Shootin' the Breeze

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Archive for the tag “evacuation”


Here is why we did not attend church yesterday.  We intended to go, but something got in the way.

Miss Sugar looked out the window and said, “There’s a feral dog in the yard.  Get our dogs inside or they might fight.”

We started using the word “feral” during the wildfires in our county.  In my post “On the Run,” I wrote about two dogs that seemed to be pets who were now on their own and looking for something to eat.  They were scared and took off.

Now we had another visitor.  I hurried to the back door, where our two labs, Max and Sadie, were lounging on the deck, oblivious to any threat.  I opened the door and they entered at a leisurely pace.  As soon as I shut the door, the strange dog came up on the porch, right up to the glass door.  Our dogs did not notice.  Apparently, they are not watch dogs, but they sure can swim.

The wild, feral, trespassing dog was wagging his tail.  Maybe our dogs had assessed the situation and decided he was not a threat.  Maybe they had already gotten acquainted.  Our visitor’s ribs were showing.  So Miss Sugar gave him a dog treat, which he gobbled up.

I went outside and petted him.  He was not vicious or scared.  He was glad for the attention.  He was brown and white, with freckled legs and floppy ears.  I did not recognize the breed.  He probably has more than one breed in his DNA.

Miss Sugar thought she recognized him as our neighbors’ dog.  When we say neighbors, we do not mean folks whose radio we can hear.  We mean people in a house we can barely see, which is across the bridge about a mile away.

So I tried to lure Rover into the Pathfinder with two more treats.  He did not jump in, so I took a chance and lifted him up to the passenger seat, then gave him a treat.  I ran around to the driver side.  By then, he was occupying the driver’s seat, yet he let me in without jumping out.

We drove to the neighbors’ place, which involves opening and closing a gate.  He stayed in the car as I took care of the gate.   We found that no one was home.  I had no writing implement, nor paper, nor anything to attach a note to their door, so we went home.  Miss Sugar provided pen, paper and tape.  So we went back.  This time I let him out of the car, intending to leave him there.  I posted the note and drove along the ditch road back toward home.  Rover gladly followed me.  He even forgave me when we arrived at Cross Creek Ranch at the same time.  I told Sugar that he did not act like the neighbors’ place was familiar to him.

So Miss Sugar called Animal Control.  We live 20 miles from town.  By the time the nice officer arrived, it was too late to go to church.

I was sad when the officer loaded Rover up.  He commented that he probably belonged to an evacuee.  We told him that if they don’t find his owner and he is put up for adoption at the Humane Society, we would be interested.  Since we didn’t go to church, we figgered God would like to know we were kind to one of His creatures.  I bonded with Rover as we hung out together yesterday.  I miss him today.

P.S.  The neighbor lady called later in the afternoon.  Her dog was with her.  She does not know whose dog we found.

And The Skies Are Not Cloudy All Day

Prerequisites:  Where the Buffalo(es) Roam; Where the Deer and the Antelope Play; Don’t Scare Easy

I love the many sunny days in Colorado with cobalt blue skies.  Since the High Park Fire started a couple weeks ago, we have had hot windy weather with smoke-filled skies.  All the photos on this page were taken Friday evening, June 22nd, by Miss Sugar, from our deck.

The fire has been raging since June 8th.  Now it has covered over 68,000 acres and destroyed 191 houses.  Even the Rist Canyon Fire Station burnt down as the volunteer firefighters were helping others.  Five of them also lost their homes.  Miss Sugar has organized a  silent art auction fundraiser for the Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department. 

Many people in the community have pitched in to help the persons who have had to evacuate, as well as their pets and livestock.  The Humane Society is beyond capacity so other facilities have taken the overflow, including our own veterinarian.

Many people outside of our community are providing generous assistance, including Red Cross and firefighters from other states.

Again I refer to the song, “Scare Easy,”  paraphrasing:  We don’t scare easy.  Don’t fall apart when we’re under the gun.  You can break our hearts and we ain’t gonna run.  We  don’t scare easy for no one.

On the Run

Yesterday I posted something called “Don’t Scare Easy.”  It was about the courage of the firefighters at the High Park Fire and people evacuated.  Today I am writing about creatures afraid of the fire.

My wife and I have not been required to evacuate from our home as have so many in Larimer County, Colorado.  We are near some areas that have been evacuated, however.

On Saturday, June 16th, we went into Fort Collins. When we returned home, we saw two large black dogs behind our house.  We do not have black dogs.  We had left our yellow Labs in their pen in the barn.  The black dogs were rummaging in a pile of wood.  My guess is that they were trying to get to some rabbits which live under the woodpile.  The dogs appeared hungry.  They looked up when we drove in and parked, and then resumed their task of hunting rabbits by digging, a method unlikely to bring success.

One of the dogs was a black Lab.  I think it had a collar.  The other dog was much larger and more furry.  I’d guess it was part Newfoundland.

My wife immediately called Larimer County Animal Control.  We suspected that the dogs belonged to someone who had been evacuated from the path of the fire.  She promptly received a return call from an officer who politely thanked us for trying to help the dogs, but candidly stated that no one was available to get them because their department was working to remove animals in the evacuation areas.  We were advised to be careful about approaching dogs on the loose that we did not know.

So I approached the dogs.  I crouched down in a non-threatening position and gently called them.  The lab stopped digging in the woodpile and came a few steps towards me.  The Newfoundland also paused, but then he warily left his task and trotted away, toward our barn.  His action caused the Lab to turn away from me to join his buddy.

In order to avoid a fight, my plan was to get our dogs out of their pen, into our car and up to our house so I could lure the stray dogs into the pen with food.  I would keep them in the pen until someone could come get them, either the owners or an officer from Animal Control.

One of the ways animals that have been separated from their owners in the fire can be reunited is that a photographer friend of ours went to the fairgrounds, where displaced animals have been brought, and took pictures of them.  Then owners searching for their pets can view the “inventory.”

My efforts to proceed with my good plan did not get very far.  The black dogs just kept going, traveling off our property and into a wooded area along the North Poudre Irrigation Canal.  They are on their own, trying to hunt and scavange.  I wish them well.

They are obviously not feral dogs.  They are somebody’s pets.  Their lives have been changed by and challenged by the fire.  I hope they will be reunited with whomever is missing them.  My heart goes out to them all.

Life’s Challenges

Presently, there is a wildfire in our county, Larimer County, Colorado, near Fort Collins.  It has been named The High Park Fire.  This wildfire has burned over 43,000 acres, an area that could contain both the cities of Fort Collins and Boulder.  The fire is not in the cities, that is just a size reference.  The fire is burning in the mountains where there are many trees dead from beetle kill and the underbrush is dry from lack of snow and rain this spring.  So there is plenty of fuel.  And wind has fanned the fire out of control.

Over 100 structures have been destroyed, including homes, of course, but not all are homes as the count does not distinguish between residences and outbuildings such as barns, sheds and garages.  Regardless, that is a lot of property loss.

One life has been lost.  A 63 year old woman, who had twice been called by phone to evacuate, either chose to stay or did not receive the messages.  It is sad that she died in the mountain cabin that she loved. 

Many others, hundreds, have evacuated.  They are dealing with the fear of the unknown about whether their homes will burn.  Others already know their homes have burned.  Others have been allowed back in.  Others on are pre-evacuation alert.

There is an evacuation center at the county fairgrounds.  It used to be at a middle school but had to be moved farther from the fire due to smoke.  At the fairgrounds, large animals of evacuees may be kept as well.  Small pets were taken to the Humane Society until filled to capacity.  Now a vet clinic is taking overflow.  Many of the evacuated folks are staying with friends and relatives.  There are kind people helping those in need in addition to Red Cross and Salvation Army.

The real heroes are the firefighters, of course, ranging from local volunteer fire departments to professionals from other states.   The number keeps growing as the fire has grown.  Today there were more than 500 firefighters, including “boots on the ground” and pilots of planes and helicopters that drop retardant and water on the flames.

There are many to praise and no one to blame.  The fire was started by lightning, not even negligent humans, and especially not evil terrorists like those responsible for 9/11/01.

The Bible says that “It rains on the just and the unjust.”  I pray it will rain on this fire.

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