Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘Asher

Warping Time

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Yesterday disappeared in a flash of endless conversations, wonderful food, and quality time with our animals. Minutes whisked away like seconds which made hours swoosh past so fast we didn’t see them coming or going. Our friends, Pam and John, graced us with tales and photos from their two-month travels in India, loved up our new pup Asher, and spent some quality time getting to know our horses.

It was a great day to be outdoors since the dew point temperature was low and a breeze made the air quality a smidge better than it had been for the previous few days.

After trimming the tall grass and weeds along the rocks of the labyrinth on Tuesday, I ran the mower around the pathway yesterday before company arrived and was so dang pleased with how it looked, I stopped to take a picture.

Both of the Greenworks mowers we have do such a fabulous job of cutting grass it feels like a privilege to be able to use them. I can give the company a shout out for their customer service, too. The 5amp/hour battery that came with the blower we purchased mysteriously wouldn’t charge all of a sudden. After exhausting all troubleshooting options, I called to see about sending it back for repair.

They chose to replace it and didn’t need the bad one returned. In a matter of days, the new battery showed up and we were back in business, hassle-free. Thank you, Greenworks! Job well done.

I do not miss my old gas engine riding mower one bit, even though it did a great job for me before I switched to electric. The battery charge on my new mowers happens to be pretty good at warping time, too. So far, they are lasting much longer than I have needed to complete the areas I set out to cut. I was skeptical about how long the charge would last for the amount of cutting we need to do. They repeatedly exceed my expectations in that regard.

Recharge times are also quicker than I expected. Warping time at warp speed.





Written by johnwhays

June 8, 2023 at 6:00 am

Why Bother

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Feel like making a guess? What the heck do you think is happening here?

If it wasn’t already obvious, here’s a clue:

Yes, we are trying to dissuade Asher from drinking out of the landscape pond. Unfortunately, he will move right past a clean bowl of water to the pond and ignore the blockade by stepping through the reeds to lap up anyway.

I don’t know if my perception is accurate or simply a figment of my imagination, but the fact that Asher tends to drink from any puddle he comes upon no matter how gross it looks might be echoes from the life he led as a stray before being rescued. One morning we came upon tall grass that bent over our path due to the weight of water droplets from dew. Asher began licking the water droplets off the blades.

He lived in a foster home for six months and I’m confident they provided as much water from a bowl as he would ever want. It strikes me as odd that he shows this tendency to act like he must drink any water he comes upon.

Our pond is probably attractive because there’s just SO MUCH water but Cyndie puts chemicals in it to control algae and enhance pond health so we’d prefer he not automatically resort to this option whenever we are romping around in the backyard and he is off leash.

The way he moved past the patio furniture as if it wasn’t even there has me thinking I may not bother trying that again. We’d really rather not put up a fence but it may come to that for a while during the retraining period. Right up until the time we give up trying and put our energy toward more achievable dog obedience goals.

I was trimming tall growth around the rocks in the labyrinth yesterday and discovered the deer had chomped all but a few leaves of the hosta down there. I don’t know why we bother expecting it won’t happen this year. It happens all the time.

I asked Cyndie if they’ve eaten the ones up behind the house yet. Nope. One year, she tried putting some nasty smelling repellent on the hostas. It was bear or coyote pee or something like that. She doesn’t remember. We don’t know if it worked because it smelled so bad we quit walking around back there and never saw whether the plants got chomped or not.

We are now more inclined to use Irish Spring bars of soap or any other variety of scents we can tolerate.

Too late for the hosta in the labyrinth again this year.

Maybe I should have stacked some patio furniture around them.



Written by johnwhays

June 7, 2023 at 6:00 am

Successful Foal

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We learned yesterday that three of Mia’s nine foals are still racing and the last-born filly just won a race at Churchill Downs on Friday.

“Shes a Secret” is a three-year-old who ran to victory, making us all proud for Mia and her last baby. Mia’s former owners stopped by to see her and express their appreciation for This Old Horse taking care of their retired broodmare. They told us that Mia was a very good mamma.

It was hot and muggy with miserable air quality due to smoke from Canadian wildfires and the horses were standing by our fans, stomping their legs to knock off biting flies. Not ideal conditions for hanging with the horses under the overhang. Cyndie noticed that Mia was really sweaty and wanted her to be looking her best when company arrived so she choreographed an opportunity for Mia to have better access to one of the fans.

Worked like a charm.

Mia posed for a few pictures and the visitors served up cool baby carrots for all the horses to celebrate the occasion.

I ducked out to check on Asher up at the house where Cyndie had left him with a bone to occupy him. He was doing fine but wouldn’t let that bone out of his mouth for nothin’. I put his vest on over the bone and we went out for a little walk. When he found a spot he liked, he dug a hole and dropped the bone in it. Then came the classic exercise of nosing dirt and leaves over the precious snack to save it for who knows when in the future.

He appears to have that natural instinct down perfectly well.

I am impressed with his ability to cope with the heat outside lately. He is such a hot bod and his dark color must really grab those sun rays fast, yet he soldiers on without complaint. Asher is quick to drink from our landscape pond, passing up perfectly good bowls of water to get there. He shows no hesitation about going back into the house where the floors are cool to lie on for naps.

There was no napping for me yesterday afternoon. I mowed grass around the barn to spruce up the place before our visitors arrived and failed miserably at avoiding the heat and bad air. I cooled off later by watching Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals on television.

With no prior favorite between the two non-hockey geographic location teams, I find myself leaning toward Vegas over Florida.

I won’t be placing any bets on it, though.



Written by johnwhays

June 6, 2023 at 6:00 am

Party Food

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Brunch was a treat at Hope Breakfast Bar yesterday. The restaurant had a wonderfully eclectic menu from which Cyndie selected the pina colada french toast that came with very festive-looking cotton candy on the side. Yeah. Made my teeth hurt just looking at it. The egg sandwich on an everything bagel was more to my liking.

After having just watched the final episode of Ted Lasso season 3, the giant “BELIEVE” on the wall behind our table was a welcome sight.

It was a little loud for conversation at the table but the overall experience was perfect for our family party. It had a very celebratory vibe. I don’t think the birthday girl felt old at all while consuming that sugar party on her plate.

I bailed on my plans to do any weed control in the simmering heat by the time we got home. The visible haze of poor air quality helped convince me less work would be more advisable. I played with Asher, instead. The birthday girl wanted a break from going out at all so I took the pup out for some off-leash time. After he bounded into the woods close to the house, we made our way down the backyard hill where he sprinted away again.

I busied myself pulling vines growing across the trail when I heard him bouncing through the brush and looked up to see a deer leaping through the trees. That wasn’t the dog I thought I had heard. A short while later, it was Asher making the noise, following the same path the deer had just run. It was pretty obvious what the deer was running from.

When we went down to feed the horses dinner, all four were still standing in front of the fans under the overhang. Later, as the sun was setting and Asher and I went out for one last walk, we found the horses finally making a party of the freshly cut back pasture.

I knew it wouldn’t take them long to get after the shortened blades for grazing. Everything in its time.




Written by johnwhays

June 5, 2023 at 6:00 am

Readjustment Required

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Four days away was enough to cause a bit of anxiety for Asher upon our return. He seemed happy to see us but he also showed signs of being less confident in himself upon readjusting to the differences in our routine as compared to the sitter’s. I’m guessing Mom and Dad are a little more strict about how things should go and Asher wasn’t quite ready for a return to that.

Tuesday night he spent more time whining in his crate than he did sleeping. Unfortunately, that meant Cyndie and I didn’t get the sleep we wanted, either. Asher rallied yesterday and showed his best self during a visit to the veterinarian for a checkup and some shots. The after-effects lasted a few hours during which he laid low and napped but then all of a sudden he was back to his old self and playing with his usual vigor.

I wish I recovered that quickly when I got my last shots.

The pup officially weighed in at 70 pounds. I’ll take that. It’s ten lbs. less than the unofficial weight we’d been given by the foster mom.

I’m curious to see how he does today in session three of our obedience training class. We are expecting the barriers between dogs to be pulled back which will mean many more distractions during the lessons.

When we got home from the lake on Tuesday, the labyrinth was first on the list for mowing.

The prolonged dry spell hasn’t slowed growth everywhere, particularly in our poison ivy patches. Some areas of lawn grass are turning brown but most others are just growing with less robust energy. Yesterday, I focused on mowing just the areas that grew the most.

I need to readjust to this sudden onset of hot summer weather. It’s the first day of June and we are getting mid-July heat and humidity. It has me wondering what it will be like when we get to July.



Written by johnwhays

June 1, 2023 at 6:00 am

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Asher Interviewed

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An idea was born through the miracle of modern technology and the wickedly wild unveiling of ChatGPT Artificial Intelligence answering questions with increasing believability. Maybe Chatbots could ask questions, too. Add to that idea the greatest new invention ever achieved, the ability to translate barking to text.

Asher was willing to participate in the bizarre experiment to see if it could work. He donned the high-tech brain wave reader and entered into a conversation with a computer that produced the following:

AI: Mr. Asher, can you hear me through the headgear?

Asher: Whoof!

AI: Somebody needs to turn on the translator.

Asher: You can call me Ash for short. This thing itches.

AI: It works! Okay, Ash, what do you think of your new home?

Asher: I think I could get used to this. These two hoomans seem like they like me. I think one is called, “What?” and the other one answers to, “You ready yet?”

AI: Do you think you will be able to train them?

Asher: Oh, yeah. I’ve got them going to a class in the big city where they practice and practice figuring out how to react to my every need. It’s wild because as they do their drills I get to eat non-stop treats. It can be exhausting but I’m able to take a nap while they pilot the go-fast machine back to our house.

AI: Are you getting used to all those acres of forest and field?

Asher: In fits and starts. Sometimes they free me from that dang leash and I can race after the tree rats that run rampant. The hoomans get all excited about it and try to convince me they’re called “skwerls.” The backyard is good for zooming but the hill tends to tire me out sooner than I like. If I don’t keep running the hoomans tend to take me back in the house. Not that it’s bad in there. Every time I roll a ball under the furniture they just give me a new one. I’ve got so many squeaky things to chomp on stashed around the place, I’ll never be able to destroy them all.

AI: Sounds like you are living a life of luxury.

Asher: Oh, it’s not all bully sticks and squeaking toys. The hoomans are outside every day working on something and their progress gets so pathetic I can’t help myself but help them out. Digging up diseased bushes? I can help dig. Planting new plants? I can dig those up, too. Cutting out dead branches? Oooh, I can chew ’em to bits.

AI: Our batteries are running low. Is there anything you want your humans to understand before we have to shut down the translator?

Asher: I’m sorry I chewed up both pads and both covers you guys put in my crate and the cool tapestry you had draped over it, too. It’s just… well, somethin’ has to give. When I get all riled up, I do what I do best… chew.




Written by johnwhays

May 31, 2023 at 6:00 am

City School

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We are enrolled in a dog obedience training series with Asher in St. Paul, MN. The guy gets a dose of the big city every Thursday and he seems more than capable of coping with sidewalks and city streets.

Asher showed no hesitation about adjusting to the city latrines that looked nothing like the trees and bushes he has become accustomed to at home. We are so proud of him.

The hour-long class has probably six other dogs and owners for Asher to ignore while we are trying to listen to the instructor and then practice the routines. It’s a misnomer to call it a dog obedience class because it is really a “hooman” obedience class teaching the time-tested tricks for establishing one-word commands.

You can lure a dog into the desired behavior with food but if you state the command while luring, that is a bribe. They don’t learn from a bribe.

Timing is everything. Commands are to be stated only once. If you repeat it, they tune it out. Successful responses to commands are met by a friendly “Yes!” and then a reward treat is given. For Cyndie and me, the chaos in the training room and the multiple repetitions of exercises lead to forgetting the command or repeating the command, taking too long to serve the treat, and too frequently forgetting the “Yes!”

Asher seems to be learning in spite of our inconsistencies.

The hour is rather exhausting for all of us.

The car ride home is pretty quiet.



Written by johnwhays

May 26, 2023 at 6:00 am

Telling Trail

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Our darling puppy was up to mischief while I was showering yesterday. When I opened the curtain I discovered a trail of evidence strewn across the floor. Somebody was nosing around in a waste basket where they weren’t supposed to be. Who would do such a thing?

Well, our little troublemaker wasn’t smart about hiding his tracks. Asher left behind a critical piece of evidence that gave away his presence.

On Monday, it will be three weeks since we brought home our adopted pup. Cyndie shared a graphic with me that refers to a general 3/3/3 guideline of the adjustment period for a dog after adoption. Three days to decompress/three weeks to learn our routine/three months to start to feel at home.

I didn’t really notice Asher needing to decompress during those first days, but I did wonder what he must be thinking about the change. He is definitely learning our routine and adjusting to it very well, for the most part. There have been several times when he has tested our boundaries. In a couple of months, he will feel at home and hopefully by that time he will have accepted all the boundaries we established.

Today, I am on another kind of trail. I will be joining some of my cycling friends for a ride on the Dakota Rail Regional Trail, heading west out of Wayzata. I need to get serious about putting in saddle time in advance of my annual expedition on the Tour of Minnesota which happens in the middle of June.

In just a couple of blinks, June will be here. I hope the ground dries up enough by then that I will be able to mow the areas I’ve been skipping because they’re too wet.

Here’s hoping the smoke from Canadian wildfires won’t make breathing difficult for bicycling today. I rarely find myself riding with friends at the beginning of my cycling season and I’m looking forward to the chance to visit with folks while pedaling along.

At least we finally have a weekend with pleasant weather to be outdoors without a raincoat.



Written by johnwhays

May 20, 2023 at 7:00 am

Obedience Training

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Asher’s first day of obedience training happened yesterday. Consistency and repetition will be a challenge for us but he is a smart enough dog I think he will find a way to overcome our shortcomings and get us wrapped around his paws in no time. The hour-long session was almost too much for my stamina but Asher did fairly well despite having ingested a meal’s-worth of treats by the end.

Some of the things we worked on were made a little more complicated by Asher’s historic pattern of behaviors and the variety of commands he’s already learned before coming to live with us. Still, the routines the trainer demonstrated produced results for us that will serve as a good foundation for the lessons to come.

Asher would perform the desired action but we were usually off in our deliveries of the gestures or verbal commands or treat rewards. He is definitely treat-motivated. Our challenge lies in effectively tying his behavior to our commands and not allowing him to figure out how to get treats by recognizing our unconscious signals and playing off of them.

We want him focused on our commands and not on the bag of treats.

One initial exercise that I found impressive was when the trainer said the word, “Puppy” and none of the dogs reacted. She then repeated the word but in a two-tone high voice like the “ding-dong” of a doorbell. I didn’t notice all the other dogs but Asher instantly turned his attention to her.

Asher already knows the “Sit” command but we made great strides in moving from that to having him lay down on his stomach at a “Down” command.

It quickly became apparent to Cyndie and me (when the trainer pointed it out) that we need to stop using “Down” when we are trying to get Asher off the couch or the bed or from putting his front paws on people’s shoulders. Using the word “Off” will become our goal.

Now all we need to do for homework is to practice today’s routines roughly a hundred more times in approximately 5-minute sessions throughout the week before next Thursday.

I’m trying to picture both Cyndie and me consistently delivering precise commands one hundred different times.




Written by johnwhays

May 19, 2023 at 6:00 am

Daily Improving

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Our new dog, Asher, is making great strides in learning the routines and commands we are trying to teach him. Keeping him off our bed is not 100% yet, but he is overcoming the urge to jump up more than he is giving in to it. One thing that helps clarify this rule is that neither Cyndie nor I hesitate to correct him. He definitely understands we don’t want him up on the bed, but he just can’t help himself from trying when his desire reaches irrepressible levels.

Yesterday, we successfully navigated two walks without ever tethering him with a leash. He pushed the limits of our comfort a couple of times by trotting off the path despite our commands to keep him close, but the excursions were short-lived and he did run back to us when we amped up our excitement about having him return.

That was very rewarding, especially when comparing the anxiety over the possibility of him dissing us entirely and disappearing. On the third walk of the day, he lost the off-leash privilege by ignoring our calls to return for far too long and heading a worrisome distance off our property into the neighboring woods. The leash is more for our peace of mind than punishment to him.

I don’t know if he perceives it that way or not.

We also had good success playing with him in the backyard while unleashed. He loves retrieving felt squeaky balls.



Big puppy energy in the house gets a little unnerving but outside on the back hill, he tires relatively quickly and his zoomies soon become walking after balls that we toss for him. That’s the point we are confident in the likelihood of him napping for a while after we get inside.

With Asher learning more every day, we are feeling very optimistic about how well he will eventually fit in with us to become the loyal and well-behaved dog we want him to be, for both our sakes.



Written by johnwhays

May 15, 2023 at 6:00 am