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Posts Tagged ‘english setters’

I love dogs. I never thought I would say that. I mean, I have always *liked* dogs, but they were never the first animal I would choose. Horses, cats, birds, then dogs. Maybe reptiles would be in between birds and dogs.

That isn’t to say I haven’t had a number of wonderful family dogs – but that was what they were: family dogs. Not *my* dog. There was a dog that came close to changing my heart – a Dalmatian by the name of Mandy – but my husband and life came between us and I let Mandy down. Mandy was the closest thing to dog of my own that I loved and trusted unconditionally.

I’ve loved all the family dogs, but dogs always come with a caveat for me: I am afraid of dogs. Not so much dogs I know, but strange dogs. I need time to make friends with dogs. I don’t trust them. They can smell fear. They read people. I am afraid of dogs.

Then came the Harvemeister. Harvey Albert Presley. The gentleman of dog breeds. My best non-human friend. He is the epitomy of a non-working English Setter. I can only imagine what a hunting Setter would be like – rather intense, I think. Harvey is very intense when he is hunting something in the yard. Patient.

Harvey turned 6 this year. He’s not showing his age yet. His joints hurt a little, but they’ve always given him problems. He has rotten teeth and we’ll have to look into dealing with that next year. He’s finally accepted us as his Forever Home and he barks to be let in.

Do you know that adopted dogs do not bark for things until they are certain of their Forever home? Happy dogs bark. I didn’t actually understand that, but after my mom’s rescued Standard Schnauzer and Harvey, I understand that. Mom’s dog didn’t bark (or howl) for nearly a year. But once he understood that Mom was his Forever Parent, he started demanding things. Barking. Howling to be let in. Biting strangers who stepped into his territory (he even bit my dad).

It has taken Harvey five years to decide that we mean him no harm. Five years! But now he stands at the back door and lets out a single bark that means, “I’m ready. Let me in, please.” He will never bite anyone (he’s not a Schnauzer, after all!), but he is comfortable enough to let me know when my grooming pulls at him too hard. No nip, just a jerk.

Harvey has never chewed up anything except his annual Christmas present. He is second to eat (unless it is gravy, and then he has done Murphy harm). (Or a captured critter in the back yard, and then he steals from Murphy and commandeers the killing.) He has his quirks. There have been face-offs where Murphy has tried to exert his utter dominance and Harvey has refused to completely bow before the Alpha. Harvey is first through the door when it is time to go out or come in. Yet, he still has the grace to let Murphy think he is the Alpha.

We have to hold Murphy back while Harvey eats his morning beefstick or a dog biscuit. Murphy has perfect teeth (all of our previous dogs have had good teeth), but Harvey has to work around those cavities.

I never thought I’d give my heart so completely to a dog, but God brought me this incredible English Setter (next to a Dalmatian, I’ve always wanted an English Setter or a Gordon Setter). Harvey has been one of the best gifts ever.

So here are a few photos of The Harvemeister that I’ve taken in the past few days. Because he is my best non-human buddy.

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The move at work is going along. I really cannot even talk about it now. I need to focus on happy events and less- stressful thoughts. I’m not certain I would call it “Be Positive”, but since I know I am not really avoiding the thought of everything that is happening (believe me, my brain will wake me up at 3:00AM, racing with thoughts of what needs to be done or what might possibly happen in the future), I cannot call this avoidance.

I’m thinking Happy Thoughts.

OK, maybe not. But admit it, it was a nice try.

So. (My oldest begins every story with that word: “So.”)

So. It’s Saturday. Don is off snow-shoeing but I do not feel up to it. I have a dozen physical pains and aches and the thought of trying to snow-shoe left me in a puddle of anxiety. So he went with Murphy and promised to call me when he came back down off the mountain. He’s a good man, Don.

The day warmed up early and Harvey had Spring Fever. I debated taking him up to the dog park again, but I had too many errands to run (including the new one that Don left on a note by the microwave: dog food). Great: one more stop.

But I was feeling OK physically, so I hooked the leash on to Harvey’s collar. He outdid any dance a littler dog might do: he gets positively ecstatic at the thought of a walk and dances in circles, barks, wags his tail and tugs on the lead. I packed the little plastic poop bags, my ID, the house keys, and some tissue. We exited the yard and he stopped at the car.

Harvey hates to ride in the car. He must remember the dog park.

It didn’t take much to coax him past the car, in fact I had to discipline him a few times before we reached the first stop sign, but after that he was a perfect gentleman on the leash. And when we returned home, he again stopped by the car, hopeful.

So I put him in the back seat.

And I took him shopping with me. He had to sit in the car while I got groceries, but he only barked when I left him and when I returned to load groceries. He was a hit at the gas station: the young woman pumping gas tried to feed him a biscuit. His mind was on escaping, but I promised we’d save the biscuit for later. I think she just liked him because he’s not territorial about the car like some dogs are.

He’s not territorial about anything.

My second stop was Wilco Farm Store for the dog food. I remembered, as I pulled into the parking lot, that dogs are allowed in the store on their leash. I know, I am so brilliant. It boggles my mind, too.

So I took Harvey in to the store (allowing the tiny toy poodle to go first).

Instant hit. Harvey has been inside Home Depot, but not inside Wilco, and not during Spring chick sale. He was overcome by the odors: baby birds, dog treats, dog food, former and present dogs. He didn’t tug at his leash, but he was definitely engaged.

The Nutro sales people were in force in the aisles. This was good because we buy Nutro brand dog food. And if the salesman was completely smitten by my dog, it could only mean he would bend over backward to help me out. I got the bag of dog food loaded onto the cart for me, a coupon for $2 off, extra help at the check-out counter, and someone to load the dog food into my car.

And Harvey had his ears scratched and his praises lauded. Everyone loved that he was a rescue dog from the dog pound.

Good boy, Harvey!

He had to wait for me at the next store and he barked when I left him and when he saw me coming back, much to the amusement of other shoppers in the parking lot. His big old tail waved like a flag.

I could get used to this dog ownership stuff. Harvey is much more useful in a parking lot than a cat is.

epilogue: Don called me when he was done snow-shoeing and I put Harvey into his kennel. Sorry, dude: you stay home now. I drove out to Estacada to meet Don for dinner and we talked about his day. So I got to have dinner out with my sweetheart AND I got to take Harvey shopping. It was a nice day. I think Harvey was happy (except for the going out to dinner part).

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Something happened tonight that gave me a little more insight into Harvey’s psyche. It wasn’t pretty. I mean, Harvey’s memories are not pretty, not the events or Harvey.

We were watching a movie (“Buck”, if you must know – made me want a horse again. Like I ever quit wanting a horse). Harvey was being a good dog: stretched out on his bed and snoring peacefully.

Murphy was being a pill. Don scolded him a few times, but he kept it up. Then he got into the trash. Well, Don got up and scolded him severely (and raised his voice) and ordered him to his own bed on the floor. Really just routine dog ownership stuff.

But not to Harvey. He freaked out. He tucked his tail and made as wide a berth as he could around Don and Murphy and headed for the dark hallway where he shivered and lay down.

Once Don got Murphy settled into his “time out”, we both tried calling and coaxing Harvey back. No dice. I had to go get him and with my hand on his shoulder, gently guide him back to his bed in the living room.

We finished the movie, but Harvey was still acting “off”. He needed extra pats and soft words, which both of us gave him. He did make up to Don and he’s up here in the studio with me and he is finally calmed down.

Someone beat this dog, and they beat him severely.

This dog craves love and attention. He loves to be brushed. He loves to have his chin scratched. He hasn’t a mean bone in his body, but he does have some broken ones.

He has never reacted like this in the two years we have owned him. Tonight, some dark memory was triggered and he relived an event or series of events that left him damaged, mentally and emotionally and possibly physically. Suddenly, a lot of his past behavior is falling into place in my mind.

When we traveled last spring, he often became quite frantic and I had to sit and hold him until he calmed down. He needed to be told he was a good dog, over and over and over. When he ran away last summer, he had this terrified look in his eyes whenever I got close to him. When I finally caught him and we walked home, he had enough time to process the walk so I never had a chance to understand that look in his eyes.

Now I think I understand. He was chased and beaten. Maybe he was beaten for running away. He was hurt. I wonder if that was when his tail was broken? His back legs show signs of having been damaged somehow: I wonder if that was when he got hurt? Whoever did this to him, hurt him a lot.

I think it has a lot to do with why he sometimes eats frantically, as if he is not going to have a chance at another meal. He’s afraid he’s going to be kicked around.

Don felt bad. He was just scolding Murphy. Murphy is over it in ten seconds. “What? I got in trouble? Oh, that was SO ten seconds ago!”

But Harvey took half an hour to calm down, and he was not the dog being scolded!

I told Harvey that there’s a special place in hell for people who do that to dogs. Or any other living creature.

A little more of Harvey’s “story” has come to light. I am reminded, once again, how fortunate I am that he has come into my life. I’m pretty sure that if he could process thoughts in a human way, he would feel the same. He is presently stretched out and snoring peacefully.

I hope I never meet the person who owned Harvey before me. I really, really hope that for their sake. Because it won’t be pretty.

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Random things.

Harvey hunts imaginary cats.

It is pretty funny. He comes to a perfect point and holds. Then he inches forward, slowly, deliberately, cautiously. He never loses his point until he gets to where he thinks the imaginary cat should be.

Then he tried to crawl under the fence.

Fortunately, he is 10 pounds overweight and can’t fit in a cat-sized hole.

Unfortunately, he is 10 pounds overweight and is now on a diet.

I was thinking about Llewellyn (English) Setters last night. When I was a little girl, I read all of the Big Red books by Jim Kjelgaard. Like so many others of my generation, I dreamed of owning an Irish Setter. I never dreamed there was a more beautiful setter out there until I met my first Gordon Setter.

And I never dreamed there was a more beautiful setter out there until I met my first English Setter.

Each time, I have been in love.

This is the first time I have actually owned a Setter. And he’s hysterical.

I told my husband tonight that I think Harvey is trying to push his way under my bamboo screen. But it isn’t the way you’d think: I formed the bamboo screen into an “L” shape: most of it screens the neighbor’s yard but there’s one section that blocks the narrow strip of our yard behind our shed. Guess which way Harvey is pushing?

Yep: he’s trying to “escape” into his own yard.

In other random news: The Anna’s hummingbird has been busy at the feeders and on the gladiolas. Unfortunately, I have not had a camera when the hummingbird is present. You just have to trust me that it is an Anna’s.

The goldfinches have nested somewhere nearby. Usually they move on. I have never kept thistle seed out for them during the summer but this year I have refilled the feeder once and it appears I will have to refill it a second time. This is exciting to me. They are bringing their fledglings to the feeder. Birds have a long genetic memory and I know I will have goldfinches every year now.

The towhee nested nearby, too.

I finally have a garden that attracts insects! When we first moved into this house the yard was sterile. We sat out in the yard and lamented the lack of insect life and bird sound. There were no bees, butterflies, or birds. We don’t use chemicals (or use them sparingly) and I’ve painstakingly planted to attract bees, butterflies and birds.

First the bees came: bumblebees, honey bees, other bees, wasps. I killed the yellow jackets. Sorry – some things just have to go. I allow the mud-daubers to stay.

Then came the birds. This is the first year that the hummingbirds and the goldfinches have stayed.And the first year the robins have discovered the bird bath.

And this year I have more butterflies than the little white cabbage moths (which are a pestilence, no matter how pretty).

And in another random note, Murphy thinks he is a human and he ought to be able to sit in the lawn chair. I think Wire-haired Pointing Griffons have a human complex.

Ummmmm Hello? I was just sitting there, Mr. Murphy!!

Isn’t it wonderful how butterflies can move only part of their wings?

Yes, I did get that close. Western Tiger Swallowtail.

I will be gone for a few days as my family reunion is happening at a resort along the coast. Don is staying home to dog-sit the dogs and will come up for one day.

I think that is it for random notes.

Just watch out for a Llewellyn Setter hunting imaginary cats!

And I thought Harvey the Pooka was imaginary!!

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