Jackson

Jackson is not a fan of the outside and he usually needs to be carried to the grass in order to do his business. He’s very good about holding it and never marks. He only uses the pee pad if we aren’t home. He’d make a perfect apartment dog, much like my Gizmo.

There are several obvious similarities between the two dogs, but that’s not surprising given their common history. Both were kept as puppy mill stud dogs, but Gizmo was in worse shape when he came to the farm. It’s hard to believe from this picture that he was ever anything but an exceptionally healthy happy dog. Gizmo was in the best shape of his young life the day he died making his death so much harder accept.

Jackson is relatively healthy with decent dog socialization skills, but he is not savvy with people. Gizmo had neither skill nor savvy and found the whole world overwhelming and terrifying. Neither had any coordination and frequently fall. They fall over things, off things and sometimes they fall while walking. Living life in a cage doesn’t give the dogs an opportunity to build muscle or develop the philosophy of equilibrium. However, some dogs, like people, are simply not athletic. My sister never made it down a set of stairs without a few bruises.

It’s difficult not to compare the two dogs and perhaps this is one of the reasons people wait before they get another dog after one dies. I love to talk about my Gizmo and I don’t think he’d mind a few loving comparisons.

I realized immediately that Jax is not Gizmo. In the first few moments I met Jax I noticed several glaring differences. I felt a mild disappointment that he was so different from Gizmo, but he’s different in the way that identical twins are different.

Jax is his own puppy and I recognized this in the first few seconds we met. I also knew I loved him, dirt and all. He was sad and pathetic needing love and understanding. He’d come home.

 

I have no regrets about getting Jax so soon after losing Gizmo. I even wonder if Gizmo sent Jax to help the healing. Jax is a wonderful boy who is currently curled on a blanket on the couch beside me making me feel warm and wonderful. How can I ever regret that?

Brent and I talked about the need to throw something into the big black hole of despair we have felt in the three months since Gizmo died. We thought Jax would be that light and he did make a new place in our hearts that shines gold making the darkness of Gizmo’s death a little less painful. Jackson does make the grief less black, but the light comes from its own source and we love his  brilliant soul.

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Big Bear Fighting

Taz and Gizmo had this unique way of playing. They would both stand on their hind legs and hop towards each other until they embraced and then they’d try to bite whatever they could reach. It looked like two tiny bears fighting.

Taz and Jax don’t have that quite of an animated relationship when it comes to playing, but they have their own style that looks a lot like big bear fighting.

A few days ago they had their first episode and I managed to catch it on film. I hope it makes you giggle as much as it made me laugh out loud.

Please enjoy round one of Big Bear Fighting.

Big Bear Fighting on You Tube

November Ride

One of my neighbours who lives down the road and around the corner stopped by and asked if I’d like to go riding. It is a beautiful November Sunday and the Packers don’t play until four, so I said yes.

I found my willing mount happily nibbling on some hay and she came over for the apple I had in my hand not knowing that I was bribing her for capture.

It took several minutes to chip away the thick mud stuck to her body that she’s accumulated from her daily roll in the mud. It takes fifteen minutes just to make her look slighly acceptable. She was still horribly dusty, but her winter coat was coming in beautifully making it impossible to get her clean again until Spring. I picked her hooves and then got my saddle.

I hoisted the old, but lovely saddle that I’ve had since childhood onto Autumns back and we both grunted with effort. I pulled the girth around, but it simply wouldn’t fit. She’d gotten very chubby in the past few months. Gearing up for winter is my guess.

Brent gave me a leg up and I sat on the untethered saddle while Brent pulled the girth towards the buckle. After several efforts we managed to get the saddle firmly secured to the horse.

With my ball cap and a pair of sunglass firmly on my head I was ready to ride. Autumn and I ambled down the driveway for the short walk down Bowen road to the comfort and safety of the closest farm side road called Sider Road.

My new riding companion lives about a mile down this road. Autumn and I sauntered contently smelling the scent of sunshine and witnessing the fields were coldly bare, as all the soy beans had been recently harvested.

It’s always a sign of winter when the beans are gone. It’s the last thing to get picked up before the hard frost starts to set. It’s a sign of winter and comes along with early sunsets and is a good representation of a Canadian farm year.

I’m always fascinated by the fields and their progression through the years. The sleepy winter wheat, the first seeds of spring hay and late summer grains and corn. Finally, the beans get picked up and from then on we can expect colder weather and snow.

There is no better way to see the countryside than by horseback. You get the scents and slow visual survey that nature deserves.

I arrive at Susan’s farm at exactly 11 o’clock as planned. I can see her riding in her sand ring and she waves. It’s a very enthusiastic wave and I am warmed by her friendship. Susan is a little nervous about going on the road with her horse. She has a traumatic history of riding on the road and saw her horse killed by a car when she was very young. Decades later she’s still determined to overcome her fears.

We walk placidly down the road chatting effortlessly as we learn we both rode horses at the same local shows and we both know the same horse people. She remembers my horse Sam and we are bonded by the traumatic loss of our best equine friends.

We ride back to her farm and she asks if I will ride her younger mare. Susan has had back surgery two years ago and the mare can be frisky. Susan’s husband comes out and between the three of us we manage to tack up the pretty bay mare and I ride her around the sand ring.

Susan and her husband stand close talking as I ride and it feels like a lesson or preparing for a show. I’m reminded of the wonderful nervous tickle of excitement at the thought of showing horses.

I think the little mare would make a wonderful children’s jumper as she’s short backed and collects well under her body that gives the jumper their bounce. I’ve always loved jumping.

My mare Autumn is enjoying the attention of Susan’s gelding who is lavishing her with soft nickers and love. The two watch us in the sand ring and after they decide the mare is not being harmed they return to a pile of hay. Autumn is delighted.

After the ride on the young mare we decide to try it again next week. I tack up Autumn and prepare for the short ride home. My mare is tired, but nickers as she walks down the road. She’s torn between her new friends and the old ones waiting for her at home. She meets the goats with a gentle whinny and retires back into her field to relax.

I come home to Brent’s friend Phil splitting wood in the back field, my dad fixing his truck in the garage, my sister and her son raiding my fridge while Brent and his friend David take a look at the greasecar kit on the truck.

It’s a typical and wonderful Sunday on the farm.

The next day I’m a little sore in my lower body. My legs are stiff as I get out of bed, but I smile at the thought of riding and the sweet smell of sweat and effort combined with earth and hay. The smell of horse always brings me comfort.

2351 – Puppy Love Time

I’ve had a good day off. Catching up on some house cleaning and piles and piles of laundry. Spending a day puttering around home makes me the happiest. In between the folding and dusting I play with the puppies, sure it’s not terribly productive but it’s fun.

Jax helped me fold some laundry by hiding it under the couch. Taz enjoyed a verbal sparing match with the vacuum cleaner and Poco would follow me with a bright blue ball in his mouth begging to play fetch.

These little moments that I believe are mere play become bonding and trust building exercises on accident. I don’t think of it as Jax Therapy, but rather as play and treat time. Jax learned to sit today. He plunked himself down on his narrow little bum, tilted his head and pined for his treat. I’m so proud

I play with them because its fun and I spend time with them because I love the joy and wonder they bring to my life. I’ve been asked by other dog people about the bond I have with my dogs and what kind of training I’ve done, but I’ve never done much training. I’ve taken bits of knowledge from different sources, but never really sat down for hard core “training” with any of them. I teach them great games like fetch, dancing and the big bear. I walk them off leach in safe areas and they learn to come when I yell “come on guys”. They might not know stay, but they know wait.

These thoughts become things I’ve taught them on accident and most of the time it’s for safety. I was surprised Taz knew the command stay when we did the Canine Good Citizenship Test because it was never something we practiced, but she picked up what I wanted by our everyday interaction. Taz got that I meant wait, not stay. She knew I wanted her to wait there and she knew there was a good reason or I’d never ask.

Calling her to me was very natural. I needed her and she came to me. No questions asked.  I’ve been asked about training methods because my dogs are well behaved (usually) and I can honestly answer that I don’t have obedient dogs, I have willing and loving companions.

Without any formal training Gizmo and Taz both passed their Canine Good Citizenship Award and became registered Therapy Dogs both as individuals and as a team. I was asked if Taz and Gizmo “fed off each other” and I said: “yes”.  They gain a lot of comfort and confidence from each other, but the instructor was concerned they’d feed off each other in a negative way. Taz and Gizmo passed with flying colours. It’s a tough test, but my guys don’t mind being left alone because they know I’ll always come for them. They like to follow me and when asked to perform this task they do it because they have to for safety, so they just did for the test. I am so proud.

I don’t use training collars, but I will use treats to teach the basics like sit. I use the treats as an attention getter rather than as a reward. I’d like the dogs to do what I ask because they want to and know there’s a reason behind it that is important. When they realize I’m asking them to do the same thing over and over again they feel ridiculous and won’t do it. I don’t blame them. I hate being taught the same thing over and over again.

I rarely work with my dogs on a particular task because every game we play is fun and for learning manners and good behaviour. They learn words by accident this way. I will ask Poco “if someone is here?” he will bark once and check the door. If I tell him to “go see who’s here” he races to the door in an excited frenzy. They’re really quick and pick up on the different inflections in my voice rather than the words.

Poco was up on the bed and he was shaking and cowering at some unknown evil. Poco has spend too much time shaking since he came to the farm. At first we couldn’t console him, but now we can. When Poco is upset he will come to me now and sit close. Touching. I will put one hand on his back and feel his tremors. I will take slow deep breaths and push calming sea blue energy into Poco through my hand. I know it sounds hokie, but it works.

When I first started this method two years ago I learned that I had to wait for Poco to come to me. If I tried to calm him and he wasn’t interested in my help it never worked. I had to be patient and wait for Poco to come to me for comfort. It took years, but I recognized that sending him strength and comfort would help. It used to take up to fifteen minutes to calm him, but now it’s less than a minute. He comes to me sooner for comfort and gains peace much faster. All you have to know how to do is breathe.

We’ve had our new baby puppy, jube jube nose, Jackson, Jax for nearly three weeks and he’s learned so much. He’s learned to sit and he’s learned to be polite at dinner time. He’s learned to play fetch and to respect Taz while she chews on her rawhide. He’s learning to trust people.

Tonight at 2351 Jax asked to come up on the bed for the first time. Once up here he sat and stared at me for several minutes before giving me my first lick on the hand. It was his first kiss was much like Jax – sweet and gentle. The moment filled me with joy. Three weeks and he was starting to love and trust me a little bit. He wants to cuddle and pushes his body against mine for comfort.

This is a good night. Raising puppies can be a challenge, but remember to keep you head up, your voice calm and your energy positive. Dogs read body language better than they speak english.

 

A Special Moment in November

It’s been an busy few weeks at work. I’m a paramedic and usually I live in what we in the business call a “white cloud”. Meaning.. I miss the big calls involving horrific trauma or obscure death, but lately I’ve gotten “those” calls. The calls that make you redefine your life. The calls that make you rethink your thoughts. So, when I say I’ve had a bad week, that means I’ve seen things that I dream about and wake up in the middle of the night with a scream caught in my throat.

It’s been bad. It’s made me want to open up a puppy sitting service. It’s made me consider hair dressing school.

Right this moment I’m in the living room of my century old farm house surrounded by puppies and I feel pretty good. Maybe it’s not entirely real, but it feels pretty real right now.

Brent is snoring softly in the pale beige recliner with Super Taz curled at his calf. I’m in the over sized chair with a Jax stretched out along my leg. Poco is on his favorite green pillow and Simba is passe out on the red couch. It’s a good friday night on the farm.

Next week brings more of the unthinkable, but for tonight I am at peace. I wonder what it would take to open a puppy sitting service?

 

Welcome Home… The Beginning

Below is the very first story I posted about Beaver Creek Farm back on April 13, 2010. My good friend Chris offered to set up a website and we discussed it for a long time (months in fact) and it wasn’t until Blogger started freezing that I approached Chris about starting the website. I am unable to change the layout on my blogger website, so with Chris’s help we’ve started this site. I hope you’ll enjoy the new stories and some golden oldies. Enjoy the beginning.

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