Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My bad

This morning when I opened the door to the chicken pen to retrieve an egg I hadn't collected yesterday, I didn't close it. I was only stepping in for a second, I was right in the doorway, the chickens usually don't run out...yeah, yeah, I sorta kinda deliberately, knowingly paused to see what would happen. You know how a dozen things at once go through your brain and you let curiosity overcome caution?

Big, slow Muffin and little, quick Nora wandered out. Alanis took after Muffin who squawked and flapped across the yard and I took off after Alanis, whom I sorta kinda knew had been too far away from the chicken to catch up with her but I wanted to see if she'd chase the hen like an Airedale after a varmint. Yup. The poor girl has been in need of some entertainment.

A chicken being chased makes these bubbly noises that are hard to describe: bwak buggwy ack. It was easy to grab Alanis' collar and trot to the back door, the both of us quite cheerful while Muffin glared and settled her feathers.

I guess I've just been too well behaved lately and had to stop before it became a habit.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Another feat of Airedale magic

Alanis weighs 46 to 48 lbs, a nice size. I noticed, however, that when she's on the grooming table and I'm trying to strip her coat, she grrrrooooowwwwwwsssss to the size of a 100-lb Airedale Behemoth, more than doubling the number of square inches of fur.

As for her head, I work and work and get maybe a handful of fuzz. I'm not trying to do a full strip--she'd be the size of a Clydesdale by the time I finished--I just want to strip out enough to keep the color and texture of that thick, thick coat.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Alanis redecorates

She has been very well behaved, so well behaved that I worried about her. Then, she struck.

I was lounging on my bed reading a book when I heard a curious smacking sound. I looked toward the doorway where Alanis stood. Catching my thought-beams, she lifted her head from the spot where she had been grazing. The evidence, a string of red wool, dangled from her mouth.

Normal corner

"You didn't," I said. Her tail wagged once. An expression of puzzled amusement on my face, I walked over and we stood looking down at the formerly pristine corner of the little Gabbeh style rug (a thick, coarse Oriental rug) kept on the upstairs landing. It was now a chewed and ragged corner.

Must not laugh, I thought. "What was so tasty about that particular corner of that particular rug?" I asked. I don't carry dripping hamburgers upstairs or wipe butter on the corners of rugs. Did something about that corner offend her? Is she planning to round off all the corners of that rug? Or is this the mere beginning of a massive redecorating project? All I know for sure is that she has begun normal Airedale procedures.

The chewed corner

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The human handkerchief

It began when I squatted down to put a paper in a bottom file drawer. Alanis, having just finished dinner, decided the back of my sweater made an attractive target. Sniff, sniff. Rub, rub. Ooo, great place for wiping the wet beard and the nubby texture of the sweater felt good against a fuzz-face.

What can a person do at a time like this? Fall over laughing, becoming an invitation for Alanis to wipe her face all over me so that I totally smell like wet Airedale beard and she is clean and dry.

Then she settled in for some serious work on the squeaky fleece toy.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Exciting fossil news

As a result of living with Matilda the cornsnake, I became interested in snakes. Cornsnakes are constrictors with slender, pretty heads. They grow to about 3 feet long, which is a nice size for a pet snake.

A news article about a newly-found snake fossil from 60 million years ago caught my eye yesterday. Found in Columbia, the fossil indicates that the snake was 42 to 45 feet long, weighing over 2.500 pounds. Related to modern boa constrictors, the snake spent most of its time in the water like an anaconda. Hard to imagine the size? This quotation helps:

"This thing weighs more than a bison and is longer than a city bus," enthused snake expert Jack Conrad of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

"It could easily eat something the size of a cow. A human would just be toast immediately."

Good thing we weren't around at the time. We'd be like cookies to an Airedale or bugs to a chicken--it would take a lot of us to fill that tummy.

There are lots of articles about the find. Here's one:

BBC news

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Airedales and Physics

I posted this on the Airedale list.

A few days of sunny, mild weather have made everyone lively and Alanis showed her stuff by doing playbows and tuckbuttruns at the same time as we chased around the yard this afternoon. I've read that people don't truly multi-task at work; they simply switch from one task to another very quickly so that they appear to have their attention on two things at once. I think you can DO more than one thing at the same time even if you don't think about what you're doing. Otherwise no one would be able to raise children.

But back to Alanis. I suspect she might have been switching from one move to another so quickly that she appeared to be doing both at once. She practiced this morning. Early in the day when it was just getting light, I watched her take a show stance at the edge of the patio, which looks down over the lower yard. One second she was facing east and the next second she was facing west, having whirled in an instant and stood again at attention. I'm naming that trick her Spy Move.

A person who knows more about this stuff suggested it's more of a Stealth Move. Others maintain that the laws of physics do not apply to Airedales and they can be in two places at once. Still another theory posits that Airedales are adept at magical illusions. I don't know which is correct.