Since I’m behind the desk most of the day on the computer or phone, I don’t get the physical activity like the guys do here on the ranch. I make a point of trying to get out for some exercise three or four days a week.  I actually have a workout class, attended by some of the other ranch residents.  They are just a bunch of mutts really, but in much better shape than I.

First there is Big Dude, a Great Pyrenees, named so by my 8 year old daughter, because well, he is a big dude!  I call his exercise method “Predator Patrol”.  He specializes in strong, steady, and stealthy strides.

Big Dude

Next is Izzy, a Border Collie/Airedale cross.  You may wonder why anyone would ever cross those two breeds on purpose, but evidently some of the cowboys thought it would make a great aggressive stock dog for the stubborn cows.  Izzy is a very sweet dog, but she is definitely an “alpha-female” and has all of the huge guard dogs buffaloed on the ranch!  Her specialty is the 400 yard dash or really, anything that requires speed.  I have personally clocked her at 35 mph for over a mile and Melendez tells me he clocked her at 45 mph!  We have had some chuckles when Izzy spots a coyote on a nearby hill and they have a “Wiley Coyote” moment when they realize she really can make it up that hill in record time!

Izzy

Then there is Belle, a Border Collie, who was given to our children for Christmas about five years ago.  She is a very sweet, quiet dog which is why she is probably on the bottom of the pecking order.  She loves to “help” when the guys are moving sheep on the ranch; however, help is a questionable term.  Her specialty is “Spinning” as she furiously runs around the sheep, then slows down, stalking, then bursts into the round up again.

Belle

Huck is our newest member to the class.  He is a Border Collie who was slated to be a competitor in dog trails, but alas, his quirky habits and shy behavior didn’t work well in a competition setting.  We are glad to have him and he is really enjoying learning how to be a ranch dog.  If I had to peg him for a class right now, it would certainly be “Beginner’s Aerobics” as he just runs around and tries to do what the other dogs are doing and is not particularly sure why.  And just when he thinks he knows what is going on…the other dogs burst off after something that he is totally unaware of.  He will get the hang of it I’m sure.

Huck

Last but not least is Max, a Border Collie cross we inherited when we moved to the ranch.  He is getting up there in age, but never misses a class.  Obviously, his best class is “Sweating to the Oldies”.  He has a slight limp from who knows what injury, but he keeps up just the same and is glad to get out.

Max

The dirt road into the ranch snakes around for about 2 miles until hits the main highway and is perfect for a lunchtime walk or run.  As we head out, the road is snow pack or dry dirt in most places until we get a little further out,where it turns to a mucky mess.  I look around and decide that we might as well go up- hill and get a good workout.  The snow has melted off some on the South facing slopes and it is nice to get out of the mud and on the hill.  This time of year is particularly good for hiking the hills around the ranch, as there are no snakes right now.  We have quite a few rattlesnakes as well as some less dangerous ones during the hottest months of summer.  I’m not afraid of snakes; I just like to know where they are, particularly since we do have children.  Fortunately, wherever any of us go out on the ranch, there are usually two or three dogs ahead of us, which helps alert us when there are snakes in the vicinity.

The dogs are patient and rest as I climb all the way to the top of the hill.  They play as well as cool off in the remaining snow and look puzzled as if to ask “what took you so long”?

As you can see, it is a beautiful winter day with the hint of a much welcomed spring on its way.  We will probably still get some snowstorms before winter is truly over, and we need the moisture, but for the moment, I’m really enjoying this nice weather.  The views back toward the ranch, out of the lava fields and up the canyons are all equally beautiful.

Back at the ranch, the dogs prepare to take their afternoon naps and the cats seem to wonder what the big deal is.  They chase a couple of mice, do a few stretches and consider exercise overated.

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