the weather.
Him: Um. Yeah. Okay. I miss him too.

Me: Too soon?
Him: Big Shrug

I show him some dogs that are up for adoption. He smiles. He knows I can't do without a canine underfoot.

For those who want to tell me that Dixie should come in. Let us recall the size of my cottage and the size of Dixie. Dixie has been an outside dog since she was 4 months old. Let it be my decision.
I've had outside dogs for 20+ years. I've never been without an inside dog. My dog life began the summer we brought home a puppy. I could be wrong, but I think it was about 1967? We added a second dog soon after that.
I think the math puts me as a long time dog owner for what? 51 years?

Maybe I should wait. Maybe I shouldn't. I still listen for that pitter patter on the floor.
I still ache to put my hand down and find a cold wet nose.

I still ache to cuss out Morris for getting me up at 4am to go potty and then insist on eating his breakfast. It was irritating, but it was comforting too.

Me: How about this one?
Him: What is it?
Me: A mixed up dog. Young. 10 weeks?
Him: Well.
Me: Look at that ...
Him: Hmmm, looks like this litter had more than one daddy. [they can you know]

A bit later.
Me: Hey, look at this.
Him: What on earth?
Me: Daschund, beagle, and lab or something?
Him: Odd.
Me: Housebroke.
Him: Ugly, kind of.
Me: Yep. That is cool.

I do some research, this 'ugly' dog is being fostered somewhere near by. I fill out the on line application so I can be background checked. The only thing they don't ask of me is to give over my first born son.
I inquire if I can visit the dog. I'd like to meet him. Perhaps it is not a good fit. But at least I would be satisfying curiosity.

I find another two dogs. Housebroke, spade, neutered, up to date on all the...yadda yadda...
Medium sized. Hmmm. Smaller than Dixie. Energetic like Dixie. I put a note to self to email the place to see if I can drive up there. 

We go to bed and lay there talking. His mother and her situation is on our minds. Geographically I am the closest person to help her. Rich can't. But at the same time, I have him to take care of.
This winter has been extremely hard on his well being. He is becoming a bit frail. The COPD, throat cancer, and stroke are not kind to him.
He doesn't want me trying to be his caregiver and his mom's caregiver. Not out of selfishness but out of kindness. He knows how hard it is for me when he has 'episodes'.

He also understands the importance of me being able to hike and exercise for my mental and physical health.
I need to take care of the farm too. The animals need tending.

Which reminds me....looks like a good week for fence mending, fixing, and brush piling.

I may take that drive to look and see.
I may look at the 'ugly' dog.

And I may decide to wait.
Only my heart can decide.