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The Salukis

streamer

One week ago today, Jenna and I went to Pittsburgh to pick up some puppies at the airport. We found ourselves at some desolate warehouse place, but yes, they had our delivery from Albuquerque.

They loaded the shipping box into our van. Zoom, the old whippet, raised his head to watch the proceedings, and out of that crate rose of cacophony of primitive puppy barks.

The barker was the brindle named Streamer but called “Baz” at his breeder’s home. He had gone through enough moves and jostles, and to be face to face with that short-eared dog was the last straw.

Jenna quickly got both pups out of the crate. Streamer glowered at me from the passenger seat, but the other puppy, the cream and white Mango, stared up at me with abject suspicious. “You’re not gonna eat me, are you?” his eyes seemed to ask.

And I drove them home. Mango decided that I was his safety, and he began to follow me from room to room. Streamer, a hot-blooded Arabian stallion of a pup, decided to snap at the old whippet on the sofa, and he received a muzzle snap for his impudence..

Thus began my journey with an even more different sort of dog.  I should add that these are not normal AKC salukis, but they are a cross between a tazi with ancestors from Kazakhstan and Middle Eastern or “desert bred salukis.” Their sire is Tavi, a dog that has been featured on the Qurencia blog many times. Their mother is brindle and white, and thus controversial to the saluki purists. Both live with Shiri Hoshen in New Mexico, and this is the first litter produced between the two parents.

Mango is not ours. He will be going through a vaccine and titer regime over the next few months before he will be send to live with a good friend of this blog in Australia.

But right now, Mango is just learning about this foreign land, where the grass is green and spongy, and the rain drops from the sky regularly and make the air cool and crisp.

He is learning about wolf-like dogs with prick ears and intense eyes, and drop-eared almost Saluki-like things that carry things in their mouths. He will need much socialization to be made ready for that long trip Down Under.

But he has the softest, brownest eyes I’ve ever seen on a dog. He will be a great dog. I just hope to do him justice.

mango

Streamer will be staying here, and I hope will be reformed into a nice high status dog.

/And so I will learn a new breed once again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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She didn’t even flinch, but she kept her eyes on me while they did it. She also knows her sit and down commands.

This dog has nerves of steel.

anka at the vet

 

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shackleford ponies

I used to go to those islands all the time. When I was a kid the Southern Outer Banks were my summer isles. We used to drive down across the Alleghenies, the cut through the Blue Ridge, and then wind our way around the North Carolina Piedmont for what seemed an eternity.

And we’d get all giddy and silly when we crossed the first causeway that went over saltwater. Children from the interior are certainly easily amused.

The sandy isles are made to weather and contort with the currents and the wind, but they aren’t likely going to withstand the king tides of climate change.

And this coming hurricane, which they are calling Florence, will be a disaster, of course. I hope the Neuse and the Cape Fear Rivers don’t swell up in the storm surge and decimate all those little cotton and pulp mill towns.

I hope those old banker ponies will still roam Shackleford Banks, and little kids will fight over who saw the first feral horse when the family drives over to Beaufort.

Blackbeard used to use the islands as his pirate haunts, and The Queen Anne’s Revenge ran aground on a sandbar near Beaufort. And the old pirate met his demise at Ocracoke.

But when you listen to that Jimmy Buffet music on the beach, you feel that pirate’s presence in the hot salty air.

And you feel the hospitality of these saltwater people, whose lives are made during the tourist season if the shrimp and oyster boats don’t bring in a good profit.

They know the storms, but the bad ones are still pretty bad.

And I cannot tell you much but a piece of me aches for what is coming.  I hope that all will be okay in the end, but I know that every one of these storms takes a bit away. It takes life. It washes away a whole beach. It floods out a little town.

Nature builds the hurricanes over the warm late summer seas. We just now help in the process by making the seas stay a little warmer a little longer.

Those island towns have made fortunes off of West Virginia coal miners’ vacation funds. The carbon released from the burning of coal has made the earth retain the sun’s heat, as did the burning of petroleum in air-conditioned cars of all the tourists coming down  And so the force that made the islands ultimately will bring them down a peg.

Nature gives. Nature takes, and humans can never accept the unjust mismeasure.

But the storm is coming to the islands and coast, and let’s hope when this passes we can think about the warming seas and burning of fossil fuels.

I hope we can, but I wonder if we will do anything about it.

Because it may not happen this time, but someday– and someday soon– the Outer Banks will slip and slide away into the frothy waves of the Atlantic.

And I will have lost a bit of the happy times of my childhood, and we will all lose the tern-filled beaches, the nesting grounds of the loggerhead sea turtles, and the place where the waves crash and the dolphins cavort.

A bit of America will be gone, another bit that we squandered away in our stupidity and ignorance as the cars and plants churned up the carbon into the sky.

 

 

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He eats!

Mosiro ate his first fuzzy rat (pre-killed, frozen,and then thawed) in my care. It took all of 5 seconds for him to bite, and 30 minutes later he had a lump in his belly.

mosiro eats.jpg

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Lupomorph

anka wild place

“I need a dog which accompanies me faithfully but which has retained a wild exterior and thus does not spoil the landscape by its civilized appearance.”

–Konrad Lorenz, Man Meets Dog. Specifically the chapter called “Dog Days” in which he goes running around the Danube with his German shepherd-Chow cross named Susi.

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Insecurity

scottish-terriers

A tremendous amount of insecurity exists among dog people. Certain reasons for this insecurity exist, but the main reason is that dogs give us some kind of ideological framework and community organization that humans instinctively crave.  Most Western societies are quite isolating, and in the United States, this problem is quite epidemic, as Robert Putnam noted.  We are a species that longs to belong and to know what to believe, so we are lost without this organization and society.

Dogs can give us everything like that. It doesn’t matter which angle one takes into the world of dogs, there will be a community of people and a set of ersatz gurus that will point us down the path that appears to be correct. These gurus may be the most insecure people on the planet, but they are fed by the simple knowledge that they know something, that they have power over someone, and don’t want anyone questioning anything that might lead to the guru seeming foolish or losing power.

I fully confess that I have these tendencies as well. I am a profoundly insecure person. But I also recognize how unhealthy it is, and I will do my best to fight my insecurity. But I don’t think I’ll ever have it fully beaten back.  It is just something I will recognize that I must struggle with.

The other problem that causes great insecurity in the world of dogs is that we ultimately expect too much from the animals. The fact that so many of them meet and even excel at being superior companion animals is a testament to how supremely adapted to life with us.

But the truth of the matter is countless dog trainers and dog people are so insecure in their abilities to get a dog to do something.  A constant fear of judgment or being discovered as wanting looms deeply in their psyche. These people might be superior dog trainers, but their insecurity holds them back.

And part of this problem is that we have elevated certain people to high levels of status in these communities that we feel as failures next to the Apollonian dog heroes. Our popular culture around dog trainers see them as infallible, coolly rational experts, who ask just a few questions and do a few little dramatic training moves. And the dog is suddenly cured. That’s how these experts are portrayed on television. Almost all of it is nothing more twaddle and good editing.

But those bits of artifice that slip through the ether onto our television and computer screens also slip into our psyches and make us truly doubt ourselves.

You can rationally tell yourself that something is fake on television, but you will still believe it. That’s why commercials on television work so well. You will tell yourself that those advertisements have no effect on you, but you will buy those products when you’re at the grocery store.  That’s why companies spend so much money television advertisements. You will tell yourself you’re not being sold something, but in reality, you actually are.

Dog people are very often living with an outward shield. We appear cool and collected on the surface, but deep down, we’re lost and lonely and insecure.

And we don’t want the world to know. I think that this tendency to make sure the world doesn’t know explains some of the horrible behavior that we can sometimes see from dog people, especially online, where one never has to mouth nasty words and feel that bile charge up your neck and leave a foul taste on the tongue.

Maybe the most important thing is to keep an open mind and love your dog, and do the best you can with what you have and what you know. And try to understand that we’re all ultimately in the same boat. We’re struggling to find meaning and community and to feel smart and successful, but we’re adrift in a world that is constantly changing, constantly bickering, and never fully satisfied.

And let’s go easy on the dogs a bit.

And if we can do it with each other, maybe that would be a good thing, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A very interesting interview, said with no sarcasm. Opossums are the new cats. LOL. This man really knows his Virginia opossums.

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