2019 New Zealand trip

Summary: This is a bucket list trip that I planned out using a local travel agency from New Zealand called “New Zealand Fine Tours”. They specialize in custom fly, walk, sail, drive tours of the country. We were to start in Dunedin (accidentally) and make our way to Auckland. Due to a missed flight to Queenstown, we got an extra leg added to the journey when the airline routed us to Dunedin because the air-traffic controllers in Queenstown had the flu. These are just the pictures from my phone. I haven’t gone through the pictures from the Nikon yet.

Here is the itinerary:

Saturday, April 13, 2019Depart Dulles
Sunday, April 14, 2019Fly – Time change adjustment
Monday, April 15, 2019Day 1 – Oops…pitstop in Dunedin (35 hours travel time) – Small Bus
Monday, April 15, 2019Day 1 – Welcome to Queenstown
Tuesday, April 16, 2019Day 2 – Free day exploring Queenstown – Cable Tram
Wednesday, April 17, 2019Day 3 – Milford Sound – Cruise & Hike
Thursday, April 18, 2019Day 4 – Drive to Franz Josef Glacier – Rental Car
Friday, April 19, 2019Day 5 – Explore Franz Josef Glacier – Helicopter
Saturday, April 20, 2019Day 6 – Tran to Christchurch – Rental Car
Sunday, April 21, 2019Day 7 – Train to Picton & Ferry to Wellington – Train
Monday, April 22, 2019Day 8 – Free day in Wellington
Tuesday, April 23, 2019Day 9 – Fly Wellington to Rotorua – Plane
Wednesday, April 24, 2019Day 10 – Thermal springs – Hike
Thursday, April 25, 2019Day 11 – Private driver to Hobbitton – Limo
Thursday, April 25, 2019Day 11 – Private driver to Auckland – Limo
Friday, April 26, 2019Day 12 – Explore Auckland – Walk
Saturday, April 27, 2019Day 13 – Depart Auckland
Saturday, April 27, 2019Day 14 – Layover in San Fransisco
Saturday, April 27, 2019Day 14 – Welcome home! (23 hours travel time)
We traveled 1,697 miles by coach, sail, helicopter, rental car, train, ship and airplane… The theme of the trip… modes of transportation… We did hike in Franz Josef and we did a mountain tram in Queenstown… but I could’t show that easily on the map
Strange effect that I accidentally did with my camera to record in VR mode
4/26 – Auckland – On the way home from a very long walk I saw this place called “Sushi Train” and thought it would be a neat place to go for dinner. You sit down at the bar (or you can get a table) and a little conveyor belt, like delivers your luggage at the airport, has plates of sushi, deserts, and cooked items that pas in front of you. Great idea as you have very little idea how much you are spending until you check out. The plate colors indicate the cost of the sushi. $2.50 for the white, $3.50 for the blue, $4.50 for the green, $5.50 for the orange, and $650 for the purple. Mike had Cider and I had a Sprite… total…$79.50NZD for the Sushi
4/26 – Auckland – Here is a video of the Sushi Train … pretty cool idea! I cannot imagine this succeeding in the US without some kind of lawsuit from people touching the food as it goes by. People in new Zealand are much more honest and well behaved than in America.
4/25 – Auckland – When I was planning out this trip, I figured that we would be really active through the entire trip and so we should end it on a high note with a luxury room. Indeed I have shin splints from walking far more than I am accustomed to. This is the view from our 9th floor room in Auckland.
4/25 – Auckland – At least you can close the wall to the bathroom!!!
4/25 – Auckland – I haven’t put pictures of the rooms in this video blog… but this room took the prize for strangest room. The bathroom is completely open to the room! Why would you ever want such a thing?
4/24 – On the way to Auckland – Of course the Human Locus needed to stop and the driver (Alan) was all for it. The driver wanted to take us to a nicer Cheese Factory that has a cafe (and is recommended by the tour company… ) but it was closed because today is yet another national holiday. So we stopped at this little dive on the side of the road.
4/24 – Hobbiton – Every part of the set is perfectly realistic… except it is to the scale of a human that is 5 foot 4 inches tall. So everything is a little small.
4/24 – Hobbiton – There are 44 hobbit holes that look absolutely real from every angle. But if you get close enough to look through the window, you see that they are just facades built into the dirt. The chimneys and accoutrements are perfectly to scale. There are 44 of these hobbit holes. 39 of them appeared in the movie. I got pictures of all 44. But I won’t bore you with all of them.
4/24 – Hobbiton – See the tree in the middle of the frame in the distance? When filming the movie there was no tree so they cut down an oak tree and put it on the hill during the first filming. Then the tree dropped its leaves and they needed to take the shots over. So they built that Oak tree from a wire frame, covered it in fiber glass, and attached every single leaf by hand to create a tree that is not just photo-realistic… but you cannot tell that it isn’t a real tree until you touch the leaves.
4/24 – Hobbiton – I really thought that a visit to the set would be stupid, but how could I go all the way to New Zealand and drive right past the set without visiting. I am so glad I did. It was stunningly well done. The original set was torn down at the direction of the government because by contract the land had to be returned to its natural state. But when the movies were so successful, the government allowed the land owner to rebuild the entire set. The hobbit holes are just facades, but they are exactly like the movie. After walking through the set, we watched part of the movie and it was amazing that the movie was more real after having walked the set.
4/24 – Hobbiton – Welcome to the entrance to the set where Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were shot. We had a limo take us from Rotorua to Auckland and it passes by the Hobbiton set. We knew this ahead of time and had a tour arranged to view the set.
4/23 – Rotorua – As part of the Mitai encampment, the center was this cold water pool. What was really interesting was this black sand that was settled in the water. The jets of water coming from the ground disturbed the sand in such an interesting way. But what was also good was this video caught the entire introduction of the guy that was our lead.
4/23 – Rotorua – The bus to the Mitai tribal village… I have no idea how much I paid for this little excursion, but it was way too much… Food was provided, buffet style, and I payed for it again all night. It was a 12 acre piece of land that was isolated from development that the native people had turned into a show to describe their history. The guys had fake face tattoos to look tribal, and the entire village was about the quality of a temporary movie set.
4/23 Rotorua Geiser erupting
4/23 – Rotorua Volcanic mud – Sounds like something out of The Princes Bride and smells very much like the description from the movie
4/23 – Rotorua Volcanic mud
4/23 – Rotorua Volcanic mud
4/23 Rotorua Volcanic creek
4/23 – Rotorua – Iridescent green pond at the base of the champaign lake. It looks like a pond of green highlighter ink
4/23 – Rotorua – Champagne lake – the water is saturated with minerals. Sulfer fumes evaporate from the near boiling hot water. The water spontaneously bubbles like Champagne.

4/23 Rotorua active Geiser

(Note… I was disappointed… the mound is man made to focus the geyser. The eruption occurs naturally every 36 to 72 hours but for the guests, they force it to erupt by pouring soap chips into the top to break the barrier between the super heated water and the cooler water.
4/23 – Rotorua Geyser just as it starts
4/23 Rotorua – It is amazing that grass is growing on the edge of a sulfer lake
4/23 Rotorua – The sulfer pools create bubbles under mineral caps that sometimes collapses… that is one stinky hole!
4/23 – Rotorua – All around the town you can walk through greenery and see smoke stacks of sulfer steam rising. The entire town smells like a U-Boat that has been at sea for too long with a chef that has a sense of humor for serving cabbage and onions every meal.
4/22 The plane from Wellington to Rotorua
4/21 – Wellington – The view from our hotel room before the rain came
4/21 – The train from Christchurch to Pecton
4/21 – Just one diesel engine to get us from Christchurch to Pecton
4/21 – Train from Christchurch to Pecton – The train cars are very modern
4/20 – We arrived in Christchurch at 7pm and had to leave at 6am. This was a very pink room in the B&B. Glad we were only there for a few hours to sleep and shower!
4/20 – The train from Greymouth to Christchurch – Going into a tunnel
4/20 – Train from Greymouth to Christchurch – It rained pretty hard the entire way
4/20 – Train from Greymouth to Christchurch – Very posh coach class seating
4/20 – The train from Greymouth to Christchurch – We are going to go up a very steep incline so we start out with 2 engines. When we get half way there, they will add a third diesel electric engine to get the train up the hill
4/19 – At the end of the helicopter ride to the Franz Josep Glacier
4/19 – helicopter ride from the Franz Josep Glacier back
4/19 – They carved out a flat area on the Franz Josep Glacier to land the helicopter – The landing area was only about 6 feet by 6 feet!
4/19 – The helicopter just before takeoff to the Franz Josep Glacier
4/18 – Drive from Queenstown to Franz Josep – Mike is a human locus… we had to stop every couple of hours for him to eat or go to the restroom. During our 4 hour drive he had to stop at a town right out of “Pricella Queen of the Desert” named Haast. This was the only bar.

For lunch we had a lovely dish of french fries (called chips), ground up fish stuff shaped into rings and fried, blue tongue muscles … battered and fried, that fake crab bread stuff that they put in asian food… battered and fried, some white fish chunks… battered and fried, and something that tasted like squid but didn’t look like it… battered and fried. The only thing not fried… was the beer, wine or water.
4/18 – Drive from Queenstown to Franz Josep – The drive from Queenstown to Franz Josep was probably the craziest road I have every driven on. It snaked along the edge of a mountain range and pretty much looked like a snake for roughly 500km.
4/17 – Milford Sound – The Kiwi bird is not often seen in the wild. They are said to have the intelligence of a 4 year old and are inquisitive. Indeed this little fellow wasn’t the least bit scared of us and walked right up to us to investigate us. They are said to rummage through your packs and take stuff and then tease you by not giving it back.
4/17 – Milford Sound – We hiked about 3 hours along the sound to get to this waterfall. It is on a scenic trail that hikers pay to go on and takes months to hike the entire trail. There were about 8 hikers that begged a ride back with us on the pontoon boat that we took across the sound to get here.
4/17 – Milford Sound – This is the airplane that we took from Queenstown to Milford Sound. 8 seats plus the pilot and co-pilot. I got to fly co-pilot on the way back which was amazing and probably the highlight of the entire trip for me.
4/16 – Queenstown – This is our first real day after flying for over 35 hours the previous days. This is from the top of the highest point in Queenstown looking down over the mini-car flume ride. $30NZ for 5 rides in little cars on a free track on top of the mountain. Just to the right of the trees in the picture is our B&B at the very bottom of the hill.

Replacing the Drive Gear

The little train has worked flawlessly until a friend visited. The train ran around the track once and then stopped. The motor was running but the train wasn’t moving. I figured something slipped and it would be easy to fix. No dice.

I took the engine apart to get to the drive gearbox and found that the main drive shaft gear had cracked in half. So I went to the Bachmann site for parts to order the replacement only to find that they are out of stock. So I emailed them asking when they would be in stock. They didn’t seem to have much interest.

I then searched the internet and found that the gear commonly cracks and a third party called “NorthWest Short Line” at http://shop.osorail.com makes a replacement gear for $11.95. I ordered two since Shipping was $5.95 regardless of the quantity. I also figured that the gear was likely to break again.

QtyItem #DescriptionPrice EachTotal Price
22223-6#1 Bachmann 4-4-0 & 2-6-0 axle gear 24T$11.95$23.90

The gears arrived today and I took the gear box apart, took the drive shaft to the garage with the gear and used a rubber hammer and a small socket from a socket wrench set to tap the gear down onto the drive shaft. After getting it perfectly centered on the little grooves that gripped the gear to the shaft I put the drive gears back together. I then put a bunch of nylon gear grease on them and reassembled the train.

In the process of putting the train back together I found that the mechanism that simulates driving the valves that open and close for the steam pistons was mangled. I tried to straighten it back up but couldn’t do it without taking the entire thing apart more thoroughly. No-one will ever notice it as I never noticed it until it was apart. So I left it as was.

When I put the train back together it worked perfectly. I ran it around the track a couple of times and then cleaned up. My hands were covered in the electrically conductive grease that coats all of the parts that pick up electricity from the track. I have more of the grease and will dab it on another time.

Woola and Goofy fight

it started in the kitchen. Goofy fought him down and the fight was done before I could get. Then Goofy started coming down the hall and Woola just jumped him from the back. I came running and Goofy dropped to the floor… probably of fear of me as I was yelling at them. I grabbed Woola and threw him into the kitchen. He came back and I tried to grab him and he ran past me. I chased him into the bedroom and then grabbed him by the collar, slapped him on the ass and then drug him down to the basement.

I checked Goofy all over and he had some missing fur patches but is otherwise OK. The rest of the dogs are hiding. I don’t want to leave Athena out with Woola in the house. Everything is ok now. I have calmed down and am about to call Nate. I wish Woola would get adopted and get out of here. That was the dumbest thing I have done in a long while. I mean dumbest thing in bringing that stupid dog home.

Maddy – Dog sitting a bad dog

A friend Hans and I went to a retreat out at Priest Field and Mike graciously agreed to watch Hans’ dogs. Mike had to leave for the dog event at noon and locked Maddy in the new crate that Bill S had given us as a gift. She destroyed the crate by the time Mike got home at 5:30pm.

Oscar – and the electric fence

Oscar walked through the fence again. 😤 I recall buying a replacement generator and just checked. I did and it is twice as powerful so I am going to switch over to that one


Zapped twice so far, more stubborn than smaet

smart. Emptied his anal glands second time

Line is shorting under the gate though. I can hear it popping now with the stronger source. I’ll disconnect the hurried line there. Sorry for all the txts

Oscar – the sock eater

From Mike:

Oscar ate one of your socks, didn’t know where he found it until I found the other one on your end table. I was able to make him throw it up. I’m taking him with me.


Oscar is the new pooch and of course he couldn’t hold it all night and had to go out at 3am. He had diarrhea pretty bad. At least he is house trained.

Jay-Z: Farewell

Jay-Z finally got adopted. I haven’t written much at all since Jay-Z came back. He didn’t change or grow a bit while we had him. He has to be the dumbest dog we have ever fostered and no matter what we did with him he didn’t learn. But at least he wasn’t a dog that damaged anything or got into too much trouble. He also respected gates and doors. About the worst thing he did was scratch on the doors whenever he wanted what was on the other side. The second worst thing was that you couldn’t get him to come back to you if he got outside. At night he would bark continuously into the back field as if something was there… but there never was anything. We had to lure him back inside by shaking a bowl of food.

Overall, since he largely didn’t change or do anything different, there wasn’t much to write about. The family that adopted him lives in Culpepper. They visited last weekend to see him and liked him. Mike drove him down to Culpepper (1.5 hours) to see if he would try to kill their cat. He had shown aggression toward smaller animals and had dominated Clifford in our house. So there was question as to if he would get along with their cat.

It turns out he sniffed the cat and then went about his stupidity of running around without any purpose. I am glad they liked him, but I am 50/50 that he will be returned again. Not holding my breath.

Jay-Z is back again

Well… Jay-Z was gone for a little over a week, but he is back. No-one wants this little dog. And, unfortunately, he seems to really like it here. I can’t seem to break him of his bad habits and I swear that he is the dumbest dog I have ever worked with. He has grown enough that he can now jump any gate we have and can hop on any bed without missing a step. So every morning I wake up with Goofy laying on my pillow and Jay-Z somewhere else on the bed. The moment I start petting Goofy before I get up I get a 4 toed splayed paw right in the face as Jay-Z leaps over Goofy to start playing.

He is an energetic little thing but he has no clue that his claws scratch pretty bad. He has raked my arms, right cheek, and across my mouth on a number of occasions. I go to work looking like someone tried to cut me after he has gotten too excited.

Hopefully someone will take him in that can keep him and put up with him.

Maggie and Max come out for a visit

Hans brought Maggie and Max out for a doggy visit. Maggie just had surgery on her rear right foot to remove a cyst. It had been growing quickly and so it appeared to be cancer. They removed one toe so now the foot looks like a chicken foot. So, I called her “Chicken Foot” when playing with her.

Goofy and Clifford like Maggie and Max. But Satan’s Little Helper (aka Jay-Z) has a problem with Maggie so he had to be locked up separately. Maggie, Max, Goofy, and Clifford played outside for a while and then came inside and played more. Satan’s Little Helper couldn’t stand it and barked his head off from upstairs where he was sequestered with Mike in Mike’s room.

When Maggie and Max left after dinner we let Satan’s Little Helper out and he just went crazy dancing around and playing. He was so cute I almost thought that he was a good dog. Then he got into something just to remind me that he was not learning anything. At least he didn’t have any accidents.

Jay-Z is Satan’s Little Helper

I was working on doing a test installation in a VM for my new employer and I was letting the Simpsons play in the background. I got to the episode where Bart’s dog (Santa’s Little Helper) gets sick and we start seeing the world from the dog’s point of view. I had to stop and watch that episode because I think Jay-Z must think like that little dog.

So I am now calling Jay-Z “Satan’s Little Helper”.

Yesterday when I was leaving he got all excited and wanted to play. I don’t know what came over him. He started running around doing play bows to me and then followed me to the door. He then got up and watched through the window as I drove away. This is something that Goofy use to do when he was with me for about a year. Goofy has since stopped watching me leave as I think he has gotten accustomed to me always coming home to him.

Last night while I was working on the test installation Jay-Z appeared, slobbered on my keyboard and then disappeared. A bit later I realized that packaging from my trash can was all over the floor in the hall outside my office. That little monster is so destructive. Then I heard Mike bellow from upstairs that Jay-Z had pooped in his office while Mike was in his office. Just rolled my eyes.

I have never had a dog more than a week that couldn’t be house trained and this one has been here for 6. Most dogs at least try to let you know they need to go out before they have and accident and none do it right in front of you. But Jay-Z doesn’t seem to communicate.

I was up late last night trying to figure out why the application installed but wouldn’t start so I went right to sleep when I hit the bed. Goofy silently hopped in bed and laid beside me with his head on my pillow. I only know this because when I woke at 4am he was sleeping soundly against me with his back to me and his head on my pillow. (Here is Goofy McGoofface… aka Goofy… aka Goofball).

The thought in my head was “Goofball is a God send”. He was crazy at first and no-one wanted him but he snapped in shape with just a bit of work and he is the greatest dog I have had. But Jay-Z… not so much. The moment I started petting on Goofy Jay-Z came down from Mike’s room and jumped on the bed and put a paw right in my face. He then started biting on Goofy and trying to wrestle. Goofy would push him away and then come lay beside me for his morning pet-pet. But Jay-Z wouldn’t have that and started jumping on me. So, I got up and fed them. Jay-Z started trying to play bow to me and so I played back.

I think Jay-Z is just dumb but he isn’t mean. We have had mean ones and they can be tamed. Jay-Z just seems like he is stuck in eternal puppy mode even though he is over a year old. Maybe he will come around.

Jay-Z gets aggressive

Today we were having dinner and Jay-Z was begging at the table. But tonight he got really aggressive at trying to get food from the table. Mike swatted him on the nose and I fussed at Mike. Jay-Z came at my plate and I blew in his face. He growled and then started snapping at me. Mike grabbed a newspaper and swatted him in the face a couple of times and he got really nasty. We subdued him and fussed at him.

I don’t know what we are going to do with this dog. Mike and I started talking that maybe this is one of those dogs that just won’t come around. I told HART that I wasn’t going to keep this one and it couldn’t be in permanent foster. So a decision is going to have to be made as to if we keep him in a foster slot while more adoptable dogs are being put down at the pound daily.

This is where fostering dogs becomes not-so-fun. No life is expendable. But it is hard to watch so many well behaved and adoptable dogs get put down when this dog is taking up a foster slot.

Jay-Z the butt sniffer

Well… we are going down hill with Jay-Z. He has figured out where he will get food. But now he starts barking his head off when you are in the pantry getting the food divided into the bowls. He has stopped biting at your pants and now tries to sneak up behind you and stick his nose in your butt.

Stop laughing. At least I shut the door to the bathroom when I take a shower. Neither Duane nor Mike seem to do that as I have heard both of them yelling at Jay-Z right after I hear the water turn off to the showers.

And the stupid dog is now counter surfing in the kitchen and bathroom and taking stuff back to his bed. I haven’t found anything that works with him. I have found that he can’t stand to have you blow in his face. So instead of fussing at him (which doesn’t work) I just blow in his face and stops whatever he is doing.

Jay-Z is unadoptable

This dog has to be the dumbest dog I have ever seen. He has not learned a single thing since being here. I can’t get him to know where to go sit to wait for food, can’t get him to learn paw, can’t get him house trained, and can’t get him to stop gathering up all of the toys in the house and guarding them in his bed. About the only thing the dog has learned not to do is bite at my pants leg when I walk near him.

This dog has the most basic brain I have seen.

Jay-Z is a cry baby

Oh my stars! Jay-Z is a basket case. He cried all night long. But he didn’t piss in his little room created by gating him in the hallway to the bathroom. But I let him out to take him to the back yard and he pissed the moment he got in the hall.

This evening when I got home I lost track of him. When Mike got home from whatever nerd game he is playing (Magic the Gathering? OMG, they actually are using paper cards. And I bet they are dressing up like wizards and sitting on some shag carpeted floor of the color of olive green) he started fussing that there was poop in his office.

Yep… Jay-Z prefers to poop in Mike’s office upstairs. I chuckled. I can’t smell it from my office.

Welcome Jay-Z

Well, we got the next foster. Jay-Z. He looks like he is about a year old and a mix of some kind of hunting breed and maybe a lab. HART thinks he is a Pointer/Lab Mix. I don’t know.

Before you start thinking he is a good looking dog, remember that you can take over 100 pictures of a troll with a digital camera and one is bound to come out good.

Jay-Z is not new to HART. He was adopted out once before and brought back. After interacting with him for less than an hour I can see why. He has no manners, nips, and is toy aggressive. In less than an hour he had roamed around the house, taken every toy he could find to a bed, pissed on the 150 year old grandfather clock from the German castle, and chewed the rung of an old Lincoln rocker.

This one is going to be a lot of work. Thank goodness I have been studying that “zen” shit. I didn’t lose my temper once even after I realized that the finish on that clock is now destroyed.

Venus: Farewell

The adoption for Harley Venus seems to have been a good one. The vet checks worked out and the home visit worked. She finally has gone to a home that we think can handle her. After a fair amount of work she did turn into a pretty good dog. She is still skittish and aggressive when cornered but is getting better. The new home is aware and they will continue to work with her.

Her neck healed up perfectly and you can’t tell that she was cut up so badly. Her hair has grown in and she is a very handsome dog. After all of the problems we had with her, she stands out as a pretty good horse sized dog. I won’t miss her though.

Oakley: Farewell

Oakley (aka Weasel) went to his new home. He was kind of fun once we got him mostly house trained. He grew about 1/4 his original size from when we got him. He was funny that he would run through the house and just jump on anyone or any other dog that he spotted. And he would always jump in the bed and curl up against you. He really liked affection and wanted to sit in your lap.

The new home that he went to has cats and they reported that he is terrorizing the cats. We fully expected that it would be something like that old Bugs Bunny cartoon with the little dog that snuck up behind the cat and would yap at it causing it to startle and leap up to the ceiling.

He was one of the more fun rescues.

Venus meets the chicken killer

I am going to hell. I took Harley (aka Venus… what a stupid name. Really… the darn dog has a clown face that is Harlequin in every way and yet the intake person at HART names the dog Venus? WTF…. ok… yea I have cracked) out in the back yard. She can go out without a leash now and is doing well. But she decided that she wanted to stick that big head through the fence (even with a cone on!!!).

Well… I was surprised that the chicken killer could shock the dog through such thick fur, but it did. That dog ran backwards all the way to the house and won’t go out in the yard. I am going to hell. I started laughing and was doubled over. I am going to hell, but I will have great abs from laughing. I have cracked.

Oakley is a little pooper

I went to a cookout today and got home at about 4:30pm. Mike was out in the back yard and the house smelled of dog poop. I got everything unloaded from the truck and went out back. Goofy spotted me and went ballistic. He jumped all over me like a puppy and was exceptionally affectionate. Clifford was equally happy and came over woofing at me.

When Mike got to the back deck he said that he had gone out to the garden and locked Oakley in the crate by the bed downstairs and that he had just gone crazy. He peed and pooped in the crate. So Mike took the little pooper outside and then came in and cleaned out the crate and the footprints through the house.

Mike and I were standing there in the hall talking about the back yard landscape when the little pooper (or should I say “pisser”) squatted and started peeing in the dog bed in the hall. Mike started fussing at the little beast and the thing didn’t even register that he was being fussed at. He just kept on peeing. Mike grabbed him and took him outside and I drug the bed out onto the deck.

The little beastie is only 4 months old. But it is odd for a male to not be house trained or crate trained by this time. The woman that had originally said that she would take him for foster has backed out. So, once again a non-rescue overnight emergency foster situation is now a full on foster situation for a dog that isn’t damaged. He might get adopted quickly but I prefer when we take in dogs that need a bit of work to turn them from uncontrollable to something good. Anyone can foster this little thing. I just prefer the ones that we do better at than most fosters do.

Goofy learns what a skunk is

Right near midnight I was laying in bed nursing a cold when Goofy come tearing through the house and jumps on the bed. He starts flopping around like crazy and then jumps up and starts running through the house. I thought it was Oakley and then I smelled it. Even with a severely stopped up nose I could smell skunk.

Turns out Mike was out in the back yard taking Oakley and Venus for a walk when Goofy started stalking a skunk in the upper area of the back yard. He followed it into the bushes where he got sprayed in the face. Apparently that stuff burns and makes him foam at the mouth. He was violently trying to rub his face on the rugs and bed comforter.

Mike took him in the bathroom and washed him off. He calmed down after that. This morning he wouldn’t set foot near that area of the yard.

Venus goes to the vet

On Friday Venus started spotting. She had not been spayed because she was so underweight and she had Lyme disease. But as soon as she went into heat she had to get spayed. So she went to the vet Friday morning. She had complications with bleeding so the vet kept her overnight. She came back to our place at around 2pm and has been sleeping all day.

Farewell Bull, Welcome Oakley

Bull went to his new home today. He turned out to be a decent dog. He is kind of stupid but he had some bright moments also. Mike texted me at about 4pm asking if he could bring home another dog that didn’t kennel well. It turned out to be a border collie named Oakley that is 4 months old. 

The little dog is a spastic creature. It can’t sit still and if left for a moment on its own it just starts tearing up anything around. It jumps on everything including people and has no doggy manners.

Bull in a china shop

Mike got home from the Wine social at the winery next door at about 4:30pm. He had Venus and Bull with him when he got home and I was in the basement working on the quilt. I had mowed the front field and outside of the fence (about half the property) when the belt on the tractor broke so I stopped. He mows with the zero-turn mower so I didn’t mow the rest of the property… he had already started earlier and stopped for the Wine social.

So he came down to the basement and told me that Duane would be home at around 10pm and he was going to go out and mow and to listen for Venus in case she got into anything. He wasn’t outside for more than 15 minutes when I heard this huge crash. I ran upstairs to find Bull in the corner where all of Mike’s plants are. He had tried to get to Mike through the windows and had knocked over all of the plant stands and managed to break a number of pots. I fussed at them and then got them all into the basement where I could keep an eye on them.

When Mike got in he came down to the basement and said “why are they all down here” and I said “you will see”. He said “I didn’t see anything. Did they knock anything over?” and I said “go upstairs… you will see”. He did see and he just started cleaning up without saying a word. I came up and started dinner and was somewhat surprised that he was diligently repotting plants and cleaning up without fussing at the dogs at all. He is quick to fuss at Goofy and call him a bad dog, yet he won’t fuss at the fosters at all.

Venus and Bull spent the evening humping each other an playing. They were playing so rough that even Goofy backed out of the fray and came and sat beside me watching. Venus would hump Bull and then they would tumble around and Bull would hump Venus. By the way… Venus is a female.

When they were done playing (after about 2 hours) Venus was exhausted and went over to the water bowl and drank half the 2 gallon bucket. She then laid down beside the bowl and just put her face in the bowl. Every once in a while she would drink more water. She has an incredibly thick coat and she gets really hot.

Mak leaves, Venus returns, Bull gets adopted

Mak went back to his foster and was super happy to see his foster. He has a lot of detachment anxiety. He was a good dog but he is a difficult one to get adopted because he doesn’t show well due to being aggressive with other dogs. But like all of the HART dogs, he will eventually find the right home.

Venus (aka Clown dog) is returning today. She was the one that’s neck got slashed open when someone tried to cut the mats out of her hair. She got adopted and went to her new home for a week and a half only to start showing her breed’s personality traits. Great Pyrenees are protective dogs and she started being protective of the owners when people came over. She needs to be in a home with other dogs to control that trait. She liked their cat but the cat didn’t like her.

So Clown dog is back. She gets along with Bull (aka Stupid) and Goofy so it will all be fine. Just a house full of dogs.

Bull had a good application and they came and looked at him on Saturday and sent in the final adoption. He goes home next weekend. They have an older Cocker Spaniel and their kids wanted a dog that could get on the bed and would do tricks. Bull will fetch, give paw, and is good on a leash. So this will very likely work out well. He had changed a lot in the 3 weeks we had him.

Maggie gone, Mak arrives

Gary came and picked up Maggie after his vacation. She settled in pretty well and seemed really attached to me.  She pretty much stayed glued to me whenever I was home and if she could, she would get in bed and try to sleep next to me. Goofy didn’t seem to care and would just let her push him out of the way.

As Maggie left, a new dog came to stay for a bit. Mak is being fostered by someone in HART but they needed to go away for a week so we took in for a week. He looks like a mini version of Sparky but his tail has been docked. He is mostly brown with a white face.

Mak has had trouble getting adopted because he doesn’t get along with other dogs well. He always wants to dominate dogs at the events. We politely introduced him to Goofy, Clifford and Bull and he did just fine. He doesn’t play with them at all and hides under the piano. So we draped a cloth over the piano so that he could have a little cave to be comfortable in.

Makhas another issue. He guards the house… from everyone. When I come home he follows me around the house doing these low “woof” sounds. Woof… pause 10 seconds… woof… pause… and he darts from wall to wall or column to column an peeks around to woof at me. This is a guarding behavior. He eventually will come down and try to nip at my heels. If I turn around he doesn’t run away and he continues to puff his cheeks and woof at me even with me petting him.

He is just displaced and has an anxiety that he won’t get over till he has a permanent home. But with his personality he will guard his home a little more than most people are comfortable. He will do this stalking woofing thing when they have guests which will be disturbing to guests.

Bull, I’m just stupid happy

We have had Bull for little more than a week. At first I didn’t like him at all. His fur is not soft and he looks kinda dumb with his big head and long legs. But he loves playing with Goofy and is just stupid happy. I mean when you get up in the morning he wags so much that his back feet step right and left from the wag of his tail. He is smart enough that if you raise your voice to him he just stops whatever he is doing and drops whatever is in his mouth.

But last night was rough on my back. Goofy always sleeps with me. But this morning I woke up with Goofy laying next to me with his head on my pillow and Bull laying against my side with his head on top of Goofy. They were just happy as can be sleeping. The surprising part is that Bull got on the bed without waking me and I sleep really light.

The funniest thing of all is to watch him with the doggy door. Goofy has figured out that Bull can’t figure out the doggy door. So they will be playing and Goofy will tease Bull with a toy and when Bull starts to chase him, he will run out the doggy door and then run to the glass doors where Bull can see him. Bull will chase him to the doggy door and then stop as Goofy disappears. He will cock his head sideways and look at the door, then run over to the glass doors and dance around as Goofy shakes the toy just on the other side of the glass. At first Bull would head but the glass but now he just stops and dances. It drives Bull crazy. It is like a magic portal that lets Goofy have a magic force field.

Maggie arrives

We are dog sitting a friends dog that was adopted years ago through HART. Maggie is a smallish black lab mix. She has bug eyes like a poodle and is needy. She came to HART looking like a much older dog and was under a lot of stress. Her fur had fallen out from her chin down to her chest.

Once she recovered from the stress she turned out to be a much younger dog than anyone thought. She is a sweet dog and is well mannered. She eats well, interacts with the other dogs well, and is affectionate. Somehow she decided that she liked me more than my other roommates so she sticks to me like glue whenever I am home.

When she arrived today the thought that popped into my head was “Maggie Moo” and so I started calling her that. Now everyone is calling her “Maggie Moo”. She wags her tail furiously whenever you say her name and when I am not giving her attention she is burrowing her nose under my hand or arm to lift it off the keyboard.

We will dog sit her till Tuesday of next week when her owner gets back from vacation. Once again our home is doggy club med.

Bull – Do not expose any skin

Well, Bull has settled in. He is a very happy dog. He plays with Goofy till Goofy is exhausted and he is jealous such that Goofy can’t get attention without Bull getting into the mix. He sleeps in the hallway behind a gate just fine but when I get up to feed the other dogs he just bounds over the gate and then takes whatever you have in your hand.

You have to be careful because he is a food hound and will take anything from your hand. He grabbed a plastic glass from my hand when I was walking to the kitchen. If he does get something from you, he stops when you raise your voice and he will let you take it away.

One thing about this dog is he is a licker. If you are sitting at your desk, he will walk by, then lick you from your wrist to your elbow in one fly by. Worse, if you get out of the shower and he can get into the bathroom you are guaranteed a lick on your leg, arm, or whatever is closest to him. So the bathroom is off limits.

I think that Bull probably was someone’s dog and got away. Probably jumped a fence. He is house trained and has enough manners that he knows to sleep in a dog bed in the hall and he doesn’t beg at the dinner table. If he sticks his head in the trash and you fuss at him he immediately sulks and leaves the room. So he has some training.

But he is just crazy rambunxious. He wears Goofy out every night. I didn’t think it would be possible to wear Goofy out. I think I have gained a half inch on my bicepts playing tug with Goofy. It is like doing 45 pound curls for an hour at a time. But Bull is easily 60 pounds and that 15 pounds makes a big difference. Goofy can’t drag Bull around so Goofy stands on his back legs and punches Bull like a kangaroo. Then Bull stands up and does the same and it is like watching a dog boxing match.

Bull will get some needed training and will get adopted quickly. He isn’t toy aggressive and isn’t food aggressive. He plays well with other dogs and he hasn’t growled at any humans. He just can’t be allowed in a yard unsupervised.

Bull can jump

Well, Sunday was the day to mow the yard. It has been raining so much that we haven’t been able to mow the field or the lawn. But today was dryer. I got out the tractor and Mike got out the Zero-turn mower. I mowed outside the fence and the front field while Mike mowed the back yard and the orchard. He was just finishing up the orchard when I finished the front field and so we both started working on the front yard. The zero-turn mower does a beautiful job of cutting evenly whereas the tractor’s 3 blades cut the grass but doesn’t pulverize it. The tractor blades turn at about 1/4 the speed of the zero-turn. So I mowed the part of the yard that is furthest from the house where it won’t matter if it looks rough.

After we mowed the property and were inside Mike opened the doggy door and Goofy and Clifford went out to see what damage we had done to their yard. Bull isn’t trusted out by himself so Mike took him out on a leash to walk do his stuff in the back yard. The back yard is fully fenced and electrified so we aren’t worried about the dogs that live here but we are careful with the fosters because the dumber ones will get shocked and still keep pushing through the fence.

I got my shower and then started fixing dinner. Mike brought the dogs in and said he was going out to the garden to pick vegetables and said to watch Bull. I figured he was in the house so he was being watched.

About 15 minutes later Mike comes in the front door with Bull by the collar. He said “You were supposed to be watching Bull” and I said “I was here, what was there to watch”.

Apparently Bull had figured out the doggy door in one day (about as quickly as Goofy had figured it out) and had gone to the back yard. Mike was in the garden where Bull could see him and Bull just leaped right over the fence. Those big back legs apparently work like a kangaroo’s legs.

We locked him in the bedroom while Mike was in the kitchen and he bounded right over the gate. The problem now is that he knows he can hop gates and just about anything that doesn’t have a ceiling so he now has to be locked in a crate whenever we aren’t able to watch him.

Bull… aka double ugly

The latest rescue comes from a shelter in southern VA. Bull was on death row after being picked up as a stray and no-one had come to claim him. He had no tags and no chip or tattoo.

Bull is a bit uncontrollable. He looks like a Black Lab mixed with a Pitt Bull Terrier. He has the muscular rear legs of a Pitt and the meaty face of a Pit but the rest of him looks like a Lab.

On his first night in the house he slept in the hall to the bathroom with a gate on the door. He whined and complained but everntually settled down and slept.

Bull isn’t the prettiest dog. He is muscular in the back, skinny in the front, and has wirey hair. He is about 1 year old by the look of his teeth. He is incredibly trusting and will roll over on his back if you scrub his belly. If you give him a ball he will lay on the floor and roll on his back and chew on the ball while pawing at the air. He is happy and doesn’t appear to be emotionally damaged.

We will have to test him for food aggression, toy aggression, tolerance to being handled, doggie social skills with other dogs, trainability, a safety with small children.