Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Happy 7th Birthday to my Chandler!
He was a good boy and consented to pose for photos with a party hat last weekend.

Monday, August 27, 2012

I gave my heart to a cat to tear.



Love you, mewlet.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Uh oh....the mountain bikers are NOT going to like this.

A very nasty storm passed through Connecticut in the late afternoon last Friday.  There was flooding in downtown New Haven, and our town got hit by a microburst which caused many people to think there had been a tornado.  Fortunately it mostly passed by our house, but south and east Glastonbury were harder hit.
The reservoir showed some signs of those 100 mph winds during our walk this morning.  Most of the widowmakers left from the October snowstorm seem to have been shaken out of the treetops, and there are a lot of living branches down too.  Some of the younger trees seem to have snapped off, and one large one broke off about 20 feet up its trunk.

The biggest loss was this:

A massive conifer has fallen directly over one of the main trails that follow the bank of the reservoir.  Unfortunately its location at the water's edge did not result in a stable root structure.  It was hit by the wind and simply uprooted.

As you can see, its trunk is about two feet in diameter.

It is a shame, because it was a very nice tree that created a lot of shade.  Here it is before it was uprooted.  You can see why the roots were undermined by water.

I'm not sure what the mountain bikers are going to do.  This is one of the main trails that they use and it is now totally blocked to wheeled traffic.  Getting around the tree is difficult enough on foot.  So far I've only seen the water company clearing trees on the main access road.  Hopefully they'll make an exception and clear this one too.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sick kitty. :(

I took Rowan to the veterinarian this afternoon.  She's been a bit "off" for a week.  Rowan is the pesty cat, so you know something is wrong if she's not complaining to you every other hour.  There were a few moments in the past week where she seemed better; she'd get up to ask for attention, and once or twice she ate at least half a plate of food. I hadn't realized just HOW quiet she was until I was home this weekend and she spent most of her time sleeping on or under the bed.  It was also difficult to get her to eat very much; she's always been a snacker, but this weekend she'd mostly only eat a bite or two if you set her down in front of a plate of cat food.  She was beginning to feel overly skinny, and her fur was looking unkempt.

So off to the veterinarian we went.  I was correct about Rowan's weight; she'd lost half a pound, which isn't good for a 6-7 lb cat.  She was also running a slight temperature, and might have some kind of infection.  We're having bloodwork and a urinalysis done to try and track down the problem.  In the meantime, Rowan got an antibiotic shot and some fluids to keep her from dehydrating.

She ate a bit when we got home and has been resting.  Hopefully the antibiotic will take effect or the bloodwork will show something.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Oh where, oh where has our water gone...

...oh where, oh where can it be?

The reservoir is looking dryer lately.
There are suddenly sandy beaches where lapping waves had been.
I know drought conditions have been worse elsewhere, but the drop in water level is still troubling.
Here are two views of the same location, one taken from the tree line, and one taken from the water line.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

English Shepherd Hike, July Edition

Scheduling the July hike was a bit tricky.  We were scheduled to step out on the trail at 10 a.m., but summer weather had arrived with a vengeance.  After an anxious week of watching weather forecasts predicting the high 90's, I moved the start time back to 8 am.  Unfortunately, this meant Karen and Patches could not come, but it didn't dissuade the two families that were traveling two hours to get here from the Boston area.  We had a fair number of new dogs, because the Boston contingent each brought two, and Mary brought all of her five dogs since she was traveling to New Hampshire directly after the hike.  The introductions made for an interesting melee.

Heads and tails everyplace!
Mary is going Echo a lift because he isn't very sociable.

Despite the initial chaos, the dogs quickly settled down and started having fun.

Chase games! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Helo came in his summer haircut; he says it is much more comfortable.

This is Toast. She is Mary's terrier/cattle dog mix.

Here is Shiver, Mary's Pomeranian. She had a hair cut too!

This is Echo, standing with Mary. He prefers to be left alone.

As usual, the streams and reservoir were greatly appreciated by many of the dogs.  Most of them ended up soaking wet and happy.  Hank and Katydid really weren't that familiar with water.  There was a short comic interval where they both jumped out onto rocks in the middle of the stream rather than wade into the stream as instructed.

This is Hank and Katydid.
They aren't really sure what's with this water stuff in this photo.

After being led into the stream, Hank finally got the idea and began to wade.  Katydid was reluctant, and had to be coerced, despite lots of encouragement.

Well, she's wading, but she certainly doesn't look happy about it.

Toast and Bug say water is fun, Katydid!

Elvira thinks being wet is a good excuse to get the zoomies.

Dandy says water is fun too! His fur is soaked.

This is Dandy's sister Bridget.
Their family got up early to drive all the way from Boston!

Bridget needs to work on her swimming technique.

We had two Bridgets this time: shaded sable Bridget and black and tan Bridget
Black and tan Bridget was so good; she kept on coming to shaded sable Bridget's mom when she called for her own Bridget.

Good move Bridget! I make a policy of coming when somebody in the hiking group calls.
(They might have COOKIES!)

Chandler had an interesting time during this walk.  With Patches absent, Elvira decided to focus her attention on him.  Oddly, she didn't really seem to care about any of the other male dogs.  Poor Chan seemed a bit befuddled by all the flirting, but wasn't adverse to a few games.

You want me to play chase?

Mom says she likes me.

By the end of the walk, everyone was wet and tired.  It was getting a bit hotter, but we stopped for the traditional group photo. 

Hank, Elvira, Katydid, Kateri, Chandler, Bridget, Dandy, Bug (honorary ES), Pace, Bridget, Shiver (honorary ES), Toast(honorary ES), Echo (honorary ES)
  (left to right)

Everyone agreed that it had been a really great hike, and the families from Boston declared that it had been worth the drive.  I took Chan home for some rest and relaxation, given that the day was becoming mildly oppressive and rain was in the forecast.  He was worn out enough to curl up for most of the afternoon.

So tired...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Snapshot Sunday: July English Shepherd Hike

Hank, Elvira, Katydid, Kateri, Chandler, Bridget, Dandy, Bug (honorary ES), Pace, Bridgett, Shiver (honorary ES), Toast (honorary ES), Echo (honorary ES)

Friday, June 22, 2012

English Shepherd Hike: June Edition

Everyone had such a great time during our English Shepherd hike May that they immediately suggested that we get our dogs together again for another hike.  Because everybody has a busy schedule, we settled on monthly hikes.  Unfortunately Laurie with Helo and Elvira, and Stephanie with Oliver could not come this time.  However, we did get an unexpected and welcome addition to the June hike. Mary convinced our mutual friend Jenn to come that morning.  Jenn owns four English Shepherds and a Border Collie cross, but only brought Chandler's cousin Nixie and Pace's sister Jure along for this hike.  It was great to see Jenn, because she was one of my earliest mentors in dog ownership and English Shepherds.

Nixie had to stay on leash.
She has a tendency to think I need some teeth paws on management,
Although for this hike I suspect she thought I wasn't doing a good enough job managing the others.
Imagine that!

Once again, the dogs had a great time mingling and sniffing as we wandered up the trail.

Kateri is smiling in this photo.

The chase games started soon after all the dogs became comfortable with each other.  At one point the dogs ran back and forth between the trail and the river.  This involved zooming through the woods down a mild slope until they hit the water about 400 feet away.  I think they did this four or five times before we moved on.

Pace seemed to be having an especially great time because his sister Jure was there.  Although they live in the same house, Mary and Jenn have separate packs and households; Pace had not played with his sister for a while, so the reunion between the two 15 month old dogs was rather rowdy at times.  Unfortunately for Pace and Jure, honorary uncle Chandler was on the job as playground police and broke up anything that looked like it was getting a bit too crazy.  Chandler manages this with his presence and some judicious shoulder checks, as far as I can tell.

Hey...Pace just cut his sister off.
All I'm doing is telling him to cross the trail and ditch in the ferns.
What do you mean Jure looks like she is laughing?

When we got to the dam, a red tailed hawk glided over, catching the thermals in a spiraling pattern.  I was able to get some great shots because we were on the hill that forms part of the dam, while the hawk was circling over the nearby meadow.

Hawk? What hawk?  You were supposed to be throwing my bumper into the water!

Of course the reservoir was the main attraction for the dogs once we got to the waterside.  Michelle was pleased to see that Kateri did try a bit of wading again, although she was not quite ready to go swimming with the other dogs yet.

I don't think Kateri was too thrilled by the steepness of this bank.

...and it doesn't help that Bug makes it look easy.

While the dogs were playing in the water, Patches (somewhat) achieved what seems to be one of his great ambitions.  For weeks he has been trying to steal the sticks and retriever bumpers that Chan fetches from the water.  Chan has fended him off every time, or at least managed to hold on to the opposite end of a very large stick in one case.  On this hike, Patches finally managed to steal the bumper from Jure.  As far as I could tell, Patches was elated.  Jure wasn't so thrilled, but her morale quickly rebounded as our outing continued.

Patches had better not think that this will work with me!

Once again, everyone had a great time (despite playground police and bumper snatchers).  At the end of the hike we set all the dogs up for a group photo.  Our next hike is scheduled for early July.

Left to right: Nixie, Jure, Kateri, Bug, Pace, me, Bridgett, Patches.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Norway's Big Adventure

Norway belongs to my friend Susan, who also owns Bridgett.  He's a failed foster dog from National English Shepherd Rescue.  Norway was one of the over 200 English Shepherds rescued from horrible conditions in Montana during NESR's Operation New Beginnings in 2009. More information about this rescue can be found in this post at Raised by Wolves blog**.  

Norway was estimated to be 5 or 6 years old at the time of rescue. His growth was stunted by poor nutrition, and he was pretty much a feral dog in need of taming.  He was essentially pulled out of a hellhole, as detailed by the charges Yellowstone County leveled against his original owner.  For those of strong heart and stomach, Smartdog's weblog archive has a post that includes excerpts.  Norway was one of the dogs that hadn't made as much progress in the mass foster care situation the dogs experienced in Billings.  Instead of being adopted, he needed more time in foster care.  When Susan first got Norway in September 2009, all he did was sit in a single corner of her kitchen.  Just being guided outside to take care of bodily functions was a challenge for the dog.

Now, over two years later, Norway has improved a lot, although he will probably never be what most people consider a "normal" dog.  He mostly stays in her backyard, because he is still a flight risk.  When they do go out, she takes her other English Shepherd along as a role model.  Susan thought it was time to expand Norway's horizons a bit more.  Our outing at the reservoir was going to be the first time he had ever been in the woods.

Wow...Norway has TWO leashes!

Although obviously apprehensive at first, Norway did well.  He didn't shut down, and he eventually calmed  enough to start sniffing and investigating.  Having Chandler and Bridget around probably helped a lot.  They were much too busy having fun to take much notice of Norway's nervousness.

When we got to the reservoir, Norway did not want to approach the water.  I suspect he'd never seen that much of it in his entire life.  He also seemed upset that Chandler was launching himself into the reservoir to fetch his retrieving bumper.  I'm not sure if the splashing commotion of Chan rocketing into the water was the problem, or just that Norway thought Chan was a bit crazy to be leaping so enthusiastically into all that wetness.  Regardless, Norway got used to Chan's hydrophilic quirks, and managed to settle down near the water, if not very close to it.

Here we all are at the water's edge.  Really, Norway has no idea how much FUN this stuff is.

The final challenge of the day was Norway's first stream crossing.  Considering his reaction to the reservoir, this was guaranteed to be interesting.  Sure enough, he balked, even though Chandler and Bridget had variously forded, hurtled, and even wallowed in the stream several times before Susan attempted to cross with Norway.  As bribery is not an option with a dog not motivated by food or toys,the first crossing required a few leash tugs.  However after the first experience, Norway quickly gained in confidence, and crossed the stream several times.

Mom says this is a BIG THING.  I can't believe this is the first time he's ever gotten his feet wet.
You miss out on so much without wet feet!

By the time we got back to the cars, Norway looked tired, but more confident.  Both Susan and I decided the hike had been a success.  Next time, we're thinking about experimenting with a long line so Norway can have more freedom.

** For those interested in more information about the mass English Shepherd Rescue and Operation New Beginnings, I suggest reading the series of posts about the incident on Raised by Wolves blog.  To find them scroll down the right column of the blog to below the "Older Posts" section.  They are listed under the heading "Montana English Shepherd Mass Rescue: Old Posts and Links"

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A very fun Saturday

It started innocently enough.  One of my English Shepherd owning Facebook friends realized she was close enough to join Chandler and I on one of our weekend hikes.  Stephanie set a day; I asked whether she'd  like to meet just Chan and I, or whether she would she like me to invite all the local ES people.  As far as she was concerned, more dogs were great.  What we ended up with was:

Seven women.
Eight English Shepherds.
One Cattle Dog cross...

...and we all had a GREAT time!

Look at all the cameras in this group!

After introductions, the dogs all got along fabulously.  They trotted and ran along the trail together, sniffing and marking all the interesting spots.

I'm taking point position!

The two tricolors, Pace and Patches, seemed to do some bonding.

Mom calls them the Tricolor Alliance.

There were multiple games of chase.

I'm going to get Elvira!!!!!!

Whee! Running with the pack!

Water loving dogs cooled off in the reservoir.

I give this splash a nine!  Excellent wake too, Bug!

Some who weren't so sure about water gave it a try.

Kateri is my grand-niece. We really have to work on her swimming skills.

Those that didn't like to wade abstained.

Really Oliver, you don't know what you're missing...

For the swimmers there was water fetch!

Patches is trying to steal MY stick. AGAIN!

...and also regular fetch on land.

I think this was more of a stick wrestling match between Bug and Pace...

After three hours of hiking, we all decided we'd like to do it again someday.

This was so much fun!!!!
Bridgett is smiling at you.  She says she had fun too.