Teach me, Dally

I had a not so great weekend.  For many reasons I’ll refrain from sharing the details with you… I mean, sincerely, that I *can’t* share them.  Take my word for it… Saturday basically sucked.  Sunday was worse on a personal level.  Monday, today, was better news, but I still felt yucky, weird, unusual, different, how many adjectives would you prefer?  So, as I continued with my little ol’ pity party that I was having by myself… pity parties, I hate ’em, no balloons, no cake, no ice cream… I decided to UNhave my pity party!  How you ask?  By doing something with my dogs!  My saviors, my friends.  It’s dark, I still don’t feel *right*, so I go to my “AwesomeNewMacComputer” (you’ve got to say it all at once!) and looked at my recent photos.  And here I found Miss Dally.


See her?  I’m on the sheepbridge, a rather scenic bridge actually built so sheep don’t have to cross the creek and get their wool wet!  Those sheep are long gone.  Those ranchers, unfortunately, don’t own that ranch anymore.  Abandoned and lonely, their sheep bridge’s sole purpose is to give me a great picture or two every year.  But look closely.  That flick of a tongue reflects her nervousness.  She wants to be *on* the bridge not standing on the 8″ of board on the *outside* where she is.  Lucas figured out how to go around the wire panels on the end and join me.  Dally wasn’t paying attention, so there she is.


Attempt #3 or was it #4?  She tries to squeeze through to get to us, but either her courage leaves her or her back feet slip off those 8″ I was telling you about.  She’s not comfortable doing this.  She doesn’t want to do this.  She’s nervous.  If I were her I’d puke.  No, honestly, I’d cry.  Put me in a situation I feel uncomfortable in and I cry.  Anyone else do that? Please? Please?  Whatever… I cry at commercials and movies and books and in doctor’s offices.  But ignore my psychological problems… look at dear Dally and what she does next.


ATTA GIRL!  She did it.  She overcame and succeeded.  Kapla!  


Now look at that swagger.  She accomplished something.  She figured out her own way.  She didn’t need help from anyone and found out that it was inside her to succeed all along.


And in the end, there is NOTHING like snuggling next to someone who supports you and loves you.  She never came clear across the bridge to me the human.  Daddy was good enough for Dally.

Dally taught me a few things.  That my pity parties can always be rescued by my dogs.  That independence can carry us through and should.  That those who love us, truly love us, will always support us NO MATTER WHAT.  Thanks, Dally Girl, you’re a good teacher.  For those of you against anthropomorphizing animals… ppppllllll! Leave me and my psychological problems alone… I’m happy!




A vlog for those of you out there that don’t know… and I was a partner in crime with you until recently… is a video blog entry.  I’ve been playing with my new computer, a 24″ Mac, (I know, I know, but I LOVE it!!!)  and when I posted a video on YouTube the other day about Dally, I received many great compliments about it.  But the only people that knew about it were my English Shepherd friends.  Surprisingly… now get this… most English Shepherd owners don’t live in Wyoming or on a cattle ranch!  Amazing.  Doesn’t *everyone* live out in the boonies with 3 English Shepherds????  You mean people actually live in humongous cities and on Midwestern farms?  I thought that was just made up in Hollywood!

OK, don’t get offended, I was born with sarcasm in my blood.  It can’t be helped.
So, to share with my 6 blog friends… I am posting the addresses of my new videos on YouTube.
The first one is the latest one… A virtual cowboying trip as we trailed our cows off the mountain Wednesday.  It is 8 minutes long, but, hey, you’re asking me to condense 8 hours of cowboying!  For those of you that have helped shove all our cattle up the “hill” – the reverse of this video – you might be amazed at how easily those lone cows can fall off the mountain without their calves and with no yearling steers to get in the way…
The second is Dally’s video I made.  It shows her working alongside her dad Lucas and Boomer.  It was just her second time out working… and she did alright.  I think she’ll make a cowdog!
I hope you enjoy these as much as my English Shepherd friends seem to…

Exertional Rhabdomyolysis


On a great day, Lucas strikes a pose…
Sounds yucky, huh?  Well, I can attest with my hand over my heart, tears in my eyes, and a sinking heart, that it is much more than yucky to witness.  What is it?  Basically it is when your dog works too hard, add a dose of dehydration, add a hot day, add an unsuspecting owner, and there you have it.  What your mind tells you is a dying dog.  A dog that doesn’t drink.  A dog that can’t seem to catch his breath and pants and pants and pants until you can’t hardly bear it anymore.  A dog that lays flat out on his side and you think – This is IT.  A dog that still manages to mark bushes as we limp past, which brings a smile of sorts to your face, until your realize the urine is red.
That was Lucas yesterday after we brought our cows off the mountain.  He was tired.  I knew he would be… but I wanted it to be him that taught Dally her first few times on cattle.  He had brushed up, his typical maneuver on warmer days and long trails when his legs just give out on him.  Nothing unusual.  I had made sure he’d been drinking and had packed water for him from the last spring as I knew it’d be a long dry way home.  But once we had achieved our destination, he quit.  I mean, he didn’t want to move.  Vernon had ridden off to check the ram pump.  I told Johnny to go ahead, that we’d be along, I wasn’t too concerned, even getting home after dark wouldn’t be that bad.  But a few hundred yards into this plan, I knew something was different.  Lucas was way more than tired.  I wracked my brain trying to figure out alternative plans.  I didn’t have my cell phone.  Strike one.  I couldn’t put Lucas on my saddle, 65+ pounds up that high?? and then, climb up to hold him, and hope he didn’t jump and Tart wouldn’t buck??? Strike two.  Carry him in some sort of sling?? Please, I grunt when I load him in my Durango, much less miles off the hill.  Strike three.  So we did the best we could.  We’d meander to the next cedar tree.  Rest.  Meander to the next cedar tree.  Rest.  Meander.  Rest. Meander.
We made it to the bottom of the mesa, to the road, to the quiet, still, unbusy, red powdery dusty road.  I was hoping someone would drive by and I’d beg them to take Lucas home.  Even neighbors I’m not on the best of terms with would have been victims of my pleas at that point in time.  No one came.  So we meandered.  He seemed to be doing better now that sundown was upon us and the cool air was refreshing.  But lo! in the distance I hear a quiet familiar roar.  In moments my knight in shining armor arrives on the 4 wheeler bringing a granola bar, Pepsi and a jug of water.  I grabbed the jug and poured Lucas a drink.  Mercy me, he drank!  We switch modes of transportation, and with Lucas balanced in front of me and Dally clinging on behind, I putt putt for home.  We make it.  Lucas drinks and eats and begins to recover.
I don’t ever want to do that again!  He has fully recovered.  Maybe I’ll learn and not take him on long trips.  Maybe he can teach Dally on an outreach program…

Dally’s first day as cowdog

See that tri-colored bundle of energy there center screen?  That’s Dally, daughter of Lucas and Elsa, now almost 11 months old and on her first full day of cowdog duty.  We gathered these cows today.  Their calves are gone, they are ready to move down to our middle pasture, both of which made for an easy-peasy gather for Dally.  But she didn’t know that.  All she knew is that when I sshh’d, that meant she could chase whatever cow she was looking at.  WHAT FUN!!  No, she wasn’t perfect.  I didn’t expect her to be anywhere close to perfect.  She did get in trouble.  You can’t chase them forever you know, you have to stop when I say so!!  But she was ON from the first step.  Watching me.  Watching Lucas and Bob and Boomer.  Watching cows.  “You mean, we can walk slowly behind cows??? I never knew…”  “You think if I do this???  whoops.”  “What if I do this instead?”  “See those over there I can get them, really I can!”  “Oh, we want to go *that* way…”  “This is FUN!!!”  She’s tired and smarter and hungry and probably ready to go again.  Which she gets to tomorrow.

What are you DOING???

The dull thud echoed around me.  The crunch of fallen leaves as my 3 dogs zipped through them were silenced and the resulting quiet was broken by the hollow thump.  Curious, I quickly dropped my camera from my eyes, and looked around.  My dogs were nowhere in sight.  I had been focused (pun intended) on some gorgeous golden leaves and ignored my dogs for just a moment.  Now I hiked around some boxelders to see Elsa intent on something.  What was she DOING?  The thud matched her movements, and I had to investigate.
Elsa, with determined support from Dally, was eating a tree!  The thud was Elsa ripping into the hollow of a boxelder and tearing off chunks of bark and wood.  This was serious work.  Elsa ignored me.  As she backed away I could see the hole that existed, and she was remodelling.  Pawing and chewing, Elsa conveyed her intensity which I only see when she’s definitely after something.  Evidently, they had chased a rabbit or some other critter into the hollow trunk and decided this opening provided them the best opportunity for success in reaching and destroying said critter.
I stood and filmed her actions.  Here’s Elsa’s rendition of a beaver stance.  Never mind the butt shot of Dally, she’s sniffing the limb where it meets the dirt.  And besides, Dally still has a cute butt, she’s young and healthy.  She doesn’t share her mother’s broadened butt.  As my dad used to say… “Some butts are buttes.”  Get it?
 Where’d she go?  Yes, folks, that is my insane dog sticking her ENTIRE HEAD into the tree, smelling her prey, just knowing she’s close to success.  She’s pretty lucky that her prey wasn’t aggressive!  I wouldn’t stick any part of MY body in there with the option something could bite it!
Everyone was having fun.  Notice Lucas’ intensity while the women hunt.  But I had to call an ending to the party.  I’ve always been labelled a party pooper anyway… but, jees, Elsa had a mouthful of wood chips and would hack and cough them out.  You think I want to take her to the vet AGAIN, and pay to have splinters removed?  Nuh uh.  Besides, what if the mystery critter went on the offensive?  Yeh, sorry, Doctor Steve, but we just HAD to see what was in that tree!  Please don’t charge me again…  With one regretful glance back at the tree, Elsa and Dally abandoned their wood shredding attack and joined Lucas and I on the walk back to the pickup.  What were we doing?  We were having FUN!