Thursday, August 30, 2012

The River Wild

I keep wanting to call the brook behind the house a creek, because that is what they're called in Alberta. In Nova Scotia though they are called brooks, I don't know if the word creek denotes an upgrade from a brook or if all creeks are brooks here. You can call it whatever you like but the dogs call it a constant source of interest. The brook is for a quick drink and to sniff the smells of whatever has recently stopped for a break along its banks. It's cute that the dogs all are fascinated by things that float in the water. The movement attracts them and like good hounds they follow the leaf or twig as it makes its way to wherever brook flotsam goes. Leeloo sometimes tries to grab it and in her frustration she smashes at it with her feet. The splashing usually curtails this activity poste haste.

The Boy is a watcher. I'm not sure if the time he spends watching things float around, or fly, or blow in the wind is him being thoughtful or being especially slow on the uptake. He is definitely thinking about whatever is floating in the water but I can't always tell if he understands what's happening. Either way it's adorable. Boy trying to think ... so cute.

If you can see your way past that handsome fellow and look behind him to all that junk along the creek banks you'll get some small idea of what I have to clean up in order to make the paths safe and traversable. And also make it look nice because really ... who wants to look at that mess. One of the problems is where to put all that junk. I'm tossing it into the woods off my property but I still don't want to be able to see it. I am not burning it so don't even try - there is no way I'm having a burn-pit on my property, they are ugly, unsafe and ugly. No thanks.

Not one to leave everything to me, Cora lends a hand. She is extremely good about making sure she knows where I am in the woods and checks in on a regular basis. I'm sure with time and 'wisdom' that will change. It always does. Those eyes still slay me and the bright intelligence sparkling out of them worries me just a little.

Speaking of smart, Leeloo does a lot of stopping and thinking these days. Perhaps here she is stopping to think what that low humming sound is that's coming from her right. It's a bee hive, a rather large one I think, inside a very large tree stump. Thankfully I am sure it's bees, and not wasps (we already found those) and I don't mind bees. They are a lot more sensible than wasps and they won't bother us if we leave them alone. The wasp incident involved Boy being stung multiple times on the head and Cora at least once or twice on her back and tummy. Wasps are serious business so we're careful when we pass that hive.

In all the length of creek/brook the dogs will ultimately have immediate access to is about 60 or 70 feet long and will likely be full and inaccessible for a large part of the Spring. Best to get the sniffies out of the way now before the snows set in, can't wait to see what leaves tracks in my neck of the woods ... Cora can't wait either.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Picture This

Since moving in I've been hard at work almost every day getting the yard to a condition where, when I look at it, I don't cringe. When I moved in there was almost no work done to any landscaping, no fence, no paths, infrequently mowed, and most things left to rot in the grass or decay in silence behind the shed. I've worked myself ragged trying to get things in order and although I am close, we are not there yet. I want certain areas to be a nice backdrop to the dogs since my plans for this place include it having several spaces where photos can be taken - like outdoor studios. One of the things that is in the forefront is the shed - the forefront because it's by the house and clearly visible to all and sundry. It had a lot of wood 'hidden' behind it, smothered in weeds and at least one snake living in the pile of offcuts and broken boards. It had to go and go it did. There was a partial fence that I couldn't decide what to do with and in the end I nailed it to the shed and painted it white. The Boy demonstrates its fine use as a backdrop. I hope to have a little bench there one day but that will have to wait until I decide what kind of bench (stone, wood, park ...)

And the lawn which, I may say, is a lot easier to mow on a ride-on mower which was generously donated by my parents and after mowing an acre twice this summer with a push mower, that ride-on is *amazing*. Cora likes the grass nicely mowed because it means she can run even faster and be even more annoying than usual. Don't let this calm, collected exterior fool you, that ear is flipped backward for a reason ... streamlining.

There are a few areas I can't get to yet to make into what I want simply because the grass is so overgrown that I will likely have to wait until spring to cut paths. It's just so over grown. Not that the dogs care, they just push their way through to get where they want to go and these days it's into the blackberry bushes ... at least a half acre of them. They stand patiently picking the blackberries off the branches and I wondered if they ate the un-ripened ones as well but no, they seem to have learned what color the ripe tasty blackberries are and choose those quite selectively. It means that when I'm picking blackberries for me I have to be quick to get to the full canes!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Finding Neverland

The property here is like a Neverland for dogs. They have everything they could hope for in varying landscapes, smells and terrain. From the mown acre of lawn to the tall grass and paths to the woods and the creek, this place has it all. I'm not sure when the dogs settled in but at this point I think the Oak Street house is but a fleeting memory and all they see is acres and acres of wonder. Leeloo likes to race down the slope to the middle entrance to the woods, she only brakes for squirrels.

Each day we choose a different way into the woods, or a different adventure to take. It reminds me of those books I read as a child, the Choose Your Own Adventure stories depended on you deciding what you wanted to do when the character was presented with two or more options to move forward in the story. My parents bought them for my brother but I'm pretty sure I wore the pages out of them doing all the adventures. I think the dogs would love to wear the pages out of this property.

The creek, or brook, is a delightful break from smashing our way through the woods although I imagine in the spring this won't be so easy to walk down! Cora doesn't like to get her feet wet but nothing will stop her from investigating the scents of the animals that come down to drink here. Who is that in the creek?

The large span of lawn that I now have to mow is a nice break from tripping over roots and beating back tree branches in the woods. Especially for Esme who gets caught up in the undergrowth a lot more easily than the Ridgebacks! Although I think she prefers the grass, Esme is still determined that she will not be left behind. She just left today for some shows in Maine so when she returns I'm sure I'll have a little more wilderness hacked out for her convenience. Good Luck Esme! Bring home a couple majors ...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Little Voice

First thing - new look. The template for the blog has been the same for years and since I have the above (amazing) photo of The Boy (taken with an iPhone - can you believe it?) I wanted to showcase it. I also needed to change the widths of the margins and that wasn't possible with the old template so ... ta da!

In the past couple months the dogs have accumulated so many stories. Every day is like a novel for them; sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and page after page of things that happen that are of profound importance to them in that moment, whatever that moment may hold. Most dogs don't have a voice and they carry on without needing anyone to record their daily forays through life; but for Raimi, Leeloo, Cora and Esme, I had given them voices which were recently silenced. This was due to so many things happening in my own life that speaking for them was just something from which I needed to emotionally distance myself in order to accomplish the things that needed to get done. These days though, with the summer winding down and settling into our new home, the dogs are speaking again and their adventures sometimes beg to be told.

These Ridgebacks(and Puli) have probably taught countless people about life with dogs. Not everyone wants 4 dogs but with the personalities I am conducting everyday - and sometimes it truly is like a symphony to get everyone to work in syncopation - I am exposed to a rainbow of behaviours and problems the dogs throw my way on an daily, if not hourly basis. Since going on hiatus with the blog, the dogs have experienced so many exciting things (to a dog) and I realized that while moving from one house to another was my story, the dogs relocating with me is theirs. All the experiences of what it might be like for a dog to move from a town to the country kept popping into my head and I'd catch myself thinking 'That would be good for the blog' but then remember I was sitting on the sidelines for a little while.

After a while I checked in and found that someone posted a comment that simply blew me away. I had no idea the impact my silly ponderings about the dogs could have. Gratifying too since the whole point of the blog was to teach people about Ridgebacks, and dogs, and to hopefully convince someone this was the right breed, or the wrong breed, for their family. The comment included a link to his own blog about his Ridgeback tale and although we will never meet, I am very grateful for the incredible compliments from Pawed Equivocality and the support of the people who read the Invictus blog.

I am constantly be asked to turn up the volume of the my dog's stories and now I feel is the right time. I have hacked my way into the wilderness of my new home, all for the dogs, and they have spoken in every moment  about how to define true joy.

It's in the hunt for a squirrel, between the roots of an overgrown tree, hidden behind a tangle of bushes, in a glee filled roll in the grass, a race down to the creek, curiousity about blue jays, the mysterious hooting of an owl at night, the roll of thunder over the countryside, stampeding out the door to catch the squirrel off guard, smashing through the bracken, eating something inappropriate, napping on the couch after a walk, panting in the sunshine, getting into the garbage when I'm outside working, and hassling the cats.

Dogs may have little voices but if you know how to listen you can write it all down.