Bedlam Farm Blog Journal by Jon Katz

8 December

Video: Zinnia Walks On A Country Road (Off Leash)

by Jon Katz

I believe in giving dogs a chance to succeed, not fail. I want my dog to walk with me off-leash in the country; it is a different, even spiritual experience for me to walk with a dog off-leash.

I’m not sure Red was ever on a leash when we walked, the same was true of Izzy, Lenore, and Fate. It’s an unnerving moment when it first happens since I am always mindful that dogs are animals, and animals do not always behave the way people want them to (except maybe Red.)

I suppose this is another of those instincts I have that bothers some people, but I’m not running for Dog Mayor, and I don’t care what other people think about what I’m doing as a rule.

If I did, it would drive my dogs mad and me. And I would fail.

A grounded and obedience trained dog – especially an ethically-bred dog – is bred to work with people and stay close to them. I work on Zinnia’s recall six or seven times a day and whenever she’s in the house.

In therapy work, the dog must be instantly responsive, or he or she will never be certifi

On this road, I can see cars coming nearly a half-mile away, and I have plenty of time to leash up the dogs, (Zinnia, like Fate, will soon be trained to lie down on command) or if necessary, stop an oncoming car.

It an exhilarating moment for me when this first free walk happens, and today, Maria and I walked up a country road with Zinnia and Fate, and halfway up, I let Zinnia off-leash. It was a big deal for me,  a turning point, although she took it in stride. She just stayed close.

She followed Fate, sniffed along the road,  and came instantly every time I called. Fate isn’t crazy about puppies, but she is obedience-trained and Zinnie was watching her closely. That helped.

Zinnie’s recall is getting to be first-rate. I trust it and I trust her.

This is a great way to begin her training. Staying close is her nature; what I need to do is reinforce her view and reward her for it. I can tell my dogs I want to trust them all I want, making it happen a different story.

I do take precautions.

There is almost no traffic on this road, and there is excellent visibility. I wouldn’t do this on a busy highway.

On this road, I can see cars coming nearly a half-mile away, and I have plenty of time to leash up the dogs (Zinnia, like Fate, will soon be trained to lie down on command) or if necessary, stop an oncoming car.

It an exhilarating moment for me when this first free, off-leash walk happens. Today, Maria and I walked up a country road with Zinnia and Fate, and halfway up, I let Zinnia off-leash. It was a big deal for me,  a turning point, although she took it in stride.

She just stayed close, sniffed at various points along the road.

She followed Fate, sniffed along the road,  and came instantly every time I called. Fate isn’t crazy about puppies, but she is obedience-trained, and Zinnie was watching her closely. That helped

Her recall is getting to be first-rate. I trust it, and I believe in her.

I used the walk, like everything else, as a training opportunity.

Maria took a video of me working with Zinnia on her stay and recall commands. Fate came along for the treats.

Now, I use treats every third or fourth time, not every time. In five or six months, I’ll hardly use treats at all. Now, I want Zinnia to know her name, look me in the eye,  know my voice, know my commands.

This makes for a great therapy dog and also for a family pet.

There is almost no traffic on this road, but there is excellent visibility. I’ve walked with my dogs on this road 1,ooo times.

I can see cars coming nearly a half-mile away, and I have plenty of time to leash up the dogs (Zinnia, like Fate, will soon be trained to lie down on command) or, if necessary, stop an oncoming car.

It an exciting thing for me when this first free (off-leash) walk happens. It happened today.

It was a big deal for me,  a turning point, although she took it in stride. She just stayed close. She was happy to come running when asked.

She followed Fate, sniffed along the road,  and came instantly every time I called.

Fate isn’t crazy about puppies, but she is obedience-trained, and Zinnie was watching her closely.  Fate didn’t seem to mind the company, snoot that she is.

That helped. Well-trained dogs can be great teachers and models for new dogs or puppies. I will always remember the good-hearted Lenore teaching Frieda how to become domesticated, how to sit and lie down.

I love walking in the woods with my dogs off-leash; it seems so essential to our bonding and so natural for me. I can hardly imagine a life with a dog without it. I am blessed to live in a place where that can happen.

Zinnie’s recall is getting to be first-rate. I trust it, and I trust her. I want to build up on that trust every day. It’s almost my training motto. Dogs can’t succeed if you don’t give them a considered chance.

8 December

Radiant Morning

by Jon Katz

It was bitter cold this morning, but the sky was a deep blue and the rising sun lit up the frost and ice that had gathered on the tree limbs of our apple tree. I had to run out in my nightshirt to wait for the sun to be right behind one of the tree limbs.

That is definitely a wake-up call.

The colors and sky and snow came together in a beautiful kind of fusion, which I tried to catch in one of my new photo editing programs. It isn’t one color, it’s many, it isn’t one thing, it’s everything. Some photos want to be photos, some photos want to be paintings.

This is what cold morning in upstate New York looks and feels like to me which is why I love living here (among other reasons.)

8 December

The Wizard Of Brooklyn

by Jon Katz

Robin and I seem to share a mystical gene, she loves witches, wizards, magicians, and monsters. I’m doing my part trawling the Internet for witches, magic kits, wizard gear, and monsters. I think Emma secretly approves of this channel to the other side.

Robin and I have definitely connected in this way. Last week, I sent her a wizard hat and cape, and she turned her dog Sandy into a frog when she asked Emma to take this photo and send it to me.

I think this is a good grandfather path for me. I can’t see her often, and I am not much of a part of her life, but we have found a way to talk to each other and know one another. Creativity works on many different levels.

I love this photo, mostly for the mad gleam in her eye. When we are together we made gleam each other.

7 December

December, Night Mode

by Jon Katz

I’ve had my Iphone 11 for several months now, but this is the first photo I’ve taken in the phone’s new “Night Mode,” and I was impressed, this is not a shot I could have taken with any other camera that I have used.

Night mode is an automatic setting that uses the phone’s new wide-angle lens, which is equipped with a larger sensor that enables the camera to let in more light. When Night Mode is engaged – it comes on automatically in low and dark light – the three cameras in the iPhone analyze the available amount of light and then the phone analyzes the number of frames needed to create a suitable image.

The camera then takes a series for a set amount of time, such as one second, three seconds, or in some situations even longer.

I need a tripod or very steady hands to take night photos, but the phone also has an optical image stabilizer that reduces shaking or movement.

The chip in the phone analyzes each photo taken, aligns them or re-aligns them to account for movement, eliminates blurry images and then fuses the sharpest images into one image.

I heard a lot of clicking and whirring when I took this photo, but I was surprised by the depth and clarity of this image, taken through our big apple tree at 8 p.m. Saturday night as the moon rose up through the clouds on a very cold night.

When people tell me they are “traditionalists,” I’m afraid to say I’m not sure what the even means any longer. I’m using my Iphone 11 for about 40 percent of the photos I’m taking.

The Canon  5 D, a revered full-frame digital camera, can still do many things even the smartest phone can’t do. But the gap is sure narrowing. My phone and the two or three photo editing programs I’m not using have opened up all kinds of creative possibilities for me.

Go figure. When I lost Aperture, I thought I was in deep trouble. But it was really just a beginning, not an end.

7 December

Working Girls At The Gate

by Jon Katz

In the morning, Fate rushes to the pasture gate, focused on getting inside and running around the sheep. This morning, for the first time, she had company. Zinnia came running after her and stood by the gate also, staring at the sheep as they stared back at her.

Zinnia has never been in the pasture apart from the one time I carried her in to meet the donkeys and let them get her smell.

In that way, should she accidentally get into the pasture, they’ll know she lives here and has not come to harm the sheep.

I don’t plan to bring her into the pasture for weeks, if not months. There’s no rush.

But it’s good that she gets close to the gate, she and Ashar and Issachar seem to like each other, they are almost ready to touch noses, and like Zinnia, they are gentle souls.

Fate was rattled at first, but seemed to adjust.

Email SignupEmail Signup