Saturday, November 29, 2008

Where are we on the days?

So tomorrow I will, hopefully but not guarenteedly, figure out what day we are on. In the interum, I need to update about the week. I start school again on Tuesday. I'm finishing my Bachelor's degree and very psyched about doing it! Hunting season has continued and Bear has been a mess. House time is not his friend, especially as the weather gets colder, we have discovered. We've had an incredible amount of "mouthing" activity this week, which really grated on the nerves. The husband figured out that if we grab his tongue and hang onto it...which is very long due to the Boxer influence, the mouthing stops immediately.

Bear is not real thrilled about that, but his mouthing had transferred from grabbing my pinkie to take him out to grabbing my arm or clothes or whatever. It was enough, already. Now, whenever he mouths, we grab his tongue until he decides that maybe he doesn't need to have our entire appendage in his mouth any longer.

Bear has also been getting really rough in play and anxious whenever anyone comes...or leaves. We attributed this to the fact that he has been getting like no exercise lately and was thus focusing on everything else. A Bear with no exercise, it seems is a very nervous and anxious being. Yesterday, the husband decided that we should go out to the lower field and bat a tennis ball for the dogs to go fetch. The idea was great...aside from the fact that the husband is going to be 49 a few days after I am and his connecting with the old ball, well, ain't quite what it used to be at 25. He did make a few good hits, but during the time between those the dogs entertained themselves by chasing every car and truck that passed on the road.

Not good.

Especially since Bear is still not real clear on the "come" command.

The episode did last roughly 20 minutes or so but 10 of this was encompassed by looking for the ball which we never did find. All in all, not a real "exercise session" for the Bear...or the William for that matter.

Today, as I was trying to "configure a feng shui in which my portion of the biosphere and my schema develop a symbiotic synergy...aka clean my room while getting ready for school, I had what can only be described as an epiphany. Yes, the lightbulb went on and the heavens did part and I had an idea to channel some of this "anxiety" out of this poor dog before he drove all of us nuts!

"What," I thought, "if I were to take the haybales that we had gleaned from the now famous Pumpkin Party and started an obstacle course for Bear?"

Would it channel some of the excess energy? Would it make him less "mouthy?" Would it end the rough housing and accompanying ... leakage?

Turns out that it has.

I grabbed one of the sleds and Bear and I moved three of the bales plus took all of the gourds from the garden over to the compost. After that, we commenced to start "jumping" the bales!
(Well, he doesn't actually jump them. He hops on them and then jumps down but we do this at a run and I'm hoping that soon this will develop into a full blown jump.)

Bear is thinking that this is BIG fun and every time we go out, we have to do the "course" ... like five or six times. It's made for a much more comfortable inside time for all of us and a much more mellow Bear!

And now it's time for Dog's 101 so I gotta go!

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Friday, November 21, 2008

Day 85

Has it only been 85 days that Bear has been with us? My God! It seems like I have known this one for a lifetime! I guess that's what draws us to them...

Anyway, it has come to my attention that I am really behind in my reading...and commenting...which means that this weekend will be devoted to that. (I know. I cheat. I can't help it. I'm a perpetual procrastinator.) Anyway, I'll be around this weekend, and, unless the husband has other plans for the weekend, should be back to posting on Monday.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Day 82-84

So life goes onward here. The job is requiring more time at present, but that's okay for now. The husband is off this week and next week is a short week because of the holiday, so Bear is getting pretty spoiled here. A friend is coming over in the mornings to go hunting with the husband which is giving Bear a lot of door greeting practice which is excellent for him, especially since I'm still sleeping at arrival time. Barking has not been a part of the picture for either of the dogs, which is really nice!

We've been using the ball quite a bit and doing off leash yard time with both of the dogs as running beyond the bounds of the yard is out of the question right now. We find that as long as there is a focus for the dogs, they stay pretty close and ball is a great focus for them.

Bear has taken to bringing in large chunks of branches that have fallen from the trees this week which is gangs of fun and is giving the vacuum cleaner a good workout. These are great "prizes" to him that he really seems to enjoy collecting. Each is special to him and hidden throughout the house. He's also getting much more comfortable with his crate, wandering in and out at whim, although I haven't seen him curl up for a nap in there on his own yet.

Biggest event for the dogs this week was that, as the grass is dying back, we are beginning to find all of the lost balls and their absolute favorite, the Kong bouncy ball, was found by Bear on one of our walks. It had rolled into the trench by the road. He spotted it and proudly brought it back to show off to The William, who promptly too possession of it and has yet to relinquish.

We found the ball on Tuesday.

Happy Wandering!

The Writer ... and her dog, Bear

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Day 81 part 2

Oh Irene! Our wealth is not measured in the number of deer we get! It's measured in the security of knowing our community and being able to count on our neighbors... not because they are forced to give by the government and offer their least, but because they want to give and offer their best.

The food and heating situation is just an example of what I am talking about. It extends beyond that all throughout our community. The library is another example. We needed a new one because ours, having been built in the 1800's is now way too small to house the programs and books, let alone computers and equipment needed to move into this new century. We could have just raised taxes. We could have gone to the State. We, as a community, decided not to primarily because we, as a community, wanted to define what we feel will be necessary for our library to have in the future. This offered us an enormous amount of flexibility in designing and building this project, including switching the heating/cooling system, mid-construction, to geothermal.

How are we paying for this project? Donations and The Pumpkin Party. My funnel cakes are helping to build a library...along with donuts, used book sales, and a host of other things that people are doing all throughout this community. We also aren't paying construction crews to build it. We're building it ourselves with our own hands, donated equipment and even some donated materials. Little by little, it's building a library that will outlive all of the people who have participated in building it and the stories that our children pass down to theirs about doing this are what will preserve this place and keep it growing. I think that is one of the best reasons for doing this the way that we are.

Yes, we could have settled for less and had the government do it for us, but why do that when we can design and make exactly what we wanted to ourselves?

It's the difference in our way of thinking, of dreaming and of living that I think we are talking about here... not deer meat, and whether or not we are willing to settle for allowing our government to determine where we live and what we do with our lives. I like being able to determine those things for myself rather than being stuck as some anonymous cog in a system whose only purpose it to perpetuate itself by keeping me dependant upon it.

I don't see that as being justice and I sure don't see being kept incapable as being equality. I see it as slavery.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Day 81

Welcome to America during hard economic times... The sun has been up for about two hours now and there's no sign of the guys. Haven't heard any shooting at all, so I'm guessing that the rain is having an effect on things this morning. What they need is a cold, clear morning. The deer are all bedded down today and aren't going to be moving in this weather.

Everybody is out today. I saw some of the older guys driving down the hill to the deli. They go down there to dry out and will be back around noon.

For the guys on this hill, the stakes are pretty high this year. In the next farmhouse up the hill, there's a family whose having a tough time. He was a pilot until a few months ago when he just one day didn't have a job anymore. The family is one of the newer ones on the hill. They've lived there for about eight years now. They have six kids and she works as a substitute for the school... their only "steady income" right now. When they moved in, they put everything they had into their new home. Now they're in danger of losing it and, while winter hasn't hit yet, heating is going to be a major issue.

Everyone on the hill knows and consequently filed for every tag they could get...even us. The husband and I don't need more that two deer at the most. The third will go to this family, along with the extras everyone else gets. They will need at least six to get through a year and could probably use eight.

Could this family go on the welfare system? Yes they could, but I don't see that happening in this community...especially with a family like this one. They are hard working people who have come into hard times and I know that this neighborhood is going to take care of them because, here, we rely on each other, not the government. This is how we survive up here and always have.

During my husband's deployments, which lasted almost two years, I wasn't alone. Every eye on this mountain was watching and when I needed help, it was here. Not once was my dignity imposed upon. Things would just happen. If the snow was coming too fast, the snow plough fairy would show up and dig us out in the middle of the night and you'd better believe that my mailbox was always kept accessible. If my tire was flat, one of the guys would show up and help me fix it. If we needed food, it would be in a box by the door. There would never be a note or anything else asking for recognition, just a quiet reassurance that everyone was standing behind us on this hill.

So, yes, we eat deer meat up here. We can buy meat in the stores, but if we had to do that for all of our meat, everyone in the county would be on food stamps because no one could afford to do it. The deer and game, the gardens and the fruit trees are all an integral part of life here and, yes, we do survive on them. The stores are used for toilet paper, laundry soap and supplementing the bulk of our diet that we provide for ourselves and our neighbors. Some may see this as being "primitive." We see it as independence and, as a community, we are very proud of it. To us, "primitive" would be standing by and doing nothing but watching as our neighbors get devoured by bureaucracy when part of the solution is walking around eating our front yards.

I guess it all depends upon the culture you live in.

The guys came in around 10:00 am. I'd like to think it was the aroma of my made from scratch biscuits, but I don't think it was. A father was seen walking the woods with his eldest son. If he's come down this far, it means there was nothing moving up at his place and, as they move down the hill, the "first fruits" of the season and the mountain are being gifted to them. There are enough deer for all of us here, and to us, there is nothing more important than the lessons of independence that father is teaching his son this day.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Friday, November 14, 2008

Day 80

Oh God... "Opening Day" is tomorrow... For those of you not familiar with the rural life, there is a day every year that signals the hoped for decimation of the local deer population. "Two buck and a doe" are the hoped for commodity.

In the sticks, that's how families survive through the winter.

Tomorrow is the day that all of the men, and many of the women, on the hill here will go out and try for their first deer of the season. Sunrise is happening around 6:03 am, so at 6:02 and about 25 seconds it will sound like a cannon is going off on this hill. By 6:10, the hill will be silent and those that "got theirs" will be heading back to hang it off of the tree in the front yard. Those that didn't will sit and no avail, until 10:00 am or so in the rain.

It's a warm hunting season this year.

So, I'm planning a bacon and egg breakfast at 10:00 am with the Virginia bacon we brought up from down South from the Peanut Guy. Win, loose or draw, the bacon hits the grill at 10:00 and if the guys aren't there to get it... well... Bear and Willie will have a nice breakfast!

All of this has brought the problem of "how to dress" to the forefront for Bear. Hunters shoot at anything during season... well, non-locals anyway. We don't have too many of those on the hill here, but once in a while they do show up and Bear is exactly the type of dog that doesn't come home during this season...not that he's ever off leash, but these guys have been known to shoot horses and cattle in their lust to "kill Bambie." The thing that really gets me is that the non-locals are notorious for taking the yearlings... we call them "ling-lings" who have just lost their spots. The act as though they've taken a monster, when in point of fact, they are thinning the herd from the wrong end.

Anyway, Bear has been a concern in all of this because he really needs his morning walks! Let me rephrase that... I really need him to have his morning walk because if he doesn't, he drives me completely nuts for the rest of the day! So the problem was, what to walk him in. The husband came up with the answer! He had a half-vest that almost but not quite really fits bear and is blaze orange. Should do the trick, but I may just have to get him a hat as well. We shall see how the season goes.

Long season this year, so "the big drive" won't be for another three weeks. That is where the guys go through, "drive" down the hill and do the major culling on the herd. I know it sounds barbaric, but it's a lot better than watching the herd die during the winter and interfering with the cattle herds up the hill. These cattle feed the area as well as the deer. What isn't taken for meat for the hunter's families goes right into the food banks up here and ... well, the food banks have been getting hit pretty hard lately. Between the hunting and the churches... we're hoping that at least the families with children will be able to have holiday dinners this year.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day 78-79

With the "Bounding Bear Back" life has been a little bit hectic around here for the past couple of days. Outside time has once again become a necessity and Bear is getting a lot of it! He's feeling good, eating very well again and driving us crazy, which is what a Bear should do, I think.

Veteran's Day passed pretty quietly here. The husband and Vet did the ceremonies in town and indulged in the television Veteran's Day marathon. Both of the boys called from down South. Its always good to hear their voices and talk for a bit. They are both stationed down there but don't really get the chance to spend that much time together as they are kind of busy.

It's been a long war... very long.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Monday, November 10, 2008

Day 76 and 77...

Boxer Bear is back, brazenly bouncing beyond boundaries, boldly barreling boisterously before balls and broadly bounding by his buddy, the William, tonight...

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Saturday, November 8, 2008

HEY! HEY! HEY!!!!!!!!!

I GOT IT!!!!!!!

Due to technical difficulties, the posting of the winner of "The First Annual Really Silly Halloween Dog Picture Contest" has been slightly ... delayed in presenting on the site, but I am happy to announce that FINALLY, I figured out how to get it up here. Thus, without further adue and many congratulations I now present the winning entry in the above mentioned contest. Many thanks to phaird over at Dog Parks and for all of his assistance with this endeavor and congratulations again to –Luck O The Labrador!!!!

"Big Dog Discrimination

As a big dog owner all of my adult life, I have found there is a certain level of discrimination against the 50+ pound doggy crowd. Some hotels and resorts that are "pet friendly" are actually restricted to small dogs. Some people are more fearful of big dogs just because they are big. Houseguests don't want a big dog on their lap but probably wouldn't mind a small dog or cat.

I'm sure there are other examples but the most discouraging, especially this time of year, is the very small selection of big dog Halloween costumes! Last year, in order to participate in our local doggy day care's Halloween party, I went out in search of a costume for Finn, our 70-lb Labrador. I didn't have much luck as almost all of the costumes were only provided in small and medium sizes. I ultimately settled on a tuxedo and top hat outfit that came in size large. It appeared that all of the super cute costumes - the hot dog, the pumpkin, the dragon, etc. - were reserved for the small dogs.

I quickly discovered that even though the packaging on the tuxedo costume indicated it would fit a 50+ pound dog, I could barely get it zipped. Finn looked like a stuffed sausage as the costume fabric pinched and stretched across his chest and back. Worried that the circulation was being cut off to his legs and chest, the nice staff at doggy day care took some photos and quickly took the costume off.

So this year, I gave up on the costume idea and went with a simple neck scruff that was more comfortable and just as festive. As you can see by the picture, Finn was less than pleased to be wearing it but was a good sport overall! Happy Halloween!"

WOO HOOO! Congratulations Finn for a great job done!!!

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Day 74 and 75

And life is good. Bear is really feeling pretty much himself again and to celebrate his successful surgery, we went out today and got him an appropriately sized Kong. We already did have a Kong that we got for the William right after we got Bear, but Bear kept stealing it, a fact that I was really unhappy about because its the tiny one for 0-14 pound dogs...which Bear is not. I was really afraid of him using it because, for him, its a real choke hazard. He loved this thing though and I kept finding it in his crate... where all treasures now go.

So, anyway, we got one for the 60-90 pound dogs and stuffed it full of dog biscuits. He's been going to town with it ever since! Definitely an excellent deal and worthy of the price!!!

The presentation went well on Thursday night and I think there were a few more signatures added to the petition, which is good. I always get nervous before presentations like that but, aside from the fact that there was no sound and I had to use a boom box for part of it, it went pretty smoothly. It does me a lot of good to get out and talk to people about this issue, especially college kids.

I'm still working on getting Luck of the Labrador up here and will hopefully do so this weekend. I have her post, I just can't get the picture to transfer so we're going to have to work on that. Otherwise, it looks like a quiet, rainy weekend here.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Day 70-73

My apologies for not posting sooner! Its been a busy week here in the States and we have a new President. Either way the election went, I have a big presentation to do tonight and have been preparing for this along with taking Bear out walking!

He's doing great and feeling pretty much himself again which is great to see! Biggest problem we are having at this point is keeping him from romping. That we can live with but has caused a great deal of frequent short walks. He is also finally sleeping through the night, pretty much now. He's still waking up but its usually around midnight so I'm getting an uninterrupted chunk of sleep again which I really needed!

Normally I won't get political on this blog, but with the election just passed and some of the things that I am working on, I really have to pass this on. The presentation I am doing tonight is a series of power points about my two grand-daughters. Both of these little girls were born premature. The first was born at 25 weeks gestation, 5 months, and the second at 35 weeks. A normal pregnancy is 40 weeks. As you can guess, this is a huge issue to me and, not surprisingly, after seeing what these two little ones endured in the early days and months of their lives, I support The March of Dimes in their efforts to see that every baby in the US gets a normal 40 week pregnancy.

Currently, 1 out of every 8 babies is being born in this country premature. Every day, 1400 babies are being born too soon here. One third of all babies who die in this country do so because of the effects of prematurity. What they, and their families endure is heart-wrenching and if there is a way to stop this from happening, I want it to become a reality.

If you feel that way too, please consider visiting , and signing the petition to continue funding for research, treatment and training for these little ones and their families. These children don't have a voice, but I do. As this is National Prematurity Awareness month, I'm using it as well as my signature in the hope that it will help them.

I hope that you will too.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Day 69

And Bear does not deal well with pain killers!

Having finally gotten over the effects of the anesthesia, Bear was feeling pretty uncomfortable by this afternoon, so when the husband got home, we gave him one of the pain killers that the vet gave us for him. This proved to be a mistake for several reasons, but primarily because, rather than calming him down, it wound him right up like a clock! Granted, he felt no pain but he also lost all self control in area of contenance and has turned into the ADD/ADHD 70 pound puppy... with stitches.

This is not a good situation and thus, we have decided no more pain meds for Bear!

He is eating better as I have added canned food to his normal fare, but is still not feeling the greatest. He's still breathing through his nose quite a bit, which is nice for him! Its just going to take some time, I think.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Day 68

Thank you to everyone for the well wishes for Bear! He had a little trouble this morning, but the vet said that he would and it has gotten better as the day has progressed. I think he gave him enough sedative for a horse, but it has finally worn off and Bear seems to have his legs back for the most part. I think that tomorrow we are going to go for a short walk and I'll see how he does with that.

I don't know if this is harder for bigger dogs or the medications they had to use because of the breathing or what, but I don't remember any of our dogs ever having this tough of a time coming out of the anesthesia before. Its been kind of a humbling experience, to say the least. He is doing well now, though, and chewing on his bone for the first time since he got home. William still won't play with him and is watching from a distance and Bear doesn't seem real inclined to wrastle yet. He has shown an interest in playing ball, though. We're a few days from doing that yet but it'll come. Its just nice to be looking into his big black button eyes and seeing somebody there again! Interestingly, he is still breathing through his nose too. I don't expect that to last, but it will be interesting to see what happens.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear