Chickens and Dogs, Oh My

First of all, I’d like to sincerely thank all of you who have said such kind and supportive things to Mandi after yesterday’s post about Sweetie. I know she feels the love from all of you. And I mean ALL of you. Her post and the one about Brody getting hurt are the two most-read posts since I started this blog. Close behind came dead chickens. Hmm. I sense a theme.

I feel lots better when sitting on Daddy. Harvey is being good, though.

So, here you go, something on both injured dogs AND dead chickens. Something for everybody, huh?

I guess you can tell from my tone that this isn’t all that horrible. Like Mandi said yesterday, when you live out in the country, you see life and death every day. I think it gets you a better perspective; we all are going to go sometime, for some reason, so let’s appreciate what we have now. Platitudes, maybe, but true.

Chickens can be funny

We did have another chicken loss this week. It was really hot, then really cold, and I guess if a chicken had to die of natural causes, the cold time is probably better. Poor little Ameracauna was just sitting on her nest. Sara thinks she was eggbound or had some other issue. At least nothing ate her, and it was peaceful. Poor dear.

For only having nine hens now, we are still getting lots of colors. And the pinkish one in the middle is HUGE.

I mentioned that the egg production had ramped up, but it had settled to four a day, which isn’t many for the number of chickens we had. As we were dealing with the dead chicken, Tyler, who lives in the cabin by the coop, came out. I said feel free to take a few eggs now, since we have enough for at least our community. He said, “Oh, I’ve been finding them in a weird place lately…oh my gosh!” He had turned to the shelves outside his door and found SEVEN eggs from a brown hen on the top shelf. Someone found a nice, warm roost. So, yesterday, everybody got some eggs!

Continue reading “Chickens and Dogs, Oh My”

Guest Post: More Dog Sadness

by Mandi Shuffield

Country life is a special and different kind of life. It is even more important out in the country to form bonds with neighbors and their animals, in case an emergency ever happens. Country life does have some rules that are sometimes very heartbreaking for the families that have to abide by them. My family is one of those families.

Sleepy Maggie

I am, by all accounts, an animal lover. All of them. Even skunks. I believe they all have their own beauty to share. The most special animals in my life are my dogs. We operate by pack law, and it serves us well. We have a big collie named Sarge, a “hefty” husky/collie named Wink, a little furry Pomeranian/Yorkie named Sully, and a tiny piebald dachshund/Chihuahua named Maggie. We adopted a beautiful new dog that was a dalmatian mix named Sweetie. 

Fuzzy Sully

The four other dogs get along rather harmoniously. They don’t fight or get physical with each other. They will growl over who gets to sleep on which blanket, but they are called off easily. Sarge and Wink are a protective team. They have been taught to work together to neutralize a threat by command, or by recognition. Sully was bottle raised from 3 days old by me after his mother became sick and passed unexpectedly. Maggie came to me from a cousin of mine. They are not trained like Sarge and Wink. 

King Sarge

We brought 2 year old Sweetie into the pack, and I had very high hopes of her joining in the ranks of Wink and Sarge (who are 7 and 8 respectively). Sweetie seemed like a great fit, and then things turned south. But I want to include pictures of what she was like before that happened to really capture who she truly was before the trauma surfaced and took over her mind.

We have no idea what her life was like for the two years before we had her. She was named very well with her personality. She was an astounding cuddler, and loved the kids. She often slept with my two younger kids, as a matter of fact. She got along very well with the other dogs, the cat, and loved her big yard. 

Wink, with Patsy Catsy

One day she started getting out of the yard and chasing cows, sheep, and anything else she could find. We worked on making the fence more secure, but it just never seemed to work.

Then that escalated. She attacked Maggie unprovoked. It didn’t leave serious injuries, so I let that slide as a bad day. Then it happened again.

The third time was really bad. Maggie came out of it with no permanent damage, but Sweetie threatened the kids (the same ones you see her cuddling in the pictures) that time as well. Sarge and Wink did their jobs and protected Maggie and the boys. Sweetie had to be locked up in the house and isolated to assure that she wouldn’t hurt anyone. That’s no life at all. 

Sweetie with her sleeping buddy

At some point in her life, she suffered trauma that caused her to just snap. She was then unpredictable and dangerous. We only had one choice. To take her to see the vet. February 7th, 2019 I laid on the warm, green grass with Sweetie (who had to be muzzled for behavior there) and held her, and cried so hard that I thought for sure I would vomit. Her trusting eyes had looked to me to be protected, and trusted me fully. I felt like I was plotting her murder behind her back. 

Happy days

The night before she had meat lover’s pizza and chicken wings. I felt like I was the worst person on the face of the planet for not being able to fix this with her. My heart is broken. I took every bit of strength I could muster to tell the vet what had happened, ask about alternatives, then make the final call that I knew had to be made for her own peace. So many people I talked to who are professionals with dogs reassured me that this was the right thing, the only real choice, and most humane thing for her.

Peekaboo

The alternatives of her being hit by a car, or a neighbor shooting her and missing so she suffers, another animal injuring her, Wink and Sarge having to gang up on her 2-1 to protect us, were something that I couldn’t allow her the chance of having to go through. She died next to someone that loved her, who held her, who cried for her, who apologized for whatever had happened to her, and who wished beyond wishes that we were anywhere but there at that moment.

We loved her.

I’m so heartbroken, and so angry that someone hurt her in such a way that made an innocent life have to be cut so short. All sorts of mean things against whoever did that have run through my head. But the main thing I have thought was, “There. I cleaned up your mess for you. I broke my own heart to bring peace to hers that you had broken so badly.” 

I wanted to scream “STOP!” when her heart rate and breathing rapidly declined. She was very heavily sedated before the bad shot came. I just kept saying, “I’m sorry.” over and over again until the vet told me it was over. 

This isn’t a nice, warm, fuzzy, funny post that we usually try to make. This is a real life post of what happens when someone is an irresponsible pet owner. Sweetie’s mother and father were allowed to have a litter of puppies that were unwanted. Those puppies were given away, and at least one of them was abused, then tossed on the street to starve. This is the reality of allowing puppies to be born that you do not want. There is someone like me whose heart is breaking over making the choice to have a dog put to sleep because someone else made a bad choice and was not responsible. 

Sweetie stole my heart, and she deserved to grow old with me. She deserved to watch the boys grow up and meet grandkids to play with one day. She deserved a full, healthy, happy life with us. She is now at peace under the tree with Ricci (my old mare who passed in ’17) and my mom’s little dog (also a rescue who lived to be 18 years old). She belongs under that tree. No matter what man made faults she had, she was my good girl.

I Got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

And what made me feel this way?

My dogs!

I was a bad dog. Now my foot hurts. Pays me back for hurting Brody last week.

On a rainy day in which I suffered from dizziness and headaches and general ickiness, I was glad to have my canine buddies to warm and cheer me.

We’re totally innocent of course. But Brody has his thupper out to thup unsuspecting passers by.

(Although Harvey tried to eat Big Alfred’s breakfast and now has an owie.)

Action shot.

To occupy themselves during the rain, Alfred and Carlton played at least a half hour. It looks fierce but was actually very gentle. They kept sticking their heads in each other’s mouths and gnawing at legs.

We short-haired dogs have to keep each other warm.

Much of the day both Carlton and Vlassic sat in my lap. Carlton is incredibly gentle when he jumps up. I often don’t even notice. The other dogs are like flying mallets.

Sun, water, and stuff to sniff! Heaven.

I did go outside to take some plant photos, accompanied by the guys. Then sun had broken through the clouds and everything was clean and shiny. The arroyo was flowing, which makes for happy dogs and even made me feel a bit better.

I won’t stay white long.

Dog is love.

Yoga Fearlessness

I’ve been musing about how I feel fearless lately and thinking about the things that helped me get that way. Most of them are just normal things, but done intentionally (like walking). Another thing that’s made a huge difference for me is doing yoga regularly.

As I was trying to do downward dog in my boots on the dirty floor, Vlassic came over to demonstrate puppy pose.

Now, I’m not one of those super-flexible yoginis that they show in ads. In fact, when I was taking my one ill-fated year of ballet lessons, I overheard the woman tell my mother that I was the least limber child she’d ever seen. That did not inspire me to dance greatness. Plus, when I tried gymnastics, I never could complete a backward roll. Still haven’t, for that matter.

BUT, there are two things about yoga that have built my confidence in my body and buoyed my soul.

It’s not a competition

When you do yoga with real people with their varied abilities and issues, it quickly becomes apparent that comparing yourself with others in your class or the teacher is a waste of time. The mental part is as important as the physical part, and by gosh everyone can practice making their mind still and concentrating on their breath. Who cares if their hands don’t touch the floor when they bend over?

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Cattle Torture

Our personal land is surrounded by the Wild Hermits land that we share with the neighbors. We rent that land out to the Vrazels, who have many lovely cattle in two or three pastures (I think they took a fence down to make a really big pasture).

Hello. It’s cold and our eyes are runny. Please ask your dogs to go inside.

Usually, the animals are way over by the creek, or on the far end of the big pasture. But today, they decided to torture our dogs by grazing on both sides of our fenced-in back yard.

Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark.

The good news is that our fence now actually holds all the dogs except Vlassic, who can slip through. The bad news is that means the dogs can stand right in front of the cattle and bark their little barkers off for way longer than either Lee or I can stand.

With them on both sides, and some irritated mooing, the dog frenzy seemed likely to never stop. Brody barked the most (duh, he’s a cattle dog), but Carlton was right behind him, adding play bows to show the cattle he LIKES them.

They actually like him, too, since we’ve seen them play with each other when Carlton isn’t fenced in. It’s rather cute. He goes after cattle; then they rush him, and back and forth. These are mostly heifers who have been around them their whole lives.

Please don’t make me charge at you, says the big white one. Babies are hiding at left.

The new Charolais bull who was brought in to do some natural baby making, however, does not seem fond of the dogs at all. He bellowed at them, and gathered all his ladies and their babies around him in a most manly fashion. What a protector.

Mom, make them shut up.

Meanwhile, Alfred just sat on the porch. He guards those cattle at night. He isn’t going to bark at them.

Ah, ranch life. Torture by cattle.

Brody Update

I have to spread out my legs so I don’t fall over. Don’t do drugs, fellow doggies.

You may remember that our Australian Cattle Dog, Brody, has been limping since early last week. Lee was unable to get him to the vet last Thursday, due to the floods, but this week he got Bro-Bro in to Dr. Amy (she is only in town on Thursdays, and Brody is not great at traveling long distances).

For her to be able to look at his foot, she had to sedate him, so Lee left him at the Fancy Vet Trailer and came back later to find a dopey fellow who had trouble licking his face.

The diagnosis was a severe cut between his toes, but nothing broken. It also was not infected or healing wrong, so that was even more good news. Because Brody is out in the woods and such all the time, we got some antibiotics just in case it gets messed up later.

As a bonus, he got clean ears. He seems to have some proclivity to messing them up, too. Otherwise, he’s now back home, still limping, but putting more weight on his foot. He’ll live!

Poor Bro-Bro

Hey guys, my foot hurts. Otherwise, I’m cheerful as usual.

Here’s a doggie who could use your thoughts for a while. Our poor Brody always seems to get the bad end of his brotherly altercations with the other dogs (mostly Harvey; they are so well matched that they have never been able to decide who’s number one).

I’m gallantly limping along.

Last week they had their monthly battle while I was in Austin, so I missed it. Lee said Harvey bit Brody on the foot, causing it to bleed. He got that stopped, but Brody still can’t put weight on his foot. Of course, the day the vet was in town happened to be the day Lee was stuck at the ranch because of the rain.

We’re pretty sure he has a broken toe, and since you can’t really put a dog toe in a case, we are just treating him with pain killers and rest.

Harvey and I are friends again, and we’re taking off to run!

Well, we try to get him to rest, but he has figured out how to run and jump and perform all his usual antics on just three legs. We went on a long walk yesterday, and he even took off after a rabbit.

That dark spot is a spring that flows into our little stream, then into Wakler’s Creek, which has been very wide lately.

Unfortunately, Carlton, the very white dog, also took off after it. The rabbit went through the spring that’s been flowing again since all the rain started the past few months. Carlton came back very strongly resembling a dalmatian. He had fun, though.

A bonus horse story

The horses had less fun in the mud. There is a spot near where they usually eat that has mud like a foot deep. Both Apache and Spice have slipped in it and nearly fell. When Spice did it, she ran off, splattering Sara’s back with another dalmatian effect! Nonetheless, we have found the water hazards that have popped up are great horse confidence builders. Apache is always really proud of himself when he gathers his courage and marches across a big puddle.

I’ll get those photos taken and continue with the arts and crafts series next!