Shootin' the Breeze

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Archive for the tag “yellow labs”

Beau and the UPS Driver

This is another in a string of Beau stories that I am reblogging so Beau fans may read about his adventures without being interrupted by other subjects.

Shootin' the Breeze

A UPS delivery truck came up the lane to Cross Creek Ranch.  He honked, probably intending to scare the dogs away from the truck so as not to hit them, at least he felt that way at that point in his day.  His feelings changed.

I came outside and the driver got out of his truck to hand me a package.  Foolishly, he neglected to close the door to his vehicle.  It probably did not seem foolish to him, but I know better.  I know better because I know the criminal mind with which we are dealing.

As he chatted with me about two Great Pyrenees who charged him when he delivered to another ranch yesterday, two Yellow Labrador Retrievers took a more subtle approach.  Sadie and Beau went up the steps of the delivery truck and inspected the contents.

Beau picked out something he liked and departed from the…

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Budweiser Puppy’s Friends

A favorite SuperBowl advertisement for Budweiser has a “plot” about the Yellow Labrador Retriever puppy who lives in the barn with the Budweiser Clydesdales. In this year’s ad, the puppy gets lost and on his way home encounters a wolf. The horses save him from the wolf. It is heartwarming.

We have two Yellow Labs, Beau and Sadie. They are no longer puppies. Beau in particular hangs out with the horses and a donkey. Maybe he was at the Budweiser farm when he was a pup. We got him at a shelter when he was two, so we do not know about his past life.

He also gets along with cats. Below are some photos of Beau and various friends which you might find amusing.3amigos
Beau and burro
scamp crossing bridge
Scamp trotting
beau with horse
scamp bowing
And he even has a friend who is a dog, Sadie.labs
And he is my buddy too.
Beau and me watching owl
Oh, he even hangs out with fishes.

Keeping Me in Line


It has come to my attention that I am bossed around by animals.  I am reminded to do my chores and scolded when I am too slow.

Beau, our Yellow Lab, tells us when it is his supper time.  He stands on the deck and barks.  Then either Sugar or I dutifully fill his bowl and Sadie’s.  Sadie lets Beau do the advocating for the two of them.  Beau sometimes brings his bowl in his mouth if we are too slow to get the hint.

Scamp, our trick horse, has remarkable vision.  If I go out on our back porch, which is screened in, he notices, and whinnies.  I would be complimented that he is greeting me because he loves me, but I know better.  He wants me to go to the barn and feed him and the herd.  None of the other horses scold me like Scamp does.  He can be out in the pasture, half a mile away, but if he sees me walking toward the barn, he moseys towards it too.  Then the other horses notice that Scamp is heading in and the pace picks up.  Eventually, all are running to the barn. 

I just wish these animals would pitch in with the chores.  They are happy to eat the hay, but I don’t get any help from them when I stack it.  I need to tell them the story of The Little Red Hen. 


I Hate It When That Happens

We have all had the experience that I had this morning.

You know how it is when you step out on your deck and trip on an antelope skull?  I hate it when that happens!

It happened to me this morning.


Beau finds things.  He brings the things that he finds to the deck off the kitchen, where we feed him and Sadie.  He collects bones primarily.  He loves his possessions.  He often tries to bring them inside.  If prevented from that, he leaves them by the door.  That way, when he is next let in, perhaps when it is dark outside, a quick grab might be successful.  Sometimes it is.

His collection includes that one antelope (aka pronghorn) skull, the partial spine of a cow, a deer skull with one antler, and the leg of a cow, including the hoof.  (I can’t tell you where the other three legs are stored. Coyotes likely know.)

Beau and I have similar taste.  Personally, I use antlers in all of my decorating.  Miss Sugar, my trophy wife, is just a girl.  Girls are not the same as us guys.  You can look it up in the medical literature.  However, we live in harmony.  She allows me to hang antlers and cowhides and longhorns, and guns on the wall.  In a spirit of reciprocity, I allow her to hang up paintings and photos and stuff like that.  She has a collection of crosses, to counteract the guns and knives, I suppose.  Anyway, Sugar and I cooperate.  We have to do so.  We are married.  We live in the same house.


Beau is on his own as a decorator.  He is limited to decorating the deck and the courtyard.  Sadie, like Sugar, is a girl.  She is welcome to decorate the front porch, yet she does not.   She might be less artistic than the rest of us.

Rover, may he rest in peace, employed a larger venue to display his artistic creations.  The entire yard was his canvas.

Egg Suckin’ Dogs


Miss Sugar, my wife, an excellent cook, is very health conscious.  She purchases fresh micro-greens directly from a local organic farmer.  She also gets fresh eggs.  Like today, she drove with the dogs in the SUV to rendezvous with the young lady who delivers these farm-fresh items from her organic family farm.  Deliver is an exaggeration.  She does not come all the way out to our somewhat remote ranch.  She meets Miss Sugar in town, twenty-two miles from our home.

Today was, as I mentioned, one of those days.  It was one of those delivery days.  It was also “one of those days” with our dogs.

After Miss Sugar got the micro-greens and eggs, she behaved negligently.  (See the blog about Training Miss Sugar for a better understanding of negligence.)

Miss Sugar imprudently attempted to make more than one stop on her trip to town.  That is wise in terms of fuel economy.  It is not wise in terms of grocery stewardship.

Miss Sugar hid the eggs under the front seat.  Or so she thought.  She “ran into the fabric store” for, she says, “just a few minutes.”  Assuming her time estimate is true, the two dogs whom she left unattended in the vehicle used their brief time without her very efficiently.

Miss Sugar returned to the motor vehicle to find that six of the thirty-six eggs were missing, shells and all.

She has interviewed no eye-witnesses, yet she insists that the eggs were consumed by the usual suspects.

Doggone Bad Dog Gone


Here we go again.  I hope my loyal followers do not mind another story about Beau, our Yellow Lab, and his misdeeds.  Actually, I mind writing about more of his misdeeds because that means I experienced them, which I did, again.

On Sunday evening, Miss Sugar and I made plans to meet another couple for dinner at the local restaurant at 5:30 p.m.  Note that I wrote the local restaurant.  Where we live, twenty miles from town, the restaurant that is closest is at a mountain resort called Western Ridge with cabins to rent, a horse stable, pool, and (this is important) a LAKE.

We drove the pickup and brought the dogs, who were to wait in the pickup per our plan.  When I say the dogs were in the pickup, I mean in the cab, not the bed of the truck from which they could jump out.

Miss Sugar and I were also in the cab of the truck.  I, by necessity was there so I could operate the vehicle.  Miss Sugar is also allowed to ride in the front seat rather than the bed of the truck.  The dogs are supposed to ride behind us in the “supercab” back seat.  They did.

Then we parked.   We left the windows partially rolled down, but not far enough for a dog to escape, if that is what you are anticipating, dear reader.

What actually happened is that as Sugar emerged through the passenger door, Beau rudely pushed past her and ran to the lake.  Of course, he has been trained to come when called.  Of course, we called.  And called.  And called.

The lake is fully equipped with ducks.  Beau likes water.  He also likes ducks.  I seriously doubt that they like him.  They swam out further from the shore.  No problem.  Beau can swim.  So he did.  He swam out to the ducks.  He was very happy to do so.  He did not mind at all.

Miss Sugar and I minded quite a bit.  We walked toward the lake as we called him.  I opened a gate so as to get to the lake.  Guess what!  Lake shores can be muddy.  This one was, especially after the foot of snow that fell a few days earlier had melted quickly.  Beau did not seem to mind the mud.

He also did not mind us, in the sense of obeying us.  He did not mind at all.  He ran past me and past Miss Sugar, who failed to tackle him.  He ran from the lake towards the road.  Good riddance!  I was already planning his funeral.

Beau did not run into the road.  He ran into the horse pasture.  The horses for the livery stable were present in the pasture.  We have horses at our home.  Beau accompanies (as distinguished from assisting) me when I feed them twice a day.  Our horses are used to him.  Why he was interested in strange horses is something you will have to ask him about.  These strange horses were not used to him and, I guess, didn’t like him much.  However, he did not chase them.  Rather, he just greeted them.  He did not have time to stay and visit, however, because he noticed us approaching.  So, he ran the other way, towards the ranch house 100 yards from the restaurant.  It is a private residence.  Well, it was private until the three of us visited.

I drove the truck up their drive.  Beau acknowledged our presence and headed for the lake.  He was distracted en route by Miss Sugar holding something in her hand.  A treat perhaps?

Miss Sugar is normally an honest Christian woman.  On this occasion, however, she attempted to deceive Beau by pretending to have a treat when, in actuality, she was merely holding snow in her hand.  If he wanted snow, there was still plenty around that had not yet melted.  So you can see how Miss Sugar was not offering anything that he could not get without her, hence the deception.

Well, it worked.  Beau came up to Sugar and she quickly grabbed his collar while he sniffed her hand with the snow.  I did not wait for him to decide whether to jump into the cab of the truck.  I did not trust that he would do so if Miss Sugar let go of his collar.  So I gently wrapped my loving arms around him and lifted his 100 lb. body and shoved it into the back seat and slammed the door.

Our friends were already seated in the restaurant when we entered.  They thought that they arrived before us because they did not see our truck in the parking lot.  That is because it was parked in the private drive of the private residence.

I was wearing muddy boots and had mud on my shirt as well.  It is a good thing this restaurant advertises “casual dining.”  I was real casual, except for the high blood pressure that is.


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

Tooo Coool: Living La Vida Loca

Dawn’s early light gradually filled the bedroom.  As I laid there in bed, gathering my thoughts, the woman next to me stirred without waking.  I admired her face, pretty in repose.  Then her long, dark lashes fluttered open, revealing her brown eyes, inherited from her Sicilian father.

The woman awakened and realized immediately that she was not lounging on a Mediterranean beach.  Neither was she on the Gulf of Mexico, nor any beach, nor anywhere warm.  She was in a different kind of paradise.

She mumbled something that sounded to me like, “Oooh, cool.”

“Thanks, I know.  That’s what everybody says.”  I thought she was addressing me and I needed to respond to the compliment because, well, I guess I am pretty cool and part of being cool is acknowledging admiration.

“I said that I am cold.  Isn’t there any heat?  Did we run out of propane?”

“No, Sugar.  I think we still have propane, but of course, if we don’t, they won’t be able to deliver any today due to our road being closed and the highway too.”

I continued to problem-solve.  “Maybe it’s the thermostat.  We replaced the thermo-coupler on the boiler in January so I don’t think it is that again.”  (We have hot water heat from a boiler, not forced air from a furnace.)

I was hoping that I did not need to go in the crawl space to check the pilot.  I just shut up.

Sugar went to the thermostat.  She turned it off and then back up to a higher temperature again.  We could hear the clicking in the bowels of the house.  The water in the pipes seemed to be doing something, the welcome noises of hot water circulating.

“Just a little trick I picked up,” Miss Sugar explained.


Next on the agenda was brushing off the satellite dishes for our TV and internet.  It is important to stay connected with society.

There are people with electric cars who plug them in when parked in their heated garages.  My pick-up is also plugged in so you might suppose that it is electric.  I have an extension cord in the barn that plugs into a cord that hangs out of the front of my truck.  There the similarity to electric cars ends.  My truck has a diesel engine.  When it is cold, it is difficult to start diesel engines.  So the electric cord does something about heating the oil or something by a special process that I won’t explain to those of you unfamiliar with the complicated intricacies of diesel mechanics.  Just understand that plugging in the plug somehow helps in cold weather.  That is all those of you in the general public need to know.


While on the subject of physics, there is a phenomenon that causes water to become frozen when the weather is cold.  When that occurs, the animals in my care are unable to drink.  However, thanks again to technology that relies upon electricity, I plug a heater into the livestock water tank so that a magical thermostat tells the heater when to heat and when not to heat so the water does not freeze and so that I do not need to break up ice.


I love electricity.  It is of great benefit to us as we enjoy our cool  rural lifestyle.

“Sugar!  Did you pay the electric bill?”


Beau, pictured above, is unconcerned about electricity.  For him, snow is fun.  Very cool!


My friends and me going to the sauna.


By the way, Sugar has some great pics at

By the Dawn’s Early Light

My trophy wife, Miss Sugar, had a good idea several years ago.  Her idea was for us to build a waterfall in front of our house, on a slope.  So we did.

Here in the Rocky Mountains, God placed plenty of rocks suitable for landscaping.  We have a place on our ranch that is our own personal quarry.  We made many trips with our pickup truck to gather suitable rocks and bring them back to the construction site.

I dug an artisticly shaped hole for a pond at the bottom of the slope.  We covered the pond and waterfall with special plastic liner material from a pond store where all the cool people with  “water features” shop.  We put in a pipe to carry water from the bottom of the pond to the top of the waterfall, powered by an electric pump, also available at the water feature store where the cool people shop.  We ran an electric line to the pump, which pushes the water from the pond back up to the top of the waterfall.  We covered up the liner and the pipe with rocks.  We covered the pump with a piece of driftwood.  It looked natural.  It worked well.  We were cool.  We had a cool water feature. 

We got some goldfish to add to the atmosphere.  The goldfish ate algae in the pond.  They grew fast. 

Also, birds are attracted to our water feature habitat.  Miss Sugar is a bird watcher, so she likes the extra birds.

In addition to the fish and the birds, our Yellow Labrador Retrievers, Max and Sadie, share in the water feature habitat.  Also, rabbits, drink there and, apparently, hide in the rock “cave” we created at the top, out of which the waterfall emerges.  Sadie is aware of the rabbits’ hiding place.  Consequently, she digs around and walks on the rocks and, apparently, disturbs the plastic liner, which has resulted in leaking.  We keep trying to find leaks.  We also have to add water twice a day or the water gets so low that the pump makes a sucking noise.  The sound of the waterfall is soothing.  The sound of a sucking pump has the opposite effect.

We are now on our third pump.  They get clogged up.  Even though we occasionally clean the pumps, they eventually wear out.

By morning light, I can usually hear the pump sucking so I go outside and put a hose in the water feature to refill the pond until the pump stops sucking.  Also, in the morning, I let the dogs out.  (They sleep in the house.)   The dogs and I let Miss Sugar sleep a bit longer.

We live on a road that does not get much traffic.  As a result, I have a great sense of privacy.

Confident in my privacy, I do not take the precaution of emerging fully clothed from the house.  A couple days ago, not fully clothed, I emerged from the house as is my custom, walked down the steps off the front porch, went around to the side of the house, got the hose, and put it in the cool water feature that was sucking air. 

I have always figgered that I could hear any approaching vehicle and hide behind a wall by the water spigot.  That theory depends on the vehicle making a sound.

After I went back inside, I noticed a motor home parked by the bridge.  It is not a camping spot, but I thought maybe someone parked there to sleep.  It is a pretty place.  The occupants were probably still sleeping. 

Then it quickly drove away.  It seems they were awake when I was outside.

Today there were fifty vehicles, including motorhomes, campers, pickups and several luxury cars parked on our road along our fence.  I guess they heard about the cool water feature.

How do I explain this to Miss Sugar?


My trophy wife, Sugar, was outside with the dogs while I watched Chisum.  As it turned out, viewing the John Wayne movie was a good way to prepare for my imminent deadly showdown.

I heard my wife’s alarming scream.  Then she called out to me, “Al, come out here.  Hurry!”  I moseyed up from the couch, ever obedient, ever vigilent.

I still did not know what she was frightened about.  (Girls can be overly dramatic and mysterious).  I empathetically inquired about what was troubling her.  Her response was not responsive to my question.  She uncalmly commanded, “Get a gun.”  Well, that was the main idea.  She was much more eloquent.

As an aside, in order to give some background to the scenario, I want you, gentle readers, to be informed that Sugar grew up in Texas.  Also, she is of Italian extraction.  You may combine your prejudiced stereotypes as you imagine  her emotional communication.

Further, Sugar’s desire that I bring a gun was not unrealistic.  I possess several firearms, including a pair of Colt .45s in a quickdraw holster, various rifles, and a couple shotguns.  They are part of the decor of our mountain cabin and readily available.  The NRA sends emails to me daily concerning unconstitutional threats to gun ownership.  I also am a member of the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) which sponsors cowboy shooting competitions.  My SASS alias is Big Bronc.  Her’s is Miss Sugar.  Clearly, it was not unreasonable for her to ask me to get a gun.

So I emerged from the front door unarmed.  Sometimes I opt for hand-to-hand combat.  I wanted to assess the enemy’s strength before selecting a weapon.  I try to make it a fair fight.  No sense wasting ammo.

“Who needs killin’?  It don’t make me no nevermind.”   I stated the obvious.  “Womenfolk got nothin’ to fear when Big Bronc is around.  I will fight to the death anyone that threatens you and them yeller dogs.”   This little gal surely knew she could count on me.

“Oh, Big Bronc, there is an evil rattlesnake down there.  Please protect me and our precious pets.  You are so brave and strong and handsome.”  Those were not her exact words, but I knew that was what she desired to tell me.

“Get the shotgun with the snakeshot shells!,” Miss Sugar daintily suggested.  “Shoot it from up here on the porch so you don’t git yerself kilt.  I ain’t in the mood to call no hearst.”  She doesn’t talk like that either, but it would sound more like an authenic western story if she would have.

So I went to the toolshed and got a shovel.  I know she wanted me to use a gun, but this particular shovel is a narrow type of spade known in these here parts as a “sharpshooter.”   It is a weapon with which I have beheaded unfortunate snakes in the past.  Yes, this was fixin’ to be a fight to the death.

Miss Texas noticed what I had selected.  “You dang fool!  That rattler is going to bite you.  They can strike further than that little shovel.”  I wish she didn’t talk like that.

So I walked over to the snake, carrying only the sharpshooter shovel.

It was coiled and shaking its rattles.  It was a mean one, poised to strike.

Women are no help at a time like this.  I didn’t need some girly girl weeping about me.  I can take care of myself.  Still, through it all, I could hear Sugar’s sweet voice.  “Watch out, you idiot.  He is going to strike.”  I supposed that she was addressing the snake, giving him one last chance to retreat.  That is certainly how I took it.

Members of the general public are not usually quick enough or coordinated enough or brave enough to attempt what I was about to do.  That mean old snake probably did not recognize who he was facing.  He probably thought I was a member of the general public.

Instead, he was dealin’ with Big Bronc, the toughest hombre north of the Pecos, or at least the North Poudre Irrigation Canal.

I met his steely glare.  He didn’t show any fear as he hissed and rattled, but I had a feelin’ that, deep inside his cold heart and reptile brain, he knew this showdown would be his last.

My calloused hand was ready for action.

“Say when.”  I confidently offered him that advantage as I smirked.  (I have found that smirking intimidates.)

The tension grew.  Then Old Snake Eye made his move.  It was the moment of truth.   Or consequences.  One of us would soon be dead as a doornail.  He had my vote.

A blood-curdling scream broke the tense silence.  (Sometimes smirking alone is not intimidating enough.  One has to be adaptable when engaged in a fight to the death.)  I should not have called it a scream.  It was more like a war-cry.  A manly war-cry.

Well, I’m here to tell you that with one lightning fast blow, I pinned that coiled snake to the ground.  The blade of the sharpshooter got it right behind its open-mouthed head.  I did not let up until I cut its head clean off. Sugar warned that the venom is still dangerous, even after it was beheaded.  Like I don’t know that.

I scooped the detached head into the shovel and proudly showed her the proof of my victory, waiting for her to praise my skill and courage.  She did not express her admiration in words, but I could see it in her eyes.

“Shucks, M’aam.  It weren’t nothing any old hero wouldn’t do.”

I could tell she longed to reward me with a kiss.  There was things I had to take care of first.  After disposing of my vanquished foe, I put my trusty sharpshooter back in the shed and quietly rode off into the sunset.

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