Monday, March 19, 2018

On the Ropes

So sorry to bore you all. But this is a way I can keep track of my 'tiny' dog training. I can see what I try and what may work for Charlie.
He can be a rascal.
Morris always without fail followed me like a lamb when he was a pup.
Charlie tends to decide that I am not worthy of following once in a while. I think he has an excellent nose and so many things are so new to him.

I am being super patient. Our walks are very short and in areas that he can safely be loose.
He still comes almost without fail when I call him in a large open area with no distractions.
Areas that are packed with deer smell, raccoon, and other wild critters are so distracting!

Rich said he'd make me a nice cord for Charlie.

Well when we got home from visiting his mom in the nursing home, Charlie was full of energy.
I needed to water the cattle, the bulls, and other creatures. And Charlie needed the exercise.

I grabbed my old training cord and hooked it to his collar. I tied the other end to my belt loop.

Now I had both hands free and could carry some water to Stella. Charlie would just have to follow. I walked slowly and asked him to come along. He trotted along side of me and would once in a while pick up the cord with his teeth.
Just one week ago he had a fit if a cord was on his collar and he came to the end of it.
We solved that by putting him out on a tie out under close supervision often on the nice days. Just time enough for him to figure out that he was yanking on himself.

Today he never let the cord get tight on him. I bumped him with a shift of my hip and called. He came running along.

Charlie was not bothered by the cord at all and enjoyed helping me with the chores. Cords and puppies along with hoses make for interesting entanglements.

And then there is the BIG Face Off with Black Bart.

Charlie decided that the big black thing that was huffing at him was not anything that he wanted to play with. After one good look, Charlie turned away and decided to enjoy himself by...

Rolling in the hay chaff that had gathered from where I'd cut bales all winter while feeding them out. He made quite the show of it and enjoyed himself immensely.

He never missed a beat when I called his name. He never got distracted while I was doing chores. He followed like an old pro. Though I am sure that would not have been the case without the cord today.
I would have been chasing him all around.

So I can establish a new routine with Charlie and the cord. Our 'walk' with the watering and the haying took around 45 minutes. Charlie ran or trotted to keep up with me.

We look forward to many great adventures together.

Off tomorrow to see Oncology at the VA for Rich's checkup. Hoping for continued good blood work and a doctor saying... 'It looks good, see you in four months.'

First Flower

Marsh Marigold found on March 17th.

I think this is the earliest I've found them.
This is a large spring that empties into the creek and always has the first Marsh Marigolds and the first Skunk Cabbage plants poke up. It is a warm spring and has never frozen over!

Larger view from 2016 on April 17th.

I take this as the first signs of the coming spring.
Yesterday I saw bluebirds!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Hide n Go Seek?

When is the last time you played hide 'n go seek?
Well I will be 62 this year and it has been a while. When we were kids we played many versions of hide 'n go seek on my Aunt and Uncles' places. The woods were our playground in the summer.

One cousin would be it and the others would hide. One time we used the pony to ride through the woods and seek our hidden cousins.
As we were older we'd ride horses together and end up having to 'hide' from people. It was just a game.
I can recall once being with a cousin in his car and he said he had to hide from the local constable. We took dirt farm roads.

I shouldered my back pack and put on my .22 pistol which I always carry. I grabbed my camo jacket [Camo is the best color, when you get it dirty or muddy it isn't so obvious. Mud stains look natural on them.]

Dixie whined. I had taken Charlie in the morning to get hay from our farmer friend and he's spent an hour playing with the farmer's kids. He was one tuckered puppy.
Dixie came along. Big lumbering, gallumphing Dixie. She whined and ran ahead and then back to me to check on my well being.
I wanted to go to the far end of the valley in PeeWee's to see if the skunk cabbage was poking up yet.

We got to the east end of the valley and I was mildly surprised not to see any skunk cabbage poking up anywhere.
I was also slightly surprised to see all of the 4 Wheeler tracks. Thirteen years ago on Good Friday the man who owned this land died in a 4 wheeler accident. It wasn't actually a 4 wheeler but I think a 5 wheel utility type vehicle.
Anyway, aside from the influx of hunters each deer season, there hasn't been any human generated traffic other than myself for the last 13 years.

The land has grown up in berry briers, multi flora rose, and parsnip. I follow the creek and some of the old cattle trails that are now mostly deer trails.
I'd thought I'd heard 4 wheeler vehicles on the last few Saturdays, now I saw that indeed they had been driving around.
I patted Dixie on the head and told her that we had easier trails now.

We searched for Skunk Cabbage and didn't see any. In a few days I expect they will pop up. Hopefully the people with the 4 wheelers won't crush them on their next foray through.
Skunk Cabbage
We made it to the end of the valley and I paused long enough to take some shots of Awesome Creek running over the rocks.

As I started to walk up the creek with my camera in one hand, I heard the revving of engines somewhere on the ridge above me. 

I felt pretty irritated even though this is not my land [I have the owner's permission to wander wherever I want and whenever I want on this acreage...].
I felt a bit as if I'd been intruded upon. Someone had gotten permission to run their 4 wheelers here. I immediately put away my camera gear and 'tsked' to Dixie. We set off for trails where we wouldn't run into the new comers.

We crossed out of the valley and ducked onto a deer trail that led up the south hillside above the valley. From that vantage point I could see through the trees and a good portion of the valley floor.

Dixie ducked under some multi flora rose bushes. It was a thorny tunnel, I got down low and made it through. Some thorns grabbed my hat and pulled it off. We sat next to a huge old oak and relaxed while peering down the valley.
Two of the guys on 4 wheelers wore helmets. Somehow that made them seem more sinister.
I could hear their shouts as they stopped their machines in the swampy portion of the valley. They revved their engines and held them in the muck while their wheels dug holes and black sticky mud sprayed high into the sky. With shouts, they spun and made donuts and then took off to challenge the stream bed.
I heard one guy shout he'd gotten 'air' and the others followed him.

Soon they took off again, so Dixie and I headed down another trail alongside the valley towards home. I thought they'd gone up the snow mobile trail and towards the cropland.
Imagine my surprise when I heard the machines growling in front of us somewhere. Back into the brush I went, ducking thorns and briers. Dixie trotted behind me. I heard a loud shout and then the engines quit.
I stopped and sat down on a log, pulling Dixie next to me. I commanded her to sit and wrapped my arm around her. 

Just below us the guys were discussing something. Apparently one of them had broken his 4 wheeler. 'Good' I thought. And then I reminded myself that this was NOT my land.
They had a long discussion about tools, shocks, mud, trails, spare parts, damage to their machines...

I decided to move quietly up the hill to the ridge and cross over to my land. I let go of Dixie and started winding my way through the narrow trails. I have to admit it, I was enjoying myself. I felt like a kid in one of my childhood games of Hide 'n Go Seek. Where we would hunt each other as kids in my Uncle's woods. 

Dixie heard the voices below her and I don't know if she found a hot scent or what, but she started trotting down through the brush. I called her quietly, she didn't listen. I couldn't whistle or shout.
I went "tsk tsk tsk cha cha" loudly and started to pat the log next to me. I have no idea why it works, but Dixie turned around and came at her rambling trot to me.
I loved her up and we wound our way up to the wild berry patch.

I know this land like it is my yard. I've wandered on it for 22 years. I passed the patch and headed under the giant oak, through the fence and on to our land.
We made it home without incident.

I heard the 4 wheelers fire up in the valley and about an hour later I could see hear the diesel engine of the truck coming on the road above our house. I glanced up from my yard work and watched through the bare trees as the shape of a truck with 4 4 wheelers turned the corner and headed out.

Hide 'n Go Seek.
It still was a good game.

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.