At Freedom Park summer 2010

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ike needs a playmate

Here I am again.  Seems that no matter what else goes on in my life I keep coming back here to talk to Starskey.  I'd really like to be talking to him in person - but I will do what I can.  Somewhere here I will probably switch from the third person to the first person - that is just how things go in my mind.  Don't get confused - it is still me talking.

Ike is lonesome.  He thinks I am a pretty good snuggler and I don't toss a bad ball either but after a trip to Robin's house and several days with a real dog pack - he is kinda in the dumps.  Doesn't even want to play tug-of-war with the knots as much.  It isn't the same with me as it was with Sid and the silly new dog at their house....and it has been rainy outside so we can't go running or playing like we usually do.

You've never met Sid.  He is Pokey and Pilot's new pack member.  He came to them last winter as a very sick little baby with Parvo.  Everybody worked hard to get him healthy again - and boy did they succeed.  Pokey is only part Pit - but Sid is all Pit and so solid and strong.  Since Ike is so tall (not small like you were) Pokey doesn't look at him as a puppy - even though he still is one.  She didn't want much to do with him so that meant Ike and Sid could become pals.....when Pilot wasn't causing trouble.  Pilot doesn't fit under the couch anymore so he is more particular about the trouble he causes so he can get out of there fast.

It took a day of sniffing and licking and stare downs for everybody but the next morning they all had it figured out.  Ike is tall and Sid is solid and Pilot is a brat and Pokey just stayed away from it.  Then there is the new guy.  I can't remember his name but he is the oddest little stinker I think I have ever seen.  He is part Chiquia and part terrier (has whiskers) or something.  He is smaller then Pilot so he does fit under the couch but he and Sid are best buddies so he doesn't spend much time there.  It is funny to watch the big guy and the little guy play together - reminded me of you and Dufus!

Sid shared the little guy with Ike that is pretty cool.  The three of them would play tug together - Ike and Sid would each have an end of the rope and the goofy little guy would jump up and bite on in the middle and just dangle there....Ike held his own pretty good.  Taking that rope was the best idea I ever had so I just left it there.  Ike has one here at home.  Sid will probably just drag the new kid around by it - unless Pokey decides to play too.  Sid might be stronger then Pokey - but she is determined.  There are 4 dogs and 4 kids there now - plenty to do tugs!

You need to come home or find a way to get checked for your chip.  Ike really needs a doggy kind of playmate and you are the only one I KNOW of that Jeff will be happy to see and have back home.  I don't think he is too keen on the idea of getting a new guy.....He really likes Ike and they have a special bond and routine together - but he really wants you back home as much as I do!

Jeff has been pretty sad here lately too.  Too long without a job and too tight on money isn't helping.  He did get a driving job to deliver motor homes and took one trip already.  He seemed so upbeat whenever he called home while on the trip - but that hasn't lasted.  His back hurts and that doesn't help either.  Sees the Doc tomorrow.  We've both gotten a little short tempered lately and that doesn't help either

Ike is going to need special care for his hips.  He has pretty bad displazia that was made worse by an injury before we got him.  You wouldn't know it in the morning after a good nights sleep and his aspirin....he runs all over the place and makes sure everything is where it is suppose to be outside.   He runs a while then comes in for a nap then goes out for another adventure and then in for another nap and so on.  I have noticed that as the day goes on his naps get closer together and longer - probably as his hips get tired or start to hurt...

He figured out the stick thing better then you did...he picks them up and brings them to me instead of trying to drag them the other direction or hitching a free ride on the pile I am dragging.  He really likes the pond too.  He knows the same short cut that you know....what is it with black dogs and water anyway?

Midnight has become a terrible tease.  He knows that Ike is bigger then he is so he won't let him get as close as he did you.  Do you remember when that cat was bigger then you?  That is when he taught you how to ring the bell to go outside....You weren't understanding what I was trying to teach you!  Ike caught on pretty quick so he is a bell ringer too.  Now Midnight just comes half way down the steps and sits there where Ike can see him but can't reach him - and he just sits there.  It drives Ike crazy and Midnight knows it....Brat cat!

I am beginning to feel a little better now that I have talked to you for a while - but I sure do wish I could talk to you in person.  This just isn't the same!  I have 2 hands - one for each of you so it sure would be great if you came home to be Ike's playmate - and to show him the ropes he hasn't learned yet....well - maybe not all of them.  There is an outdoor kennel now and there will be fencing going up to make a safe dog play-yard for when I can't be out there with you to let you run loose and get in the pond and all that neat stuff.

Ike is using your pillows and beds - and he fits in everything but your Pet Lodge - and he can fit in that too but he can't turn around in it - so we got him a bigger one.  He sleeps in some of the oddest positions.  Sometimes he curls up in a ball and fits inside your bed with the sides on it.  Other times he is a sprawler and uses his special foam pad, your bed and another floor pillow.   His favorite position is on his back with his legs stretched out (or up) or leaning against the TV. 

Grandma was here last week and thinks he must be triple jointed to be able to get in all those crazy positions.  She also thinks we have an awful lot of pillows - but when you want to let a dog be comfortable (without letting them on the furniture) you have to have enough pillows for them - besides some of the car pillows are in here to be washed so it looks like even more.

It is time to come home Starskey.  Ike and me are waiting for you!  I have 2 hands and one of them is for you......I am still keeping in contact with all my new Rescue friends and trying to keep your "Lost" postings up to date.  I have NOT given up hope but you could help a little from your end too.................

Friday, August 12, 2011

Okay - Acceptance isn't the end....

How can I accept that Starskey is gone when I can't stop thinking about him?  How can I stop looking for something that I loved so much?  How can I accept NO answer to what has happened?  Prayers for an answer just leave me with more feelings of hope.....God - Is that You telling me something ????  I need some clarity...........

I told you that Ike was his own man - and he is.....but almost everything he does reminds me of Starskey.  It must be the Lab in them or something......Maybe it is the age.  Ike is now 8 months old and Starskey was 11 months old when he went missing, after 9 months of stealing our hearts and teaching us a whole new way to love and be loved.

To explain how much Ike reminds me of Starskey would mean I would need to duplicate many of the experiences I have already written about having with Starskey.  I just read all my entries to this blog and they are all on target - for how much and why Starskey has come to mean so much to me, as well as some of the adventures we shared that are so similar to the ones I am now sharing with Ike.  These two boys belong together!!!

Ike had an extensive vet check this week.  He will have serious challenges in life that we will have to help him through.  For a fellow who is only 8 months old he already has a pretty severe case of hip displazia.  Xrays confirmed that.  You wouldn't know it to see him prance around the yard but his prancing has gotten shorter in duration and his naps have gotten longer.  He has a foam pad in the house and in his bed and some dog cushions in the outside kennel.  He uses them all.  He gets an asprin a day (in a small chunk of hot dog) and that helps him sleep comfortably at night.

His breed mix is still in question too.  The front half of him is all Lab but his back half is in question.  We thought maybe Dobe or Hound but our vet wonders if maybe there is some Dane in there - especially given his growth.  He has gone from a thin 30 lb. 4 1/2  month old to a 60 lb. 8 month old and he is still slim and almost twice as tall as he was.  Vet says he has more growing to do too.........hopefully just filling out.

Ike is a mighty big puppy!  None of that changes who he is!!!!  Like a toddler - I just have to move the things he can't have to a higher location.  His size should not be intimidating to Starskey - whose first and best non-family friend as an Akita called Dufus.  Ike is also submissive....or is that just well behaved?

My mind says to accept that Starskey is gone - but my heart will not let go and with no definite answer as to where he is and what has happened to him - I have to continue to hope that he is alive and will find his way back home!  Ike is as far as I can go forward without knowing......  I will care for Ike and love him and pray for the time when I do have an answer (or God guides me elsewhere).  That is when Ike will get his playmate - whether it is Starskey returning home or another dog in need of rescue and love.

There are those moments when Ike will awaken from his sleep - sit straight up, look at the door, sniff the air and bark.  I'll go to the door and look out and see nothing or a deer across the pond  and I will wonder if Starskey is near and Ike can tell.  If I don't see a deer or something (and there is no cat sitting at the top of the steps to tease him) I will go outside, sit in the swing and talk to Starskey.  I'll tell him that it is okay for him to come home and that Ike would love to have someone to play with.  I tell him how much I miss him and still love him.  I tell him any new news he should know and then I just sit and hope and pray for a while.  Then I come back in and give Ike a big hug.

I have stopped baiting.  The only dogs that ever came were dogs from area farms who already had homes.  Otherwise it was mainly raccoons or skunks that took advantage of the stinky cat food bait.  I could tell that by their tracks and the feces left behind.  I hope that means that you (Starskey) are not surviving in the wild but have found a home or were picked up. 

My greatest fear is that you got caught up in the rescue system and have already been adopted out......but therein also lies my greatest hope.  You have a chip so that rescues and vets can identify you and you are posted as "lost" on two chip sights.  Those rescue people have a network all of their own as well.  They let each other know when there is news or need of help and they check for chips.  If you were to get picked up - the shelter should check for a chip.  If you were to be adopted out (because you are so charming) then the new owners should take you to a vet who should also check you for an existing chip before installing a new one.

I need to say THANK YOU to all of the rescuers and shelters that have added me (and you) to their network of contacts.  I can't do much to repay them except to share the requests and postings they send to me - but they can do so much for us by helping keep your photo and description active so that some other rescuer or vet or just regular person see you and let's us know where you are! 

A huge Thank You too goes to Kathy for the tips on how to search for a dog in survival mode.  I so wish it had worked because then you would have been home by now.  If anyone else is baiting and waiting for a medium size black dog to come in to their might be Starskey.  Please contact me!!!!!

The only thing worse then not having a job that pays a living wage anymore (but still having bills to pay) is having a hole in your heart.  Ike is helping ease my pain but he is making is own path in to my heart, which means that Starskey's path remains untraveled and waiting for him to come back in to my life.

Please don't forget that Starskey is still out there somewhere and that I am still here missing him and running out of options for finding him on my own.  I do need your help!  Please share our story and his description with as many people as you can.  Maybe somebody has seen him somewhere!

Starskey - COME HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Stages of Grief

They say the first stage of grief is denial.  Oh boy - I am an expert at that one!  I believe I have denied or explained away every possibility put before me when it comes to why Starskey is missing or what could have happened to him.  Denial does not help.  In fact it creates more problems that just seem to make everything worse and harder to get through.  It can cause you to push away the very people who could comfort and help you.  You, afterall, are not the only person who loved that animal or who is grieving the loss!!!!

They also say the last stage of grief in acceptance......I don't have to like it or even agree with it - but I do need to accept it.  Starskey is gone.  I didn't say he was dead, stolen, rescued or anything else - I just said GONE.  That does not mean there isn't still a chance he might come home (he does have a chip) or that we might eventually find evidence of his demise or that somebody might just bring him back.  Hope is still there but I have accepted that he is gone - for now.

All I pray for is that wherever he is (Heaven or earth) that he is loved and cared for.  He will always have a very special place in my heart that no one else will fill - that is Starskey's space, but it doesn't mean I won't go on to love another dog in a similar way - but it will not be the same.


As I look out at Ike, stretched full length in the grass in the shade enjoying the breeze and cooler temps of today, I can't help but think of Starskey and of how he and Ike would be playing in this wonderful weather.  How much more enjoyable Ike's life would be to have a friend to play with....he is still just a puppy himself at 7 months and full of energy - and love!

Ike is a different sort of fellow then Starskey - but his life has been different as well.  Instead of having someone watching over him and making sure he had food and water until someone came to adopt him - Ike spent his early life having to fend for himself.  It didn't make him a scared or angry fellow - but he is quieter, especially without a canine playmate.  The felines around here just seem to pester him.

We knew Starskey's family tree (at least part of it) so we kind of knew what to expect from him but Ike suprises us sometimes because we know nothing about him except what is physically visable.  He is a BBD - part lab and part who knows what.  He is the BBD that lays on the step in front of the house and watches the cars go by on the road - but can hear and identify our vehicles miles away and will be waiting there to meet us at the end of the drive when we come home.

Ike is gentle and tender and would rather be around the people he loves then just about anything else.  He helps (?) in the garden, follows the mower, supervises hanging clothes on the line and lays at your feet in the house or near the door when outside.  He does enjoy a good rabbit or squirrel chase from time to time and patrols the pond bank to keep us safe from aquatic invaders.  Although he has his own pool Ike has to occasionally inspect the pond itself and spash and splatter to scare those invaders away.


Ike is twice the size that Starskey was at his age so it feels rather odd to watch this BBD do the same things that the LBD did at 7 months old.  Frogs, toads and turtles are of great interest.  They get nudged around with a nose and if they jump it is a delightful suprise.  On occasion they have been carfully picked up and carried to Mommy - but only if they don't pee in the mouth first.  If they do pee they are carefully returned to the ground and the spitting begins.  Then they are looked at as if being asked "why did you do that?".

Starskey's favorite friend (Dufus/Sam) has moved and is living in a house full of kids.  I am so happy for him.  He was such a gentle giant and played so carefully with Starskey that I have no fear for the kids he now plays with.  Dufus did not get the chance to know Ike as well as he did Starskey.  Ike was being house trained so he was inside more then outside.  That has reversed now - unless the weather is hot.  It is probably a good thing that Ike and Dufus didn't become good friends - Dufus was a rover and I would always be afraid that Ike might rove with him and get lost, hurt or killed.  Starskey did from time to time but together the two of them seemed to stay pretty close to one home or the other.  I think I like my "home boy" Ike just the way he is - lazy and happy!

Dufus & Starskey

Bringing Ike in to our lives was very necessary for heart was broken and denial led to depression and then to stress related health issues.  I began by volunteering at the local Humane Society shelter.  It was a selfish reason to go but the animals gave me love and I began to put my life together again.  I loved them all, talked to them, asked them if they had seen Starskey and where they would go if they were him......I know it sounds silly but it made me feel better and the animals benefitted from the attention.

Ike's name wound up on the adoption papers as a fluke.  The papers had been there for a while but I hadn't added a name.  One day I did and I don't know why it was his shelter name that stuck in my mind....I wasn't even sure whose name I was putting down.  I just knew it was time and somebody there needed me as much as I needed them.  When the Shelter called me to say that I was approved - I had to go over just to see who I had adopted.  I would not have said no to any of them but Ike has proven to be a perfect fit.  Sometimes the Lord works in strange or curious ways - but I am so glad that He works to take care of all of us.

Having Ike here meant that I got less anxious when I received "lost dog" calls and reports.  I got smarter about asking questions about the "found" dog and about giving the callers some advice.  Checking for collars and tags was the first thing I told them to do.  There is a vet number on any rabies tag and many people add additional tags.  If the animal had a chip there may be a chip tag or they needed to have a vet scan the animal to find out and to identify it. 

Mr. Ike

I learned that the area shelter and Humane Society only accepted animals from official agencies (Animal Control, Law Enforcement, cities, DNR, etc.) so local lost pets, found by well meaning individuals, had no place to go if an owner could not be notified....unless an official agency would assist to help get them in to a shelter or the local vet could assist in finding good homes.  Hey, if the local vet could do that every time it was needed, we'd have less need for the Humane Society and animal shelters and foster homes......

Thank You to the many wonderful vets who do help strays and unwanted pets to find homes and more Thanks to all of the vets that provide their services (for reduced rates) to the Humane Society and shelter and help the rescuers.  Adopted pets are just extra special you know.  They know that you have chosen or rescued them and they display their gratitude with great love and devotion.

Ike is now my man.  He is my shadow and my friend.  I feel at peace and believe that if Starskey were anywhere near and could get home - he would have by now.  There is some reason he hasn't and I hope that someday he still can or that I will know the reason why he couldn't.  He didn't leave me or intend to go away - he is just gone.  I will love and remember him always.

I will love and remember all of the wonderful animals who have shared their lives and love with me!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Life and learning go on

Every person and every animal in my life has taught me something new or reminded me of how important some of my past lessons have been.  Ike is proving to be no different.

Since living here we have had many wonderful pets.  Ebony (lab/setter) taught us that wild animals and pets can get along together better then we imagined.  She shared her dog food with the deer and they curled up around her heated dog house on extra cold nights.  She had been dumped with her mother and brother in the State Park where I worked.  Mom hunting to feed the kids was one thing but when she began to teach them to hunt we had to remove them from the park.  They came here as fosters while we searched for homes.  A loving home was found for the well trained mother and her son and we adopted Ebony. She was with us for 4 years before being stolen, along with several other dogs in the area.  She was never recovered and only one of the other dogs was recovered.

Scooter (cocker mix) was a gift left on our doorstep after Ebony disappeared.  He won our hearts and taught us that even a little unassuming black dog can put on more miles and meet more people then we could ever really know.  He introduced us to many of his friends when they would call the number on his tag to tell us he was visiting them.  Scooter was with us for 12 years before his health failed him.

Missy was a stray American Eskimo that we adopted after fostering for 6 months.  She too had a roving nature (as a result of time surviving on her own) but once she knew she had a loving home her range became smaller and her roving less often.   She was a devoted family guardian and the protector of the wild geese that nest here each spring.  She was also extremely loyal and loving.

Jack (Jack Russell mix) came to live with us after we'd had Missy about a year.  He had been my daughter's and was only suppose to be here a short while.....Missy put up with him in the beginning but their bond grew stronger and they grew inseparable.  He had short hair but refused to be in the house without Missy.  Missy refused to be in the house period - too confining and likely a bit too warm for her double fur coat.  They took care of each other, sleeping together in the doghouse when it was cold and when Missy's sight began to fail her Jack became her eyes and steered her around gently keeping her off the road and out of the pond.

We lost Missy a couple of years ago due to heath, age and an accident that Jack couldn't protect her from.  She was 15 years old and had been with us for 13 of those years.  Jack did his best on his own.  He kept up their routine as best he could and we gave him the heated dog house when the weather got cooler (he still wouldn't come in the house).  He would disappear for hours and I would get scared but he always came home.  I suspect the two of them had a route to follow and he was keeping up that patrol but he was never the same without Missy.  He missed her.  She was his other half.  He went away one day in December and never came home.  Jack was about 12 or 13 years old himself.

We were dogless that winter and I could not believe how much advantage the deer took of us because of it.  It was March when I first met Starskey and I wasn't sure I was ready for a new dog - much less a puppy - but he had a way of getting to you.....Starskey came to live with us the first week of April 2010.  If you have read this blog - you know his story.  He taught us so much that I can't even explain it all.  I was a farm kid with all kinds of animals all of my life but not one that crawled in to my heart as deeply as he did.  I think Missy and Jack started the route there and he just crawled in the rest of the way.

I watch Ike now as he sniffs everything with such care.  He is meeting Scooter, Missy, Jack and Starskey through scent in the things they left behind.  Sometimes he'd rather be outside wandering the yard then to be inside on his pillows.  I believe that he is looking for those playmates that aren't here anymore.  I still hope that we will be able to bring Starskey home so they can be friends and playmates.

I am learning from Ike that secondhand toys are way okay (I already knew that) and that just being loved and feeling safe goes a long way for a guy who was a stray and spent time in a city kennel.  He is so appreciative of everything and would rather spend time laying at my feet then just about anything else on earth.  Walks are fun but love is better.

I love you Ike - I have loved all of you and I miss you all too.  I will tell Ike stories about you and keep looking for Starskey so that he has a partner like Jack and Missy had each other.  Life does go on but I will never forget and never stop loving all of my wonderful pets

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Survial - for both of us

Okay Starskey.  I am about to enter a different phase of my search for you.  Since you don't seem to be irritating anyone enough for them to call the cops on you I am going to have to change my search tactics.  You are probably out at night and hiding during the day.  You are not a hunter but you are a good scrounge and/or thief.  Stay off the road - the road kill isn't that good anyway.

I'll let you know up front that Ike is not going away - he is here for when you come home and to help me maintain my sanity.  We will have to learn how to introduce the two of you when that time comes - but I have to find you first, since you don't seem to be making it home on your own.  It is my guess that you have moved in to survival mode and my techniques for finding you are going to have to change.

First off - how much have you changed?  Longer fur?  Skinny or fat?  Straight hair or wavy like your Mom's?  You are still black and the star is still on your chest  but have you taken on any more of your Mom's features and coloring?  Are you covered in burrs?  All that will affect the appearance of dog that I have to be looking for now.  You are no longer the boy who disappeared in December.  

Have you found a place for shelter during the day?  Is it in the open under a tree or bush or on a hillside in long  grass?  Have you found a barn, shed, garage or even bales of hay where you can get in a corner and keep warm and feel safe?  Where do I need to look now?

Are you hungry or have you found a source of food?  Is somebody feeding cats or even dogs outside so you can sneak in and get some of that?  Or are you living off nature like weeds and seeds or better yet - some horse poop?  I kinda have to know what you're surviving on to know where it is best to begin to make it easier for you to find your way home.

If I put out some little cans of really stinky catfood (it's your favorite anyway) will you come eat it or will you let the raccoons and opossum have it?  I am going to try that - just to see if you show up once in a while.  I may even sprinkle some white stuff around on the ground so I can see your tracks better.  It might even stick to your feet a little and give me an idea what direction you go when you leave.

I can't look for you the same way that I did when you first went missing because - even though you are still Starskey - you are probably a little afraid of people after all this time.  I am sure that you have not heard anyone call your name for a very long time or you would be home by now.  Are you by yourself or have you found a friend of some kind?  Hey - if you found the horses or some cattle you've got many friends - and they aren't going to tell me where you are hiding all day.

I may have to use a live trap to catch you now, since people may scare you - even me.  I am sorry about that but you are kind of blowing through your teens faster then you should have to.  Survival may be making you closer to being an adult now.  Hey - that is a change for both of us!  It is sure not one either of us had planned for.  I just want you to know that if I have to use a trap it is only because I love you and I do not want you to spend the rest of your life living like you have had to these past 4 months.

I have talked to a lady who knows about pets who have gotten in to survival mode.  She has given me tips and ideas on how and where to begin looking again.  She says I should not look for you like I did before - because I may just scare you away.  Now I have to sort of fool you and try to get you to come to what is most important to you - and that is probably food.  I also need to figure out where you might be taking shelter - not to look for you but to move the food closer to you. 

I might have to use a night camera to be sure that it is a dog eating the food and then to try to be sure that you are the dog because I know that you look a little different now.  That is a hard thing for me to wrap my mind around and it is even harder to imagine what you might look like now.  I am not being rude but I bet you are pretty scroungy by now and you probably stink really bad too.  Especially if you have kept warm in horse and cow poop piles.  Go find a creek or pond and take a bath Dude!

I am not sure where I am going to start but I have some good ideas, based on some of the more reliable sightings of you.  I should have a paycheck in a day or two so I can get the supplies I need to get started and then we will go from there.  You'll be okay until then won't you? 

This would be a really good time to be visiting places during the day so folks see you again.  If you are staying with somebody - you need to get them to take you to the vet for something so the vet can check you over and find your chip.....nothing serious - fleas will do!!  A check-up or Rabies shot update will work too.

I am going to try to let everyone else know that we have to deal with you differently now too.  I don't want them scaring you away so we have to start looking for you all over again.  You are going to have to come to us - on your own or in the trap.  That is just where we are now.  We are not without hope or resources - we just have to do things differently in order to get you home.

Oliver Alert has a saying that I like.  It goes something like this; "Never give up looking for something that you can not stop thinking about every single day".   Until I find you - I will never stop looking.  If all I find is some bones and your collar I will be able to stop looking but since we haven't found that - I am still looking for a live black dog with a white 5 point star on his chest.  Now you need to start looking for me again too. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

His name is Ike

Well Starskey - he has arrived.  His name is Ike and you will really like him.  He likes to play and he runs in circles and chases his tail just like you.  He is about the same size as you are now so that will make everything even - if he doesn't grow any more that is.  He is all black and his name kind of came about because of where he was found.

Ike was picked up in Mason City early in March as a stray out by Eisenhower Ave. (Walmart) and the shelter called him Dwight.  We thought that Ike suited him better and he seems to like it.  I think somebody loved him for a while because he is doing real good with being in the house.  Only a couple of accidents in almost a week.  He is catching on to the bell thing - well kinda.  You being here to show him how well it works when we are busy or not looking would help a lot.

We took him down to meet Paucha this weekend.  I think Paucha likes you better - or maybe he knew that you knew that you were his company so he didn't have to mark the whole place.  After Saturday everything was okay though and you would have thought they had been friends for years.  You missed the chance to run in circles with them!  They had donut shaped bones together like you and Paucha always did.  Paucha still doesn't share his donut.

Carma, Luchi, Adrian and Camilla were all there too.  That meant the boys got lots of walks and spent a lot of time out doors.  It was warm and sunny so they liked that - even when Camilla was in charge.  They all were sure that you would like Ike too.  They were glad that he is your size but that he is all black.  That way they would never get you mixed up.

There is a lot you have to teach Ike.  He keeps pooping in his play zone so I have to wash his feet off whenever he comes back in the house.  I don't think he is going to be a porch swing dog so your spot there is very safe.  He doesn't like the swing moving when he is trying to get on it either, and doesn't seem to want to learn.  He does like the summer doghouse but isn't sure about the winter one yet....maybe it has to get cold enough to turn the heater on for him to figure that one out.  He'd just rather be in here on the pillows in front of the fireplace - just like you.

The cats have figured things out.  They sneak past when he is napping or when he is outside.  They take whichever route is necessary depending on where he is.  Spook is curious enough to sniff him when he is asleep.  He obviously smells different then you do so she has to get him recorded to memory so she knows who she is dealing with.  My bet is that she'll stay upstairs most of the time anyway.  Booger does everything on the sneak.  I don't even see or hear her until she heads back up the steps.  I think Ike does though because sometimes he'll just stop and listen and sniff the air.

Midnight is a little cautious but still feels that he is the house boss.  He rings the bell and waits for us to get a hold of Ike and then come let him out.  He will go right out (or in) with Ike there - as long as we are holding him....and Midnight is smart enough to move slow so he doesn't look like anything exciting.  He used to tease you by running the minute he got out the door......just so you would chase him - but then he knew what to expect from you and he hasn't figured that out with Ike yet.

Learning a new fellow's signals and remembering to stay patient and forgiving is easier for me then for Jeff.  He forgets that Ike doesn't know what sit, stay, lay down and come mean yet - although Ike does know a little bit - he knows what "no" and "get down" mean.  I really think that somebody loved him long enough for him to learn a few things and for him to learn to trust people.  Even though he is about 5 months old (and your size) he is still very much a puppy and sleeps a lot and wants to chew on everything.  Thanks again for leaving the chew toys.  I got him some new ones too.....and some new floor pillows that don't smell like anybody else.

I was thinking how, when you were about his age, we wondered if you thought your first name was "No bite" and your last name was "leave the cat alone".  I sometimes wondered how you learned that your name was must have been early on - before you started doing naughty things.  We seemed to have to use the other phrases far more often.  We don't seem to have to use them with Ike so much - but then he hasn't been camping yet either.....that comes in another week or so.

I hope he learns his name better soon so that he will come when called.  We forget to use his name as often as we should.  With you we were just grew to know what you wanted or needed, and you were so used to just following our lead that we didn't have to call your name a whole lot.  When the van door opened - you just jumped in and when the golf cart moved - you just hopped on.  Ike has all that to learn yet.  I'll try to remember to use his name more often so he gets used to it.

This whole thing would be a lot easier with you here to serve as big brother and teacher!  Yes, Dufus has been over to check him out but doesn't stick around like he did with you.  That is okay with me.  I don't want all you boys wandering off together - it seems that Dufus is the only one who can find his way back home again.  A kennel will be coming for short term confinement (instead of the cable) but a fence is going up for a play yard so dogs can play outside together and not get in to trouble...or run off.

We're still waiting for you to come home...and still looking for you so that you can come home to us and your new playmate.  Wherever you are - tell them it is time for you to go home!  Then get yourself here or go to someone who will help you get back here.  We love you and miss you.  Starskey Come Home!!!!!!!!  We are all waiting for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Playmate coming

Starskey - you really need to come home soon!   There is a playmate for you who is coming to live with us.  Somebody needs to teach him the ropes (cat secrets and bell ringing) and tell him what he will get in trouble for - like getting in the road or following Dufus......

He is younger then you but he is about your size.  He is a lab mix too so you will have a lot in common.  Is it okay if he uses your bed and chews on your toys until you get home?  Then you can decide what gets shared and what doesn't.....but you will need to share Dad and me.  I'll put Care Bear up - he is your bed partner after all.

NO - I have not given up hope that you will come home.  Hope is what I am hanging on to more then anything now.  Everyone has looked so hard and kept looking for you for so long that we are all sure that someone has picked you up and taken you somewhere.  That should mean that you are being taken care of and for that I will have to be grateful.  We still pray everyday that we will get a call or an email from one of the many places you are listed as lost - or from someone who has seen you......WE HAVE NOT GIVEN UP HOPE!

You are loved and always will were our first baby and we learned so much from you about raising a baby and about loving someone with a blank slate for us to write on.  You taught us a lot about ourselves as well - and about our true beliefs and abilities to deal with things as they came along.  Yeah - I would do a few things differently if I could do them over - but not a lot.  There would be a fence - and there will be now.  Official dog training might be a good plan too.

Hey - we did pretty well without that all but if there had been a fence - you would not be gone because you would never be outside the fence unless we were with you.  You trusted us to take care of you and love you and you rewarded us with your love and your respect.  You walked beside me (except on timber adventures), you brought the ball back when I threw it for you, you sat when told, you waited when asked, you shook hands when a hand was offered and accepted treats with great gratitude.  You stayed off the upholstered furniture but found that padded lawn chairs were pretty comfortable outside and that pillows on the floor were good inside - as long as they were close to us or in front of the fireplace.  You never jumped on anybody!!!!  You sat and waited for them to offer a pat on the head or a shake.  You were a good boy in the car (except for the phone book thing) and you did enjoy your rides!

See - there is a lot you need to help teach this new guy - and especially about ringing the bell.  You don't want Midnight to upstage you on that one!  He already did it to me - but you were a lot smaller then and this new fella isn't that small.  Midnight might not be much help this time.

He doesn't have a forever name yet.  They call him Dwight now - but that just doesn't seem to fit.  Should he be Hutch?  You'd need to come home for sure then because Starskey and Hutch are a team!!!  I get to go pick him up this afternoon but I couldn't do it without first telling you about him.

You disappeared after the first big snow fall in December - and he will come after the last crazy snow fall in April....a little over 1 year since you came to live with us.  There is something strange about that but I don't know if it is a good strange or a bad strange.....

I have been going to the Humane Society almost every week and meeting a lot of cool cats and wonderful dogs but couldn't bring myself to pick one yet.  Two weeks ago I went over and took my paperwork for them to hold until I had a name to fill in.  I kinda thought I would bring home a beagel guy that Phillip fell in love with - so he had a home and Phillip could come see him a lot, but when I got there he had already been adopted....but he did come to Forest City so maybe we'll be able to find him and visit him.

I went and looked at all the puppies....and all my other friends.  I do have favorites and some of them were gone (a good thing). There were a couple of other dogs on my mind but I still didn't think there was a perfect one.  When I got ready to leave - I put Dwight's name on my application.....I don't know why - something just told me to write his name down.  They called last week and said he could be mine - so last Saturday I went and spent some special time with him.  He is a really okay dude!  You will like him!   Some things are just meant to happen the way that they do - and I think this might be one of them......

He is not house trained - so thank you for house training me!  I know how to do that now!  I have a new timer even.  He is getting adult dog teeth so thank you for teaching me to have lots of chewy toys and bones on hand - it saves on the furniture!  I put a new gate up to the back room so the cat food is safe - thanks for teaching me that trick too.  He is going to need lots of exercise (besides potty walks) so thank you for leaving the tennis balls here. 

He is going to need a playmate.  I know Dufus will be here - that is the reason I need a fence.  He can play with Dufus inside the fence but Dufus will teach him bad things like roaming.  You need to come home and be his house and yard playmate and best buddy.  Nothing would make me happier then to give you to each other...............

Starskey - come home!  There is training to do and playing too!  

Gee - I wonder what the cats are going to think of this????  I think the gate to the back room tipped them off that something was happening.  This could get exciting and scary!  Come on home and tell them everything will be okay!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Dance

Garth Brooks has a song that says a lot about love and loss...and everyone can apply it to their own situation or need.  For me it is about finding a love and a way and a depth of loving that I didn't know I was even capable of......and then losing that and finding this gaping hole in my heart.  Here are the lyrics to the song.  I think you'll understand.....

Looking back on the memory of
the dance we shared 'neath the stars alone.
For a moment all the world was right
How could I know that you'd ever say good-bye. 

And now I am glad I didn't know
the way it all would end,
the way it all would go.
Our lives are better left to chance.
I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss the dance.

Holding you I held everything
For a moment wasn't I a king.
Bit if I'd only known
How the king would fall
Hey, who's to say you know
I might have changed it all

And now I am glad I didn't know
The way it all would end,
the way it all would go.
Our lives are better left to chance.
I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss the dance.

Yes, my life is better left to chance. 
I could have missed the pain but I would have had to miss the dance......

I wouldn't have given up my dance with Starskey for anything.  I would not have given up the chance to learn along with him and to play with him and to swing with him and to love him for anything else on earth.

The hole remains in my heart and maybe always will.  I still hope to find him but I also hope to begin a new dance with a new pet but it will never be the same.  Starskey was the first dog to reach that deeply in to my heart.  Maybe that was made easier for him because of all those that came before him.....Missy, Jack, Scooter, Ebony and more.  They each blazed a trail that the next one would follow and each got deeper and deeper in to my heart.

Starskey, however, remains special.  Not because he has been any different then any other dog I have ever loved - but because he was the first that came to me without first having been on his own or having been alive long enough to develop his own sense of self confidence.  He came to me as a baby to be nurtured, trained, loved, trusted, and introduced to the world.

I was proud of our relationship as it grew.  I gained self confidence as I taught him things, learned more about him, spent time with him and began to recognise his needs and took the steps to fulfill them.  Because he was a companion dog, instead of house guard or outdoor pet, there were things I learned about him that I hadn't learned about some of our other dogs.  It was a different relationship and I looked forward to our time together each day. 

Taking care of Starskey has never been a chore or a duty.  He is my friend, my playmate, my confidant and my helper.  He looked up to me to be his pack member and I did my best to fill that role for him.  He showed his gratitude by sharing his life with me and by sharing his adventures with me.  I would never have dreamed of going mouse hunting on my own - much less had so much fun doing it.  Walks around the ponds would have just been walks around the pond if I didn't get to enjoy his discovery of the world around him.

Watching the interaction between Starskey and our cats, Dufus and with other people was also very telling of the kind of dog he was.  He was rather submissive, except when it came to his food.  Even with the food - he would share his food and his treats after first establishing the fact that they were his to share.  He had a weakness (or liking) for cat food so a gate had to be installed and the cat's food put up where they could get at it but he couldn't - but on camping weekends he would often get caught raiding cat food around camp.

Starskey has a gentle soul.  He would bathe the campground baby kittens and snuggle them against him for warmth.  As fall approached and the nights were cooler the kittens appreciated the ability to snuggle with him near the camp fire - but the baths became an issue as he sometimes got them pretty wet and it was just too cold for that.  There was never any aggression toward the cats or kittens and I often wondered what need the kittens met for him.  I would watch him push them all over near the fire with his nose and then lay down with them.  Did he have gender confusion and think he was a mommy?

No - I would not have missed this dance with Starskey for anything.  He has taught me a lot.  The biggest things may have been patience and perserverance and perspective.  He taught me not to over react or react too quickly and to give him the benefit of the doubt - and I was always rewarded and pleased to see that what I feared could happen was not what was going to happen...........Until that day he went out the door to go pee and vanished.................................

Come on home Starskey - there is more dancing for us to do!  I love you!!!!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Missing Starskey

Oliver Alert uses a quote that goes something like "never give up on something you can't go a day without thinking about" or something to that effect.......Well, I am not giving up and I don't think I have gone an hour without thinking of Starskey.  I can't tell you what has made him so special to me because all of my pets have been special and each have their own unique story as well.  Maybe it is just because I started out with Starskey as a baby and he blazed new territory and pathways in our lives and hearts and in our home!  Okay, it is also because I have no answers.........That is the part that absolutely SUCKS!

I sit here at the computer and look out the window at the porch swing that became such an important part of our day and our together time.  It swings in the wind and brings memories of a  warm little puppy snuggle on my lap as well as an almost grown dog trying to get on it when it kept moving away.  Learning to jump up didn't help much there - the swing still moved and he was not sure if his effort would be in vain or not - but he insisted on swing time daily.  I held it still while he got up on it and then we sat together and watched the events on and around the pond.

It was warm enough to use the clothes line yesterday.  I missed my helper - well, my audience would be more like it.  I found your football Starskey!  Your rubber insert survived the winter and is here for you to throw and chase.  It was once a real official football that my grandson, Phillip, left here.  It was funny to watch Starskey try to carry it in his mouth to whatever spot in the yard he planned to lay on it and try to chew on that leather round thing.  Phillip would come over and throw it for him to chase but we quickly figured out that tennis balls were easier to retrieve and haul back to the thrower.

It took Starskey 6 months to finally break that leather shell on that football but it only took him a week to have it completely peeled off - only to find that there was still a round air-filled thing inside.  It was made of rubber and not nearly as easy to chew on - but be did manage to get it popped before all his sharp little baby teeth were replaced with the smoother adult teeth.  You might wonder what a dog would find fun about a popped rubber football insert........well it is made of something akin to an inner tube.

Rather then trying to rip it to shreds Starskey took greater pleasure in shaking it to death or shaking and tossing it so he could chase after it.  He got quite adept at launching it several feet away, requiring him to run after and tackle it to reclaim it.  I would watch him play this game with himself for hours wondering whether he was playing with himself, with the rubber football or an imaginary opponent.  At any rate - it was an exercise he enjoyed and played alot.

Dufus was here again this morning.  He checks out all of the dog houses (we have 3 - assorted sizes) gets a drink from the heated bowl and then inspects the yard.  He misses his little buddy.  I did find some photos of them together when Starskey was still pretty small....they look funny together but they were best buds.

In spite of his size, Dufus is very gentle and I think Starskey won most of their wrestling matches.   Dufus misses you Starskey!

The cats have been acting strange too.  Every time I pick up the Starskey toys in the house and put them away in a basket on top of his Pet Lodge the cats get them out again. They don't play with them - they just get them out and put them back where they were on the floor in front of his Lodge....I have given up and just leave them there now.  On occasion I will catch Midnight sleeping on the rug in front of the Lodge - the same place he slept when you were inside it sleeping.  It took a while but Bugger has adopted the pad in front of the fireplace.  She still looks down at it, from her perch on the foot stool, and sniffs the air carefully before actually getting on it.  Maybe making sure it is okay..........

Jeff is certain now that I have gone crazy.  His patience with my search and my grief is getting much shorter.  He says it is time to move on.  Move on to what?  I still see him go over to Starskey's toys and move them around with his toes (when he thinks I am not looking) and he keeps the water dish full but I bet if I asked him he would say it is because the cats drink out of it too.

Camping season is coming and I don't know what that will be like without you.  There is a camp chair by the firepit that is designated as yours. The lawn chairs will be brought out again soon too - and I will be expecting to see a black body curled up on the cushion in the sun.  Who will ride in the front seat of the car and on the golf cart?  Who will help pick up the branches in the yard and remind the geese which side of the pond is theirs?

Starskey - it is time to come home to all of the ones that love you...................

Friday, March 25, 2011

I am missing my walks

I think I have gained some weight this past couple of months.  I haven't been walking like I used to.  Walking alone just isn't any fun and I don't have anyone to bring the ball back to me if I throw it out ahead of me.  I am missing my Starskey in more ways then I had been thinking of in my grief.  Having him was good for me too.  He made it fun to do the things that I really didn't enjoy doing because I usually had to do them alone.

Walking with Starskey is always an adventure.  Around the farm we could walk off leash and he could wander a little ahead and to the sides of me as he sniffed around to see who or what had been there since our last walk.  Squirrels were always fun to chase up the tree but once he got them up there he didn't know what to do.  They would just sit in the branches and cuss at him and he would just look up at them and tip his head and cock an ear and wonder what the heck they were chattering about anyway - he just wanted to play...... 

Frogs and toads were almost as fun for him to chase as it was for me to watch.  Of course if you were going to chase them you have to move the same way they move - you know, hop.   Ever watch a long legged dog try to hop?  There is this nose that seems to hit the ground first, followed by a head shake and a sneeze (or snort) and the look around to see who saw that - and then he is on the next hop with a similar landing.  Eventually one of those close encounters between his nose and the ground will alert him to another scent...............a mouse or shrew.

Okay now mouse tracking is a serious job.  You keep your head down and your nose on the scent and you follow that scent even if it leads you in circles.  Keep in mind that Starskey is no longer looking where he is going.....his eyes are on the ground in front of his nose and he is seriously following that mouse trail - even if it means running straight in to the mower deck because the mouse ran under it...Ouch!  Look around - did anyone see you do that?  No, okay back to tracking.

A half mile walk around the pond could actually take us over a mile by the time we have done all the busy things we need to do.  We check out all the tufts of grass, give the geese plenty of space (as we walked past their nest), follow a deer trail and sniff some poop.  This is just on the way through the yard and across the dam.  Then we are in the timber and there are trails all over the place.  Mice, raccoon, deer, geese, turkey, opossum, Dufus, Mom, Dad, the kids, squirrels and even a snake or two.  The smells are intoxicating and the dead leaves, damp ground and assorted animal poop is perfect for a serious long and twisting roll on the ground.  That done it is time to shake it off and head in the direction of home.

Do we continue on the trail around the ponds - or do we dive in to the water and take the short cut?  Well Starskey always had that choice but I didn't.  I walked the rest of the way around the ponds and sometimes he came with me but sometimes he headed for the water.  If he swam he would always meet me on the other side - properly shaken dry and having rolled in clean grass so he was ready for a hug and a rest in the lawn chairs in the sun.

I need to get walking again - with or without my walking partner but it sure would be a lot more fun and a lot more interesting with Starskey to walk with.

Come home Starskey - it is time for our walk.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Starskey's Pack

Good morning all.  I thought maybe I should tell you a little about the pack Starskey became a part of.  We're pretty diverse and....interesting?  Well - the interactions are anyway.  

You already know about Jeff and I, and you have learned about Midnight (the better bell trainer) and you have read about the initial potty trainers Pilot and Pokey, but they are only cousins he got to see once or twice a year.  He has other cousins he got to visit  from time to time - 3 labs and a frenchie/boston cross at my other daughter's house - not to mention a total of 7 grandkids. 

Starskey's daily pack was a bit smaller and consisted of the two people who loved him, the tomcat that teased him and two female cats that mostly avoided him......and the Akita, whose real name is Sam but we didn't learn that until we had been calling him Dufus for a year or two.  He doesn't seem to mind and answers to both names.

Starskey was curious about the cats - especially the ones who would sit at the top of the steps and look down at him all of the time - but would never come down to play.  They interacted very little (when he was awake) and he was really quite oblivious of their presence when he was sleeping or busy chewing on a rawhide or something.  The cats, on the other hand, were very curious about Starskey.

No dog had ever been on "their" turf before and this one was about the same size as them - but he was one of those things that moved fast like little kids do - so obviously he was something to be avoided - yet studied.  When he was napping they would come down the stairs from the living room to the family room and get a closer look at him.  As time passed they would get closer and closer and even sniff him.  He seemed to be harmless, in this condition anyway.

Starskey would stir and the girls (Spook and Bugger) would bolt for high ground or hide under a coffee table.  He became a source of great interest as they watched him stretch and yawn and rearrange himself on his floor pillow.  He still seemed pretty harmless.  Eventually though he would wake up and then he would want to play if he spotted a potential playmate and they wanted nothing to do with that.

Starskey and Midnight shared a different sort of relationship.  It was one of respect and courtesy.  They would sit and just stare at each other for long periods of time.  I always wondered what was going through each of their minds as they "stared down" each other.  If one moved then the other one did too - but maintained a respectful distance.  Midnight would hop up on the couch and Starskey would look at him like "how come you can and I can't".  Midnight would lay down and Starskey would lay down on the floor in front of the couch.  

As time passed a cat paw would begin to hang over the edge of the couch and Starskey would carefully sniff it.  Midnight would open one eye, slowly pull the clawless paw back or give Starskey a slow gentle pop on the nose....not enough to "start" anything - just enough to let Starskey know who he was dealing with and then close his eye and go back to sleep.  Starskey would just watch him for a while, cocking his head from side to side and then resume his nap as well.   

A sitting cat meant a sitting dog.  A slowly moving cat meant a slowly moving dog but a running cat - well that was just and invitation.  The trouble was that Midnight ran faster, jumped higher and crawled in to places Starskey couldn't get.  I would watch Midnight run from point A to point B and then point C and D leading Starskey on a merry chase about the yard.

Dufus (the neighbor's Akita) had always been a daily visitor at our house, as had his mother before him.  He would come over daily to visit our Jack (a Jack Russell mix) and Missy (American Eskimo).  When Missy left us (at about age 15) Jack was kind of lost so welcomed visits from Dufus.  Jack, however, had been Missy's eyes for her last two years and as her caretaker (and 10 year partner) he was kind of jobless when she passed.  We lost Jack in December 2009 to age and grief I think.........but Dufus continued to visit daily and check on us.

Dufus was delighted when Starskey arrived.  He kept a respectful distance for the first few days.  Starskey was a dwarf next to the height and size of an Akita but Dufus was patient and gave Starskey some time to settle in and then he introduced himself.  Talk about a Mutt and Jeff pair - these were the two.  Dufus would lay on the ground and let this puppy crawl all over him and then they would roll around together and lay facing each other playing their own version of Rock/Paper/Scissors.  Starskey was in heaven to have somebody to actually roughhouse with - and Dufus was a very gentle giant of a friend.  I'll have to find some pictures of them together.

Dufus still comes over every morning to see if Starskey has come home yet.  He is often here again in the evening, just to check - especially if he has heard the van come or go.  He knows how much Starskey loves a car ride! 

The pack is here waiting for you Starskey - it is time to come home............


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ringing the bell.....

So how do you go about house training a puppy when you have never had to do that before?  The first suggestion is to get your puppy with some friends who are already house trained and can show him the ropes, so to speak.  After about 2 weeks at my daughter's house with her two dogs to help - we had a pretty good start on things.  He went out when they went out and he did what they did and then they all sniffed each others jobs and barked to come back in.  Loves and atta-boys were given all around.  This wasn't going to be too tough.

Now my daughter has her pit trained to ring the bell hanging on the door when she needs out.  I don't think Starskey paid a whole lot of attention to that part of the training because he was just too busy running and playing and sniffing and napping.  He just followed the routine that Pokey and Pilot had and fit his own to that.  Therefore it became a bit of a challenge when we got back home and had to do it on our own.

I had a string of Christmas bells hanging on the doorknob of the back door.  That way I knew when someone came and went from the house if I was busy doing something.  One day I heard the bells while I was working on the computer and looked up to see no one at my door but the tom cat.  I thought maybe the sound had come from the TV so I just went back to work.  Then I heard the bell again only louder - and still no one around but Midnight.  I shook my head and went back to work.

The damn bell would not stop ringing and it finally got to be more then I could continue to ignore.  I got up and walked over to the door to make sure it was closed and the wind wasn't making it move enough to ring the bells.  It was shut tight.  Midnight looked up at me and meowed so I leaned over and scratched his head then went back to my desk to go back to work again.  The damn bell rang again!

Now I know I have a ringing in one ear from a bonk on the head I got several years ago - but this was a bell and it wasn't in my head.  I stood by that door looking at those bells and dared them to ring again.  A slim black paw reached up and batted the bells then batted my hand.  Could that be it?  Was the cat ringing the bells?  The bells rang again and Midnight meowed and pawed my hand.  I reached out and turned the door knob and his nose was in the crack before I could even get it open.  I opened it up and out he went.........Okay - that was a lucky guess!!!

The bell rang many more times after that and each time the ring was followed by a meow or Midnight was patting me with his paw to pay attention to him.  Smart cat to train himself to ring a bell to get let out when he wanted out.  What was even smarter was that he began to knock on the window when he wanted back in.  Apparently I don't hear "Meow" very well through a closed window so he figured out another way to get my attention.

So now we come to my half trained puppy that I can't let run around outside all by himself all day and who needed a way to let me know when he needed to go outside if I got too busy to notice "the signs" in time to get him outside before an accident occured.  Hey - I have bells on my door and he just spent a couple of weeks with Pokey so surely he knows what the bell is for.......well almost.  Good thing there is no rug by the door because - well, we were both still learning.......

I began to set a timer and every hour I would take him to the door and try to get him to ring the bell.  He would watch me, cock his head and lift one ear and think "how kool" and just sit there.  After a few minutes of bell education I would just open up the door and take him outside.  I'd sit in the porch swing while he sniffed and rolled and wiggled and all those fun puppy things until he finally went potty.  Then we went back in the house and I set the timer again.  He chewed on his toys, scratched his tummy on the carpet and took a little nap.  The timer would go off and we would start bell ringing class again.........with pretty much the same results each time.

After a few days of this I began to notice that he would go sit by the door from time to time.  I took this to mean progress - Yeah!  He would go to the door and I would go to him and try to get him to ring the bell.  Still got the same puzzled look from him over the bell but when I gave up and just opened the door he bolted out and wasted less time getting his job done.  We were making progress after all......I think anyway.

Well that day does come when I am working on the computer typing up meeting minutes or something and I see Starskey go to the door.  He sits facing the door and turns his head to look in my direction.  Yes, sir Mr. Starskey - I do see you.  Please ring the bell if you want out so I don't have to stop in the middle of a sentance.....instead I hear a whimper.  I spring in to action and I go to the door and ring the bell and then open it for him.

By this time he has figured out that the door does not open unless that bell rings first.  Now that is major......really!  I go outside later to sit in the swing while he plays with his football and drags the branches out of the weeds and finds out that the grass along the edge of the pond has things that jump in it.  He is so funny to watch.  When he is sufficiently tired we go back in for his nap.

Later I see he is sitting by the door again.  I am in the middle of a really good article but I get up and go over to the door.  I pick up his paw and I touch the bells with it.  He looks at them and at me and just sits there.  I pick his paw up and touch the bells again and again he just looks at me and sits there.  Now along comes Midnight (still bigger then Starskey) who looks at both of us just standing there and he reaches out his paw and rings the bells.  I nod and open the door and let him out and close the door again.  Starskey just looks at me, then at the door and then at me like he can't believe I just did that and didn't let him go out too.  And then I heard the bell ring as he stretched out his neck and just barely touched the bells with his I smiled and opened up the door and let him out too.

Just goes to show you what kind of a dog trainer I am.......It took the blasted cat just one demonstration to teach him what I had spent a couple of weeks trying to do.  And it only took that one time because from then on the bell rang when it was time to go out for either of them.  I am just glad that Starskey did learn to bark to come back in.  His paws were sort of big to be knocking on my window!


Starskey - Come Home

Well I was ready to start at the beginning this morning - with when Starskey picked me.....but last night we got a phone call.  Yeah, another hopeful sighting only this time the dog was in hand.  Jeff took the call so all I could do was look on with that huge question in my eyes and my heart beat on hold......Jeff sounded hopeful too when he hung up and told me that Jeromy would call back after he checked the dog's markings and the tags.  Yeah, this one still had tags on.

Okay, my heart can beat again but I am not sure that I could breathe until the next call came.  Close but no Starskey......the tags were from a vet office in a town 20 miles away.  How did he get clear up here?  At any rate the fellow was kept inside until a vet check today to try to connect him back up with his owners........I can't even cry sad tears!  I can cry mad ones because it wasn't Starskey but I can't cry the sad ones - something just won't let me give up.  Maybe his story will let you know why........

Starskey, his mom, aunt and a brother were all owned by a friend of my daughter.  We happened to go to that friends house one day because he was getting ready to move and was selling some things she thought I might be interested in.  Oh did he have interesting things....I picked up cast iron pots for camp cooking, a rocking chair, table covers for my booth displays at craft shows and stuff.  Also got a couple of folding wooden indoor clothes my Mom used to have.  There was more but I needed Jeff to come back to okay the rest.

We walked near the house and this little black furry thing came wiggling out of a hole in the fence and came bounding over to me.....yes - straight to me!  I picked the little fellow up and received abundant kisses while somebody plugged up the whole in the fence before anyone else found it.  We all continued to talk and after he settled down some I put Starskey down.  He sat on my foot.  We walked a few feet to look at some things behind the garage and he walked between my feet.....sat down beside me and stayed there. 

I put him back in the yard behind the fence when I had to leave and he just gave me that "look" and whimpered as I walked away.  I had not planned to get a puppy that day and no one had intentionally set me up for it either.....except maybe my daughter.  I returned the next day with Jeff and the other purchases were approved  as well as some shelving picked out for the garage.  There was one little puppy barking (if you could call that squeak a bark) at the fence.  Jeff asked if that was the pup I told him was so cute......well - yeah!

Jeff reached over the fence and picked him up, receiving a big welcome kiss and lots of love himself.  He looked at me and I looked at him and that was that.  Starskey would come home with us too, but not before we got a place for him to sleep that was more suited to his size.  Our doghouses were all quite large.  It just so happened that there was such a facility available as well.  It needed a little repair but would work fine to start out with.............The white 5 point star on Starskey's chest meant that the name his mom's owner had given him was going to stick and off we went with a loaded truck and new pack member.

We had never had such a little fellow before so we had some learning ahead of us!  It was April and the weather was warm enough for him to be outside days and inside at night.  He took to his new home right away.  His only problem was that black tom cat that was bigger then he was and it wouldn't play with him....just sat and looked at him from a perch too high for Starskey to get to anyway.  I am not sure that Starskey ever really figured out that the black cat wasn't bigger then him anymore...but the cat knew it and teased him anyway....staying just out of reach.

Starskey's early days were spent in an area that included the back deck, some yard and an over sized doghouse full of pillows to snuggle in.  He would lay on an insulated pad and sun himself between excursions through the day lilies, wood pile and yard.  His very favorite things to do was to ride on the porch swing and take walks.  He would lay on my lap on the swing but not for long periods of time....he had things to do.  He pulled the sticks from the wood pile, rolled in the day lily leaves, chewed on anything he could find and did just about anything else that suited his fancy.  In the evening he would sleep, exhausted, at our feet or in front of the fireplace (that might be going on a chilly night) until we put him to bed in his house kennel with his teddy and a treat.

Yes, you did read that right - his teddy.  His first night at our house he was exhausted.  The second night he realized he didn't have a brother, mother or aunt to snuggle and he cried.  I found a Care Bear teddy in the grand kids old toy box and put it in bed with him.  That was all it took.  Care Bear no longer has eyes or much of a nose but he is still the bed partner.  There is another teddy at the camper that is also still in pretty good shape.  Apparently bed partners are more sacred then other stuffed toys because the others got destroyed with great relish.

Like I said - we had never had a dog this little before so we were learning right along with him.  Having been raised on a farm Jeff had never had a dog that was allowed in the house.  I had been raised with dogs in and out, but mostly out - because we were in the country too.  The decision to let Starskey become a house dog was a big one for Jeff and limits were still set.   Our floors are covered in dog cushions and beds for him, since he was not allowed on upholstered furniture.  He did find that camp chairs and the deck chairs were comfortable and okay for him so he made use of all of them.

When he grew tall enough to get his paws up on the porch swing great fun began....well it was fun for us but I am sure that it was great frustration for him as the swing would move away from him before he could get his back half on it.  After a couple of attempts he would either resign himself to lay under it or he'd go find a deck chair that didn't move.  A morning swinging session was the rule for the two of us.  I would hold the swing steady as he learned how to get himself up on it and then we would sit and swing and cuddle for as long as he was able to keep from getting distracted by a squirrel or a frog or something that needed checked in to.

The bell story will be next.......


Friday, March 18, 2011

He is still Missing

I woke up about 5:00AM this morning.  My mind was swirling.  My blankets were being held down by our senior black cat (Spook) on one side and by her daughter (Booger) on the other.  Normally that is a warm, safe and comfortable feeling - but this morning it felt different.  Not a trapped feeling but a lonesome feeling.  I tried to go back to sleep but couldn't. 

I have always had hope of finding Starskey but I have also been prepared to find him dead in the ditch - but he is not to be found anywhere.  I almost would prefer to have that closure then this feeling of uncertainty and limbo.  I have never felt that he was dead and even when I felt prepared to find him in that condition - something told me that was wrong and that he was alive, but I had to look in those places anyway - just to be sure.

The thing that we found so distinguishing about him (the white 5 point star on his chest) has become just a white mark in the eyes of others.  Do you have any idea how many black dogs there are with a white mark on their chest?  I only know about the ones in about our 4 county area and the ones listed as lost on the internet.....and I can see why we are still receiving calls of sightings of our Starskey.  I am so greatful to all of the people who are trying so hard to help us recover him but I am so frustrated.

My husband says I have become possessed.  Maybe I have.  I still get meals fixed, the house cleaned and the other stuff needing done is done - but I spend hours on the computer checking websites for FOUND dogs that might be Starskey and sharing reports of other lost dogs so that their owners might not have to suffer this prolonged uncertainty.  It makes me feel better most of the time but it also makes me sad to know how many lost and needing pets are out there.  I almost get mad when I read a post about a reunited pet and family - because I want that for myself so badly.

I've had dreams of how to prevent this from happening again.  In those dreams we are putting up all the fences that we tore down when we bought this farm 30 years ago.  I see myself restraining Starskey in ways that we have never restrained any pet that we have had in the past.  Yes, we have used cables and a small outdoor kennel over the years - but they were for short term and emergency situations.....that is not how our pets were made to live.  They ran free and roamed our property (and part of the neighbors) but they knew where home was, where they were loved and they always came when called. 

Starskey had only left home once, for more then a bounce through the tall grass across the road.  He went garage saleing with the Akita one day.  He got 3/4 of a mile down the road.  When the neighbor called me - I went and got him and he spent the rest of that day in that outside kennel.  As far as I know - he never did that again and never even crossed the road unless we were outside where he could see us.  At least that is what I want to think......but he always came running when called and always was right there when I went out the door - until that day in December when he went out and just vanished.

I have come to believe that he was picked up or stolen.  He was such a charming fellow and he loved a car ride so any open car door was an invitation.  It is just that with so much local publicity and so much effort on our part - I just can't believe that someone hasn't heard that we are looking and that we want him back home.  We didn't kick him out - we let him out to go to the bathroom..........

I see in my Facebook news that some people are reporting their dogs stolen and finding them listed for sale on the internet or recovering them because somebody sold them and the buyer had them vet checked and found the ID chip.  That is really scary!  As charming as he is Starskey is just a mix breed without the ability to pass his genes on - so what other reason would someone want a year old pup?  Maybe I don't want to know all the answers to that question....but why Starskey and why in the corn fields and snow drifts of Iowa when there are so many more in other places?  

I know - playing "what if" doesn't help any.  Getting it off my chest does though.  Like I said - my husband thinks I am possessed and he doesn't want to talk about all of it anymore - to me at least.  I do hear him telling other people about Starskey and of how hard we have looked and are still looking......I guess that is the bottom line - the uncertainty is killing us both but we just can't talk about the "feelings" with each other anymore.  That hurts because, without evidence to the contrary, I have to believe he is alive. 

Okay - I know where I am going next with this.  I am going to tell you all about the wonderful little puppy that picked me to be part of his pack - and about the 9 months that I was allowed to be a part of his life.  I'll be back.................