A stray in black and white

When Leah and I were driving home from the grocery store on Saturday a dog was running in the middle of Huffaker Road. We stopped and eventually coaxed him to us. It was a small-to-medium-sized, black and white male, probably a pitt or pitt mix. He was just on the edge of maturity with a lot of puppy left in him — so much puppy, in fact, that he peed on my shoe.

He was such a frantically energetic dog that we decided we couldn’t take him home to terrorize the cats, plus we had no way to keep him out of the weather outside. So Leah took our groceries home and I stayed with the dog, trying to call some contacts with rescue groups. I used my belt as a leash; clearly the dog had never been on a leash.

I called three rescue contacts plus a neighbor. The neighbor couldn’t help because they had just taken in another stray to add to their large pack. The rescue contacts recommended taking him to the pound. In the past that would have been an almost certain death sentence, but these days the rescue groups are saving almost 100 percent of the unclaimed dogs at our local pound. I had already called the pound four times with no answer before one of the rescuers I called told me they don’t answer the phone on weekends.

I didn’t want to take the dog in our car, but Leah is not comfortable driving our big truck. So she came back with the car. I rode in the back seat with the dog. This was an excited dog. When it wasn’t licking my face it was chewing on my jacket. When it wasn’t chewing on my jacket it was humping a canvas tarp we put in the back seat. Squirming constantly. Wiggling. Whining. Climbing onto me. I can only imagine what it must have looked like to people in the cars we passed.

The city and county have built a new pound which, fortunately for us, is about half as far away as the old pound. As it was we made it to the pound about 15 minutes before they closed. And they took him away to hold for 72 hours before they release him to a rescue group. It’s a relief not to feel like we have only two choices, either to take a stray in, feed it, house it and try to find a home for it; or to leave it to fend for itself in a cruel world. Now these wonderful people in the rescue groups do all the hard work.

Leah liked this dog. If we didn’t already have three, she said she would have wanted to keep  him.

It’s just barely possible that he was not dumped. He was wearing a collar but the tag had been torn off, and it wasn’t near any houses. Based on how reluctant it was to get out of our car at the pound, I suspect that it was forced out of a car right where we found it, and it didn’t want to repeat that experience. I’m probably reading more into his behavior that there really was, but I think part of the reason he was so excited in the car was that he was relieved to have been taken in after having been abandoned. Who knows?

It’s not at all uncommon to see abandoned dogs and cats on Huffaker Road and Fouche Gap Road. As I mentioned, one of our neighbors had just recently taken one into their own house. Coincidentally, the first car that came along after we stopped also stopped and slowly pulled up to us. It was driven by a man that I had talked to one day when he saw me walking the dogs. They, too, had only recently taken a stray into their home.

I suppose that in the greater scheme of things, abandoning dogs and cats ranks pretty low among all the despicable things that we do. But I hate it.


We received a little over four and a half inches of rain from January 18 to Sunday, January 23, the most we have received in a very long time over such a short period. We got just over three of those inches Sunday. Of those three inches, a large amount fell from the time Leah and I tried to get into our car to go for some dinner and the time we got out about a half an hour later. This was the result in the front yard.

I had spent some time spreading wheat straw and digging trenches to try to channel the water away from the leach field. That was generally successful, but I need to do more between the leach field and the driveway.

The lighter straw covers a repair to the septic drainage components. Ours is a very shallow conventional system. Someone drove over the very first section of drain field chamber, which crushed it and caused water to soak the area around it. I had marked the leach field with stakes, plastic tape and a sign but that apparently was not enough to keep one of the contractors off of it.

The heavy rain we got Sunday evening was the from same storm that caused several deaths from a tornado in South Georgia. Fortunately, all we got was rain and straight-line wind. I was tracking the rain on my weather radar app and it was obvious why we got so much rain. There was a large area of circulation that didn’t move for a long time. It looked like a tropical storm.

These three images are from a sequence starting around 9:25 pm.

I looked for a way to animate the radar sequence but couldn’t figure out how to do it. I had to settle for grabbing a few shots in the sequence. There was a clear rotation around a center not far from our house.

More rain is predicted for Wednesday of this week but conditions are supposed to be clear for about a week after that. Some time during the clear weather I hope to do some more work in the front yard before everything washes away.

But I’m not complaining. We desperately needed the rain. We had dropped out of the “exceptional drought” condition down one level to “extreme drought” as of last week. The next drought map comes out later this week. Maybe we’ve improved.

Dog gone again

I took the dogs out for an evening constitutional around 9 pm Tuesday. I just walk them about halfway down the driveway when it’s dark, but that was far enough that Zeke smelled/heard something on the far side of the yard and took off. When I stepped off the driveway onto the newly-laid wheat straw, I couldn’t keep my footing and hold on the leash at the same time, so Zeke got away. He disappeared into the darkness of the woods. I suspect that it was a fox, because the night before we had seen glowing eyes and peaked ears directed towards the house from the edge of the yard.

I dropped Sam’s leash at the same time he tried to follow Zeke, but when I accidentally stepped on his leash and he felt the tug, he stopped immediately. Good dog! Lucy was oblivious. I couldn’t follow Zeke with the two other dogs, so I had to wait until I got them back into the house. At that point, all I could do was get into the truck and cruise around. I went down both sides of the mountain and up to both ends of Lavender Trail. No sign of Zeke. I did the same drive two other times before we went to bed with no better luck.

Of course I went out a few times and called, but I never expected him to come back to a call. He doesn’t respond to calls when he’s rampaging.

This off-leash excursion was different from all the many past ones. In all of those cases, Zeke has never spent the night outside. Leah and I both feared the worst. I imagined that he had been hit by a car and his body was lying somewhere in the dark off the side of the road. Or maybe he ran deep into the woods and snagged his leash on something, hanging himself. From past experience, I knew he barked when he was caught by the leash in the woods, and there was no barking that night or the next morning. Or maybe he just followed the fox too far into the woods and was lost. It happens.

The next morning I walked Sam and Lucy to the end of the driveway. I halfway expected to see Zeke down on the road (hopefully looking suitably chastened), but no. I noticed an SUV turn down Wildlife Trail in front of our old house, but I didn’t think much about it. As we walked back up the driveway, I heard a woman’s voice asking if I was looking for a dog. Zeke was in the back of her SUV.

She said her daughter had been driving across the mountain at a little after 10 and found Zeke walking down Fouche Gap Road. She stopped and picked him up — Zeke never met a stranger and has willingly jumped into other people’s cars on other occasions. So Zeke spent the night at these people’s house. Fortunately, the woman and I had met before so she had at least an inkling of where we might live. It turned out she had driven up to me and dogs as we tried to figure out what to do with another dog that was wandering around the mountain. She vaguely remembered me and I vaguely remembered her.

So it was all good in the end, although I doubt that Zeke learned anything from this incident.

In other dog news, Lucy may be getting old. She has been balking at going for our morning walks. This is the way she crosses the kitchen on the way out to the garage.

She sets her feet and slides across the floor. Once she accepts that she’s not sleeping in, she starts walking and doesn’t seem to have any problems. Unfortunately, not wanting to walk is not the only possible sign of aging. She also seems to be incontinent, or at least very careless about where she relieves herself. She has soaked her own bedding, and on Wednesday apparently soaked a spot bigger than herself in a new bed we had just brought home for Sam. I’m hoping it isn’t a sign of something more serious than just aging, although that would be bad enough. If it happens again, a visit to the vet will be in order.

Sunrise, sunset

I rushed to grab my iPhone Wednesday morning to get a shot of the sunrise.

These last only a few minutes and I was in the bedroom, where I keep my phone by the bed. If I had taken the time to get the camera, it would have been a different sunrise. I wonder how different the shot would have been with the camera. Better? About the same?

Later towards sunset, which we can’t see from our house, I looked towards the east to see what I could see. How about pink virga?

This was so late that the sky was dark just a few minutes later. I used my new Olympus camera for this shot.

Thursday evening Leah went onto the porch to check on the cats. She urgently called me to come out to see the moon rising from behind the mountain.

This is a fairly long exposure, probably a second or more. I swapped to a telephone lens on my camera, so I had to prop the camera on the porch railing. Several shots were blurred, but this one turned out OK. A tripod would have worked better, but moonrises are fast, just like sunrises, and getting it out would have taken so long that the shot would have been gone. As it was, I missed the shot with the moon just peeking over the ridge line.


Today, January 12, 2017, would have been my mother’s 94th birthday. She died almost four years ago shortly after her 90th birthday and pretty close to 13 years after my father died. I posted a picture in 2013 of her, Leah, my brother and some of his family at a Japanese restaurant we took her to for her birthday celebration.

Over the years since my parents died they have become younger. Not young, but at a younger old age, after they retired and before they became too infirm to travel. The saddest part of their old age was their declining health. Sometimes when I think of them and wish they were still here, I realize that long before today neither one of them would be healthy and strong enough to even want to be here. It’s like they were given a few extra years and then robbed of the value of those years.

So the best thing for them and for me is to hold them in my memory. That way they are safe from any further insults the world might want to throw their way, at least for as long as I am alive and can think clearly. Once my brother and I are gone, they will be pretty much gone, too. I doubt that either of their grandchildren (my nephews) think much about them or, for that matter, even remember that much about them. So much the worse for them.