Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘dog

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

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

Asher Digs

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It is no surprise to learn that Asher digs after the scent of critters in the ground similar to the way our previous dog, Delilah did. Since the digging done by dogs is so destructive to our lawn areas, we spend a lot of energy discouraging digging in the grass. However, when on walks through the woods, I like to give a dog the chance to exercise their natural instinct. Yesterday, Asher plowed after something his nose told him was there.









His efforts failed to produce any reward, but like Delilah many times before, that didn’t seem to matter. He just returned to the trail and we resumed our walk along the perimeter of our property.

Within a day or two of getting Asher home last week, Cyndie and I noticed he was adjusting to our regular routine more than we were changing our days to accommodate him. It’s another sign for me that he will be a good fit for the kind of pet we would like to have. After a bit of whining yesterday, he settled down for a good chunk of time in our outdoor kennel while we worked nearby. Cyndie was planting in her produce garden and I did my core strength and stretching exercises.

I recently read a recommendation that yoga routines can be enhanced by doing them outdoors and our philosophy of promoting the health benefits of forest bathing seemed to boost the idea doubly for me. This week I have moved my planking and stretching outside beneath the branches of two large trees. I’ve also made a change to the time of day I start, which doesn’t feel like it fits my routine yet but does offer a chance to linger in bed for a bit after waking. Slowly getting out of bed feels like a BIG luxury that suits me, even though working out first thing in the morning has always been my preference.

There are a few details I hadn’t considered when thinking it would be great to be outside. The mosquitos could become a problem and ants have already been a nuisance. The leaves aren’t completely opened yet so the sun was a little hard on my eyes yesterday. The ground not being perfectly flat is probably good in terms of adding difficulty for some balance routines but one particular bump interfered with keeping my back as flat as I wanted while stretching my hamstring muscles.

Speaking of new leaves opening up, I found this little specimen of baby oak leaves on the driveway beneath one of our biggest trees. They hardly got started and now it’s already over for them. That little sprig was about an inch across.

It’s sad to admit these brand-new leaves won’t even be missed. There won’t be a “bald spot” in the tree where they would have been. That tree will have more leaves than can be counted. At least we’ve given them worthy respect and have saved an image of them that will outlast all the rest of the leaves that survive them.

We are so very lucky to have all our trees. Looking up into the leaves when doing a cobra stretch is a great alternative to the ceiling of one of our rooms.



Written by johnwhays

May 11, 2023 at 6:00 am

Stormy Weather

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The day started reasonably enough yesterday. The ground is still pretty saturated, but I decided to give it half a day before trying to mow some of the areas that are most in need. Despite my decision to mow our grassy areas in April and May (as in not doing No-Mow-May), we aren’t entirely shortchanging the pollinating insects of wild blossoms.

The dandelions are all over our pastures and the horses are absolutely thriving on the access we’ve finally given them to graze to their hearts’ desire.

After lunch, I hopped on the zero-turn mower and tried tackling a few tricky spots. I give my performance a C-minus, but a significant portion of that low grade comes from the ground still being almost un-mow-ably wet. It doesn’t help that I’ve yet to master driving without excessively spinning a rear wheel as I try to maneuver.

An embarrassing number of muddy skids are present in almost all of the areas I tried to mow. Luckily, the grass will recover, the ground will eventually get dryer, and I will get better at driving with practice. The getting dryer part will probably take longer than the other two.

Last night as we were eating dinner and watching the PBS Newshour, the weather alert tones interrupted the show with a tornado warning for our county and a community just east of us. That was an unexpected surprise. The sky didn’t look the least bit threatening out our windows at the time. I immediately brought up a view of the weather radar on my laptop. Sure enough, there was one little spot of intense-looking weather happening very close, off to our east.

As time passed, that one spot slid south and morphed in a way that started to wrap around us. At that point, the skies did turn more ominously dark and big raindrops started to fall. I kept refreshing the radar view and saw new cells popping up all around us.

The best part of the whole night of stormy weather was the fact that Asher never paid any attention to what was going on outside. Our previous dog, Delilah would have started barking at the invisible monster before Cyndie or I heard the first rumble of thunder and she would have kept it up despite every trick we tried to calm her. The fact that Asher is not similarly bothered by thunder and lightning is bringing us immeasurable appreciation and satisfaction.

Almost makes me not care that he can’t be trusted to stay off our bed and the kitchen counters yet.

He does bark when someone shows up at the door but not at thunderstorms.

Perfect. Good dog, Asher.



Written by johnwhays

May 9, 2023 at 6:00 am

Playing Balls

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Not just one ball. Asher was holding one ball in his mouth while kicking another one around like he was in a game of soccer. I think he would be pretty good at futsal. The video below has a quality problem between 18-28 seconds. I apologize for my inability to solve the glitch. It plays fine on my computer but something must be failing during the upload.



I am thrilled that Asher can catch almost every throw I send his way, that is when he doesn’t have another ball already clenched in his jaws. We are going to have a lot of fun sporting around together.

Yesterday afternoon, I let go of his leash and let it drag in the grass as we killed some time in the backyard. I’m happy to see that he is showing promising signs of not being a flight risk when outside without being tethered. We will get a little bolder about experimenting with him once his identification tag arrives. If he takes off for one of our neighbor’s properties, we don’t want him to have the appearance of being a stray.

We’ve only had him here since Monday, so he won’t be familiar to folks around here yet.

Some of them may have heard a new bark resonating in our valley. We think we’ve discovered a trigger that upsets him. He doesn’t like being tied on a short leash. Even though we were near him, he yelped until we fixed the situation. He was more satisfied being loose in the house and watching us through the windows than finding himself tied near us outside.

I got the labyrinth mowed using the push mower and also did some other cutting with the new zero-turn mower. Navigating slopes did not go well for me. I need to start cutting differently than I used to.

The landscape is ready for World Labyrinth Day tomorrow (Saturday). Cyndie will be baking treats today in preparation. The only thing left to make it a perfect day is out of our control: The weather. Hopefully, the 50/50 chance of precipitation will be in our favor until later in the afternoon.

While mowing the pathway of our north loop trail, I came upon a pheasant standing fully exposed in broad daylight. He calmly walked away from me as the tractor approached him for about 5-10 yards before turning and heading into the brush for cover.

I learned it is impossible to take a hand off one of the steering levers to take a picture while the mower is still rolling along. Playing ball with Asher is much easier for me than steering a zero-turn mower.



Written by johnwhays

May 5, 2023 at 6:00 am