The whirlwind

Where does the time go? Looks like it’s been six months since I’ve posted anything!

I’ve been busy training our new dog mostly. She’s an Australian Shepherd, a very active breed. Here’s a typical photo from when we first got her: just a blur of puppy energy. That’s a rope she’s chewing on.

We found out quickly that she’s bred to herd. She refuses to leave the house unless she’s in back of us, nudging at our side with her head. Here I am trying to teach her it’s OK to go out to the backyard.

Ok, come on out! Here, watch me!

Where are you going boss, you’re not supposed to get too far ahead of me!

She’s a chewer too. The dog really did eat the homework.

Ate the pencil too.

And part of the wall.

Soft toys don’t last long. I gave her this one just this morning, it’s already in the trash.

The 2:00 am wake up calls were exhausting during the house training stage. But she’s getting better, already growing out of the puppy stage.

Her name is Juno, or maybe it’s spelled Juneau, or Jeuneo.

More infrequent blog posting to come!

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Puppy!

‘Our dog had puppies, do you want one?’

‘Uhh..ok’

Goodbye, Scout

We were playing in the backyard, Scout, C and I, when C was the first to notice that Scout’s nose was bleeding, not a lot, just a trickle.

  

At first, I thought it might be a bad allergic reaction, but it didn’t stop. Maybe there’s something stuck up his nose?  He does sniff everything and everywhere. We looked and looked but didn’t see anything, maybe it was lodged deep in the nose and we could not see it?  

Ms J took him to our vet the next day. The staff at the vet’s office first also thought that it must be something lodged in the nose, a porcupine quill ?  They used a specialized device to check his nose and didn’t see anything up there, but they did see that his blood was not clotting.  

This is somewhat unusual for a 10 month old dog, but it is a symptom of having ingested rat poison. We didn’t see him eat anything that might have been killed by poison, such as a dead squirrel or mouse. The antidote for a dog who has eaten rat poison is a massive dose of vitamin K, which helps to clot the blood.  This didn’t work. Besides he would have had to eaten ten pounds of poison to cause this lack of clotting, but at least that could be ruled out. 

Perhaps he had a genetic disorder, such as hemophilia?  A treatment of Prednisone would help with that.  If it worked it would indicate that he was a hemophiliac, which is manageable with a variety of drugs, but that didn’t work either. 

A tick bite ?  Some ticks can cause this type of symptom. A blood test did not indicate a tick borne illness. A treatment of antibiotics was tried anyway just to be sure, but it didn’t help.  

So they tried an ultrasound. That’s when they saw the tumor that is eating away his spleen. He just cant clean the blood and make the platelets to help clot normally. There’s not much to do to stop it. 

One of the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is tell our eight year old son that his dog was going to die soon. We won’t be able to take him to the beach and see him jump in the waves this Summer. We won’t be able to ride bikes with him running along beside us wondering what those strange wheeled things were. I had thought that C and Scout would grow up together, but that’s not going to happen. 

So we took him home. 

For the next few days he’ll eat his favorite foods. 

He’ll sit in the sun in the backyard. He’ll sleep on our bed if he wants to.  He can sit in his favorite spot in the garden. 


Maybe we’ll play tug-of-war with his blanket. 


I’ll scratch his ear as long as he wants me to. 

And then we’ll have to say goodbye. 

He’s been the smartest, happiest, most good natured dog. He loves meeting new people and he especially loves kids. He loves going to pick up C from school, seeing all the kids run around, getting a lot of attention from the kids who wanted to pet him. He loves meeting other dogs too, hoping they will want to play with him.   He just wanted to be friends with everyone. The best dog I’ve ever had. And he’s only 10 months old. 

Flying Dog

Having an active dog can be exhausting. It doesn’t help that I strained a muscle in my foot last month, so I haven’t been taking him out for walks as much as he would like. So what to do to exercise the dog?

How about seeing if he can catch a cup of water?

Ready?!


Jump!


And here’s the landing. You can see how he’s been tearing up the lawn.


Again?


Makes my foot hurt just to watch him land.


Off the leash

One of the things I didn’t really think about when we got Scout was that we would have to take him out for some exercise every day. Every day.  Even in the middle of February.

Luckily, we’ve been having a fairly mild winter so far here in New Hampshire, but there have been days that I would never think of going outside much less going on a hike. We found out about a park in the nearby town of Amherst that encourages owners to let their dogs off the leash.  So off we went on a hike, in February, a few days after we had received about a foot of snow.

Turns out that Scout loves to run in the snow.

While he is getting bigger, he is often confronted with new experiences, like footbridges over mountain streams. He refused to cross this bridge at first, preferring to try to wade through the stream.  It took a few minutes of persuading him that it is actually not a good idea to try swimming through icy water in February, and wouldn’t he prefer to be up here with us on the dry bridge ?

He did finally pick up on the idea that footbridges are a good idea. However, he was then confronted with this bridge that had a stairway since the far side of the stream had a higher elevation.  I had to carry him up the stairs. He did manage to go down the stairs on his own though, so he’s learning fast. Which is good since he weighs close to forty pounds now.

Here’s an old stone wall in the forest. You see these all over the New England area. Scout jumped over the wall, landing in a huge pile of snow. I had to go over the wall to pick him up and carry him back over the wall.

This dog is determined to get me to loose weight, wether he forces me to get out of the house, or carry him up scary wooden staircase, or wade through a foot of snow.  At least it was a sunny day.

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Scout’s Journey Home – Part 2

 

Here is the long awaited conclusion of our trip back from New Mexico with our new dog,  the added bonus for this post is that it comes with blurry photos taken from a moving car!

On our first day, we travelled from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Joplin, Missouri, a total of 780 miles.  A bit short of the lower end of our goal of driving 800 to 1,000 miles on the first day, so we’ll have to try to drive further on our second day.

We left our hotel in Joplin as early as we possibly could. It was probably about 6:30 am, and it was still dark out.  We had the added incentive that it was not a very clean hotel room, and the staff were all very surly.  A name brand hotel does not guarantee you will have a pleasant stay, apparently.  It had started to rain when we left and I was hoping to get in as many miles as possible before the rain turned into snow.

After a couple of stops to let Scout run around for awhile, we stopped in St. Louis for lunch at the Blue City Deli. Yesterday’s stop at ‘The Big Texan’ was the highlight of the trip for Mr. C, today’s stop at the Blue City Deli was the highlight of the trip for me.  If we’re ever in St. Louis , we’ll have to stop here again.  Sorry I don’t have pictures of our food, just an interior shot of the restaurant.  Friendly staff, fresh ingredients and some of the best sandwiches I’ve had.  We try to find local places when we’re traveling and this was a great find.  The iPhone helped us out more than once with directions and advice on where to eat. Later in the day, I also found out that you can ask Google to find you a ‘coffee shop near Route 465 in Indiana’ and will receive several results.

 

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We had told Mr. C that something we would see along the way was the Gateway Arch in St.Louis.  So he was excited to finally arrive in St.Louis to see it.  If there was time, we were going to take a tour of the Arch too.  Once we arrived though it really started to rain and the fog moved in, we also found out that the Arch was closed for renovation work.

It was non-stop rain from the time we left the Deli until we arrived home. Here’s the Mississippi River, and the Arch can be seen on the other side of that bridge.  Mr. C was not too thrilled with our view of the Arch.

The rain and fog continued all day.  We drove through Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio on the second day, and unfortunately didn’t see much beyond the rain and fog.

This could be Illinois, or maybe Indiana.

Terre Haute, Indianapolis, Springfield, Columbus.  We drove through so many towns and cities on the second day, but saw nothing but fog.

Endless driving from 6:30 am to 11:30pm, exhausted, we arrived in Akron Ohio. A total of 825 miles.  Scout was great in the car, sleeping for most of the trip, but once we arrived at our hotel in Akron, he was filled with energy from sleeping all day.  I had to toss a ball for him from one side of the hotel room to the other for about two hours before he was tired out and could get to sleep.  While Mr. C was sleeping, the dog was running in circles around the room.  It was about 2:00 am before I was able to get to sleep myself.

Day three started early again, 6:30am, and the rain was falling even harder than yesterday. We had to travel through the northern part of Pennsylvania and then through New York today and I was hoping to not get caught in a snow storm.

Northern Pennsylvania looks like it would be a beautiful area, rolling green hills and small historic towns, but unfortunately we didn’t see any of it.  On the third day, we drove from Akron, Ohio through Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and then into New Hampshire, a total of 655 miles.

We were very lucky that the temperature didn’t drop any further, and the rain did not turn to snow on that third day in the car.  The one and only time we hit any traffic on the entire 2,345 mile trip was in Massachusetts, on the Mass Turnpike.  The rain was coming down so hard I could barely see beyond the windshield, and the traffic was moving at a crawl.  Luckily I know a lot of back roads through the state so we got off the Pike and finally ended up home at about 11:30pm.  Once again, Scout was completely wound up from being stuck in the car so we had to throw a ball from one side of our kitchen to the other for two hours until he was tired out again.

For years I had wanted to drive across the country, it was unfortunate that the weather was not better than it was though. I went through a lot of states that I had never visited before; Oklahoma, Indiana, Missouri.  I had been to parts of Texas, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, but not the areas we drove through. I feel like we missed a lot having to drive at night for long portions of the trip, but at least it wasn’t snowing and now we have some places to visit if we’re ever in theses areas again.

Welcome to sunny New Hampshire, Scout!

New Hampshire?   You took me to New Hampshire?

Scout’s Journey Home – Part 1

It took us a couple of days, and we went through about two thousand alternatives, finally coming up with ‘Scout’ as the name for Mr. Friendly Dog.  There is a state park in Taos, New Mexico, near the shelter where we got him, named after famous western scout, Kit Carson.  The name also seemed to fit his personality as he is a very quite dog, barely barking at all.

The problem was that he was growing every day.  Here he is below, on the first day that we met him, about to sniff C’s hand.  Not too big, maybe we could get him on the plane in one of those pet carriers ?

Here he is two weeks later, looking more and more like a ‘dog’ rather than a ‘puppy’.   There was no way he was fitting in a tiny pet carrier and getting stuffed under an airplane seat.  How big is this dog going to be as an adult ?  So, we had to cancel our airline tickets, rent a car and drive the 2,300 miles home.  Luckily we figured this out before we showed up at the airport where we would have been turned away at at the gate.  Though now we had just three days to do get home.

2,300 miles in a car with a puppy that is not yet house trained, a seven year old, two adults, a pile of luggage that includes skis, ski poles and boots, and Christmas gifts. Would we get lost ?  Would the dog ‘go’ in the back seat ?  Would the seven year old loose his mind from boredom ?  Would there be arguments over what direction we should take ? Would we get stuck in a snow storm on the way? Can you tell that I’ve never driven this far before ?

Our journey would take us through New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and finally onto New Hampshire and home.  

We picked up our rental car, and spent about an hour stuffing in our bags like an enormous version of Tetris. Fitting in the skis in the back seat through the gap between the two parts of the  fold down back seat, so that the back seat was divided in half by about two feet of skis, dog on one side, seven year old on the other. Most of the luggage fit in the trunk, but two bags had to be stuffed onto the floor of the back seat, though that did make for a larger area for Scout to sit on.

We left sunny New Mexico, sunny, but there were storm clouds on the horizon.

We had to go at least 800 miles each day, but for the first day we thought we might be able to get about 1,000 miles done since there’s little if any traffic in this part of the country. It would also be helpful to get a good chunk of miles over with since the traffic situation would most likely get much worse once we hit the east coast, and the weather would probably be much worse on the east coast too.

Once we left the mountainous areas of New Mexico, around Santa Fe and Taos, we entered the flat areas of the north-east corner of the state,and the pan-handle area of northern Texas.

Driving through the western states, you really get to see how big the U.S. is.  Most of my photos from this part of the trip look like the one above, just more of the same.   Half of the time I was driving so there’s not a lot of photos from a large portion of the trip.  A lot of the towns on the way seem to rely on tourists who are nostalgic for the old Route 66 days. Though a lot of the old motels with the cool old neon signs from the Route 66 era are long closed as the small towns were bypassed once the faster Interstate Route 40 was finished.

After several bathroom stops, some for the dog, some for Mr. C, some for me or Ms. J,  in six hours we had only travelled about 280 miles, just making it to Amarillo Texas.

We were all tired and hungry and since it was New Year’s Day, there were few if any restaurants open.  Through the magic of smart phone internet roaming, I did find that ‘The Big Texan’ was open though.  It’s a huge tourist spot, normally I would avoid a lace like this but we had little choice.

I have to remember that Mr. C is just seven years old and just loves these types of new experiences.  I later asked him what his favorite part of the drive home was and he said ‘The Big Texan, since I got to eat my meal out of a hat!’   Yes, kids are served their meal in a little tray that fits inside a straw hat which they can take with them.  Exactly the type of touristy thing that makes me groan, but the food was actually very good. We saw that the meals were enormous, so J and I split a buffalo burger, while Mr. C had a small piece of steak.  Something this place does is offer a 72 ounce steak, which is free if you can finish the whole thing, so ‘small steak’ is in comparison to the adult sized portions. C was also impressed that it had a ‘Horse Hotel’ where you could stable your horse while you ate. This was not just for the tourists, as there actually were horses inside. It is Texas ranch country after all.

In the Amarillo area is a huge wind farm, with windmills stretching off into the horizon. As it got dark, you can see the red airplane warning light at the top of each windmill light up from one side of the horizon to the other.  It’s a bit blurry, but here’s a shot of the windmills, below.  A lot of my photos were taken while I was off driving duty, in the passenger seat, so they’re going to be a bit blurry as we sped by the sights.

We made yet another bathroom stop later that night, while still in Texas. In the parking lot of the rest area was a huge flat bed truck that was transporting a single windmill blade.

When we left the restaurant it was already about 6:00pm, and we had about 500 miles to go to get to our goal of 800 miles.  Since it’s January, it was already dark out.  We drove and drove for hours, going through the entire length of Oklahoma in the dark.  So I don’t have much of an impression of that state, besides the various lights of Oklahoma City and Tulsa late at night.    There were so many things to see on the way that we had to put off for another trip, the second largest canyon in the US is near Amarillo, Santa Rosa, New Mexico is the ‘Scuba Diving Capital of the Southwest’ (wait, scuba diving in New Mexico ?)  there’s a re-creation of Stonehenge made out of old cars near Amarillo,  Tucumcari looks like it has some neat old buildings on Main Street, and then there’s the entire state of Oklahoma which we missed.  We drove about 500 miles from Amarillo, through Oklahoma, arriving just over the border in Joplin, Missouri at about 1:30 am.  That was day 1.  Mr. C sleep walked into the hotel and fell face first on the bed.  Total miles for the day: 781.  Close to our goal of 800, but there’s a long way to go.

It’s getting colder as we head north, and it’s starting to rain.  After the first day’s  drive, we already miss sunny New Mexico.