Westward travels with a Border collie, Part II

A low leaden sky, clouds scudding off the ocean towards the northeast, the greenish mountains to the east providing a background to a light, persistent rain.  This Monday morning was our last full day in Oregon, and it was “wine country” day, as in Willamette Valley vineyards.  Would weather conditions be improved east of the Coastal Range mountains?

Magic is a cool, composed, and self-confident canine.  He always carries himself with an equilibrium, an inner harmony, an acceptance of whatever comes his way.  A simple whisper of “let’s go,” is an immediate response, no leash required.  Down several flights of stairs to the parking lot, to the the Scion xB, up into the back.  A quick kiss from Magic for me and my sister, Mary, and we’re off.  Eastbound on US 26, the Sunset Highway, through the clouds, drizzle, and rain of the Coastal Range.  As US 26 straightened and flattened east of the Coastal Range, the clouds were breaking up, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining.  Southbound on Oregon-47, through the towns of Banks, Forest Grove, Yamhill.  Why so many Sheriff’s Patrol cars lurking on side streets?

Stoller Estate was was our primary destination.  A large parking lot, a beautiful modern structure with polished concrete, glass, metal, and wood.  Their website mentioned that pets were not allowed, but stainless steel water bowls were observed on expansive outdoor seating area.  Yes, dogs are allowed – outside.  Comfortable outdoor seating included small tables with four chairs, community seating with large tables, and areas of white Adirondack chairs paired with small tables.  The seating area overlooked vineyards and an open grassy area.  Sounds of birds in “distress” were soon realized to be recordings of hawks and their “captured” prey – keeps the riff-raff out of the vineyards, I guess.

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Stoller Family Estates is dog-friendly.  Very large concrete patio, a lot of comfortable outdoor seating, great wines, and a very pleasant staff.

While we had another winery in mind, after departing Stoller, we ended up on Breyman Orchards Road which turned 90 degrees in front of Durant Vineyards at Red Ridge.  My sister, Mary, said, “Let’s go here!”

The atmosphere of Durant Vineyards was very different from Stoller – smaller, a bit more green, a bit more rustic, a bit more gratifying to the soul.  Durant was more about connecting with the views of the Willamette Valley and the mountains to the north.  From the comfort of Adirondack chairs on a lush lawn, there was quiet contentment, a tranquility that was enhanced by delicious wine and sampler plates.

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One of the owners at Durant came out to our table to interact with Magic.  Just when you thought life couldn’t get any better.

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The “Bubble Guys” at Seaside

The Pacific coast of Oregon has been my go-to vacation destination since the early 1990’s.  Experiences with my children, siblings, and, of course, Magic, have been what memories are made of.  The pleasures are simple:  beautiful beaches, not many people, gorgeous scenery, cool temperatures, pine forests, mountains. Our base of operations for this trip was, again,  Rivertide Suites in Seaside –  a two bedroom, two bath suite with a kitchen and living room overlooking the mountains to the west.  And they’re dog-friendly, especially for a registered Border collie Therapy dog.

The weekend after Labor day hosts a custom classic car show which means that rumbling exhausts, and automobile memories from the 1940’s to the 1970’s are lining the streets.  Compared to the more upscale Cannon Beach, Seaside has more of a middle-class, blue-collar feel, with arcades, gift shops, taffy and candy stores, and the occasional street-people.  And it was a pair of these street-people who provided a mesmerizing display of indigent creativity – think, BIG BUBBLES!

The promenade of Seaside consists of wide concrete walkway, a concrete wall, and a deep stretch of sand with the Pacific ocean to the west.  People of all ages, families, dog walkers, a few bikes, a few skateboards, a lot of tattoos, enjoy the promenade.  At the Broadway Street turn-around, a crowd had gathered.  Children were jumping at these HUGE bubbles that were emerging from the beach.  Two enterprising men had triangular strands of yarn suspended between two poles.  The yarn would be dipped into a small plastic pool and then held aloft for the ocean breeze to extract the soapy film from the strands of yarn to be transformed into the most attention-grabbing, prismatic, wanderers, some the size of  a kitchen stove.

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The Bubble-Guys on the Promenade at Broadway, Seaside, OR.  Fascinating, simple, and free.

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The Bubble-Guys do have a “donation” bucket.  If you are enjoying this unique experience, it’s a good spend!  And you will get a “thank-you!”

And the fee for this entertainment?  There was a small plastic bucket for donations, if one so desired.  I tossed in a $5 with an immediate “thank you” from one of the bubble creators.

WESTWARD TRAVELS WITH A BORDER COLLIE

Miles pass quickly when the speed limit is 80 mph.  In spite of beginning our travels on Friday of the Labor Day weekend, traffic has been light.  No accidents have been observed.  State Troopers were not seen at all until Idaho.  As always, Magic is Mr. Steady:  Never sleeps in the car, minds his own business, no surprises, a very steady and level Border collie.

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My last visit to (famous or infamous?) Wall Drug was some 30 years past.  Sort of like a mini-amusement park now.  The patrons could be “movie extras” for zombies in “Dawn of the Dead.”  If you’re in a hurry, DO NOT enter Wall Drug…

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Devils Tower in Wyoming.  Looks much bigger from a distance.  A lot of hornets attracted to all of the bug scum on the front of vehicles.  $20 entry fee.

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At the WELCOME TO WYOMING Center.  Magic found the Mountain Lion sculpture very interesting.

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Gillette, Wyoming has a lot of art and sculpture.  This piece entitled “ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS,” is positioned outside the local newspaper.

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Built in 1901, the Northern Pacific Terminal in Missoula, Montana has been converted to private offices.  No more passenger trains come calling.  Heavy coal train and freight train traffic.

 

GRANT COUNTY (MOSES LAKE) – AIRFRAMES OF INTEREST

As a life-long aviation enthusiast, former U.S. Air Force enlisted puke, and subscriber to Aviation Week and Air & Space, I have often read about flight testing, especially by Boeing, at the Grant County International airport in Moses Lake, WA.  During our travels westward, the primary reason for the two day stopover in Moses Lake was to experience the Channeled Scablands, the results of the Ice Age floods.  But rural airports are always a place to check for exotic or unusual airframes and Grant County did not disappoint.

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MSN 52-2694, a Boeing KC-97 sits forlornly in an open field on the northern fringes of Grant County.  The #694 is visible on the nose.   The airframe was to be converted to a restaurant.  The last Internet comments about 694 is that she was preserved at Grant County…nope.

 

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N7874, the fourth Boeing 787 built and commonly referred to as test item ZA004.  004 is visible on the nose gear door.  Now with weights instead of engines and sealed up like a long-term storage airframe in a boneyard.  Parked adjacent to Boeing Test Facilities building/hangar on the east side of Grant County.  Apparently, the last flight was from Seattle to Grant County in SEP 2017.

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Tanker 103, N293EA, an MD-87 formerly used by Iberia Airlines, Spanair, and SAS.

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Tanker 912, a DC-10, N522AX, formerly used by Japan Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Omni Air International.

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The white aircraft with orange cheatlines is a Douglas B-23 Dragon, Bureau No. 39-0036, now N777LW.  Only 38 were built prior to WW II.  They were used as maritime patrol off the west coast.  This one served as a corporate aircraft for ESSO, Standard Oil, and Westinghouse.

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In the distance, a white Boeing 727-22, N151FE.  Served with United Airlines from 1967 to 1983.  Also worked for Air Atlanta and FedEx (thus the ‘N’ Number).  MSN 19147.

 

 

 

 

 

FROM ANTAGONIST TO TRUSTED FRIEND

Astro, a 10 month old German Shepherd Dog, moved into our complex with his family a couple a weekends ago.  As mentioned in the previous blog, Magic has been schooling Astro in the fine art of canine-to-canine respectful behavior.  Astro had been persistent in his desire to approach Magic from the rear and grab Magic on the back of his neck.  Magic would not tolerate these approaches and Magic has been just as persistent in enlightening Astro that certain behaviors are simply UNACCEPTABLE.  Magic’s mentoring has progressed from very strong messages of correction – showing teeth, growling, open mouth charges, cheek grabbing, fur pulling – to the point of detente that both canines reached this past Thursday evening;  Magic rolling on his back next to Astro and exposing his speckled tummy after a spirited session of “chase-me  chase-you” pursuit games.  The message at that point was genuine and elegant:  “You have learned your lessons and we are friends, I trust you.”

This morning, some fifteen minutes ago, Magic was sleeping at the patio slider, just the screen separating him from our large back yard area.  And who suddenly appears, with leash on, softly whimpering?  Yes, the GSD, Astro, looking for his friend and mentor, Magic.  I opened the slider and Magic shot off towards the “squirrel tree” with Astro bounding behind him, leash dragging through the wet grass.  No approaches from the rear, no attempts at grabbing Magic’s neck.  However, Astro quickly found a well-used Frisbee and kept pushing it at Magic’s face – ‘C’mon, let’s play…”

And Astro’s owner, Craig?  Craig appeared about a minute later amazed that Astro had spirited himself out of the car – and proceeded on his own – right to Magic’s place!

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ASTRO pleading with MAGIC:  “C’mon, let’s play.”  From mentor and pupil to good friends…

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When ASTRO is with MAGIC, his focus is on engaging MAGIC in play and pursuit games.

THE EMPATHIC CANINE

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MAGIC with tri-pawed, BEAR.  Good friends from their first meeting.  MAGIC is extremely patient with BEAR who is “Mr. ME-FIRST!!!”

I believe that the majority of dog owners would agree that their canine companions have canine friends – dogs they look forward to interacting with, playing with, sparring with.  With Magic, I am familiar with the sounds of whimpering, high-pitched growls, high-pitched yips, when he recognizes one of his dog friends from our patio slider.  Their initial meet and greet includes facial licks, touching of noses, faces rubbed against each other, perhaps some pre-sparring moves like a paw on the back or neck.  Some chase-me, chase-you pursuit games followed by some bitey-face sparring or wrestling, all with good intentions.  No pain inflicted, rapid apologies if there is a yelp or an action that is upsetting.  I often describe Magic as a “subtle” Alpha-male, in spite of being neutered.  During the first meeting with any dog that is comparable in size, Magic stands perfectly still and allows the new dog to check him out, sort of like saying, “I am cool and polite and I expect the same from you.”  For us humans who understand canine behavior and their need for play, sparring, and wrestling, also agree that this activity is important for a dogs physical, mental, and emotional health.  One of Magic’s new neighbors, a 10 month old German Shepherd dog, Astro, is taken to school by Magic each time they play these games.  Astro makes numerous attempts at dominating Magic with moves from the back or from the back of the neck, and Magic is just not tolerating it.  A show of teeth, a quick growl, says,

“Be polite, remember that I am the Alpha, mind your manners!”

And within a few seconds, order has been restored and the pursuit games continue.  Astro licks Magic’s mouth, they drink from the same water bowl, and all is right in the canine world.

One of Magic’s long-time friends had been a talkative Golden Retriever, Hershey.  Recently, Hershey had developed cancer in his front left leg which greatly limited his mobility, although not his talkative personality.  Several weeks ago, Magic and I were out for a walk and saw Hershey laying outside on a blanket.  With Hershey on the blanket were his owner and another woman I did not recognize.  The context of this setting told me that Hershey was probably going to “The Bridge” within a short time.  This was confirmed several seconds later by another neighbor who game out with her dog, and Magic’s very good dog-friend, Kaya.  I unhooked Magic’s leash, and he slowly strolled directly to the reclined Hershey.  On his own, Magic gave Hershey a lick on his face, examined him with his nose, and then, very deliberately, slowly, and respectfully, approached Hershey’s owner and the other woman and gave them each a careful lick on their cheek.  I’m watching this “wow” moment asking myself, “How does this Border collie know what to do?”  He read the situation perfectly and his behavior was better than most humans.

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MAGIC with his very good friend and playmate, CASH, an ACD mix.  Bitey-face games are respectful and caring.  Sometimes you hear teeth clicking against each other, but no pain inflicted.  True respect and caring for each other.

 

 

 

WRIGLEY FIELD -and- BORDER COLLIE EXPLOITS WITH THE POINTY-PRICK (EARS) SQUAD

As my loyal and faithful followers know, I go EVERYWHERE with My Dad.  I have a reputation as an “autonomous” Border collie…I know what is about to happen, and I act accordingly.  Going bye-bye in the car means I walk out of the apartment, right to the Scion xB, My Dad opens the rear driver’s side door and I hop up.  Automatic.  I know what is going on.  I don’t have to instructed or commanded to accomplish the normal, simple, routine parts of life.  I get it.  When My Dad is out on his assignments as a private investigator, I watch everything.  I alert him to cars too close to the Scion xB, to strangers approaching the car, to Canada geese, to most canines.  And My Dad always says, “Good boy.”  I like to be told I am a “good boy.”  Allow me to bring you up to date on my adventures with my life, friends, and special interests.

In March, My Dad and I took six hours of additional training with Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy (RAAT) and I passed their registry test…easy stuff.

In April, My Dad spent a couple of hours with Kenosha County, WI Sheriff’s Department investigators on a confidential matter.  We then stopped at the Kenosha County Airport for a photo-op near an Antonov AN-2.

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HR-ARK, an Antonov AN-2 single engine Soviet built plane.  Production of this type started in, get this, 1946!  This one looks a bit forlorn with a ragged vertical stabilizer and tires sinking into the turf.

During a foray to downtown Chicago, My Dad made me pose in front of the “honorary” Armenian Consulate located in an exotic rug shop…really!20180322_131836

On the way back to the Scion xB, a quick photo-op at the FAMOUS Gene & Georgetti Restaurant.  Best steaks in the City.  Unfortunately, we did not stop for a meal…

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This past weekend, we (My Dad and I working together) were investigating a  creep-o-zoid who lived in Uptown, around Wilson and Broadway.  After we finished our inquiries, we drove south to the Wrigley Field area for some additional visits and photo-ops.

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An example of, “it’s not always the dog who is photo-bombing.”

For the Cubs being in St. Louis (getting swept) this weekend, there was A LOT of activity going on at Wrigley.  Restaurants were busy, the Wrigley Run had just finished up, and many dogs were out with their owners, like I care.  Ian, one of the Wrigley Field Security dudes, wanted to pet me, and My Dad turned it into a photo-op.

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“Hey, Ian, it’s me, MAGIC!  What’s happenin’???  Am I photogenic, or what?

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The MUSIC BOX Theater opened in 1929.  An integral part of the busy and thriving Southport Avenue commercial district several blocks west of Wrigley Field.

I had some friends over in my spacious back-yard for some play time, bitey-face, chase me-chase you, and dust-ups.

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The Pointy-Prick squad…ears that is.  CASH, an ACD mix is in the foreground.  OZZIE, who looks like a chocolate lab in a German Shepherd body and head is to my right.  Tongues hangin’ out means everyone is having a good time!

CANADIAN HIGH PRESSURE OVER HUDSON BAY -or- HOW MUCH MY DAD HATES THE %$#@*&$%#@ WINDY CHILL OF THE LAST EIGHT WEEKS.

“I didn’t know you could hold a pen.  And you’re drawing a picture, too?”

“Border collies are very aware of the weather, not that it bothers us much, and I am a big fan of Tom Skilling!  He has been talking about the HIGH pressure dominating our weather here in Madiganistan, oops, I mean Northern Illinois.  The HIGH pressure over Hudson Bay, way up in Canada.”

Yes.  The HUGE SPRAWLING HIGH PRESSURE over Hudson Bay that is funneling this constant flow of cold, chilly, refrigerated, ice-cube-spitting wind.  See illustration below.

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My Dad does NOT like the wind.  Since mid-February, there have been just two days where the winds were calm.  And, My Dad isn’t the only one with that crazed look tucked underneath two hats and a hoodie, and gloves, and three layers, and sometimes ski goggles…I know…My Dad sort of looks like The Thing when we’re out for a walk.

And this weekend was really heart-warming (or is it, heart-rendering) in the wind-cold-rain-snow categories.  Over 36 hours of wind-driven rain, followed by snow-rain mix, followed by icy streets and wind driven snow.  Did I forget to say it was windy?  OK, ask.  How windy was it?   30-40-50 mph with gusts that turned My Dad’s umbrella inside-out.  He gave up on the umbrella and switched to the Eddie Bauer Storm Coat – with the hood pulled up.  At least we didn’t get hit like Green Bay…over two feet of snow.  Hoooooowl.

I can tell when My Dad is irritated with the wind.  He makes this sound, sort of like a car with a flat tire…PHUUK-PHUUK-PHUUK-PHUUK.

So, picture the North American continent.  Starting at Portland, Oregon, draw a line towards the east.  Portland-Boise-Denver-Kansas City-New Orleans-Miami.  Everywhere NORTH or NORTHEAST of that line is cold and windy.  Back to the weather map, and then another LOOOOOONG walk – right, Dad?

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A DESTINY REALIZED and WHEN IS A THERAPY DOG, NOT A THERAPY DOG?

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Magic turned four years of age on February 8th.  There is a level of maturity, confidence and situational-awareness comfort that has really blossomed in him over the last eight months.  We took the Therapy Dogs International (TDI) test in May of 2017 and he was “dinged” on the portion, BEING GREETED BY A FRIENDLY STRANGER.  Since the dog requires 100% to pass the test, MAGIC failed.  However, looking back on that part of  the TDI Test, last May, I came to the realization that in MAGIC’s brain, the approach of the so-called friendly stranger probably didn’t look too friendly.  Bent-over from the waist, arms bent at the elbow, a slooowww approach…sort of like this, at least in MAGIC’s mind:

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A frequent activity for MAGIC and me is taking my sister, Mary, to O’Hare International Airport (ORD) for business flying and picking her up at ORD upon her return.  For the pick-up portion, I will arrive 60 to 90 minutes early, park in the short-term garage, and bring MAGIC into the United Airlines Baggage Claim area.  We have never been challenged.  The Chicago Police will stop by for a  friendly chat.  And we just sit and wait and watch.  The goal with the airport visit is exposure to people, people approaching, being approached by friendly strangers, different smells, different noises, activities that MAGIC does not normally have in our homogenized suburban complex.  MAGIC is wonderful with whispered verbal commands and subtle hand signals.  He settles IMMEDIATELY and at ORD loves to just…watch.  Watch without reacting or responding.  Just watch.  I find it very interesting how a very black dog laying quietly on a white terrazzo floor is simply not noticed by the large majority of people.  But, MAGIC is watching, observing, assessing, smelling, taking it all in – and being a VERY good boy about it.  Dogs walking by, usually very small dogs, do take notice MAGIC, and they keep a very close eye on him.  Still, not even a twitch from MAGIC.  During one of these baggage-claim visits, two women on their way to Europe had a several hour lay-over and chose UAL baggage-claim to relax and check their phones.  Without a word or a look, they sat next to me and MAGIC.  MAGIC noticed them, was aware of them, looked at them, but did not move – at least for the next several minutes.  But after a few minutes, he stood up and approached the two women who were obviously comfortable around a well-behaved dog.  His approach was respectful, inquisitive, but his approach also had an element of friendliness, “Hey, my name is MAGIC, I’m a cool dude, you can pet me, I won’t hurt you…”

“May we pet him?  What is his name?  He’s so calm…”

So it went with the visits to ORD baggage-claim.  Calm, cool, collected.  Friendly strangers, smiling and eager to say HI to a dog, as if MAGIC was the last dog on earth.  MAGIC’s comfort level  and confidence rising with each approach.  And I realized that MAGIC was coming into his own with greeting people, and being greeted by people.

20171206_184524Mr. Smooth Operator watching EVERYTHING at ORD.

A dog at the airport suggests at least two reasons why the dog is present:

The dog’s presence is in an official capacity.  Think law enforcement, drug interdiction, explosives sniffing.  MAGIC’s prick ears, coloring, and, let’s call it, “attention to detail,” certainly give him the look of Mr. Official Capacity. Or,  the dog is a Service Animal,  accompanied by it’s handler.  MAGIC is NOT a Service Animal.

MAGIC and I tested again with TDI on a Sunday afternoon at the end of January.  By this time, MAGIC had transformed himself into Mr. SMOOTH Operator.  Very laid-back, comfortable with himself and his border-collie-ness, no need to mix it up, or even show awareness with the nine other dogs being tested, very content with watching the “testing circus,” so to speak.  I expected to see well-behaved dogs and calm, under-control handlers.  I was very surprised to see and hear skittish dogs, loud commands, taut leashes, repetitive commands, stressed dogs.  In the back of the testing facility, there were three men and two women, all five wearing official-looking black sweatshirts.

Magic’s test was easy.  Whispered voice commands, subtle hand commands, a sense of aloofness with the other dogs being tested.  The Tester commented twice, “You see how this handler is barely whispering to his dog?  There is no need to shout at your dog…”

At the conclusion of the test, MAGIC and I were immediately approached by the “black sweatshirt” crew.  “We want your dog in our group, that is an awesome dog.”  So, the following Thursday, MAGIC and I spent four and a half hours at the VA Hospital in North Chicago.  Long-term care, regular patients, PTSD, mental health, Vietnam vets.  Whether he was greeting or being greeted, MAGIC was outstanding.  Moved well in hallways, stairwells, with the group, kept the pace, never faltered, really an outstanding effort on his part.  However, disturbing behavior with one dog and it’s handler will prevent MAGIC and me from staying with this group.  One of this group’s dogs, a slender black mixed breed female did NOT want to be there.  Her story:  She was being “transitioned” from a Service Dog, whose situation did not work out for her and the previous owner, to a Therapy Dog.  Tail tucked in between the rear legs, ears back, a serious reluctance to engage with patients, this group’s clients, if you will.  The handler was DRAGGING the seated dog on a taut leash up to the patients’ faces.  And some of you may be thinking, “What does a dog do when it is stressed?” I brought this behavior to the group leader’s attention.  Astonishingly,  his reply was, “The dog is going to have to fight through this…”

Wow.  I have decided to return to Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy (RAAT) where my prior Border collie, CODY, was a valued canine team member for Reading To Dogs and Children with a Profound Fear of Dogs.  Our six hours of additional training with RAAT begins next Thursday.

MAGIC has a new canine friend – a female, go figure!  Her name is TAVA, which is Russian for COMRADE!

 

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MAGIC and his new girlfriend, TAVA, waiting for the soup wagon in Chelyabinsk.  Comrade!  (Photo courtesy of the People’s Canine Welfare League in Chelyabinsk)

 

 

 

 

 

DREAMING ABOUT CATTLE DOG ANCESTRY

Yesterday, I was visited by Patrick of Shannondale and Sasha of the Bloody Stump.  Whoops, just kidding Sasha!  I think her real name is Sasha of Pimlico, SOP for short.  Anyway, their visit was unannounced.  My Dad and I had just returned from grocery shopping and who was awaiting our return?  His brother, Ed, one of my favorite people, Patrick of Shannondale and Patrick’s minion, Sasha the Hobbler (just kidding, sort of, Sasha).  Well, perhaps I’m not kidding…  Sasha has a reputation, apparently very well deserved, for OVER-gripping (gripping is a herding dog term) on the backs of humans’ legs, ankles, and achilles zones.  And the OVER-gripping results in the drawing of BLOOD.  My faithful and loyal readers will certainly remember Patrick of Shannondale, pictured below wearing his t-rex collar charm.  Patrick is an excellent play-fighter and we are very good friends.

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As far as Sasha the Maimer is concerned, I was introduced to her when she was a puppy.  Remember, I wrote about my initial training efforts with her?  Sasha the Gnawer is pictured below in her puppy days.20160830_191154

When she came INTO my home, yesterday, I ignored her.  I could tell she was uncomfortable with me.  And, Patrick, was being very protective of her.  There were a few opportunities when I felt like initiating play activities, but Patrick would stand between us and give me, “eye.”  I, too, understand the meaning of “eye,” so I thought it was best to just stare out towards the back yard and mind my own business.  I am VERY good at minding my own business.

Last night, while sleeping on My Dad’s very comfortable down-filled Eddie Bauer storm coat, I had a very unusual dream about Sasha’s true animal ancestry, and here are some images downloaded from my brain:

MORAL EEL TEETH

Perhaps Sasha’s teeth summoned this image?

Peccary Babies Sniff New Digs

And these baby Peccaries do share a very close resemblance with Sasha.

My work is finished for the day.  Off for a walk in our pleasant frigid weather.  Love, MAGIC.