Mounted Search & Rescue, of sorts

It was a helluva 24 hours.

Sweaty pony in bosalIt started when I went for a quick jog with my dogs on wildlife management land a few miles from home. A beautiful fall day until my black lab, Ruby, disappeared somewhere along the Iowa River.

I called and called, retraced my steps, and circled back. All to no avail. I was now late for work at the local coffeehouse.

When finished there, I raced home and saddled Pep. I figured we could cover more ground than on foot and, of course, we’d have greater access than if I drove.

We jogged and galloped to the river where I’d last seen the dog. Pep was sweaty but game, munching grass while I paused to call my boyfriend. Steve hoped to saddle up and help when he returned home from work.

“Ok, just call me and we’ll meet somewhere out here,” I said.

Less than two hours of daylight remained. Pep and I split a granola bar before getting back on the trail. We galloped another mile, skirting the Iowa and watching for a familiar black canine. At a bend in the path, I eased up and reached around to use my phone.

It had fallen out of my saddlebag.

We about-faced and trotted slowly towards our last resting spot, scanning the ground (Pep was looking for it,pony on path too, I’m sure.).

We met a fisherman and his young son. After hearing the pitiful story, he lent me his phone so I could call mine.

Lost Dog. Lost Phone. We called and cruised back and forth for another hour.

By now, it was getting dark. We were still four miles from home, dogless and phoneless. Heads bowed with fatigue and frustration, we loped back to the farm. Pep got lots of rubs and treats before I turned her back out to the herd.

I borrowed Steve’s phone and glumly returned to the river with a headlamp and a beer. For another hour, I walked, hearing coyotes in every direction. They eat dogs, ya know?

Finally, I heard something upbeat – my own annoying ringtone. I grabbed it out of the weeds. 77 missed calls.

The next morning, I called shelters and posted Lost Dog signs on stop signs and telephone poles.

In the afternoon, a man called me:

“Does your dog have a green collar?”
“Yes!”Black Lab, Ruby
“She’s at my neighbors”
I raced to the address. No one was home. But there in the driveway was a scraggly, old black lab with a green collar. Decidedly not Ruby.

What??

I trudged back down the dirt driveway, thinking how the coincidence would be hilarious if it weren’t so darn cruel. Just as I was getting back in the car, Ruby came bounding around corner of the mobile home.

All’s well. Ends well.

Thanks, Pep, for being part of it.

Dogs and Horses Go Together

Tis the season for polls and surveys. Take a quick one – how many of your horse-owning friends also have dogs?

I’m betting nearly all of them do.

Woof and Hoof. Bark and Buck. Dogs and horses go together.

But how many have dogs that go with them when they ride?

Aussie pup with black labThat’s what I’m looking forward to with Kip, the new addition to our canine family. No surprise that we discovered her while picking up a wagon of hay from my hay guy. His Australian Shepherd had a litter of eight. Rolly polly puppies colored black and white and merle.

Aussies are cut well to the task of Ride Along Dog. (And I’m not talking about the fluffy poodle that sits on a cushion, riding shotgun on a Sunday drive.) They’re built like hearty, long-distance runners, have great endurance and tend to stick with the horse like glue.

Our other dogs – a Basset Hound mutt and a Black Lab – are decidedly NOT Ride Along Dogs. They have neither the physique nor the character for it.

But already Kip is proving worthy to the task. At just four months, I worried about exercising her too much. My vet chuckled. “I think she can probably handle anything you give her. The more exercise the better.” She tracks right along when we head out for our 2-3 mile runs.

Aussie pupWe haven’t introduced her to the herd yet. Should be interesting. Jodi, the four-year old mare, has already shown us she’s super curious and up for a game of ‘Let’s Git the Dog.’

Stay tuned.

Horse Health on Maine’s Mind

Most horse owners are learn-a-holics. They’re interested in improving their horses’ lives. Often it involves the horse and rider partnership. But sometimes the best learning investment can be straight-up science and equine health.

The University of Maine is offering what looks to be an excellent Horse Health Education Conference next month.  It’s at the Pineland Equestrian Center in New Gloucester and features Dr. Mary Rose Paradis of Tufts University as keynote speaker.

The program includes a review of infectious diseases in Maine, vaccinations and diagnostic tests. Respiratory bacterial infections such as strangles and also respiratory viral infections such as equine herpes virus & influenza will be discussed.  An important emphasis will focus on preventing infectious disease by using biosecurity measures on the farm.

There will be an“Ask the Vet” panel discussion with local vets after the presentations.

Sounds like a heckuva line-up for 15 bucks. It’s an all-day affair. You can pack a lunch or buy one there.

For more information, contact Melissa Libby at 800 287 7170 or Melissa.Libby1@maine.edu.  Or register online.

 

 

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