I have handsome boys…
…but I’m starting to get the impression they are getting fed up with all the picture taking I’ve been doing.
I was able to run away from home for a week of bird hunting in Montana this October.
And after the last few grey mornings here I’m longing for one of these still frosty Montana mornings.
Which sounds odd because I’m not at all a morning person. But I have found thatI’m much less grumpy if I get to spend sunrise in a field with my dogs rather than in the kitchen with my kids.
What can I say?
The dogs are always happy to be up and running and they never, ever, complain about their breakfast.
A Friday ritual.
A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week (or last).
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
I’ve got a dog with drive.
In pointing dog speak that means that when I take him out looking for birds, he is willing to hunt every bit of the cover we are in and beyond.
It means that when he is out in the field with his nose to the wind, it doesn’t matter how tired he is or how long we’ve been out. He still flies over the ground with enthusiasm.
It means that when a bird goes down running, he runs after it.
It means he never quits.
In everyday-life-speak that means that he digs holes like he means to go to China.
And it means that when his paws don’t work, he uses his teeth.
Yup, I’ve got a dog with drive.
My brother and I used to get into terrible fights. Little arguments turned into wrestling matches, he was scrappy and strong and didn’t know how to give up. Fortunately for me he was late to grow. Unfortunately for him his big sister was super mean.
Maybe it was when he did finally grow bigger than me and I had to be nice to him, or maybe it was just that once we didn’t live together and fight over the radio station everyday that we discovered we actually, maybe, sorta, liked doing things with one another.
But, somehow or other we’ve gone from no-holds wrestling to me purposely subjecting myself to multiple hours in the car with my kids just so our families could spend the weekend together.
Rotten brothers change.
Well, some rotten brothers change…
Trip (my dog) and his litter mate Sunday (my brother’s dog) got into their first real fight when they were about 12 weeks old (prior to that, I didn’t know puppies ever did that). Things have improved since then but I still wouldn’t call them “friends”. We all survived their adolescence, when they both went looking for a fight, with minor wounds and have settled into a more mature phase where, while supervision is always necessary, they can co-exist and hunt together and so long as they are busy they don’t feel the need to beat up on one another.
Except for when they do.
While out for a long run in the woods, while we skied, the boys were mostly ignoring each other and things were going fine. My brother ahead and I behind, the dogs had all come together on the trail between us and paused. Maybe it was the inactivity, probably it was the presence of a girl dog (Yeah, I’m totally blaming the boys’ terrible behavior on a girl. It’s a thing!) but they went from happily coexisting to, snarling, snapping monsters.
This was not my first dog fight rodeo with the two of them but it was the first time that I had to separate the two of them while wearing cross country skis and poles. After quite a lot of ineffective pole waving (I do not recommend ski poles as an effective prop for dog fights) and yelling, (I always yell. I have no idea why, it does zero good) I was able to ditch my poles, side step into the deep snow off the trail and grab a dog in each hand.
Disclaimer: Don’t try this at home. Sticking your hand into a dog fight is a terrible idea. Breaking up a dog fight on skis is an even worse idea. It must be done strategically, quickly and it helps if you are strong enough and the dogs are small enough to hold them in the air at arms length if necessary while balancing on skis. Did I mention this wasn’t my first rodeo with these two knuckleheads?
The dogs, once in hand, calmed down immediately and simply stood and looked at each other as I held them apart. Thankfully I saw that my brother was coming back through the woods towards me so I would not be stuck in the woods holding the tiger(s) by the tail, so to speak. I sighed and looked back down at our two trouble makers to assess damage. Sunday had a small tear under one eye and I could still feel him growling and grumbling. I looked over to Trip, who was bleeding from a scratch on his nose, and saw that he was wagging his tail to beat the band as he cheerfully looked at his brother.
It reminded me of fighting with my own brother as a kid. Those few shining moments when he started it, came out on the worse end of it and he got in trouble for it… well, if you’ve got a rotten brother of your own then you know that’s enough to make any sibling gleeful.
My brother and I shook our heads, put a little distance between them, and headed the boys back down the path toward home. They went back to happily running through the woods as if nothing had ever happened.
What can you do?
I’d also like to note here that Goose (my dog) and his litter mate Buster (my brother’s dog) have so far gotten along fantastically. Let’s just hope it stays that way!
I haven’t used full manual mode much but I gave it a try while running the dogs this week. In the past I have struggled to catch the all the action of the running dogs and still have them in focus. But, this time, I think I did it!
It just turns out that most of the action I see is from behind.
When times are tough…
… a roaring fire and a snuggling puppy are the best therapy.