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Copyright 2008 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

Dog Hair & Mule Sweat

with Natalie Riehl

editor@rockymountainrider.com

 

November 2008 Issue

 

      The easy days of summer liberation have just about ended — liberation from piling on layers of warmth before going out to do chores. Yes, last weekend, a cold and relentless wind blew from the north, and I retrieved my pac boots from the closet and, with a tear in my eye, told my beat-up barn tennies adios.

      Out came my barn jacket, warm vests, turtlenecks, gloves, wool socks, scarf, and hat with the flaps. They hadn’t seen the light of day for at least four months. But like old friends, they looked identical to when I last saw them.

      I have a four-hook, black metal “horse silhouette” coat rack attached to the wall in the mud room, and I hang my warm clothes collection upon it. Unfortunately, the weight from these coats is pulling it off the wall, so another task (add it to the list) will be to use a few screws to better anchor it.

 

      The most “starving” animals on my place are the two donkeys. Of course, it’s all in their minds, because even Fred the gelding looks like he’s pregnant with triplets. But, as the daylight hours become fewer with the approaching winter, it doesn’t take much to trigger a donkey auditory attack. (Be careful if you’re ever near the corrals when the attack breaks out — the sound waves could literally knock you down!) Ada sounds like a wheezy old squeeze-box, and Fred is similar to an oceangoing vessel leaving the harbor.

      I thought when I moved into my house and had envisioned the horses’ pasture only forty feet from my windows, how wonderful it would be to see my dear critters grazing close by. I did not realize that in the winter they would be waiting for the first sign of life each morning — like a light being turned on — and would seek me out by looking into the windows, and begin silently heckling me and sending thought waves that I should get out there and feed them… pronto!

 

      Lately, in the evenings, when we haven’t been able to locate the dog who usually lies near us in the living room, I’ll find her in the kitchen, her nose and body rigidly pointing at the counter where she believes there are leftovers.

      This behavior started, I suppose, when we would eat out at a restaurant and come home with leftovers. Not wishing to feed her everything at once, we would leave the “to go” box on the counter, and dole out the food over the course of the evening.

      Once she latched onto the idea that there might be food on the counter, she will monitor the counter whether there’s food there or not. (Unless we happen to be eating. Then she’s monitoring us.) Dog trainers might refer to her as a “food motivated” dog.

      She has a terrific vocabulary. See if you, too, recognize any of these words: Hamburger! Bacon! Steak! Ham! Treat! Ice cream! Cookie!”

      The realization has seeped into my brain that I frequently utter “Uh-oh!” out loud. It happens at the office or home or in the car. It’s mainly because I’ve forgotten to do something, and could be important or not. But, when those sounds leave my lips, my little dog rushes to the window, and begins barking at the intruder she thinks has entered our yard!

      What’s she barking at? I’ll ask.

      You just said “Uh-oh.”

      “Uh-oh.”

 

      I wish you and your family a happy Thanksgiving, and be sure to save a few table scraps for the dogs!!

Copyright 2008 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

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