Fast and Dirty Post

I don’t have a lot of time to post today because I am going to ride my horse!

I am leasing a very old (but still very spry!) quarter horse named Gibson who is teaching me to ride.  Right now I am taking lessons on Gibson until I feel confident enough to take him out on my own, and then I can ride him as much as I like :)  I am super excited about this, because my landlord is currently fixing up the barn and fields to get horses of his own, and then I’ll be able ride in my own backyard too!

I’ve not had a chance to take photos of old Gibby the kind gelding, but here’s a photo from the website:

He is such a nice pony, though he is a bit fat.  He doesn’t bite, kick or stomp on me so that  makes me luff him.

ETA – well, I looked at the clock while I was writing this and realized I didn’t have time to post and make my lesson on time, so I took a couple of photos of Gibson for you whilst I was there:

Handsome Pony!

Today we were doing “barrel racing” by which I of course mean a very slow trot awkwardly around some barrels to help me stop staring at his ears and start looking where we’re going.  He is very patient with me and my mixed signals, and the fact that I put his saddle pad on upside down.  However, I did tack up for the first time all by myself today, and other than the saddle pad I did everything right … so go me!

The place is full of dogs, and they all think I am the bomb, because there are always cookies in my pocket.  It’s a natural side effect of having a pack of dogs at home.  Here’s a hound begging me for a treat.

In other news, the invincible Miss P is back to her old self a week after almost dying on me.  Poor gal, she just has the most rotten luck of any dog around.  I am still totally mystified as to what she could have possibly have punctured her tongue with, but yesterday I did watch her try to pick up a pokey branch as a potential stick to carry around, so it’s safe to say it could have been nearly anything sharp.  Piper prefers to have something in her mouth at all times to just about any other activity, so it’s totally likely that she happened to pick up something sharp on the way back from our walk.

Her stitches evicted themselves into the dog water bucket the other morning (gross) but I guess the wound has healed up.  She has colour in her gums again and is transitioning back onto raw food after a week of eating delectable canned delicacies like rabbit and beef and buffalo.

*sigh* I miss the days of canned delicacies.

I am really grateful for all your good thoughts and kind and caring words.  Piper means the world to me.  Even if she is kind of ugly, poor thing.  She may look like she was thrown together with spare parts, but she is an indispensable part of my pack and I don’t know what I’d do without her.

TWooie, otoh … *insert eyeroll here*

We had a little guy at the shelter up until recently who was trying to make his way to a rescue group on the Island.  So I drove him to meet the transport on Thursday late morning and since I was already out that way, decided to meet Auntie Robyn, Jenn and Luna for a walk in Ladner.

Jenn tried real hard to be as annoying as possible to Piper, doing drive-bys with sticks and her other patented manouevres to make Piper insane.

But Jenn had not met Springaling, The World’s Most Irritating Dog.  Now don’t misunderstand me, I adore my little Springles, but a more tenacious, in-your-face, determined-to-be-a-part-of-everything-anywhere-ever dog you have never met in your life.  And as far as Spring was concerned, Jenn was just the Most Fun EVAH and everything Jenn could do, Spring could do better.

She kept Jenn out of Piper’s hair for the entire outing, simply by following her around and being as annoying as possible.

(Which is what she does at home as well.  Remind me to tell you about Spring, Dexter and The Terrifying Squeaky Chicken In A Bathing Suit story some time.)

Whatcha gonna do when she comes for you …

But speaking of keeping dogs out of other dogs’ hair, a most curious thing happened on our Ladner walk.

Now TWooie, bless his damaged little bean, has come a long way from the obese tub of nasty that first arrived at Casa De Food Lady two years ago (his Gotcha Day is at the end of this month!)  However, he has not come all that far about strange dogs, you know, existing.  His rage ebbs and flows, most flows.  There are a few places we can now regularly go with him (on leash and mostly) non-reactive, but new places with strange dogs gets him all agitated.  And we have not been to Ladner for a real long time.

So he was a righteous mess from the moment we got out of the truck.  Every approaching dog was cause for a flip out at the end of his Gentle leader style rage.  This makes walks super un-fun.  He even tried to beat up both Jenn and gentle Lu, the little jerk.  And for reasons I will NEVER understand, every strange dog bypasses the swirling mass of off-leash collie and beelines straight for TWooie.  Since the park is made up of roads surrounded by ditches or bush, we had nowhere to go except to back up with me trying to stomp the pavement in front of the approaching dog to make it change course* (with TWooie doing his Angry Shark Caught On Fishing Line routine at the end of the lead).

About halfway into the walk, Dexter started doing a most extraordinary thing.  He would see me struggling with TWooie and trying to get away from some other dog and he would run over and *plant* himself between us and the other dog.  His tail was wagging and he was friendly as anything to the strange dog, but he Would Not Let It Pass.  If it moved forward, so did Dex.  If it tried to go around Dex, my fella would back up and keep his body between the dog and me.  No matter how they tried, they could not pass Sentry Dexter.  When they finally got bored with trying and moved away, so did Dexter, happy as a clam that he could help.


At first I wondered if maybe I was imagining this, but then Robyn said “did you notice that Dexter is not letting other dogs come near you and TWooie?”  So clearly not my imagination.  Underneath all that insane LETSGOLETSGOCOMEONLETSGO!!!!!! there is a sensitive, keenly aware dog who is super in tune with my body language.  Cuz he’s not doing it for TWooie’s sake; he hates TWooie.  He is amazing.

Phhhlllbbbt.  No I’m not. 
*Because I know at least one person is just dying to tell me how I’m putting TWoo over threshold by taking him to places like this, and how I shouldn’t be putting him smack in the middle of situations that make him go nutty like that, I am going to circumvent this observation by making it myself.  I know this already.  But I also have to make choices … choices like leaving TWooie home alone from 7 in the morning when I leave for work, whilst I drive to Richmond to meet the transport and then Ladner to meet Robyn  until later afternoon when I get back home in Surrey.  Leaving him all alone in the house for a good seven hours is a whole different kind of stress, not to mention unfair as he would have gotten no exercise that day at all, and then I would have left him alone again while I went to agility class for 4 hours.  So it’s a choice I make from time to time.  And I’m okay with making it.

The dogs love it out at the park in Ladner (except TWooie).  It makes Tweed ridiculously happy.

And it’s prime hunting grounds for the likes of Woo.

As for Spring, well, everything makes Spring happy :)

Can we go again?  Maybe now?

Sorry Spring, not now.  Right now, I’m going to have a hot bath and read a good book.  Ah, so exciting are my Friday nights.  Just how I like it.

Happy Weekend everyone!


  1. Kristine says:

    Best photo ever of Tweed!

  2. Wow- that sounds like a doggie paradise! I’m a little jealous of your tubby horse as well…

    As a side note, locking Twoo up might keep him from going over threshold, but it isn’t a solution. People like to think they know best, but you know your dogs (and they know you). I’d do the exact same thing that you did and I wouldn’t feel bad at all.

  3. Janice in GA says:

    Spring the Hoverdog! That’s awesome.

    And Yay Dexter for helping out!

  4. Hoorray for Dexter helping out! I wonder if Twooie will appreciate it? You know what is really fun? Taking your dogs along when you go riding! I haven’t done it since my mare went blind but I think this spring I will start with one dog (wearing a bell!)

  5. A pony! Your menagerie just gets better and better.

  6. Wahoo!! Way to go Dexter!
    Thanks for sharing :)

  7. Spring looks like she’s floating in the air! So glad to hear that Piper is on the mend! Good luck with horseback riding!

  8. Cherrie J says:

    It would be a shame if Twooie stayed home alone. I think you are right to take him along. Besides, Dex would have missed out on the chance to do a task that must have been very rewarding to him. What he did was pretty cool.

  9. all boxers... for now. says:

    so glad to hear Piper is all healed up.

    good boy, Dex! we have a friend at the dog park, a 9-10 months old GSD pup, who does the exact same body blocking thing for my deaf white Boxer when unfriendly dogs get too close to him. it’s really amazing. the GSD seems to always be watching over him, even if they’re on opposite sides of the park. if an icky dog starts to get too close the GSD runs right over to protect his friend. he’s not confrontational, in fact he really doesn’t engage with the offending dog at all. he just makes it impossible for them to get close to my dog. the GSD doesn’t do this with any of the other dogs at the park, just mine. i heart our GSD friend very much for this & i think my Boy does, too.


  10. Catherine says:

    Piper is so not ugly. And I too love that final pic of Tweed.

  11. That’s a pretty awesome picture of Tweed. Woo looks like he just caught sight of a jackalope bounding through the fields of Ladner…but maybe it was just Spring? ;)

    I think getting Twoo out to have some exercise and mental stimulation (even if it was of the “omg I’m going to kill you” kind) is much better than leaving him home alone with nothing to do. Reactive dogs are tricky – sometimes you just have to do what you can, even if it isn’t the perfect solution. Sounds like Dexter is creating a solution for you though! What a clever guy to sort that out!

  12. Anyone who says the proper way to handle an unsocialized dog is to keep them unsocialized by never exposing them to anything new is off their rocker. The fact that you have made this much progress with TWooie is a product of socialization. Personally, I think your walk in an unfamiliar park was probably good for him — and with Dexter as bodyguard, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. :) Amazing story — you have a one in a million dog there!

    As for the upside down saddle pad, I thought I’d share a story to make you smile. I have horses, but hubby is NOT a horsey person at all. After four years with my first horse, I only just got him to start helping me groom in the last few months! A little while back, I asked him to put the saddle on my horse’s back while I went into the tack room for something, and I’d connect the girth when I got back. Well, I came out of the back to find the saddle on backwards! Of course, I laughed my ass off at my poor non-horsey husband, especially when he explained that he thought the back of the saddle was the part I hold onto. (I ride English, so this is especially funny, because I DON’T HOLD ONTO ANYTHING when I ride. :-D )

    So don’t feel too bad about putting the saddle pad on upside down. At least you didn’t put the whole getup on backwards! ^_^

  13. Stephanie says:

    Awesome photos as always! I love the one of Dex with his tongue out!

  14. 5 dog nights...and days! says:

    A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse! You are going to LOVE having an equine family member. The only problem you’ll have is that when you add a horse to the mix you find that your days become extremely SHORT! There’s never enough time to do everything you want to do!
    Happy Trails……

  15. My wonderful rescue red bc, Wyatt Flirt, protected Cindy (my aussie) like this. She was off leash and he would just steer the other dog away from her. Later after Wyo was gone :( Cindy protected baby red bc Pete (Mellie’s brother :) exactly the same way. It was all very subtle herding moves… the other dog barely knew what was going on and often looked confused as to why they had “changed” their mind hahaha. It was wonderful to have 2 different dogs do it and just plain wonderful to watch. And so awesome that Dexter does it. Yay!

  16. Beautiful horse! You and the puppas will have so much fun! Springaling is gonna be a rocking agility dog, and always looks so dang happy. And twoo buddy, my bella understands, and after eight years of taking her when others thought she should stay home,she now walks with us in the woods and if another person or dog comes she gets off the trail and stands (at alert of course) and watches them go. So poo on what people think, one day the twoo’s brain will click, some of us (bella) take alittle longer. And Cu’s I am an aussie girl love me some tweed!

  17. Smart Dexter is such a good boy! As far as Twooie goes, I think you’re making the best decision by bringing him along and allowing him to be with the rest of the pack. Like you said leaving him at home is a whole other kind of stress, probably worse. Hope Dexter keeps it up!

  18. Oh, and I’m so jealous of your pony. He’s quite handsome!

  19. Aww, those post-hospital shaved forelegs always make me want to give them extra lovin’.

    Yay for riding! Are you familiar with Jessica Jahiel? She does a great email newsletter, most of which is archived here:

  20. I’m really happy to hear Pipper is recovering well. Just keep her a little bit longer eating delicacies, she deserves it after everything she’s gone through.

    And I’m not surprise at all about Dexter’s behaviour. He’s really a smart dog and very passionate (that’s all the “Go, Go, Go” thing) but he’s always looked so focused and paying so much attention at everything you do. I know he’s my favourite but really you only need to see what a good dog he is. (I must add he continues to have those Bumblebee eyes)

    I think both Pipper an Dexter deserve some brownies.

    Take care of yourself and I hope Pipper fully recovers. :o)

  21. News about Gibson: cool.
    News about Piper: way cool.
    News about Dexter: cool beyond words.

    Now we would like to hear “Terrifying Squeaky Chicken In A Bathing Suit story” please.

  22. I meant to ask: will we ever see pictures of Parker (and Harriet) again?

  23. What Alaska says….

  24. Schnitzie/Andrea says:

    For a quick-and-dirty update, this was one of your great posts. I love the intimacy you share with your dogs…that Dexter was tuned into your body language and just knew how to respond. I can hardly express how thrilling it is to get to know Dexter from the beginning of his career. He is truly an extraordinary dog.

    He is so darned smart and creative! I love that he was able to go from “GO! GO! GO!” to “I has a job, and I’s gonna do it great for my Mama!!!” With all the intense focus and problem-solving that involves. Man, there are few things in nature as fascinating as a BC putting his big brain to work. Dexter is such a magnificent little character.

    Spring is a miracle worker — the only living being I know who has figured out how to turn annoying into endearing. She is a phenomenal canine alchemist I just love her in-your-face, irritating ways!

    Piper — She sounds like what my Himalayan is to me…my rock and salvation. The one who keeps everything anchored and keeps me sane. I am so glad Ms. Piper is feeling better, bless her heart and her tongue!

    Twooie — I’m sorry he has such a hard time in strange places, with strange (however nice and gentle) puppers. My heart goes out to him, for whatever reason it is that made him so fearful, reactive, and socially challenged… although it is a miracle and a gift that he loves Woo so much. Is it that Woo looks like other dogs Twoo knew as a puppy? Or could Woo really be Twoo’s brother? It’s one of those mysteries….

    And, of course, I am so thrilled that Tweed was ridiculously happy at Ladner. Tweed deserves all the ridiculous happiness in the world. As does his Mama Food Lady.

    Bless you all, and thank you for sharing your lives with all of us, your adoring readers. =:-)

  25. Oh, goody, now we can haz horse stories as well. :-) Gibson looks like a wonderfully kind older gentleman.

    Ha – saddle pad upside down? The first time I put my bridle together by myself, I got the bit in backwards. It was jointed in the middle and so poked the pony in the tongue every time I put pressure on it. Pony, not being the long-suffering type, responded by biting me in the boot every time I asked him to halt or turn. So it didn’t take me long to discover my error. These many years later Pony still has grave doubts about my intelligence.

    And Piper is a beautiful little girl! So glad she’s recovered.

  26. cinnamondog says:

    You get a horse and I don’t?! Waaaaahhhhh!

    Piper is not ugly. I find her quite appealing. Granted, she does not have the airbrushed vacuous look of perfection that the AKC Border Collies do, but she is a firecracker in a dog suit and that’s way better than runway-model looks.

    I am a very mean dog owner and believe that pretty much whatever doesn’t kill them makes them stronger, and so I have forced my dogs into situations that they would rather have avoided (Shiri has been made to submit to the pets of well-behaved children, which is just one in her very long list of grievances against me — the only thing I’ve ever done *right* for Her Shiriness was to bring in a toy-boy Border Collie for her) — and I don’t feel that you are mistreating TWooie. I will save my sympathy for those dogs who are locked in shelters or living out of dumpsters. Suck it up, TWoo, you lived.

    Attila the Dog Owner

    P.S. Dexter is awesome.

  27. I’m so in love with Spring.

  28. Horse + pack of pups = BEST LIFE EVA…

    Congrats. My pups love to go trail riding and I think yours will too :)

  29. Can Dexter come out with us? I need him to block for Fritz so we can do parks too! I’m jealous. All Pru does is try and instigate more trouble! You’re a good boy Dexter!

  30. I loved every word and photo in this post. And what Attila the Dog Owner said. :)

  31. clairesmum says:

    great post – pics and writing and the actual news, too! you are one of my favorite bloggers, FL.
    Piper is better – YEAH! Gibson the horse has someone else to love him – YEAH! Dexter has found himself an appropriate use for that brain (better than eating underpants) – YEAH! And Dexter’s new job might help Twooie slow down his instant over-the-top reactions to all strange dogs and help him at least learn to tolerate them – a hopeful, quiet, little, fingers crossed, yeah – cuz Twooie has overcome quite a bit already, poor lump o’ lard (that he used to be!)

  32. You have a most expressive, beautiful pack of dogs. :)

  33. Hey there, I just recently found your blog and have been enjoying reading through past posts. I too have an “autistic dog” who is crazy reactive and the past year of being her mom has been trying! It’s a daily struggle to figure out how much to push her, but if you don’t try, then she has no chance of improving. Keep plugging away at it!

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