Winter is coming and I can’t wait, my favourite time of year. Love those cold days, hot chocolate and cosy jumpers and blankets. It is the time of year I feel most alive. It is the time I tend to take leave and go camping, so really looking forward to that. Currently reading Katherine May’s Wintering and finding I can relate to her ideas about how winter, both the season and the metaphorical darker times of life are for nurturing ourselves and building wisdom about life and its cycles. I feel the need to winter now. The need to slow down a bit and just take time to relax and reflect. I find it hard to just take time to sit and read when I am busy all of the time, even when I try to stick to my designated quiet time, I feel guilty for not doing something else and my head is always wandering off thinking about something else I should be doing, or rather think I should be doing. I really do need to just re-set.
Candles, hot choc and a good book what could be better. I had a go at drying some orange slices for decoration, just popped them in a very low oven for a few hours. The kitchen felt a glow with the extra warmth and the warm refreshing fragrance of oranges, to be honest I think they probably need to dry a little longer but it was a fun experiment. MY favourite hot choc recipe involves adding some fresh orange peel and cardamon pods to the milk to infuse, last night the kitchen felt positively glowing with the warm fragrance of orange and cardamon, very much the fragrance of winter; warm and comforting.
I lit a candle and curled up in bed with hot choc and a book. Last time I lit that particular candle, Morty managed to set fire to himself. It was on the bedside table, he jumped up, landed right on top of the candle, gave me a startled glance and flew out of the bedroom with fur on fire, needless to say, I was in quick pursuit! Fortunately his fur was just singed and by the time I got him all was well, no flaming pussy, but I no longer had the pleasant odour of the aromatherapy candle just the fragrance of singed fur. We have three cats but it is always Morty that is the subject of misadventures and misbehaviour. If someone has peeed in the house on something they shouldn’t have you can count on it being Morty. If there is a cat fight outside you can count on Morty being in the thick of it.
After the candle incident Ada took to peering around the bedroom door to check I didn’t have a candle burning before she would come into the room. She has a particularly accusing look for when she is checking up on me. We went weekend camping in the same week as the candle incident and it was cool enough for a camp fire but Ada made a big drama about refusing to come and sit by the fire with us, all the while giving me the same accusatory look. Clearly I am not to be trusted with fire.
Speaking of dogs our two errant hounds are both mystery breeds to a large extant, although we have made educated guesses as to their breed heritage but a week ago we had cause to take Cassie to the vet for Bronte, and we encountered a different vet who had a very strong suspicion of what Cass was. We had previously just gone with the bull arab explanation with some cattle dog, maybe pointer, but she always seemed to be a bit of a mystery we couldn’t quite put a finger on. She has such distinctive looks and she put me in mind of a blue tick coon hound but they are a rare breed in Australia and her ears are no where near long enough for that. The vet was of the opinion that she was definitely an American hunting bred not blue tick, but a catahoula. I must admit I was a little surprised at the caution the vet expressed about her and urged on us, she suggested she was a prime candidate for fear aggression. And while Cass is still showing signs of anxiety in situations with new people, she is progressing. She was not happy about being at the vet. I have to say we do put a lot of effort into training and socialising the dogs in order to avoid problems like fear aggression and anxiety.
Catahoula does make sense though, she has displayed a distinctive herding style that is characteristic of the catahoula and it would explain those big webbed feet of hers. While she is a high drive dog like Ada, she is also an extremely affectionate and gentle dog who loves her creature comforts and her pack. She has claimed the cats as part of her family, especially Hobbs. I can see her natural protectiveness of her family to be a potential source of problems. Would she ever be aggressive? Well she has displayed some resource guarding, which we have largely gotten her out of. She has been inclined to try and herd other dogs away from us, especially Bronte when at the dog park. And we are aware that she can get snappy with other dogs encroaching on Bronte’s space, particularly large dogs, she does not seem bothered by smaller breeds or puppies, she finds dachshunds fascinating, but has a distinct suspicion of adult huskies or german shepherds. She tends to have a line she does not like other dogs, particularly shepherds and huskies to cross where Bron is concerned, I had put the behaviour down to being an extension of her resource guarding with Bronte now the resource in question. It is a behaviour we will work on stopping if possible. Catahoulas do have a reputation for possessive behaviour so this may cause problems.
When we first thought about adopting dogs again I had no plan to take on high drive hunting dogs and yet that is what they are. Like most hunting breeds they have a tendency to independence which sometimes infuriates, training with Ada has been interesting, she really does like to try and think for herself, when her obedience is exceptional I always feel like she is just humouring me and if she thought she knew better she would just as easily ignore me. If she is distracted by a scent at the dog park I know I will be waiting until she is ready before she comes when called, a habit we are working hard to break but I suspect there will always be that fierce independent streak in her. The one thing both our dogs need is a lot of exercise, they are no couch potatoes. Camping, hiking, swimming are all things they don’t just enjoy but actively need to be happy contented dogs. Long walks are a must and fortunately they have each other to chase and play and otherwise wear each other out. They are devoted to each other and each has been good for the other. Ada’s chill friendliness and refusal to be bothered by anything Cass does has helped Cass learn to relax, learn that she does not need to resource guard and that her needs will be meet and she is safe. Ada has a playmate who can take her rough play and loves a wild chase across a paddock as much as she does, (chasing each other, not other animals). We are fortunate in Toowoomba to have access to a couple of fantastic large open dog off leash areas, essential for this pair. I confess in reality they would both be much more suited to farm life, than life in suburbia but so far we have been able to meet their needs. If anything they help keep us fit cause there is no getting out of walking them twice a day.
Sorry this post is just an excuse for gratuitous Ada and Cass pictures.