Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the category “animal stories”

Born This Way

Baby puppies and kitties do not run around right away.  Baby horses do.  It is funny to watch a one-day old foal run and buck.  It can have no memory beyond yesterday.  What is it thinking?

foal

I suppose a difference between dogs and horses is that dogs are predators and horses are prey.  As prey, they must immediately be capable of fleeing danger.

But mostly, foals play.

I don’t know what is going through their minds, but it sure looks like it would be fun to be a foal.

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What they can’t imagine is that when they grow up the real fun begins.

 

Four Eagles

I’ve got poetry in me
Sometimes
Sometimes, like after a foot of snow,
Followed by sub-zero temperatures,
Requires me to walk to the barn
And I want to describe what I see
And how I feel.
At such a time, like today,
Frost forms on my mustache
From breathing cold air
And the breath of the horses is visible
For the same reason.
I like the smell of the hay in the barn.
I like the smell of the horses’ coats of hair
And their breaths of alfalfa.
Coming back inside
The house welcomes me
With warmth and the beauty of flames
Visible through the glass front
Of the wood-burning stove.
Today, my lovely wife had soup cooking
Which smelled better than alfalfa even.
Then she showed me the photo she took
Of four eagles in the same tree.
Don’t you wish you were here?

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Beau and Cujo Go Camping

Some loyal readers have asked how Beau, our Yellow Labrador Retriever, is doing. I have some news to report.
Beau, who has extraordinary self-esteem, and consequently expects that everyone, all creatures great and small, will like him, discovered, sadly, that is not true. It was not true when he met a Mastiff at a campground last week.
As Miss Sugar told the story to me, the Mastiff, apparently irritated by Beau’s exuberant attitude, barked at him. Beau, delighted to have his presence acknowledged by another dog, pulled on the cable to which he was tied so hard that it broke. Beau happily ran to the campsite across the road, dragging the cable, expecting to play.

When Beau arrived, the Mastiff, whom we shall call Cujo, knocked Beau onto his back and went for Beau’s jugular.
Miss Sugar and Cujo’s owner watched in horror. Beau realized that Cujo was not playing nicely and managed to bite Cujo’s face. That move allowed Beau to get up and try to leave the adversarial situation. Unfortunately, Cujo was not finished. He bit Beau’s left hind leg. He bit all the way through the leg.
Miss Sugar called for Beau to retreat. He did.  It is rare for Beau to come when called.
Cujo’s owner owner was embarrassed. She stated the obvious, “He does not get along with other animals. That is why we take him out for walks at 4:00 a.m.” It seems the dog has a history. Beau was not Cujo’s first victim.
She kindly offered to help with Beau’s anticipated vet bills. Then she added. “Our dog’s face is bleeding.”
Sugar did not offer any sympathy.

Sugar did take Beau to a vet she found in the area.  (I was not there to help.  I was at work, scheduled to join the family later.)  The vet treated the puncture wounds from the bite and prescribed antibiotics.  She said Beau might need a shunt to drain infection if that sets in.  He had to wear a cone to keep him from licking his leg.

When I arrived at the campsite, Beau was not the happy camper I am used to seeing.  He was depressed.  He was in pain.  He did not want to walk on his swollen limb.  He hated wearing the cone.  We were sad to see Beau so very sad.  I think part of his depression came from the realization that  Cujo did not like him.  That fact did not Beau’s worldview that everyone likes him.  He seemed to be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

But don’t worry, Beau fans, he has bounced back.  He did not need a shunt.  He no longer limps.  The cone is off.  He has re-captured his gift of enthusiasm.  Beaurunning

Learning From Horses

scampaction

Babe, Misty, Tony, Flicka, Domino, Gypsy, Duke, Lightning, Star, Mitzy, Honey, Ben, Smokey, Sweet Pea, Basko, Dillon, Dusty, Cody, Sasi, Velvet, Holly, Scamp, Woody and many others

Are all teachers of mine.

They taught me patience and assertiveness,

They taught me communication and psychology.

They taught me the joy of partnership.

And the thrill of horse and rider doing what neither could do alone.

cowdogondrive

woodyandAL

Equine Companionship

Walked out in the pasture

To clear my mind

To enjoy God’s outdoors

Walking alone through the grass

When I heard the hoof beats.

Two geldings ran up to me

Inquiring about my presence

And whether I needed friends.

I did need their acceptance

And their comfort.

They each sniffed my hands

And my hair, letting me pet them

Even hugging their necks.

It feels good to know they care.

One can have a relationship

With horses as well as dogs.

Another Bat Bites the Dust

antlers

Warning:  If you are a lover of bats, the following post contains disturbing material.

An erratic flight pattern by something crosses the TV screen in the dark room.  We know what it is.  We have had this experience many times before.

I turn on the lights in the room and we try to spot where the creature has landed.

My wife, Sugar, is my spotter.  She tells me to look at the third log from the top, right of the smoke detector.  I grab my trusty Red Ryder BB gun and take aim.  POW!

The winged creature drops to the floor.  The wings close around the body of the deceased.  It is a goner.  Another one bites the dust.

Not everyone shoots BB guns inside one’s home.  But I ain’t everyone.  I am a special marksman living in a log home with high ceilings.

We like bats flying around outside, presumably eating bugs.  But inside?  That’s where I draw the line.

Beau’s Hot Tub Etiquette

bunkhouse

We have a log bunkhouse on our ranch.  It was the original homestead cabin, but has been refurbished except for the logs themselves.  The roof, electrical, plumbing, and storm windows are all new.  It has a bathroom.  It has a sauna.  We advertise it on Air B&B.  Our guests seem to like it.  My wife, Sugar, goes overboard in the hospitality department.  She is a wonderful cook.  It is more than “bed and breakfast.”

This past weekend we had guests from another state.  They were recently married.  Both husband and wife are engineers.  Smart couple.  Supposedly.

For engineers, they failed to foresee obvious dangers.  They failed to account for our dog, Beau.  Big mistake!

Beau is, as loyal readers recall, a Yellow Labrador Retriever.  He retrieves items whether or not he has been requested to do so.  Hence the problem.

The young couple took advantage of the opportunity to relax in our hot tub located in the courtyard.  Beau took advantage of them.

They wore robes and sandals.  They carried towels.  Beau watched.

He watched more carefully than they did.  They placed their towels and robes over the cantina bar next to the hot tub.  They put their sandals on the step up into the hot tub.

Beau waited from them to get into the tub.  He waited for them to relax.  He waited for an opportune moment.  He caught them unaware.

Then he grabbed a robe and ran.  When the husband got out to fetch it from Beau, holding a towel around his waist, Beau circled back and grabbed the remaining towel, having left the robe 50 feet from the tub.  Faster than the man, Beau got a sandal before he got back.

Sugar looked out a window, observed the chaos, and intervened.  She retrieved the items for the couple.  They decided that they had relaxed enough and returned to the bunkhouse.

Beau had a wonderful time.  He hopes they come back to visit.  Fat chance.

Beaurunning

 

Internship

puppy

Sugar and I went on a little weekend trip to Vail. Ski season just ended. Many places in the village were closed but enough were open. Few people wandered the area. By the melted skating rink, a young couple was playing with their Golden Retriever puppy. They said it is 8 weeks old. It is as cute as any puppy you have ever seen.

There was an older dog, a Black Lab with a gray muzzle , who was also by the rink. He had a squeek toy that his owner was throwing. The Lab would fetch it gladly, then squeek it again so he’d get another turn. The puppy watched and tried to join in, but he was not fast enough. The older dog could even catch it in the air. The puppy did not have a chance.

Yet.

Now he has seen how it is done by an expert.  Wait until next year, after he has completed his internship.

Beau Gets a Friend

ballbully

Duke is not a puppy.  He is a six year old German Shorthair Pointer.  Miss Sugar, my kind-hearted wife, saw on Craigslist that Duke needed a new home.  (I do not understand why she was looking at pet ads on Craigslist.)  As an historical note, we previously were owned by another German Shorthair Pointer, Rover, who was a wonderful dog.  Rover and Max, pictured above, got along well.  Sadly, both have passed on.

German Shorthair Pointers like to run.  They probably need to run.  The family that posted the ad had decided that their living situation was not meeting Duke’s needs for lots of room to run.  We have lots of room to run so Sugar said we would take him.  That happened yesterday.

Duke adjusted well to our family and home immediately.  We introduced him to Beau and Sadie, Yellow Labs, and the horses, and even a cat.

We took all the dogs for a long walk in the pasture, with Duke on a leash, to show him the place.  We took a chance letting him off the leash, hoping he would stay by the other dogs, and he did stay by them, sort of.  He runs circles around the rest of us.  Literally.  He runs in big circles.  But he came back.  That was yesterday.

Today, we took the crowd out for another “walk.”  Even the cat came.  Beau spotted some Pronghorns (antelope) and Duke was glad.  They chased the fastest land animals in North America.  Beau gave up after awhile.  Duke did not.  The Pronghorns and Duke all disappeared from sight.  Sugar and I worried that we had made a mistake letting Duke off the leash.

To our relief, he eventually returned.  Sugar met him with joy.  The prodigal son returned.

In the house, Duke is a gentleman.  He has accepted us.  And we have accepted him.

Beau seems glad to have another buddy.  They are both “sporting dogs.”  So they have that in common.  They are supposed to be bird dogs, of course.  That is what the antelopes would like them to be.  The rabbits in the vicinity also feel strongly in favor of these dogs sticking with retrieving birds.

Pecos Bill and Me

There are tall tales about Pecos Bill, a famous Texan, like my own trophy wife, Miss Sugar.  This here is a true tale about what I done, just like old Bill.  I done it at the urging of Miss Sugar.  I’d do anything for that gal.

The reason I am writing this now is that a good friend of mine called me to say he enjoyed reading Sharpshooter, which is a true story as well.  His only question was why I used any tool to kill that rattler I wrote about.  He asked that because, growing up with me and all, he is very aware of how quick I am.  So is Miss Sugar.  That got me thinking about what I done a few years back without no shovel, nor gun either.

If y’all have read some of my previous posts, you know that Miss Sugar and I live in a log cabin in Colorado.  Miss Sugar loves birds.  She feeds ’em and takes pictures of ’em.  Well, one time some birds built a nest on a light fixture above our front door.  It was pretty smart of them bird brains cuz that light is beneath our porch roof out of the rain.  Miss Sugar occasionally checked on the eggs in the nest and, after they hatched, she would hold a mirror above the nest so she could look at the baby birds per the photo above.

Well, one fine day as she checked on the bird nest, she saw something that bothered her a mite.  What she seen was a mean old snake climbing on the logs aiming toward them baby birds.  So, since I’m her hero and all, as reported in previous posts, she decided to casually mention to me that it appeared a snake was fixin to bother her favorite birds.

I caught her subtle drift.  As always, I come a runnin’.  What she had carefully described in colorful language was indeed true.  A damned snake was slithering up the house to the nest.  I did not have time to get a gun or tool.  My favorite gal was upset.  So I did what any fearless hero would do.  I grabbed that snake by the tail, swung it around and around with centrifugal force so it  could not bend back and bite me.  I knew what to do because I had read about Pecos Bill doing the same thing.

After a few swings around my head, Miss Sugar suggested that I quit showing off and let go.  Which I done.  I let go with an appropriate wrist motion, sending that snake off the porch a ways, where it landed on the ground.  I went down the porch steps to finish the job.  Miss Sugar confidently assured me that it was a bullsnake, not a rattlesnake.  They have similar patterns.  She called her brother Mike because he knows about stuff like that.  He agreed that it was surely a bullsnake.

Now there is a difference or two.  One is that bullsnakes do not have rattles.  Another is that they are not poisonous.

So I went over to the bullsnake.  Apparently, it held a grudge.  It coiled up, imitating a rattler.  It was so good at imitating that I imagined I could hear rattles.   It opened its mouth and flicked out its forked tongue in a threatening manner, revealing its fangs that Mike and Sugar knew were not poisonous.  Silly me.  I felt like a big old chicken.

If I was as brave as Pecos Bill, I’d of picked it up again, just for fun.  But since I already had saved the birds, I kilt it with that sharpshooter shovel I wrote about in my blog called Sharpshooter.

I cut the rattles off the bullsnake because everyone knows bullsnakes don’t have rattles.   This one had not gotten the memo.  At least it wasn’t poisonous.  That could have been dangerous.

What Pecos Bill did was very dangerous.  What I done was similar, but, like Mike told Sugar, was perfectly safe.   Those rattles almost fooled me.

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