How to Plan for the Future by Living Now

The only way to get something done is by starting it. Last week, I ordered 50 periwinkle plants. They arrived and I left the box on the counter a few hours, thinking it was full of seeds. This was no time to procrastinate! The box was full of juvenile plants with their roots all neatly tucked together and rolled into a giant bouquet of vines.

Honestly, I did procrastinate for a day or two, buying myself some time by leaving the plants in a container on the front porch and watering the roots. When it came down to it, most of the work had already been done by my boyfriend when he had transferred some quality top soil to the area under a magnolia tree where I envision a tiny field of periwinkles.

All I needed was a dowel, my garden gloves and a half hour to dig holes and place in the plants. In about a year, I should have a blanket of ground cover. It would not come to pass if I had not gotten off my duff and done the basic work.

Newly planted periwinkle plants
Baby periwinkle plants

Standing back to admire the rows of plants, I looked over at my slightly larger lily patch. Growing up, a neighbor had an amazing patch of tiger lilies that had to be at least 30 feet in diameter. Everytime I came down our stairs, I would see these burning orange flowers across the street through frame of the front door.

Eventually, I became committed to the dream of my own lily garden. I bought and planted day lilies in the area where the periwinkle is now. They didn’t seem happy, so I moved them to a sunnier spot. Last fall, I dug them all up and divided them to cover a little more ground. Hence, the patch is a little bit bigger. We’ll see what next year brings after I divide them in the fall again.

Pink day lily blossom
Resurgent day lily

Sometimes, after you lay the groundwork, literally and figuratively, amazing growth can occur. When we went to the animal shelter to see about rescuing Buster (then known as Mr. Trembles), he was tiny and sickly. He weighed five pounds and was estimated to be about six weeks old. A volunteer handed me this poor little Catahoula Leopard Dog puppy and I could see how terrible distended his belly was from worms. He was weak and undernourished. He could barely look up. I held his precious body and worried he might not make it.

Buster the babyI said I was nervous about taking him home, but I committed. You can’t worry when you need to act. We took him in, fed him, got him medicine, cuddled him and nurtured him. And now, just shy of his first birthday, he is a big boy. He’s about 60 pounds and appears to be growing. He is incredibly sweet and apparently will be by my side for years to come.

 

Catahoula leopard dog napping on human's bed
Buster the big boy

Don’t wait for a future that won’t come just from wishing. Plant your future now.

Cheers, The Sage Leopard

The Catahoula Leopard Dog and the Foxhound: Jealous Much?

The Sage Leopard is a lifestyle blog primarily about cooking, but bear in mind it is named for a dog who thinks he is a prince. Today, Higgins reminded me I have always told him I love him more than anything, except he now notices I love someone else too.

That someone is Buster Tobias, our Catahoula Leopard Dog, who is at this writing is 50 pounds and counting. He’s nine months old and new aspects of his personality continue to emerge, including jealously.Catahoula Leopard dog in jealous repose.

As I pet Higgins on the love seat tonight, Buster first sat in disbelief and let out a protest howl. He then laid down and bore into my soul with the guilt-trip eyes. Higgins challenged me to stop giving him my undivided attention.

This dynamic might be part of the reason I’ve struggled to train them alone. Instead, my boyfriend and I took them to our favorite dog trainer. Higgins immediately knew his master from his boarding school days and Buster is so happy-go-lucky he had no idea what we were bringing him into. After a few visits, Buster started crying on the way to obedience training, even if training mostly amounts to heel, sit, stay and lay down.Foxhound-Catahoula mix lounging on couch.

The truth is Buster is not a fan of rules any more than Higgins is. When he first was learning to stay in lay-down mode, he started stretching out his back and front legs to inch forward with his paws.

His trainer was not letting him get away with it. Whining ensued. I think I caught Higgins laughing at Buster. The key to getting this training to stick was bringing Byron along so the four of us trained together. That’s when the hounds realized I was serious. Now they had two humans to follow.

Tonight when Byron got home, Buster had not immediately noticed because he was outside. When he came back in, I asked, “where’s Daddy” and Buster ran to the front door. When he eventually found his human daddy in the master bedroom, he wagged his tail and wholeheartedly greeted Byron.

This begins a night of relaxing and a cycle of habits: Higgins racing around the backyard looking for possums and barking like crazy, Buster climbing furniture to watch Higgins through windows and crying, and of course: Higgins and Buster vying for the role of top dog.

Introducing Buster Tobias, the Catahoula Puppy

Social media can truly save the day for stray dogs. This is the story of how we adopted our second Catahoula Leopard Dog puppy from the county shelter. Our love for Buster began with a shelter video posted by volunteers to a Facebook page for the pound. A woman in the region then shared the video to a closed group on Facebook for Catahoula owners. That’s when my Saturday morning and life changed. I saw this trembling creature and knew we had to go spring him.

Earlier this year, we lost our old Chester B. to ravages of cancer and his younger brother Higgins was despondent. We’d been conferring on the right time to get another dog and my boyfriend wanted to hold off. That is until he saw the compelling video of the shaky puppy at the pound. That prompted him to push back a meeting with a man about a dove lease. We later showed up for the hunting lease meeting at a Buccee’s with our new puppy wrapped in a towel from the shelter.

The puppy was an estimated 4 weeks old and weighed 5 pounds, but we were guessing a lot of that initial weight was from worms! His little body was terribly distended from worms. This displaced his center of gravity so when he tried to walk forward, he ended up knocking his forehead on the ground. By Sunday morning, our concerns grew for his health.

To put it delicately, there was an environmental disaster in his crate. Live worms came out of poor puppy. This was after his first dewormer dose. Without getting into further revolting details, we made sure his go time was in the front yard and not in the backyard where Higgins plays. Buster was discomforted and even looked a little scared. I could not wait for our Monday morning appointment with our regular vet. Dr. O. set the puppy on the right track with another kind of dewormer, an antibiotic for a skin condition, other medication and well wishes for the addition to the family.

The vet also estimated Buster was actually six weeks old and would likely reach 50-60 pounds when full grown. Just looking at his paws, we wonder if this is a low estimate for his adult size. Sometimes when he stretches after a nap, he appears taller.

He has been growing like a weed, gotten healthy and begun his life of adventures, starting with the backyard.

He has learned leash walking, sit, stay and lay down. He previously obeyed fetch, or “bring it,” but now relies on his own discretion with that command. We will seek to reinforce “bring it,” especially as we want to take him bird hunting. Before we do that, a lot more training steps and phases are in order.

He is now a little over four months old and weighs closer to 30 pounds. He is thriving. He’s also eating my shoes and clothes. The good news: he has stopped gnawing on my hands. He’s learning to bay and starting to boss around Higgins, our four-year-old Catahoula/Foxhound mix.

This is the second time social media saved the day for dogs at our home. A lost mother-daughter yellow lab pair showed up and their family saw my post on a lost & found page. We have had several dogs turn up here and the previous owners said there is something about this house that draws them in — maybe because they just like it here. Buster and Higgins, our pound puppies, love it here.

Moral of the story: Adopt a shelter dog. There is so much love at the pound!

The Sage Leopard

This Dog – How the Sage Leopard Took over My life

I’ve never met anyone quite like Higgins. When we first laid eyes on him at the pound he was a high-energy, playful puppy of 7 months. He was labeled as a cross between an English foxhound and a Catahoula Leopard Dog. I had no idea what a Catahoula was and supplemented my internet search knowledge by joining a variety of Facebook groups for Catahoula lovers.

IMG_5237In short, the breed is the official dog of the state of Louisiana. The stewards of the breed guard it and express concern that some Catahoulas are not living the life for which they came into being: hunting and working. Well, we’re working on it. For the record, I think he might be a cross between Catahoula and Beagle. He is only 40 pounds, which is much smaller than the typical Catahoula Leopard Dog, which is an amazing breed. Higgins is not purebred, but we consider him part Catahoula and he does have some traits: he has webbed paws, spots in his fur (within the white part of his patchwork markings) and incredible intelligence. As I type, he is crying at me to stop and go play with him. His vision is stunning. He can spot an owl up in a tree in darkness, a squirrel down the street and wood ducks in a high flyover formation. Sage Leopard dogThe challenge is for me to harness all his skills and prowess. When I initially got him, I thought he would make a great jogging partner. He soon started running, and running really fast. He actually pulled me down, jerked loose and ran to the bayou’s edge. Amazingly, he also came back when called. He exerted himself in a very bossy manner and refused to direction from the eldest dog in the house. She was beside herself that Higgins ignored her. He also seemed to ignore me or rather listen selectively. I grew up with golden retrievers who happily complied with every command, so I became exasperated and took him to a trainer with a two-week boarding program. After two weeks, I hadn’t heard anything and called to check on the dog.Catahoula dog mix The trainer informed me that there are rare occasions with some dogs that take longer to train. After about three weeks, he came home much more obedient, but not quite. Unfortunately, the incident followed. A lost dog was staying with us a little while and Higgins was very possessive of me. Higgins and I sat on the couch when Roscoe, a miniature schnauzer, sought attention from me. Higgins snarled and I moved toward him chiding him to stop. Big mistake. I should have stood up and commanded him to get off the couch. His snarl turned to snap and he caught my lower lip. He realized his mistake and ran outside to hide. It was bad enough for me to go to an urgent care to have it checked out. This led to my beloved hound being reported to the county pound where we originally got him. My vet referred us to a behavioral vet who guided us on more training. Higgins has become far more affectionate, reliant and obedient. I haven’t given up on him because I absolutely adore him. We wrap up most nights with Higgins on possum watch and me watching him. The possum crossings over our fence line provide endless entertainment for the dog and it warms my heart knowing he is happy at home with us. He is my best friend, my inspiration and my happiness. He has many nicknames: cutey booty, pound hound, bossy boots, punk and, of course, the Sage Leopard. Higgins dog

The Sage Leopard