Monday, July 4, 2011


Chestnut is one of two remaining puppies left from the litter of Maple.  They sort of got stuck here at the beginning of Winter last year and adoption opportunities seem to wane at that time of year for some reason.  She and her brother Spruce have been living with me here at the habitat since birth.  Chestnut is a dog that has what appears to be low self esteem.  She is extremely loving and sweet but, becomes frightened at any unusual sound and will not stand up for herself against the other dogs.  The dogs can sense this and push her around, which she accepts.  However;  when taken to the meadows and the woods, a change occurs and she becomes a totally different little girl.

I will be moving shortly as soon as I can close on this property near Cherokee Lake and Spruce and Chestnut would have to spend their lives behind this fence here at the habitat in Greenback.  The proprietor of this property has, I think five dogs of her own, and would have room for both Spruce and Chestnut but, Chestnut would be harassed by the other dogs for sure.  They, being brother and sister, rely on each other.  Spruce couldn't go away because Chestnut would be alone here.  That's out of the question.  So, I'm trying to determine if it's viable for her to come with me. 
You may ask "whats the big deal;  just take her."
You have to understand my life style.  I will be on a state boat every day for work and when off the job;  I'll be in the woods or on the lake in my boat.  I will be ferrying Shade across expansive lakes to get to unpopulated shores and surrounding forests so that she may roam in safety.  We can not go where human habitation exists.  My dogs are required to swim;  not only for enjoyment but for safety.   A life jacket is no problem.  It's just a factor.  If she would tumble off the boat and I not see;  the prognosis of that occurrence is not good, even with a life jacket.  The lakes are small oceans over there.  She is not a large dog and would be difficult to see.
Chestnut's mother was a hound.  A noble dog!  Chestnut shares the traits of a hound.  Even her bark is a "wooing" sound.   She must come when called.  Chestnut doesn't.  She will look at me and stay on whatever course she is on.  This is very, very dangerous.  I can not protect her if she will not come to me.  However, that being said;  I have not made the attempt to train her to sit, stay and come.  I shall do that.  She is, however, leash trained.
The road in the pictures is in the abandoned state park and offers no danger to them.  I would never allow them to be on or near a road.  This road ends in the lake.
Once in the fields and forests;  Chestnut undergoes a very big change in attitude.  She plummets into the tall grass and runs through it with great fervor.  She always starts out hanging close to Happy and Shade but then runs in a direction of her own choosing;  and keeps running.  I really worry when I see this.  I kept them in the meadow area of the park where I could see long distances.
The above shot shows Chestnut far, far away.  I yelled  "Chestnut;  Come!" and she ignored the calling.  She did come back when Shade, Happy and I turned to walk another direction.  This means she is aware of where I am and it appears she will not run off.  Well;  she won't run off because she has had many opportunities to do so and hasn't.

Here she comes after much calling
She seems to have bonded with Shade and Happy and likes to run with them but, she is a hound and hounds follow their noses.  Fortunately, she is attentive to everyones positions in the fields and will come back to that safety nucleus.  
The big forests present a different problem.  I can not see very far and would not know where she is.  If she doesn't respond to my calls I would not know if she is hurt, lost or reluctant to return.  That is not acceptable to me.  I don't say that because her absence would be annoying to me.  I just wouldn't know the situation with her.  Her being a hound might find her running after a deer..  Shade and Douglas were sight chasers.  When the deer outdistanced them;  they would return to me right away.  A hound has a nose for chase and Chestnut may not stop running simply because she lost sight of the quarry.  She could scent an animal and run until she was lost in these big mountains.  She has to return instantly when I call her. 
Today she is having fun.  She is chasing after Shade and Happy and thoroughly enjoying the morning.  The sun is getting hot and we will not stay long. 
Shade still will not roam far from me.  She misses her companion, Douglas, as do I.  She still runs along the same trails and fence rows that she and Douglas did when they were free spirits here.  No matter where I am in the field;  she runs that same old course that she and he always ran.

She is such a sweet girl and devoted to me
Chestnut's face is different out here.  It's as if she is smiling.  She prongs up in the air in the tall grass to get her bearings in the fields.  It's humerus to watch.   She's a beautiful dog.  All dogs are beautiful.
She goes into one patch of meadow and exits to enter another non stop.  She is doing what she can not back at the habitat.  She is seeking;  searching for----anything.  That's what keeps dogs healthy and contented.  The biggest yard can still have the same effect as a chain.

Enjoy your freedom little one

Chestnut opens up out here.  She approaches the other dogs and they abide her presence allowing her to run with them.  This is totally different than at home where they shun her.  Out here they seem to treat her as an equal and she appears to gain confidence in herself.  This is really where she belongs;  not in a room or a yard with six other dogs of different breeds and varied attitudes.

Then;  there she goes again following her nose

But, she always seems to come back to us
 Maybe I'm asking too much of her too soon.  I don't have a lot of time to decide about her.  I really would like to take her;  I have the room.  I'm thinking of her best interests and not mine.  It's big country out there and there are possibilities of running into snakes, bear and wild boar.  Coyotes are especially dangerous to dogs and the area I'm moving to is prime coyote territory.  A little dog that won't come when called is in serious danger.  To leave a lost pup like Chestnut and return the next day to resume the search would be useless.  Coyotes are nocturnal hunters and I don't think she would last the night.  Shade and Douglas are very large dogs and would, I believe, survive an overnight ordeal and both would put effort into returning to me.  Chestnut;  at this point in her life, would not.
I will keep trying to work on her before I leave.   Right now;  she hasn't been trained at all, other than on a leash.  Douglas was a prince!  "Get in the boat!   Get in the truck!  Come!  Sit!  Stay, sort of!  and !NO! 
He instantly responded.  There are many more commands he understood but, I kept him safe----out there.  Not so around humans....Oh, how I miss him!!

She's a sweet little girl

Yes Happy;  you're a sweet little girl too
No need to worry where Happy is.  She's attached to my leg with Velcro
Shade still stays close to me

It's obvious she misses the golden dog

You'll notice the bare ground in the meadow.  TWRA plants grasses for the animals on this property.  That is commendable and only one reason I admire the agency.

She appears so lonely standing there.  The golden dog, Douglas, normally would be beside her

Chestnut has not stopped running since we arrived
Come on little Girl!

"No;  Chestnut;  Come!"

Lets go home. 

We're outa here!  Chestnut needs water.  The truck is only a hundred yards away.

A really nice morning comes to an end.  The sun is high in the sky and I need to get them home.
Little Chestnut;  what will I do with you?
I always carry cool water in the truck and they drank freely.  After much panting we loaded up and drove home, with the passenger side window only half way down.
I could see Douglas everywhere we went today and I miss him dearly;  more so than anyone or thing in my life.  I doubt Shade can fill the void he has left.  It's not that I don't love her, or that I loved her less than Douglas.  It's, well;  He came into my life first.  Douglas and I moved on the same plain.  We were in tune.  He knew what I was going to do by watching my movements and he was ready.  We were super bonded.  Oh;  I miss him so very much!  My heart ached all morning seeing his favorite spots in the meadow and him not there.  I'm trying hard to get over him but, so far it's not working.  Please be patient with me on this.  They will call me to pick up his ashes, probably tomorrow.  I told them I wanted his collar, a cutting of his hair and his ashes, so I can keep him near.  I will wear his hair in a locket around my neck, always.  You can't begin to imagine the influence Douglas was and is on me; even with his passing his paws are heavy on my chest.  He truly was my golden son;  my little boy,  and I shaped my life around him.  Enough of this.  Chestnut is alive and I am at a loss at this point what to do about her...