Wordless Wednesday: Crossing the Great Divide

Some how this did not get posted yesterday.  Better late than never

,Crossing the Divide

From the Tony Stromberg Workshop at Absaroka Ranch, Dubois, Wyoming. 6/13

The Brothers: On the Prowl

I was going to do a “A Typical Morning at Sundog” post and feature all the animals I feed in the morning but the Manz Brothers were on the prowl and I had my camera in hand. TCM (7 of 1)-11As you can see Mangus is alive and doing well.  He and Milton think they are “The Bad Boys” now.TCM (7 of 1)-9They have plenty of trees to scale but the little scrub oak forest next to the barn is their favorite place to practice their new skills.TCM (7 of 1)-17I hope there is not some unsuspecting birdie up there.  It is a good thing the finches did not return to the barn this year.  I don’t think they will be back.TCM (7 of 1)-15Crazed kitty look.TCM (7 of 1)-8“I may be tiny but I’m looking down on you.”TCM (7 of 1)-7Meanwhile on the ground Milton is on the prowl.  He looks over at Rosie and the goats in the pen who are being so patient waiting for some one to feed them.TCM (7 of 1)-5“We are in jail.  We are hungry.  Let us out”.TCM (7 of 1)-3Rosie watches the Manx brothers in the little forest and wonders why I have not fed her yet.  I better hurry and feed or let her and the goats out to browse but I want time to document the Manx Brothers in the little oak forest right now.   They are just little kitties and will grow to big kitties soon.  After Rosie’s first bray (hee haw) she usually gives me about 5 or maybe up to 10 minutes to act if I am lucky.  TCM (7 of 1)The goats are extremely patient this morning.  They are enjoying the mild morning sun.TCM (7 of 1)-4Mangus eyes locked on Milton from above.TCM (7 of 1)-10Milton dives for the cherry picker in the wheelbarrow.  Hmmm….manure balls, good for batting around. TCM (7 of 1)-12“How did Mangus get down there so quick. And what is he up to?”TCM (7 of 1)-13Mangus does not want to use the litter box any more.  Yeah I say.TCM (7 of 1)-14Good boy.  Just wait until he finds the round pen with 60 feet of sand.TCM (7 of 1)-18“Now what can I do?”

TCM (7 of 1)-16“I feel the need to sharpen my teeth.”    Fierce isn’t he?TCM (7 of 1)-19 “Someone’s coming….in the bucket.TCM (7 of 1)-20“Why I see movement out there.  I can’t keep myself in here much longer”TCM (7 of 1)-21“Out of bucket and look what happens.    Don’t laugh.”TCM (7 of 1)-24I told you they were fierce kitties.TCM (7 of 1)-22GQ like Rosie and the goats is very patient for his breakfast.  He is watching the Manx Brothers play too.  I’d better hurry with hay though or the stall banging may start and we don’t want that.TCM (7 of 1)-25“Who me?  I don’t bang stall doors…..unless you ignore me long enough”TCM (7 of 1)-26 I look down from GQ thinking I better start getting hay out and I squint to see Mangus with something flapping in his mouth.  It looks like he has caught a tiny fish or something.  He crouches and appears to not know what the heck he has.   I swing my camera around and can’t get my settings right but oh well.   You can see something here.  It is NOT a wood rat which is what he is suppose to be feasting on.   Mangus is as surprised as I am.  “Hmmm…what to do with this?”   Then before I could say MEOW…….TCM (7 of 1)-27Mangus does the spins with a very unlucky creature in mouth.  I almost deleted this photo as junk until I looked in the bottom right hand corner.  OMG The poor creature was a lizard and he or she is fleeing for his or her life.  National Geographic material?    TCM (7 of 1)-28Mangus wonders  “what happened to that thing I had”? TCM (7 of 1)-29“Oh well I’ll just find something else to destroy.”TCM (7 of 1)-30

“When in doubt crawl into the blocks.”

Adios Amigo’s!

Out of the Archives: Cute and Cuter

I love my grown up Sasha….the baby of the Sundogs.  But now since we’ve decided 5 dogs are ENOUGH dogs I get a little sentimental about the puppy years.  So I have to share what I’m talking about. DSC_0414Around 8 weeks old.  She’s a retriever through and through._MG_0387How about that confirmation.  I mean body._MG_0415In the mornings sitting on the front stairs looking for crawling things was a favorite activity….and still is._MG_1072Learning how to swim at a young age is required at Sundog Ranch.  Sasha is around 10 weeks here.  She started her swimming career in the puppy pen._MG_0965It can get a little intimidating competing with the big Sundogs._MG_0807So drying off and watching is good._MG_0643 Summers are hot at Sundog so staying near the water is imperative._MG_0633“In fact if sitting in water does not cool you down fast enough lie down in it.”_MG_0294In case you wondered Sasha is allowed in the house._MG_0395Even on the couch

  Now do you see what I mean about missing puppy time?

Adios Amigo’s

Meeting the Manx Brothers

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We have a couple new family members on the Sundog Ranch.  Every animal on the ranch are intrigued by them….especially the Sundogs.   When we go to the barn to feed the first thing on the Sundog’s to do list is to check on those new little critters in the barn.

Run for Your Life82We have this sliding door to the hay room tied so it won’t open all the way and BIG animals can’t get in thereby giving the Manx Brothers some recluse.

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But the tie is not working so well.   Lassen is able to muscle his way in.  Poor Manx Brothers.Run for Your Life80

I yelled at Lassen (I mean gave him a command) to come out of there and he actually listened to me.  Until all hell broke loose and almost all of the Sundogs burst in to greet the Manx Brothers.  The Manx Brothers live on top of the tack room.  They are our new barn cats.   You see we have quite the wood rat population and something has to be done about it.

Here you have them.  I could hardly get mad.  Yolo of course was posed for the photo and little Milton Manx posed along with him.  Lassen is trying to get closer and find out were Mangus Manx is.  Mangus is Milton’s brother.  Maisie is trying to keep her cool because she thinks the Manx Brothers may be tasty.  Nevada looks at Maisie wondering why she is acting so weird.  Sasha is a bit weary of the Manx Brothers since that other BIG kitty we used to have gave her more that one swipe across the nose. Run for Your Life76Sasha stays outside and Momma Maisie joins her.  If was not so hot she’d be chasing dragonflies.  The temp is already in the low 90’s.Run for Your Life72Maisie returns salivating at the mouth now…but not foaming yet.  You can’t hear her whining, good thing.   Yolo is still posed in the best spot for kitty viewing and brother Lassen stays nearby for support.  Run for Your Life69Milton gets closer to the Sundog Brothers and lets them know it is NOT OK to come any closer.  Mangus is tucked away in the box refusing to come out.  Run for Your Life153Somehow between the time I went to grab something out of the truck and then turned around to return the Manx Brothers decided to make a bold run past every body and make a dash for the tack room.  I tie the door to the tack room too and the tie stays.  The brothers are able to poke in and out and tease the Sundogs. Here is Lassen doing what he does….sitting very still and drooling over the brothers.  Here is Mangus posed to sprint back to the hay room since Lassen won’t stop drooling over him.Run for Your Life156Here he goes.Run for Your Life162Milton makes a dash too staying with Mangus but oh no!  The Big Brothers are working together now.Run for Your Life161The BIG Brothers are closing in…what should we do?Run for Your Life165Somehow Milton made it back to the tack room.  The BIG Brothers don’t care.  One kitty is tasty enough.

Run for Your Life167What is a kitty to do?Run for Your Life164“Maybe I should hiss and swat now but I’m frozen”  Poor Mangus.  I’m proud at how he is handling this.  Do you hate me now for not rescuing him?  Don’t worry I trust my Sundogs.  Besides they had a big breakfast.Run for Your Life171I know this looks like Kitty abuse but it is part of getting to know kitty.  After this look CAMERA DOWN kitty in my arms.  The Sundogs still have a ways to go to quell their obsession with the Manx Brothers.  We will do this routine every morning until the Manx Brothers are no big deal anymore.  I’ll make sure we don’t have any unsupervised visits with the Sundogs and the Manx Brothers down at the barn.  AND I will make sure I feed the Sundogs well before our visit.

Adios Amigos 🙂

Black and White Sunday

I have decided to start what I call EASY blogging every other day or so.  Wish I could be more specific.  It’s just that  blogging can be time consuming.  At least for me it is.  I have so many stories to tell and SO MANY photo’s to choose from.  On top of that I am a SLOW writer or blogger or what ever you want to call me.   In this day and age you need to make a quick easy connection with who ever it out there almost everyday.  Otherwise you are forgotten.  Sad reality huh?

  So far I’m doing Weekly Photo Challenge, Wordless Wednesday and now I’m joining Black and White Sunday.  I think that will be it.   Longer quirky posts about Sundog Ranch and our travels will fill the gaps…….hopefully.   Here goes my first post for B&W Sunday.

By the Pool

“Pretty by the Pool”

As usual Yolo is front and center.  Maisie and Mr Lassen in the background.   If you know anything about the Sundogs you will know Yolo likes to be front and center in almost every photograph he is in.  Seriously,  I DO NOT  plan it this way.   Immediately when we start posing he gets right in there in front.  I’m convinced he knows what he is doing.  I think he wants to be seen and to be famous some day.  We’ll keep trying Holy Moly Man.

Reflecting on Hanna

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I promised last post to write “The Precious” but my mind is wandering thinking about a pet I now miss.   This is a post I have put off for several months even though I’ve  wanted to write about it.  I need to think about and absorb what happened.  How about I lighten this story with Hanna’s humor then touch on the sad, heavy, thought provoking, controversial stuff later.

Okay….. out it comes.  Our one and only little kitty, Hanna, otherwise known as “Hanna Banana” passed on March 11th of this year.  I call her little because she weighed 13 lbs at her heaviest.   Most of our animals are huge in comparison.  Sweet Pea weighing in at maybe 50 lbs by now and GQ weighting around 1200 lbs.

Hanna’s death was not sudden.  In fact I felt like I watched her die for quite sometime.  I did not write about Hanna much since having this blog which has only been for less than 6 months.    I ask myself if she did not impact me enough for me to want to to capture her but frankly she lived a reclusive and sedentary life.  And you can only take so many photo’s of a sleeping cat.   If you’ve seen my equine and canine photography it is about emotion and action.

For most of her life Hanna was a ‘scaredy cat”.  Living life in the farthest away bedroom she could find only venturing out for her required morning and evening feed.  She planned it when the Sundogs were outside playing,  on a walk or snoozing heavily.  Sometimes her timing was off.  She survived several gut-wrenching chases up and down the stairs at our 2 story Moss Beach home and later in life down the slippery cement floors in the hallways at Sundog Ranch.   The Sundogs learned to respect Hanna but there was something about a good chase.  They could not help themselves.  The Sundogs still have intact noses.  Surprisingly Hanna became somewhat social and downright pleasant in the last couple years of her life.  Maybe she instinctively knew in her cat like way that life was not eternal and she’d better take advantage of what life has to offer.   She started allowing the Sundogs to come close without the usual nose swiping.  Instead of the far away bedroom her hangout became a little ledge in the great room by the fireplace where I could watch her sleep while I cooked and watched the news or episodes on the Food Channel.   She in turn kept her senses intact.  She could hear kibble hit the pan, a can opener in action or smelly “Fishy Fiesta”.   Once in awhile she would even hop up on our laps for some affection and NOT draw blood if we scratched her in the wrong spot.

Hanna graced the planet for 17 years and lived life to the fullest every day.  Even if that meant sleeping most of the time.  Image

Hanna slept in every possible position.

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In the warm afternoon sun on a early spring day she might hang out on the couch for awhile.  But not were the Sundogs lay.  These photo’s were taken at the end of her life when she decided to come out into the world and enjoy her surroundings.

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Speaking of surroundings, Hanna would do silly kitty things even when she was all grown up.  Like bedding down in this box for a few times a day until boredom set in.Image

Then she went back to her usual hangout.  The ledge by the fireplace with the little white cotton blanket which was her last bed.  I would roll the little white blanket up like a doughnut and she would sleep in the middle.  I buried her in that little white cotton blanket.

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Now for the part I dread writing about but want to express.  This photo was taken in the last hour of Hanna’s life.  Being a photographer I feel I must capture life in any form at any time.  I even have photo’s of the last week when my first, most precious Golden, Kelsey,  died.  To this day I have never shared “the last day” with Kelsey out of fear that someone would call me sick or gruesome to take them.  Maybe if I get the courage up I can share that day.  I think the photos show a natural phase in life.  For now I’ll just reflect on Hanna.

The ledge you see above Hanna’s back to her right is where her bed with the little, white cotton blanket was.  She had jumped down off of it for the last time and just about collapsed.  She wobbled and could barely stand.  It is hard to witness any animal in this condition especially a cat.  Her demise came on suddenly and I panicked a bit.   I had a vet coming at the end of her work day for possible euthanasia if Hanna did not pass soon or appeared in too much distress or pain.

For the last 6 months Hanna was in renal or kidney failure.  Not unusual for a senior cat.   Rockin’ Roy stayed out of my decision to let Hanna live or die.  I let her live and I also let her go through it, death.   For two years I did not let her go through it, death.   I took her to the vet and did all the things you do for a pet to care for and prolong it’s life.  Antibiotics, subcutaneous fluids, labs, etc.  But towards the end Hanna was done with the needles and cramming pills and I was too.  I decided to let Hanna sail her own course from then on.  We dealt with the frequent LOUD, DEMANDING feedings and picky appetite.  She got breakfast, second breakfast, lunch and second lunch, dinner was not so important.  Oh…and it HAD to be canned Friskies “shreds”.  We tried the wholesome natural feeds but Hanna only wanted canned Friskies “shreds, whatever flavor just NOT “pate” style.  Fresh chicken or salmon worked too when ever she got lucky.  Oh and let’s not forget the elephant in the room, the only thing I felt gave her discomfort.  Frequent urination with bleeding and incontinence.  Oh what a joy to deal with.  Luckily for us we don’t have carpets or euthanasia might have come quickly.

Despite the frequent urination Hanna was pretty happy up until a few days before she passed.  She would sit up quietly, on her ledge, licking her paws after her yummy Friskies meal.  Then she would settle down, curl up and slumber in her little white blanket bed near the kitchen.  By now Hanna was unaware of the Sundogs.  Warmth, food and a soft bed were all she cared about.  And the Sundogs seemed to be aware of her need for solitude.   Most people would likely take her in for euthanasia at this point which I feel is brave and courageous but I made the decision not to.   I don’t think it was me being selfish and wanting to keep her around.  I just felt she had lived a good life all these years on her own terms and was still living a fairly good life in her own terms so why not let her live out her life until the end.  I tried to keep her healthy and alive but it was not working anymore.  It was time to let nature take her course as awkward as that may seem these days.   Boy that sounds weird.  As a ICU and oncology pediatric nurse I have witnessed  pain, suffering and death beyond imagining.   In the human world euthanasia is not an option, especially with children.   But we can put our animals down.  Regardless of the human euthanasia issue I think it is a good thing most humans are compassionate enough about animals to end their suffering.  People don’t want to experience that very end of life that can be peaceful but sometimes very unsettling and unpleasant.  I felt I could help Hanna pass through death.

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This photo is of Hanna’s last stare.  She could not focus on me at this point and seemed to be judging where she was on the planet earth.   A few seconds after this she went off to somewhere I don’t know.  There was nobody home.  She was in limbo, dying and passing to the spirit world but still trying to move in her inhabited earthly body.  It was then I had to put the camera down.  For a few minutes which seemed like an eternity I witnessed agonizing cat cries and gasps until her final breath.  I’m not going to lie and say she died in peace. For a few seconds all I could do was cradle her head and body in my hands to soften the blows of her flailing body against the concrete floor.  There was a body and that was all.  Her spirit had left a few minutes before while she cried.  After her last gasp of air immediately there was peace.   I collapsed by her side and sobbed for her suffering but soon was crying with joy for her final peace.  We wrapped Hanna in the little white blanket and buried her on the ridge edge under a blooming Redbud bush.  She is far enough away from her former Sundog rivals Kelsey and Madison.

This is not a anti-euthanasia story.   I have HAD to euthanize three beloved pets in the last three years because it was the right thing to do.  Did I do it too late? Did I do it too early?  Did I do it in the right way?   I hold those questions in my heart and mind for the longest time after one of my pets dies but luckily time heals and the hurt finally goes away.   Death no matter which way it comes is not easy to go through.  And we always keep missing them, but such is life. C’est la vie.

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Here is how I prefer to remember Hanna.  This photo was taken about 6 months before Hanna’s death.  By this time her arthritis was settling in but as you can see even without the little white blanket she naps peacefully protected by “Knight Invader” a big beautiful black stallion.  What more could a kitty ask for?  RIP Miss Hanna Banana.

Meow’s in heaven.

Out of the Archives: Bedtime

_MG_0670What is better than an afternoon snooze on mom and dad’s bed?   That’s why I could not help but pull some of these “bedtime” photo’s out of the archives.  It is a joy to find this many Sundogs snoozing on our bed together.    I turned one into black and white which I love but Golden’s and the color purple ROCK.    Enjoy!_MG_0522On a gloomy afternoon in March while I was cleaning out my bedroom closet Sasha got things started and out came my camera.  Being the baby of the family she needed and still needs lots of naps along with her cherished purple monkey.  Although the purple monkey was so cherished it recently went to stuffed animal heaven._MG_0562 Miss Maisie Rose being the ham she is had to get in on the action and somehow the purple monkey lies on the floor.  _MG_0574“Oh well, there is always something else to hold in your mouth to pose for the camera.  Why here’s a sock!”_MG_0575“Oops!  I was so  enamored by the camera I dropped the sock.   Now Rockin Roy’s sock lies on top of the purple monkey.  I can surely fit BOTH of them in my mouth”_MG_0582“I’m a little embarrassed now.  I’m going to slink away to the floor for my treasures”_MG_0596Meanwhile Miss Maisie Rose, my English Cream beauty, basks in the glory of being alone.  She gazes out the window in wonder.  “Will this gloomy day ever turn to sunshine?”  _MG_0626After putting the camera down and going back to cleaning out my closet I come back to the bed with a different scene.   Yolo takes center stage (OF COURSE) while Lassen and Maisie watch Sasha ruin Rockin Roy’s sock._MG_0616By now Rockin Roy’s sock is clearly destroyed.   Yolo, Maisie and Lassen watch with approval.  “We taught her well.”_MG_0662Sasha is done with destroying so she slinks back up on the bed to snooze with the gang.  Like good dogs they all turn around to face me and my camera.   Photographers dogs usually get good at posing.  _MG_0668“We need our beauty rest.”_MG_0675OK you guys.   “Good night, sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite”.

Adios Amigo’s!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Patterns

Rancho2013_ copyThis weeks Photo challenge is PATTERNS.  Can you see this amazingly natural MOVING pattern?  They are mother and daughter Friesians running freely at Book Family Farm in Durham, Ca.  The photo was taken at my photography workshop last month.   They are at the farm being trained to drive by Nattie Book.   Enjoy!

Francis goes to Flournoy

ImageLast week was a big week.  The BIG day arrived.  It was time for Francis to go to her new home.  We backed the trailer right up to the arena were we sometimes put the donkeys. Normally having to back up a trailer to a arena or pasture to load a horse is not a good sign.  But since trailer loading was not checked off on the “to do”  list in training we had to go the kinda wild animal or livestock way to load.Image

We built a chute the best way we could think of….kinda pathetic huh?  Mr. Lassen had no idea why were are making it so complicated to get in the trailer.ImageThis is Helen getting Francis ready to go on her big trailer ride.  Helen has been coming to Sundog twice a week to help me tame the donkey’s.  See how Francis holds her hoofs up so nicely for cleaning?  Thanks to Helen for that.  Six months ago we could not get near her let alone clean her hoofs.

ImageHere is Helen again trying to get Francis to turn around in our pathetic chute that was suppose to not let her turn around.  I was not able to take many loading photo’s as all my energy was taken up LOADING Francis.  Image Long story short…we eventually got Francis to jump in the trailer on her own accord.  If you know donkey’s you know it is a good idea to let them in on the decision making.   Once in the trailer Francis got lots of treats and did not think it was so bad in there.ImageRosie on the other hand watched and wondered why in the world Francis “GAVE IN” by getting into that BIG tin can.   Much to my delight Rosie acted perplexed but not too upset by the whole episode.   She continued to watch the trailer for a minute or two, gave out a few brays then went right back to eating her pile of grass hay as if to say “C’est la vie.”     All that separation preparation we did must have worked.  WOW I love it when things go as planned with my wild burro dream.

ImageThe Sundogs got the message they were not invited on this trip so they decided to hang out in a shady spot until they absolutely had to go back to the house.ImageAfter the hour drive to Francis’s new home in Flournoy we were immediately greeted by a welcoming committee.  They had to mark their territory right away and sniff to see what in the world was in that BIG tin can.

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Why look what the cat dragged in!

ImageFrancis hopped out of the trailer and strolled into her new pasture as if this is were she was meant to be.  No panic, no anxiety,  no running around frantic that there were no other donkey’s to be seen.   She put her head down, smelled the green grass…..Image

and looked at me as if to say “why didn’t you take me here sooner?

ImageImageHelen gave Francis some good bye pats and hugs.  Helen like me was relieved to see how happy Francis appeared in her new home.ImageFrancis even seemed right at home with her new care takers Kenny and Jenna.   Allowing new people to stand on both sides of her was very courageous.  We will miss her but knowing she is happy with good folks makes it all OKAY.ImageFrancis is now a main attraction on Paskenta Road about a 1/2 mile from the tiny town of Flournoy.  If you are ever driving out that way look for Francis, honk and say HEE-HAW!!