Category Archives: English cocker spaniel

Montana Fields

We try to get out to Montana every year in October for some bird hunting and photography and hiking. This year, we arrived to about an inch of snow. While it is beautiful, it is quite chilly. The good thing about it is that rattlesnakes don’t like cold weather so I didn’t have to worry as much about Emma and Ruby getting bitten.

You may remember Emma as a puppy four years ago. We had great hopes that she would someday become a good flusher and retriever of game birds.

She hasn’t disappointed us. In spite of being quite small, this English field cocker spaniel is full of energy and her cuddly nature takes a back seat when it comes to finding birds. Nothing gets away from her.

If you thought the prairies were only boring grassy fields, you couldn’t be more wrong. The coulees are full of prickly shrubs, birds, and small animals. A fat hare came tearing out of the shrubs here and just as I was about to snap a photo, my battery died.

But later I caught this mule deer running away from all the commotion. I traipsed along behind the Captain and Emma as they did their pheasant hunting thing, hoping for something interesting to photograph, and I saw something the deer had left behind last year — an antler shed. It was only the second time I had ever found one and I was quite happy about stumbling across it.

After the snow from the day before, the mostly clay ground was “wettish,” and while we had heavy clods of mud on our boots, Emma’s feet were getting harder and harder for her to pick up. Besides collecting many burrs in her fur, she had huge clumps of clay on her feet. Here she is getting them soaked off, just before I took the comb and scissors to her curly ears to remove the burrs.

She is usually so energetic, we weren’t sure this was our Emma flaked out on the couch after the day’s outing.

It was Ruby’s turn to go out today, but she is sick. We think she drank some bad water. This has happened one other year and we have given her some meds that we hope will fix her up in a day or two.

PS Now, two days later, Ruby is feeling much better. We are so relieved.

 

Light Play

This morning the dogs let me sleep in until about 6:00. Then Emma tapped the edge of the bed. Bleary-eyed, I let her and Ruby out and wandered around the yard waiting for them to do their business. They were more interested in what might have spent the night in the shrubs by an old tree stump. Maybe a rabbit or a raccoon? I wandered away a few feet and what I saw made me run back into the house to get the camera.

I didn’t care that the ugliest hydro pole in the world was front and center of my photo. I just wanted to record that rainbow.

The first rays of morning light were doing strange things. The hedge around our place is usually all the same colour, but when the light hit patches of it, you would think it had two kinds of trees.

These are all western red cedars with no colour variation (except today).

When the sun went behind a cloud only moments later, the sky turned dark and so did the hedge. You are looking at the same stretch of hedging in the photo below as in the photos above.

The cloud hiding the sun moved on and the morning rays went to work again.

It was a real light show out there this morning. I’m so glad I didn’t sleep through it.

Working to Eat

 

The pileated woodpecker has to work for his meals. This is Woody, who came to check out the old fir stump in my overgrown veggie garden. Notice how his tongue sticks out now and then to help lick up anything  he finds crawling around inside the wood.

After he had his meal, he flew into the forested area around the side of our house to have dessert at one of the other stumps we’ve left there.

I followed him to try to get another photo and was surprised when Junior flew in and landed in a tree quite close to me. You can tell that this is a young bird, maybe a female because of no red malar stripe (moustache). The red on her head is not as brilliant as it will be when she matures.

By the time I recovered from the surprise of her appearance, and refocused the camera, the backyard superintendents woke up from sleeping on the job, and came along barking their fool heads off, scaring the birds away.

I sighed, but couldn’t really reprimand them. After all, they are bird dogs.

 

 

The Helpers

After the (hopefully) last snowfall, the Captain uses the wood splitter to split the firewood into sizes that would more easily fit into the woodstove. The “helpers,” Emma and Ruby, do their best to be useful.

Ruby packs pieces of firewood to various places in the yard, while Emma checks the place over for mice and rats.

Something has been here under this old pile of lumber. Emma gets right into her work of flushing out the “something.”

The dirt flies everywhere, but a lot of it sticks to Emma’s once shiny coat.

Whatever had been there, must have moved. Emma tries the other side to block off its escape route.

Finally, the Captain calls, “Okay, that’s enough. Look at you. So dirty!”

They find a chunk of wood and help with the firewood job again.

While the Captain rests in a nearby lawn chair, he takes off his gloves.

Two sets of dog ears perk up (as much as floppy spaniel ears can perk up).

“The gloves are off” has a different meaning for these guys. They are alert and eager to retrieve any gloves that may soon be flying around the yard.

“Here I come! Look at me!” says Emma.

“Do it again, Dad!”

A Dog’s Breakfast

It is morning. Ruby is lying low while I get my coffee going.  I can almost hear her thinking, “See? I’m being good.”

Emma takes her cue from the older dog and lies low too. They both know there’s a good chance they’ll get a treat before breakfast, just so I won’t feel so guilty about eating mine before going to feed them.

The tiny Melmac dishes have been part of our household since they belonged to our cats 40 years ago. They are the dogs’ snack dishes now.

I usually crumble half a slice of bread into each dish, add a bit of whatever tasty morsel might be around – a sprinkle of parmesan, a tiny dash of half and half, whatever is handy – and add some warm water. I walk over to the hallway with Emma and Ruby right behind me. Without being told, they each sit in their usual spots, Emma to the right, Ruby to the left. I place the dishes on the floor and as always, Emma looks up at me while Ruby stares at her dish. When I say, “Okay,” they lap up the goodies.

Afterwards, like the good girls they are, they bring me the dishes to put in the sink.

Here is Ruby with her brown dish.

And here is Emma with her cream dish. (Her pictures are often  blurry because she is always in motion.)

Then, partially satisfied, they lie at my feet until I’ve had my coffee and toast, knowing that afterwards we’ll go downstairs and they’ll have a real “dog’s breakfast.”

“Manners matter,” Ruby says.

Emma says, “I’m cute.”

“That’s not enough,” the old dog warns.

“And you should follow suit.

 

Just lie down flat, and roll your eyes

To watch what’s going on.

Pretty soon we’ll get our snack

And breakfast won’t be long.

 

Sit there patiently and wait.

Never whine or jump.

If you do, we’ll miss our snack

So sit down on your rump.

 

When the mistress says, ‘Okay!’

We can begin to eat.

You’d better not start in too soon,

She doesn’t like a cheat.

 

“Oh yeah, but Ruby,” Emma says,

“You always watch your food.

I watch, adoringly, her face,

And capture her good mood.”

 

Nose Prints on the Window

The rabbits know it’s spring. They’re doing what rabbits do, breeding like rabbits. The young ones are rather naive and often sit out in the open. Don’t they know there are eagles nesting in the trees close by? They will be wanting to feed their babies. Hasenpfeffer is one of their favourite meals.

And what about the owls that call at night? They’re hoping that when they call, “Who? Who?” a rabbit will be stupid enough to answer and say, “It’s me — Dumb Bunny.”

Hawks, owls, eagles — all are hoping for a meal of rabbit stew.

Bugsy is getting nervous and runs for  the hedge. “I’m out of sight. I can’t see any danger,” he thinks, with his juicy hindquarters sticking out for any passing predator to size up.

The worst, most dangerous predator of all is the English field cocker spaniel who is straining to get her nose through the window.

“I just want to play tag,” she says.

Brother and Sister

Emma, our field bred English cocker spaniel came from the Edmonton area. That’s a long way from here – about 1400 kms. She is three years old now and has a brother, Gus (from a new litter – same parents), living in town. Gus came for a visit the other day. We kept Emma outside for this visit. It was Gus’s special time.

The bowl of walnuts and hazelnuts that was on the coffee table was the first thing to be investigated. Bowls seem to have special meaning to both Emma and Gus.

One leap onto the table  and the nuts were all over the floor. I had to laugh because it brought back so many memories of puppy fiascoes that I had to deal with when Emma was Gus’s age. Everything had to be explored and there were still many rules that needed to be tested.

Like Emma, Gus is energetic, playful, and loving. He showed us how smart he is by lying down and waiting for the treat he knew was coming. A little piece of cheese makes a great reward for good behaviour. 

Notice the big mitts on him? Proof that he is Emma’s brother. She has the same big paws. In the photo of Emma (below) her head looks big because of the way I had the camera right in her face. In this picture she is the same age as Gus is now.

Here she is several months older, but she still has some growing time ahead. Her ears are not yet covered in long curls and the tail doesn’t have all the “feathers” that will make it look like a flag waving.

We loved meeting Gus, and recognized so many behaviours and physical traits that were so much like Emma’s. Their parents both have pedigrees a mile long, loaded with Field Trial Champions, and these puppies have the best of their genes. Sweet and loving and very smart. Can you tell I’m over the moon about them?