Harriet Goes Camping

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Continued….Part 3

Week 1: Harriet (L) Remi (R)

Sure, my first foster dog, Harriet, had little things that were broken because she had not had much human contact. 

  • She was not potty trained–but we could fix that, quick, with some crating at night and lots of walks.
  • She did not know her name, Harriet, which was probably assigned to her by the Shelter.   With all her German engineering, ending up with a name like Harriet is, let’s be honest, humiliating.  Something like Heidi (noble and kind) or Greta (little pearl) or Ava (a bird) would have been better. I kept her call name Harriet because it symbolized something greater:  it would be another battle scar she carried until she was adopted.

On her first full day of normal, back at our farm, I noticed something silly.  Harriet, who is five years old, did not know how to walk up or down stairs and she did not know how doors opened and closed.  She had survived winters and summers tied up in a barn her entire life.  It was fun to teach her about these things, and trust me, some things she learned the hard way:  like doors.  Her snout took a few good smacks in all of her excitement.  A big plus was that she had no bad indoor habits…no counter surfing and no jumping on furniture. She craved sitting in my lap, but all she could do was press her head into my knees and push as her sign of love.  I cupped her little face, lifted it up, and encouraged her.  She simply had no brain connection between her wants and the execution.  It is no different than asking someone to wiggle their ears…they may really want to, but just can’t execute the moves.  One day, though, I saw this! (and smiled) 

The goal was to slowly exercise her to build up her muscles so her frame would have support and straighten out.  Her back was deeply bowed like a horse who carried too much weight and her front legs were awkward with elbows splayed outwards in a bulldogesque manner.   Everything about her confirmation was a little “off” from years of abuse at the end of a 6′ rope.   We needed to get some lungs on her, put some weight on her, and see if we could make our own “My Fair Lady.”

After a week of playing fetch and jogging, her carriage started improving.  I decided more fresh air was the cure!  We loaded up the Airstream and headed off to Holland, MI for some trail hikes full of new flora and fauna to explore.  Bees buzzed and frogs scared her when they jumped.  Chipmunks in campgrounds are very brave and Harriet almost caught one!  There were berry bushes and prairie grasses to burst through.  We ran up and down endless sand dunes and shared peaceful sunsets.  At night, Harriet wore a little red jacket and the toasty campfire kept us warm.

She loved everything about camping.  She watched squirrels skit and scatter between pines and she held a skunk eye on all the tweetie birds.  Harriet splashed in the Lake Michigan surf and began to hold her head up just a little bit higher.  She helped me find a stick to roast a hot dog on and she tried to lick the campfire sparks so I had to keep her a little farther away–she was so entranced by the snap, crackle, and high flying pops.  Over and over, she snapped at lightening bugs, missing, as her chops slammed shut with a funny, saggy sound.  Everyone in the campground stopped to say hello to Harriet.

 Within a few weeks, Harriet started looking like and enjoying life as a proper GSP

We had one hurdle left…Getting Spayed.   Stay tuned.

    

 

 

 

Harriet

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Part 2:  Continued from Rescue 911…

Earlier in the year, I had enrolled in ISR’s (Illinois Shorthair Rescue) foster program, was vetted, and was hoping to get my first foster dog.  

A group of eight dogs, including three German Shorthaired Pointers, had lived in deplorable conditions in a barn for five years and were removed by Animal Control in IN.  On an otherwise glorious fall day,  ISR called me with the Shelter’s address and a pick up date for my first foster dog, the pregnant one.  All the dogs had been quarantined and were getting proper immunizations and evaluations by veterinarians.   Now I just had to put on my big girl panties and go rescue a distraught Momma-to-be.

It has been over 10 years since I’ve cared for a litter of pups, but I had all the necessities:  a whelping box, string to tie off umbilical cords, that orange antiseptic that bleeds and stains everything,  an electric puppy warming pad, and lots of time and love.  All I had to do was clean out my mud room which, trust me, was an epic endeavor.  Five garbage bags, lots of perspiration, and two hours later, I was ready!

Driving 220 miles to a Shelter to pick up a dog that could burst puppies in your car at any moment gives one the jitters.  As I rolled down the highway, I sang along with Willie, Waylon, and Johnny Cash.   Their honest lyrics and smooth picking was just the ticket.  When I rolled up the driveway at the Shelter, a lady waved.  After throwing it in park, saying a prayer and stepping out into the unknown, the Shelter ladies and I exchanged information and signed forms.   I waited outside.  Finally I saw her, in full bloom.  Harriet.

Her first worldy possession, a yellow duckie.

At first glance, she was a looker…very beautiful coat markings with ticking and brown patches, topped with a chocolate Hershey’s Kiss face and matching brown eyes.  She had a big, droopy belly but it was soft.  That’s when I learned that Harriet had dodged a bullet.  She had been so full of worms, that until the pregnancy test came back negative, everyone thought she was having pups. What a relief!  Instead of having to find 10 homes, we only had to find the right home for Harriet.  (By the time I picked her up, she had been dewormed and the belly just needed time to firm back up).  Everyone was grateful that she did not have to go through another trama…feeding pups when there was really nothing left on her to give.

We walked around the Shelter together getting to know one another before the long ride back to Michigan.  She was stressed, with eyes flashing above, over, beyond and around….but underneath the uncertainty, she trusted me and was gentle.   I was feeling better and better about this whole opportunity and even celebrated having a mudroom where we could actually hang up jackets.

Harriet would keep her head down and walk to my knees and press her face into my legs and push.  That was her expression of love and it was good enough for me, so we hopped in the car and headed home.  From her vantage point in the rear of my Tahoe, Harriet watched cars and trees roll by.  She saw cornfields and flashing lights and smelled new smells.  She looked out of the back window until she couldn’t hold her head up any longer.  Then she slept, peacefully, probably, for the first time in five years.

….to be continued

Note:

My husband and I have always had German Shorthaired Pointers and we love their merry mischief making, admire what true versatile athletes they are, and how pack oriented each one is; Velcro dogs!  You get the best of both worlds in this sporting breed–when it is done right.  It is even more tragic for these noble dogs, when, through no fault of their own, they become homeless or are neglected.

http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/german-shorthaired-pointer/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rescue 911

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When the rent was late, a landlord in central Indiana decided to check on his property.  The renters had been there a long time and this was unusual.  What he discovered was a house of horrors. Tied with short leads to a post in his barn were eight breathing, panting skeletons:  hunting dogs, of various breeds, who between them did not share a pound of fat.  Out of respect for these animals, I refuse to post a picture of their condition at that time.

One dog had no energy to wag its tail anymore.  There was a Brittany Spaniel who couldn’t stand up and a female that had a big, heavy belly bursting with pups.   The landlord called the police and Animal Control.  The “hunter”  monster who kept these “hunting dogs” tied up without provisions or medical care had kept them this way for FIVE YEARS.   Last winter, when it was minus 20 and more, these dogs ate straw and feces to stay alive.  In the hot summers, they survived on mice they could catch, what food he would throw, and drank water when it rained and the barn roof leaked.  All were severely dehydrated and weak.

This was a beautiful October day in mid Michigan until my phone rang.  A gentle woman, on the other end, sounded urgent.  She was calling from the Illinois Shorthair Rescue.   Earlier in the year, I had enrolled in their foster program, was vetted, and was hoping to get my first dog.  

This particular rescue organization is regional because the need is so great.  It serves German Shorthaired Pointers from IL, IN, and MI using a multi-state network of AWESOME volunteers.   When I applied, I told them our home is quiet because our children are grown.  With my farming background (which includes episodes of doctoring, birthing, and bottle feeding little goat kids rejected by moms) I said my home would be perfect for a very sick or abused GSP.  Any foster dog in my care could recover or be rehabilitated in a quiet, peaceful setting.  I said, “I will sit tight for a hard case; I can stomach it.”

And there you have it.  My first hard case:  THE PREGNANT ONE.

To Be Continued….

 

Blood and Band-Aids

bloody hand cut on floral wire at mailbox 0910

With orange handled Fiskars, I was cutting up little pills, dividing them in half with the scissors, one by one.   You have to put a lot of pressure into each cut when cutting a hard tablet.  Painfully, I missed and cut the palm of my hand wide open.  Bright red blood spurted out of a three stitch hole. I filled up a paper towel or two using direct pressure and held my bloody paw above my heart.

I reached for the Johnson & Johnson Band-Aids to doctor this one up myself.  Stitches are for wussies.  When the bleeding slowed down, I started applying a bandage, and that’s when  I “lost it.”

Grief is a sneaky thing. 

In the 1960′s through the 1980′s my Grandmother worked at Johnson & Johnson in Chicago and was the head of quality control for bandages at J & J (as we called it.)  Grandma Ashbaucher made sure every Band-Aid that left the manufacturing plant was sterile and perfect.  She was so good at her job, that she was twice voted Johnson & Johnson’s National “Employee of the Year” and flown to New York to receive Johnson & Johnson’s National Leichen Award.

 

So there I was, at the kitchen sink, bawling my eyes out, proud to be opening a J & J Band-Aid bandage, remembering my childhood boo-boos and the white tin boxes the Band-Aids came in, and accepting that the torch has been passed on to someone else, maybe another Grandma.  Not only did she have a stellar career there, but that company also paid for my father’s college education at Roosevelt University. He began working at Johnson & Johnson in 1960, at 19 years of age, in the mail room.  It took him 9 years of full time work plus part time night classes to earn his B.A. degree in Finance.  I attended his college graduation in 1969 when “Laugh-In” was on television, so when he came out in his black robe, everyone said, “Here comes the Judge” –like they did on the show.

My dad, James W. Ashbaucher, gave back to J & J for years, moving up through the management ranks, and later in his career, left to be a Vice President of several other international corporations.

Sadly, they, along with the era that brought us Johnson & Johnson’s No More Tangles shampoo, and Legg’s Pantyhose in Eggs, have passed away.  It is bittersweet when I see J & J bandages on store shelves–knowing that they are in my blood.

My favorite picture of Grandma Ashbaucher

So today, I put my Band-Aids on and cried; grateful for the childhood memories of my Grandma bringing home a box of Band-Aids that “flunked” her high standards, but were good enough for my knee as long as she added a couple of kisses to it.

 

Big Bertha

Today October was in her prime. The fiery maple leaves were stunning as they floated down by the hundreds.   Hoards of honkers were flying in formation 30 feet above my canoe as I slipped in one last day of paddling before the snow flies.  My dog was balanced between my knees; risky business for sure!

One of my personal goals this year was to catch and land a fish from a canoe.  Adding a 50 lb. dog to a narrow, low profile, 13′ canoe, along with a couple of spinning reels locked and loaded with hooks, had me questioning my sanity.  But hey, I’m a pretty good swimmer.

I was casting a Mepps Spinner, looking for just anything to hit and figuring I’d get skunked while learning how to maneuver the canoe in the wind while actively casting to targets along the shoreline and trying to control the dog.  My only goal was to not hook me, the dog, or get us all dumped in the drink.

Mepps are my  favorite “go to” lures for the bass on our lake.  If the water is dead calm, I might throw a Luhr Jenson Woodchopper, which is a top water lure,  just to scare the bejesus out of myself when a fish surfaces and strikes.  You don’t catch as many fish using top water, but boy, the ones you do get are worth the wait.

 If people concentrated on the really important things in life,

there would be a shortage of fishing poles. 

All at once, I had a solid strike on the Mepps.  I knew I had a Big Bertha when the fish starting towing my boat like a 15 hp. Evinrude and the drag on my reel was singing.  All hands on deck!

Grateful I had a little trout net with me this time, I reached back for it and got ready.  Remi stayed low in the boat through the bucking, running, and dancing on top of the water that this fighter was doing.  As I reeled and played the fish out, I caught a glimpse of it and my heart skipped a beat.  IT WAS A BIG-BIG BERTHA! She was at least 6 lbs. and closer to 7.  A real fattie.

I worked the pole to guide the fish as close to the edge of the canoe as possible and then using the net as a spatula, scooped real quick to flop it up over the side and into my lap because there was no way the little trout net could hold this pig.  I had to pin it down against my thigh with my left elbow so I could work with pliers on the treble hook as that stupid fish kept thrashing around, seriously rocking the boat.  Remi earned her Master Angler patch today!  She laid down on the bottom of the canoe and let that fish slap her silly.  We took some pictures and released her.  Thank you Big Bertha you big, beautiful girl.  Here’s the link to my Hornbeck Canoe…so you can see what a challenge this day was!  http://www.hornbeckboats.com/boats_nt_13.php

 

Anastasia Beaverhausen

Dogs are not allowed indoors at an elite pheasant and deer hunting ranch called Muy Grande Resort that we stayed at with friends in northern Michigan, near Hillman.  Since I knew the temps were going down to 31 degrees and my child my German Shorthaired Pointer wasn’t about to be kenneled on a straw bed outside, I brought Remi’s trailer so she could be comfortable and warm at night with Mommy.    Her master slept on silk sheets in this 40,000 square foot ridiculous log complex that came with a 24 hour chef and all the high end liquor you could pour.  We rubbed elbows with guests from around the country who had sharpened their storytelling and colorful yarns so well that these sportsmen could make a fisherman blush.  (The light on my bullshit detector was glowing red by the end of the night.)

The Man Cave lockers were filled with double barreled shotguns.  Yellow, green and red shotgun shells were lined up in a roll call above, in the cubbies.  Leather couches were arranged so that the men could engage in bold faced  lies as they guzzled booze–and still not miss a massive buck passing by.  Oil cloth Filson jackets and buffalo checked Stormy Kromers hung from pegs.  The whole place stunk like an Old Spice commercial.  After a few martinis, we were ready to pick from the spa menu and, as Kings of the World,  order up Sean Connery rub downs and mani/pedi combos.

Fall colors were peaking and we saw many deer  in this high fence operation scoring in the 200 range.  Every man walked around trying to hide his big boner.  This was easier for some men than others,  just ask Anastasia Beaverhausen, whose husband, she claimed, after her third Appletini, was hung like a horse.  Oh, we were bad.  We laughed and lost ourselves in luxury until…

my Airstream’s thermostat quit.  31 degrees, remember?  It was a three dog night and I had one dog.  The extra blankets I carry on board were deployed and we toughed it out.  I could see my breath.   I spent the better part of the next day trying not to bash the thermostat with a hammer as its digital E7 error code popped up with every button combination I tried.  In desperation,  I googled an online site called JustAnswers.com.  It cost me $32 in tech support.

The first thing the tech texted me was, “Do you have the Dometic CC2 model?”  I went over and looked. I am not stupid.   I texted him back, “There is no writing on it.  I’m a girl.  It is a rectangle and it is white.”  So, knowing it was a lost cause, he texted me back,   “Just unplug it, wait five minutes, and plug it back in.”  Best $32 I ever spent.

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