20 March 2011

Cold Wet Work

On our walk today we came upon a place where the Schultz Creek poured over a deposit of stones.

A small, shallow pool formed naturally behind it.

Seeing a need, we gathered a collection of rocks.

And we made a dam with them.

It was cold, wet work beneath overcast skies.

And it required both skill and balance.

But in time, our objective was accomplished.

 A fine, newly enlarged pool.

09 March 2011

Happy Birthday, Dumb Puppy

I've paid a lot of attention to our old dog, Shadow, on the pages of this blog recently.  She's getting lumpy and gimpy, and has become a bit of a crank.  But she was our first dog.  And we love her.  So it's been fun to write about her a few times, and even get her picture published in the dog-issue of one of my favorite magazines a while back.

However, we have not one dog, but two.  Both labs. Of a kind anyway.  The old one a hairy, dark black, stockier blend of this and that sort of retriever.  And the new one, the puppy, Rubia, a yellow lab of the pedigreed variety, short-haired and sleek, full of muscle and vitality, as well an abiding and endearing love for her people.  Which is us.

We did not intend to get another dog with which to fill our already too-small home. But as with the first one, who, as a quiet and gentle 18-month-old dog arrived in our home unexpectedly, thanks mostly to someone else's divorce, the second one, too, came to us before any kind of management plan was put in place.  An alignment of stars, perhaps, drew her to us... or maybe just another new dog owner's daughter and her profound and previously undiagnosed dog-allergy.  Regardless, in short order, while we were enjoying the carefree last-days of yet another school year set to end soon, we were given the chance to adopt the cutest-dang-lab-puppy-you-ever-saw, totally free-of-charge, complete with kennel and sundry other accessories, and we did.

And as must happen to all new, inexperienced puppy owners: the halcyon days of our life as we once knew it came abruptly to an end.

Puppy's are hard.  Like babies, but because they lack diapers and binkies, messier and far chewier.   Much more than older dogs do, they require oversight.  Ample exercise.  Strict discipline.  And food.  Mounds of food.  From which they make surprisingly massive mounds of poo.  In multiple stacks.

Moreover, puppies are stupid.  They come with almost no programming.  They are blank chewing, eating, pooing, sleeping things when you get them.  And, as they slowly grow older, much of the time it seems like they're just becoming bigger chewing, eating, pooing, sleeping things.  Ours anyway.

But somewhere in their first year of life they begin to become dogs.  Gentler.  Slightly more predictable.  Somewhat cognizant of your ways and means.  More the loving, affectionate pet you were expecting, rather than the destructive, senseless thing you once thought you might actually grow to hate.

Rubia has her first birthday tomorrow.  Something a bit less a puppy and more a dog now, I can safely say: we're happy to have her.  And she's learning, though less from us than she is from Shadow.  But that's really as we intended.  Or at least as we had hoped.  It was, from the git-go, our deep desire that a few of the best things about Shadow would somehow rub off on Rubi while there was still a chance of such things occurring.  And they have.  Shadow's showed Rubi how to sleep quietly on the bed at night.  And how to wait patiently until 6PM to eat dinner.  She's showed her how to run in the woods unleashed without losing track of us.  How to settle in and nap between romps and before bedtime.  And how to bark, just once but loudly, when strangers come to the door.  But most of all, we're thrilled that Rubi has learned, through Shadow's example, how to fit so nicely into our lives... how to be our dog.

And so, I will say this, from the bottom of my heart: Happy birthday, dumb puppy.  We love you.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Ed Abbey