Monday, February 15, 2010

Bad Dogs! Bad Dogs!

Sunday morning arrived early, with dogs whining to be loosed into the clear morning air.  The Lovely Bride lost the mental coin toss, and headed downstairs to let them out into the predawn darkness.  Little Ruby Jean, with the smallest bladder, immediately ran, did her business, and scampered back into the warmth of the kitchen.  When the two larger dogs didn't immediately return, the LB stuck her head out the door and started calling them in her best fishwife voice.  Rosie the Lab had decided this was the perfect morning for a tour of the neighborhood, and Sam the Beagle tagged along to see what sort of interesting trouble they could find to get into.

This was not the first time Rosie had led Sam off the straight and narrow path.  The LB swears Rosie waits until your back is turned and then disappears faster than any old and crippled dog possibly could.  (Rosie has a steel rod, a plate and a handful of screws in a hind leg from a youthful indiscretion!)  Usually, she won't leave by herself, but if she can convince Sam to go along, she will take off and may be gone for hours or even overnight.

A quick scan of the roadways leading in and out of Naruna showed no signs of the two truants, so knowing they almost always come home when they are ready I settled in with the paper and some coffee.  Time for church came and while catching up on the neighborhood happenings, a couple of folks reported seeing the wayfarers moseying down one of the local county roads.  After church, we headed across the road to the house, discussing our plan for tracking down the mutinous mutts, when I noticed what looked suspiciously like Sam the Beagle sitting in his pen.  Getting closer, Rosie's head popped up, and the LB & I started congratulating ourselves on not having to chase dogs.  Arriving at the pen, we discovered that not only were the dogs in the pen, but the gate was shut and the latch in place!  They are devious dogs, but even they have not figured out how to lock the gate behind themselves. 

The mystery of who fetched the prodigals home wasn't answered until last night, when the local deputy sheriff knocked on our door.  He lives 3 or 4 miles away and had happened up on the two dogs as he was leaving home that morning.  He recognized them from some of their previous exploits, and persuaded his wife to sit in the back of the pickup with the dogs as he gave them a ride home.  It is not the first time they have been brought home, but surely the first time by the cops!  Thank you, Charley, for bringing them home!  And a special thanks to the wife who rode in the back of an open pickup with two wet dogs, after they apparently found a roadkill skunk to roll in!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Naruna Weather Update

Weather in Texas is one of those ephemera which is hard to grasp and pin down solidly.  Blazing heat and endless droughts are what folks usually think of as typical Texas weather, interrupted occasionally by floods and blinding blizzards.

Central Texas has been caught up in what the government has been calling an "exceptional" drought for the past couple of years.  The Feds have a long list of criteria which helps to identify the severity of the situation, but when the grass crumbles, turns to dust and blows away on the hot south wind, we know it is DRY.  Droughts in Texas usually end with torrential rains and devastating flooding.  This time, El Nino has scrambled the weather patterns, causing a wetter than usual fall and winter.  We have seen some snow flurries a couple of times, with sleet and just plain rain thrown in for good measure.  For the most part, we have avoided any bad flooding, with everything just staying a little moist.  This process has been gradual enough to almost avoid notice, but this past week we were blessed with 5.5 inches of rain over seven days.  Stock tanks were filled to overflowing, creeks and streams out of their banks, and water running across low-water crossings!  Even Lake Naruna was filled.  Actually, that is normally just a low corner of the pasture across the county road from our house which collects water if enough comes down at one time.  Even knowing its transient nature, it is still good to look out and see this acre or so covered with a foot or two of water.  And it is still cool enough that mosquitos aren't yet a problem.

When the army moved us to Oahu in the mid '80s, we quickly ruled out living on the Leeward side of the island, because it was dry and brown with prickly pear in spots.  Rather than live someplace which looked like west Texas, we opted for the Windward side where everything was green.  During the next four years we discovered the downside was that all was green from the constant mildew!  Naruna hasn't gotten to that point, but it certainly feels soggy enough.  Who knows what next week will bring??

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ruby the Cowdog

Have you ever noticed that those things in life we feel most certain of, rarely turn out exactly the way we expect?  The child you are convinced is going to become a ballerina turns out to have two left feet; or the surefire investment that just can't fail...does; or the strong, durable legs which have carried you around for years suddenly aren't able to do as good a job of keeping up.

With our pets, we also have certain expectations as we enter our relationships.  My Lovely Bride's most recent acquisition, a small mixture of Chihuahua and maybe Yorkshire terrier was supposed to be a cute and cuddly lap dog she could hold and pet at will.  She worried about how overly dependent on their humans such little dogs sometimes become, and even took the little dog to church so it could get used to being out in the world and being around people.

She needn't have worried about Ruby Jean.  Ruby quickly let it be known she was not going to meekly adopt the stereotypical "toy dog" personna.  She was quick to run and greet anyone who approached, but didn't really like being picked up and cuddled.  Occasionally she would crawl into the LB's lap, but it was always on her own terms. 

When the rancher leasing the property next door installed a water trough on the fence line, Ruby discovered her true calling in life.  Suddenly, she found there were these huge creatures in her world, who obviously needed to be herded!  And herd them she did...or at least she tried.  Fifteen hundred pound cows who are used to dogs, don't pay a lot of attention to a 9 pound flyweight whose bark comes out as more of a squeak.  This certainly didn't keep Ruby from trying her best, and generally, after drinking their fill, the cows would wander off to a quieter corner of the pasture.  Ruby would urge them on with a few last yaps, and then very proudly come sauntering back to the house, confident of her continued ranking as the top Cowdog in all of Naruna.