The experience of the art show was wildly rewarding with good feedback and purposeful critique from the adjudicators. There was one central message that stood out for me: if your artwork has a why reason behind it, if your purpose for creating it comes through, you can surmount any how regarding technique, getting it done and sharing it. There was strong consensus that my work has a powerful why reason coming out in it. The hows (technique, presentation, etc) can be improved upon but in short - keep on keeping on with this work. The public feedback to the artwork was very strong as well giving me a great boost of confidence for moving forward.

In between trips to town for the art show the vet came out to visit and vaccinate dogs, the weather turned around fast and we are expecting grass to show up soon. By sheer good fortune we saved two trapped sheep from near death, and the kelpies and I met a moose…

It was such a smooth encounter I almost wonder did it even happen? Ms Moose was just off the roadside, bedded in tall grass on the edge of a well treed wetland, unbeknownst to the gang of us out for our usual, early morning exercise.

As we come abreast to this wetland spot, a couple dogs bounded off into the ditch. The sound that alerted me was a big rustle of grass. The image is Gibson sliding to a stop in front of her as she rose up, very big. He looking up at the moose, the moose looking at him and Coyote Mic, who is just a few feet behind Gibb.

“Hey, hey, hey kelpies, that’ll do,” I call from the road as I wheel my pedal bike around to head us away from her while scanning for the location of the other three dogs. I even sounded calm. Blackjack has taken notice of her now and stops to wonder. “Leave it, let’s go.” And just like that we all rode and ran off together, BJ and Cajun falling in with us as we go. Smooth as silk and blessedly so uneventful except it was the biggest event of the week in the way that all wildlife encounters are for me. No camera with me and no worry for that because that close to a moose with five dogs along wasn’t the time to think about photos.

I went back on my bicycle, minus the five dogs, and watched where the moose traveled to. Now that I could plan I was hopeful to get some photos but no luck. She heads across crop stubble land and turns southward where she crosses into our pasture. She continues this path heading right toward the flock and the guardian dogs. She is far away now, just a big black spot moving across the prairie. She passes through a tree line and is now out of sight but judging from where she crossed she should come out just east of the flock. Sure enough I hear guardian dogs alert, but it’s just an alert and becomes nothing more so I don’t believe they ever gave chase.

I still have morning feeding to do for the flock so I return to the yard, climb aboard the tractor, pick a hay bale and make my way out. At the flock every one is calm and still bedded. Four guardian dogs are positioned on the side of the flock the moose would have passed by. One dog is further out and watchful (not resting). The others are asleep. I go ahead and feed and marvel at the morning events, simplistic as they are. I marvel at such things, whether good or bad turnout, because I appreciate so deeply that we are even here, existing as we are in this landscape, striving to maintain a shared ecosystem with its creatures. This, I believe, is the start of the why.

Makes me feel like having a roll in the grass myself.


  1. This was wonderful writing. I could actually feel your joy. This would be a great story as part of a book. I am very happy for you Arlette. Dogs, sheep, prairie, art, writing, wildlife, nature, - what a lovey life!

    1. Thank you Judi. I'm thinking this piece will make it into the book. I'm a strong 22,000 words in. Aiming for 60,000 as that feels doable. A third of the way.


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