Monday, April 30, 2007

The Hard Way

You have to know me for about five minutes to figure out that I love my wife. I absolutely adore her, but. . .

She comes from a family that does not believe in doing things the easy way. Take this evening, for example.

Until recently, we fed the dogs Natural Balance Venison and Brown Rice, which was recalled about two weeks ago. This resulted in a very abrupt series of kibble changes, with more or less success in terms of anti-allergenic characteristics and epicurean appeal.

The one for sure negative consequence associated with rapid kibble changes is the very distinct and highly likely possibility that one or more of the dogs will experience diarrhea. In our case, three. Big. Dogs. With. Diarrhea.

So K. called her brother, who is a Vet, today, to ask for some friendly advice. Here is where the family not believing in doing things the easy way comes in. He told her without equivocation that Pepto-Bismol is bar none the BEST way to address such issues. Further complicating issues, although you can use the pill form, the liquid really is the only way to go for quick, decisive results.

Here is where pictures speak for a thousand words:

This is an upper cabinet in the kitchen, with a corner of the stove hood.

The streaks on the side of Azure’s face are Pepto Miss-o shots:

K’s most precious responses from this evening’s mis-adventures:

“I don’t understand. They eat poop, for goodness sakes. It’s not like they have discerning tastes.”

“Wow. We will be wiping up Pepto-Bismol from random locations for the next 20 years.”

“Geez, no wonder this stuff works to coat your stomach. It becomes concrete when left standing. Can you hand me a chisel?”
"I see now why you would think you have a future in professional football."
"You sure rise to meet a challenge."

A$$-end Up

As has been mentioned before, the goat pasture was (we previously thought) quite cleverly designed using the pond to create one boundary, with the bridge offering a path to the island which was badly overgrown and in need of the severe pruning the goats offered.

Count among our successes that the goats have done a fine job working through the imbroglio of sumac, hedge and poison ivy to allow sunlight to touch the ground’s surface and grass to begin establishing itself on our island. Count among our detractors the “porousness” of the pond-side boundary, such as when drought dropped the pond level to the point where the goats and other animals could have unimpeded ingress and egress by simply walking around the fence. For the purposes of this story, the other detractor to this boundary system was manifest last winter in a long cold-snap, when the pond froze over completely, allowing the adventurous Azure to trot across the pond’s surface for her own island exploration expedition, a friendly visit to the goats, or just random ice-skidding meanderings.

We are well past such freezes, but they clearly remain sharply outlined in Azure’s mind.

One of the fine things in this world is to enjoy the quiet of the fall of evening on the water. We were doing just this last night, K. sitting in a chair, me leaning against the railing of the floating dock, listening to the cacophony of crickets and bullfrogs, watching the peculiar variety of chase that occurs as fish tap the surface of the pond where bugs briefly light for a sip of water. The sun was making its final dip toward the horizon, filling the sky with ribbons of pinks and oranges. It had been a hot day, so the evening breeze was especially nice as we stopped for this time on the dock to savor the fleeting moments of our weekend.

This restful moment was abruptly interrupted by a splash and K’s gasp, “She’s in!”

I turned just in time to see Azure’s ass-end pointing straight up in the air, her back toes clutching to the deck boards, tail straight up in the air, and every available puppy part reaching for something behind her. I grabbed her leash to reel her in, and K swooped down and scooped her back onto the dock.

Safely returned to the solid planks of the dock, Azure was completely wet and had moss covering her forehead and snout. K was laughing that unhinged, scared, relieved laugh that she saves for special moments when people she loves are hurt or nearly hurt. I was wondering what in the world was going on in Azure’s crazy little mind. Azure shook the moss off her nose and didn’t seem to wonder or notice much had happened at all. As she nosed her way back to the edge of the dock, we decided we had had enough quietude and relaxation for one evening.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Cruel Acceptance of a Casual Invitation

I do not know where I first heard this phrase, but it is on my list of top favorite sayings. It seems to capture so many different possibilities and the associated consequences. As we were trying to decide what to do with our Sunday after receiving a phone call from a virtual stranger asking K to make good on an oblique reference to fishing our pond, this phrase echoed through my mind.

I guess we could have said, “no.”

The caller explained that his brother is getting ready to ship out to Iraq within the next couple of weeks, and they were trying to get in as much fishing as possible before then. How do you say no to that? (She says - looking at the six slumbering, snoring dogs scattered across the living room.)

When they arrived, we showed them to the pond, gave them as much advice and pointers as anyone can give about what I regard as unfathomable: the inclinations and proclivities of fish, and went on to try to salvage the day’s projects. The pond is one of the many amazing features of MisFit Farm. It appears to be remarkably well-stocked with something for everyone. We have pulled 15” crappie out of it, bass ranging from hand-sized to 6 pounds, a flathead catfish that was over 40 inches and well beyond 25 pounds, and the best part of all, there is a mess of bluegill, perfect for a day fishing with smaller children, as long as the worms hold out. Kids can spend an entire day dropping in a line, and plucking bluegill out of the pond, squealing with delight at each catch.

Brandon, the soldier, caught the big catfish pictured here. It is a big one - weighed in at over 20 pounds.

I happened to be by the goat barn working on digging a trench for a French drain when I heard a commotion by the pond. I came out from around the corner of the barn just in time to see him dancing around, fishing pole pulled to a bend, line taught and swirling, and Brandon, the man who will leave the verdant Kansas Spring for the sands of Iraq soon, laughing, whooping, and exclaiming to his brother, “Ooooh, it’s a big one. I’m gonna need help here. Help me here. Lord amighty it’s a big one!”

Although I am not inclined to sentimentality, I was reminded today of our shared human-ness: that a grown man who has been trained for battle-testing is as delighted with the simple act of catching a fish and a day with his brother in the sun, as any child who has accepted our casual invitation.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

You know it is a good day when. . .

You get a mud bath from a romp in the yard where you go sliding down a hill on your back like a trip down “slide rock” in Oak Creek Canyon.

Then you go inside, prop yourself up for a nap in your favorite chair and sleep so hard, you drool.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

What do you do with a dog that is too big for the largest crate in production? What do you do with a dog so large he cannot fit through the XXL doggie door? What do you do with a dog who, standing flat-footed, is prone to being hit in the face when the top-freezer door on the fridge is swung open?

Put him in the trailer at MisFit Farm, of course.

Our newest foster, who fits the above description, is Alistair. Since K insists on shortening every name, except oddly enough, mine, he has become “Al.” “Al” seems to suit him. Big Al. My pal, Al. Al-a-ca-zam.

Al was turned over to rescue when the workers at the factory where he was living a chained existence pooled their money and bought him from the owner. Given this history, I felt that he should be named Bolshevik or Karl. I have conceded, however, that “Al” is a suitably proletariat name.

Notwithstanding the fact that every person who sees him lets out a low whistle and an under-the-breath, “holy cow,” Al does not seem to have any appreciation for how large he is. He thinks nothing of leaning against any person who will hold still long enough for him to get into position and coax into petting him. He has determined that his “sleeping place” is in the large, but really not large enough, nest bed on the floor between my side of the bed and the wall. He wants nothing more than to play with the goats, and expresses his desire by rearing up in the form of a Lipposanzer stallion, thereby scaring the wits out of the goats, the person holding his lead, and low-flying birds.

I almost forgot one of Alistair’s best features: he is very thirsty, and has a special way of drinking that has contributed exponentially to the drool content of the household.

The water dishes at MisFit Farms are buckets. For Al, they also double as training grounds for the international snorkeling team. It seems that drinking is best accomplished by plunging his nose deep into the bucket, so that the water line nearly reaches his eyes. This allows him to blow bubbles at the same time water is being slurped. It has the secondary effect of providing a waterfall feature that cascades across the floor and any other available surface when his head is lifted from the bucket.

In a weak and futile effort to contain the runoff, we have placed the bucket on a rag rug remnant in the “pan” from a large dog crate. He is willing to have his face wiped off with a paper towel wielded by the vigilant, but for the unwary, he is willing to accept a pant leg, shirtsleeve, or in my case, the shoulder of my t-shirt.

We are actively searching for a home for this amazing fellow. He is the kind of dog I can and likely will write about in the chapters of my days. He is the kind of dog that makes you proud to be with him. He is the kind of dog that leaves you with absolutely no doubt in your mind that you are loveable and adored. Al and about a dozen other wonderful babies can be virtually visited at:

Friday, April 06, 2007

Bling Bling

The girls, well the teenager girls, got new digs last week. Aren’t they pretty?

Mercy previously had been outfitted in a hunter orange collar for deer season, contemplating the possible trespass of a near-sighted or inebriated deer hunter. Having survived both the indignity that she may, under any circumstance, be mistaken for a deer, and the insult of the gauche hunter-orange collar, we thought it was high time to outfit her in something sleek and sophisticated. Witness the “martini” collar.

Trinity was still wearing the collar she had when we retrieved her nearly 10 months ago. Trinity’s old collar had some type of reflective striping on it, which coincidentally did not seem to work very well. The striping was a gray color, so her old collar always looked like it had been “blinged” out. Well, all we can say is watch out Paris Hilton, no not because Trinity still has a crotch-sniffing vigor that will lift you off your feet: check out the CZ bling bling on this collar!

Azure has eaten through several of our old spares, but has sufficiently mellowed enough to be trusted with her own, new collar. What to buy for the psycho dog who has everything? Maybe something in a nice, bubbly blue to match her eyes.

After this shopping escapade, I can almost see how people fall into that terrible trap of thinking that it is a good idea to put clothing, nay, fashion clothing, on their dogs.

This may be the next bold step in reality television: Pimp My Dog. Since we don’t watch television, adding this potentially disasterous program certainly wouldn’t do us any harm.