Tag Archives: dogs

My dog chewed my Peterson’s Field Guide!

Remnants Roger Tory Peterson's Field Guide

Yeller, my Australian Shepherd-Labrador mix, chewed and swallowed several color plates of my Roger Tory Peterson, A Field Guide to Western Birds, ninth printing of the 1969 edition.

Here is Yeller with snow several winters ago.  He’s a good dog!  Yeller has a habit pattern of wanting to play at about 6:30 p.m. in the evening.  Sedate most of the day, when that time rolls around he will seek me out in the office and pester me until I play with him.  He is most fond of me wrestling with him on his huge pad, a 3×4 foot mattress-like dog pad, until I give up.  Yeller will lead me to his pad, pick up a toy and challenge me to play, “Take Away!”

I am not always a good play companion for I get too busy with very important things like writing a blog and will command, “Lay down.”

Yeller retrieves 25 lb. sacks of dehydrated goat milk and children’s toys from about the countryside when I used to let him run uncontrolled.  I’ve found rubber Daffy Ducks and Pluto the dogs in my front yard, carefully placed by Yeller after rambling through neighboring pastures and juniper groves.  I keep him indoors now and will let him out on a “field leash,” a twenty-five foot yacht rope leash I used to train bird dogs.  In most cases, the toys he brought back to the ranchito were abandoned by insensitive little primates in the veld.  He is a rescue dog, sort of St. Bernard-like.

This fine, courageous dog chewed my Peterson’s one night last week.  When I arose at 5:00 a.m., I found my field book that I have carried in field packs, backpacks and floorboards of many pickups scattered into hundreds of pieces on the floor of my office.  Many of the color plates had been consumed.  He was especially hungry for the quail and duck color plates.

Punishment?  No way.  The act of destruction occurred in the middle of the night and if I had chastised Yeller he would not have connected the “event” with my scolding voice that I hardly ever use because he is such a fine dog, good dog.  Besides with all the scents attached to that field book, carried in my sweaty hands, dropped in a bog, stuffed in field bags with Trail Mix and held in my possession since 1972, I could hardly blame him.  My fondest remembrance of referring to the Peterson was when I was up in the Sangre de Cristos, near Truchas, New Mexico, and I identified my first Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica) that flew about the trail I ascended into the Pecos Wilderness.

That’s okay, Yeller, I understand you.  I can always get another Peterson’s from Amazon.com, but there never be another dog like you.  Now, go fetch your toy!  It’s playtime!

Yeller is looking for Peterson.

 

 

24 Comments

Filed under Dogs

My life defined in the kingdom of animals

Jack with Spot at 401 Congress Avenue, Brownwood, Texas (ca. 1952)

My life has been defined by animals.  All sorts of animals: chickens, dogs, cats, horses, cattle, birds, wild and domesticated beings. For whatever reason, I preferred to stay home as a child while my mother and grandmother worked and when I was older and my mother married J. W., I liked the fact that he had land in Mills County filled with cattle, raccoons, squirrels and wild, tall, native grass that I later learned was bluestem.

I was a latch-key kid.  And when I sped home on my Hawthorne, Montgomery-Ward bicycle, the first thing I did was play with the dog.  The dog you see in the picture is Spot and he was the second dog I ever owned.  He did not live long, for distemper took his life.  Before him, there as a chow-mix of a dog named Toy that mother had to relocate because he ate the neighbor’s chickens.  I loved that Toy and when he was picked up by a farmer that lived in Bangs, Texas, one world came to an end and I lost my innocence, not in the back seat of a Ford, but in the driveway of my home as Toy went away.  To this day, I can remember his fur and his dark, black tongue.

Many events force growth and sadden our days.  The loss of a loved one, four-legged or not, wounds us and we stagger into days and nights hating the loss and finding ways to forget it or ease the heart from the tear.

Many events bring growth and brighten the day.  The face of a loved one upon rising in the morning, the nickering of horses in the barn and the wagging of that tail.

At the end of this post On the left sidebar of the blog home page are photos of cats, dogs and horses that surround Brenda and me. All of the cats are gone now, from accident or predators.  I miss each of those kitties:  Fenster walked with me to the far fields like a dog, Bubbles talked to me on the road down to the barn and Painters never strayed from my side while I fed and tended the horses.  Painters would lie down in the middle of the corral and the horses would walk around him.

Lottie is a schnauzer and was my mother’s pet.  I brought Lottie to Mingus and she has run through every room in the house slamming her toys for attention and play.

Yeller is like Toy, my first dog, the chow-mix.  I first saw Yeller across the county road, staying on the Nowack place, our neighbor to the north.  Yeller loved children, but the Nowacks had several dogs already and Yeller had come from some other family or was abandoned in the country by a cold-hearted person.  One day Steve Nowack tried to shoo Yeller away.  Yeller crept off the property and went down the road, just out of sight of the children, and stopped.  Yeller turned around and sat on his haunches and looked over the grass towards the children, wagging his tail and smiling, wanting to go back and let the smaller children ride him.  I had already begun to like the old boy, but that was it: Yeller obeying to go off as instructed, but not far enough to lose sight of children.  I would not let another minute go by with him unattended by a human companion.

I called him to our yard.  As he saw me engaging him and then petting him, Yeller ran around in circles, merrily and merrily he went.  Soon, we took Yeller to the vet and had him brought to pristine health and today, tonight as I write this post, he sits on the floor beside me.  I walk him and Lottie three times a day.  He is always on leash.  I cannot dis-attach myself, nor do I want to, from the kingdom of animals.

28 Comments

Filed under Dogs, Recollections 1942-1966