Monday, December 29, 2008

Meet Buck!

When this 9 year old Appaloosa first joined our horses who live across the street from us, I liked him right away. He wasn't holding up to the vigorous riding his owner needed him for, so he was spending some time across the street to get healthy.

Well because I am really smart, and between dogs and hunting and fly fishing and kayaking and target shooting I can't find enough things to throw money at, I told my wife that I kinda want that Appaloosa across the street.

And because she's really smart, and for some reason the symmetry of three dogs, three snakes, three lizards and three horses was too, well, symmetrical, she said Absolutely. We got him checked out at the vet today, didn't find anything that would prevent him from being able to do some trail rides and stand there while I feed him cookies and apples, and that was that.

Oh, did I mention I don't ride? I've taken three lessons so far, and it's been pretty fun. But I have a long way to go before Buck and I will be hittin' the trails. Hopefully by spring. But for now, it's cool to see my very own horse across the street.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Photo Contest WINNER!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered my Christmas photo contest! There were many fun, beautiful and festive photos to pick from. But in the end, I could not resist this inebriated Vizsla. Maybe it's because I enjoy staging alcohol-themed pictures of Winnie, maybe he's just a really cute pup. But this is the winner of the first annual Christmas photo contest!

His name is Linden’s Family Tradition, and he goes by "Hank."

Hank and his family will soon be receiving their prize of this really fun book from Ugly Dog Hunting. (By the way, I really like this company. Everything I've ordered from them has been good quality, at reasonable prices and their customer service is excellent too.) Here is a great excerpt from the book, as shown on Ugly Dog's web site:

Several cosmic truths construct the bird dog continuum: If it’s smelly, we roll in it. If it can be upchucked at 3 a.m., we eat it. Porcupines should be chomped, snakes should be tossed, and by all means, if there’s a hornet’s nest in a rock wall, we darn well need to excavate. ...Truck door inside handles are excellent dental floss. There’s no human bed too small to be shared, and, most important, with the proper conditioning, we can indeed learn to love the stimulation of a highly-tuned electronic training collar.

Thanks Rob, for entering Hank in the contest, and I hope you enjoy your prize! I don't have a prize for second place, but wanted to give honorable mention to Lani, a Deutsch Drahthaar from Vomorion Kennels, in Caldwell, Idaho. Ken sent in this picture of Lani and I just love it. Because as much as I enjoy dog owners who humiliate their dogs by posing them with props and costumes, I enjoy even more when the dog genuinely seems to resent it in the resulting photos.

And of course if for some reason throughout the year Hank is not able to fulfill the responsibilities of the first prize winner, Lani will have to step up and assume the title.

Thanks again to everyone who entered, I appreciate all who visit here and hope to keep things amusing enough for you to check back regularly.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Photo Contest!

I thought this Photobucket slideshow would be a neat place to put the photos as I get them, but it's cropping some of the images. So if you want to see all the pictures, click here to see the album on Photobucket. I'll add to the album and slideshow as I get more entries.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas! (Photo contest!)

"The ideal age for a boy to own a dog is between forty-five and fifty."
— Robert Benchley

Happy Holidays to all our friends out there. Thanks for stopping by here from time to time and sharing in Winnie's progress with me this year. I'd like to do something a little different here - when you're letting your dogs open presents, I know you're taking pictures. Send me a Christmas picture of your dogs and I'll post it right here. Our distinguished panel of seven judges (me and a six pack of Sam Adams Winter Lager) will select the best, or funniest, or most ridiculous, Christmas photo and send some sort of lame prize to be determined later when I think of one!

The only rules are, pictures have to be from this year and have to include your dog. Email pictures to me at, and have a Merry Christmas!

The Boxer

Our dogwalker, who comes every day to spend a little playtime while we're at work, has a boxer puppy just a bit older than Winnie. Winnie is 5 months, I think he's a month older. He is SO handsome! I love boxers, I always have. And this one is a real sweetheart.

She brought him over tonight to meet everyone. Well, everyone but Scooter, who is not accepting canine visitors because he is a cranky old bastard. But the boxer got along great with Winnie and Gromit! The picture above is misleading, he is almost exactly the same size as Winnie. He's stockier, but he's a hair taller.

The photo on the left shows in detail the Jack Russell new dog greeting method. A rare moment in nature seldom caught on film.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bath Time...

Winnie had her first bath today! And, like everything else, she took it completely in stride. That's not to say she was thrilled with it, as this photo clearly illustrates. But she was still and patient and now she's clean and happy.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Just Like Home...

Last week when Winnie and I were at my friend's cabin - which is a No Dogs On the Furniture Zone - I went out for a beer run and, while I was gone, Winnie took the opportunity to sneak in a quick nap. Upon my return, when I discovered the infraction, I had a choice to make: Correct her with a firm "No" and lead her off the bed into her crate or another approved napping location, or, get my camera, take a picture, bring the beer in from the car, join the party and pretend I think Winnie's asleep in her crate.

Luckily, my friend doesn't read this blog!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Living Vicariously...

My friend Ed spent an embarrassingly long time hunting and fishing out west recently - Montana, Washington and I think some other states out there. He takes great photos whenever he travels, and so I thought I'd share a few of them here. I really want to get back to Montana next year...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Winnie at Rose River Farm

Thanks to my friend Douglas, I had the opportunity to bring Winnie down to Rose River Farm in Madison County, Virginia for a couple days. The purpose of the trip was a Friday meeting of the Project Healing Waters board of trustees, but I went down Wednesday night to get in some dog time and a little trout fishing. It rained much of the time, but we had lots of fun and I continue to be amazed at how this dog handles every new experience I throw at her.

When we arrived, it was just getting dark. Douglas brought his Spinone, Enzo, out to meet Winnie. I've spent some time with Enzo before, but hadn't seen him in a while. He is way bigger than I remembered, probably because I'm so used to Winnie's size. And Winnie was clearly intimidated by him at times - after all, she's used to being the biggest dog in the yard. But Enzo wouldn't hurt a fly, and they got along fine. I kept her on the check cord at first, having never let her off leash out in the open before. But soon it became clear that, at her age and in such a new place, she wasn't going to range very far from me.

We left the dogs in crates, Winnie's right next to Enzo's, and went out to dinner. She was completely fine when we returned. Douglas broke out the Gator/mule/utility vehicle/whatever you call it, to give Enzo a run. I was very curious (okay, anxious) about how Winnie might react to that. I said she'd be afraid of the noise, that she isn't used to being around vehicles, that it's dark out and blah blah blah. Meanwhile, Winnie was saying, "cool! let's GO!" We drove down to the river and back, maybe a mile and a half, Enzo leading the way and Winnie happily running behind! What great exercise! I was very proud of her. And when Enzo ranged too far, Winnie circled back and checked in with me.

Back at the cabin, the tired dogs hung out together as we piled wood in the stone fireplace and drank beer and bourbon. Predictably, she slept like a rock through the night.

Morning brought steady light rain, but we were up early so we walked down to the river. I think I brought a leash but I'm not certain. I did bring the whistle and she really jumps when I blow that thing! At one point, her farthest from me yet, she spotted a big leaf blowing in the wind and took off after it, finally settling about sixty yards out. I blew the whistle and she ran to me at full speed!

The rain picked up and the temperature dropped. So we're smart enough to know what that means: leave the dogs in the cabin and go fishing!

I was very well dressed for the conditions, and found it very comfortable fishing despite temps in the mid 40s and steady rain. The trout were cooperative, and it was good to feel life at the end of the line again. I had not fished at all since early spring!

People started arriving Thursday night for the Friday meeting, and more bourbon flowed. Winnie, no doubt tired from all the free range running, was very well behaved. A cold front also arrived, and Friday morning was cold and extremely windy. I wanted to exercise her a bit before the meeting, so we went back down to the river. She ran into some brush and popped out about a second later, covered in burs. In the photo below you can see a bunch on her chest, in the longer fur that's perfect for such things. But this picture was taken the previous day. On this morning, she popped out of that brush with about sixty of them. Ears, lips, chest, legs, between the pads of her feet, and one perfectly aligned on the top of her head. Douglas told me he had a brush that worked well for them, so my plan was to get back to the cabin, take a picture of the pathetic and comical display of plant life adorning my dog, and remove them.

Winnie had a different plan. She was not budging. She sat in the grass and insisted I remove the burs before she would take a step. So there we sat, in the cold, howling wind, removing burs. She'd work on one leg while I worked on the other. We finally got them all out and headed back.

A great couple of days with good friends and good dogs. And my first trip away with Winnie taught me a lot about her, not the least of which is that I genuinely enjoy her company. She is a wonderful travel companion.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

First Snow!

Well, it wasn't much of a snow. Just a dusting, in fact. But Winnie seemed to dig it, and she and Gromit tried to eat all of it off the deck.

Mostly though, it's just an excuse to post some new pictures...

Friday, December 5, 2008


My friend Carolyn brought to my attention a UKC show near where we live, coming up in January. Winnie would be just shy of six months old, and eligible to enter as a novice puppy in conformation. Apparently novice puppy is a pretty relaxed class, and Carolyn tells me that not a great deal is expected of either dog or handler. I thought it might be fun just to take part in a dog show and see what it’s all about. Winnie will be getting spayed soon enough, so I have no aspirations for her to be a show dog or, much less, me to be a show dog person. Though I might be interested in participating in obedience trials in the future. For now, though, I just thought it would be fun, so I asked my wife Sandy what she thought. She was enthusiastically in favor of the idea.

Granted, her excitement may stem from her love of comedy and a fond memory she has of a long ago attempt I made to enter my German Shorthair into the obedience ring at the age of a year or so. Sierra was excellent at sit/stay, down/stay and heeling on lead, but when it came time for her to heel off lead, as I followed the judge’s directions Sierra drifted away from me. Subtly at first, then wider and wider, until she knew with certainty that she was not, indeed, tethered to me or anything else. Upon this very exciting realization, she proceeded to display (it was a SHOW, after all) her athletic prowess by running circles around me at a high rate of speed. Centrifugal force naturally widened each lap until she was using all available space. There, at the outward boundaries of the obedience ring, she settled in on a comfortable orbit. A planet. And there, in the middle of the ring, I stood. The Sun. I actually stopped spinning around to see her behind me, finding some odd amusement in looking straight ahead, knowing soon enough and on regular intervals she would pass through my field of vision in a swift, graceful arc. Day. Night. Repeat.

Meanwhile, my beloved Sandy stands outside the ring, her face in her hands. A woman nearby, realizing Sandy was with the Sun in the middle of the ring whose planet was really in the zone now, refining techniques for gaining traction while turning by continuing to accelerate, like a sports car on an exit ramp, sympathetically patted Sandy on the back. “I’m so sorry,” the woman said, not yet realizing that Sandy wasn’t aghast or crying, but trying to suppress audible laughter. Sandy revealed her face and explained through tears that it was in fact the absolute funniest thing she had ever seen.

Planet Sierra grew bored or tired, her orbit deteriorated, and she came to me. I calmly hooked her leash to her collar and looked at the judge, Sierra sitting perfectly at my side. “Um, you know you’re eliminated, right?” Eliminated? That’s it?? I assumed I would actually be fined or escorted off the premises. The judge did permit us to complete the group sit/stay and down/stay and, probably due to exhaustion, Sierra did those exercises perfectly.

And that is how my dog show career started and ended. It’s no wonder Sandy wants me to get back into it.