On the 4th of March, my landlord/boss texted me about a Cocker Spaniel dog running free a couple miles from my house. For those of you that have been following my writing you will remember my seven part series, A Summer of Open Sky and Golden Fields, describing where I live. For those that don’t know me as well, I live in the foothills of the Blue Mountains of Southeastern Washington state, where I am surrounded by wheat fields. There is a lot of wildlife in the area, I’ll get to that in a moment.
Anyway, so there is a dog up the road from me, about two miles I gathered from my landlord’s text. I jump in my van and head up the road and sure enough there is a Cocker Spaniel marching up the road – away from any civilization. I stop and try to call him to me and he just keeps marching up the road. So, I start driving again and catch up and repeat the whole process, so does he. I carefully pull ahead and stop, get out of the car and my hat blows off in the approaching storm winds. By this time the dog is about forty feet up the hill from the road, looking down at me. Concerned for my favorite hat I turn to spot it, and then turn to check on the dog again, and – dog gone – if that little bugger hasn’t disappeared. I grabbed my hat and searched for the Cocker Spaniel, but no such luck on spotting him.
I drove up and down the road and couldn’t catch a glimpse of the dog. Over the next couple days I drove up and down the road, even going up over the hill to circle where the dog may have gone. That trip almost cost me the undercarriage of my van as it was quite a bit more rugged than expected and it was partially graded with a mound in the middle of the road too tall for me to climb in my low slung van. I shouldn’t have gone down that very steep hill in an old Dodge Caravan, but I was committed. About this time I gave up ever seeing the dog again.
I searched the internet hoping to find a local lost and found site such as a Craigslist listing, no luck, but I did find a Facebook page devoted to local lost and founds. The dog I was looking for was listed by someone spotting him in the same area I’d first spotted him, but no distraught owner’s looking for their lost dog.
Sunday morning the 10th rolls around, I’ve just sat down at my computer still groggy from sleep and I hear a really strange noise at my kitchen door. WTF? I open the blinds and look out and can’t see anything, but when I open the door I see the dry concrete step into the house has wet doggy prints… hmm… the noise I heard was the dog *sniffing* under the door sill. Shortly after that I spot the Cocker Spaniel, a muddy mess.
So, for the last four days I’ve been trying to get him to let me get close enough to make acquaintances. I’ve been feeding him and it stopped running off so far. It spent the last couple days in the old corral, sleeping under a cattle feeding structure. But, every time I went out there the Cocker Spaniel would run away. I’d occasionally find him in the garage by the food and I could open the door and it would stick around for a little longer and a little longer.
Yesterday, we had a major breakthrough. I’d bought some boneless chicken to share and I tossed out a small piece to him, aw… it liked that… a lot. We played that game a couple times yesterday. The last time I started tossing the chicken a little closer to me each throw. I was able to get him to climb two stairs up my porch before anxiety became too great for the Cocker Spaniel. I left it at that.
I do have a security system for the house and it has a cam in the garage with a view of the porch. I watched the Cocker Spaniel climb the stairs to the top where I’d left some chicken and last night doggy spent a large part of the night sleeping on the porch, a very good sign.
My biggest concern with this dog is; I do live in the country. Even though I am surrounded by wheat fields and steep hills, and the only trees are in the ravines between hills it’s still wild. To the unknowing the country side does appear to be wide open and a bit barren, but there is a lot of wildlife running around. I have seen in my yard a lynx, deer, a herd of about sixty elk across the road, a moose, turkeys, owls, falcons, hawks, a bear cub and many coyotes… about two miles as the crow flies from my house I’ve even taken video of three wolves as they crossed the field I was disking, and it has been reported to me there is a pack of about ten wolves in the area that killed a beef cow and her calf. So, wildlife is a concern, but especially the coyotes. I hope to be able to get the dog to stay in the house soon… psst… don’t tell my landlord, okay? Although, to be honest I don’t know if it will work out having this dog inside and all. Besides, I’ll have to brush him frequently during the rainy season if he comes in the house. The little bugger is doing his job keeping the gopher population down, but it leaves his feet very dirty.
Today the dog and I played the chicken eating game again. I’d set up a lawn chair and kept tossing the chicken closer and closer to me, and as you can see he is almost in reach… I stayed outside with him for about an hour and we both kind of dosed for a while. Something he probably needs as he has to be so cautious at night. Wish us well and I will keep updating this story as it develops.
Oh, and I don’t know if he is a “he” or a “her.” He(?) has a fuzzy little butt and well…
Thank you, Cory
updates to follow...
update: 8pm PDT, woo hoo!!! I got him to eat out of my hand, still can't pet him, but we're getting closer!
update #1: 9:30pm PDT Friday 15th
I hope people see this update, let me know if you do and I’ll keep adding updates here.
Today, my new friend and I played the eat-the-chicken-game a couple more times. He’s getting good at eating chicken from my hand, but he still is easily startled, if his foot slips and makes noise he jumps and turns away. I have to move slowly to keep him from bolting.
After our late afternoon feeding session I wanted to go out into the yard from the garage. I walked out into the sun and my friend followed. So, I walked out into the middle of the yard and my buddy starts hunting, and so I sit down lay back and watch the sky for a bit. I decided to see how far we could walk together. I walked around to the front of the house and he followed. I sat on the front porch and he ate grass for a while.
I decided to take a much longer walk, so across the road we went and out into the wheat fields. Where I live my landlord/boss works the fields surrounding my house. The field across from me is called the “Morrow” and has a dirt road running up the middle of it, being a private road I don’t have to worry about traffic. On our walk I also spotted a lot of coyote tracks left in the dried mud.
My buddy loved going for a walk with me, and lord knows I need to go for walks. He’d race ahead of me and stop and come back. He’d bound and leap over the fresh green wheat plants that come to his shoulders, looking like a porpoise breaking the surface of the sea. He hunted and sniffed and ran and even got to playing with me like a puppy will do. It felt really good to be outside with him on walkabout.
One thing I noticed is that I don’t have to feel overly protective with him. Most of the time when I’m in a situation like that, with some soul that I view as somewhat vulnerable, I dial up my protective instincts. But, once I realized he’d been on walkabout for a couple weeks on his own, I also realized he could take care of himself.
After, our walk I decided I’d feed him some more chicken on the front porch. So, I’m feeding him and a piece of chicken falls out of his mouth. I go to point it out to him and the thing I thought was a piece of chicken looks like a grey pebble… huh? and, then it starts to move – oh, shit! He has ticks! I’d notice the little pebbles falling from him before, but I thought he’d kick them up and they were pebbles or gravel from the garage. But, the front porch has no gravel, so now I realize that he has a lot of ticks. In fact I found three where we were sitting on the porch. Dang it, and there is little I can do until I can actually physically touch him. Anybody got some ideas on ticks? I have been doing some internet searches and using tweezers seems to be the preferred method. It has also been suggested that I shave him, maybe not shave but cut his hair real short? which may not be a bad idea as his hair is pretty matted and the weather can reach to over one hundred degrees sooner than later.
So, I’ll keep working with him and we’ll be going on frequent walkabouts as it is good for both of us, and I’m sure that soon we’ll break down that last couple inches of barrier between man and dog.
P.S. it became very evident he’s a him today during our walk. Nice to know, now I have to come up with a name. I generally let pets name themselves. Call me silly or call me psychic, but what I’ve done in the past is ask my pet what their name is and then open and clear my mind, generally a name comes to me, sometimes it takes a day or two. I’ve done this a couple times with my furry friend and I keep getting the impression that he wants me to call him… “Carl” go figure? His ears do twitch when I say that name, so maybe he’s a Carl? Or is it Karl? Not much of a dog name, but if that’s what he wants… who am I to judge?
P.S. II: I don’t think my friend picked-up the ticks in my yard. Most likely he ran in the same trails as the local deer on his long walkabout before we met, and that is where he got them, but I could be wrong?
Stay tuned for more updates
Stray Dog update 2
update #2: 11:30pm PDT Saturday 16th
I woke up, got up and opened the back door to check on Karl, it’s nice to see his bright eyes looking back at me.
I did my necessaries and took Karl’s food dish and fresh water out to him. I bring his food dish in at night so as not attract wildlife, particularly coyotes. We took a short stroll around the yard, and then I fed him some chicken from my hand.
After commenting on the articles I’ve posted I took a shower and started towards town. I decided to check and see if any of the farm guys I worked with were in the shop, but when I got there I found out everyone is out working in the fields seeding green peas or hitting some of the bare spots in the winter wheat, generally they use spring wheat in those small areas. I couldn’t get to the one guy I wanted to speak to because he was seeding up one of the canyons. Not a good place to drive my Dodge Caravan.
So, it was off to town to buy some chicken for Karl and some breakfast for me, hmm… a polo burrito for me from a Mexican food restaurant I finally decided to check out. Good food, very fair price.
In the meantime, and killing time I made it back to the one Dog Groomer open on a Saturday. When I went there earlier in the morning I showed up at naptime(?) really that’s what the sign on the door said – naptime 11:30 to 1:00pm – my kinda place! At 1pm I went inside and talked to a young lady and she informed me the ‘groomer’ is out until Monday, but she gave me all kinds of advice, some – ah’s and some right, right’s, and a vial of a medicine to put on Karl’s shoulder blades to repel the ticks. She also recommended I call the groomer on Monday to get some more advice.
When I got home, I texted my farmer buddy, the one who was seeding in the field, and let him know I had a stray dog with ticks and that I needed his advice. Lennard is about 61 years old, 300 lbs of mostly muscle turning to, well… strong as an ox, but a bit busted up from cowboying and farming. Lennard was a real cowboy in his youth, but since the ranch no longer has cattle, he plies his trade as an all-purpose farmer – driving and repairing heavy equipment, fixing everything that breaks and just being an all-around farm hand. These guys on the farm I worked on have a plethora of knowledge about everything from the inside of an engine with measurements in the Thousandths, to about how many more hundred acres they have to seed/harvest/till/harrow/disc/spray in a day. It always amazes me about the scales of measurements used in farming – just me being a geek! Lennard also knows more about plants and animals than anyone I know. I’ve been out in fields with him and he started pointing out different plants that were weeds to me, but that were edible plants to him. He knows I like learning that kind of stuff and he is only too glad to share.
Lennard called me back when he could and we talked about Karl, he gave me his opinion about what to do with the ticks. And, I asked him about spraying the garage floor for ticks and fleas, once I get Karl cleaned up, and can have him stay in the house during any danger period after spraying. He told me not to worry too much about spraying for fleas, as they’ve probably always been there in the warm weather. There are plenty of rodents and mice around, so I’m sure he’s right. He also said the ticks won’t hatch for about a year – like next spring – and then would be a good time to spray for them. But, by that time I’ll have sprayed for Box Elders anyway and the ticks most likely will be dead after that. Of course my real plan is to have Karl and I moved on to another phase of our lives, in new digs.
Back to Lennard’s advice on grooming Karl, we both decided it may be too soon to attempt to take him in to the vet or a groomer. There may be too much trauma trying to get Karl leashed and the trip to town to meet strange people that will be de-ticking him and cutting his hair. So, I’m going to keep working with Karl to be able to pet him and then I hope to apply the vial of medicine on his back.
So, after Lennard’s call I fed Karl and me, and promptly fell asleep, I love me some naptime, musta been the sign at the dog groomer… yea…
I woke up and it was time to go on walkabout with my buddy. I packed my backpack with a water jug, chicken and whatever else might come in handy. Plus a light jacket I knew I wouldn’t need unless I did, never can tell when you’re in the country, and I’d rather have it and not need it, then need it and not have it.
We took off up the dirt road between the fields and sooner than expected we were at the top. From there we can see about fifty plus miles into the distance all around us. Even in the haze I could see Rattlesnake Mountain a treeless sub-alpine ridge of about 3,500 feet that is behind the city of Richland Washington about fifty miles away. To the south is another higher hill then the one we were on, and I could see someone using it as a runway for an ultralight aircraft, that soon disappeared from view. At the top of the hill it became decision time, do Karl and I go down the steep road into the canyon?
I looked at Karl and he looked at me and away we went down into the canyon. On the canyon road the wind died down and it got hot, or about 75 in the sun. I’m not used to the sun and heat yet, and it’s only going to get much hotter. Plus I was wearing a dark blue shirt, and the backpack straps cut off the air circulation through my shirt, that was the reason I was sweating so hard and it couldn’t have anything to do with how out of shape I am… naw… The road down into the canyon cut through CRP grass, or for you city slickers, Conservation Reserve Program grass, it’s about two feet high and grows in clumps, the farmers use it to meet the regulations the government sets down for wildlife habitat, plus they get paid for not farming it. The grass that is standing now is from last year and it is tan, soon it will be replaced with green blades. Across from the road is one of the steeper hills that we farm, it commands respect from everyone on the farm because of that steepness. Right now it’s planted in dry peas as a rotation crop, rather than wheat.
At the bottom of the canyon is a ravine that the road is built over and joy of joys it’s also a spot that my boss has his crew dump his yard clippings into. Strangely Karl starts rolling on his back in the clippings and rooting his nose into them. Once I get closer I realize why? There’s a dried carcass of what was probably a deer or maybe a coyote half buried in the grass clippings. Hmm… dead things are a common occurrence on the farm, burial is generally without ceremony and haphazard – the idea is to get whatever carcass is there, out of the way so work can continue. Karl found the hide to be so much fun he had to come back for seconds on the rolling around bit, yeah great – but wait there’s more. As we start trudging walking up the hill I spot some coyote poop. Being the smartass I am I point it out and tell Karl, “Oh, here’s something you can roll around in too, don’t miss that.” I continue staggering up the hill and turn to catch Karl rolling in coyote poop, “Uh, dude we gotta talk.” Oh, well… he’s such a mess right now what’s a little dead deer stink and coyote poop gonna hurt?
We got about a quarter of the way from home and I realized I need to bring a water bowl for Karl. I had water for me, but I didn’t have any for him – being a dog buddy is a steep learning curve – next time I’ll know. About this time Lennard texted me again and wrote that mixing garlic with hamburger might help with the ticks on Karl so, once we got back to the house, it was off to town again and I bought the ingredients for garlic hamburger, extra, extra garlic. It’s a good thing I like garlic too.
So, that’s about where we are at, I still can’t pet Karl, but I’m not pushing it. On our walks he comes right up to me and walks in my shadow at times. We’ll get there soon enough, and I’ll keep updating this as long as everyone is interested.
Thanks to everyone for your advice, and well wishes for Karl and me. I will get Karl to the vet or groomer as soon as I can, but I’m afraid of setting back the trust I’m building with him if I push too hard.
update #3: 10:00pm PDT Sunday 17th
Sunday morning broke clear and bright with the promise of the warming days ahead. We’ll be getting temps close to 80° over the next three days or so. It’s going to be nice and sunny until Wednesday night when we could get some much needed rain for the newly planted peas.
I wandered around the yard with Karl and he sniffed and marked the yard in all the appropriate places. There is a ravine beside my house about 5o’ out the back door that is for water runoff, I have never seen water flowing down it in the two springs I’ve spent here. By the old cattle corral the ravine is about 50’ wide and about 20’ deep, when there are no leafs on the trees and bushes I can see a wide area that looks like a bedding area for deer and other animals. Karl loves to climb down the steep sides of that area of the ravine and poke around. Now with the overgrowth of trees and bushes, plus the dried tumble weeds I can’t see what he’s doing, but I can hear him rooting around down there and sniffing out whatever has lived there or is living there. He likes it so I’m happy if only slightly concerned, but I have to let him be a dog, so…
When I got back from town Karl and I went for another walkabout up the hill and down into the canyon. It’s fun to watch Karl chase butterflies, I have yet to see him catch one, but I think the sport is really in the chase for Karl anyway.
Our walkabout was fairly uneventful today, no rolling in the stinky places, and Karl seemed to appreciate the water I brought for him this time.
When we got back I made sure Karl had water in his dish and food in his bowl and by now it was one o’clock and I decided to eat and have a beer after I showered. I started dozing off perusing the net, and finally got up and took a proper nap.
Once refreshed, I went out the front door of my house and sat on the porch calling Karl. This is the first time I did that and I wanted to see if he’d come to my voice and whistles. It took a few minutes but he came running up to see what all the ruckus was about. I had chicken in my pocket wrapped in plastic, but before I gave it to him I wanted to walk around the yard again. Over by the corral he hunted in the ravine again. I suspect he spent time down there before he made his presence known to me last week. Wow, Karl’s been with me seven days now, it’s been a fun journey gaining his trust. A week ago I couldn’t get within 50’ of him, now we’re almost petting buddies.
There were three breakthroughs today, the first came when I got him to play with me in the yard. Normally with a dog I can kind of slide or stomp my foot down and sorta lunge at the dog and he’ll drop and then jump up and circle me, and then we can repeat the pattern and the dog will run up and stop crouching and then run around me again. We’ve all done this with dogs and puppies before, and they all love playing that game, talking playfully to add to the game. My concern when I started this game with Karl was he going to misunderstand my intentions and not see them as a game. But, he figured it out pretty quickly and was racing around me just like the puppy he once was.
The second breakthrough was when I fed him chicken on the front porch, and it was small but significant. Before, when Karl took chicken from my hand he’d immediately pull back if the chicken crumbs were too small for his interest. I knew he could smell any remains from the chicken piece I just gave him, but he wasn’t having any of it. But, today he was licking my fingers and even reached up to lick my thumb, so that is progress no matter how small. It wouldn’t take much for me to actually just reach out and just touch him, but if I try he pulls back, and so using all my will power, I respect his wishes and don’t push the contact thing.
And, the final breakthrough came after the coyotes started singing as I was writing this update. I went out and kept Karl company for a little while. We walked in the yard, and I didn’t see anything nor did I expect too, the coyotes were probably a mile or so away, but sending a signal they are in the neighborhood. When I came back into the house I decided to see if I could entice Karl to come in just in case our neighbors decided to come and play. I typed this update with the door open and Karl whined at the door casing and whined some more. I talked to him and he finally came in and went out, and then he came in further and then he went back out and just stayed outside whining at the door way. At least I know I can get him to come in if needed, and once I get him cleaned up I’ll be more persuasive in my efforts – chicken seems to break down many barriers.
This is the end of today’s update, stay tuned for more.
Mini update #4: 11:00am PDT Monday 18th
I have an appointment latter today so I’ll have to keep this brief, Karl and I made contact! Woo hoo!
This morning first thing Karl and I policed the yard, and he sniffed around. Once we came back into the garage I sat on my log splitting block and put my hand out, Karl came up to see if I had food, I didn’t at the time and after a moment he put his paw in my hand gently. I got a bit of a lump in my throat, but I maintained my calm and reached out and stroked his head. We actually got quite touchy after that and he curled up between my legs and I was able to run my hands over him and lift up his ears to see how bad the ticks were. He’s a mess.
I headed for the house and the tick medication vial, but when I got back the moment had passed and Karl was back to his shy self, plus he didn’t like that I had something unfamiliar in my hand. I finally had to go to town and get some chicken to once again break the barrier.
Once back, I went out into the yard and sat on the ground with him feeding him bits of chicken. By the end of the chicken supply I was able to pet him again and finally was able to apply the Frontline™ flea and tick treatment on his skin like the slideshow from Frontline™ demonstrates.
I also called some Vets and talked to them about getting Karl checked out, most are about two days out for an appointment. One Vet took my phone number and is going to put out the word to the local agencies about Karl, maybe someone reported him missing. If someone does claim him I’m going to be real, real sad to see him go, but before that happens I’m going to see how Karl reacts to the person(s) claiming him. Karl better run up to them and claim his people too. If he isn’t overjoyed to see the owners nobody is taking him without the law involved. There’s gotta be a whole lotta ‘splaining goin’ on about why Karl is so hand shy!
Anyway, I’ve got a busy day and I’ll write more later this evening!
update #4 part two: 11:00pm PDT Monday 18th
As you all have read previously, this morning came with the BIG BREAKTHROUGH!!! Karl allowed me to pet him! To say I was overjoyed and choked up would be an understatement. I was able to apply the tick and flea medicine to the skin between his shoulder blades as instructed, and the ticks are starting to fall off, yea!
During my afternoon appointment the local Human Society called me and I was able to step out to take the call. The lady on the line was doing a found pet follow up from one of the vets I called this morning. She wanted me to bring Karl in and surrender him… Wha..! She informed me that they would take Karl in and get him cleaned up, checked over and neutered if he needed, plus they would check for an identifying microchip to see if he had one and try to reconnect him with his previous owners. If no one claimed him in three days I could pick him up for a fee of $50 to $150 depending if he needed to be neutered and his age. I said, “No, I am not willing to surrender Karl.” Then she tried to explain how it could be less money for me if I surrendered Karl and they took care of his needs… huh? Now, maybe she is right if Karl is over six years old, and doesn’t need to be neutered it could be less, but with him out of my control and he is claimed I may never see him again… naw it’s not going to happen that way. I sent my local humane society a photo of Karl for their records, but for some reason the photo made him look like a cross between a Shepard, a Bull dog, and a Great Dane mixed with fuzzy photography… go figure… 😐
I did make an appointment with a vet for later this week and the cost of the checkup will be a straight up $50. I will have to pay to get him cleaned up and a haircut also, but I keep control of Karl. There is a possibility that Karl has a chip and someone is looking for him, but I will not let loose of Karl without meeting the claimant, and Karl will make the choice of where he wants to go. I will gauge this by how Karl reacts. If he is wildly happy to see his owners, I’ll let him go, if he is shy or afraid I will not surrender Karl to someone that can’t explain why he is so hand shy. Now, I maybe wrong about this, and maybe his experience in the wild is why he was so skittish around me at first, but..? If someone claims Karl I will contact my local Sherriff and see if I can have a Deputy present for any exchange of Karl from me to his “owners.” I want him to hear any explanations of Karl’s previous treatment by any potential owners.
So, how are Karl and I doing? Really, really good, Karl has gone from being in survival mode 24/7 to being a dog again. Petting him is easy now, and he’ll curl up between my legs when I crouch down face to face with him. I expect a lick to the face soon. One thing though, Karl is the dirtiest, filthiest dog I have ever run my hands across… ugh! My first order of business is to start trimming out burrs and matted hair from his hide. I could pull some of the burrs out, but figure trimming with blunt nosed scissors would cause less hair pulling, and since I’m going to have his hair trimmed short, I don’t care if his fur is patchy right now. Besides, I don’t think Karl is going to choose cosmetics over function right now. Once the burrs and mats are gone I'll start trying to brush out his coat. I am considering bathing and clipping Karl’s fur myself? As it stands the two groomers I’ve talked to have waiting lists of two to three weeks out – I can’t imagine poor dirty dog Karl not getting a bath and a haircut for that long… ugh… poor guy
Stay tuned for more tomorrow!
update #5: 1:00am PDT Tuesday 19th
Let’s get right to the burning question on everyone’s mind, and then I’ll tell just how amazing Karl really is! So, in the last installment and in some of the subsequent comments in the threads below by my friends here on the vine, the legal status of me keeping Karl came up. I woke up bummed, I might lose Karl… I can’t believe how important he has become to me in such a short time.
Here are the nuts and bolts of keeping a stray dog in Washington State, first the only legal path to retaining a stray is to surrender the animal to a shelter for 72 hrs. If no one claims the animal, the rescuer can claim the stray once paying all fees the shelter requires… pffft… that’s the law. But, I live just across the border in Oregon, and Oregon law is much more lax. How do I know? I called an Oregon vet, went and talked to an Oregon pet groomer – who didn’t really know anything, called the County Sherriff’s dispatcher asking for the nonexistent Animal Control officer and I finally I called the Pendleton Oregon Humane Society. Three of the four told me that making a ‘reasonable effort’ to locate the previous owner was enough, and failing to find said previous owner I could claim Karl – in other words, 🎶Don’t worry about it🎶 ... whew! One final bit of information fell into place when the Washington Veterinary called me to confirm my appointment for tomorrow. I expressed my concerns about retaining a rescued stray animal and I related the deal the Washington Humane Society had tried to sell me on. The person at the veterinary office was actually surprised by the story I related, in my contacts with the Washington Humane Society… as in “Wha’?” So, legally there is no problem with me keeping Karl, because for one thing there are no reports of a missing Cocker Spaniel in my area. And two, I made a ‘reasonable effort’ to find the previous owner’s of Karl. There is one possible fly in the ointment, and that would be if Karl is chipped, the veterinary I’m taking him to tomorrow will be able to scan for microchips. But, still if there is a chip – no Cocker Spaniel has been reported missing in this area. So, everyone keep your fingers crossed that Karl and I clear this final hurdle tomorrow – honestly I’m not too worried now! Thanks to everyone who made me aware of the possible legal issues with keeping a rescued animal. If you hadn’t express your concerns, I may have walked into a situation I didn’t know about – again Karl and I sincerely thank you, salute!
Now, on to how great Karl is! Today being the second day of our physical contact, I wanted to see what I could do to clean Karl up. One thing I’d forgotten that owlsview reminded me of was that dogs sense when a person isn’t confident of their actions. So, I moved with confidence today and grabbed a small pair of blunt nose scissors to trim what burrs I could out of Karl’s coat. He was a champ and didn’t complain at all. I trimmed him for about an hour with these small scissors and I kept turning on and off the old beard trimmers I had just to get him used to the noise. Finally, I went for it and started trying to cut Karl’s hair with these trimmers… hmm… that’s not going to work, but I’m sure it is more of a function of the age of the trimmers than anything else. Oh, how did Karl react? Very calmly after a few skittish moments on his part. I worked the worn trimmers for a while before giving up… hmm… maybe the pet brush I bought would be better? I worked on Karl’s coat with the brush and small scissors for about four hours this afternoon, and he was so patient and happy for the help I was giving him. I didn't really get his hair cut shorter, but I did get many of the burrs and coagulated blood from the tick bites removed. His coat feels much smoother to my hand. How easy is he to work with? He fell asleep with me brushing him more than once, and when he wanted to play? We played. We moved all over the yard with him between my legs and brushing, and trimming burrs from his coat. I wore thin latex gloves throughout the afternoon, and I kept finding brown deer ticks(?) buried in his coat.
I finally, decided to see what I could do with the ticks. I’d searched the net, and read that using small tweezers at the head of the tick, I was instructed to pull straight out with no twisting. This is also the method the Veterinary recommended. I grabbed an old pair of tweezers and gave it a try. The actual effort to pull the tick out was a bit more than I expected but the first one came out intact, and I dropped the tick into a container with Isopropyl Alcohol in the bottom. This kills the tick and preserves it for when Karl goes into the Vet tomorrow in case they need to test the tick for disease. I spent over an hour pulling ticks from Karl’s pelt and ears. Every once in a while I would see multiple ticks just crawling on his fur that were not embedded in his skin. These would also go into the container. In all I removed over twenty from Karl – he seems happier! oh yea! It is a bit creepy finding ticks walking on my legs, and when I saw the ticks moving around like that I would move Karl and I to a different part of the yard. I know some got away, but most likely Karl is going to come into contact with free range ticks no matter what I do. There are critters in these here parts! And, once I have Karl tick free I will be able to keep the ticks down with the Frontline™ ointment and vigilance.
Karl looks a lot better, I didn’t get to his underside yet, time and a bit of skittishness is slowing down the process, but tomorrow is another day.
Trying to be proactive I decided to try to put on the collar I bought Karl. Literally, nothing could have been easier. Karl took me putting on the collar with no complaint whatsoever. Wow, this dog is so easy to work with… I decided to try the leash I bought too. I’m beginning to think Karl is more used to this than I am. We didn’t go far, but again no problem whatsoever. So, at this point I’m thinking, “Well, geez Karl, let’s try getting you into the van too!” that went off easily too. But, wait there’s more! I decided to take Karl for a short trip to see how he’d react, I do have to drive him to town tomorrow to see the vet. I closed up the doors and with the leash still attached to Karl, I started out for the gravel road in front of my house. Down the road we went and Karl was trembling quite a bit, and panting in the air conditioned air. But, he hung in like a trooper and we drove all the way to town.
I wanted some drive-thru and decided to pull up to a local mom-and-pop fast food joint. Once my window was down, and the girl opened her window to take my order Karl lunged across my lap. I’d planned ahead for this eventuality, and had the leash set so he couldn’t kiss the girl at the window. I have no doubt she would have received a big wet one from my little Lothario, plus the food smells were almost too much for Karl to bear! He sat draped across my lap for quite a while sniffing and watching the goings on in the restaurant. Then he went to the passenger window to watch the traffic from his side.
Once I received my food, Karl and I headed home. The back road to my house is up and old and narrow river gorge with steep basalt rock walls. The valley floor is flat and many houses dot the small farm fields and orchards up to where Karl and I turn on our road to climb out of that valley.
Karl sat in the passenger seat and he saw horses and some goats that we stopped to observe. Karl likes when we drive over the smooth pavement better than when we drive over the noisy gravel road, but in any case Karl’s trembling was less by the time we got home.
So, Karl is the best dog in the whole world, except maybe yours, but I’ll wrestle you for that title! Naw… I will say with a little confidence on my part, even if I have to fake it, Karl responds amazingly. Oh, did I tell you, in all the time I’ve known Karl I have yet to hear what his bark sounds like? How cool is that?
Tomorrow’s agenda: a visit to the Vet and a bath – I think we have this covered.
update #6: 10:00am PDT Wednesday 20th
I’m having a little trouble starting today’s update, and I’m going to go into the details as quickly as I can so everyone isn’t worrying. Karl and I are okay. I took Karl into the vet at noon and we got in to see a technician quickly. She scanned Karl and immediately found a microchip. The number came up on her scan tool and she went to her laptop to check for any information. Nothing came up on her database, so she excused herself to consult with a doctor.
After about ten minutes the technician and doctor entered the exam room and the doctor introduced herself and explained that the chip is related to an account in Richland, WA. Over fifty miles away. The doctor continued to explain that of the three phone numbers associated with the microchip, none were still in service. In the course of our conversation the doctor also let it slip that one of the numbers was from the small town five miles to my east, but like most rural areas my address is also listed as from this small town. The other number is listed as an area code from the state of Virginia?
It turns out there is also a Facebook page linked to the microchip, and the doctor informed me that they were required by law to post a comment on that page to inform the previous owner that their dog has been rescued.
At this point the clock is ticking – will the previous owner come forward in five days and claim Karl? Or will he become my forever buddy?
Of course I didn’t bother asking for any information about the Facebook page, I knew that the clinic couldn’t release that information. So, only time will tell how this plays out…
I’ll probably contact my local Sheriff’s office tomorrow and see if they want to get involved and contact the Vet clinic about the owner’s name on the chip and go from there. As much as I want to keep Karl, maybe someone else does too. A person never knows in these situations, maybe a sweet little old lady in her waning years is pining for her sweet dog, or maybe some lowlife meth head is looking for some poor dog to kick around again – Damn!
The doctor emphasized that either way she wanted me to take Karl home today, well… yeah! She felt that would be the best for Karl, but I’m sure she could see it would be better for me too. She also asked me that if they are contacted by the previous owner could they contact me… uh… of course. I still have visions of a sweet old meth head gramma stomping Karl, but… well… what can I do? I will be asking for visitation rights and wellness checks, if I can get away with it.
Okay, another reason I don’t want to let go of Karl is this; the doctor asked me if I wanted to know Karl’s other name, of course I did, who wouldn’t? Get this someone name him “Copper” now there’s nothing wrong with that name in particular, but Karl is not a Copper. Com’on… for crying out loud even I know Karl is too much of a gentleman for the name Copper… geez… okay maybe Copper would be okay for a gangsta name… but, Karl is manly man man’s name and Karl is nothing if not a gentle manly man!
Okay, that’s the rough stuff. Now for the good news. Karl is in very good health, other than the fleas and ticks. He does have a mild case of Cherry Eye in one eye. Cherry Eye is where part of the inner eye membrane starts to prolapse outward. The doctor told me to keep an eye on… his eye. And, if it got worse it would require micro surgery to the tune of about eight hundred bucks! Wha’! Thinking ahead I asked her if she needed any documents edited, or maybe some posters designed, or I could fix her car, or I could fix her computer, or paint her a picture and write her a story – she laughed and told me she’d keep it in mind.
More about Karl, she told me she thinks he’s younger than she first thought, based on the Tartar build up on his teeth. Although that is the most reliable way to check a dog’s age, it isn’t fool proof if Karl’s previous owner had his teeth cleaned. How old did she think Karl is? Around two years old. Pretty cool, huh? She told us, his heart and lungs sound good, and she was surprised that Karl’s ears were so clean. She stated that he is the only Cocker Spaniel she’d ever checked that didn’t have some kind of ear problems. Karl could have told her that, if he spoke. We all know he’s a superior dog!
During the doctor’s inspection of Karl, the flea and tick issue kept coming up and the fact that Karl has so many burrs and mats in his hair – she should have seen him before I spent five hours brushing his hair out yesterday! Then she informed us that she could shave the bad areas on Karl, but if I had time she could get a technician to shave all of him from the neck down for thirty-five dollars. Both our ears perked up and our tongues dropped out with lotsa slobber at those words. We were both in Love with our new doctor lady friend. We tried to play it cool, but I’m sure she could see we were thrilled by that idea. She reiterated a couple times that the shave wouldn’t be a cosmetic trim, and I said an industrial haircut is just fine with us. Besides, we don’t think our future girl friends are gonna mind the chopped look as much as they would the ticks and fleas. Are we right? Okay, do it! We said sorta calmly. I’m sure the smile on her face wasn’t one of sly knowing about our happiness. She did say that she was going to have to work Karl in throughout the day as they hadn’t planned on such an endeavor, yea – yea – yea! Do it to us doc!
I told the doctor I could leave Karl there and come back later, and she quickly took me up on that offer. I know how much easier it is to not have a customer in the waiting room pretending to be patient.
I left and went to the store, and I was only there for a few minutes before I got a call from Karl and me’s new girlfriend/doctor lady and she told me she was having a problem with shaving Karl’s feet. He started nipping at her, not nipping hard, but enough to be a concern. She wanted to know if I wanted to stop with one foot shaved or did I want her to sedate him and do the other legs. It’s a no brainer for me, I wanted Karl shaved – everywhere. Once he’s shaved it will be cooler for him and it will be easier for me to get to any ticks that might reappear. The doctor is not going to put him out, but just kinda make him a little loopy and relaxed. The only caveat to the doctor’s offer was that she was going to have to keep Karl overnight and I couldn’t pick him up until late afternoon tomorrow. My only real concern is for Karl’s health and happiness, so that is what I told the doctor. She knows Karl and I are bonded, and she had remarked as much during the earlier exam. She put my mind at ease by telling me Karl had climbed into his sleeping bed with almost no coaxing. That’s my little gentleman!
How did Karl do at the vet? He charmed everyone, what else? He is so gentle and easy going, and everyone is so surprised how far he’s come from where he was in his previous survival state. There is a lot of curiosity about how he came to be in the wild? And, I asked the doctor to make sure she got Karl’s story if he is claimed. Like you I’m hoping that I don’t have to see Karl leave to learn that story.
So, if anyone’s keep track, I’m going to be into the clinic for about two bills. If Karl’s owners want to stiff me for it, I’ll probably let it slide. I’m not a civil suit kinda guy, too much negative energy involved. Besides in the end, even if my relationship with Karl is cut short, I’m doing this for him. And, I am receiving more from him than I can recount.
One last thing, since I got home I realize just how much space a thirty pound Karl takes in my heart, and house. The place seems empty without Karl.
Check in tomorrow afternoon for a new update – thank you Karl and Cory
update #7: 10:00am PDT Thursday 21th
Sorry for the lateness of today’s update. But, Karl and my day has been a whirlwind of activity and emotion. To the burning question everyone has, the previous owner was contacted by Karl’s doctor Lady on Facebook, and today that person responded. The word is that Facebook person relinquished control of Karl to another person a long time ago. Facebook person indicated that they would try to contact the person that took control of Karl, but there is no word yet.
Doctor Lady informed us that as far as they are concerned Karl and I are paired. Many Hallelujahs, Yahoos and Oh, yeas are heard in this corner of the two states!
Of course I’ll still be just a little timid until Sunday morning when five days have passed, but that’s just me being cautious, don’t tell Karl – he’d probably snort and laugh at me! :)
Just so you know Karl is sleeping on the ottoman between my outstretched legs as I write this.
This morning I couldn’t sleep all that well because I wanted to go visit Karl at the clinic as soon as I could. I made it to the Veterinary Clinic about an hour after they opened just to take Karl out for a walk and to tell him I was still around. When they brought Karl out, the side door I was lead to, he… well his body was shaved, and most of his legs, but his feet and head were still really shaggy. I expected this as I knew that the clinic was going to shave him later in the day – I took some pictures but Karl doesn’t want me to print them – what with him having a bad hair day and all.
Karl and I were escorted outside by two of the clinic’s employees I’d never seen before. I’m pretty sure they were scoping me out to make sure I wasn’t going to abscond with Karl. At first Karl was a little bashful with me and I crouched down to see him eye to eye, but since he hadn’t had his morning coffee I could understand. I looked at the two employees and they at me, and Karl suddenly realized who I was and dived between my legs, licking my face and I could see the two employees visibly relax. Karl might have been picking up their distrusting vibes and they were a bit hesitant before he recognized me.
I walked Karl to the back yard of the facility and he sniffed and peered and peed on the grass. We walked the perimeter of the yard and then I took him over and sat on the railroad tie that separates the backyard from the gravel parking area. Karl was very glad to see me and he sat between my legs with his back to me, laughing and kissing my face with his long tongue. After a while I had to leave Karl, but I could tell we were happier.
I went to the store and as I was driving to a nice Mexican fast food joint, I spied a pet store that offers a dog washing station for Do-It-Yourselfers. Hmm… signals went off at that. So, went inside and talked to the nice lady/proprietor. She showed me her store, and it is small with no pets for sell, but she has all kinds of good food for pets, plus the dog wash stations. For eighteen dollars the fuzzy one’s and their human helpers get the use of a huge stainless steel tub, with a hand held shower head, shampoo, towels and a blow dryer, plus cleaning the facility is on the store. The pet helper can close the door for safety and to keep other fuzzy buddies from interrupting the bathing experience. Really a pretty good deal. In the course of our conversation I told her that Karl was at the clinic and she told me she used to work at that clinic twenty years ago. She suggested that I have the Vet bathe Karl since he was there… I called the vet as soon as I left and asked if I couldn’t have them bathe Karl… “Oh, sure. No problem.” Whew, two more problems solved, a trim and a bath both in one stop. Cool.
So, I went home to prepare the house for Karl being invited inside. And, by the time I got done I had to hightail it back to town to get Karl. I paid the bill and bought some of the recommended dog food for him. A little expensive, but what the heck. Only the best for our Karl… right?
Then it was time for the big unveil, and out came Karl, or should I say new and improved Karl? Boy does he look good shaved – Karl suggested the before and after photos just for contrast. We are both so happy with the results, and I don’t feel like I have to check myself to ticks anymore any time I pet Karl.
When Karl and I got home it was time for a short walk, and when we got home I left Karl’s collar on so I could lead him into the house. After the Grand Tour of Casa del Karl and Cory, I started pounding keys to catch everyone up.
So, that was our day and we hope yours was equally adventurous and fulfilling. Until tomorrow’s update we thank you for following our ongoing
tail… wait tale, and don’t let the bed bugs bite… we aren’t :)
update #8: 10:00pm PDT Friday 22th
Today’s adventures in Karl and Cory’s life, actually start in the wee hours of the morning when we finally decided to go to bed. Like new lover’s sleeping together for the first time, we had to figure out which side of the bed who was going to sleep where? A grown man has a hard enough time sleeping on a single bed, but I manage quite well because sleep comes easy to me. In a lot of ways I’ve been camping in this house, with most of my stuff in storage. The reasoning behind this is I want to be able to leave here with minimal actual packing and moving of my stuff again. I’ve always known I will have to leave here one day.
It took some pushing and shoving to establish where I slept and where Karl slept. He thought my pillow was his, and I made sure he understood that at my feet was where I wanted him. We compromised at below my waist when one of us spent part of the time on the floor by my bed. I finally went fully to sleep about 5:30am when I let/put Karl outside for his morning potty break.
I got up at about a quarter to eight, and in my need for coffee which I didn’t have, I headed to town sans Karl. About five minutes into my drive the Vet’s clinic called me. Seeing the number on the screen made my heart sink a little. It was the Vet’s technician asking some benign questions about Karl. We got to talking about the previous owner and it turned out this tech was the person who had made contact with that owner on Facebook. I told her I was interested in Karl’s backstory and she said that what she gathered was, the microchip owner had rescued Karl from an abusive situation when he was a young dog, but not quite a puppy. The microchip owner kept Karl for a while then had to relinquish ownership because that owner was moving. That was about a month or month and half ago. Somehow the numbers don’t really add up and the Tech said the story sounded a bit “fishy” to her and as far as the clinic is concerned Karl and I are one. That story about the microchip owner does sound fishy to me too, for Karl to get in as bad a condition as he was in, I think he had to be on his own for more than two weeks before he hit my door, but who knows?
When I got home I brought Karl in, I leave him outside when I am gone for any length of time, I feel it’s better for Karl and my boss really doesn’t want Karl inside at all – compromise? I put him inside because I wanted to mow the lawn before the approaching storm hit our area. Damn I hate lawn mowers, and they hate me as well. Like all lawn mowers I ALWAYS have to fix the Damn things before I can use it. This mower is a 1974 John Deere 140 riding lawn mower that literally has a cult following of owners because of their durability. I just think they are easy to work on and people are willing to keep the damn things going. This particular mower is supplied to the house by my landlord/boss and he loves the John Deere 140s so much he has two. One of which he is restoring with a brand new two thousand dollar engine – go figure. Anyway this time I had to put it on a battery charger and so it was time for Karl and Cory’s walkabout, since the storm was still nowhere to be seen.
These walks are good for Karl and me, and that they are getting easier for me is a good sign. On these walks we utilize a field road where there is no traffic. The first part is a gradually increasing hill that peaks with an amazing view of the entire valley. From there it is all downhill at a steep angle into the canyon of “wildness.” I call it that because there is a lot of coyote spoor and deer track at the bottom. This morning there were a lot of yellow butter flies working over some little purple wild flowers. Karl likes to chase the butter flies, but this morning he was more interested in following a scent on the road. Once we got to the bottom I decided to continue walking the field of green peas with plants that are about two to three inches tall. The hard packed dirt where the trucks and other equipment drive leaves areas where the peas have a hard time breaking the surface, but a good place to walk. We managed to get out of the bottom of the canyon with only one poop rolling incident – good boy Karl, good boy! grr…
When Karl and I got back from our excursion I was able to get the lawn mower started and the lawn done. Yea! I got showered and decided to get some food at the drive through in town, and that I would take Karl with me just to get him used to the car, and so he got to know that not every trip ended with him being left at the Vet’s. Not a bad idea in theory, but Karl trembled throughout our trip. And, the nice lady at the drive thru window remarked that Karl looked scared, and that she’d never seen a dog shake so much. I don’t think Karl was scared so much as nervous, but I do want to be able to take him anywhere at any time without worrying about it. He’s my buddy and we have a lot to do together, and car travel isn’t going to be a barrier if I can help it.
Oh, windshield wipers may be a bit of a barrier. That storm I wrote about earlier rolled in just as we left the drive thru. When I first turned the wipers on they were dry and noisy, suddenly the dog that I thought was controlled by the leash attached to the armrest was on my lap and wrapped stiffly around my belly. I had to pull over to get his rigid body off me, quite the task for a stiff thirty pound dog. I’d already turned off the wipers and I was able to use the wiper/washer function to get one wipe at a time done so we could keep driving. A couple miles down the road the wipers stopped making noise against the glass and I was able to turn them on normally without totally freaking Karl out. A good thing because now the thunder storm arrived in full fury. Thunder, lightning, rain and hail – loudly pounded the car. Maybe taking Karl to town wasn’t the best idea, this time? My feeling is that I want him to experience as much as he can now, because we have a lot of changes coming up before we can settle in. Karl is a tough guy as he demonstrates time and time again. Yes, he was trembling but he never whined, and he knows where to go when he needs safety. We’ll get through this journey together, and he will be my safe place too.
After, we got home we had some food and took a nap with Karl sleeping on me. I woke up and had to hurry to meet a lady that had been put in contact with me about a different lost dog. It seems she helped a friend in need placing a Shar Pei. The dog she placed, after very careful vetting of the new owners, escaped the very night it was placed. It had been spotted in an area about ten miles from its supposed new home, between me and town, and I saw it twice about a month ago. My co-worker contacted the lady that placed the dog and she called me, desperate for any information. Being she is from Richland WA (for some reason that town keeps popping up in my life and this story) she has no idea about this area, I offered to meet her where I last saw the dog. So, I met her and tried to fill her in about the valley. She has access to a hired tracker with a drone used to search for missing animals. It is equipped with an infrared camera and a Geo-tracker if the dog had that type of collar. This Shar Pei does not. I really don’t hold out much hope for this dog as the last time it was spotted it was in an area that is fairly close to wolf sightings. There were a lot of tears and she struggled mightily for control. After a while of me trying to console her, we parted with her placing more signs up for the missing dog. It’s sad, and I hope it can end well. But… who knows? Karl survived for a long time on his own, maybe the Shar Pei can too?
I’m going to take Karl outside and play with him before the sun goes down and be glad he is in my life. We can all hope the lady finds her dog and send a prayer her and the Shar Pei’s way.
After, our play I remembered something funny to lighten the mood. After our walkabout this morning I gave Karl a doggy treat the Doctor gave him to take home. The funny thing is he immediately took it from my hand and walked into the yard where I thought he’d eat it. But, no he dropped the treat on the ground and then started rolling on it, hmm… okay, it’s your treat Karl. But, then stranger yet he picked up the treat in his mouth, how else Cory? And, he started searching for something. That something was a place to bury his new treat, huh? Yea, Karl buried the treat – well okay, maybe he really, really doesn’t like that brand. This evening Karl and I went out to the front porch for our play and he immediately searched out and dug up the treat and ate it. I don’t know what that was about, maybe it was too hard and he wanted to make it softer or it kicked in some kind of powerful dog instinct I don’t know about – what’d ya think?
update #9: 10:00pm PDT Saturday 23th
I’m trying a new canine computer keyboard rest, this may or may not work out, but Karl wants some attention and I need to get our readers there daily update. So, here we go!
First things first, Karl and I are getting the hang of sleeping together. After a brief struggle for space Karl slept most of the night by my feet, not too bad. Towards morning he got up and slept in my computer chair for a couple hours. That was good for us too. About 6:00am he woke me up with some light whining by my bed. I got up to use the facilities and looked at him and said, “Dude it’s too early! I need more sleep…” He responded with a lot of tail wagging and wiggling backside, I inwardly groaned not holding out much hope for more sleep time. But, I valiantly trudged back to bed to see how it would go. Karl jumped up on my bed and promptly fell to sleep. We managed to wake up about 7:30am and both of us felt better.
After dressing Karl and I toured the yard for a few minutes he sniffing for any intruders and I trying to fully open my bleary eyes. Karl did find one new spot of interest, Poop! He looked at me as if I knew whose poop this was? I told him I’d look into it. I didn’t look into the poop! I searched on my cam for the culprit… geez... When we got back into the house I checked the security cam and spotted our visitor, at the 3:00am mark – one of the two or pack of Airedales from my northeastern neighbor had been on walkabout this morning. My neighbor is just over a mile away and there is no direct road between us, he has at least two Airedales, but one of my co-workers told me there are probably at least four or more. I’ve spotted two of the Airedales at my house before on my cams, they may spend about an hour or so just sniffing around. They do get around, and though not necessarily friendly, they aren’t particularly dangerous. Once when I helped our “nuisance control” hunter clean an Elk he shot, the Airedales showed up to watch. They never approached more than thirty feet or so, but they were very interested in the gut pile when we left.
Just so you understand what a nuisance control hunter is, he goes out and keeps the very large herds of Elk from tearing up the fields of new plants. During the winter the Elk are pushed out of the higher elevations by cold and by packs of wolves, and their desire for easier foraging of food. Young wheat plants are a nice change from the plants they have ready access to farther up. A herd of one hundred plus Elk can cause a lot of damage to a field, not so much by what they eat, but once they feed they bed down and will roll around on the young wheat plants. Green Peas, Dry Peas, and Garbanzo beans are favorites of Elk in the Spring and they can lay waste to acres of plants. The nuisance control hunter generally just uses a shotgun to scare off the Elk. He’ll go out with a four wheeler and go from field to field chasing off the big Elk herds, shooting towards, but not at the Elk with his shotgun. But, sometimes more drastic measures are called for, and with permission from the Fish and Game Department, who issues nuisance animal tags, the hunter will shoot and clean the animal in the field, leaving the gut pile behind as a warning to the Elk. It does seem to work. I helped the hunter clean and skin Elk a couple times. Not being a hunter myself it was a good experience to see how it is done by a master hunter. He made it look easy I’m sure, but at least I have seen it done which is a good thing. The prepared carcass is acquired by the Fish and Game Department, within a couple hours of the kill, to be sent to different nonprofit kitchens that can butcher and handle that much meat in their service to others.
After, I checked the security cams I decided to take Karl to town. His trips in the car are getting easier. I drove all over town with Karl and stopped at multiple establishments. On the way home Karl was still panting quite a bit, but the trembling almost subsided.
On the gravel road home, there is a turn-out into one of the fields that is fairly wide. I notice vehicles park there as people just stay there to enjoy the outdoors, or sometimes when they are homeless they use that as a place to live in their vehicle. I’ve noticed a Toyota SUV parked there several times over the past few months and have a “waving relationship” with the guy that parks there. This time I decide to stop and see if maybe they’d seen the Shar Pei running loose. I met the man and his lady friend and their big beautiful Pit Bull. I asked them if they’d spotted the Shar Pei and “no, they hadn’t.” But, they said they’d keep an eye out for the poor dog. I’d left Karl in the van, as I didn’t know what kind of situation I was stepping into, and when I turned around the big Pit Bull was standing on his hind legs with his paws on the driver’s window trying to introduce himself to Karl. Everything was cool and I wasn’t worried because I only had the window rolled down an inch or so and Karl seemed calm.
The man, explained how they liked being out in the fields and were happier out under the stars than in town. The lady kept up a constant chatter and I listened to her for awhile. They both looked like they’d had hard lives, but they were very friendly people. They had a fire going and the man kept tending it as the woman kept bending my ear. I don’t think she took a breath the entire time I was there, the man was probably glad to have someone else being the woman’s sounding board. Don’t get me wrong it was a totally pleasant experience and I finally took my leave.
Once done with breakfast Karl and I fell asleep in my computer chair/ottoman arrangement. Where he sleeps right now between my legs. Then it was time for our daily walk. Our walkabout was about the same as always, but about half way down Cardio Road I stopped and asked Karl if we had to go all the way to the bottom. Karl looked at me and smirked – I swear he smirked – and turned down hill and I followed. We got to the bottom of Wildness Canyon and worked our way up the other side. Karl only found one poop pile to roll in. I intended to scoop him up with my foot but it turned into a gentle boot to the side when he moved. His reaction broke my heart as I saw him tuck tail and scurry back. I immediately swept him into my arms and apologized, he kissed me in forgiveness. We drank some water and started back down into Wildness Canyon to climb Cardio Road on our way back home.
At the bottom of the canyon is a couple of trees and a deep gully. Between the trees is an area that probably serves as a deer bedding area at certain times of the year. Now, it is covered in knee high green grass. Karl wanted to root around in the grass, so okay? I have to check Karl for ticks when we go into these areas especially. Although, I check him several times when we’re out on walkabout and again when we get home, oh and I check myself too. Karl went to the edge of the gully by one of the trees and started sniffing a particular area, pretty soon he inched his way to the edge and then over he went in a semi-controlled doggy way. There were a lot of Tumble weeds where he was at and I didn’t feel he’d be hurt. I have to keep reminding myself that this little guy survived for I don’t know how long all on his own, he knows what he is doing. Once he went over I carefully walked to the edge checking to make sure I wasn’t on an overhang, I didn’t need to have the ground collapse beneath me taking me on a wild ride to the bottom. Karl was about ten feet below me and I wasn’t sure he’d be able to climb back up to where I was. So, I scouted out an area that I thought he’d more easily be able to get to me. Once I got there I turned to find Karl running up behind me – see this guy knows what he’s doing – laughs on Cory.
We made it home in one piece, I showered and here we are. Karl the computer keyboard rest worked out well. Karl’s a little jealous of the keyboard and the time I spend writing, but I keep telling him, “Someday soon that keyboard is going to feed us, be patient my little buddy”
That’s it for today, I hope you enjoyed our adventures and until tomorrow may peace and love find you.
update #10: 7:00pm PDT Sunday 24th
Karl just presented me with our biggest challenge – Karl chases cars, and even more worrying people on motorcycles and 4-wheelers. I’m upset about this new development, angry because he may be killed and scared because he may be killed. Even though I live in a fairly isolated area, it is also a place people come to, to get away from everyone else. On a weekend there are cars, and trucks driving by at three or four an hour, or more.
I first learned of his penchant for the chase while we were hanging on the front porch, me imbibing an adult beverage and him running around the front yard. Then down the road came a truck followed by another, and… uh… oh… Karl starts to run for the driveway. I was able to call him back before he got out of the yard, but this is a serious signal of a potentially deadly problem. Then two people drove by on 4-wheelers and the problem was confirmed, no amount of voice commands were able to stop Karl. By the time I got to him he was across the road, sniffing dirt.
I was mad and scared, I didn’t know how far he would set chase to the guys on the 4-wheelers they weren’t going that fast, but there he was across the road. I called him to me and we started down the driveway, then a guy on a dirt bike rode by and one again Karl took off, over my strenuous objections!
So, now I’m on the net trying to figure out what to do. This is not good, I will not be able to keep Karl in the house when I’m gone. I’m pretty sure my landlord doesn’t want him in the house ever, but with Karl being such a good boy with me around, I have no worries he will in any way be harmful to anything in the house, let alone the house itself. My boss/landlord is in the area several times a week, they use my yard to store heavy equipment during seeding, and harvest. He knows I have a dog – he told me about Karl in the first place – so if he doesn’t see Karl he will know what’s going on. Leaving him in the house when I’m gone is out of the question. And, right now I don’t have the money for any kind of special collars, I need a job first.
So, here we are, a great little dog I may find in a heap one day when I come home. I’m a bit down right now, and maybe a bit melodramatic I hope that’s all it is. damn…
Note: chasing vehicles is a problem with Cocker Spaniels as moving vehicles activate their bred in instincts to chase game birds -- how do you overcome instinct?
update #11: 10:30pm PDT Monday 25th
A new day dawned with a new worry, but with the morning light came hope renewed. I’d settled down with new resolve to find an answer to the problem Karl presented with chasing vehicles. One thing I’m not sure of is his penchant for the chase open to all vehicles, or was it just the three motorcycle type conveyances where he could see the human operator? As much time as we spent on the front porch today waiting for a car or truck to drive by, not one did. So, I can’t answer that question yet.
I found a day-old donut and downed that, Karl had some breakfast of Doctor Lady healthy dog food. Karl doesn’t seem to be all that enthralled with that particular fare… hmm… sorry Bud… that’s what ya get for giving Doctor Lady those puppy dog eyes. Seems I needed to read the instructions on the bag, yeah high-end dog chow has instructions. I thought it was like any other dog food, tear open bag, have dog clean up kibbles that escape from tearing open the bag, pour the rest in the dog dish and stand back – enjoy happy snuffles as dog devours vittles. Not so much in this case. I’d noticed that Karl wasn’t eating quite as much as our earlier feedings with the old stuff, but the new healthier food stated that a dog will not need as much of this food than traditional dog food, okay. Still for me to get Karl to eat this food I have to sit by his bowl and hand a couple of pieces to him and he eats form my hand until he finally eats directly from the bowl. He is eating the amounts listed on the bag for a dog his size, plus the few training treats I give him. I’m not too worried about his eating, I figure he’ll get hungry enough and he’ll start eating what I have him. Just so you know the Doctor Lady told me, “No, more people food for Karl!” and who am I to argue with Karl’s girlfriend? Actually, the way the doctor described it dogs can have issues with their pancreas if they eat as much fat and sodium as humans eat – hmm… maybe I need to go on the ‘Dog Diet?’
Karl decided I needed my morning walk, so after groaning and moaning I loaded our pack with the water supplies we’d need, grabbed his leash and some treats and away we went! Our walk was through a beautiful clear, sunny and crisp morning, and it was fairly uneventful. Except when I wasn’t looking – somebody who is not me, was rolling in coyote poop and something greenish that looked like upchuck… great, just great.
It was on our way up Cardio hill that Karl snapped at a yellow butterfly just right to turn it into his unfortunate toy. He played with that poor butterfly until it almost broke. It lay between his outstretched paws and he nudged it back to life. Finally, the poor thing flew into a group of its brethren and escaped worse for the wear in a cloud of flittering yellow. Karl lost track of his toy and lost interest in his sport.
As we were walking through the final stretch to home Karl came barreling past me after another butterfly. This one would evade his best efforts, but it got me to thinking in conjunction with some of the morning’s comments from Karl’s valued readers; what if I could break the spell of Karl’s instinctual pursuit of butterflies to our mutual benefit? What if, by the sound of my voice, I could get Karl’s attention long enough and quick enough to stop him from the chase? Could I then get him to pay attention to me as he broke to give chase to vehicles? I think it’s worth a try, and I’ll start working on it on our next walkabout!
One thing I did do today was work our network of groomers and pet store employees to find Karl and I an obedience trainer. Turns out one of the best trainers lives in my country neighborhood. Close enough that she offered to give me a discount on a private lesson with Karl. We do have to wait until next week when she returns from vacation, but it sounds like a pretty good deal. She did offer me some tips on becoming the pack leader to Karl, like always going through doorways first, always controlling Karl when I put his dog dish down, and not allowing him to ‘lunge’ at the bowl, which will probably be easy the way he’s been eating lately. These things establish dominance in a gentle but firm way, I’ll be on the lookout for other opportunities to demonstrate to Karl who’s the leader. Any ideas?
Karl’s snoring beside me is making it hard to concentrate so, we bid you farewell tonight,
and stay tuned for tomorrow’s new day’s adventure!
update #12: 11:30pm PDT Tuesday 26th
Well, well… big Karl and I are still an item. Today I decided to take my buddy down to the office for the farm I live on. I wanted Karl to take a ride in the van again and I wanted to introduce him to more people. New experiences for my little buddy, and no he still doesn’t like the van. Once we got there I parked my van and started across the lot. My boss and his two sons each have dogs, the lot came with a lot of dog scents for Karl to smell. We got there right at the end of break for the crew and I showed off my new dog.
One thing that came out of that visit with the crew that was of particular interest is this; one of the guys tried to reach out to Karl and Karl didn’t care for that, he actually growled a little bit both times the man reached out to Karl. Now, this is the first time I’ve been present when a man tried to be friendly with Karl, but every time I’ve seen a woman reach out to him, including the office lady at the farm, he’s never growled. Karl may be hesitant to let a woman make contact, but he always has whenever I’ve been around. It kind of makes me wonder if he was abused by a man in his past?
After our office visit, and many treats by the previously mentioned office lady, I took Karl out to the van. Karl wasn’t willing to jump in the van like he has so far, so foregoing anymore persuasion on my part I lifted him up and put Karl in the back, and wrapped his leash around the front passenger arm rest like always. Our trip to town was good and Karl is starting to tremble less and less each trip we take. When we got home I remembered the advice my local dog trainer recommended and when I opened the driver’s door instead of letting him jump over me to get out I made him wait until I got out first, pack leader first and all that.
Karl and I did all the normal things we’ve been doing, with a twist – I’m the boss – I’M THE BOSS!!! We took our afternoon walkabout and Karl actually stuck closer to me than he has in the past, except once when he caught a scent and went farther from me than I wanted. I called and whistled and he’d stop and look at me than just keep going. Of course he came back and it’s not like he went further than he ever has, but I haven’t been as insistent with trying to get Karl to stay close. We were a mile or so from the road, so Karl wasn’t in any danger, but I’m trying to do the Leader of the Pack thing, so… well… we’re working on it.
We also worked on “sit” and “stay” and Karl is actually understanding what I want, I think. He does sit better than stay, but I think we are making progress and I didn’t want to overwork the whole thing the first day. He is waiting at the door when I open it and tell him to stay, most of the time, so that’s improvement. A lot of this is on me too as I’ve been letting him do pretty much whatever he wanted, one because I didn’t know better, and two because this is only the start of the second week since I first pet him.
So, that’s really about it today, nothing big, but then again maybe it was actually a big day if I can keep him safe.
Stay tuned for more tomorrow.
update #13: 8:00pm PDT Wednesday 26th
Today Karl or I got way lazy despite better laid plans.
Maybe because we had a rough night sleeping? As I said Karl and I sleep in a single bed and I try to keep him at the foot of the bed. Normally, with a few slip ups, Karl stays pretty much where I want him. Lately, he will also stay in a little bed I set up for him in the room, for part of the night.
As an attempt to establish who the Pack Leader is I make him wait until I’m settled in bed before I allow Karl to join me. It’s an ongoing struggle/game.
Last night/this morning I got in bed and patted the bed beside me for Karl to get in his customary spot on the bed. For some reason, I couldn’t see because it’s dark when we sleep, and Karl did something wrong when he jumped and he missed, and fell back onto the hard wood floor with quite a thump. I tried to encourage him to try again, but to no avail. He actually left the room. Wanting to check on him I flicked on the light and could see him peeking at me from the next room. I wonder what happened to this poor guy for him to be so timid at times?
I told him I’m sorry he hurt himself, but it wasn’t really my fault. He was having none of it. hmm… I did manage to coax him into the room, but he immediately went to his bed rather than the one we share. I never was able to sweet-talk him to sleep with me last night. I apologized again to him, but… I fell asleep alone. Every time I’d awake, no Karl beside me. Oh, well both of us sleep when we are tired and are awake when we’re not sleeping, or something like that – overall Karl does sleep a lot, but I guess all dogs do?
Oh, everything was back to normal for our afternoon nap, and Karl slept beside me in the bed, and for that matter he’s been sleeping on me in our chair all day.
I did set an appointment next week for Karl’s vaccinations, before the Dog Trainer shows up next week. And, even though not really physically active, I did spend a large part of the day hammering on keys working on my book. So, there is that? Oh, and no walkabouts today. The weather took a turn towards the chilly – about 50+ and it was just a bit windy and wet earlier, so well that’s kinda of a reason?
Tomorrow we’ll be twice as busy, the weather will be mid-sixties and, and well… you know? If not... I blame this guy... really!
Stay tuned for more tomorrow!
update #14: 8:00pm PDT Thursday 27th
Thursday dawn – doggy is whining – must get up… ooohhh old body stiff not co-operating – getting up is a misnomer – rolling outta bed is more the reality.
I’m Up, I’m UP! Okay where is doggy and what the heck’s going on? Let doggy out, stumble to bathroom, stagger to bed. Untangle blankets lie down and… scratch, scratch, scratch at back door… a few whines, from the dog or me, not sure?
Yea… that’s the start to my day. I did manage to fake myself out for about twenty minutes that Karl would stop scratching at the back door… I had dreams he was digging through the paint on the door and door frame and my boss/landlord was having me removed forcibly from the property by a big burly Sherriff’s Deputy… aaarrgh! I’m up, I’m UP!
I go to the back door and greet Karl in my most Disney of singing voices – only to be greeted in return by a wiggling tail, wagging the dog – with brown puppy dog innocent eyes – damn doggys lucky he has those big brown eyes!
Okay, really it wasn’t that bad being up at 7:00am this morning what else was I gonna do, sleep? Considering I went to bed at 2:00am that’s not bad on a day off, right?
I went to town got some supplies, and when I came back I rustled up some breakfast. Then I hit my keyboard working on my book. It didn’t take as long to reach the end of the section as I expected, sometimes that’s what the Muse wants. Now, I need to wait a bit until the Muse tells me to what say next. I do know the direction I’m going, but sometimes I need the voice of my Muse to drive me there.
Karl and I went for a nice walk, and when we got back I decided to show you where he lived when he first showed up at my house. The first pic you see is the old corral, and the second is some kind of feed structure that the cattle ate from. Karl lived under that structure for a couple days until I could entice him to come up to the house. The ranch keeps the old corral up, barely, so as to grandfather it in if they decide to rebuild the corral and start cattle ranching again. There are feeding troughs along the edge of the road that are the biggest part of this corral and to be able to use them is a great advantage to the ranch if they decide to raise cattle again. Those feed troughs have probably been there for about fifty or so years, and even though they are falling over. Well, being there may come in handy, someday.
Right before I started writing today’s update Karl started barking and raising a fuss out my back door. That is the first time he ever did that. I bolted outside to see what all the ruckus was and… nothing? Then in the distance I could see and then hear one of the ranchers bring his rattly cattle/horse trailer up the road towards my house. Karl heard this too, and decided to set chase. Damn, so much for only chasing ATVs and motorcycles. I have been able to call him back when he takes off, most of the time, but? And, this time I was able to use my voice to stop him before he got to the road, but he did go quite a ways before I got his attention. We have to do better.
I’ve also been working on ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ with him. It’s not easy and I don’t do it for long, but each day he and I make a little more progress. Hopefully by the time the Dog Trainer shows up Karl and I will be able to do some of the basics already. I do have the time to attempt to do these things. And, I did order a book recently that was suggested by sky dog, thank you, and I hope to put its techniques to use soon.
Suns almost down and the end of the light side of day is coming, time for some food for Karl and I, and we hope you have a good night!
update #15: 8:00pm PDT Friday 29th
We're sorry, but today was rainy and cool. So, we hope you don't mind, but we're gonna take the day off. And, well we didn't do all that much, but watch the Soaps... naw... Karl wanted to watch the NFL Draft, but we don't have cable. I tried to explain to him why, but he just wasn't having it.
I did work with Karl on 'sit' and 'stay' for awhile and I have seen progress in a lot of other areas because of that.
So, I'll try again tomorrow and we are so glad you've supported us and offered the greatest advice. Thank you.
update #16: 10:00pm PDT Saturday 30th
I’m sorry yesterday’s update was so short. We really had a quiet day and I don’t want to just ‘phone in’ these updates.
Today we went for a walk, after Karl and I practiced ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ for a while. He’s getting better, and luckily we had a few vehicles drive by on the road and I was able to keep Karl’s attention on me, mostly.
We’d just come back from our walk and I was in the house, with Karl outside and I was just starting to look at some of the pictures I took of Karl, when a SUV pulled into the yard. Now, this is the first time since Karl came into my life that we had visitors. I had no idea what to expect, so I grabbed Karl’s leash and headed for the front door. That is where I’d left Karl sleeping on the porch, just moments before. By the time I’d got to the front porch I could hear Karl barking at the man who was now at the side door to the kitchen. Karl had been in the garage and now the guy was between us. I looked at him and said, “I don’t know what the dogs going to do, I just got him.” Karl was barking and obviously upset at the man, and would not come to me. I wanted to put his leash on him, but no doing.
The man and I started talking and he was a nice guy, out with his wife, driving a new SUV and wanted to know about getting permission to hike on some of the nearby land my Landlord/Boss farms. Karl is still barking, but not being particularly menacing. So, I just told the guy what he wanted to know and kept an eye on Karl. The guy said it looks like you got yourself a watchdog there, and started making his way back to his vehicle. Karl kept barking and then started lunging at the man’s ankles. Oh, great! The guy didn’t turn his back on Karl after the first time and I can’t blame him, he did make it back to his SUV without harm, and I was still trying to get Karl under control as they pulled out of the driveway, but then Karl started following the SUV and barking all the way out to the road and beyond.
Geez… this little guy is going to be a handful around other people, I think. I do wonder if Karl would’ve reacted the same to a woman? Only time will tell.
Note: I do want to keep up with the updates, but as things settle down it does get harder to come up with new things to write about, and I don’t want to just ‘phone in’ the updates. You all deserve my best and as a writer I want to give you my best as well. I hope we’re not disappointing you?
Stay tuned, and we will post whenever we can keep the story moving along, naps are great, but not much to read about :)