Sunday, January 12, 2014


I try to get the pups out to the woods every couple weeks so they can enjoy some kind of real life and today was their day.  Seeing them happy and expending pent up energy makes me very happy and makes the ordeal of driving all the way back here to the Cherokee National Forest worth the effort and mental anguish associated with negotiating that damn interstate.

Shade (black lab), Happy (terrier mix), Chestnut (hound)

I wasn’t really looking forward to the drive over the old state park as the truck was on empty and the wildlife photography would be very poor this time of year.  Things wouldn’t be loosening up on the wildlife scene until March at least.  But, I love my girls and I figured they are worth sacrificing a day off for and after all, what else do I have to do today?
People get a kick out of seeing three dogs sitting beside me like little kids.  They just sit there quietly looking out the window and none of them makes a peep.  It’s humorous to look over at them to see how they just look through the window and appear unimpressed.  They know where they’re going though.
I always find myself focusing on Chestnut hound when I take pictures of the dogs.  She is not a dominant figure in the family and actually is the lowest on the totem pole in the pecking order.  I guess I have an especially soft spot in my heart for her.  She is very excited today though because she knows it won’t be long until she is in the big trees and rabbit brush.
The other side of that fence is heaven.  That little path is like a gate that allows us to leave the ridiculous clamor and idiocy of life and enter into a quiet unattached environment that we can become lost in, at least temporarily. 
It didn’t take Shade long to find a mud puddle to wallow in.  I don’t care what she does.  The excited look in her eyes makes me look the other way.  She’s having a ball today.
The mud will wash off when we get to the lake and she goes swimming.
There are two German Shepherds in the above shot that belong to an old guy who was walking them here near the ruins.  They caused no problems, although I expected the worse.  One of the dogs is a pup and the other is very old and experiencing rear leg and hip problems.  I see this all the time in older German Shepherds.  It must be something bred in them.  What a shame!  The old man was nice and we talked and talked and  I couldn’t believe it but Chestnut hound wasn’t frightened much at all.  That’s very unusual.  The young pup shepherd came to me and stood between my ankles while the old fellow and I commiserated.  It was a fun experience. 
I watched them walk down the trail and then started out for the ruins and a sit down for a drink of water.
The old mansion foundation is getting to be in very sad shape.  What a shame!  This old place is steeped in history and very few people care enough about it to find out the story.  The old man eluded to the fact that the county was trying to purchase the property from the state to resell it to a developer who wanted to build a super golf course and elite club on this property.  If that ever happens I’m leaving Tennessee and going back to Pennsylvania.  I wouldn’t be able to stand it and shame on the local community for allowing it to come to fruition, if it ever does.  The part of East Tennessee where I live is totally ruined and they should leave the western part alone.  If they want to continue their destruction on the wild places they should just continue building and selling over here where I live and leave the areas that border the Cherokee National Forest alone.  And the people who live in the cities should just stay there where they seem to love asphalt and live side by side in houses 50 feet apart from each other.  Just leave the country side and mountains alone.  There I go again.  Sorry.
The old tree with the hole in the trunk that Douglas loved so much is just about dead, and it might be dead.  The wind and tornadoes have taken a toll on the old fossil.  Huge limbs have been torn off and there isn't much wood left attached to the trunk to allow for a good crop of foliage.  I guess nothing lasts forever.  Douglas loved sticking his head in that big hole and he did so with every visit. 
We continued our walk after a short stop at the old foundation and enjoyed the adjacent meadows that lay across the old road that disappears into the lake.
It was just a matter of time before my velvet water dog found another huge mud puddle.  That’s my girl!

At last we got to the lake and Shade could wash off all the mud she acquired at the mud puddles.  The trouble is that she rolls in the dirt to dry off.  I can’t win.
They are really tearing up out there.  This entry must sound like a children's story about dogs and that’s cause it really is.  Dogs think uncomplicated thoughts, I believe, and they act in uncomplicated, simple, predictable ways to achieve enjoyment and it’s so much fun to watch them.  It makes me feel really good to know they are having so much fun
We left the lake and eased up the old road and took the long way back through the meadows and the grasses bordering the woods.  Soon we would enter the struggle on the asphalt to get back home.
And when I looked up at the blue sky I saw a bald eagle soaring back and forth over the lake, the first one I ever saw flying over the old state park.  It was a juvenile.
I’m going to mention something here that has nothing to do with this blog entry or even relates to the subject matter of dogs.  I saw the movie “Lone Survivor” last night and was deeply moved by it.  I have read the book written by Marcus Luttrell, the actual lone survivor of the combat mission gone wrong in Afghanistan, and waited impatiently to see the film.  The scenes in the movie were created under Mr. Luttrell’s supervision and are accurate, all but one scene at the end of the movie where Hollywood just had to add their own two cents worth of input. I sat down in front of the screen with the mind set that I was going to see a documentary and not a war movie due to the fact that “THE” actual lone survivor of the failed Seal mission had direct input into every scene in the film.  What I saw in the film disturbed me to the utmost and my eyes were wet for most of the film.   Many soldiers know the terror of battle and the agony associated with it but there is something different about these “elite” fighters.  They seem to go about this mission thing and getting shot and killing the enemy as just another day on the job. They take the hit and ignore the pain.  They don't scream and panic.   It’s what they do and with endless fortitude.  It’s all they do.  No tears, no panic and no mercy.  I am so very amazed at these Navy men of steel and so proud of them – and they really are made of steel and they are our country’s elite defenders who are happy to stay in the shadows away from publicity.  What those four Navy Seals went through while trying to escape a failed mission is totally unbelievable.  It’s beyond comprehension.  They never gave up and never admitted defeat, even to their deaths.  See the move and be proud.  It’s one movie that truly depicts combat life and it’s a movie that will elevate your respect for those who defend this country and will highlight the ridiculous “rules of engagement” order created by a cowardly, wimpy congress of old men who want to appear saintly, divine and guarantee their re-election.  If it weren’t for those rules of engagement those Seals would probably be alive today.   Go see this movie.