Saturday, June 07, 2008

Stupid spear grass

I'm watching over Bill's sheep and feeding his slightly scary guard dog, Max, this weekend. Working at Bill's is both a blessing and a curse. It's absolutely gorgeous over there, and his pasture is big, with varied terrain and bunnies, foxes, deer, and the occasional elk sightings.
This photo of Taz moving the sheep across Bill's pasture was taken last winter. The smallest part of the rocky bowl behind his house and field is visible in the background.

As with all home flocks, his sheep are wise to the lay of the land and the draw to the barn is strong, but the sheep are not terribly broke. Bill is one of the most generous people I've ever met, and he doesn't mind sharing his space and his sheep with others. I am very lucky to be able to work my dogs here.

However, there is one main disadvantage to Bill's pasture. In his field grow these horrid little weeds that sprout spear grass, tiny spirally barbs that get caught in the dogs' coats and can burrow into their skin—and into their internal organs, sometimes causing major damage and, in the worst cases, even death. The last time we worked here, I pulled these out of Taz's fur:

They're kind of difficult to see in this photo, but I pulled out hundreds of the nasty little suckers. Now I'm a little paranoid about working the dogs there. I won't be able to train there much longer anyway, as it'll be much worse in the summer. Rats.

In an effort to hold them off for a while longer, I have an appointment to get Taz and Craig clipped this Tuesday. It'll be the first time I've ever brought any of my dogs to a groomer, and I know they'll look pretty funny, but I am hoping that clipping the fur on their chests and bellies will deter them from picking up so many of these little spears. In the meantime, I tried a homemade solution:

Don't they look cute? ;-) Taz and Craig sport t-shirts fitted to cover their chests. Craig's was off within the first five minutes of working, but Taz managed to keep his shirt on the entire time we were out there. I think they helped: this time, they picked up only a few spears (we did try to avoid the areas where we saw the plants dispersing the spears as well).

Next time, I'll write about our actual work/training session ;-)


Julia & Brad said...

OMG---you've gone to the dark side now Laura---clothes on your dogs! Next we'll see bows in Sophie's ear hair--don't even try to deny it!

Rafe said...

Evil spear grass! Glad we don't have that - just foxtails and ticks. Try halter tops next time. More stylish, keeps belly safe. Then post Photos...


Laura said...

Taz and Craig will thank you not to encourage my dressing them up! I think I'll spare Craig tomorrow, but Tazzy's fate is sealed. Although I think the more entertaining pictures might come after they've been clipped...mwah ha ha!