Friday, August 24, 2007

Road dogs

Quigley (at the water trough), Ani and Scraps watch the humans doing chores and wait to see what's next. Learn more about their adventures in their Dog Blog.

I've always been a dog person. Anyone who's known me for any length of time knew Mr. Duke, my amazing Great Dane, who I started making Mr. Duke's dog biscuits to honor.
I got my first job to bring Smudge, a fluffy little Spitz-cross to the US from Korea.
I bought cars based on whether or not my dog would fit and took jobs based on whether or not my dog (and children!) could come with me.

Over the years there has been Max, Jack, Kodiak and many others. They were my shadows, my friends and my constant companions. When I went to work in the newspaper world, I could not have my dog(s) with me and that connection waned, a bit.

My dogs became farm dogs. Yes, they came in the house, and had to learn some basic doggy manners, but they were attached to the farm, with me as a part of the farm. This January, after more than a year of consideration on the human's part, but rather abruptly for the dogs - their lives changed.

There are three of them right now. Ani is a serious worrier - a white german shepherd-cross male who was dumped at the farm in Colorado about 5 years ago. He wants the animals in their correct pen, the humans to follow routine and things to stay put. Poor Ani.
Quigley (Quigley up over to give his complete name for you movie buffs) is an Aussie cross that we got at the Humane Society as a young adult dog, a little bit before Ani showed up at the farm. He is my shadow and as long as he can see me, world is good.
Scraps is a chihuahua crossed with a pug crossed with a bat crossed with a pot-bellied pig. She is made up of scraps of everything and boss of the world. She found me when I was a rural mail carrier. She was running down the middle of a remote highway. I stopped to get her out of the road. She hopped in the van and has been at my side ever since.

They were happy farm dogs and stayed with the farm and house. Whenever people went anywhere they were happy to see them come home.

Then, the people wanted the dogs to go with them....

I was fascinated to watch how quickly dogs, who had never been in a vehicle, learned the concept and command of "Truck." We learned together what road-food they could eat (Ani is intolerant of any bread products, including his favorite "pizza bones", but loves milk products like ice cream) and where to take them for walks and how best to get them enough water.

And they gave back for our care of and attention to them. I found that I traveled more comfortably if I "have to walk the dogs" every few hours. Otherwise I tend to drive until my body is in pain. I pay more attention to what I am eating and make more healthy food choices when I am sharing it with the dogs. Diet Coke and Cheetos just doesn't cut it for them.

When we are in places where the dogs cannot run free, I walk them for at least half an hour, three times a day. I give them care that I do not offer to myself, but through giving it to the dogs, I benefit.

Several times, as I watched them learn and adapt and change their behaviors, I though "I should be chronicling this."
One sight I will never forget is Ani, quietly watching through the cracks in the wall in the booth at the Colorado Renaissance Festival while two people helped a pirate get up on an elephant in preparation for a parade. I'd really like to hear his thoughts on that!

So, along with the realization that this blog is a chronicle, I started a blog for the dogs. Since they don't type so good and their English is limited, I'll have to interpret and type it for them. Hopefully I'll get it right.

Follow the adventures of Ani, Quigley and Scraps at Road Dog Blog.

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