Shootin' the Breeze

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Archive for the tag “Rover”

Rover Update

For the next few days, I am re-blogging some posts in tribute to our Rover.

Shootin' the Breeze


In earlier posts, I described how we came to be adopted by Rover.  Well, it has been working out well.  Today, Miss Sugar said to me, “Rover is very smart.  I think he is the smartest dog I have ever had.”  She has, by the way, owned many dogs.  Many smart dogs. 

Why does Sugar think Rover is so smart?  By the way, I agree.  She said it because he learns quickly and is eager to please, of course, and responds to commands like “Come,” “Sit,” and “Fetch.”  That is good, but not unusual.  What is unusual, is his vocabulary. 

I know it is unrealistic to attribute human characteristics to animals.  There is a name for it.  I think it is called anthropomorphism.  However, I can’t explain this.  A few days ago, I called Rover and he came.  Then I said, “Why don’t you go for a swim?  It is…

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Decorating Tips

Rover was a talented dog, probably the smartest dog we ever had. If we did not give him a job, he would make one up. See below.

Shootin' the Breeze

There are decorators who get paid for their ideas and skills in making a space attractive and aesthetically pleasing.

I am married to an artist who creates and teaches so you might assume that she decorates our home.  You are mostly correct.  She has done a lot to make our place homey.

Recently, however, another decorator has put great effort into making some changes.  In other posts, I have written about Rover, our German Short-Haired Pointer, and some of his talents.  We pay him in the form of room and board, as well as healthcare.  In exchange, he has volunteered to repay us in the form of redecorating our home.  I regret the arrangement.  I am thinking of reporting him to the Better Business Bureau.

Rover  has worked tirelessly to create a space where we can watch him add his touches.   The space chosen to display his artistry is where…

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snoverToday we have snow in Colorado.  Here are two photos of our beloved Rover, taken last year.

couchroverHere he is relaxing on a couch with a cowhide that matches his outfit.

If you are interested in Rover’s story, type his name in the search box above recent posts and archives.

We miss him still and always will.

Canine Psychotherapy

This is yet another true story about our adventures with Beau, our Yellow Lab who came from a shelter.  I do not want our woes to discourage others from adopting pets from animal shelters.  However, I recommend inquiring about why the animal was surrendered.

We have adopted three dogs from shelters –  Beau, Sadie and Rover.  Each had a different reason for being there.  We know why Sadie and Rover were there.  I described Sadie’s sad background in Sadie’s Tale.  Rover showed up on our deck during the wildfires and we took him to the Humane Society so his owners could claim him.  When no one did, we adopted him.  Both Rover and Sadie turned out to be wonderful pets.  Beau?  Not so much.

I said to my wife, Sugar, last night, after Beau committed yet another crime, “Have you ever had such a bad dog?”  She did not hesitate to say “No.”  You might think that she would take a few moments to reminisce about dogs from her childhood and decades since, analyzing the data collected from a lifetime as an animal lover.  It took one brief second for her to conclude that the answer to my question is clearly “No.”

What about Tanner?  Tanner was a wolf hybrid shepherd mix with a penchant for taking off.  But, no, he was not as much trouble as Beau.

I think the difference is that with the various dog personalities we have encountered and for the most part enjoyed, we were not victims of any misbehavior.  If Rover chased rabbits as his chief fault, he was not bothering me.  If Sadie greedily tried to eat Max’s food, it was not my food.  With Beau, we are the victims of his criminal thefts.  With Beau, it is my food, etc.

Some of you read my blog about my accidental discovery that Beau’s original owner might actually be in prison and that is why Beau was surrendered.  I kidded about Beau’s upbringing in a criminal home.  Many truths are said in jest.

I think he was neglected and had to entertain himself in a small enclosure.  I say that because when we got Beau, he had chewed off the hair on his front paws.  Another symptom was that he would go into a small shower, pushing back the curtain and sitting in the dark space where there are no windows.  That might indicate being in a small space was familiar to him.  A big ranch with room to run was not familiar.  However, he has adjusted to the ranch.  He helps me feed the horses.  He was very excited to discover the river.   I think he likes it here.

After the shower occupation, I decided that he might feel more at home in a crate, so for two months he has been put into a crate at night.  (During the day he can play outside, ride with us in the truck, or be in the house with us.)  He collected his treasures and keeps them in there.  At bedtime, Beau would go right into the crate.  Eagerly even.  Until yesterday.

In the early morning hours, I let the dogs out to go potty.  They presumably do that.  They return to the back door and I let them in.  Sadie goes back to her sofa and Beau goes back into his crate.  I go back to bed.  For the last two morning excursions, Beau did not want to go back into his crate.  Instead, he slyly grabbed a bone from inside and quickly left the room.  He jumped onto Sadie’s sofa.  Both days.  So, as a permissive owner, I allowed it.  As a distrustful owner, I hooked a leash onto his collar and tied it to the leg of a heavy aspen table.

So far so good.  It is like a child graduating from a baby crib to a big boy bed.

Maybe Beau is going to fit in after all.Image

Rover the Friendly Ghost


We miss Rover.  A joyful creature while with us, I do not worry about his place in Heaven.

Rover, the hunter, enjoyed a natural camouflage.


His ability to blend into his surroundings causes me to imagine that I see him out of the corner of my eye.


Maybe I do.  Maybe he visits sometimes.


He certainly visits my thoughts.  And he is always in my heart.

To the Rescue


Sadie lost two friends in 18 days, Max and Rover, her only two friends.  Those of you who follow this blog have read about our losses in Passing of the Ball and Sad Times at Cross Creek Ranch.  Sugar and I have been in mourning.  Sadie has taken it just as hard, probably harder because she spent all her time with them so her world changed drastically.


It was sad to watch Sadie stare out the window, waiting for their return.  She also slept much more, as if to escape her pain.  She was needy, following us from room to room, never wanting to be alone.

After Max died, for a few days, she perked up when she heard one or the other of us drive up the lane.  She watched the vehicle as if expecting Max to return.  Of course, she was disappointed every time because Max did not return.

After Rover died, she did not seem to expect his return.  She seemed to know that he was dead.  She had sniffed the bed of the pickup truck before I washed out his blood from transporting Rover from the road to his grave.  Also, even though Sadie was not allowed outside as I dug the hole and placed Rover in it, then covering him up, she nevertheless sniffed his grave.  She knew.  She was obviously overwhelmed with sadness.  Her friends were gone and she was lost in her own home.

When a friend sent us a link to the Humane Society website, she pointed out a dog named Max who was up for adoption.  She wrote, “Another Max needs you.”  We really did not take well to her suggestion.  We did not want another Max.  We missed our Max, who could not be replaced.  Our friend did not intend to offend, but we were not in the mood to appreciate the suggestion.  It seemed disrespectful to our beloved Max.

So on Wednesday, we went to the Cheyenne Animal Shelter and adopted Beau, another male Yellow Lab.  What changed our minds, if not our feelings?

Why?  We did it for Sadie.  When Sugar was young(er), she had two dogs who grew up together.  When one had to be euthanized due to an incurable condition, the surviving dog was depressed, stopped eating, and had to then be euthanized as well.  Sugar saw Sadie’s inconsolable depression and worried about history repeating itself.

We decided that getting a new puppy was not the solution.   Sugar looked for a mature Labrador to befriend Sadie, who is a Lab, specifically, and more importantly to her, a Yellow Lab  We had noticed at dog parks and doggy day care that Sadie is a racist.  She is prejudiced against non-Labradors, preferring the company of other Labs.  Also, if given a choice, she is biased in favor of Yellow Labs more so than Black or Chocolate versions of the breed.  Of course, Rover won her over by his obliviousness to her Yellow Supremacist attitude and by pure joyousness.  She decided Rover was okay to play with, maybe overcome by his gift of enthusiasm.  She even lowered herself to sleeping with him.  They clearly made friends.  That friendship probably helped each of them cope together with the loss of Max.  They still had each other … for a mere eighteen days.

Beau is a two-year-old Yellow Lab.  Last Saturday, we took Sadie up to Cheyenne with us so that they could meet under supervision at the animal shelter.  He was very glad to meet her but was rather clumsy about it, totally lacking in the cool reserve that females find alluring.  Nevertheless, Sadie tolerated the nerdy approach and the powers that be called it a good match since neither displayed aggressive behavior.

Why then, did we not take Beau home with us that day?  The sad answer is that he was not available for adoption until he was neutered.  So he suffered castration on Tuesday and we picked him up on Wednesday.

He has been very sweet, shy actually, seemingly eager to please.  He is having a difficult recuperation from his surgery.  Out of concern, Sugar took him to a vet to check on his condition.

cone of shame

He had to wear a plastic cone to keep him from messing with, well, you know the site of his surgery.  Sugar felt sorry for him bumping into everything with the wide cone, so she went to town again to buy a more forgiving inflatable one.

Beau Tie

However, he could still reach his, you know, private area by bending around the inflated tube, so Sugar went back to town to get a second, larger one.  That did not work either so now he wears both.  (Those three trips involved 120 miles of driving, one vet bill, and two purchases for any of you keeping track of such things).

I introduced him to the horses.  They were completely unimpressed.  They let him sniff them without kicking him and ignored his barks.  I am under the impression that was Beau’s first encounter with equine creatures.  It was not the horses’ first encounter with dogs.  They were interested in their hay and not at all interested in the new member of the family.

Sugar took a picture of Sadie and Beau together.  Beau is the one with the fashionable neck ware.  Look, they made friends!


We don’t know what Beau’s life was like before we brought him into ours, but now we have two dogs from rescue shelters.  (See Sadie’s Tale in the archives for June 29, 2012, under Animal Stories.)  Now they can help each other.  Ain’t that something!

Sad Times at Cross Creek Ranch


Today we buried Rover. He exited our lives as swiftly as he entered.

He died doing what he loved — chasing a rabbit.  At least that is what we surmise happened.  We did not witness his death.  We found him when we started looking for him because he did not come when we called him.  His cold body was in the road merely feet from the front gate.  We had never had a problem with Rover disappearing or not coming when called.  We did not have a problem with him going by the road with one exception — he looked for rabbits who hide in the drainage pipe under the entrance to our lane, where the lane goes over the barrow pit on each side.  I speculate that he was chasing a rabbit across the road after flushing it out of the pipe.

It did not appear that he had suffered.  He had not crawled off to the side of the road.  He was frozen in a running position.  He was not run over.  He simply suffered a blow to the side of his head.  I will tell myself and Sugar that he died instantly.

He came into our lives a mere six months ago, last July, during the High Park Fire.  He picked us.  My first introduction to Rover was when he came up on our deck smiling and wagging his tail.  Those of you interested can refer to the blog I wrote at the time, as well as others.;;;;;;

We loved him.  He was smart, so smart that I am surprised he did not notice an approaching vehicle.  He was full of joy.  He told us daily, in his cheerful way, that he appreciated us for taking him in.  He was eager to please.  We miss him.  We always will.

I like to think that he and Max, who died only 16 days earlier, can hang out together in heaven.

“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”


Rover Snow Photo

Have you seen Bev Doolittle pictures of spotted horses that are hidden in snow and trees?  Well, Miss Sugar took a photo of Rover in our new snow.  It reminds me of Bev Doolittle’s art. 

What do you think?

The Visitor

Our nephew Max is visiting from Texas.  Lucky for him, and us, we have a Texas Lone Star flag to help him feel at home.

Max is fifteen.  He flew up here to Colorado all by himself and took the shuttle from Denver to Fort Collins to save us having to go to the airport, which I appreciated.

Max is a very polite young man.  He says, “Yes Sir” and “Yes Ma’m.”  He is so polite that he wanted to attend my Senior Olympics swim meet today.   Swim meets take a long time because there are many events.  He sat with me until my events and even took videos of me swimming, which was an extra incentive to win, so I did.

Our guest house is an old bunk house.  Max is staying there, but not alone, as our dog Rover is his room mate.  They have really hit it off.

He also has been hanging out with the horses.  Unfortunately, he is banned from riding horses this trip due to a sports-related back injury that happened earlier this summer, causing him to wear a body cast for a fractured vertebra.  I doubt his folks would appreciate it if we allowed an activity that might aggravate his condition.

This weekend is New West Fest in Fort Collins, so that will be another activity we can share with him.  And, as I have mentioned many times in other posts, Miss Sugar is a pretty good cook, which is a good attribute for an aunt to have.

It is a joy for us to host Max and we will miss him when he returns to Texas.  Maybe he will miss us, or at least the hot tub, and certainly Rover.

Rover Update


In earlier posts, I described how we came to be adopted by Rover.  Well, it has been working out well.  Today, Miss Sugar said to me, “Rover is very smart.  I think he is the smartest dog I have ever had.”  She has, by the way, owned many dogs.  Many smart dogs. 

Why does Sugar think Rover is so smart?  By the way, I agree.  She said it because he learns quickly and is eager to please, of course, and responds to commands like “Come,” “Sit,” and “Fetch.”  That is good, but not unusual.  What is unusual, is his vocabulary. 

I know it is unrealistic to attribute human characteristics to animals.  There is a name for it.  I think it is called anthropomorphism.  However, I can’t explain this.  A few days ago, I called Rover and he came.  Then I said, “Why don’t you go for a swim?  It is hot.”  So he did.  Immediately.  (Those of you who have read other posts of mine or been to our ranch know that a river runs through it.)  I was about twenty feet from the river bank.  It could well be a coincidence that when Rover came to me he came up with the idea of swimming on his on.  But get a load of this.

He jumped in and swam for only a few seconds, climbed out and returned to the task that I had interrupted, which was to nose about the wood pile, seeking rabbits.  I called him again.  He came again, reluctantly leaving the more interesting wood pile.  I petted him again, praising him for coming.  Then I said, “Rover, go swim.”  And he did.  Immediately.  Without hesitation.  As if he had been ordered to do so.  As soon as he obeyed, he got out of the water and ran back to the wood pile.  Two for two.  I quit while I was ahead, but I think it would have been ten for ten, just like he sits every time. 

Even if someone else had taught him the word “swim,” which is possible but not probable, he sure is obedient. 

I am pretty sure he had not spent much time indoors.  We do not know about his previous life, as he showed up on our porch as a stray.  However, when we let him inside at first, he was tooo rambunctious.  He ran around.  He ripped up some packages in the study when we were not looking.  He found a hammer and brought it into another room.  He jumped up on furniture.  All that was not acceptable behavior.  So Miss Sugar trained him to stay on a rug that she put down in the room where we watch TV.  That is not amazing.  Lots of dogs learn to stay on a rug.  But this one learned it virtually immediately.  All Sugar did was put him on a leash and show him the spot.  She told him that is his rug.  After very few times on the leash, like six times, she could tell him, “Go to your rug,” and he does.  He stays on it, unleashed.  He is better than our Yellow Labs, who tempted him by demonstrating their freedom to leave the room.  Sugar told him to stay on his rug, and Rover did.  He learned about staying on his rug in maybe three minutes.  Phi Beta Kappa material!

I think Sugar is correct.  Rover is pretty smart.

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