Jun 092017
 

By Patty Wilber

You know you’ve got it made when you have 24 hour barn help (even if they are dogs)!

Coulson: hurry up mom! the sun is up, me and lani have been out and back in and you are not on a horse yet! Me, mumbling: Need coffee…

Lani: ok! she is on the move. today we will lay in the arena for every horse. Coulson: great! everything is great!

Continue reading »

May 202016
 

By Patty Wilber

We went to Longmont, Colorado last weekend for an Appaloosa show. Drove out on Friday.  20160513_084911

Drove back on Saturday.  That was a lot of driving! Over 900 miles, round trip.

We had to do it because so far as I can tell, there are only two Appaloosa Working Cow Horses in the entire state of New Mexico and both live at my house.

LT, of course, and the international addition, Mitch, who just arrived from Canada last month and belongs to Ardith Allcorn

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Mitch (You CD Signs)

The horses travelled well.  I did not tie them so I could feed them on the floor of the trailer.  The hay on the floor is also so no one (read LT) gets tangled in a hay net.

We have a stock trailer with good air flow–which means the feed blows around and could get in their eyes, so they got to wear fly masks to protect them from flying hay.

Continue reading »

Nov 132015
 

By Patty Wilber

Dogs fly free on Southwest Airlines!  At least if they are under 50 lbs and statues in a box.

Dog in a box

Dog in a box

This dog “lived” with Jim’s Mom for many many years..

She passed away Oct, 15, 2015. 

Marjorie (Midge) Wilber

Marjorie (Midge) Wilber

At first, I was not especially keen on bringing the statue back to NM, but heck, we adopted Babe, Midge’s living canine, when she moved out of her home into assisted living, so why not the plaster cast dog? And besides, this isn’t any ordinary dog-likeness.  This guy was Midge’s companion until nearly the very end!

Last weekend, all Midge’s descendants (and spouses and significant others–26 of us) descended on Illinois to celebrate her life.  Most of us stayed (and the rest congregated for much of the time) at Jackie, Jim’s oldest sister’s, house. That was an amazing reunion and what a gift to us all.  Thanks SO MUCH Jackie!

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Jun 082015
 

by Doranna

0711.connery.teeter.LJTell you what. I am so sick of other people being all up in my business. Trying to control my personal decisions about my dogs when it comes to spay/neuter, collars, car crating…

For one thing, no matter how much outside micromanagement occurs, the irresponsible people who inspire the micromanagement are still irresponsible, while the rest of us pay the price.

For another, to manage our dogs to their best benefit it takes thoughtful understanding of the individual circumstances–and the ability to make choices accordingly.

Something we’re allowed in increasingly short supply these days.

My Beagles are pro-choice boys when it comes to neutering. That doesn’t mean being fervently on one side or the other…it means understanding the pros and cons of the choices and factoring in our household, our resources, and the individual dogs. And then doing what’s best for them.

Most of my online friends know that I never had any intention of neutering 5yo Dart. I mean, why would I even consider it, when there are so many studies pointing to the health consequences?*

*(That’s the usual discussion for another time. Or go Google for studies rather than opinions. It’s not hard to find the information. Here’s a brief but far from complete start.)

Anyway, this choice thing goes both ways, so I respect that circumstances sometimes make neutering seem the most responsible decision in spite of the health consequences. But for us it very much isn’t.

Wasn’t.

Things do change.

In Dart’s life, too much changed, too persistently. He lost his older sister Belle Cardigan. He gained a new older sister in Rena Beagle who turned out to have escalating, chronic health issues. Then after a series of struggles, he lost that sister, too. He gained a younger brother in Mickey Cat, who was as much a part of his life as any of us. Then Mickey Cat was badly injured; the stress and recovery affected them all. Then–and all this as Dart was heading for his prime while older brother Connery aged into graceful Unclehood–he gained his younger brother Tristan Beagle. And then, finally, almost a year after losing Rena…

He lost his beloved Mickey Cat. Sad and sudden.

Dart was born a hyper-vigilant and over-stimulated dog. He was struggling even before we lost Mickey–too many changes, too much assumed responsibility on the shoulders of the pack’s only intact adult male.

Mickey’s loss pushed things over the edge. By early spring, Dart was constantly hackled, walking around on his toes with a growl in his throat. Suddenly we were actively managing to prevent an always-imminent explosion. And the worst part?

Dart knew it. Knew he was acting out, knew he was causing trouble, and was miserable with it.   Herbal calming options didn’t work. GABA-based options didn’t work. Valerian put him to sleep, which I suppose worked in its way, but not in a quality-of-life way.

So we had a family discussion and then I talked to his breeder, who is wonderful for all the right reasons and knows exactly the oddity that is Dart, and within moments the decision was made.

dart.vulture.220Within a week, the deed was done.

Because while neutering most certainly won’t change ill-manners or learned behaviors, it can help an over-reactive dog. And while I did consider medication–in fact, the $$amitriptyline$$ still sits unused on my counter–I wasn’t quite ready to try it without exploring all other options.

It’ll take six months from surgery for Dart to settle into his new steady state, but the changes are already obvious. The pack runs together again, needing no special management at meal times, bed times, or transition times. Dart and Tristan play together with abandon, and Dart doesn’t flail into reactivity when they do.

For this dog, this time of his life, it was the right thing to do.

dart.heel.313It’s up to all of us to make the best possible decisions as we go along, factoring in not the shame culture that now imbues the spay/neuter discussion and not the fact that Family Smith down the road isn’t able or interested in responsibly handling an intact dog, but based on what we know and actively continue learning about dog health/behavior, and on our own individual dogs.

Along the way, people who aren’t us need to stop thinking that they are, and need to stop trying to force and shame us into decisions that aren’t in the best interests of our specific circumstances. They should make the best decisions for them.

As for me, I’ll go on supporting everyone’s ability to make their own choice. That includes spreading the word about the health consequences of neutering, talking up sterilization instead of neuter, and yes, supporting low-cost S/N. And then I’ll stay out of other people’s business while they make their choices, and thank them to stay out of mine.

Mar 252015
 

Tristan Beagle continues to grow up faster than I can even type about him.

tb.teeth.469See? Teething!  And between the day I took this pic and am writing this blog, those missing front teeth have largely grown in!

He has a lot of fun stuff in his life, along with the ongoing ball of activity we dryly call the PuppyCat Unit.  He visits my dad at the hospice residence, goes to Connery and Dart’s obedience drill for a few moments of play and socialization, heads to our version of a National Forest to play with scent on our tracking practice grounds, and loves the daily games also known as training.

(Many of those games are simply building body awareness, but he also has an early understanding of sit, down, stay, heel, show stacking, bringing me an object, taking an object from hand, come, go to kennel, stay in kennel until released, wait at door to come in, leave it alone, let it go, and I’m probably forgetting something because these are all just things we DO.)

Most recently, he attended a puppy party. Continue reading »

Mar 042015
 

durgin.dart.dsc1120.400Once you embark on the Way of Dog Performance Sports (obedience, rally, tracking, agility), certain things change.  Every cares about the health and well-being of their dogs—but when you’re asking for more from them—and when you’re planning your training around what you hope to accomplish—then not only do the obligations increase, but the whole matter is never far from your radar.

It would be easy to get bogged down on the details.  Continue reading »

Feb 232015
 
Not your average glamour shot.  (Stacy Keach with Miss P, from the Westminster site.)

Not your average glamour shot. (Stacy Keach with Miss P, from the Westminster site.)

So, hey!  Miss P, Beagle Beautiful, won the Westminster last week!

Beagle Beagle Beagle!

She is a lovely bitch, with personality and elegance and the most beautiful expression.  And Beagle owners everywhere are bouncing around in the Land of SQUEEE!  Including me!

However. Continue reading »

Feb 172015
 
Even I have to admit this is a pretty good Face of Innocence.

Even I have to admit this is a pretty good Face of Innocence.

Ohh, it seems so easy to see wherein lies the FAIL.

The dog is trained.  The dog is proofed. The dog is in a familiar environment.

So he should know better.

And thus Dart Beagle recently went to obedience drill and wouldn’t. 

He flopped around when asked to sit for the stay exercises.  He got up.  He got up.  He got up. Continue reading »