NOTE: Our Internet has been going off at almost the same time for the last two mornings and staying off for more than an hour. We have no idea why, but until we do, if the blog is not posted by 8 a.m., you'll know we're still dealing with the problem. Thanks for your patience.
I'm typing with purple fingers this morning. Huckleberry juice doesn't wash off easily. That's okay, though. I bear the colors of an official huckleberry picker for the 2016 season.
When we were on our way to Huckleberry Heaven yesterday afternoon (pictured above and at 4,800 feet elevation and that's all I'm telling), we passed a car on the road. I noticed the driver gave a sort of "truck driver" wave. That's usually just one finger raised above the steering wheel.
Maybe this guy didn't exactly have the pure truck-driver wave cuz Bill said his fingers were purple.
Now, I'm not so sure Bill saw his fingers that closely, but the observation could have been correct because this morning I've got the fingers to verify that there were, indeed, ripe, juicy huckleberries in them thar woods.
Only problem we encountered was getting rained out, but we enjoyed the trip, we came back with enough hucks to throw in the freezer and even some extras for huckleberry sundaes which will have to wait.
Somebody ate the last of the Meadow Gold French vanilla ice cream in our freezer, so no sundaes 'til we get ice cream.
We came back doubly happy with our berries and a dog named Liam.
Now, Liam hasn't exactly earned A-pluses for "deportment" this week, but yesterday he made up for his temporary regression into "bad dog" syndrome.
Earlier this week, after both Bill and I had started feeling like we’d made some major progress with Liam in trusting him to go free, without his leash, for several segments a day, Liam regressed dramatically.
It all started with some turkeys. Actually, Liam's buddy Foster instigated the downward behavioral spiral.
I had just started watering the manure pile garden with Liam by my side. Foster, who had joined us, suddenly spotted the turkeys at the end of the lane and immediately launched off to a energizer mini Aussie run with Liam following close behind.
At first, I had no idea what had gotten their attention, but when I looked down the lane and saw wings flapping and turkeys trotting, I yelled my lungs out for those dogs to get back.
Well, Foster, could hear me that morning. Liam could not. Suddenly stone deaf.
He proceeded to pursue the birds through the gate in the same pasture as Lily. Once he came back out to the lane but then raced around the corner and found another entrance through the fence. In the meantime, a bunch of turkeys just kinda stood there, stunned, seemingly unable to get their wits about them and get the heck out of the area.
For some reason----maybe because of all my frantic yelling---Liam suddenly veered off the turkey course and began heading toward Lily, who, fortunately, at least for the moment, ignored him and kept on eating. By that time, I had entered the pasture, still yelling, “No, No, No!” to my selectively deaf pup.
Finally, he decided it might be wise to head OUT of the pasture and back to the lane. Eventually, I caught him, gave him a good tongue lashing and put him in the kennel near the house.
Later, I decided to give him an opportunity to redeem himself. On this day, redemption was the farthest thing in Liam’s mind. Wandering was.
Within seconds, he took off to the woods, which these days is an absolute “no-no” for our dogs.
By that moment, I reached my breaking point, stepped back and thought that Liam’s fate now rested in his mind and his paws. He would have to make the decision to come back to the house. A few minutes later, he did, but stayed only briefly.
His next foray with total freedom or, more accurately, certain death occurred just moments later when he flipped me the Border Collie finger, as my fellow Border Collie owner George Frazier terms it, stuck his nose into the air and headed toward the road, turning south. By the time I reached the road, Liam was trotting head-on with a vehicle that had just turned off from Selle Road, thankfully at a slow speed.
“Tell him to ‘go home’,” I yelled to the driver as Liam pass in front of her car, went to the passenger side and trotted on toward Selle Road.
“I was just going to say hello to him,” she apologetically told me as she drove by and I marched on.
Before reaching Selle Road, Liam decided to take a turn into the next door neighbor’s driveway. I had my cell phone and called her. Then, I raced back home to get the car and some doggie biscuits. By the time I reached her place, there was no sign of Liam.
Turns out, he had wiggled right up to her with his big smile, and she grabbed his collar and led him home through our south woods.
By this time, I was fit to be tied cuz my straying dog should have been.
Shock collar, I thought. That’s the only answer now.
I asked some advice and received different perspectives, finally deciding to get a different, less extreme collar called a martingale. In addition, I began the process of reviewing some basic obedience Liam had learned and could employ----whenever Liam decided he was of a mind to oblige.
Liam spent the rest of the day in the run with Foster.
Yesterday, when we decided to go huckleberrying, I suggested that we take Liam by himself, without distractions from the other dogs.
What a great decision that turned out to be. Liam stayed with us, only wandering a few feet out of our sight but quickly returning.
Of course, his willingness to stay with Mom and Dad probably had an incentive.
I gave him a huckleberry.
From that point on, Liam turned into a full-fledged Huckleberry Hound, cleaning off the bottoms of all the bushes and letting us have the berries on the top.
It was a good day with our young man, and we both feel that eventually he can be Free Liam again, but we are learning patience. That’s a requirement with Border Collies, as smart as they are.
So, we figure that we came back from the hills with some tasty berries and a “good dog.”