Showing posts with label Dogs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dogs. Show all posts

Saving Puppies …

We have done our part to control the dog population of our village by having all our dogs, and cats, fixed.  That would be five dogs and two cats so far, if you include the in-laws pets.  Not everyone in the village shares our concern over this matter but one hopes that leading by example will have an effect somewhere down the road.

So the story goes something like this.  One of our neighbors went to work in the big city and left their small black dog with another neighbor who just so happens to be our gardener.  She lives just across from our property and walks to work with the little black dog hopping along on three legs, keeping her company most of the day.  She lounges in the lush grass under our trees and scavenges leftover food which our dogs don’t eat.  She is nearly as good as our cat at catching and eating mice from the neighboring fields which is a plus.

She was run over by a truck sometime back and there was a question as to whether she would survive or not.  She did but one back leg doesn’t work.  When in heat, she is pretty much at the mercy of the male dogs in the area due to her handicap.  Even though our three males are shooting blanks they still have a go at her, as well.  Previously none of her pups survived, perhaps due to her injuries, so nothing was done about contraception.

This time she had a litter of four but they were hidden under a rice storage shack for the first two weeks so nobody was even sure how many there were.  The gardener seemed to think there were three pups.  Suddenly there appeared, in a planter between the stairs and the house, a single black puppy.  The thought crossed my mind, something may have happened to the others and she selected the strongest or remaining puppy and moved it a couple hundred meters to the safety of our house.

To our surprise the next day there were four, one black, one charcoal grey, one brownish and one white.  Perhaps a reflection of the number and variety of partners.  This planter seemed a safe place with one way in and out, a row of Dok Dala or ginger looking plants at the entrance, and a dirt area at the back where one of our dogs likes to sleep on hot days.  The earth had been moved around to the point that a hollow had been created just the right size for the mother and her brood.

I was not all together happy the mother had brought her pups to live at our house as we have enough dogs already and I have suggested they be given away once they are old enough.  They are really messing with Cookie, our golden retriever’s instincts, as she gets very excited at the squeaky puppy noises emanating from the den.

So yesterday my wife was at the university as usual on the weekend, and sent me a text saying it was starting to rain in Chiang Rai.  The haze was thick, making it hard to discern smoke from cloud but I moved a few things that looked like they might get wet if it started to rain a bit.  At first the rain was pretty much what I expected, light and barely enough to create a drip from the eves.

The rain stopped and I thought that was it, when I looked out to see a solid wall of grey that looked very out of place, approaching from the west.  Suddenly the trees were all bending at odd angles and rain was being driven horizontally against the windows and into the covered lanai off the living room.  We have a lot of windows and they don’t all hold up to the firehose test when the rain comes at this angle and intensity.  I was soon monitoring the windows on the west and north side of the house, making sure any leaks would not get out of control.

Even over the noise of the storm I could hear the puppies crying and at first their mother didn’t seem to know what to do.  Eventually she managed to move her pups up onto the lanai and under the table where normally they would be relatively safe.  Soon, however, the entire floor was covered with water from the driving rain, as the pups cried and shook from the cold.  I had enough to do in the house and there was too much flying debris for me to go outside yet but I was keeping an eye on things from inside.  At least they were safely out of their den which was filled with water at this point.

Once the rain stopped I made my way through the debris to find the puppies.  Looking around I couldn’t find anyplace that was dry, when I noticed an overturned plastic tub.  Not a hand bucket but a heavy-duty container they often use to mix up cement on a construction site.  It reminded me of the box I had seen in Hawaii on my recent trip.  There it was made of wood and held 12 Doberman puppies but the idea was the same.  Sides high enough to keep the puppies in but low enough for the mother to climb over.

At first the mother was not keen on this idea and tried moving her puppies but after I moved this container to another area and found some relatively dry rags, she finally settled down and began cleaning and feeding her little ones.  Today, after a rainy night and morning, they are still where I put them and they seem happy in their new home.  Their eyes have just opened and they are still quite helpless but they have a caring mother who is doing the best she can.

I am not convinced they have much of a future but for now we have inherited a situation we can do little about so we will do what we can.  I just hope my wife doesn’t get too attached.  It may already be too late.

By way of update, here is a shot of the puppies today and one of mother and pups with Cookie looking on, taken by my wife with her iPhone 5 a few days ago.



Rethinking The Blog for 2013 ...

So there are plenty of people blogging about tourism, sex, dating, politics, the weird and whacky, retirement, and of course how cheep, cheep, cheep, living in Thailand is.  None of those topics are of any real interest to me and as I have stated before there is no desire on my part to write a how to guide on anything.

From the feedback on this year’s opener, I am thinking of revisiting something I did more of early on.  Instead of looking outward for big events and big pictures perhaps it is time to focus once again on the little things, a bit closer to home.  While searching the horizon for a new direction, I was reminded that my readers might be looking for something a little more intimate.  Perhaps a simple look into the daily pulse of a life in Thailand, far removed from Bangkok and the well traveled tourist areas, is something I could devote more time to this year.

Take today for example, I awoke to an internet that simply would not stay connected.  In a matter of seconds, my router would dropout and start trying to connect again.  Sometimes these things self correct but not on this occasion.  I have found over time, that when calling the TOT service center it is easier to select the Thai assistant over the English speaking one, and that is what I did this morning.  Within half and hour things were back to normal, which is far from spectacular, but at least things work again.

While waiting I drank coffee, the last of the beans a visiting New Zealand friend who owns a coffee shop and roasts and blends his own coffee, gave me.  As I enjoyed his unique blend, I played around with setting up my new hand-me-down iPhone 4, after resetting it to clean out all my wife’s settings and content.  You see, yesterday I got my wife a new iPhone 5 while we were in town.  Since she uses her phone a lot more than I do, it only makes sense that she have the latest model, besides even the 4 is a step up from what I have been using.

Today was also time for Cookie’s weekly swim with the fish, followed by a thorough shampoo and blow-dry.  Later, after we got Cookie all cleaned up and smelling great again, I though a little about going for a ride but got caught up in searching out new Mt. Bike routes on Google Maps.  It took much longer than I planned but think I have a doable route to tryout tomorrow.

We take Cookie to a vet in town for her shots but there are five other dogs, not all ours, and a two cats that we take care of by having a couple of local vets drop by the house to administer shots.  They have now come and gone.  It is not always easy to round them up but still it is much easier than taking them somewhere in the car.  Cookie is used to cars but the others aren’t.

The sprinkler system has been acting up lately so the guy who installed it finally showed up to have a look and take the sprinkler heads home to work on.  My wife and I walked Cookie after feeding her and as usual our three outdoor dogs accompanied us on most of our walk.  They often stop and wait for us at home, after the first round.  As we walk the 400 meters to the end of the soi with Cookie on a leash, the others roam free as usual, making for interesting viewing as we cross the territorial boundaries of the other dogs who live in the connecting sois and houses along the way.

All the posturing, bluffing and barking that goes on is quite entertaining to me.  Then again, I like dogs and don’t expect them to act like people.  I find it necessary to watch what signals I send out as our three males can become emboldened by the wrong tone or gesture on my part.  By now all the personalities are well known and all I need to do is encourage them to move along after they have done their doggy thing. 

Even with Cookie on a leash, the grownups are afraid of her but unlike their parents the little children in the soi often run up to Cookie and give her a big hug.  Big, being the operative word since she is much bigger than they are.  Come to think of it that is something I don’t have a picture of, but the fading light at that time of day is not conducive to action shots, at least not with my camera.

With the sun having set, perhaps it is time to put this to bed and think about that ride I am planning for tomorrow.

A Quick Post of Yesterday’s Ride ...

Hit an old trail yesterday under an overcast sky.  The guy’s eggplant patch seems to be progressing nicely and the corn in the next field is doing well.  Four dogs ran me down on the trail so I got off to say hello.  I needed a drink anyway and I was at the beginning of a very steep section.  Got the leader of the pack to come over and sniff my hand before proceeding on.

Two and a half hours later I returned home exhausted but before the rain really hit.  Got a couple of nice shots while it was still raining lightly and before it got too dark.







Dog and Cat... Mother and Son?

For some reason this little fellow thinks Cookie is his mother.  He loves to rub his head on her chin but getting up there can be a challenge.
Stand still okay?

Hey, you moved.


Obviously I’m bored so perhaps it is time to get on the mountain bike and see if I can find some trails that are ridable and not completely muddy or washed out.  Heading to the mountains might be a better idea today than wading through the lowlands.


Responsible Water Use ...

Finally got the sprinkler system finished.  It was more work than anyone anticipated but now we can soak the bulk of our garden in half and hour with water from our own pond.  Before we did most of the watering by hand, used the village supply and had by far the largest water bill each month.  It was cheaper than installing this system but we didn’t feel right about using what might turn out to be a limited resource sometime in the future.  There are still areas that must be hand watered but it is much more manageable now and we feel more responsible.

Our ground is hard as concrete during the dry season and digging a trench the length of the yard, all the way to the pond, was hard work with the first two young workers quitting after two days.  The guy who did the electrical, pipe and sprinkler work was amazing.  He didn’t stop for lunch and fabricated metal parts at home well into the night. 

With his background being primarily electrical all that work was impeccable.  He even tapped into our three phase system and added an exterior box near the kitchen that will make future connections much easier.  The electric pump and separate control box is located on the sala over the pond, is grounded and has a safety cutoff if the intake gets clogged.

With such a large area to cover and the ground being so hard we went for relatively straight lines and a minimalist approach with two different sized industrial strength sprinklers.  I’m now considering ways to beautify these protuberances though I don’t really mind the way they look.  You might notice that a light rain this morning helped to clear the air and dampen the ground, while Cookie assisted in producing these photos.


Pai, Mae Hong Son, Khun Yuam, Doi Inthanon ...

Where others plan every last detail of a trip, we often set off with little more than an idea of where we might like to go and change things up along the way.  Such was the case this last weekend, a busy holiday weekend at that.  My wife drove most of the way to Pai before I took over for the rest of the trip but having only taken a cursory look at the map before leaving we missed a turn near Chiang Dao and ended up adding time and kilometers to an already long drive on some very twisty mountain roads.

As one might expect there was no room at the inn and we ended up spending the night in a tent with Cookie.  Bringing Cookie along was very last minute.  We had arranged for someone to stay with her but we changed our minds the night before.  Settling into the tent after a long drive and a nice dinner, we chanced to looked up and saw the moon being eaten by the frog, as villagers here refer to an eclipse.  In Pai they called it something else so I guess it depends on where you are.
Adventure Pai.

Scenic Pai coffee shop.

Looking pretty in Pai.


As it turned out it was my wife’s first eclipse and her first night in a tent.  There was that tent-cabin in Big Sur a few years back but that doesn’t really count.  With other campers talking until almost 3am, the three of us had a fitful night’s sleep at best.  There was talk of spending another night in Pai but we opted for a road-trip and headed for Mae Hong Son after breakfast and sightseeing in Pai.  We made it as far as Khun Yuem before calling it a day.  By chance we stumbled upon a lovely remote hillside hotel at the end of a dirt road, where we had a much more comfortable night than the one before.
Photo Op at Doi Kiew Lom.

Nice Roads

Accommodation at Khun Yuem
Did you take the picture yet?
After the fog started to lift.


The owner promised us a sea of clouds in the morning but we were completely fogged in with no view at all until late morning.  One would normally follow the 108 to Mae Sariang from Khun Yuem but we noticed the 1263 cut hours off our drive to Doi Inthanon, which is where my wife wanted to go, and though why not.  While the roads to Pai and Mae Hong Son are notorious for their twists and turns, the backroad to Doi Inthanon was a real adventure.  Extremely remote, very steep and narrow, heavily potholed in areas and yet it was strangely exhilarating to drive.

We stumbled upon a group of Singaporeans taking the same route on a couple of BMWs and a KTM.  We visited at a crossroads and again on the top of Doi Inthanon.  On another section of road we came across a group of young farang volunteers who look after a herd of elephants for a UK based group called GVI.  They had spent the morning with the elephants and were walking back up the very steep road to where they lived.  I love these chance encounters one has on road-trips.
A Singaporean Photo Op.

All the way from Singapore.

All the way from Singapore.
My dream bike parked at Inthanon.

GVI volunteers returning after checking on the elephants.

GVI volunteers in the middle of nowhere.

Good old boys enjoying the warmth of friendship.

Mountain Villagers gathered for I no not what.
Doi Inthanon

Doi Inthanon

Doi Inthanon
Looking pretty at Doi Inthanon.


Cookie was a hit wherever we stopped as people posed for pictures with her.  Her presence was a mixed blessing, however.  She was a little nervous the first day until she got used to the roads.  The best time for her was probably being up in the mountains with the windows open and the cold air filling her nose with exotic scents and keeping her cool.  In remote areas people were not bothered by her but as you got to a city like Chiang Mai, dogs were not often welcome.  If not for friends in Chiang Mai, themselves owners of a Golden Retriever, we would have been hard pressed to find someplace to spend the night.  Again Chiang Mai was an afterthought and we had not made any provisions for staying there.

Some people complain about the road to Pai but we loved it and the other mountain roads we drove.  The more remote the better as far as I am concerned.  This trip turned out be a road-trip and a survey of sorts.  We now have ideas for where we might like to go and spend some more time at a later date.  Next time we will probably leave Cookie at home where she will be more comfortable and less stressed.

In the end this was a trip of many firsts.  First long road-trip with Cookie.  First time to Pai, Mae Hong Son, Doi Inthanon and all the roads and points in between.  First night in a tent.  First lunar eclipse.  Longest stint behind the wheel for my wife.  I must say it was not our first time to feel relieved to finally be home.  That is a constant no matter where we go.

Getting Back To Normal...

Rice in Bloom

Things seem to be returning to normal here in the Rai.  I got up late this morning and after some breakfast, coffee and checking the internet, Cookie and I went out to the pond so she could swim for roughly an hour.  Throwing out small handfuls of fish food keeps Cookie entertained with the fish breaking the surface all around her as she tries desperately but in vain to catch them.  Helped my wife give her a shampoo and a blow-dry, which takes nearly another hour, before calling my father to check on things in Hawaii.

Some village friends up from Chonburi stopped by briefly on their way to Doi Tung with visitors they brought up from down south.  They dropped off some chocolate they purchased in Malaysia and my wife shared a bag of chocolate chip cookies she made yesterday with a young friend who came over to the house.  The whole art of gift giving is something that I have yet to master or even fully appreciate.  Perhaps they will stop by again this evening and we will get a chance to actually talk.  With all the water in and around Bangkok it is probably not a bad idea for them to be up here for a while.



Yesterday I took my much neglected Trek out for a long overdue perusal of the trails.  Even midday the temperature was tolerable as we ease into winter, but some of the normally well groomed trails showed signs of being under water during the rainy season.  After all, that water that is now threatening Bangkok started up here in the North.  Our rivers are still reasonably full but not overflowing like before.
Water level in the river has gone down a lot and the banks are still quite steep.


I traversed a fair distance so encountered a range of trail conditions, from very good to very rough.  The material used to repair some damaged areas had fist-sized rocks and hard baked clay which had me out of my seat as I tried to protect my own undercarriage from the bone-jarring effects.

Still in good condition.

In the forest.

Looking back.
By far not the worst I encountered but didn't get a shot of the bad stuff.

Getting ready to rough up the trail.

Rice was everywhere along the trail, at varying stages of development.  One small area had already be harvested while others were bent under the weight of their ripening grain.  My favorite plants, are in some areas head high and ramrod straight, with the rice looking more like flowers than grain.  Soon enough they too will droop and sag from their burden, as all turns yellow before the harvest.  For now though, things are still very green with golden accents.


The raised mounds between fields are now more like tunnels or trenches.



My health suffered a bit upon returning from Hawaii and it wasn’t until this last Tuesday that I seemed to turn the corner.  It was a day that reminded us that winter is just around the corner.  The temperature remained in the low twenties all day.  It was grey and though it did not rain properly there was an almost constant mist in the air.  A drive to town had filled our morning and early afternoon, with us returning in time for me to consider a run.  I was uncertain if I was ready but couldn’t pass up the chance to run in such cool temperatures.  Turned out to be a very good run.  It is amazing what a difference a few degrees can make when you are running down the trail.

Recovering from that run, the next day I took the Ninja out to charge the battery.  Even after laying idle for more than a month the engine turned over and caught with the first press of the ignition button.  Not wanting to venture too far, I ended up at Starbucks for a coffee and then took a different route home.  It will be interesting to see if I get back into riding this winter as so far this year my level of interest has dwindled to almost nothing.

I have other things weighing on my mind but perhaps this is enough for today.  Always need to leave something for tomorrow.