Sunday, May 16, 2021

House Breaking


Technically, I'm having a tough time housebreaking my puppy POTUS, and it doesn't help that he is so freaking enormous, I forget he is a baby. He's five months old and doesn't have the nighttime routine down yet. Today, I found out why.

At five am, I opened the door to let the dogs out. Paladin, the Sarplaninac was first out the door. The pup trotted out with her and sniffed the ground. Good start to the morning and it made me hopeful. Then Paladin lifted her head, sniffed the incoming breeze and a low growl rumbled from deep in her chest.  POTUS darted back inside and sat next to me. He didn't pee in the 40 seconds he was out.

I took him upstairs and opened the kitchen door. Brockle trotted outside and sniffed the air to the southeast, the puppy followed and did the same. Then, Brockle moved to the fence and began to bark. POTUS flew back and sat behind my legs. I grabbed my jacket and coaxed him outside. He came with me, but he cried and leaned against my legs, he wanted me back inside.

My two older dogs have taught him well. There were predators nearby, they had work to do, and the puppy was not invited. He listened to them without question and didn't pee outside because the big dogs told him to stay on the porch. I wish I trained as well as they do.

Previous me might have made assumptions about this pup. The first would be wondering if he may be timid. The second might be that POTUS is going to be difficult to housebreak. Go back to the waaaay previous me and I might have taken this as deliberate disobedience. Lucky for both of us, I know he is not timid. He is aware of his environment. He gages both my and the big dogs' reactions before making most decisions, well, except for stealing my slippers, those he just grabs and runs.

If I forced him outside or was angry while mopping yet again, I would be in direct contradiction with the big dogs. Their logic is sound, the puppy is not old enough to encounter coyotes. I wonder if this type of contradiction could plant the seeds of fear aggression. 

There are a lot of solutions out there. There are charts and crates and alarms and leashes to tie them to my waist. I'm certainly not criticizing any specific method. Current me has become more of an observer and thinker before acting kind of woman. POTUS is bright, sensitive, and already developing quite the vocabulary. He understands where I want him to poop and more than happy to oblige until he is forbidden to evacuate anything but the immediate area because the big dogs are on alert. 

My solution is this - I'm moving the final feed of the day back two hours. This will push poop time back to bright daylight, and fewer coyotes. Also, if the dogs are working, I'll leash him and go for a short, calm, walk away from the action until he poops. 

I'd like to think this is the solution, unfortunately, there is a small glitch in my system. Brockle and Paladin are complete jerks. Any given quiet, boring day, they will position themselves strategically so neither POTUS, nor the little dogs can go outside without passing them. Then, they take a nap, because they made a rule where nobody can go out until they decide to let them. This normally doesn't happen until there is at least one good dump in the house from somebody and I get to bring out the mop.

"Move," is a command all my dogs understand and comply to. I use it often. If I catch on to what they are doing, I can holler the name of the culprit, then "Move!" and the troublemaker will move aside. Because of this, no rotten dogs have been whacked with a mop in my process of sorting this out. I'm pretty sure this is not truly my big dogs being punks, but an instinctive positioning to guard us while they sleep. I prefer to humanize them and consider them dirty, rotten scoundrels messing with the weaker members of the scrum.

The dogs being blocked have learned to rat out those doing the blocking. They will bark until they have my attention and I fix the situation, although, on snowy winter days, everybody stays quiet, and my mop time triples. I'm pretty sure the scrum then morphs into a cabal, the dogs unite, and devise a plot to poop in the basement en masse. Then, they blame the current government.

Damn dogs.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Conversations On the Fence

 Boy oh boy, have I been through it the last eight, nine, ten years? Has it been that long since I wandered off the blog?

I am not the same Mugs who left here. Life has educated me in many ways that I wasn't prepared for. 

I'm quieter. I think, observe, mull, dwell, and absorb the chaos that swirls around me. Then, I spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to meditate. I'm too twitchy, my mind jumps from here to there and does not want to focus on an inner light, thank you very much. I can't escape the appeal of a deep interior quiet though, so I keep trying.

If any of you old-timers join back up with this particular posse, I'm not sure you'll agree with my turn of thought. I am still horsaii to my bones. If I didn't have my dogs, well, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be. The last few years I've been both making peace and searching for it. Ironically, I have cut some long-term ties I thought were forever, sometimes, with a sudden sharpness I never knew I carried. So, the conversation could be interesting and I hope a few of you join in.

The one thing I know, an unshakable fact, is that I am myself here on the Chronicles. Maybe a little writing will help my current search for who the hell I actually am.

Long ago, I hid from the readers of this blog the fact I had one arm. I didn't want it to become a focal point around my horsemanship. Now I don't give a shit. I've survived too much to think it matters. 

I have Parkinson's Disease too and was recently diagnosed as living a lifetime of clinical depression AND plunked down about three-quarters of the way around the spectrum. 

There, the worst is out of the way. I talk about it now because I realize how intrinsic all these things are to my life with horses. Since this blog was always about living with horses, to hide any of it is kind of a lie, and I'm not willing to go there.

And here is a story:

"Stop asking your horse what it thinks when you're on the fence."

I can't say the Big K was shouting, but I could have heard him just as well from the other side of the arena. "We could have stepped into that turn a little earlier," I said.

"You missed a plus half at least," he said.

"It was a good turn," I said.

"It could have been a great one, but you have to pick the perfect moment and tell that mare to turn. You can't go into a huddle and talk about it. Your horse doesn't understand a score sheet, she's just going to pick the softest route every time."

"Mmmm, you mean like a real cowhorse? I lost points because she set up that turn the way she did?"

"You lost points because you didn't set up the turn, she did."

"But she had a valid point," I said.

The Big K didn't think I was funny. The little group of eavesdroppers sure did though. He muttered something about needing a beer and stomped off.

"So Madonna, do we want to follow him and buy him that beer? Nah, me either." I stepped down loosened her cinch and led her back to the stalls. We were out of the money that day, by half a point.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Summer Break

 Well hello there.

I hope everybody is doing well. 

I'm not sure how things are in your world, but mine is pretty damn shitty. Sometimes everything feels so grim I don't want to try anymore. 

I'm not going to dive into personal beliefs, and God knows, I'm not talking politics, ever, and so this is the last time I'll bring this up. Part of my trouble is I don't know how to help, and haven't known for a long while. 

But I remembered something today. I tell a good story, and I know stuff. Not all stuff, but enough to share it here and there. I can offer distraction. I can help by offering our imagination another place to be.

So, let me dust off my hat, put a little oil on my spurs and a lot on my boots, because it's time to start up my stories. They won't be the same, because I'm a totally different person than the Mugs you knew, and have worked hard to get that way, but hopefully I can still spin a yarn. 

In the fields behind our neighborhood, the grass was so tall I could let my feet swing as I rode and kick the heavy heads off the bunch grass. Seeds would scatter and I felt a bit like Johnny Appleseed - more like Janet Spread The Weeds - but I didn't care. The sun was hot on my pink and peeling shoulders, and Mort walked along without a head toss or a jig. I had hours before chores and summer vacation was still new enough to stretch ahead like a fresh-graded dirt road. 

Mort stopped and started stomping and swatting his tail at a horse fly, so I sidled him next to a scrubby elm and reached for a leafy fly switch. Almost crazy from that buzzing horsefly, he leaned in and started to rub himself on the trunk, then under some low branches. I squawked and wrapped my arms around a branch, and he slid out from under me. 

He was involved enough in grunting and rubbing on that poor little tree that I wasn't worried about him leaving, so I slid to the ground and inspected the damage. My belly was scratched up, so were my legs and arms, and the new pink skin on my sunburned shoulders had been scraped raw. I blew on the little beads of blood that appeared and hopped around until it didn't sting so much. A little baby oil should fix it right up. Another good sunburn or two and I'd be ready to tan all summer, reason enough to ride bareback in  cut-offs and halter top, even if mom said I looked easy.

Mort ambled over and lipped at the bark imbedded in my arm. 

"Yeah, you did that, you shit," I said.

I took a quick look around  to see if anybody heard me cuss. Silly, since we stood alone in a big empty field. I swung up onto his back and he ducked his head so I'd vault all the way over and land on my butt. I was ready for him though, hooked my elbow over his withers and dug my heel into that little hollow right under his hip bone. He didn't get me off, but decided to get a little froggy to pay me back. 

I sat on my pockets and let him ease into his long trot. Karen and I planned to ride out to look for baby antelope and her house was still fifteen minutes away.

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