At Freedom Park summer 2010

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.