Saturday, June 18, 2022


Flying into Tucson this morning  passing over the AMARC storage facility at Davis-Monthan makes for a nostalgic view. If I could have just one…or twelve!



Thursday, June 16, 2022

Still trying me

 So walking Merida this morning and we reach a disagreement as to which way to go. I want to turn left and go home but she wants to go right. I told her no as I turned left and tried to lead her but she came to a stop and ducked her head and the collar slipped off over her head. 

Free dog. 

Murphy would have taken this as a sign that he was destined to be somewhere else. A chase would have ensued. But what does Merida do?

She plunks right down on the sidewalk and waits for me to put It back on her, which I do, praising her. Then she gets up and I try to pull her home and she stops and digs in and pops her collar again. Then she plops right back down and waits for me to reattach it again. 

She wants to go right but I’d already told her no. That matters to her. She won’t go without me but that doesn’t mean she’s going go give in without “asking” again. 

And she did it to me a third time too, once more going to ground as soon as she was untethered. Not running off, but not going home, either. But after I hooked her back up for the third time and got sharp with her, she finally fell into line and hopped on home next to me. 

Weird little dog. I think I’ll keep her. 

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Merida’s interesting day out

 So what do you do when your little dog has her yearly veterinary appointment and the vet’s office is in the middle of the city’s large Pride event?

You take your little dog to the circus!

“What has been seen cannot be unseen!”

At least there was no shortage of cute girls to look at. 

Side note: Just because the dog is 25% off, that doesn’t mean that her vet bills follow suit. Candy bars and ramen noodle lunches again for a bit. 

Friday, June 03, 2022

Look at me.

 I am the Captain now. 

Merida is settling nicely into her new role as Queen of the Realm, Overseer of the Lair. And all-around good dog. 

She was lost for a bit without her Shepherd siblings and clung to me constantly, but she seems to be over it and has assumed command. 

As for Murphy and Belle, they are together again. 

Honored always. 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

A chapter ends. Murphy joins Belle.

 It's no secret that Murphy was old. He's graced this blog for over eleven years and he was two when he first came to live at the Lair. back in December of 2010. He was a different sort of Shepherd than those that came before him. He was strong-willed and stubborn due to a history of abuse and neglect and he marched to his own beat. I never really tamed him, but we became friends and we understood and respected each other.

His health had been going down for some time. Like Lagniappe before him, he suffered from Canine Degenerative Myleopathy, a disease that slowly eats away at the nerves in his spine. He managed well but he was getting slower and weaker over time, even as he compensated for his declining back legs with more muscular forelegs. His eyesight was going and his hearing was gone, but I was slow to notice because he took his cues from the other dogs, mainly Belle, when it came time to bark at someone.

When she left last month, his decline became increasingly apparent. I never posted it here; it was just between us. And he never stopped trying. Even as it got harder for him, he soldiered on through sheer willpower and orneriness. That dog didn't know what "quit" meant.

Still, the writing was on the wall. I could see it and he knew it. He spent more time close to me and he slept against me every night the last few weeks, something he's never done before. I promised him I'd get him home, and I prayed to God for just that: let me get him home one more time.

Well yesterday we made it home. He'd had a rough night the night before but he was still up and walking yesterday morning. He was awake and alert the whole drive home from Seguin, Texas. But when I pulled into the driveway, he couldn't get out of the car without my help. He struggled up the steps, crossed the threshold, and collapsed on the floor. His floor. He was home but this was as far as he was going. I knew it in an instant. This was serious.

The vet was closed already but the office manager is a personal friend. She came in minutes to help with him, and then she called the vet at home and got an order for meds, which she went back to the office to get. Other friends came and helped me get him back onto his bed, and we moved it to his spot by the window. He couldn't get up again, We both knew it.

Last night I slept next to him on the couch, his bed moved so that he was right below me. When he'd stir, I'd pet him and talk to him, and give him more pills. And this morning, when the vet opened, I loaded him up and took him in. It was hard, but he's been my friend for a long time, and I owed him this. I stayed with him until he was gone, gone at the hands of a vet staff who he knew and who knew and liked him. He was my friend.

Eleven years. Thirteen years old. And I'm sad that it's over but I thank God that He blessed me with this wonderful companion for so long. Right now I believe that he's with Belle again across that Rainbow Bridge. And with Lagniappe. And Oliver. And Brandon who came before them. My Pack. Waiting for me.

And until we're reunited again, Merida and I will still have each other. And you'll get Merida stories and pics. I promise.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Always Vigilant

 Beautiful old Murphy. Last night he was dozing by the trailer while friends and I sat around the fire. Suddenly he got up, came to us, then stood fully alert staring off into the dark and growling. We saw nothing but when we threw a spotlight out there we saw it—coyote. 250 yards out. Saw it’s eyes, watched it run off. We had no idea but that old wonky dog knew and he put himself between us and it. What a magnificent animal. My friend.   

Thursday, May 05, 2022

They’re heeeere…

 I’ve seen them before, closer to town. I know they’re out here. But last night I heard the coyotes barking to each other close by. I couldn’t see them in the dark but I knew they were in my valley last night. Several of them. The dogs heard them too. Merida seemed curious at first but I think she picked up on the concern in my voice when I summoned her sharply and she made a bee-line for the trailer and leapt inside. Murphy was another matter. 

In his day I have no doubt that Murphy could have bested a coyote, probably even a pair of them. But this isn’t his day any more and he’s old and arthritic. And there was more than two of them out there  judging by the barking. Still, Murphy stood, like Horatius of old, staring down into the valley, ears back, hackles up, and letting out a long low growl as if he was ready to defend his home, his sister and me. It was all I could do to get that aged but magnificent warrior dog back to me and the safety of the trailer. His spirit was ready, of that I had no doubt. He knew they were a threat but he was game. 

And now the dogs stay in the trailer from duck until dawn, unless I’m out there with them standing overwatch with a flashlight and my Ted Stevens model Winchester 94 from Sears and Roebuck  

They were out there again tonight too, if anything even closer. I have no doubt that they know we’re here. Tonight I sat outside in the dark, beer in hand and the Winchester across my lap, and I listened to them. Primal. Awesome.  And this is their home, so I bear them no ill will. I just hope that they keep their distance for another week and a half, and if they do we’ll be gone, leaving this bit of desert to them.