Deer Me


Paddling in the August sun made my bare shoulders smell like burnt potato chips. Purposefully, I put my wrist up to my tongue to taste pure salt. Time to ditch the canoe and fulfill a promise I made to myself earlier in the day to go swimming with my dog. I haven’t been in a bathing suit in 10 years, convinced that no one wants to look at old lady parts –yet I was yearning for the childhood thrill of making three backwards somersaults in a row underwater and floating on my back, looking up at the sky.

My objective all along was to be brave, not be seen, and be quick.   My swimming hole would have to be secluded. After passing up two possible sites, I settled on one across from a lively beaver dam. I love beavers and hoped to get some brownie points by aggravating one bad enough to slap his tail at me. I shivered for a minute in waist deep water, steeling myself for the plunge. Hmmm….much colder than it looked. I kept saying, “Just do it….do it….GO!” Elvis was singing “It’s Now or Never” as I pushed off hard, leaving the earth and years behind, sinking up to my neck in orange tannin-colored water, common in Michigan’s upper peninsula.

Now my legs were working like eggbeaters in the water, treading it, as I called Remi out to me. She had been on the shore doing a pretty good impression of Scooby Doo’s “Rutt-Roh” look.  I blew bubbles at her, clapped and called her out to me. After a sufficient amount of begging, she figured, ah, what the heck, and took the plunge–steering towards me with her built-in tail rudder and pumping her back legs until we were nose to nose, hearts smiling.

All of a sudden, to my left, I heard a huge kersplash followed by a smaller kersplash. Surreal. There we were, out in the deep water, the two of us dog paddling with a doe and a fawn. The doe was in high gear, cutting 30 yards straight to the mainland from this island cove and her spotted baby was bawling after her. Remi and I had the “deer in the headlights” look as we shared this spectacle. Safe on the other side, they shook off and quickly disappeared into the woods, thinking nothing of it. All that was left on our side were the two sets of meandering hoof prints on the sandy beach and a miracle I will be thinking about for decades.

Bear Makes Great Catch – Should Play for the Tigers!


During a recent trip to a park in Seattle known for its “waving bears,”  these motorists had an awesome encounter.  A giant grizzly, who had perfected his begging, was sitting up on his haunches, looking for an easy mark.  He was very close to the road and only a few strands of electric fencing kept him in check.

It wasn’t long before the couple in this 24 second video fell prey to his shenanigans.

They stopped the car and waved. Sure enough, Yogi waves back.  He even flashed them a teddy bear smile. This guy knew how to work it and before long, the passenger was putty in his hands.  She disobeyed every “Don’t Feed The Bears” sign and flipped him a hunk of bread. Incredibly, the bear reached out with his catcher’s mitt, like a pro, and snagged it.  CUTENESS OVERLOAD as they all share a special moment.  Click on the orange type below – to see it all go down.

Great Catch

When All The Stars Align…A Moment Like This Is Captured On Film


We pulled up anchor and headed back to camp with a boatload of fish. The August sun was hot and our bellies were empty.  There was only one cola left in the cooler and Mother Nature was calling.  On approach, we slowed down to witness a four legged athlete named Dock–and HE CAN FLY.

We cut the engine and drifted, in awe, when we saw how high and tight his moves were.  Dock, a German Shorthaired Pointer pup, had “Zee German Engineering” running on all four cylinders and he was stroked and bored!  His owner cartwheeled the dummy time and time again…and then the magic happened. It really was something to behold.

CLICK this orange link and WATCH this Amazing Athete


Harriet Goes Camping


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.







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


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.







Rescue 911


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….


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