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….

 

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.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

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We smelled “the smell” again.  In the same place.

Behind the wall, in the front vestibule–just like before.

Two weeks ago I was dumb enough to believe my husband’s declaration, “It’s just a dead mouse.”  In my defense, several winters ago a grey field mouse set up shop between the walls in our house.  He made little scritch-scratch noises that were kind of cute and since he didn’t eat much, I let him freeload.  Now and then I would “accidentally” drop a sunflower seed on the kitchen floor just so I could see the flash of his little pink belly.  It was all sunshine and lollipops until the rotten bastard died in the wall.  Game changer, let me tell you.   It bloated and stunk for a bit but we all got over it–well, except for Mr. Mouse.

Thinking that I just had to tough it out again, I lit soy candles and spent most of my free time upstairs, praying that no one would ring the doorbell.  After a week, we decided that a mouse could not possibly make that much smell.  Bets were placed that it was a racoon. The reek took on a life of it’s own.  I started sticking my nose inside my shirt and walked around smelling my boobs, waiting for it to go away, still clueless.

The following week, the doorbell rang.  I took a deep breath, ran downstairs, and opened the door while trying to slip outside to talk on the porch.  Our farmhand, Bryce, shot me the skunk eye.  He caught a big whiff.  I said, “dead mouse,” and he said, “No way,” and made a bee line for the basement.  From my spot on the porch, I heard his gagging.

Our freezer had quit and dark, thickened venison blood was dripping out of it, pooling on the floor, all putrified.   We looked at each other and I said, “Let’s get out the matches.”  Burning the house down at that point seemed legit.  I told him if he won’t let me burn it down, then I will start packing the suitcases.  Instead, Bryce called Adam and told him to grab a dolly from the barn on his way over.  Adam showed up with the elephant masks, too.  I ran away.

Meijer had everything a killer would need to clean up a big mess:  mops, duct tape, black plastic garbage bags, shovels, and bleach.  Lots of it.  I didn’t quite know how I was going to use the duct tape, but figured it was essential.  On my way home I noticed the backhoe was out.

 

 

 

A Horse Called Music

!!alalala

It’s one of those melancholy moons tonight where memories bend and reflect.  The wine helps.

Earlier today I was listening to the 30th annual Farm Aid radio show, featuring Willie Nelson (and many other bands)  live from Chicago, my home sweet home.

His song, “A Horse Called Music” is so beautifully written that I get lost in it until the tears that trickle down bring me back to the here and now.  The song fillets my heart and lays it wide open…especially at the end.

Click the link and let the words and tender tune soak into your body.  My gift to you tonight.  Elevated cowboy art, featuring Merle Haggard.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_Hc8cEplSQ

“This dog don’t hunt.”

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He listened and a great sadness came. 

For ten years Zeke had given his all.  He burst through thickets and many times cut himself on brambles and thorns to reach downed birds for his god.  He took his job seriously.  There were times when the fur between his toes was covered in painful ice balls, and still he cut to the whistle, ran and retrieved.  Now, he was a little slower and a lot stiffer when coming out of the field. He was crippled up for a few days after a hunt, but always ready to go again.   The twinkle in his eye was hidden under a greying brow, but it was still there!  His 12 o’clock tail rocked furiously between 10 and 2 whenever he heard the word “birdies.”

Lately, though, he had been left behind.  Every. Time.

Heartbroken, he stood and stoically accepted his sentencing, “This dog don’t hunt.”  as his man handed him over to a shelter and drove away.  Zeke had played with the man’s children and watched them arrive one by one.  He will miss them.  He will miss the man, too.  As dogs do, he settled into homelessness.  People came everyday but no one looked past his grey face and egg beater gait.  They saw what was used up in him, not what was left to give.

On the last day the shelter could keep him, Zeke was rescued.  A woman arrived who had read Zeke’s story online.  She offered to foster him in her home, with her children and pets, until she found a Forever Home for him.  The shelter lovingly packed up his things (AKC Certificate, his vet records, leftover heart worm medication and a big tub of Vita-Pet Senior Glucosamine chews.)  He still wore a personalized collar with the name Zeke on it and a phone number that used to mean home.

His foster mother cleaned him up and took lots of adoption pictures of him to post on facebook (a site where Miracles can happen!)  Days passed and Zeke continued to soldier on. 

Then a woman 300 miles away read Zeke’s story and she wanted him.  She loved him in his old age and understood his young heart.  She, too, was a little stiff in the joints and grey.  She rescued a 12 year old girl, Dot, last year and wanted a companion for both of them to round out her family.  Her husband had passed away a few years ago and so she no longer made long drives by herself.  BUT SHE WANTED ZEKE.

Zeke needed a second miracle:  Transport.

People say that facebook isn’t real.  Well, it is real to Zeke and to me.  This writer read Zeke’s story and called his foster mother.  We women pulled together to make a second miracle for Zeke, the “Dog that don’t hunt.”   The pick up time was set for 11 a.m. in Muskegon, MI, two hours away from my start point.  When I met Zeke, I could see that he was a real gentleman.  His carriage was strong.  His eyes were warm and alert.  He held his head proudly.  He didn’t jump up or go wild.  He was a mature boy who had nice manners.  This was no throw-away dog!   Zeke called “shotgun” and we were off!

Dot and Zeke Meet

One cheeseburger (okay, two cheeseburgers) and four hours later, Zeke arrived up north, at his FOREVER HOME, near the beaches on Lake Huron.  His new Mom hugged him and he met Dot.   He rolled around, marked his favorite tree, and played fetch with Dot in their one acre fenced yard, which was filled with shady trees and a nice woodlot.  They became a family.  Today, the world is a better place because Zeke is home.  He is loved.  Zeke curls up in a new bed–where he chirps in his sleep while his four paws are up in the air, pumping and running.

Zeke is hunting birdies again.


 

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