My attempt to move from Southern California and create a happy and sustainable urban homestead in North Dakota, with some musings on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.



Thursday, February 28, 2008

Every Rose Has A Lot of Friggin' Thorns

While on our evening dog walk, on a pleasantly warm spring evening, our wonderful Shaak Ti displayed her newest manifestation of what I can only assume is some kind deathwish. I don't understand her mental processes, nor do I think I want to, but often times the result is her hitting her head, falling down, or otherwise hurting herself, which though it does not faze her, leads me to believe that eventually her high risk behavior is going to catch up with her. She will inevitably decide that indeed an ostrich is not too big of a bird to chase, or one day eat another pound of fudge. Despite this seeming urge to end her own life prematurely she lives every day to its puppy fullness.

Now normally when we're walking, she loves to jump up, onto retaining walls or ledges, or any structure that runs along the sidewalk where she can explore and be higher up than if she walked like other normal dogs, i.e. at ground level. Having witnessed this behavior over several months, I've gotten used to it. Every once in a while she'll try to run ahead and jump up on a wall, misjudge how much leash she has available, and get yanked back to earth mid-jump. This doesn't seem to faze her a bit and she continues along her merry way.

On this particular we approached a house with a 2.5 to 3 foot wall out front. This house typically has a few cats running around and since Shaak Ti tends to get a bit ramped up as we approach, I was prepared for her to pull a bit on the leash, maybe even whine a tad. I wasn't prepared for her to suddenly stop, turn left and jump completely over the wall.

Now the other side of this wall was a good foot below the sidewalk level and there wasn't a soft cushy lawn for her to land on, but a series of rose bushes. And not just rose bushes, but the stumps of the rose bushes that had been trimmed back for the winter. As soon as she jumped I ran to the wall to find that she had impaled her back left leg and butt onto a big thorny rose bush stump. She was impaled so deeply that she was stuck in the bush and couldn't move. I had to gently lift her out and then spend the next several minutes pulling a dozen huge thorns out of her leg and paw. She wound up bleeding in a couple places where the thorns had penetrated deeply enough, but aside from shaking for a minute, was pretty much good to go.

The dog owner concept is pretty new to me, so this was my first time seeing my dog bleeding. I was somewhere between frightened and angry. Frightened because I care about my dog and didn't like to see my dog bleeding, and angry because who the hell jumps over a wall when they have no idea what's on the other side? Seriously, who does that?

After treating Shaak Ti with some doggie first aid spray, I continued to be mad at her for the ordeal and her lack of judgment. She was soon forgiven and I realized that the decision making and rational thought processing areas of her brain may be underdeveloped, but that makes her even more endearing and lovable.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Day at the Beach

There has been some rain in San Diego over the past week or two, which closes the regular dog park that we usually take Shaak Ti to visit. Shaak Ti needs to play with other dogs on a regular basis, period. She needs to run, wrestle, chew on other dogs, and have other dogs knock her over. It's a fact of life as certain as poop and blue skies. Our normal regimen of two walks a day, play time, and the every other day three-mile run aren't quite enough for her. She needs to run, wrestle with other dogs, and completely tire herself out, at least three to four times a week. Since the dog park has been closed, I started taking her to the beach. Coronado has a terrific dog beach, fenced on two sides, with the ocean on the third side.

When Shaak Ti gets to the beach the first priority is of course, taking a nice long whizz, don't want all that extra water weight slowing you down now do ya'? Sometimes there is the accompanying bowel movement, and then she's good. Once the systems are all purged and she has introduced herself to all the dogs in the immediate vicinity, she sets out on her task of clearing the beach of all birds. This is done by chasing them until they fly away. No gimmicks here. Most days this is simple enough, a sandpiper or two, maybe a pelican out along the surfline that needs to be escorted away, but for the most part not a difficult task, then she can get to the dog playing that she so dearly loves. I'd like to think that she has a complex motto like "A beach full of birds is no beach for me", but more than likely the thought process is "unnhhhh birds chase" or something that effect.

But after a good storm and the surf has kicked up, there are many interesting (and I assume tasty) things for birds to investigate and peck at on the beach, and as such there can be dozens of them all along the length of the shoreline. Such was the case the other day. Shaak Ti took her job so seriously that she tore around, full speed for almost twenty minutes until every bird was gone from the dog beach. She had the look of a crazed dog, tearing around at full speed, hell bent on catching her avian adversary, but alas, it was not to be. Once the dog beach was cleared, she turned her attention to the rest of the vast coastline full of birds (but forbidden for dogs) and took off at full speed.

Now being deaf, unless we have eye contact, and (and this is the important part) she is willing to come back, I have to rely on the faith that she will be a good dog and eventually come back. So far this has worked, but today I wasn't too sure. This seemed in doubt as she ran further and further down the beach, sprinting in wide circles to scare every bird to take flight until she was a good half a mile down the beach and still running in in the opposite direction.


To make a long story short, she eventually came back, sort of willingly. After jogging to get her, she ran by me and I grabbed her, so I guess that counts. Rarely does she become afflicted with the crazy crazy, but this was such a day. The good news is that she was really tired and a complaint and well behaved pooch for the remainder of the day. Until tomorrow....

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Mammoth Mammoth

OK, so I didn't really see a Mammoth, or even a mammoth mammoth, though I suppose that all mammoths are in fact mammoth. I'm also not sure what the record for the number of times that the word mammoth was used in a sentence, but I think that last one should be close. Back to the issue at hand though, if anyone has seen a non-mammoth mammoth (that isn't a baby mammoth), well then I'll buy you a nice big frosty YooHoo.

Last Wednesday we packed up my sisters ginormous Ford Excursion Diesel 67000 and trucked up to Mammoth Mountain with four people, three dogs, three snowboards, several sacks of snacks, and hopefully millions of happy little cilia that are resprouting in Super Gluten Free Gal's duodenum. Alliteration ahoy hoy. The journey was surprisingly quick as we had a CHP officer as a chauffer and we were on the mountain in a mere six hours. With the exception of a car sick, vomiting Chihuahua/miniature pinscher (Mocha, my sister's dog), the journey was relatively un remarkable.

Conditions on the mountain were ideal. It hadn't snowed in four or five days so there was packed powder everywhere, but it didn't get cold enough at night to significantly ice things over or create a hard pack. The temps were in the high 30s and low 40's, warm enough to soften the snow without making it slushy. The weather held for the four day trip and we enjoyed sunny skies, light winds and a wonderful time on the slopes.

Gluten free meals were prepared ahead of time by Super Gluten Free Gal and Soggy Rice Pasta Boy and the first night we chowed down on homemade chili (very tasty) and the next night gluten free pasta and veggie casserole (good for the two of us, not so warmly embraced by sister and her hubby). Oh well, you can't win them all, and hell, I'm not here to try and convert anyone, so it's no big deal if we don't wow everyone.