I have a confession: Several months ago I accidentally came across a reference to this blog (yes, this very blog) and somebody said “I used to read it, but all her good stuff is old.”
I was completely stricken by that, because dang it is true. I used to spend three or four days a week writing big dog rants that I spent days or weeks preparing, and they were good, man.
So I determined that I was not going to blog again until I was ready to knock the ball out of the park.
Three weeks later, I’m still weighing the ball in my hand trying to get up the motivation.
Some of this is just that I am tired. But I’ve blogged happily through tiredness before, and busyness, and all the other garbage. So I think most of it is this: There are times in your life that you can be really hard and really sharp, and there are times when you can’t. This is a season in my life where I think my most important job is being tender and yielding and loving to my dogs and kids and everyone around me, and every time I try to get all mad at people I feel like it’s just poisoning that. I’m in the mood to say “Dude, do whatever you want, just bring casserole.” I am working (slowly) on a post about color breeding, but it’s going very slow.
So I am going to continue to fail at posting good stuff, but if it’s OK I WILL post the pillowy stuff. And I am serious; this is STOMACH-SLEEPER pillow stuff, where the feathers are barely a quarter-inch thick and you can breathe right though ’em.
So I have to start with the most pillowy of all: Clue! I need to give an update on everybody, and Clue gets to go first.
She turns six this year and, after spending about five months acting like her brain and soul were removed along with her uterus, she’s finally pulled it together and is my old friend and the pack leader again. She’s a touch faded in the face and a little more prone to lie down instead of run around (you may be able to tell that this picture was taken as she was gracefully buckling forward on her way down to a lovely nap), but she still spends most of her time at a gleeful gallop.
Then there is Sammy. She turns NINE this year, and is still going full-time with Honour. When Honour isn’t eating her face off, that is. Sammy is fully immersed in her main role in life, which is being adored.
See? Put a blanket on the ground in the sun and three seconds after you step away she’s on her back baking herself and making horrible groaning noises as she scratches her shoulders. She’s more than earned those long slippers on her toes; I always think of them as the long fingernails worn by ladies to prove that they do absolutely no manual labor.
Clue’s new guard is coming up fast – Harper (who was here for a couple of weeks so I could take pictures) and Juno are two and a half now.
Harper inherited her mom’s constant smile and her absolute confidence in her own awesomeness. She is my herding hero; she hasn’t lived here for two years, but every time she visits I plunk her on the ground and ask her to put the chickens to bed. Even if it’s been months, she goes right to work, with a beautiful gentle lift where each bird is pushed just inches before she swings around in a steady trot to the other side of the flock. All I do is stand there, and ten minutes later there are thirty chickens in the barn, usually including ten or so who don’t actually live in the barn and are quite startled to find themselves there.
The third generation got to visit as well – you may recognize Moth, Juno’s daughter, who has turned into a gorgeous young girl with an amazing sense of humor. She’s gentler and funnier than her mom and aunt, which makes her a great favorite of the kids.
That is until Clue gets jealous and chews Honour’s arm off.
(not serious, don’t worry – just a funny pose!)
Bramble is still his terrible self; he nearly got himself thrown out of a moving train this week because he killed four half-grown chicks that had managed to get under the chicken gate. He went down the row, picking up each one and crunching it, then laying it down and killing the next. We lost them all without a sound and in the two minutes it took for me to get outside after a kid said “I think Bramble’s looking odd over by the fence.”
The truth, of course, is that I didn’t even discipline him. I may have WANTED to see him sent in a rocket to the moon, but it was my fault for not noticing that the rain had washed out a channel and not burying wire under the gate. And killing things is his job. So I just kicked a rock for a few minutes and then he slept on the bed that night like usual. Otherwise, he’s doing fantastic and we really do love him, horribleness and all.
And then there’s Godric. We are SO proud of Godric.
He’s still a baby, just over a year old. But he’s the loveliest baby ever. We’ve been asking more and more of him in terms of doing service work, and he’s really getting it.
He’s also being more intensively task-trained than we’ve ever done before, since we know he’s the service dog who will go with Honour to college and likely to her first job. One of his biggest tasks right now is indication (telling Honour which objects he thinks she should pick up – the goal of this is to have her be able to go grocery shopping or to a restaurant on her own, where she can get distressed thinking about all the other people who have touched an object). This is actually a really tough thing for a dog to do, because it isn’t really a command; it’s a request that they make a decision – and the entire group of things is new and nothing about them indicates which he should choose. So it’s been months of “Godric, pick one with your mouth. OK, now pick one with your hand,” but he really gets it! It’s one of his favorite games now and he’ll go slap or bite one of whatever you show him. Our next step is to move it further away from him and at different heights; I would guess in a year we’ll have a fake grocery shelf set up somewhere and he’s ordering people to bring him bottles of soda.
On Memorial Day, I got to matchmake what I hope is a connection between a dog needing a home and a home needing a dog (I really really hope! Still waiting on the final word). The fabulous thing for me is that I should be able to keep taking photos of Bella.
I love this dog. She is so fun, so athletic, so BULLY.
There’s something about these dogs that is just like music – rock music, but you can dance to it.
I love how physical they are, how much they use their bodies, how instinctively they understand their own weight and balance. It’s very, very lovely to photograph a well put together bully breed.
I also love THIS. The fact that their entire body is built to pull. They get low and all those muscle groups suddenly get in a straight line and everything works. Look at how soft her face is when she’s pulling.
And OK, yes, kids too. Can’t do nothing but dogs! Over the last 18 months we got three nephews and a niece, and I get to see several of them all the time.
Look at that squishy boy! Just starting to walk and he’s so beautiful.
And we got a baby girl too (hooray!) – she’s a Leap Day baby and Doug keeps carrying her around and cooing to her and then hinting to me that I’d really like another baby. She’s a good advertisement, I gotta say that.
My own other kids are doing well – I don’t have super-recent pictures because they’re all in the throes of photographer’s kid syndrome and when I take the camera out either screech and run away or immediately dive into mud. Honour gets featured a lot not because I spend more time with her but because she can still be bribed, unlike the others! I am going to try to remedy that soon. But meanwhile, kisses to you all and I promise more blogging more of the time – as long as you can stand that it’s pretty soft and fuzzy.