Posts Tagged ‘dogs’

I haven’t posted anything since October: mainly because I really haven’t had anything to post.  My work schedule is now Saturday, Sunday, Monday, 7am-7pm, and all of the 3D shoots are, of course, on the weekend.

But this isn’t about my schedule or lack of writing: this is about Gretchen. Gretchen is, technically, not our dog, she’s our oldest dog’s dog.


In 2006, my father drove down from Ohio to bring my daughter for her Spring Break. He also brought us one of his German Shorthaired Pointers, whom we named Cinders. (Technically Cinders von Uberwold, Cinders from the book White Plume Mountain, von Uberwold from Terry Pratchett’s Diskworld books.) Cinders, to put simply, was a brat from the beginning.  He had been in and out of my father’s house with my then- 8 year old daughter, but mostly lived outside, with his brothers and sisters, mother and the other GSP dogs my dad raised at the time.  But from day one, he ‘owned’ our house, and didn’t understand why we left him alone, except for the one older cat we had, who wouldn’t have anything to do with him. Cinders escaped every time we tried to put him in an outdoor kennel, would throw a fit and defecate all over a crate when we tried to crate train him, and would always, always destroy one thing in the house while we were gone, even if we were only gone for an hour.

About five months later, I accepted a job in Afghanistan, and Cinders threw a fit when my wife came back from the airport without me.

While I was overseas, the wife and I would discuss over instant messenger what to do about Cinder’s separation anxiety, and we really thought the best thing was to get another dog. This was the first time in his life that he wasn’t in the company of over ten dogs at once, so that made sense.

Ten weeks later, I had to fly home for my mother’s funeral.  While back in the states, I decided to get a new dishwasher, and after arranging for the delivery and installation, I drove over to the pet store my wife worked at to tell her the news.

There was a dog rescue group holding an adoption in front of the store.  Dogs of all colors, three legged dogs, sad dogs, hyper dogs, the usual collection that tugs on the heart strings from their kennels.  Except, next to the store entrance, there was a baby crib instead of a kennel.  Staring up at me from pink-and-blue baby blankets, with a baby-rattle dog toy, was very clearly a Blue Tick Coon Hound.  This was only the second one I’d ever seen in person, the first one being my best friend Kerrick’s Blue Tick, Squinty, up in Ohio. Squinty was a character and a half, and very sweet, so I sighed, and took care of the paperwork right then and there, then told the nice lady at the adoption desk that I’d be back out in a bit with supplies for the puppy.

I found my wife working in one of the store aisles, and said “Hey, did you see your new dog outside?”  She thought I was making a joke about the puppy right off the bat, and gave a happy laugh about how cute the dog was, with her huge ears and big eyes. “No, I’m serious, I already did the paperwork and paid the adoption fee, help me get the stuff  we need.”

So, I drove home, with a sadly howling little puppy in the seat of the car next to me. My sister-in-law, Kelly, was living with us at the time, and was on her cell phone when I walked up to the back porch, puppy tucked in my left arm so she couldn’t see it. I knocked on the sliding glass door to get Kelly’s attention, since I didn’t have a hand free, and she slid the door open, at which point I promptly handed her the puppy, which gave her many kisses.

My wife and I are both avid readers and movie buffs: pretty much everything in the house is named for some character from a book, movie, or game, possibly with the exception of Mayhem the Cat. Trust me, that name fit that kitten.  Gretchen was named after a character from Eric Flint’s book 1632, a very brave, strong character.


That was the beginning: Cinders, I kid you not, grew up in ten minutes. He trained Gretchen how to go outside, and what it meant when I said “House!”  She was his dog, and he was her entertainment.

A few days later, I flew back to Kabul, and didn’t come back for ten months. Gretchen grew up in that time, ate holes in the carpet when nobody was looking, ate one of the legs off of an old wooden chair, I’m guessing there was some T-Rex in her ancestry at one point, because if she could chew it when nobody was looking, it got chewed.  Unlike Cinders, she would look at the computer when I was messaging my wife, and cock those huge ears, as if to say ‘Why are you flat?’

The following November, I was home for good. Cinders was overjoyed, because his tennis-ball throwing buddy was back, and that’s when I discovered that Gretchen didn’t consider the ball or Frisbee to be fun.  All Gretchen wanted to do was tackle Cinders each way, every time.  It was their favorite game, we’d throw the ball, or the Frisbee, or even a stick, and Cinders would dodge, jump over, or duck under the linebacker named Gretchen each way.


One of the many odd things about Gretchen was her child-like personality.  Many times, you could not get her attention by saying “Gretchen,” or even by shouting it.  You had to repeat it in different tones of voice. “Gretchen, GRETCHEN, Gretchen!”  This happened so often that we started calling her ‘Gretchen-Gretchen’ all the time.  Another thing that, to this day, I’ve never seen with any other canine, is that everything that happened behind her ears, she acted like it happened to another dog.  Walking along, suddenly *POOF* the other dog has to do it’s business in the yard. Gretchen would look around at her own backside like ‘Why didn’t  you tell me?’

Gretchen was a lot more food-focused than Cinders was, which caused a few problems over the years.  One time, though, she was put in her place.  Brody, a rescued German Shorthaired Pointer I wrote about when he passed, had only been with us for three or four days at this point, and was still nothing but skin and bones, when I was handing out dog treats. I gave one to Cinders, who took it and walked away, then I gave one to Gretchen, who promptly spit it out between her front paws and stuck her face back up as if to say “Give me a treat, because I don’t have one!”  Brody, being both the new dog and having been neglected severely before we rescued him, gently bent down to eat the treat on the floor.  Gretchen snarled at him, and half-way through the snarl, was flattened by one of Brody’s paws.  And until he was weakened by illness towards the end of his life, Gretchen never, ever messed with him again.  He didn’t even show his teeth, he just knocked her down with one paw.

If Gretchen could see or hear something from her yard, it meant it was IN her yard, and she would give it what we called a “War Woo!”  Other than the day I brought her home, she only ever howled once, when the wife and I were intentionally ignoring her to see what she would do.

After we rescued a German Shepherd that was obsessed with going in her kennel at 9pm exactly, Gretchen picked up that habit, and would argue with my wife about it, because Gretchen really didn’t have the sense of time that the Shepherd did. So Gretchen would start making ‘arar grahr’ sounds, louder and louder, starting around 7:45pm.  She never did that to me or my daughter, just the wife.  It took years for us to convince Gretchen that she didn’t have to go in her kennel anymore.

Ah, yes. The kennels.  These are the biggest dog crates that we could buy, with the sliding tray underneath in case of accidents. Originally, we had Cinders and Gretchen in the same one, then one for each of them. Then we rescued Brody and we had three in the basement.  Brody loved his, and would lay in it half the day with the door open.  Gretchen was fine with hers as well, but when we got the fourth dog, the Shepherd, we moved all of that out into our attached garage. We just didn’t have the space for that many kennels in the basement. A year or two later, Gretchen started getting aggressive towards the other dogs if they even went near the door to the garage, and she insisted on being the first through the door every time.  She would even guard the garage door during the day if she didn’t have anything else to do.

My wife went into the garage to get something one day, and Gretchen dashed out and right into her kennel.  My wife, curious, paid attention, and heard a very soft ‘squeak, squeak, squeak!’ from the bed. There was a large pile of blankets in it, because Gretchen would destroy normal dog beds out of boredom, but loved blankets.  Buried in the blankets were a couple of dog toys.  Up to this point, Gretchen had never really paid any attention to squeaky toys, but now she was obsessed.  She would take a toy in the bed, sometimes dashing back into the house to get a new one, or throwing one that she had out of the bed.  And she would always, always, carefully cover them up with the blankets.

Gretchen, while in almost every way daft, was at times brilliant.  Once, she was dashing to the back door, then into the living room, and back to the door again. We thought she had to go out, and opened the door. Nope, she just Sat.  Yes, with a capital ‘S.’  Sat. *BOOM* butt to floor, big eyes staring. Puzzled, we sat back down. Gretchen made her ‘arar grah wral’ sound, stood on her back legs, and poked the hiking collars and leashes on the peg next to the door with her nose, then Sat again. Gretchen wanted to go for a hike, and that’s how she was telling us about it.

Hiking with Gretchen was great. She was perfectly happy to be right next to us, walking a trail, and loved it whenever we found a puddle or a stream that she could splash in, even if it was below freezing outside, thought the ‘other dog’ clearly thought that puddle was too cold.

Gretchen was very, very protective of my wife and daughter too.  One time, when I was setting an archery range up for a weekend shoot, my wife brought Gretchen over so she could see something new.  The two of them, walking around the course Bradly and I had set up, rounded a corner in the trail and saw a black bear.  It’s a 3D archery course, so that was a McKenzie target, but Gretchen didn’t know that, and didn’t care. She charged it, gave a War Woo and tried to take it down by the throat.

Gretchen also would not permit Sandhill Cranes to be ‘in her yard.’  Huge flocks of the birds would migrate over this area every year, hundreds of feet in the air, and their calls would echo all around us.  Gretchen would War-Woo and stiff-legged charge back and forth through the yard until she ‘won’ and the birds left.

Gretchen has terminal cancer.

She had a small lump on her back that grew large enough to be removed over the end of last year.  After it was removed, she kept fussing with the scar even after it was healed. The vet thought it was either an infection, or a reaction to the suture material, and gave us some antibiotics. Then the lump came back, and several others grew with it. In the last three weeks alone the largest of these grew from grape-sized, to grapefruit sized. The vet recommended an oncologist, one that it turns out was on vacation, so we found another clinic that could look at Gretchen in two days instead of two weeks. They took samples and gave us some medication for Gretchen, but the sample came back as carcinoma.

Gretchen can barely walk now. She can barely stand up. She doesn’t understand why the other dog isn’t helping her. She doesn’t understand why the other dog is causing her pain.

Gretchen’s last day with us was 4/12/2019. Lisa and I were with her to the last breath and told her we love her.

For the rest of my life, when I hear a Sandhill Crane, I’ll hear Gretchen.

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We used to go on more hikes and more adventures with our canine friends, but over time, work and illness limited what we’ve been able to accomplish.  Last year we went to Joe Kurz WMA one time in the off season with the dogs, and just walking around the loop at Lodge road from the gate wore most of them out. It was a hot day, and even with a trip down to the river, the dogs were plain tired when we got back to the truck.

Fast forward a little over a year, and Brody is gone.  While discussing where to take the dogs on a day off last week, I pointed out that we had never hiked Red Top Mountain state park, because ten years ago when we first went there, my wife didn’t feel well and we only walked for about fifteen minutes before deciding to drive home again.

So we got our supplies together and packed up the truck. Cinders, Missy, Zelda and especially Gretchen were going nuts because RIDE IN THE CAR! HIKE! YAAAAAH! I always carry a LOT of water on these hikes, along with other gear.  What I should have taken was a wheelbarrow, because three miles into a five mile plus hike, Zelda was done.RTM_Zelda

Zelda lost the genetic lottery on just about every level.  She has severe allergies to most proteins, and is moderately allergic to rest of the proteins on the blood test.  She has seasonal allergies. She has the ‘slope back’ inbred German Shepherd shuffle, she’s near sighted (she walked into a tree on the hike, face first. She didn’t even hesitate, just ‘trudge, trudge, BOOP, whaaaa?’)   When she stands still, her back legs are touching each other, and her back feet are splayed out at a 45 degree angle. We may have to get her tested for Degenerative Myelopathy, because she’s seven now, and getting worse in her clumsiness.  We have a chain of rugs all over the house because she has a panic attack if she has to cross open hardwood floors.   At this point, she’s on antibiotics because she decided to stick her nose in one of the cats’ faces one too many times (WHAP!) and it got infected, and because of her chronic skin infection, she’s on steroids for the skin issues as well, and Apoquel, which is twice a day for her allergies.

This is a dog that gets stuck on the couch, because if we call her name from the dining room, we’re on the other side of the couch, and she can’t figure out how to get down unless we come over to the front of it. I’m not joking.

We decided on the Homestead trail, a 5.8 mile loop that has a decent amount of lake shore views, and honestly, it’s one of the nicest, easiest trails that I’ve been on in a long time. It’s wide, fairly rock-free, (some areas have loose stones, but that looks like erosion, not like some of the trails I’ve been on, where it looks like volunteers intentionally rake rocks on the trails because they never actually use them.  I’m looking at you, Pine Mountain.) and whoever graded the trail to begin with made the elevation changes very manageable.  There are benches spaced throughout the trail, and it’s very well marked.

So there we are, with Cinders, our twelve year old German Shorthaired Jerkdog (he’s a jerk. You’d have to know him to know how big of a jerk he is, but we love him.) had been PULLING me all day, because despite having done this dozens and dozens of times, being on a leash, to him, means ‘Pull, pull hard, never stop pulling…’  So, in the front of the hike, I’ve got the oldest and youngest dogs, Cinders and Missy, with Cinders pulling for all he’s worth, and at the back of the hike is Lisa with Gretchen and Zelda, and Zelda would prefer to be carried. All eighty plus pounds of her. There is no couch. There is no TV, she doesn’t want to be here, at all.

When we got to the loop intersection of Homestead, my wife said ‘I don’t know if the Pointed Dog can make this hike,’ because Zelda was already looking tired.  We discussed it for a bit, and finally decided to go ahead, but take it slow. Halfway through the loop, almost exactly, we realized we’d made a mistake.  She would walk for ten to fifteen yards, trip over her own back feet, and lay down. The wife would  help her stand again, and the process would repeat.  We had forgotten her boots as well, because the dog will not or cannot pick her feet up, so she was starting to get sore spots from dragging her back paws when she walked.  I noticed on the walking app that we were, by this point, parallel to one of the roads, and suggested that we walk to the edge of the road, where the wife could wait with the dogs and my pack, and I would speed-walk back to the truck and come get them.  And that was the final plan.

The splits on the walking app look hilarious. 53 minute miles,  until the last 1.3 miles, which I did by myself in under twenty minutes.

For three days after the hike, I was very worried about Zelda. She wouldn’t even stand up without help. I had to carry her up and down the stairs to out to the yard, and once out there, she would just stand in the grass and look at me.  But my wife reported that when she got home, the dog was stiff, but up and moving and doing her business outside with minimal help. (I worked twelve hour midnight turn the three days after the hike) It occurred to me that Zelda wouldn’t get up and move because she thought I was going to make her walk ‘forevers’ again.

So, on to the next plan, getting her into better shape, one short walk at a time, until we can go back to hiking more often.

He Was My Friend

Posted: 07/25/2017 in dogs, Hunting
Tags: ,


Brody, at his best.

Sometime in early 2008, my wife sent me a text with a photo of a German Shorthaired Pointer in bad shape.  She was working as a manager at a major pet store chain, and a customer had brought in a dog that was in bad shape from neglect.  The customer told my wife that they had noticed this dog, and it’s condition, and had confronted the owner, who promptly said ‘take it then.’

He was between 37-40# when we brought him home.

All he really had left was a kind of quiet dignity.  He was physically very weak, having to stop and catch his breath multiple times just to walk around the backyard.  I was in physical therapy for my own injuries at the time, so I could feed him small amounts every other hour or so at first, to get him used to eating again. It was heart-breaking to watch him painfully lay on the ground and root under the cabinets for any stray piece of food the other dogs might have knocked out of their bowls.  It took almost a month to get him used to regular meals again, and probably a year before he stopped searching for every piece of kibble, every meal. During that year, his strength came back, and he shed completely as good nutrition finally started to repair his coat.  The vet guessed that he was between three and four years old, but we’ve never been sure of his age.

He had nightmares.  We noticed that he had bad scabs from sleeping on what we guessed was a concrete pad. He didn’t know how to drink water out of a bowl,and would stick his face in it and clomp his jaws.  After the first few days, he was allowed to walk around the house with the other dogs, since they were used to him being there and could socialize more. The first time I brushed him, he was scared of the brush until I started to gently work on his coat, then he looked at me with an amazing ‘whut the heck is that?’ look on his face. (We’ve always used a kind of Sam Elliot voice for him.) The pattern of discovering new, pleasant things included: soft dog beds. Couches, my chair, a soft carpet and sunbeam near an AC vent, in case he got too hot in the sunbeam.  A fire in the fireplace, Thanksgiving and Christmas, which at our house usually included a tiny meal mirroring what we had for dinner on top of their kibble. (A tablespoon of mashed potatoes with a spot of butter and gravy, a nice piece of turkey sans bones, a small scoop of my country stuffing with minced chicken livers in it, you get the idea.)

As his body became used to good nutrition, the gas was nearly enough to trigger an evacuation of the living room.

Brody had a way of moving his eyebrows, and using body language, that led to years of us saying ‘Ah wuz abused, you shud give me sum o’ what yer eatin’…’   He used that face and general look to good advantage over the years.  He never did really learn to wag his tail though, the stub would just jerk back and forth without any rhythm.

After about a year, we had to have some of his molars removed. The vet guessed that he had been chewing on rocks when he was starving.  In time, other issues included a heart murmur (which no vet could ever seem to remember that we had the problem checked out, which at the time was NOT inexpensive, and would bring it up like it was a new condition) and a large, fatty tumor on his chest that had to be removed so he could walk normally.

The fatty tumor surgery required a drainage tube, so Brody ended up helping us at one of the 323 Archery shoots, when we were still running them, so that I could keep an eye on him.  He managed to use his eyebrows and general body language to get a bite or two of hot dog off of everyone that bought one.  And when we went to shoot ourselves, Clay’s wife reported that at least two people bought him his own hot dog while she was watching registration. That led to years of another staple Brody-joke “Gimme yer hotter dawg…”

He loved hikes.  He loved water, ponds, streams, it didn’t matter to him, as long as it wasn’t a bath, though eventually he gave up and let us ‘take his stink’ every month, since it became obvious that we weren’t going to let him keep it.  (Around that time, I parodied Judas Priest’s song ‘Breaking the Law’ into our monthly sing along of ‘Washin’ the Dog’ “This here dog is really stinky, it’s time for a good bath….”  If you know the original song, it’s REALLY FUNNY to sing the dog wash version, we just made up new lyrics every month.)

Brody particularly loved snow.  This being the suburbs west of Atlanta, snow is rare, and really doesn’t stick around, so in short order, the world would turn ‘Brody colored,’ that is, white with brown spots, and the darn dog could disappear standing still.  He would jump around and this spinning, bucking dance that we always called ‘having a happy.’  Brody having a happy was a sight to see, because all of his great, dearly held dignity went right by the wayside as he spun, ducked, jumped and grinned.

The first time that Brody saw a bird bigger than the ‘popcorn birdies’ (that’s what our cats call them anyway) was at the horse barn.  One of the other boarders had, for some unfathomable reason, brought a bunch of chickens to live at a boarding barn.  The hawks got most of them, but there were a few still running around, and we took the dogs to the barn one day to see how they would interact with the horses, and hike around the trails.  Brody caught sight of one of the roosters and locked up in a near-perfect point. So did Cinders, but after looking at us, and back at the birds, Cinders thought ‘nah, the hoomins aren’t interested, I’m off to find something else.’ Brody?  We had to physically pick him up and turn him around so he couldn’t see the bird to get him to break point.

He was usually a very laid back dog, completely the opposite of Cinders, who is, we’re certain, the result of a mad scientist blending Red Bull into bird dog DNA for no particular reason.  Even at twelve years old, Cinders is still a hyper dog.  On the other hand, Brody was very, very ALPHA.  I’ve seen him walk into a room with thirty other big dogs (by this time, he was at his healthy weight of 85-90 pounds) and take the room over by walking to the edge of the ‘dog’ zone and standing still.  The people at the dog day care he ‘worked’ at for a while (another of the wife’s jobs over the years) called him the Peace Maker. Because when Brody was around, there would be Peace, or there would be Angry Brody.

The only time I ever saw him react negatively to a person, ever, was one delivery driver pounded on the front door very hard. I have no idea why, he just pounded three or four times like he was trying to wake the dead.  What he got was Brody hitting the other side of the door at chest height, roaring more like a lion than a dog.  I couldn’t get outside before the driver got in his truck and floored the gas.

On the other hand, Brody would brook no dog trespassers on HIS turf.  Before we had him fixed, taking Brody outside was a constant challenge, because while he knew very well what the limits of the yard were, he wasn’t about to stay inside an imaginary line if he could sniff so much as a molecule of ‘dog in heat.’  And this dog could vanish without a trace if you took your eyes off of him for more than two seconds.  Once he made it several miles before deciding that he’d had enough and wanted back inside, so he went to the nearest house and sat on their front porch until one of the semi-terrified homeowners gathered the nerve to check his collar and call me.

By the time I got there, everyone in the house was petting him. And yet, the father told me they were all terrified of big dogs.  Brody was like that, he could convert a cat person if given a few minutes to work on them. He grinned a bit of a doggy grin, wandered over and got in the passenger side of my car. He slept good that night, and we still wonder if there are Cocker-Brody’s running around, or maybe a couple of yellow labs with suspicious brown spots and the urge to point at birds.

After we got him fixed, he’d still pull this trick now and then, I’m certain he was just checking how loud I would yell before he’d trick me by reappearing after ten or twenty minutes of frantic searching in the woods, the neighbor’s yard, etc.

Brody was fine with other dogs, provided they didn’t flat-out challenge him or threaten his people or his pack.  But when the rare times that it was just the two of us, usually because he was on a different vaccination cycle than Cinders and Gretchen, he was amazing.  I swear I could have taken him anywhere with me and he would have heeled and been the best companion ever.

We also used to have a problem with stray dogs in the neighborhood. And I mean ‘stray’ dogs, not the ones our old neighbors owned, but let run crazy.  I opened the back door one day and there were two pit bulls standing in the back yard, no collars, just marking over top of Brody and Cinders’ scent.  I yelled at the dogs to get gone, but they didn’t listen.

Brody moved me out of the way then knocked the bigger dog tail over teakettle for about ninety yards, until the other dog gave up and ran as fast as it could.  Keep in mind, this started in the back yard, and my dogs herded these intruders around the house and down the driveway.  Cinders was snapping at his target, while Gretchen was letting war-woo’s out that probably rivaled air-raid sirens in volume.

Our house sits back in the woods a bit, so we have a front neighbor.  Once, that house was occupied by a nice man named John, his wife, and their big German Shepherd, Bishop.   By that time, we had rescued a German Shepherd as well, Zelda, and despite being fixed, she thought Bishop was very interesting.   Brody thought Bishop should stay in his house. All the time.  Bishop tried to sneak up our driveway for a sniff or two of Zelda one day, and Brody ran him all the way back to John’s garage, then sidled up to John for a good ear rub while grinning at Bishop, who was cowering in his kennel.

To illustrate how strong he was at his best, once years ago I flopped face down on my bed, a game the dogs knew very well, but usually only Cinders and Gretchen would play it with me.  (Cinders – 40 pound GSP, Gretchen, 70 pound Blue Tick hound)  Once I flopped on the bed, I’d cover my ears with both hands and pretend they weren’t there. The two of them would burrow under my arms, play-pounce on my back, and have a grand old time until I would laugh and roll over to pet them.  The one time when Brody played, he just stuck his nose under my rib cage and flipped me like a leaf.

To illustrate how clever he was, once at dog daycare, during a rainstorm the dogs all had to be herded into the building.  My wife (who would watch the small dogs, because if she was in the yard with our dogs, our dogs just spent the entire day being a protective detail) told the other dog handler NOT to let Brody inside the building without first putting clips on all of the indoor boarding kennels.  The handler didn’t listen, so Brody opened every single kennel (I think there were nine?) and proceeded to eat every bite of food in every kennel. Right in front of the occupants of the kennels, regardless of breed or size. And none of them dared protest.

Nine years.  Nine years of one of the most wonderful dogs I’ve ever known. That makes him between twelve and fourteen years of age.

He’s still here, for today. Tomorrow is a maybe.  A month would be a miracle.  But I doubt very much beyond that.  The vet doesn’t really know exactly what’s wrong, the best two educated guesses are a tumor on his liver, or heart failure of one kind or the other.  His belly is distended, and obviously causes him discomfort.  He’s having a difficult time standing up, and he’s back to having to walk, take a break, walk, teak a break to go thirty yards.  He is in bad shape, and before long it will be the end. He’ll most likely never have a happy again.

It’s breaking my heart.

(I wrote this last Thursday – this morning, 7/24/2017, Brody passed away.  It feels like somebody has ripped my heart out of my chest.  There is so much more to Brody’s story that I didn’t have the strength to record that day, or today, but hopefully soon the pain will be bearable.)

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**Update** And 2016 claims Carrie Fisher as well.

So.. my 2016 goal was to get back to being an outdoorsman, and the only way to chalk that up as a win is to compare 2016 to 2015 and 2014, in which case I succeeded.  I still didn’t get out nearly as much as I wanted to or expected to, not once did I go fishing, so far no small game hunting (though if I hadn’t fallen ill over the holiday week, I would have spent yesterday squirrel hunting with Gretchen and Cinders.  I wouldn’t have actually expected to get any squirrels, or if I did get them, manage to get them INTACT, since Gretchen thinks ‘all squirrels are mine,’ but it would have been fun.)


Gretchen and Cinders when they were young.  Cinders played with toys, Gretchen would tackle him.

I did get a nice hog in January, and managed to see a nice number of deer this November,  including a stunning buck, the deer just happened to be where I can’t hunt them.   I managed three or four hikes, but that was my goal per month, not for the whole year.

We lost my father-in-law, unexpectedly young (early 60’s), which was devastating to the family: Dennis was so cool, whenever the wife and I would dream out loud about taking a vacation across Canada by train, or going to Yellowstone, Ireland, wherever, we were always including how much Dennis would enjoy it.

The world lost a vast number of celebrities of various types this year, and since George Michael passed away Christmas Day, all we can do is keep our fingers crossed for the next few days to get out of 2016 with what the world has now.

So, back to the outdoors: once again, I’m going to try to ramp up my outdoor activities in 2017.  I have six points saved for an alligator tag here in Georgia, so that should come to fruition this year, and I look forward to figuring out how that will work.  I finally have a camper shell on my truck, so taking the Woofs to outdoor adventures should be easily accomplished, and my daughter is 18 and driving, so that’s no longer on my plate.

The property in south Georgia is covered in turkey, so in a few short months, I should be able to, once again, be totally frustrated and skunked by the antics of the mighty Thunder Chicken.  For me, turkey hunting feels like those old comedy gags where there is a chase scene in a long hallway with doors everywhere, and people are going into and out of doors in a random sequence where they can never catch who they are chasing, but the people being chased can never seem to quite get away either.

Fishing will happen, even if I just have to go find a public lake and put a worm on a hook.

I also need to find property where I can fossil hunt – I haven’t done that since I was a kid, and it might be a way to lure the reclusive Wife out of the house.   She still thinks armadillos are these flat things on the side of highways.  I told her the fastest way to find an armadillo is to go deer hunting near hardwoods, where the leaves are good and crunchy, but she doesn’t believe me.

So, all in all, farewell 2016.  Here is to hoping 2017 is a better place for everyone, everywhere.

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A coyote grabs dog 10 feet from horrified woman in Morgan County.

By Brad Gill
Posted Wednesday April 23 2014, 9:48 AM

Georgia Outdoor News

click to go to

It’s uncomfortable to even think about, but try to imagine a coyote carrying off your family dog, one you’ve had for nine years…GON_dog

Bruce Weiner, of Atlanta, has owned a Morgan County farm for 20 years. While living in Atlanta, he often takes his family out to the farm to enjoy the slower-paced lifestyle.

“We’ve seen armadillos, deer, turkey, wild boar, snakes, but we’ve never seen a coyote on the property,” said Bruce.

Also 20 years ago, Bruce and his wife hired a nanny, Jennifer Lang, to help with the kids. Although Bruce’s kids are pretty much grown now, Jennifer is still the nanny. One of her current responsibilities is taking care of the dogs.

Back in February, Jennifer was at the farm and let all three of the family’s dogs outside.

“It was right at 6 p.m., right at dusk,” said Bruce. “Within minutes—she turned her back for just a second—she heard one of the dogs crying, and what looked like a big dog was taking off with one of our dogs, a 3 1/2-lb. yorkshire terrier.

“It just grabbed it and carried her off in its mouth right in front of our nanny—10 feet in front of her!”

Read More Here


(As a side note, I would hate to be a coyote that tried to snatch one o’ my dogs. Brody is 90#, Gretchen 85#, and Cinders is 45#. Since this photo was taken, we’ve added a large German Shepherd to our pack.)


Brody is the dog on the left, Gretchen is in the middle and Cinders on the right. Since this photo, we've added a 90# GSD to our pack.

Brody is the dog on the left, Gretchen is in the middle and Cinders on the right. Since this photo, we’ve added a 90# GSD to our pack.

…okay…. apparently there were two squirrels with half of a tail each in our backyard, because as we were eating dinner last night, a familiar raider happened upon our bird feeders.  The wife jumped up and squinted at the furry thief, then grinned from ear to ear and said “That’s Badass Squirrel!”


That’s him: Badass Squirrel, the squirrel that attacks hawks

Now, we have to open the backdoor and make some noise before letting the dogs out, to give the tree rats a running start.

Still, I’m happy that the dogs took out ‘the wrong’ squirrel Sunday.  The look on Cinder’s face was priceless though, he thought he’d finally earned some ‘street cred.’

"Wait a minute...."

“Wait a minute….”


Dog Shaming

Posted: 08/25/2012 in News
Tags: ,

(This has nothing to do with hunting or archery. It’s funny though…)

I saw a post on FaceBook the other day with a link to a site called “Dogshaming.”  If you have pets, it’s worth an HOUR of your time to look through these.


Click this photo to go to Dog Shaming

So I had a plan to scout yesterday, but to paraphrase Terry Pratchett, it was more of a “PLN!”

“Whut’s the plan, Rob?” said one of them.
“Okay, lads, this is what we’ll do. As soon as we see somethin’, we’ll attack it. Right?”
This caused a cheer.
“Ach, ’tis a good plan,” said Daft Wullie.” (The Wee Free Men, 2004)

The plan was somewhat simple – head to camp (2+ hour drive), look about a bit, make sure nothing had been broken, stolen, or chewed up by pesky critters, move a feeder and check a few stands.  But here’s the complication, it’s summer, my daughter is here for another two weeks, and we really haven’t done much this summer, so the plan includes taking the wife, daughter, and all four woofers with us.  So now it’s go for a walk at camp on the main trails with four big dogs, the wife and daughter, and then when they’re tuckered out dash off, move a feeder, fill it, check one stand, and get back before they get bored.

Heh. Yeah, I thought the same thing you just did before we ever left the house, but what the heck, it was worth a try. 🙂

Here are the woofers involved:

L to R – Brody (GSP), Gretchen (Blue Tick/Black Lab), Zelda (GSD) These are our three rescue dogs

This is Cinders (GSP), he’s our only non-rescue dog, he’s seven years old, but his nickname is still ‘da puppy.’

We’ve been trying to get these critters more trail-savvy, so we decided that we’d use our hunting dog training collars today and only use leashes if needed.  It worked out very well, with Brody, Gretchen and Zelda staying mostly close to us, while Cinders zoomed everywhere, but came back close every time we asked him to. (We were worried about Zelda mainly, this is where she was found at five months old, wandering around with a bad skin infection, missing a lot of fur and skinny as a rail.  Over the last year of veterinarian care, we’ve discovered that she’s allergic to everything. If she catches a rabbit, she’ll most likely explode.)

Our camp is in Taylor County, GA, and by ‘our camp’ I mean where I’ve been given permission to hunt. The property belongs to one of my friend’s uncles, 875 acres of rolling hills covered in oak, pine, and sweet sand.  Oh yeah, and deer, coyotes, armadillos, squirrels, turkey, and crows.   We have over twenty ladder stands out that we maintain and move if we find a better spot, good trails wide enough for a pickup truck over half of the property, wide enough for golf carts where it’s too narrow for a full size vehicle.

Yesterday, it actually felt like it was on the surface of the sun.

It was in the mid 90’s, with about 60% humidity, which is far lower than the temperature when I was in Herat, Afghanistan, but the humidity made the temperature miserable.

We walked from the cabins to what we call Beaver Gulch, both to look at the area and because I had remembered (wrongly) that the creek down at the bottom was shallow and had a few small pools in it for the dogs to drink from. We had water with us, but the biggest dog was starting to breath fast and hard, so I wanted to get him cooled down as soon as possible.  The stream bed was barely damp, so we turned back around and headed for the beaver pond in the middle of the property. At this point, I have to say that I failed in my duty to take some good video or photographs, because I was starting to melt too, but let me say this – a fat dog jumping in a beaver pond and paddling around while he drinks was a pretty amusing sight.

I gathered up a Moultrie feeder  on the way through to the beaver pond, an older bucket ‘on demand’ feeder, but at this point, I figured I wouldn’t be able to get it where I wanted it during this trip.  At least I could have it near the cabin for the next trip though, so I lugged it along with us.

At the cabin, I took some photographs of bucks that have been harvested either from the camp, or near the camp, that we have on the wall.  Hope everyone enjoys these bucks as much as we do!

V-Tine – Last year’s ‘big boy’ from our camp.

Now the new plan is to go back in a week or two and set up the feeder, put out a mineral block or two and check the stands I meant to check today.  Next time, though, I’ll leave a lot earlier, and use the golf carts, and for that trip, sadly, the woofers will have to stay at home.

Hunting dogs

Posted: 06/06/2012 in Entertainment, Hunting
Tags: , ,



(…I posted this as a demonstration of the WordPress app on my Android phone.  Yeah, those dogs (2 of my 4) are working HARD at the moment. Notice my oldest German Shorthair Pointer, Cinders (center) has shoved a pillow onto Zelda (German Shepherd, just out of frame to the right, you can see a bit of her leg) so he can sleep on the pillow, on Zelda.  The Blue Tick Hound on the left is Gretchen.  All of our current 12 critters are rescues except the horse and Cinders.)