Our Last Goodbye

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It has has taken me 6 months to write this, or anything, except a few words on Facebook. This has left such a deep sorrow in my heart, I really have been at a loss for words to write. I would like to move on now and share the story.

Always in life there is give and take. I think the older you get the more you come to realize this reality in every day life.

If you have read any of my previous blogs you have read about my dogs Dish and Newt, our Cowboys. The rabble-rousers of the north woods. The best of buddy’s, the fiercest of competitors. The best friends to mankind.

We got Newt in the spring of 2015 as a puppy, hoping to retrain Dish. Dish missed out on learning the skills of becoming a real dog due to spending the first few months of his life in the clinical setting of a veternarian hospital fighting for his life. When we adopted him at 4 months he had just been released and was looking for a forever home and we had just lost our last senior adoption to old age. So, we hoped Newt could show Dish the ropes. Running, chasing, digging, tugging, fetching, listening and responding to basic commands, the whole nine yards, all the good stuff. Newt was one of the smartest puppy’s I have ever had. He was a great teacher!

As Newt grew, so did his curiosity. He pushed the boundaries of our compound further and further. With spring came the arrival of strange new animals and Newt would take the opportunity to chase every chance he got. He was perpetual motion at its finest. One evening as I stepped out onto the deck of the small trailer we have in the compound I could just barely see the road through the now budding trees. I heard and then saw a fast moving pickup truck coming down the road. I also took note of the dogs on the ridge above the road. Newt gave a bark and both dogs took off running. The next thing I heard was a yelp…I knew. That truck hit one or both of the dogs. My husband and I both ran to the road to find Dish running crazy circles and Newtie in the road. He was lying on the opposing side of the road where the truck had crossed over and ran him down.

My husband ran to call the vet and get things secure and I tried to comfort Newt and get Dish under control. It looked bad, and it was a 30 minute drive to the vet.

After careful evaluation the skull fracture he received was going to be the deciding factor. Already he was having some issues with his rear legs and the really difficult decision was made to let him go. We said our last goodbyes to our littlest cowboy.

 

It’s Been A While

 

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have been away from our home for almost 2 weeks. Staying down state has been cost effective but very anxiety inducing. There had been a couple of storms which produced freezing rain and a couple of inches of new snow in our northern region and we have been stressed about the food in the refrigerator and the condition of the driveway and the amount of propane left in the tank. The only good thing was that we had enough foresight to bring the kitty back with us knowing our stay down state may be more than just a few days. Thankfully she settled in to the tiny apartment like a champ!

We’ve had the worst luck with our vehicle. First the accident, then a mechanical failure. Not just a simple mechanical failure, it had to be the ultimate out of our budget kind of mechanical failure. So we look for a simple solution, which really there isn’t one, and we purchase a substitute vehicle to get us by until we can make the needed repair to our Trailblazer. Finally we can make the trip home after struggling with getting this, new to us, vehicle on the road while also managing grandkids sporting events (in which we like to participate ).

The Cowboys are crazy to get back to the freedom of the woods. However, they are apprehensive about the new ride. Dish is particularly anxious. He has been really scared to ride since the accident. Now we’re loading him up into a strange vehicle and he is visibly shaken, won’t even take a treat. We had to physically lift him in.

The ride north seemed really long and loud. There are some tweaks that need to be made to the new ride.  As we pass the Cedar Springs exit, the snow on the side of the road is increasing. By the time we get to US10, there is a considerable amount of snow.  As we turn onto our road, it is ice covered and with a soccer mom van, it’s pretty scary. Upon arrival, my husband Les, has to shovel the end of the driveway before our first attempt. First attempt is a failure to get in, then a second and a third failure.  Time to get “Pinky”. Les hooks up a tow strap to the back of our vehicle and after many attempts with the tractor, finally pulls us up the driveway. The very first thing I do is open the back and let the boys out.

Before I can even get to the cabin Newt is circling the picnic table. His eyes are crazy and he is sniffing the ground and running around that table. I walk over close and see an animal under the table and I’m hoping for a raccoon. Nope, it’s a porcupine. A big “porky”. The porky doesn’t seem too ruffeled, but both dogs are excited and trying to get under the table. I yell for Les and he is able to get Dish into the cabin and after numerous attempts, I am able to snatch Newt by the collar, barely, and get him into the cabin too.  We stayed inside while Les took care of the porky, I’m not a participater in the elimination process.

I hate even the thought of killing an animal, even a mouse, but porky’s are very destructive. During the winter for the last two years they have eaten the tender boughs at the top of several hemlock trees which eventually kills them and have destroyed many trees in the compound by eating the bark off. They are also notorious for eating the siding off cabins and outbuildings causing thousands of dollars in damage. Most often, I make Les trap the raccoons and one time, even a skunk (under his most adamant protest) and then release them out of harms way. But a porky is a different deal. Their tails are down right treacherous. One swipe and you could be pulling quills out of your legs or arms or the nose and mouth of your dog for hours. Or worse yet, a stressful, costly visit to the vet or ER to have them removed properly so infection doesn’t set in.

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So, with the porky now deceased and dusk setting in, I cook dinner, and we can finally crash for the night. The end of  yet another interesting day at the Rollin’ Rock.

Saturday brings sunny skies and warm 39 degree temps. On go the snowshoes and off we go into the snowy northern woodland we call home. The dogs are at their best running free through the snowy forest. I can tell I’m 2 weeks out of shape, but it’s great to be home again, even for just a short while.

 

Aside

Everything Changes

We depend upon our vehicle to commute back and forth to our cabin. The Chevy Trailblazer that we purchased in 2010 has been a great vehicle for us due to the amount of supplies, dogs, mother-in-law and an occasional grandchild that we take along. This vehicle transports us north 120 miles each way twice a week. We depend on it to get us “home”. That all changed during the holiday season this year.

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As we were traveling some back roads on our trip north, we hit a band of snow blowing across the countryside. The pavement became slippery very quickly. I tried to creep along, but just as I crested a hill, the trailer I was pulling lost gripe on the road and started to swing around. The blazer was pulled into the opposing traffic lane and just as my husband says, “this is not going to be good”, we plunged into the ditch. It seemed as though we were dangling off the Grand Canyon. The angle we rested at literally had us held away from the windshield by our seat belts. The cowboy’s were in the back cargo area, smashed against the front of their kennels. They were so scared. Luckily, my 90 year old mother-in-law was seat belted in the rear seat, had she not been, she would have been thrown into my husbands lap or worse. She was shook up, but no injury.

 

Our lives changed in that instance. Even if it was only temporary, it changed.

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Chance

We were thankful we decided to bring kitty home while the blazer was being repaired. We considered trying to make a couple of trips back to check on her and feed her, but due to caring for my husband’s mother and bad weather, we would not have been able to make it. So, kitty’s life changed too. She has been forced to stay indoors with a litter box and two big dogs to chase her around a small apartment. She is safe, warm and has all the people contact she can stand. Good thing it’s only temporary. If you could see her staring out the window, you would know she is dreaming of the day she returns home to the woods. Hopefully soon our circumstance will change again, but this time hopefully, back to a close normal.

 

The Cowboys

I would like to introduce you to the canine buddies who share our life and our tiny home. They are Dish and Newt, “The Cowboys”.

First, we have Dish. He will be 2 years old in March of this year. He was from a rescue group who provided medical care after his owner surrendered him for lack of cash for treatment. He was 20 weeks old when we picked him up. He is beautiful dark brindle with a white patch on his chest that stretches up under his chin. Dish is a Mastiff/bully mix weighing in about 90lbs now. In comparison to his body, Dishs’ head is huge, and with his mouth open he looks like a land shark. He is a lean, mean muscle machine. When he runs through the woods, he is as graceful as a gazelle. I’ve owned greyhounds in the past and they too are powerful, graceful runners, but nothing compared to Dish. He is completely comfortable running and dodging trees at full speed. He loves the woods with all its’ smells and the quiet sounds of nature. But with all his grace and beauty, Dish is not the brightest bulb in the box. The early extreme medical issues caused him some developmental problems.

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Second is Newt, he is going to be 1 year old in March. Newt is a smaller Mastiff/bully mix weighing in about 45lbs so far. He is a beautiful fawn color, with a white patch on his chest.

Newt is a handful, still a pup, he is a chewer and a digger, with a keen sense of smell. He can dig up a mole a foot under ground. Newt, like Dish, loves his time in the woods. Chasing chipmunks is his favorite thing to do. He races through the woods with his ears on high alert listening for the chipmunks whistling back and forth and his nose to the ground not missing any scents that have passed through. Newt is not graceful or agile, but he is a protector.

We live in an area that is surrounded by absentee owners, sportsmen who use their property three or four weeks out of the year for hunting or cutting firewood. We also have a huge tract of state land that lays untouched by humans a good share of the year. Because of the absence of homeowners or other cabin dwellers, we have a vast array of wildlife that travels around and through our property including black bear and coyote. Although it hasn’t happened yet, I’m sure Newt would have no problem facing down a bear. He is fearless.

We get many questions about their names. Well, life is all about compromise, so we decided that if my husband picked the dog, I would name it and vice verse. Well this time I chose the dog, I mean dogs, so he got to name them both. Their names come from the movie, Lonesome Dove, my husbands favorite, and Dish and Newt were cowboys in the movie. My Dish and Newt are just as rough and tough as you can imagine any cowboy  in the old west were, so their names are very fitting.