He’s Going to be the Death of Me

If you find me dead alongside the road sometime it will be more than likely because of Orso. I walk him every day at least three times a day, the first at four am, and almost always it is in the dark. We also have more than our fair share of rabbits out and about along our route and Orso just has to lunge and bark at them in the dark. I try to be very vigilant on our walks watching out for any movement and Orso and his demeanor. If his ears are up and he gets stiff I know something is close by. I do this to avoid becoming a boat anchor or at the very least avoiding rotator cuff surgery.

This morning though I was a bit distracted and not fully on high alert when Orso decided to lunge and bark at something on the side of the road. He thought it was a small rabbit and was determined to scare it off. But it wouldn’t budge, just sitting on the side of the road daring him to cross the street and get closer. As we closed the distance, I saw that it was a rock, a round rock about four inches and not a rabbit. Dumb dog almost dragged me across the road to get to A Rock.

I should have taken that as a sign of what the rest of the walk would be like, but I didn’t. I just kept plodding along. The farthest point we walk to, is down a very dark section of road with no street lights and all of the homes on one side of the road are dark because all the sane people are sound asleep and nothing but dense woods on the other side of the road. As we turned around to head back home, Orso decided it was time to take his morning poop. I waited patiently for him to finish then fished out a poop bag and my flashlight so I could find it and not leave any behind.

After I picked his “elephant dump” and started tying a knot on the end of the bag, I stepped right in some other dog’s poop. Some thoughtless moron left his little dog’s poop on the side of the road and I stepped right in it. I should have shined my flashlight around the area before I took a step. I stood there cursing all little dogs and their owners, because at that moment I hated them all, (even though I know it’s not the dog’s fault, I grouped them all together). That was when Orso either heard or saw something moving in the woods and gave way to barking and lunging at the unseen phantom.

There I was standing on the side of the road trying to get the end of the poop bag tied off and wipe my shoe in the meager amount of grass and Orso was trying to get to some unseen monster in the woods. I’m lucky I only got poop on my shoe and not road rash from being dragged across the road.

The day is off to a bang, I can’t wait until our mid-morning walk and more opportunities to use my Aflac policy.

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Death Wish

Though I’ve not seen any of our state’s predators, it is widely recognized that living in the State of Washington we have a large number of predators, Mountain Lions, Bobcats, Lynx, Bears, Wolves, Coyotes and Foxes. Each one of these predators have the ability to eat small and large animals. I am putting out an all call to any or all of these predators. If I send you my address would you send a couple of emissaries around? I promise you will be richly rewarded.

Sound totally insane right? Well I know that mountain lions and bears can’t read (maybe wolves can, they are pretty smart) but I do have a totally rational reason for the need. We have rabbits here. Brazen or stupid, I don’t know which and I don’t care, I just want them gone. The other day a rabbit ran into our backyard in the afternoon while Orso and I were out there. He ran straight at Orso then turned and ran at me with Orso in hot pursuit. I was almost run down by a charging hundred-pound brown locomotive that only had eyes on a one-pound fur ball. Good thing I was paying attention and jumped aside.

Yesterday morning on our early morning walk, yes I still walk Orso at the crack of dawn, when I noticed Orso was very intent on something ahead of us. Something small with tall ears, another rabbit was sitting in the road just waiting for us, not moving, just waiting. Stupid rabbit, or maybe he was suicidal having the curse of not knowing utter fear and was totally bored with the good life. I tightened my grip on the leash and told him no, for all the good that did. He still lunged at the rabbit and woofed quite loud at four in the morning. People are sleeping and don’t want to hear a very deep loud woof then the screams of a rabbit in the jaws of my menace.

Again this morning we ran across another rabbit with a death wish just sitting on the side of the road, watching us come toward him. Again with the woof and the lunge. The evil little creature jump meandered off with a couple of small hops. Not the wild jerking and sprinting I have seen on the nature shows with a fox or coyote in hot pursuit. I could see my fears of being a boat anchor coming true once again if I don’t get rid of these small suicidal marsupials.

Hence my plea to all predators, please come, I’ll send you my address and I promise you will feast handsomely.

Crash Kelly Strikes Again

I wanted to go hiking today and decided not to wake up Mitch, so I turned on the computer and searched around for some trails nearby. I found one that was only about fifteen minutes away from our house, so I loaded up Orso and headed out about seven thirty this morning. I left a note that said we went hiking, but I neglected to say where we went. I pulled into the parking lot and noticed a car already in the parking lot. I unloaded Orso and my backpack when I noticed that there was a man just sitting in the car with the engine running. A bit odd, but you know me, once I start on a path I usually just plow on through. As I passed his car he rolled the window down and said something I didn’t hear. I said good morning and kept on walking to the trailhead and into the woods. Yeah I know, not super bright, go into the woods and make it easier for a maniac.

The man didn’t follow us, just my overactive imagination, but I was more aware of any movement I came across. I was disappointed in what I found. The trail was okay, primitive, which was fine, just not much to see. There was a creek and a rickety wooden bridge, but not much else. Maybe because we were too close to civilization or maybe I was just spooked from the guy in the car, anyway I decided to turn around and head back to the car. When I reached the trailhead I saw that the white car was still in the parking lot and there was another car parked between his car and mine. As I got closer to the cars I saw a man in the second car just sitting there. Pretty creepy, so I quickly loaded up Orso, my backpack and jumped in the car and locked the doors. What a scaredy cat. I drove home and decided to wake Mitch up so he could take me hiking.

After he got up we headed out for a second hike, this time farther away. Our destination was Federation Forest State Park, about ninety minutes away. This one turned out to be a bust because the park was closed. Not to be denied, we turned around and found a trailhead along the side of the road, which was part of the park. We unloaded and headed off into the forest. We found huge trees toppled over, some that had pulled out of the ground by the roots. Huge trees that were six or seven feet in diameter laying between other trees or stacked on trees that were crushed under the impact. The trails were a tangled mess of branches and limbs and whole trees that we had to either climb over or crouch down and crawl under.

One such tree that was laying across the path proved to be my swan song. I stepped over it with one leg and as I was clearing it with my left leg, my boot got caught on a small branch still attached to the tree. I went down hard landing on my right side. I hit a root that jutted out of the ground with my ribs under my arm. I thought I was dead for a minute, then when the pain hit I realized I was still alive. I hit so hard I thought I popped an implant. But least I landed so that I saved the camera I was holding and the backpack with the other cameras were not hurt.

Mitch walked up to me and asked if I was impaled on anything before he helped me up. I guess he didn’t want to have any blood gushing out of me. I’m not sure what he would have done if I was impaled on something, leave me and go get help or just leave me. I slowly got back up on my feet and assessed the damage. I think I bruised my ribs on the right side, but none were broken I was pretty sure. There will be a nice bruise in a day or so on my right hip too and I cut the palm of my right hand on something.

I decided I had enough fun for one day so we headed back to the trailhead. As we neared the trailhead we saw a sign that was taped up that read, “Trail closed due to hazardous conditions.” Really I never would have known.

I think I need to do more pre-planning on our hikes.

A Trip to the Coast

Mitch is such a good sport and maybe even a bit of a saint. He definitely has the patience of Job, he has to, he puts up with me. We are on vacation this week, which normally this is our pheasant hunting week, but this year we are a two and a half day drive to Nebraska so we decided to skip that this year and do some exploring here in Washington. Every day this week we have tried to make the two and a half hour drive to the coast so that I could take pictures of the Pacific Ocean and let the dogs run around in the surf. Today was the day we finally were able to go and guess what, today was the day that the big storm hit the coast moving inland with heavy rain and high winds. Yep perfect planning, that’s what I do. Mitch was still game so off we went.

We got to Ocean City about noon, and as you can see by the photos, it was brutal. Mitch deserves the saint of the week award. Maybe tomorrow I can get him to take me to Mount Rainier and play in the snow.

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My Exciting Life

Is anybody out there bored and want some excitement in their lives? If so, come on over, I have fun and excitement to spare and I would love to share. The only catch is that you have to be up and ready to go at 4:30 in the morning. That’s when most of my fun happens, when it’s dark outside. No it’s not kinky; my exciting life revolves around my dogs. Our morning walks are always fun and sometimes quite thrilling, especially when I get to play boat anchor as they drag me off into the brush after a deer or a raccoon. This morning was no different, the only difference this time was it was all my fault.

Early this morning sometime after midnight it started snowing. We didn’t get much, only a dusting, just enough to cover the sidewalks and the grass. There were also a few slick spots on the roads here and there. We started off as usual with Orso walking searching for the perfect spots to pee and Charlie jerking back and forth trying his level best to pee on both sides of the road simultaneously, which is one of the reasons my chiropractor loves me so much. The walk was pretty much uneventful even when we walked past the ravine, Orso had his head up ears cocked hoping for something to move down there so he could charge off after whatever it was.

We walked out to the turnaround point and started back when both dogs headed down into the ditch on the side of the road, walking along like they were searching for the perfect spot to poop. Orso is so easily distracted that when he starts exhibiting the telltale signs we pay close attention and make sure all the elements for the perfect spot is right there for him. If you don’t own a dog, you won’t understand, but bear with me. So anyway, I was walking along the side of the road watching the dogs carefully so one doesn’t run into the other one and both are spaced out with plenty of room to do their thing. Orso was sniffing the ground and walking slowly, Charlie was a little higher up on the slope of the hill going up on the far side of the ditch walking slowly and I just knew we were going to have success when I got a little too close to the edge of the road.

I wasn’t looking where my feet were going and I stepped on a crumbling spot at the edge of the road and stepped off the road and into the ditch with them, only it wasn’t that graceful. I stumbled as I stepped off lost my balance and fell face first in the ditch almost on top of Charlie. He scooted out of the way and Orso tried really hard to escape in the other direction, but was all wrapped up in the leashes and could only stand there waiting for certain death. There I was lying face first in the ditch with one dog on one side of me and one dog on the other side of me just standing there looking at me not really sure what had just happened. I worked my way back up to my feet and reached down to pick up the leashes. I was covered in snow, dead leaves and who knows what else that resided in the ditch. Plus I had ruined the mood. There was nothing left to do but finish the walk in shame, knowing I was responsible for them being constipated.

But now I have another new name to go along with my list of alias. “Falls off Roads”, has a certain ring about it don’t you think?

Orso – Who Knew?

This was our first hunting trip in two years and the first time I would carry a gun in three years. Last year we didn’t go hunting and two years ago we were hunting quail. Quail are hard for me to shoot, they fly up so fast that by the time my heart stops racing and I realize what flew up the little birds are long gone and way out of range. So I carried a camera two years ago and had much better luck capturing the moments through the lens than with a gun. Two years ago was also the last time we had AJ, our black lab, to help us search out birds. We lost him the week after we came back from that trip. Now we’re down to just two dogs, Charlie, our ten year old german shorthair/lab mix and Orso, our eight year old chocolate lab. Charlie is a good hunting dog, great nose and fast. Orso on the other hand, has preferred to walk behind us letting us beat down the path for him enjoying the outing rather than getting out there looking for birds.

Saturday morning brought clear skies bright and sunny with a fairly strong wind out of the north that felt quite biting. Our group consisted of six hunters, Mitch, me and longtime family friends that spanned four generations. The oldest in our group was eighty-nine and the youngest was fourteen, a wide range indeed. We thought that since Charlie is now ten he might be a little slower and Orso was just along for the ride. Even though Mitch is ever the optimist, saying this might just be the year that Orso gets it, I am the skeptic saying, remember we only have one dog that hunts. We started off working a long strip of tall grasses, Mitch on the outside edge on the left, me just to his right in the grass and the other four spaced out to the right across the expanse to the outside on the right to block any birds from running out and escaping unscathed. The dogs ranged back and forth between us trying to pick up that elusive wonderful scent of the pheasant.

We hadn’t gone fifty feet when Charlie stopped and went on point off to my right in front of the father, grandson combination. A pheasant flew up and caught the wind to fly across my position, the grandson fired off a round and winged the bird, I shot right after and helped bring it down, with Charlie racing hot after the downed bird to make the retrieval. After two years, nothing has changed, it doesn’t matter who shoots the bird the dogs always bring them back to me. A good omen, finding a bird so quickly.

The big surprise came about twenty five yards farther as we walked the field. Orso stopped and stood stock still with his ears cocked up and forward staring at something.

I gave the command, “Get him Orso, okay.” Nothing, Orso just stood there looking at the form in the grass. I gave him the command again, this time with more emphasis, “Okay Orso, get it up!”

Orso moved forward and the bird flew up and to the left trying to catch the wind. Three shots rang out winging the bird but no one got off a clean shot. The bird flew down the hill across the road and into the trees on the other side. Mitch ran toward the spot where the bird went down with Orso following behind him. They crossed the road and worked their way down into the draw where the bird went down. The rest of us stood where we were not moving, waiting for Mitch to resurface. Charlie even came and sat down beside me waiting, taking a rare rest break. About five minutes later I spotted Mitch coming back up out of the draw fifteen feet farther west than they went in and next to him was Orso carrying the bird. Orso had rooted the bird out hiding in the grass next to a tree, went in and grabbed the bird, just like a seasoned hunting dog. Orso trotted back up the hill straight to me bringing his prize, head held high.

After eight years Orso was finally a real live hunting dog. Miracles do happen.

Almost Fatal Attraction

I almost died this morning. No, not really, I’m exaggerating but it sure felt like it for a moment or at the very least I could have ended up with a really bad case of road rash, maybe even a bruise or two. And as is almost always the case, it was because of the dogs. Those miserable mongrel beasts that I feed, walk and let sleep in my house as well as my bed. Let me put it in perspective for you, I am five foot two inches tall and weigh in at a little over a hundred plus pounds, I’m not giving exact weight that’s only for the scale and me, but you can see that I am not a super big imposing person. The dogs on the other hand come in at one hundred and seventy plus pounds together, with Orso at a hundred and one and Charlie at seventy one pounds. Plus they both have way more muscle mass than two other people and me put together. Even though they are both senior dogs, Orso is eight and Charlie will be ten on Halloween, they can still get to afterburner speed when they are so inclined.

Our morning walks are always in the predawn hours when the creatures of the night are still out carousing and the morning animals are starting to stir. Most mornings I can hear owls calling out to other owls and a few of the early birds that are just waking up. It’s quite common to see raccoons, opossums and deer in the dim light. Because of that I am always on high alert making sure I see anything before the dogs hone in on it, causing them to bolt and charge after the object of their desire, thus making me a boat anchor dragging behind them. This has happened too many times to count. I’m pretty sure I’ve paid for more than one vacation for my chiropractor all from walking the dogs.

This morning started off very sedately, that’s how it always begins by the way. I get lulled into a false sense of security, a cool morning with fresh air and a slight breeze with the dogs sniffing and peeing on all of the bushes and trees strutting down the street like we are the only ones out this time of day. We had walked out to our time limit spot and had turned back to head home so I could jump in the shower and get ready for work. We had topped the hill and had headed down to round the curve in the road when Orso saw something and lunged forward to give chase with Charlie reacting a split second later. I was caught totally off guard, thinking about what I was going to wear to work, not paying attention and almost lost my balance. I came very close to actually falling down before I regained control and jerked on the leashes to yank them back. Orso turned and looked up at me with a very contrite look on his face and sat. Charlie on the other hand looked at me with a look that said, “It’s all the big dog’s fault, I was trying to save you. I would never have done that.”

It took a few minutes for my adrenaline level to get back to normal and my heart to stop pounding in my chest. I never did see what was out there in the dark that caused Orso to want to chase after, but I will definitely be watching a little closer tomorrow even though it won’t be there.