Walking the Trail with Pappy Snack Pockets

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In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.–Margaret Atwood

Yes, exactly. You should smell like dirt, pee, grass, and death. Dirt: from shredding the ground in your mark-ups. Pee: from your brushes with interesting social postings. Grass: just nuances as a reminder of nature. Death: as a reminder of life, just a whisper of death, a desiccated worm found flattened on the trail, or something a coyote digested, though not well. Human’s call this “disgusting” but I don’t know the meaning of that word.

It’s basically spring here already and it’s been here since about February 14, the day I didn’t get chocolate.

Acacia blossoms dotted the Carmel trail. They’re a very yellow, sneezy flower.

Acacia blossoms dotted the Carmel trail. They’re a very yellow, sneezy flower.

For corgis most of the best smells are conveniently located at nose level and right along the trail, often in the tall grass…

For corgis most of the best smells are conveniently located at nose level and right along the trail, often in the tall grass…

Umm, nice. Corgi sniffs along the spring trail's tall grass.

Umm, nice. The world has gotten green and luxurious for me.

I know, we’re on this trail in Carmel, and it’s spring and lovely. But, I must stop for a moment and address an important concern. It came to my attention that Jeff didn’t really like his nick name “Uncle Snack Pockets.” I apologize for my thoughtlessness. I love this guy (alot) I don’t want to hurt his feelings. From now on I’ll be calling “Uncle Snack”  the more respectable name of “Pappy Snack Pockets.”

We like to kid around and make up names. Elise is “The Queen.” Jeff is “Pappy Snack Pockets.” I’m called many names: “Mr Begoobecurs,” “Rainboo,” “Stranger,” “Hoover,” and “Whyyoulittlemonkey.” We all have a bunch of little knick names. However, these names should be somewhat respectful. No one ever calls me “Junior Poopy Bum,” for instance, and I appreciate that. Sometimes our nicknames are not nice ones. For instance Jeff is also “Possum Socks” and Elise also goes by “Sheewawipoo,” her “Indian name.”

How did they get these names? Jeff’s socks were once stolen by a possum. Elise often carries my poo bag around for multiple uses, so “She Walks with Poop” became “Sheewawipoo.”

Of course a full psychological work up could be done on the names we’ve made up for each other. Elise says “maybe some passive aggressive thing going on?” I say “huh!?” The main thing is no matter what anyone calls you you must know that your true name is not any of those names.

So, back to my story. A few weeks ago I hit the trail with “Pappy Snack Pockets.” (Try saying that 10 times fast! “Pappy Snack Pockets, Snappy Pap Hockets, Snacky Hot Pockets, Hoppy Pick Pockets”…grrrrr!) Our “Dog Lover’s Companion to California” recommended Mission Trail Park on Rio Road, Carmel, California, with 5 miles of hiking trails for dogs, off leash! It’s right across from the Mission.

Ranger running on trail, big smile

Can you tell that I’m happy? Woo hoo….running off leash…

Wooo hooo, off leash!

…and running back again!

Ah ha! I know you're up there Nutty McNutkins! I mean Mr. Gray Squirrel.

Ah ha! I know you’re up there Chirpy McNutkins! Ahem, I mean Mr. Gray Squirrel.

It's wonderful me on a wonderful trail.

It’s wonderful me on a wonderful trail.

Here’s a guy I met I’ll call “Random White Guy,” I could also call him “Little Guy Like Me”
I said “I’ll be with you in just a second. I’ve got to figure out this scent.” When I looked up he’d been dragged away by his humans. Hey, wasn’t this an “Off Leash Trail”?

I liked this trail immediately, because I was just really happy to get out of the car. I would have been happy to get out of the car pretty much anywhere. Anyplace not moving will do.

I also liked that we had never been to this place before, and it was not too hot, not too cold, not too steep, too urban or too sterile. Lots of dogs had peed there. (Yay!)

You’ll have to visit this place yourself, if you’re ever in the area. The trail winds around. It goes by creeks and ravines, even a view or two. It has a little bit of manicuring to its natural beauty. I give it two paws up!

Here I am with my most excellent human, Jeff, aka “Pappy Snack Pockets.” Make sure when you hit the trail that you have a human along with deep snack pockets! But find your own, this Snack Pocket is mine.

Here I am with my most excellent human, Jeff, aka “Pappy Snack Pockets.” Make sure when you hit the trail that you have a human along with deep snack pockets! But find your own, this Snack Pocket is mine.

Here we are again, back at the car. Carmel Mission Trail on the right...park on side of road.

Here we are again, back at the car. We’d walked a big circle. Carmel Mission Trail on the right…park on side of road.

Remember not to shake off the dirt before you get in the car. Don’t let them wash that stink off of you!—Ranger the Corgi.

Your’e Like Me, I Like You

“Friendship is born at that moment when one dog says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
― modified from a C.S. Lewis quote by Ranger

The beautiful Gwinny

The Beautiful Gwinny, a digital painting by Ranger the Corgi Esq.
(zoom in to see the corgi paw work)

I thought I was the only one. After hours as the only dog in the house I often lose track of my connection to my true kin. Though I was born to a litter of 6 (or so) I eventually became an only child in the suburbs, weird how that works. I must constantly reconnect with my species.

I’m reliant on my people for this. They control my very destiny. They have the keys to the car and the exit doors. Usually there are dogs to be found, at the duck pond, on the side walk, on the beach or the sheep ranch, it’s a crap shoot as to who you’ll meet, but the careful sniffing of their urine keeps me in touch with those present in spirit, if not in the flesh.

Luckily for me I know many girls, yes, I’m bragging. Here are a few: Hope, Ziva, Valentine, Daisy, Bet, Chloe, Sienna, and Gwinny, Jellybeans (who I haven’t actually met yet) and Beryl (a FB friend who may not be real). I see them for a while and then they’re gone. Just like that they’re pulled away on their leashes and stuffed in cars. I leave extensive notes for them to know my smell. So that they can find me again. I say to them, quietly, next time you smell my note just stay here until I return. If I can’t return then I’m sorry to make you wait. Many girls won’t speak to me anymore, they may have waited too long. With so many distractions and no keys to go places it’s no wonder I can’t faithfully return. It’s not that I don’t want to, I just can’t. I know, it’s sounds like some crap, but it’s true.

Ranger and Gwin the corgis, on their first date. Marking time and the barn corner at Oak Hills Ranch. Good times!

Ranger and Gwin the corgis, on their first date. Marking time and the barn corner at Oak Hills Ranch. Good times! (zoom in, by clicking, to see the corgi paw painting strokes)

I have been told that I’m a natural therapy dog. But my Uncle Snack Pockets says maybe I’m really a therapypee dog. Funny Uncle Snack Pockets, he comes up with the best jokes. Here’s a pee pee, theresapeepee…ooops, I digress….

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Place your postings here. I’ll check later and leave you a message. We’ll stay in touch.
No, well I didn’t call you, I lost your number. I can’t drive. I can’t visit. All I can do is leave you some messages. I love you, Ranger.

I wrote a song, my first, for my newest girlfriend, the lovely Gwinny.
You’ll have to just imagine my vocalization of this, with coyote chorus backup. I title this Hey, hey Gwinny.

Hey, hey Gwinny Dear, How I wish you were here
I can remember the barn corner we both peed on, like it was just last week.
Because it was just last week.

Hey, hey Gwinny Dear, maybe we could go and have a beer,
then find some sheep and try to herd ‘em, or chase a cow that’s not absurb, um…

Baroooo, baroooo, baroooo!

Let’s dig some holes and find some voles
Let’s romp and run until we’re done
Let’s corgi on and party too, until the sun is done and through
Let’s sing with coyote all through the night,
until the sun is up and bright.
I’ll share my couch and my bed too,
Because, my Gwinny, I’m in love with you.

Baroooo, baroooo, baroooo!

Hey, Hey Gwinny Dear, things you should know about me, they’re here:
I’m from the burbs, I have a pony, I’m real you see, there’s nothing phony.

You see, my Gwinny, I’ve marked this tree with a love note for all to see,
it says, you can sniff it, that you’re my love, sent from the Corgi God above.

Barooo barooo, barooooooo!

xoxo I’ve got to go, Your ahem, sometimes, somewhat faithful, Ranger Boy

The lovely Gwinny, Ranger's corgi girlfriend, herding sheep.

Gwinny and I have a shared passion. This is a good thing in a relationship.

I painted these photos of Gwinny in Photoshop.

A joke I ‘d like to share with all my friends:

“Windchimes are for stupid people so they know when there’s a breeze.”—Steven Wright

Near Oak Hills where Ranger herds sheep, a landscape painting by me, Ranger

Near Oak Hills where I herd sheep, a landscape painting, zoom in to see the fine corgi paw brushing details. There are no sheep here, they’re all across the road, in their pens.

Ranger’s Retreat

Ranger the Corgi hides in a hole at the beach. He calls it "Ranger's Retreat"

Ranger’s Retreat, or Where’s Ranger? (click on the picture to see better)

There are thousands and thousands of dog bloggers. Too many to read, some amusing or thoughtful, some not worth raising your leg on.

At the start of this new year I have been thinking about what I post and how often. more thinking than I usually do. When a dog blogs it’s important that he choose words and pictures carefully or no one will bother with them. They’ll say “He’s just a dog. Let’s not listen to him. Let’s eat hamburgers instead.” If readers, with two legs or four, hands or paws, proper snout or odd flat little button nose, don’t sniff it, what’s the point?

Writing can be a kind of a lonely activity. I thought about this during a little retreat I took from the hustle and bustle of the world, in my private hole at the beach. This hole was already mostly dug by some larger dog, or a pack of human children, so it was easy to fit myself into.

Closer to Ranger's Retreat, you can see Ranger the Corgi's head sticking out of a hole at the beach

Can you see me now?

In my hole I pondered these questions: Why did I start this blog? Am I happy with it? Do I want to make any changes to it? Stuff like that. Then I saw some seagulls and forgot everything else but the seagulls.

Yes, must focus, just to share, I started this blog because I’m so handsome that I thought everyone might want to admire me. I still feel that’s true. Let’s face it I’m very handsome, a dog star. Now though I also want to share more than just my beauty. I want to share my perspective on the world, 14″ off the ground… and a fraction of an inch off the ground in “sniff mode.” I hope to amuse my people, and make them smile. I love when they do that! I also hope to make them think, because sometimes they don’t do a very good job of that. And sometimes I want to help them not think, because they do too much of that.

Maybe I need to share more of my activities off the beaten? Or maybe more of those on the beaten path? (Last week I realized what the beaten path is. It’s where all the humans walk and it packs down the earth. It’s their big flat feet, those clown shoes they wear. Deer paths, coyote paths, those are not beaten, they remain fluffy…the fluffy path is harder to walk on. You sink in. Especially if you’re a corgi. But, I digress.)

I hope to post more often in 2013. Why? Because. Is because a reason? I think it might be. I don’t like it when there’s too much pee to analyze on one post, so I hope to keep it brief and to the point. I pledge to visit other dog’s blogs and see what they’re up to. I pledge to keep my word count down. Woof! Woof!

Ranger says "Hi, welcome to Ranger's Retreat! Wait, no, it's a retreat. Go away. Come back in about 15 minutes with biscuits."

Hi, welcome to Ranger’s Retreat! Wait, no, it’s a retreat. Go away. Come back in about 15 minutes with biscuits.

Meanwhile that retreat hole on the beach was cool and comfortable, Ranger’s Retreat I called it. I suggest finding a good hole and spending some time in it to clear your thoughts. Make sure that your human brings you drinking water. Train your human to bring a pocket full of snacks. Make sure to look a little bit sad when you want to go home.

“Retreat: a place and time for you to get reacquainted with you; the ebb in ebb and flow; a solitary sanctuary for renewal; a safe haven; a snug den, a refuge.”—Corrie Woods

“Retreat: a crate, a hole, a snug den, under a chair. A place to go when nothing’s happening or when too much is happening.”
—The Lawn Ranger

Searching and Finding

Topaz Ranger’s Search for his Birth Mother

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I couldn’t believe it, but why not? Stranger things have happened, I was reunited with my original family! That’s my old friend Jim on the left and Elise in the middle. I’m the cute one on the right.

It took a while to find out where I came from. Elise had gotten me in a sort of round-about way from a cowboy at the horse barn. She had seen another corgi puppy that guy brought out to the stables and wanted him, but he went to another girl. Cowboy Mark said “There’s another corgi out in Salinas. He’s more of a man dog.” Elise really didn’t know what that meant. A dog for a man? or a dog like a man? or a dog-like man?  She still doesn’t know, except that it turned out to be me. Then she learned that I was 1.5 years old and that I had been bought for breeding purposes and that I supposedly hadn’t been interested in “the ladies.” I don’t really know how to explain about that, except to say that maybe those ladies just weren’t my type. Mark placed the make-shift collar/leash, a blue hay-bailing string, in Elise’s hand and we’ve been inseparable ever since.

Elise called and talked to the, somewhat illusive, breeder woman in Salinas, a friend of the cowboy. Elise asked “please, I really want his papers and vet records,” and “what can you tell me about him?” and “where did you get him?” She asked lots of questions about me. She learned that I was originally from Antelope Valley in Nevada, near Lake Topaz. The lady said that her original owner was sad when she took me from her ranch. I was sad too. She shared her stories: that I always stayed close to the house (right on the doorstep) and also that I liked one of her Rat Terriers, but none of her corgi girls. She said once the dogs, me included, “got into it” with some wild boar. She said that I was called “Ranger” or “Batman” and that she liked to name dogs after cars so she named me Ranger. Her other dogs were Shelby, Porche, Chevy, Cooper,…Beemer? Edsel? Aspire?

So, Elise slowly got all my papers together, my puppy diary, AKC registration papers, birth certificate, health records. Mark said “I think he even has a pilot’s license in there” as he handed her the big envelope.

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It’s the place I knew so well, Antelope Valley, Nevada

My rabies tag was still missing. So Elise called my original breeder, finding Helen’s name in the paperwork, to see if she had one of the tags. Helen was so nice and shared lots of stories about how we used to go swim in the creek, how I used to chase the sheep and horses in the pasture. She told Elise that I liked to go vole hunting too. And she said that we could visit someday and meet my parents. She said I was named “Topaz Ranger” because I was born near Lake Topaz and I liked to wander off all over the property. Sometimes they didn’t know where I was, but whenever they called I’d be there right away.

Here’s a little collage of me that Jim and Helen made when I was a baby.

Here’s a little collage of me that Helen shared with Elise, so she could see what I looked like when I was a puppy.

So, this summer we went to Antelope Valley near Lake Topaz. First we went camping at Blue Lakes, and canoeing. I enjoyed running like a nut on the shores of the lake. I liked the hiking. I liked sleeping in the tent. On the third morning by the lake we made our way to Nevada through Woodfords, on the east side of the Sierras. It’s a tiny town Elise and Jeff like. My Aunt Linda once said “that’s not a town. That’s just a place on the side of the road.” Well, it turns out that it’s a place with 144 people in it…is that a town? You guys can figure that out. I’ll get back to my story.

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Here I am swimming at Blue Lakes. Later I was freed from my leash and ran around in the muddy shore….good times!

There was a lot of  boring driving, hot and boring driving, to get to Antelope Valley. But when we got there I can say that it smelled familiar. It took a long time to get there because of bad map reading by the humans (we ended up in an Washoe Indian reservation) and road construction delays. But then we arrived miraculously back at my first home. Valentine, my sister, met us at the gate. She seemed pretty nice and let me into the yard. I’d never met her, nor her me, so we did the usual “hello sniffing.”

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Valentine, my actual sister!

There was a lot of commotion, other people were visiting at the same time we were. They were looking at puppies! I didn’t have too much interest in them. I wanted to see my mom, and my old friends the McFarlands (who were somehow more than friends) and that Golden Retriever, What’s His Name. I think it was  “Sam” or “Fred.” I knew him as “my buddy,” and I used to hang out with him.

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That’s may dad amongst the human’s legs. That’s the puppy that looked so much like me (front, right.)

There was a pen with a couple of my very cute relatives, cousins or brothers, not sure which. One looked exactly like me when I was little, and like me he was cool, shy, handsome and smart (super-smart probably). He rolled on his back for the humans to give him a tummy rub. The other was outgoing, handsome, energetic, and full of himself. He climbed up on the fencing. Two very different dogs, both loaded with good qualities! It’s hard to find a dog as special as I am, but these puppies had already tied little love ropes around the hearts of their visitors. They already had new homes.

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The two puppies waiting for their new homes. One of them was named “Moose,” but which one? I’m not very good with names.

I sniffed and sniffed all the good smells of that yard I once knew so well. Memories flashed through my head of hot, sweet smelling summers, snow cold winters, horse ankles, pastures and creeks, and the adventures I’d had with my family there. I made a special memory postcard in my brain of all the smells, sights, and the life of that day. I marked my territory (with little yellow PostIt notes) and scraped at the ground with my back paws to let everyone know I was there. Then I stood next to Helen and sniffed her hand and she scratched the back of my neck.  She said “Ranger, you’re so very handsome.”

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Helen, I can’t believe I’m here.

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My dad, the proud and very friendly and popular “Cadfael”

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My mom, the beautiful Victoria

Then, the came the best part of all: I saw my mom! Her name is “Victoria.” She is so beautiful. The most beautiful dog you’ll ever see. All I had of her was a little “dog-earred” picture, not the best quality, that I kept in my crate, along with a picture of my dad, my baby pics, and an old blanket that finally smells just like me. (Elise, if you’re reading this, please don’t wash my blanket.)

My mom was in her pen, because she was in heat. She smelled super good, and I recognized her “Mom! Mom! It’s me, your most handsome son! Your Prodigal Son!” She said  “hmmm, well, I don’t know. You look a little bit familiar.” “No, really, it’s me, your most wonderful son!” She said “well, it’s nice to see you handsome corgi, whoever you are.” We looked at each other and I showed her how I could shred the ground with my back paws, puff out my chest, and pee on things.

Mom, It’s me!

Mom, It’s me!

I think I impressed her even if she hadn’t remembered me. My mom is THE most BEAUTIFUL corgi on the planet. That might be one reason I’m not interested in other girls. I have extremely high standards. If I can’t find a girl as wonderful as my mom then just forget it!

Before I left I had a chance to visit with the old Golden Retriever, What’s His Name, really “what’s his name?” I enjoyed sniffing him, as I always have. My sister, Valentine, decided that it was time for me to go and barked at me “scoot!” and “get out of here” and “smell you later!”

Elise and Jeff put me in the car.  My dad, the famous “Cadfael” came out into the yard to meet them. He’s super friendly and went around to all the people, all the guests and smelled them and said “hi, welcome to my home.” He had a lot of presence and obviously was loved a lot by Helen and Jim. Then he smelled where I had marked. He saw where I had shredded the ground. “Hey, wait a minute!” he said, “Who’s this I smell?!” It was me of course. My dad started running around looking for the guy who marked up the yard, me. Then he went to his girl, Victoria. He smiled to see that she was there and I wasn’t.

Victoria and Cadfael, my parents.

Victoria and Cadfael, my parents.

Then he went to the front gate looking for me. “I smell you little boy corgi,” he said, “and I better not smell you around here again.” He wanted to kick my butt. But, I was in the car. (My dad and I have a complicated and competitive relationship. However there are a few things we have in common: an appreciation for a really good, comfortable bed, a jovial attitude about the humans, and of course, we both love my mom.)

We drove away from that beautiful valley of my youth. I said “thank you good humans, for letting me visit those nice people and my mom!” I smiled as much as I could so they’d know how happy I was. So very, very happy!

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I hope we can go back some day. It’s good to have a connection with your roots. Maybe next time we go there’ll be a corgi that will come home with us…you never know!

I’ve found that when I smile the world smiles with me. I hope you enjoy my happiness in these photos. I’m smiling, hope you are too!—Ranger the Corgi

p.s. remember you can click on the pictures and they’ll get bigger.

In the Holiday Spirit

Here I am in a fancy outfit we found at the Goodwill. Some say I look like a Portuguese Saint, others Liberace, or Elvis.
I say that you can make me wear anything and I’ll look fantastic.

I never wore this costume in public because I was a skunk last Halloween instead. There are so few occasions to wear this level of finery.

Anyway, that’s it. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

Santo Corgi in full partial regalia.

Santo Corgi in partial regalia. My crown and scepter  are buried in the yard for safe keeping.

Summer Herding Trials

It’s been a long time since I blogged. I’m sorry my pup pals, but my human was just preoccupied with whatever it is that’s so important that she can’t help me write about my life and times. It’s hard to imagine anything more important than the life of Ranger, I say.

(Remember when you read my blog that the photos are pretty much the best part. If you click on them you can make them bigger. If I could make this thing a “scratch and sniff” you know I would!)

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Above you can see me having just posted a new message on the fridge.

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Right, huh! Why should I buy expensive art when I can make my own?! I’m feeling emphatic about that! I put it on the fridge to remember, along with information on buying sheep, and phone numbers I want handy for the humans, like my herding trainer’s number.

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This story is called Summer Herding Trials. I’ll start by telling you that I’m getting pretty good at this herding stuff, even some of the rules. Above you can see me working with my trainer and three Barb sheep at Oak Hills in the big pasture. That was in the spring. I improved so I got to move from the bull pen to the big pasture. (Because I’m really good. Elise isn’t so good, but she’s learning. She wouldn’t take me into the ring at the trials, Clint would, because she wasn’t ready.)

This summer, in the heat of summer, my human took me out to the Far North, beyond the big city and up into sheep country. We met my sheep herding trainer Clint there at a sheep ranch called “Herding 4 Ewe,” in Vacaville. Vacaville means “cowtown,” which is confusing because so many sheep were there it should have been called “Corderoville,” or maybe “No Cows 4U ville.” I like cows. They have thicker ankles and are more thrilling to mess with. Anyway, we drove there. That meant two long hours lying in the backseat of the car. Then we piled out onto a green rutted pasture dotted with sheep poo. Hmm, it looked promising.

At this place dogs were only allowed to pee on an old imitation Christmas tree with a sign on it that said “Pee Tree.” That was weird. I pee’d on it, but there were so many other, better spots. No one could have smelled me in all that!

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Clint took me into a dusty little livestock pen. We were practicing for the Herding Trials that would happen in a week. But I didn’t know that. Three sheep were let out and he called me, like he does, “Ranger, Ranger, walk up.” Forget that! I ran up. Yay, herding, I love it so much. He tried to stifle my exuberance a little bit and keep me “off the sheep.” Okay, I’ll play your little game I said. I’m not sure, but I think he heard me; he’s a sheep and dog “whisperer.” I said, “Okay, I’ll play your little game,” with body language and a quick glance. That’s how I talk. We moved the sheep back and forth. I ran around and around for good measure. We moved them back and forth and until we were done moving them. I sat. Clint said, “That’ll do. That’ll do.” Heaven.

Later we did it again. Same thing. Clint said, “That’ll do” and then he said to my human “I think he’s going to do fine next week. I think Ranger’s going to have some letters after his name soon.” Hhhuh? What letters? Elise explained it to me. There are these letters you can get after your name if you prove to the sheep herd judge that you know how to herd sheep. I could then put “Ranger the Corgi, PT” or “Ranger the Corgi, HT” on my business card. Then, if anyone needed a herding dog, like for an emergency, I could step in. I could say, don’t worry I’m a PT, and I have documents to prove it. Okay, that might be nice. I was practicing so I could get my letters.

Here’s my business card today, without letters. Hopefully someday I can add some.

It was Saturday, July 6th when Elise put me in the car to go to the “Herding Trial.” Linda came too and we drove back up to Vacaville. It was so hot we ran the air conditioning the whole way and my nose got wet and drippy. Things were different at Herding 4 Ewe. There were lots of cars, trailers, trucks, flags, tents, pens, people, dogs and expectations there. I got excited and tried to meet dogs but most were over controlled by their humans, and we didn’t get to sniff much. That stupid Christmas Pee Tree was there and all sizes and styles of dog pee’d on it, even a big male Boxer in a satin robe, unneutered. I couldn’t help but notice, his robe was kinda short…

There were bees in the clover in the pasture and it over 100 degrees in the shade. Elise signed us in. She looked over the list of other dogs entered and saw some cool dog show names: “Alice in Wonderland,” “Navarro’s Wind Swept Prairie,” “Seriously, Guy,” “Free Brie,” and “Pokies Country Diamond in the Ruff.” My show name is “Topaz Ranger,” because I was born near Lake Topaz in Nevada, and I liked to wander off on the range. That’s where I first practiced herding horses and sheep.

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These are my friends. Linda (top) on the left and Zeus on the right (on more likely, above). I took the photo of Linda, woof, yes I did!

Some of my dog friends from Oak Hill were there, Zeus (Jenarae Barbu Not On My Watch), Bixby (Bixby Big Sur) and Jellybean (Bean of Matrix Entlebuchers). We all hung out under a tent for a while drinking water, being restrained, and listening to the humans blather on. I tasted a bit of sheep poo.

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One thing I heard them say was that a very thin lady (see her above with her black dog?) with a big shiny belt buckle, and a sort of poetic way about her, had brought about 15 dogs from Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, someplace with vast lands and real herds, and was winning all the ribbons. What ribbons? What happens when we win them? Can we eat them? Maybe bury them and dig them up later? What? Ribbons?

Later we saw her being given lots of ribbons that she stacked up on the table. She was smiling. Wow, she sure got a lot of ribbons. I just hope they’re good for something.

In the other photo above, or to the left, where ever the gosh darn thing ended up the same magical ribbon-winning lady is herding ducks. Ducks? Really? Just chase them into the pond. That’s what I do.

There were some other Corgies there. These guys were hanging out in the shade. Most of the dogs were Border Collies.

It was later in the afternoon when Clint said “Ranger are you ready to herd some sheep?” What? Now? Elise and her sister Linda sort of disappeared and my leash was handed to Clint. I looked at him. I know you, you’re that guy, that guy with the sheep! I went with him to the dusty corral and my humans went in the other direction. Why? Hey guys, where are you going? Don’t you want to be in my pack anymore? Well, then Clint took me into the pen and told me to sit. I sat. Then three sheep came out. I like sheep. They moved in front of me and passed to my right and I thought maybe I’d chase them. But it was too hot. I wanted to see my humans. I could see my humans if I just went to the corner of the pen, so I went to the corner of the pen. I thought I smelled them under a tent in the grass. Yup I did smell them. Clint called “Ranger! Ranger come get your sheep.” I said “no.” I said “I have to find my queen, Elise, and her sister. I have my priorities. And, it’s too hot.” I was confused. Why all those people? What did they want? So I stood and looked out towards my human, my queen. She called “Ranger! Ranger GO! Go to Clint.” Her face was red. She lowered her video camera and said “Shit,” quietly, but I heard it. I kept watching I didn’t want her to go out of my sight. Sometimes you have to herd your people so that they don’t get away. Clint walked by with those three sheep and said “Ranger, come.” I said “no, I don’t really feel like it.”

Then they took me out the gate and I was “disqualified.” Elise came and found me and that was good. She put water on me to cool me off. That was good. Then we went to get something from a lady, a prize I think. A special prize Elise called a “Boobie Prize.” It was really nice, a red, white and blue fuzzy snake thing with squeakers in it. I did not know it then, but it would become one of my favorite toys.

We drove home. There was much talk about disappointment and “oh wells.”

The night was pretty normal. Then the next day we repeated our journey. Two hours driving in the heat of summer to the place with the sheep poos, bees, and artificial tree.

In the gravel driveway where all the folding chairs were lined up for the humans I met some other corgis, Yoshi and Oscar. We lay in the shade and panted a lot. Clint said something about “doing it differently this time.” It was so hot that Elise, my queen and caregiver, gave me a good wetting down. It felt nice and cool.

Then Linda took a photograph of the thermometer reading 100 degrees in the shade, so she could prove it later.

What was different this time was that Elise and Linda came with me and Clint to the dusty corral gate. Elise said “Go with Clint” and gave Clint my leash. Okay, I’ll go with Clint. You guys stay right there, and they did. Clint took me to the middle of that dusty sheep pen. Some cows were standing behind us on a berm, watching us. They made me a little confused. Cows! Cows! We could do cows. Meanwhile I was wet. That bath Elise gave me made me want to shake and roll, but it was hot and that made me want to find some shade, but there were sheep and that made me want to chase. What a lot of stuff was happening in my brain while I sat for one second in the middle of the ring. Then the sheep came out from the corner. Wooooo Hoooo, I broke fast like I do and went toward the sheep. Clint started walking, like he does, and the sheep went with him, like they do. I went with them. Then I got an idea, how about not doing this? I’m hot, I’m wet, I’m smelling something yummy out beyond. So, I decided to hell with the sheep. I dropped to the ground and rolled and rolled. It felt really good, not pretend good, not good like you made someone else happy, but really good. I rolled some more, my little corgi legs flailing with joy, the dirt mooshing into my neck and back in the most delightful way.

Image

“Ranger, Ranger, come get your sheep,” Clint said. What? It’s so hot, it’s so weird, and it’s so not really the thing I want to do. Then I crossed the pen at an angle and headed for the gate to reunite with my humans. Wait, wait, there was more poop. Wait a minute, and I dropped and rolled again on the fence line near the gate, near the people and my humans. “Oh crap” I heard Elise say, and the people gasped and tittered. What? What’s the matter you silly humans? I felt good, as good as I could on that hot summer day in the dust. Look at me I’m having a good time doing some very sensible rolling.

“Disqualified,” said the man and wrote something down on his clip board.

Bye I said and Clint held the gate open for me.

Elise looked weird. Her face was all sad and droopy, yet tense. “What” I said, “what?”

We met Linda and their cousin Barbara. They talked with Elise. But, I don’t think she really heard. She was far away in her head. A lady gave Elise a “Corgi Support Group” business card. In case she needed some kind of support or therapy I guess, about what? Who knows? We didn’t even pick up our second booby prize. Elise was distracted by some emotion. Later I realized it was partly disbelief, why didn’t I want my sheep? “You always want sheep” she said, “why not today?”

She said to Linda that she felt bad for feeling embarrassed. That it shouldn’t matter,  (it didn’t matter) but she felt like a mom whose kid was in a school play and just stood there picking his nose. Huh? Sounds okay to me. I just don’t get it.

I think that there was a lesson to be learned at Herding 4 Ewe. Maybe the lesson was for Elise. Do what you want to do, I say. Don’t let other people’s expectations drive you, I say. If you want to roll in dirt because you want to, then roll in dirt. If you aren’t the winner then you’re something else. If you’re Ranger the Corgi you’re a damn fine something else, I’ll tell you that much.

So, anyway, it’s about time for that chew toy isn’t it. Let’s take a break from blogging. I really wish I had time to make Elise write about my visit to see my mom and original dog pack. That will have to wait. Hopefully not for too long. That was a wonderful visit.

Okay signing off. Remember all you dogs and humans that you only have to be yourself. Defy expectation when you need to. And if you don’t feel like being someone’s show puppy, don’t. Walk the world like you belong there. And, if it gets too hot I suggest that you might want to lie down on cool concrete.

Love and licks, Ranger

(Photos of the skinny herding lady, the thermometer, my upsidedown business card face, and my triumphant rolling shot were by Linda Huffman. All the others are by Elise Huffman, except the one of Linda that I took.

There is a video of my triumphant roll at the show. It’s stuck on the camera. We’ll try and get it off there.)

Sniffing Around the Neighborhood

“Court of Mysteries” on Fair Avenue, westide Santa Cruz

“Court of Mysteries,” west side Santa Cruz

I took a sniff with my people along West Cliff Drive. The wind was whipping the scents up into the air, but a little rain was pushing them back down, good smells, dog postings.

This story, if you can call it that, will be mostly in pictures. Sometimes I get irritated about words. Words are overrated. Images are more direct. Smells are even more profound. I’ve marked this laptop a few times but the smells just don’t stay on the blog. I need some technical help with that. This isn’t a story but kind of a snap shot of that rainy morning, minus the urine.

We sniffed past this place called the “Court of Mysteries,” an eccentric brick castle with really tall grass. (Click on the photo to see it bigger. But you still won’t be able to smell it.)

A car built like a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, a lowrider.

A car I kind of like, a lowrider, like me!

Check out this low rider car. It had sort of a face, with a set of teeth at the front, a brow, a nose and was very low set to the ground. Ideal shape, a good car for a Corgi. Oh, crap, well I can’t drive. Keys allude me, among other things…(My human must have liked this car, I’m just playing along.)

There’s also, for some reason, a side view of  “my” low rider car. And now a whole bunch of photos mostly of stuff we saw and me smelling stuff the humans didn’t want anything to do with.

side view of low rider car

Side view of that lowrider car.

Buddy digs a hole at the beach

Buddy digs a hole at the beach

Then I thought I saw my buddy Buddy. He was too intensely focused to look up. Here’s a close up. I wasn’t exactly spying on him…I’m not a creeper, but here’s a candid shot of him enjoying a good dig.

Then I realized that it wasn’t even him.

Buddy close up shot

Buddy close up shot, ooops, not Buddy.

Come on let’s get moving.

Come on let’s get moving.
Ranger sniffs more pavement on the sidewalk

This pavement is so wonderful. Just try it. You never try it.

Then I sniffed. A lot. Did I say that already?

Okay, just a couple more photos and I’m off to micro manage that horse.

Let’s go….(loud sigh!) Wooooooof now!
Keep Moving Your Mind, Keep Moving. Move!
—Ranger the Corgi

Intense clouds

Threatening rain brings out the best pavement smells

Analyze, scratch and sniff the spot

Analyze, scratch and sniff the spot. Remember to ignore the tugging on the leash.

And mark it!

And mark it!

Yellow ice plant flower in the rain

Yellow ice plant (aka “Magic Fingers”) flower

Hey guys, got that biscuit?

Hey Uncle Snack Pocket, got that biscuit?

Better angle on this maybe

Keep moving your mind.

So, now what? Where should we go!?

So, now what? Where should we go!?

Got Cows?

Sunol Regional Wilderness—Off Leash, Spring 2012
or Got Cows?

Ranger the Corgi at Anna Jean Cumming Park.

The biggest ball I ever saw. From Anna Jean Cummings, aka "Blue Ball Park" in Soquel, CA.
Photo: Linda Huffman

I’ve been wondering, as I stare at the keyboard and then at my paws, remembering that I can’t type, what should I blog about? So many things have happened in the last months. I thought about writing about vacation abandonment. Because (yes, don’t start a sentence with “because,” but because I’m a dog I can) this Winter I was left for many confusing days with strangers, I mean friends I hadn’t met yet, while my supposedly devoted people, Elise and Jeff, flew off to Hawaii.  My Aunt Linda cared for me and took me on walks. The neighbors, Don and Lucy, helped care for me too. It takes a village! Thank you village people! I don’t know what I would have done without your care! Thank you Sienna for sharing your home. I owe you a chew toy!

When my people got home they were tan, smelled like tropical flowers,  and acted like nothing had happened. They didn’t even bring me a t-shirt. Well, okay, I don’t want a t-shirt. But they could have brought me something. Hawaiian Ono jerky? A desiccated puffer fish to hang in my dog house? A hula girl holding a dog biscuit?

I have been overwhelmed with topics for blogging and underwhelmed with time. But here were some of my subject ideas: Things I marked on “Blue Ball Park” excursions (see photo above); Rolling in exquisitely aromatic dead things (dead whale, dead squirrel, dead slug); Rolling with friends on lawns; When rolling goes wrong; Mannerly butt sniffing 101; On leash, off leash—you be the judge, as usual; And, finally, What’s all this talk about “big boy surgery?”

Linda carries Ranger the Corgi on the trail.

Use Corgi mind control to get the humans to carry you the last mile of the trail. It really works! Photo: Charles Yaryan

Before I get into my main topic, Sunol Wilderness trail hiking in the Springtime, I’d like to share a few random thoughts. (Why not? I’m a dog.) When my humans were in Hawaii and Linda cared for me she got lots of photos, of me, of course. This is one of my favorites. I like to call it merry-go-round, the etiquette of “saying hello.” Move slowly, be delicate, don’t leave anybody, or anything out.

3 doggies sniffing each other

The etiquette of saying hello. Photo: Linda Huffman

Charles got a few good shots of Linda carrying me when I got a little tired. All I had to do was sit down on the trail and give her sort of a baby look. “I’m a tiwerd wittle puppy who can’t go on. My paws are so dry. I think there’s a piece of gravel between my toes.”  Well, there’s a picture of that somewhere around here (above I think). I suggest this method to any dogs reading this blog who just want to be carried that last mile of trail, like a prince. It can be done. You can motivate these people with your mind! Just plant yourself, exert your will, and give them “the look.”

Finally I decided on my main topic: “Sunol Wilderness—Off Leash!” or as I’ve titled it “Got Cows?”
Sunol is a great place for a hike in the Springtime. It’s so green, so big, you can go leash-less, and you can find cows!

Sunol walk with Ranger the Corgi

I'm the leader. Off leash and loving it.

That’s me ahead on the trail. I’m a good leader. I’m under “voice control.” Well, usually I’m under voice control, but sometimes I really don’t hear those guys. Not at first, but then I do and it’s that annoying yelling “Ranger! Ranger, Come! Now Ranger! Come!” Their faces get red and they march over like I’d just urinated on their television set. (Not a bad idea by the way.) “Okay, okay, don’t get all worked up about it. I’m coming, I’m coming, just let me finish this sniff for Christ’s sake!”

In the photo below you’ll see me and Jeff. Jeff’s on the road, way in the distance. He’s just a tiny little speck. But I hear him calling.  “I’m coming Jeff, I’m coming. I hear you…get the biscuit ready. I’m coming.”

Ranger the Corgi on the path at Sunol

"I'm a tiwerd wittle puppy. Pweeze carry me."

Later I found a beautiful pelt of some kind of cat or something, desiccated, slopped over a tree stump, in nature. Ummm….yummy. I was just starting to gnaw on it, when I heard: ”Ranger, Ranger, Yuck. Oh Jeeze!” They pulled on my collar so fast it made my head spin.

After I recovered from being yanked away from my treasure we kept hiking on a path that goes past “Little Yosemite,” dogs aren’t allowed down there, or swimming, but I’ll bet it in the Summer both those things happen.

Then we walked up a hill and around a bend and look what I found?!

Cows! Oh Joy, I love the turn of their ankles, the smell of their breath. They are fantastic creatures. I’m going to see if I can get closer. Got cows? Yes, yes, I think we do.

Cows in the distance

Ranger the corgi approaches cows in the pasture

Look Mom Look! Real cows! What should we make them do?!

Wow, well, we walked right up to them. I recommend that you do this. They are wonderful animals just waiting to be told where to go. That’s me! I’m supposed to tell them where to go. Oh joy!

Meanwhile my humans decided to snap a couple of portraits. Now I’m going to wrap it up because I’ve run out of things to say. We have to go and boss a horse around now. We make sure he gets some food and medicine, then we pick at his feet and walk him around. I’m his motivational herder. Later we put a blanket on him, toss his poops in a big tub, and stuff him back in his stall for the night. It’s my job to help.

Elise and Ranger on the trail at Sunol, CA. Photo: Jeff Grubb

Ranger trots towards the camera on the trail

I'm coming, I'm coming!

Ranger off leash goes ahead on his own.

Here I am, over here, going 'round the bend.

I’m sorry I haven’t blogged in a while, but I would love to hear from you. Are there any topics you wish I’d cover? Do you want me to go back to obedience school and write about it? Do you want me to try and talk about all I’ve learned herding, about the art of herding sheep? Should I be more altruistic and become a therapy dog? You know, give back to the community?

There’s shot here at the end that Elise took, of my end. It’s humorous, they think. I’m lying down under a chair, but my butt is hanging out. I didn’t want to post this one, but they convinced me it was cute. They make me do a lot of things! (They’re pretty bossy.)

humorous, we think, Ranger the Corgi under a chair.

Under the Chair

And finally here’s a shot from Blue Ball Park at sunset. I like this one because the moon is stuck in the tree. I’ll end with the sunset. That seems like a pretty good idea. Please sniff back around here sometime. I’ll return in a few weeks to tackle a subject of your choice.

Also a special “woof woof!” to my sister Valentine in Nevada! Someday I hope I meet you.

Licks and nose pokes, Ranger the Corgi

Sunset at Blue Ball Park

Holiday on Sand

Happy Holidays to the whole dog pack! Where ever you are and whether I’ve had the pleasure to smell you or not.
Here’s a story, mostly in photos, of how my humans took me to the beach and made me wear silly antlers.

The Antlers of Shame

First Elise started in the grassy area near my home. She said “Come on Ranger, look happy.” Right! Read my face my two-legged friend! Jeeezus, get these darn “Antlers of Shame” off me. Bah Humbug!

The beach above Santa Cruz

Later we went to the beach, Aunt Linda and another human came too. Aunt Linda is a good photographer and her photos we’ll mark, because I like to mark things, “photo credit: LCH.” She also titled this story “Holiday on Sand,” clever I thought. I love it when she unleashes her creativity.

This beach is very popular with my humans. They stare out into the ocean for hours and walk, looking for mysterious inedible things in the surf. I come here to run, and look for “ball dogs” to run after, I mean “herd,” and sample bits of drift wood. I also enjoy finding dead seals and pieces of chicken bone left at fire pits.

My favorite beach is up the coast a little further, Dead Whale Beach. They blew up a whale there years ago and chunks of it were tossed everywhere. There are still embedded carcass bits in the sand, like fine cheese strewn everywhere, absolutely wonderful place! But, I digress…

The beach, on another day, from above

Here’s what the beach looks like when we’re just walking along, greeting my friends. Everyone is my friend, so it takes a while.

Happy Holidays Yellow Puppy!

Hello dog named Leica.

I was looking ab fab, relaxed before my photo session. Could I get a Perrier? (photo credit: LCH)

Yeech! You sure you want to do this in such intense light? Not sure it's the most flattering.

Boring, boring, boring. Oh Holy Lord! Can I take a pee break?

I can’t figure out why they keep putting these stupid antlers on my head? Do you want me to identify with the livestock? Disguise myself for a big reindeer hunt? Or just laugh at me? Maybe it’s for a big movie role “Rudolph, the Real Story.” Who was Rudolph? What motivated him? I’m just not feeling the character.

Here's a shot of the session. She takes forever to get setting right. Boring, boring, boring. (photo credit: LCH)

Hey, check your aperture! (photo credit: LCH)

OMG, not again. Well, here it is: the beauty shot.

Here’s my holiday card, with me as “Rudolph the Red-nosed Corgi.” Antlers of shame, and red nose of humiliation, whimsical type font. It’s a wrap! (A Christmas wrap.)

Yes, so much better without the antlers. I had tried pitching them in the ocean. I had Yellow Puppy sit on them. We buried them in the sand. But they kept coming back and getting placed on my head. I finally just flung them dramatically to the ground.

I won’t wear these another minute! (We models can be a little temperamental.)

Oh naturale

Then they finally gave up and let me alone for awhile and I found something interesting, very interesting, to anoint myself with.


Aunt Linda wrote the narration for this, which is pretty much spot on (please click on the photo above and see the pictures larger):

1. Merry Christmas to me. I think something died here!
2. Uh oh. I’ve been spotted.
3. @*&%!, they’ve come to ruin my fun. Probably going to want to bathe me too. Crap. And I finally got my stink just right. Humans just don’t get it.

Surf as I see it

For the New Year I’d like to wish you all the best. I hope you remember where you buried your bones, that you remember to smell EVERYTHING, and that no one puts the antlers of shame on you.

Whoopeee! Running with Jeff

“In 2012: aim high, why not?
(and I’m not just talking about the fire hydrant!)”
—Ranger

Cows I Saw Last Week

Look what I found!

I wanted to just share with you a few photos of the most wonderful animals.  They smell good, look good, and seem like they might be fun to boss around. I stumbled upon them on a walk in the country.

I’m strangely attracted to these guys. I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to do something with them!

First I had to sniff them out.

Ranger and some cattle behind a wire fence.

Hey!

This guy is so amazing looking. I wish I could get to his ankles!

Woof! I mean, ahem, Moo!

Here’s the same guy as the first photo in brown tones:

Brown Cow

Brown Cow.

Anyway, just sharing. It’s been so long since I’ve seen any goats or sheep, so these guys cheered me up some.

Below you can see a photo from the good summer days in Paicines.

Cattle in Paicines

Cattle in Paicines, Summer 2011.

Next subjects  I hope to cover: “Horses and Why I Like ’Em,” “Where’s the Hedgehog?,” and “Holiday Attire for a Corgi.”

“Laughing stock: cattle with a sense of humor.”
Steven Wright

Rear end of a steer.

Norman the steer, from the rear.