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Tag: energy

Tilting at windmills in Montana

Try as I might, I couldn’t figure out what these long tubes I kept passing on Interstate 94 in Montana were.

Airplane wings? Some new form of irrigation equipment? Space shuttle components? Pieces of some secret governmental weapon?

I was tilting at windmills.

Which is what they turned out to be — windmill blades, to be precise.

I found that out later at a truck stop in Rocker, just west of of Butte, where several of the oversized loads, having just negotiated the winding stretch of interstate on Butte’s eastern side, had pulled over for a rest.

According to the Associated Press, the explosive growth of the wind energy industry has led to dozens of trucks a day toting the blades down the nation’s Interstate highways to their new homes, mostly in the west.

Commonly traveling in convoys, the oversized loads haven’t caused too many problems. They’re not any wider than a normal truck, but they are longer — much longer. Some of the blades extend 180 feet, about triple the length of regular semitrailer loads.

That means it takes about three times as long to get around them, but considering the clean, renewable, independent energy they will go on to supply, I’m a fan.

Did absence make his heart grow fonder?

He didn’t bring her flowers, but when Ace met up again this week with his old friend Fanny, he did tolerate her — and to a far greater extent than ever before.

The behavior he once found so annoying that he would go upstairs to avoid her — where Fanny feared to tread — Ace seems to now find mostly endearing.

Fanny was a rescue dog, fostered by my ex-girlfriend, adopted by a family, then returned for being overly rambunctious, at which point the ex-girlfriend became her forever mom. If you ever want to pry them apart, I suggest dynamite and bulldozers, but I’m pretty sure not even that would work.

Highly spirited, we’ll call her — the dog, I mean –  and Ace, back then, would only put up with her in small doses. He’d be excited when she visited, and they’d romp for 15 minutes or so, at which point he would want a rest. Fanny is not familiar with that notion.

So she’d stay in his face, and follow him wherever he went, even into his crate, and bark at him when he wouldn’t play, and Ace would eventually head for the second floor.

This time around — the ex is putting me up for a few days in her sunflower surrounded home in Dundalk — he just keeps playing, and he has even added a bark to his repertoire, something he never did before. He’d make growly lion-like noises, but never would he bark.

Now he barks right back at her, sometimes instigates the play, and doesn’t seem to quickly tire of it — at least not yet. He hasn’t been seeking refuge on the second floor, but then again the second floor isn’t air conditioned.

I’m not sure if he’s just happy to see her again, or if he realizes he’s a house guest and therefore shouldn’t be selfish or surly. He is being both more playfully assertive and more tolerant, and I can only conclude that absence — as it visibly does with dogs, sometimes less visibly so with humans — did indeed make his heart grow fonder.

Funny thing, relationships.

Spinning dog’s curious habit makes the news

Some dogs have a habit of chasing cars, but a border collie in Prince Edward Island has figured out a slightly safer way to work off his energy.

Two-year-old Tucker spends hours lying by the roadside in Emyvale, waiting for cars to come by. When one does, he gets up and spins about madly in a circle.

His owner, Clifford Green, said it was just something the dog started doing on his own -- and only for certain vehicles.

"He's not that stuck on the red [ones] and he don't like big trucks," Green told CBC News in Canada.

Tucker was featured on the Today Show yesterday, prompting some chuckles among the staff. But as some of our readers point out in the comments section below, Tucker’s behavior may be no laughing matter — and even a sign of an illness.

Company for Christmas: Three dog night

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Perhaps you’ve heard people say this: Two dogs are just as easy as one. Or, three dogs are just as easy as two.

It’s not so.

Bearing in mind that it depends in large extent on the individual dogs, and having a routine carved out for them, the amount of time and energy spent on caring for multiple dogs doesn’t just double with two dogs, or triple with three dogs. When it comes to multiple dogs, basic math goes out the window.

Among my observations so far — based on my hosting three guest canines for Christmas, two of which have arrived so far to join me and my own dog Ace:

– Three dogs, who you would think would drink three times the amount of water as one, actually drink eight times the amount.

– Three dogs who normally wouldn’t follow you from room to room, all follow you from room to room when they are together.

– Three dogs, as all three have to do whatever one does — be it drinking water, peeing, barking or jumping on the human –  actually engage in 18 times the amount of activity that they would on their own.

DSC07612My newest arrival is a young Boston terrier named Darcy, who possesses an energy level equivalent to a whole  litter of Energizer bunnies. She’s constantly on the go. She likes to get up on the couch or a chair, so she’s at eye level with Ace, and then slap her paws into his face. Ace responds by taking Darcy’s paw, leg, or entire head into his mouth, at which point Darcy freezes until Ace lets go. Then they do it all over again. Cheyenne, the visiting blind dog, stayed out of those frays.

Darcy’s humans brought plenty of toys, which everyone is sharing nicely. Cheyenne went nuts over Darcy’s tug toy, whipping it around and flinging it, trying to find where it went, then doing it all over again.

Darcy meanwhile took a strong liking to Cheyenne’s bed — pulling it out of the crate,  attempting to impregnate it (though she’s a female), nursing on its bulges, and finally trying to pull the stuffing out of it, at which point I had to separate her from her lover/mother/prey.

Somebody pooped in the house (I’m not pointing any fingers), a feat which, fortunately, the others — so far — haven’t felt the need to duplicate.

All three took turns resting on the couch, engaging in play and gnawing on one well-chewed marrow bone.

As evening fell I learned that walking three dogs is 8.7 times harder than walking one, 23.5 times harder when you thrown in the ice, and it left me 10.6 times more tired than I should have been.

Back from the park, after dinner and a few more spurts of play, the gang finally started settling down, and we all sacked out on the couch — except for Ace, who knew he wouldn’t fit. He settled for putting his head only on the couch for a few minutes, then sprawled out at the foot of it.

You know that feeling you get when the day is done, and your work is finished, and you look over at your peacefully sleeping, or even just resting dog — that soul-comforting, all-is-right-with-the-world flush of warm contentment, better even than a crackling fire, hot chocolate, or a steaming bowl of macaroni and cheese?

Turns out multiple dogs make that feeling rise exponentially, too.

On my three dog night, with the blind one curled up between my legs, her head resting on my feet; the big one on floor by the couch, reaching for me now and then with his paw; and the little Boston terrier resting, finally, on my belly, I realized I was feeling 9.9 times more peaceful and harmonious than usual.

(To read all of the “Company for Christmas” series, click here.)