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Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

Stanny-luv

This is Stanley:

It’s a unflattering picture of him, but this is how we usually see him: barreling full-speed to God only knows what. He’s a German Shorthaired Pointer. He’s one hell of a hunter. He’s one hell of whiner. I’ve never met a dog with more spunk or attitude. He’s loud, brash, smart as a whip, fast, enthusiastic, demanding, head-strong, persistent, cunning and did I mention loud? He’s also a cuddle-bug, empathetic, sweet, genuine and goofy. He’s a love-or-hate kind of dog and I stand firmly on the love (yet sometimes want to strangle) side.

After work today, I took him and his big bro, Barry, out to some BLM land outside of town for a good romp. He tore around as illustrated above, occasionally stopping to point at some bird smell or something. When we got back home, I caught him licking furiously at his paw. I called him upstairs to the bathroom, pulled out some tweezers and had him lay down. I sat down on the floor and he handed over his paw in a way that most dogs would be a little hesitant about. He’s been through much worse–such as a leg and face full of porcupine quills–on several occasions. He had 3 big cactus spines in his paw. I pulled each of them out and inspected his paw for more.

When I was done, he got up and I expected him to scamper out of the room and go play. Instead, he put his head down and pushed the top of it against my chest. I scratched his neck a bit and then he rubbed his head under my chin, slinked against me and plopped down in my lap–all 70 pounds of him. He looked up at me with a face of pure love. This dog, who can be so incredibly challenging sometimes, just slayed me at that moment. It’s times like this that make me such a sucker for this dog.

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Ahhh, Montana

My husband related this story to me over dinner tonight. He’s headed out to Eastern Montana for a week of bird hunting, just him and our German Shorthaired Pointer, Stanley. He called to set up a reservation for a room in the big city of Circle, MT.

EZ:  Hi, I was calling to see if you have a room available Sunday night.

Motel Guy: Let me go up front and check… Sunday, you say?

EZ: Yep. It’ll just be me and my dog.

MG: Oh, so you’ll be needing two beds, then?

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Someone recently said to me, “I love animals too much to hunt.” I hunt (I’m kind of a crappy hunter, but that’s beside the point for now), so I was a little flabbergasted by the implicit judgement in that statement. To me, hunting and loving animals is not antithetical.

I buy all my beef by the quarter from a local rancher whose beef is entirely grass-fed, hormone-, antibiotic-free. She doesn’t use any chemical fertilizers or pesticides and she only uses spot herbicide treatment on one particularly insidious type of weed that only exists on one remote corner of her ranch. I need to nail down local sources for my chicken and pork (of which I don’t eat much), but all that I buy is at least organic, pastured, or hormone/antibiotic/pesticide-free. I am picky about my meat. Very picky. For as frugal person as I strive to be, one might question why I willingly dump so much money into meat.

Maybe I read too much about food production, but I simply cannot stand the industrial channels of meat production. They are very hard on the environment. They produce sick animals and tainted meat. They are cruel and they are disrespectful to the very animals that sustain us. I can’t stomach it. Most people follow these same channels of thought and the logical conclusion to them is to become vegetarians. I respect this conclusion, but I feel that from an evolutionary and human health standpoint, it’s simply not healthy. (Also, with my particular allergies, my diet would be woefully incomplete without animal proteins).

When I started hunting, just about a year ago, I gained a new respect for the animals I eat. I am not the sort of purist that claims that if you can’t kill an animal, you don’t deserve to eat it. However, when you work hard countless hours to find a good, ethical shot at an animal. When you take an animal. When you slice it open and field dress it. When you butcher an animal that weighs more than you to stock your freezer, you can’t help but respect your food. You respect what that animal gave and your own work. You know what it takes to get living flesh to the table.

If one eats meat, the process from living animal to meat on your plate something one should at least be aware of, I believe. You should know the journey an animal took to get to your table. You should give thanks for the Earth’s and God’s bounty that brought such important nutrition to your table. You should be at peace with the life that animal lived and the death it had. If you are not comfortable with it, you should seek out meat from other, more ethical sources (check out http://www.eatwellguide.org/, http://www.eatwild.com/).

I take the same approach to hunting that I take with purchasing meat. I deeply believe in ethical hunting. I have and will again decline to take shots that I’m not nearly 100% sure I can make, or shots that I feel have any reasonable chance in wounding or killing an animal I can’t retrieve. Honestly, if I just don’t feel right about something,even if I can’t explain it, I don’t shoot.

I have two wonderful dogs. The old guy, Barry, is gun shy and has zero instinct, so he’s merely family. Stanley, our German Shorthaired Pointer, has incredible instinct. He loves ‘im some birds. Now, he hunts with us in addition to being a member of our family. He is so happy when he’s out after birds. And there is no greater bond I’ve ever experienced with a dog than the moment when he brings you a bird that he scented and pointed and you shot. You are a team at that point. Dependent upon one another and grateful for the service the other provides. It adds a whole new level to the human-canine bond.

What I am getting at is this: I am not greatly driven by emotion in my regard to animals other than my dogs. I am not prone to nostalgia. But my respect and love for all animals is great. Even greater, however, is my love and respect for nature, as opposed to the individual. I am not perfect, but I am steadily, consciously, moving toward a relationship with nature with which I can be at peace.

I didn’t catch what dietary persuasion this young lady hails from, as starting a debate on hunting would have been out of place in the conversation, but I bristle at this argument (that hunters love animals less than they do) from any less than a strict vegetarian. If you are willing to give up good nutrition and your species’ role in nature, ok, you might love animals more than me. You probably value the individual animal over nature as a whole, but you probably really love that animal! However, one tells me that they love animals too much to hunt from behind their Big Mac or industrially-produced chicken breast/pork chop, he or she is a) woefully ignorant or b) a damn hypocrite. And that, my friends, is that.

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Barry White is my sweet, old Black Lab. He has never fetched. I’ve never shot a gun within a mile of him, but is clearly gun-shy and thus doesn’t hunt. He doesn’t really play. He mostly lays there. And breathes… a lot. Oh! And he eats. He loves to be in the woods, but he mostly just sits there and smiles. Most of all, he loves love.

Also, due to his deep fear of pretty much anything that goes boom, he is the biggest pill-popper I know. Well, of course, last week was the 4th of July. Of course, we are the last house in City Limits. Of course, fireworks are legal outside of city limits. My neighborhood sounds like the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan the whole week of the 4th of July.

Now, if Barry just got nervous and burrowed in closets and barked a lot like most dogs. We’d just ride it out. But, Barry, he likes to take things to extremes. Which means that when there’s a storm or fireworks, he leaves ‘gifts’ for us all over the house. We’ll find a couch soaked in urine or a huge dookie in an inconvenient spot (well, really, where can a dog poop inside the house that is convenient?). We go through an incredible amount of Nature’s Miracle in the summers, between the firecrackers and the thunderstorms. Well, the most effective way to curb the damage to the house is to give him tranquilizers. I’m not a big fan of over-medication, but be honest, would you want to clean urine out of your couch everytime lightning got within 10 miles of you? (For the record, I’ve tried the desensitization methods. But even with a CD of thunder set on the lowest volume, he freaks out.)

I think he knows when I’m giving him his pill. I generally give it to him inside a piece of cheese. He loves cheese, but he really loves cheese during a thunderstorm. I like to imagine that his thought process when I pull the cheese out of the fridge goes something like, “O, sweet cheese of blissful sleepiness… take me away to my happy place.” Perhaps, he’s actually thinking, “Oh shit, sleepy-cheese. I don’t really want to feel all fuzzy and hungover for the next day, but damnit, I love me some cheese!” I choose the former.

At the moment, I have a panting, digging, distressed Black Lab at my feet under the desk. I just gave him his sleepy-cheese and I’m hoping it kicks in before he takes a dump on my clean clothes basket. You see, now that the fireworks of the 4th of July have subsided, that nasty high pressure ridge all over the West has pushed Arizona’s monsoon aaaaalllll the way north to me. I feel like a kid again (I was raised mostly in AZ), baking in the humid heat through the mid-day and then enjoying a nice, violent, mostly dry thunderstorm by early evening. Poor Barry, he doesn’t really like it so much, but he’s slowing down. Soon he’ll be a droopy, snoring pile of black fur.

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