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!

Here they come… there they go


My sister took this picture for me… I love it.  Here we all are, well, my sister and my husband are both following us with the pickup and horsetrailer… But look!  It’s US!  After a long day of cowboyin’, we ride for the corral, shadowing a puny feeling heifer.  That’s me on the left in the purple shirt.  Next to me is our neighbor girl Shelley, hell of a cowboy!  Then that tall skinny kid is Brandon, my youngest.  He’s next to his big brother, Daniel.  Fourteen months apart and, thankfully, best buddies, can you tell?  They don’t do everything together, they do manage to have individual interests, but they live together, they take classes at UW together, and look at ’em.  They still like each other!  Next is big sister Toria, supervisor extraordinaire!  Then my father-in-law, Johnny.  Watch him if you want to learn anything about ranching.  Out on the end in the brown plaid is my kids’ cousin Boone.  He comes up from Texas to help some every summer.  We were missing the other cousin Caleb, who is now attending Wyoming Tech.  This is our crew; these guys are great.  Aged 17-23 (not counting me and Johnny <grin>) hard workers, knowledgeable, fun-loving, and smart.  Doesn’t seem that long ago that I had to help them on their horses.  They grew up fast these past couple of years.  It has been quite the journey.  Then, you want to know what happened?  They began their own journey and left us behind.  I continue to count my blessings that they return in the summer, and on weekends and holidays, too!  They were up last weekend to help finish up the haying, and we got some good work out of them, before it RAINED!  Now they’ll return this weekend to help wean calves.  They’re good kids, and I’m proud of them.  Here they come, start cooking now! for a good meal or two before they return to classes and classrooms.  There they go…

KD gets a new home


I know without a doubt that I have learned more about dogs in the past few years than I ever knew before…  Since I was young, I dreamed of my own dog.  My dad had bird dogs…until we moved to Alaska.  There my sister was allowed a dog… an interesting soul named “Chico”.  He was black. He was long in body and short in leg, but he could jump!  He seemed to be an unusual cross between a dachshund and a lab, or some weird combo like that!  I remember he got nabbed by the dogcatcher on various occasions, until my dad insisted he find a new home.  For the next few years I continually begged for my own dog.  I kept getting cats!  I loved them, but it is hard to take a cat with you!  Finally, when I was in high school I got my first dog, an English Setter imported from Oklahoma.  Since then I’ve had a series of dogs, and I loved them all.  But since English Shepherds came into my life, I began the study of dogs.  I read books, watch videos, stare at TV programs, surf the internet.  I talk to other dog people.  I investigated therapy dogs and registered Lucas with Therapy Dogs, Inc.  I reread books.  I rewatched videos.  When I made the decision to breed Lucas, I wanted to do the best I could for the rare breed of English Shepherds.  Those 10 puppies came with a price, the goal of finding them all good homes.  Rimrock Mountain Breeze was a dark shaded sable girl.  Quiet.  Not the boldest.  Not the most timid.  I sent her to Casper with hopes of becoming a cow dog and sweetheart of the owner’s male dog.  It has been 10 months and she’s returned home.  I applaud the owner for knowing it wasn’t a good match and bringing her home to me so I could search for a new place for her.  It took guts to do that.  He liked her for the most part, but they weren’t meshing like he wanted.  It came down to personality and for him, she wasn’t the dog of his dreams.  He called her KD.  It was time for me to find her a new home.  Within hours I had her at a neighbors’ place.  They are a quiet couple with a small herd of cattle on their ranch.  No children.  One older dog that belonged to the husband.  KD was left on a trial basis.  I returned the other day to see how they were getting along.  KD has been transformed from KD to Kay, and she is relaxed and easy-going.  She has thrived in a week.  She loves her new owners and her new lifestyle.  She and I are both lucky.  I have learned the difficulties of puppy placement.  I have learned to accept that things and people and dogs change for many reasons.  I have learned to read a dog, and I know, without a doubt, that Kay is a happy dog.  I know how easy it would have been for the old owner to just accept her or give her away or put her down, and I am thrilled that Kay got a second chance.  I know I won’t stop learning about dogs and Kay gave me an important lesson.  A good home can still not be the right place for every dog.  Kay was lucky.  Kay got a new home.