We woke to a covering of snow after two days of 70 degrees. And, although moisture would be welcome, the storm only managed to spit out a pitiful .04 of liquid. And the wind had to partner with the storm, so when I and 4 dogs took a walk this breezy afternoon, I expected a smidge of mud, but was disappointed. It had been a race between the earth sucking up the wetness and the wind evaporating it. Whoever won left the soil dry once more. We travelled up a draw, looking in the sand for hints of those that came before. A flake of chert, a pawprint, a bone. We relaxed in the lee of the hill. A cottontail blasts from the sagebrush and dogs fly over the shale and sandstone. I turn direction, quietly signalling my dogs to come with me and leave the rabbit. Soon the jingle of rabies tags is at my heel, and I smile. We round a corner and I noticed bluebells joining the white phlox as the earliest flowers of spring. The dogs circle around in front of me, testing the air, drowning their noses in loose dirt. Dally is 30 feet away and I try, “Dally, sit!” She takes 4 steps towards me and I “ankh” at her, she pauses, and once more, “Sit!”. She does! Good girl! It was only a second or two, but sit at a distance is a good step forward. Over the hill we come, four dogs enjoying spring and I, I am enjoying them. The house is snuggled under the cottonwoods, braced against the brunt of the wind, and we swiftly cover the distance, ready for a drink and a pat on the head! The dogs get both, but I get ice in my drink!
Today is Tuesday… the day Lucas and I become reading partners to kids at Ten Sleep School. We have always listened to the 3rd/4th graders read, but today we were thrilled to have the kindergarten class as well! Yes, they can read…and they read one of my favorite authors, Dr. Seuss! Picture this: A little girl, book in hand, (the classic Go, Dog, Go!) and a large dog snuggle down on the floor. She on a soft pillow, Lucas nearby. She is a tad nervous at first, from a 5 year old’s eyes, Lucas is VERY large. But with a pat on his head, she begins. Soon she is in rhythm. “Do you like my hat?” Lucas settles down with his big head on his paws and she REALLY begins to read to him. Her voice changes and she emphasizes words adding drama to the intense plot! She turns those big eyes to me and asks, “Does Lucas like to look at the pictures?” “Yes, sometimes,” I say, “especially if they’re good pictures!” Smile. She reads a few more pages until an illustration strikes her fancy. “Lucas…” she turns the pages to him and he opens an eye and glances at the page. Her face lights up. “He did this,” she says to me, and does a perfect rendition of Lucas’ sideways look he’s given me a million times. I choke back the giggle and she continues. Every so often, she turns the pages to Lucas and shows him the dogs on the pages, he glances, and she continues with the story. Soon we walk her back to the classroom where the next student is anxiously waiting his turn. Book under her arm, she turns and tells Lucas goodbye, and skips away, thrilled with her first visit with the big dog. That was a keeper memory, folks. Cuteness is all over that kid!
The past two days have been a radical change. Our warmest days had been from 45-50 degrees and the nights had remained very crisp and wintery. Yesterday we reached a high of 72 and today was 76. Seemingly overnight the grass has grown. It has struggled and fought to get a start, and now the gate is opened and grass is growing. Of course, nothing here is simple and green grass means the livestock wants it! Today the horses forded the creek and were enjoying the fields without proper permission! That meant Vernon spent the afternoon building fence to stop that little joyride… Then calves are ducking under electric fence to graze the hillside while their moms pitifully bawl for their return, or perhaps it is because they can’t join them. There is the bunch by the road though and there it is the moms who are the escapees, blundering through the fence selfishly leaving their calves behind to seek the green grass. Soon the snow that melted today will find its way here and we’ll keep an eye on the creek level. There’s enough snow on the mountain now that the chance of flooding is real, it all depends on how fast Mother Nature decides to melt the snowpack. But with grass growing and water rising, birds singing and cattle lowing, the best spot today was relaxed in a lawn chair with warm sunshine and a sweating glass of lemonade watching Wyoming turn from brown to green.
I knew I should have checked my spelling…it is Kalahari, not Kalihari… I will correct it!
Lucas gave me a scare this morning. He didn’t meet me at the back door, he didn’t come when called, he wasn’t in sight. I took Dally’s breakfast to the kennel and locked her in and began my search. Not here, not there, not anywhere. I called. I whistled. I tried to think if he was really that bad when I turned him out last night. I started to imagine. Vernon was repenning an escaped pair when he saw me approach. “I can’t find Lucas.” was all I said. My voice didn’t crack, the tears didn’t come, I practiced deep breathing. Vernon stopped his work immediately and helped. He looked where I had looked. He called. My heart tightened and my lungs wouldn’t take in enough air. My throat felt swollen. He went by the kennel where I had fed Dally. He leaned way down and looked deep into the straw shelter in there, and there lay Lucas. Obviously not feeling well. The tears came, my voice cracked when I told Vernon, “Thank you.” and I softly told Lucas how he is supposed to answer me when I’m looking for him. He had been 2 feet away from me, and never moved or thumped a tail or peeked. He wanted to stay there that was obvious, but movement is a great help in this situation and I made him go with me. He chased the heifers. He kept the cows away from the trailer. And best of all, he pooped. Whoo. Amazing how that made me feel so much better…and Lucas too! He now is resting, but the worst is over. I can stop tearing up anytime now. Any moment I won’t react like this. Yeah. Anytime now. Breathe. And just because, here’s another picture of the King of the Kalahari. sigh
I have, for the past three weeks, played “Shuffle the Dogs” while Elsa was in heat. Early morning I’d rotate who would help in the corral, the other would go into the kennel with Dally for the 3 hours that we feed in the morning. Dally is just at the age of wanting to follow but ignorant of vehicles and dangers, so she is banned from the morning activities. Whoever was free also got to go along on the hay trailer with Bob and Boomer as we fed. Elsa does well at this, leaning way over to bite at the cows’ heads as they snitch hay off the trailer. Lucas has poor self control, thinking the only way to back off a cow is to jump off the trailer and heel her! He knows he is to stay on the trailer, so his return is quick and guilt laden, but he just can’t seem to help himself. Fortunately, no cow has stomped him, most are a little snarkeldy about their brand new babies. (SNARKELDY, def.: a term coined by 4 year old Victoria about a bottle calf meaning “mean, wild, out of control”; as in, That one acts a little snarkeldy.) Throughout the day, I’d rotate Elsa or Lucas in and out of the kennel and/or house and/or chain. Today all that came to an end as Elsa is done, and as far as I know, unpregnated! Yay! She would have had to have a boyfriend secretly in the night without setting off the other dogs guardian instincts, so I feel pretty safe. The one problem that now plagues me at this instant is Lucas. The boy, in his quest to keep a clean kennel, refuses to poop inside it. Well, they all do actually. But with Lucas it becomes a problem as his hips are narrowed from being crushed, and sure enough, just this last day, he has become constipated. The boy was miserable this afternoon and won’t eat anything to help himself. We went on a long walk/run. He avoids my touch as I have had to give him an enema before, and he wanders just beyond range. My hope is that things will work themselves out overnight…ummm, so to speak. Right now Vernon just let him in, and he bounded up to me with a smile on his face for some lovin’. He now lays on his dog bed… maybe he’s OK. He still hasn’t eaten. But nothing I have ever had to do with this dog has diminished my perception of him. We’ve been together through two operations. I had to have a sling under his belly to help him walk and pee and poop. I’ve given him an enema, electric current therapy, massages, physical therapy, uncountable pills, and Love. I still pick him up to put him in my Durango, because he thinks that’s the rules. I carry extra water for him when we ride because he works doubly hard with three bad legs. I doctor his nerve damaged front foot with gel insoles, neosporin, vet wrap and duct tape every other day. But always, until the day I die, always I will see him as this photo portrays him… He carries himself like this often, and this pose I’ve seen in all different settings. Lucas could be King of the Kalahari… if the Kalahari was in Wyoming and he was a lion… I LOVE this pose!