Thursday, September 25, 2008

Gibby was MUD from toes to tail

I think Gibby thought he was in heaven today. I had to walk the farm with a timber cruiser, and Gibby went along. He ran and ran and ran. At one point, I was afraid we'd be in trouble - the timber cruiser and I spooked up a deer, a small doe. The doe ran parallel to our path for a minute, then crossed in front of us and ran into "The Lurker's" woods. (The Lurker is a man who used to lurk in the bushes around one of my training areas. One day I was giving riding lessons to a group of little girls and a couple of them whispered to me that there was a man hiding in the bushes. Of course, I went right after him, using my Fifth Grade Teacher supervising playground voice and he scrambled backwards out of the bushes and made a fast dash for his own property. I was still giving him verbal what-for when he reached the corner of his own woods, and he turned and said, "I wasn't hunting", half a dozen times. There he is in camouflage clothes with his bow and arrows under his arm, and he says he's not hunting! I informed him that anyone lurking in my bushes and not hunting must be a pervert hiding there to watch little girls - and I said I was calling the police immediately. He was immediately gone. He has been called "The Lurker" ever since and I no longer remember his real name.)

Gibby came back from one of his forward forays and caught the deer scent. A deer colored dog chasing deer in this country would be shot, no second chance. So, we yelled his name, I yelled NO, the timber cruiser has two rottweilers and a strong, I AM THE BOSS, tone, and he yelled, "come here", and, unbelievably, Gibby left the scent and came to us. Whew! I don't think I have ever pulled a dog off a deer scent before. My old shaggy black dog, Shady, had been smuggled out of another county because she had a death sentence for being a deer chaser, and brought to me - to my farm where I could easily count 96 deer in the hayfield on a summer evening. She survived to very old age, but never stopped chasing deer.

Gibby loved the hay field, he ran and leaped and ran some more, but I think he loved the woods even more. He followed scent trails back and forth and covered the whole woods before I could get over the fallen tree near the entrance. Luckily, some of the ancient old fence was still up enough that Gibby ran into it and turned back into the woods. He found the mucky area near the back corner and ran up to us from there with black goo oozing from his toes all the way up to mid body and looked like a very happy dog. A few minutes later, he came back clean again. Then he did it all over again - covered with black goo, then washed clean. The third time, I had finally walked to the right spot and saw him rinse himself off in big clear puddle - what a clever dog!

I learned that the Emerald Ash Borer has been active in my woods. Lots of dead Ash trees. The Ash are so like the Walnut that I had thought they were just young walnut trees. I suspect there are no live Ash trees in my woods anymore. I lost a whole species of tree a few years ago when my front woodlot was all Elm and they died off. Surprisingly, a young elm sprung up in the middle of my front yard and is now about thirty feet tall. I think the Dutch Elm Disease must have died out and somehow this volunteer tree might survive. I'm not particularly fond of Elm trees, even though they lined the streets where I grew up, because their leaves are tough and rough like sandpaper when you drive the lawn mower around the tree and run into the low hanging branches - but I have great respect for that brave survivor.

The timber cruiser wanted to zig zag through the woods and check out more trees, so I headed back to the barn yard. I had way over walked what my legs could do and I wasn't sure I could even get back without having to sit and rest for a long time. I was quite surprised that Gibby didn't stay in the woods but came with me. He didn't stop running, but he kept me in sight. I had to stop a number of times to rest, but he didn't leave me behind.

When we got back, I went inside to wash, and Gibby spent about five minutes rolling in the grass. When the timber cruiser returned, Gibby was sound asleep on his back, all of his paws in the air. I said, "Gibby, do you want a drink?", and Gibby ran right into the dog pen to his water bucket. I think he is a genius.

When Mother and I came back several hours later at feeding time, I thought Gibby would be tired and subdued, but he was ready to run again. Mother gave him the supreme compliment, she said, "I think your new dog is another George."

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