Monthly Archives: June 2011


Looking for a dog, it turns, out can take over your entire mind. Well, my entire mind anyway. I do tend to let that happen. A lot. For instance, I have already picked out several sheep breeds to raise (some of which do not exist in North America, conveniently), although I do not own any property.

Anyway, back to dogs. I was set on getting a collie. I dragged the family to town last week to meet a real, live, beautiful eight-year-old collie male — not to consider acquiring, but just to meet an actual specimen of the breed. He did not disappoint. He is a really stunning and friendly and well-behaved dog.

But then I found something out. I found out that there are folks out there who are carefully breeding puppies but are not breeding for dog shows. Specifically, there are people breeding old-time collie-type dogs. They don’t care about the AKC registration, some are openly hostile to showing dogs and breeding dogs for shows, and they are breeding really smart, really healthy, really non-neurotic dogs. Some of them certify their dogs as young adults based on their working strengths.

A lot of them breed English Shepherds — not an AKC-recognized breed, but recognized by some other kennel clubs. They’re sort of like a natural-looking collie. Their muzzles are shorter and broader, and their eyes are bigger, and their coats are not so huge, and they are a little smaller overall. They will probably be a little more challenging to train because they like to think independently.

They work.

I’ve wanted a working dog, but not an obsessive working dog. Someday I may get a flock of something wooly or something feathery or both and may need a helping paw. But I also may never get any such flock, so I need a dog that doesn’t need to work constantly or have a big-time effort made to replace all the missing work (border collies, I’m giving your eye right back to you.)

So. I’ve added a visit to a farm with English Shepherds to the travel agenda for this weekend when we’re on the way down to PA. And we shall see what we shall see. Hopefully we shall see the dog who will come home with us, eventually.


Some June-ish things to say

1. I’m getting a dog — and it will be a rough collie — as soon as I decide whether to get a puppy or an adult. And as soon as I can schedule the long long drive to any of the breeders, who are all conveniently at the other ends of the state. Or in New Hampshire.

2. H is riding his bike enthusiastically now, starting this past week. He had a lapse in bike-riding confidence for a while there. Oddly, the argument I finally found to get him over the fear again was that biking is an essential life skill, and what would he do if gas were to cost $100 per gallon when he’s an adult and he can’t afford to drive a car and doesn’t know how to ride a bike? About one minute after that conversation, he was riding again.

3. He is also starting real swimming lessons this summer. This past year (even these past few months) he has become suddenly much more receptive and attentive to learning new things. This summer he and I have several skills to work on — swimming, biking, baseball, piano, and guitar (once he saves enough money to buy one, and he’s very nearly there). He seems to enjoy all of them (except swimming so far), and I think with his newfound ability to focus on a goal that is more than one day out, he will succeed very nicely at whichever ones he wants to. Also, overcoming his fear with bike riding will, I hope, help him to overcome other fears.

4. His brother, on the other, is in a phase of being significantly less receptive and attentive. So potty training is really fun right now. It mostly consists of having him naked as much as possible. C does not have much trouble overcoming fears, since he doesn’t have many of them. He does fear my wrath if he poops on the floor, which is handy, but sad.

5. There is an upcoming trip to PA and DC planned. It will be exciting to see Chris and Olivia in their new digs in DC, especially since I assumed I would not probably be seeing them for some time.

6. Writing Club is done! At the kids’ request, we extended it through the end of the year, but only one or two were showing up by the end. I kept on for their sake, because I liked those one or two, but I’m happy to call it quits. The coffeehouse event was a smashing success, with all the writers sharing their work, as well as lots of other high schoolers and middle schoolers singing, playing, and telling jokes. And an African drummer guy. He was the glue that held everyone together. It was like having a drumming Dalai Lama there — you know, the kind of person who just makes everybody feel loved and confident. I am not so much that kind of person, so it was really fortunate to have him there.

7. After losing the fire for a bit there, I think I will go ahead and finish this damn degree after all. So I’m courting major professors here and there (mostly there) and talking to a guy next county over who helped me out with a project last year. I think I have an idea for further work that he will like. In fact, I think he’ll like it so much I will have to really focus on reigning in the scope of the thing. It can hopefully focus on monitoring some restored riparian wetlands. I can count birds, oh yes I can. And maybe I can get a really nice scope on loan from the university! I miss having good optics lying around like I did when I worked for GSLEP. In fact, I miss counting birds a little bit. Never thought I would. I do NOT miss counting brine shrimp.

8. I do miss counting brine fly larvae. Really really never thought I’d say that, but they are so fascinatingly revolting. It’s not the counting them I miss, it’s the watching them twitch. It’s hypnotic. Okay, okay, the way brine shrimp ruffle their setae is rather soothing, but really, it’s nothing compared to the interesting way the brine flies spaz around.

9. I don’t miss doing destructive species monitoring. I didn’t have a great moral problem with the killing of the brine shrimp. It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t the kind of inside objection right down into my gut that I felt with all the trout killing I was doing a few years ago. Counting birds — what’s the harm? Especially if I stay away from their nests?

10. Maybe I could count birds from a kayak; that could be fun. In fact, I may volunteer for the loon count here shortly. Just for an excuse to leave the kids with Brad and go kayaking out on the Setback, where I suspect there is a loon pair.

11. I’m taking a full-stop break from knitting, crocheting, weaving (did I mention I constructed a backstrap loom? Fun stuff), embroidering, tatting, and typing/mouse-using for more than 20 minutes at a time for the benefit of my sad, sad wrists and all the tendons in there, which are in need of some love. That means I am reading instead: All Creatures Great and Small, Dreams from my Father, To the Lighthouse, and various books about dogs.

12. I suggested To the Lighthouse for my book club. I am happy to be reading it again because I believe it to be the best book in the English language (I am partial to stream of consciousness though). I fear no one in the book club will like it. I’m nearly sure that will be the case. Now I wish I had maybe not suggested it.

13. Elementary school is almost out for the year, and I am looking forward to it. That is how lazy I am — I don’t like getting up for the bus.