Saturday, January 26, 2019

ALWAYS

I see you, old dog,
with your splayed feet and slowing
step, gone the quick moves of youth.
I see you, old dog,
frost gathering on the fields and on your muzzle.
Hearing still good, listening less so, but
you dance for me, your eyes
still keen, still asking,
what next?
Then prone in the sun, deathlike, dreaming
of sheep and long horizons and other days when aging
bones had
no complaints.
I see you, old dog,
those seasons ago; novice trial, novice dog, novice handler.
I send you and you're gone, tremendous
stride pounding the green earth and
I am in awe,
I don't remember what to do, but
you do.
You do and you run out
on the muscle memory of your ancestors.
I see you, old dog,
in the pearly dawn, gliding through the dew with sheep,
two hundred plus, propelled on the end of
your nose, bringing them without
sound, but the shuffling of hooves in the meadow.
I see you walking
before me, head down, black haunches driving,
shifting
like gears to an ancient machine that
moves in a dance laid down centuries
before. All the generations
whisper and you hear them, taking sheep out into the sun.
I see you, old dog,
on a thousand fields from a thousand posts, where I
stood and you ran out
in joy and purpose, and time
could not touch us there, in that space between grass and sky.
I see you, old dog,
you and the sheep and the earth slowly turning beneath our
feet. Moving on so many roads.
Your golden eyes seek mine and we both smile.
As ever.
As always.
I see you, old dog.
I will always see you.
© 2019
G. M. Atwater



Sunday, October 28, 2018

Pt Pleasant Trial, October 2017

Saturday scores from Pt Pleasant. Very happy with Nick today. He was a very good boy. Looks like we'll be running with the big dogs in the double-lift tomorrow! Life is good. 















Final scores from the Sunday double lift here at Pt. Pleasant. Today was a very good day.
And who knows, if Nick's handler had not meddled with the second drive panel, we might have saved ourselves 10 points. ;) Truly this was a magical weekend. There is no feeling like the partnership we shared today.

Thank you, good boy Nick, you are the best partner I could ask for. 

  













Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Good night, Josey Wales.

Today we said goodbye to a very old friend - our 17 year old kitty, Josey Wales. His respiration was elevated, he was having trouble eating, he was losing weight - he was wearing out. It was time. He had one last good night snoring on our bed, one last nice morning napping in his favorite patch of sunlight.

Josey muttered his complaints on the ride down to the vet, but apparently he was just indignant about the crate. As soon as I got him out and set a folded towel on the exam table for him, he laid down and made himself right at home. That's all he wanted, the comforts of an old man. He never even noticed the sedative shot and he went to sleep with his head in my hand.

Josey came to me sometime in late 2000. Some truck driver friends of ours stopped by the house to drop off this little orange kitten, (heaven knows where they found him,) saying, "Here, you said you wanted an orange kitty." They left and Josey stayed.

He didn't have a name, of course, but within a day I was mostly calling him, "You little s**t!" He climbed the curtains, tackled the plants, climbed the ficus, knocked books off the shelves - in short order, I named this little outlaw after one of our TV favorites, the outlaw Josey Wales. And he did his best to live up to his name.

But then my hubby came home from working several weeks away, and Josey just freaked. He gave my poor hubby a look of absolute horror and shot off down the hall and under the bed. And that's the way it was for years. Oh, Josey eventually learned to come out and eat and even slink around the room when hubby was present, but my little outlaw had revealed himself as a full fledged scaredy-cat. None of our friends ever saw him, either!

Josey was about 8 years old when he finally decided he would let my husband actually touch him. And then somewhere over the years, Josey decided drama was just too much work and he almost became a normal cat. But only almost. He still never went out hunting, never walked around outside, and indeed, he never got further than 20 feet from any open door. He was a HOUSE cat, dammit, and he reserved his energies for food and naps, followed by more food and naps.

And that was his life. I think it was a good one. He certainly never seemed to want anything more and he raised 17 years worth of puppies with a paw of velvet steel. He will be missed ... but he is no longer sick and fading. And I'd like to think he is over the Rainbow Bridge and reunited with his one true love, our calico girl, Smudge, who left us some 3 years ago.

Good night, little old man. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Peanut and Porkchop
















My two new pups. Midge was born January 25th and is out of Claire Burson's Meg and by Paula Bowden's, formerly Derek Scrimgeour's, Jim. Jim is a son of James McCloskey's trial dog, Sweep and a grandson of Derek's good Killibrae Laddie.


Ben was born January 27th and is out of a local ranch bitch and by my boy, Nick. I wasn't aiming to get 2 puppies, but Nick had to be neutered due to prostatitis, so I took the little boy that grabbed my heart.

Life as I know it will never be the same ...  :)










Monday, January 9, 2017

Gael - Lab Results

Well. We got the lab results back for Gael. My poor vet is fighting a nasty cold and killer cough, so I didn't keep her for as many questions as I might have. But ... the diagnosis has somewhat changed. I can't quite say the labs made things more clear, but they did *dismiss* the idea that it was DIC, Which doesn't change the outcome or even how it started, but it does change how Gael got there. This is all way over my pay grade, so pardon if I'm not able to explain this clearly.

The labs mainly seemed to show what's NOT there. No DIC, no toxins, no sepsis. The liver biopsy divulged the most, and for my medically minded friends, it reads:
"There is mild to moderate tissue autolysis affecting the outer most portion of the specimen, with frequent bacterial rod overgrowth, which extends into the parenchyma. There are frequent clusters of bacterial rods, without any inflammatory reaction (postmortem overgrowth) within the parenchyma. The viable parenchyma features diffuse sinusoidal congestion."
"Interpretation: Mild to moderate widespread tissue autolysis with postmortem bacterial rod overgrowth and diffuse sinusoidal congestion."
.

The comments following suggested there could be an underlying cause such as an allergic hypersensitivity to food or inflammatory bowel disease ... but Gael never showed signs of any kind of upset until her fatal illness. My vet was a little puzzled, too.

This kind of brings us back to my vet's original Dx: Gael ate something - again, who knows what - that disagreed with her. But the vet says it now appears this morphed into a massive, aggressive bacterial infection. Gael's white blood count crashed and then her system had nothing left to fight with. What the vet originally thought could be DIC was her body shutting down, her organs bleeding out due to no white blood cells. So, I guess Gael died of toxic shock.

Which doesn't really change anything or alter the manner of her death. All it really does is underscore the inevitability of it. Gael ate something she shouldn't have and her body, for whatever reason, couldn't fight off the reaction. Oddly, the vet did mention Addison's disease, but she didn't seem sure entirely about that either because, again, Gael never showed clinical signs of any illness at all, until this.

So, I dunno. I guess it's time to let this go. I suppose I'm absolved of guilt by learning there was no hope, but I'll never feel absolved of responsibility. She was my good girl and now she's gone. Shit happens.

Meanwhile, I have 3 dogs who daily make me smile. Nick and Nell have trial fields to conquer and miles to run, and Ash is her own funny self. Life goes on. I owe a debt of gratitude to all of you out there who have offered your sympathy, condolences and kindnesses. I hope I can return a kindness to you, some day. In the meantime, hug your dogs for me!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Gael "La-Roo" Atwater ~ July 25, 2009 - December 30, 2016










Gael "La-Roo" Atwater ~ July 25, 2009 - December 30, 2016

Did you know that I loved you, my bright, wild girl? Did you know the sun rose in your "ain't this fun?" smile and the stars twinkled in your shining eyes? Did you know that I loved every hair on your silly, impulsive, reactive, joyful self and every molecule of your dear body? Did you know that when I saw you run, a lithe, athletic missile leaping across the fields and hills with the kind of joyful abandon most never know ... my heart soared with you?

Did you know that even when I felt sure you communed with faeries and danced with pixies who whispered you ridiculous things, I still loved you? Did you know that when you ran out on your huge, hill-encompassing outrun, racing the wind on the clever paws of a thousand generations of sheepdogs - and totally missed your sheep - I still loved you? Did you know how much you taught me, how much you had to show me about learning a sheepdog's ways? Did you know that no matter what you ever did, whether we succeeded on the trial field or walked off to try again another day, I still loved you?

Do you know, my precious girl, how very, very much you will be missed? Why, why did you have to go?

My beloved Gael enjoyed a fantastic hike with friends on Wednesday last. That night she seemed a little "off," but I attributed it to tiredness and maybe a bit of over-doing-it. Yesterday morning she seemed oddly stiff and sore, but she was still in good spirits. I left her home while I went working dogs, figuring she might have tweaked something amidst her fun and just needed rest and maybe a visit to the dog chiropractor later.

This morning she didn't even get out of bed. The look in her eyes was a decade older than she was. I took her to the vet first thing. Apparently she had some sort of GI tract infection, origins unknown. Her heart, lungs, kidneys and liver values were all good, but her white blood count was catastrophically low. She also had a fever which spiked at 107 and though they got it down some, her body could not cope. She died in my arms. The vet will do a postmortem, hoping for answers. But there is no reason why. There is only the fact that my silly, fey, beautiful little Gael is gone. I don't think the other dogs have realized that just yet.

My friends, remember to love your furry companions with all your heart. Hold them close, always. Forgive them their imperfections as they forgive yours, for dogs are the closest things we'll ever know to God walking on this earth.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Autumn ...







The light has changed. The shadows are beginning to reach long, skinny fingers ever further from beneath the trees. The breeze has an edge and the pinon trees drip pine nuts, pitter-pat, as they have not in three or four years. The birds and squirrels and I have a quiet competition to see who gets the most, they in their lofty perches, or me down here on the ground, picking up what nuts may fall.

Our barn swallows have absconded somewhere else and even the blue jays have become strangely quiet. This morning I sit in my garden with a cat and a cup of coffee, watching the flowers grow straggly and threadbare. I don't mind the turning of the seasons when it comes like this, time like molasses in the cool sun. Life is good. Peace and love, my friends.