Friday, September 11, 2009

We have a new addition!

For those of you that don’t know we lost our dog Link. Last fall while we were gone to Texas and Madagascar respectively, Link decided to heed the call of the wild. Interestingly, Link came into our lives seven years ago about the time I started asking to have children. Initially Jeff thought he could stave off the ticking of the biological clock by giving me a puppy to look after. Many years and two kids later, Link decided to leave. After a lengthy period of mourning we decided that it was time to get a new dog. This decision also came due in large part to Leif acting like a puppy. He started getting bowls out of the cabinet and asking for his juice to be put on the floor so he could lap it up. The first few times this was cute…then it got plain weird. He began talking about dogs and puppies incessantly. Things got so bad we had to cut him off from watching Clifford.

Danny and Gail Presley, our good friends knew we were looking for a dog. They have quite a menagerie themselves, made up of schnauzers, cows, horses, Australian shepherds, chickens, and a few cats. So, when Gail called me from Anchorage saying she had found us a dog I wasn’t as skeptical as I normally would have been. This is my first dog that someone else has picked out. She said over the phone that her daughter, who works at an animal shelter, had a four month old Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix female. I asked Jeff what he thought and the next thing I knew we had dog being delivered via Danny’s airplane in a few days time.

As soon as Leif heard we were getting a dog he fell deathly silent and looked down at the floor. His dad didn’t know what to make of this. Leif looked up and had tears in his eyes as he said, “Really?” Then a grin the size of Alaska spread across his face. “That’s awesome!” he exclaimed. This of course made us cry as well.

Then the name game began. Leif wanted to name the dog Clifford when he overheard his daddy talking to Gail on the phone. Gail told us she was red, blonde and white. Leif heard ‘red’ and thought he was getting a big red dog that needed to be named Clifford. It took us a while to explain that our dog was going to be a girl and Clifford was a boy’s name. He then wanted to name the dog, ‘Auden’ after his best friend. It took some convincing but we finally settled on just plain, ‘Red’.

Red ended up being too big to fit in the plane so her arrival was delayed a few days, but when she finally arrived Leif was ecstatic. He brought her in the house and showed her around. After a few minutes of running and chasing, Leif stopped and breathlessly exclaimed to the dog, “Red, I wuuuuv you!”

She is a great dog. Aside from the normal jumping up, she is pretty gentle with the boys. Very smart and attentive…I think she speaks English. When kenneled she initially began to whine, so I told her, “Red, we aren’t going to whine.” She gave one last whimper and then stopped. The other night she began barking so I let her out. She was barking because she heard a new vehicle in the driveway. She stood guard on the front porch while looking out at Jeff in the plow truck. “That is your daddy, no need to bark,” I told her. She immediately settled down and started wagging her tail.

Like adding the perfect garnish to make a dish complete, so is having a dog for a young family. Red is just the garnish we needed to make life pleasant. Not to mention, she makes me feel less outnumbered.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

I Killed My First Moose

For those that know me well, know that I like to hunt. Since my career as a momma began, hunting has taken a short hiatus, except for the occasional evening dove hunt when in Texas. The main reason for the hiatus is due to the nature of hunting big game in Alaska. Here hunting moose typically involves a week at what people call “moose camp”. One gets to moose camp by many hours atop a four-wheeler or horse. This is quite impossible with an infant. However, who needs a week at moose camp with a 30.06 when you can easily off one with an F250?

Last night as I was driving home from the movies I noticed that it was the time of day when moose might be out. It was dusky dark (about 9:30 pm). Just as I flipped on my high beams I saw a wall of hide ahead of me. A large cow and her two yearling twins were crossing the road at a quick clip. I jammed on the brakes sending my bowl of left over popcorn flying (at the movie theater here you bring your own bowl and they fill it up for a dollar, needless to say you end up with ample left over popcorn). I swerved and missed the momma and the first calf. I nailed the third one square in the back right hind quarter. This yearling calf’s back was a few inches taller than the hood of our F250. Luckily the west Texas manufactured “cow catcher” of a grill saved both me and the truck.

I pulled over and looking into my rear view mirror noticed that the calf’s back was broken, but it was struggling to get up with its front legs. In a panic I called Jeff to see where the “truck pistol” was. Unfortunately, he had taken it out. He told me to call the troopers. When I called the troopers the dispatcher first asked if I was okay and then if the animal was still alive. I said ‘yes’ and that an angry looking cow was standing sentry by the road. I have heard of irate momma cows charging both man and vehicle in defense of a dying calf. I wasn’t about to get out of the truck alone. She asked if I could “dispatch the animal and drag it off of the road.” “Dispatch!” I thought… is she really asking me to shoot this calf? What kind of back woods crazy place do I live in?!!! As she is giving me instructions I look in the rearview mirror and the poor thing has finally expired. I tell her, “No need, it just died.” “Well, then please drag the moose off of the road, set a flare out and we will call the next person on the road kill list. What mile are you at?” she asks. “Here is your case number for you to fill out your participant accident form,” she informs me. I grab a napkin and write down the case number.

I hang up and notice I am shaking. How am I going to drag this 200 lb. “baby” off of the road I think to myself? About then I see car headlights approaching from the rear and the south bound lane. The car pulls up behind me and a lady about my age gets out. “You okay?” she asks. About then the other car has pulled over and a man is getting out. The gal informs me she is an EMT and he is a first responder. We get some rope and they drag the calf off the road while I get the flare. I slay my first moose and take off for home in a matter of minutes.

The very large pipe bumper and grill were completely bent back unto the hood of the truck, but the truck runs fine (I never get the courage to go over 45 mph) as I complete my journey home. The next day Jeff uses a neighbor’s bull dozer to put the bumper back in place. The only damage was a superficial 2 inch crinkle in the hood, some cracked plastic on the grill, and a serious decrease in the blood lust that once defined me. I don’t know if it is having two babies of my own or the fact that I annihilated a goofy yet beautiful animal with a two ton truck, but I cried the whole way home with only the conciliation of the momma having had twins.