Wednesday, September 17, 2014

On The Easel - LGD Art in Progress

Each time I begrudge an unscheduled life that is driven by the whim of nature I seem to be handed a day with some breathing space and time for artwork. Two things I cherish. 

It’s pretty remarkable to be able to do what I wish; I just have to be flexible enough to work artwork into the gaps of the day.

This piece in progress, is of a dog named Cricket. She does guardian duty for a large kennel of Siberian Husky sled dogs up in northern Alberta, Canada. I follow the North Wapiti Blog because I love working dogs in all there facets and am intrigued by the sled dog life. I fell in love with this photo of Cricket because her expression speaks volumes of the nature of these dogs.
(Thanks to Karen for the permission to use her photo as reference).

Putting down the eye and major darks and lights

Second eye, and continuing with darks and lights

Just starting the nose...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Oakley - A Different View

I’m relieved to report that Oakley is recovering well. The leg is healing quickly and he has already regrown an amazing amount of muscle and flesh. The wound is still large and open and keeping it clean is our main concern so returning him to pasture with the sheep is still not an option at this time, and may not be for awhile.


He is the first guardian dog we’ve had up to the house for an extended period. He has adjusted well to all the new changes in his life (he sleeps on the couch!) and he is amazingly tolerant of all the care that needs to be done every day. We do hydrotherapy (running cold water over the open wound) every night, allow it to dry, and then coat with honey and re-bandage. He allows all of this without fuss. He lives with a cone on his head whenever we can’t supervise him which has probably been the biggest adjustment for him as he can’t see his surroundings as he wishes or expects to.

He is well known at the veterinarian hospital because of the rare nature of his wound but also because the staff are in awe at how gracious and tolerant of handling he is. He’s even had a couple offers on a retirement home if he can’t return to work. The vet commented that not all the guardians dogs they see are as easy to handle and most times the staff are wary of these dogs for good reason. While I think Oak is a bit of a special case because his temperament is so solid and easy going, not all LGD’s share this quality. I'm so thankful I choose to handle our LGD’s rather than keep them half wild. This whole situation is without a doubt stressful to Oakley, but it’s also, without a doubt, far less stressful to him than it would be if he had no prior handling by us and pleasant experiences with others who have met him over the years.

Today we had a re-check at the vets and Allen also had an appointment afterward. While I waited for Allen, I took Oakley for a walk, making Oak the first guardian dog of mine to hit the city streets. We both felt a bit out of our element but took it all in stride. Oakley was a pleasure to walk and showed little concern over all the strangeness. The only thing he stopped to take notice of was good trees to pee on, and ambulance sirens sounding nearby.


It has occurred to us that Oakley may not want to return to pasture work after an extended stay at the house and yard with us. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but regardless of what his choice is, he’ll be staying on with us (after this vet bill, we’ve got too much money into him!!!).

Listening to the sirens

Friday, September 12, 2014

Lingering

The last company from herding camp departed this morning and afterward the dogs and I enjoyed a moment of sunshine as I contemplated this week gone by and missed the wonderful people who shared a week working dogs with us.


Unlike last week which was full of trips to the vet, prepping for this week long herding camp and a roller coaster ride of worry and angst about Oakley, the week ahead looks relatively empty, primarily because I haven’t given the week ahead much thought.

While out on the pasture looking at sheep and feeding dogs tonight it struck me how a place can be so full of animal life and yet upon the exit of a group of people an empty feeling always lingers. There is something very dualistic about prairie space and maybe about any vast space of landscape. The vastness can be peaceful, inspiring and eternal, or empty and almost ominous, depending on which voice of consciousness you bring to the scene and what you allow to sink in while you visit there. Tonight I let the feeling of missing people linger and tell me what it would.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

All Too Soon

One more day of working dogs and our herding camp is wrapped up for another year.

I’d like to say I enjoyed this one as much as the last, however, I think my focus was off after the set back with Oakley and having such a suddenly emotional week.

I enjoyed, appreciated (and needed) the great moments working my dogs the last three days, but otherwise I’m really just floating through the innumerable tasks and challenges that are ongoing when you host large events. As this camp comes to a close, I’m not able to make sense of my feelings about it. I was already behind the eight ball on the first day and wanting to rest, and yet the days have flown by and I’m kind of wishing I could do them over again. It was another good camp, yet as a host, just not my best camp. I have a feeling I missed a lot of highlight moments because, even though I was there, I was not able to be present for them. Living the life I do am I aware of that disconnect and it pesters me that I can’t always snap myself out of it because all too soon this camp will be another memory.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Interrupted

As I sit down to write this blog post I wonder, ‘where did the week go’, but in truth I know exactly where it went.

Last weekend I was at the veterinarians, in the unenviable position of discussing options for saving Oakley’s life or euthanizing him. He underwent a two and half hour surgery and stayed at the clinic for the weekend to be on intensive antibiotics to help him recover from a rare case of a hidden infection gone terribly wrong. This week there was trips back and forth to the vets (a three hour round trip) to be sure Oakley was recovering well enough, and prepping for stock dog trials and sheep camp when I was at home.

Oakley needs specific care each day and is up at the house while he recovers. We have always told Oak that there is a spot on the couch for him when he retires and wouldn’t you know it, the morning after his first night in the house, we rose to find him sleeping on the couch.

I didn’t make any progress on the fence and the blog was forgotten for a few days, but a good dog is still here with us and I'm surrounded by dog loving folks who are gathering here once again, and that makes me feel very good. People began arriving on Friday for the herding trials, which took place Saturday and today. A few more people pulled in tonight and sheep camp begins tomorrow, so the place is abuzz with activity, which is a lovely distraction from the emergent interruption of last week. Now if the weather would hold...

photo taken in July