Category Archives: Pets Unlimited

My Best Friends with 4-Paws

American Press Travel News March 12, 2020–Bob and Barb “Stopping to Smell the Roses”,  and remembering his best friends.

My first dog pal was Shishkabob, she was alternately covered in bands of white and black fur. She reminded me of my favorite skewered dish of Shishkabob. I don’t have an image of her for this article, just pictures of her in my memory. I was in my last year of college, It was February, the coldest month in Vermont and it was snowing. I looked out my apartment window and saw this dog next to the front door of a Jewelry store in Brattleboro, VT. It was shivering. A patron opened the door and I saw it run in. Donning my coat, I went down the stairs, across the street and entered the store. The owner was shooing the near- frozen- dog out of the store, and the patrons smiled and looked on. I asked if this was anyone’s dog? No one responded, and so I scooped her up, took her home and she became my first, 4-paw, best friend.

Terry lived with me for 14-years. She really lit-up my life. Long gone now, I remember her funny, and sometimes delightful antics. My second dog was when living in the Florida Keys. It was a rainy New Years and Barb heard about a dog that was being held, but being mistreated by this family in Key Largo. The puppy-dog was 7-months old. He was being left in a closet in a plastic garbage bag with his muzzle taped, so when the owners who were tenants, and not allowed to have a dog, left their home, he couldn’t bark. I took him, after being extremely gruff with the people, cleared him of ticks and worms, and Charlie became my dock-dog. He too made it to 14-years. He was our traveling companion all over the USA as we traveled in our motorhome, fly fishing America!! My third dog also traveled with us around America. Terry, mixed up Terry, was our fabulous pal for about 14-years too! Terry saved me from a huge tree that fell in the exact spot I had been standing, one evening at our farm. He pulled so hard and whined that I walked away from repairing a solar fence light. The tree fell seconds after I was away from the fence. We buried Terry 2-years later after his kidneys failed, on our farm, with a carved granite head-stone made for me by a Cherokee Indian in Alabama. Dogs-just cannot live without them, and for me it was proven!!!!

Barb in Minnesota fishing with Charlie.
Charlie with pup Terry!!
Terry as an adult.

Pictures of the Day!

Triple-decker RV in Utah. A German group shipped this over for RV’rs to travel America in.
 Sea Trout along the Treasure Coast!
Collecting as we drove across Central Africa for two years. We camped and made friends!! Even saw wild Gorilla.
My first fresh hot dog in months!!
A few of the souvenir’s from my 2-years in Africa.
Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. Barb fell in love with “soft” and cuddly!

Horse Whispering 101

American Press Travel News–February 19th, TN.–“Bob and Barb On The Road Again”—For over thousands of years, wild horses were trained by “breaking their spirit.” They would be tied, hobbled, whipped, ridden until they frothed, worn down and degraded. In more recent times, the cowboys of the West used many of the same methods, most not truly understanding that a horse could be tamed with care and time, not “broken in spirit,” according to Marsha Mae Marks, a true Horse Whisperer at Goose Holler Farm, Crossville. Marsha is a lover of all four-footed creatures. She mostly trusts only animals after experiencing a challenging life since her childhood. That was mostly idyllic.
Marsha Mae Marks grew up on a beef, hog and dairy farm in Kankakee, and New Lenox, IL. There she developed a high interest in all things equestrian. Horses were used all over the farm—both draft and back-riders—to put up hay, feed cows in the winter, pull wagons for corn pickers, and take corn out to feed the livestock. She loved Sunday afternoon church picnics when her farm would treat city kids to a taste of farm-life. Working with draft horses, Marsha learned how a working partnership based on loyalty and understanding could exist between a human and an equine. Once she even trained a Holstein steer to saddle. “The animal never put on weight, and so it was not to be slaughtered. I didn’t have a horse, so I used that steer as a horse. He was 7-feet tall and I had to train him to kneel, so my 5-foot 5-inch body could get up on the saddle. I wish I had a picture of him,” she recalled.
Marsha worked with hundreds of riding horses and draft horses from the time she was 13-years old in 1965, until she was hurt in 2009, when she was kicked in the head and neck area by a client’s horse. At that time, she personally had 10 horses and colts.
After her recovery, she came to my farm 9-years years ago, with her recently widowed friend, Judy, her dog Chewy, and Miss Kitty, the only horse she had left after all her stock was sold to pay for her hospital and rehabilitation bills. She chose our farm and Crossville, as a place to live and enjoy the solitude and peace, the easy-to-work-in barn, and 2 acres of sweet-grass paddock. She believes in training by association. When I asked her where she learned so much about training horses, she told me, “My nature is not to force training on a horse, or any four-legged animal. Other trainers would toss a rope and tie a horse to a post and put on the saddle, then try to ride the ‘buck’ out of him. Problem with that is you taught the horse that it is OK to buck with a human on his back. I tried gentle training by voice and association every time a human was on the animal’s back. Everything you do with an animal makes a lasting impression. If the first thing he learns to do is buck, that is what he always thinks of first. I figured I’d teach the horse that the saddle is his friend. To do this safely, I had to break the training of the horse into smaller segments, so he could absorb knowledge without being rushed, and his first memories of his training were pleasant, not fraught with anxiety and stress.”
Marsha explained that stressing a horse shuts down its capacity to learn and retain knowledge, its horse-sense is short-circuited. Body language always plays a large role in the teaching regimen. “If the person is timid and the horse is not, then the horse is in control. However, the opposite is also true, so it is very important to match horse and human, and I did just that for more than 40-years. I learned to identify potential problems and nip them in the bud,” she said. Back through time of natural breeding and exposure to the wild are never truly taken out of them, she told me. So, “In order to have a working partnership you need to understand a horse’s instincts and how to harness them to your mutual benefit,” she explained. Once you understand a horse’s vision of his world, you can adapt and be open to a larger field of vision. Marsha went on to tell us, “A horse sees in a triangular, far-off way. When you’re riding a horse, you see and pay attention to about 20-30 feet ahead of you, whereas a horse sees hundreds of feet down the road, always anticipating potential dangers. A horse in the wild must be aware of his surroundings—where the cougar, wolf or bear might be hiding, or if the animal is in plain, far-off sight. He is not looking at the flowers and 4-leaf clovers as you are. To survive, a horse must take in a long view.” She showed me how her approach to training led her dog, Jesse, to sit with a pointed finger and gentle command. Marsha concluded by saying: “He was under no duress and had a choice; he was not being forced into a seating position. Extrapolate this to training any four-legged, or even two-legged animal. The choice should always be pleasant and rewarding, not threatening.”