a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: February 2014

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Seesters Go To San Francisco

SUMMARY: Almost Wordless Wednesday

There are five sisters. Three went to San Francisco to see Says You! live.

Heavy drinkers: Water, lemonade, raspberry lemonade, and hot chocolate chasers.

Who's the photo bomber?

At the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco theater.

It's San Francisco: Arrive in the sun, leave in the fog.

>>  Visit the Wordless Wednesday site; lots of blogs. <<

Nature vs Nurture plus Evil Floors

SUMMARY: Who's her daddy?

If you haven't already read this short article about nature vs. nurture in dogs (USDAA posted it in its news feed), you should. It's easily read and has nice diagrams. It clearly describes how both nature and nurture affect a dog's behavior, but that even the best nurturing can't overcome genetic flaws in behavior (and, vice versa, the worst nurturing can't completely overcome genetic strengths).

It's All in How They're Raised (not)

Here's my response:
Thanks for this article; just read in in the USDAA news. I particularly liked it because it followed a discussion with a friend about human children. I commented that she'd done a great job raising her kids, and she said that, no, she was just lucky. I said that I believed it's a combination of nature and nurture, and she said it's almost all nature, because she's seen good kids in bad situations and vice versa. Your article captures the answer to our discussion quite nicely. Thanks.
My border collie (Boost) abruptly developed a fear of unfamiliar flooring (especially if it was smooth, although it could be the exact flooring that I have in my house, just in a different building) when she was maybe 3 or 4. She'd always been concerned about changes to her environment, but this stunned me, because it also included floors in houses in which we had previously spent many days during her life or even weekends visiting. This manifested with the toes splayed out, the legs splayed out, hunkering down for a low center of gravity, and preferably hugging the walls and furniture as if somehow that made the floors safer. Fast forward to when she's 8 years old--still does it, although not quite as much and she can get used to the floors given time and patience. Talking to her breeder one day about border collies in general and reactivity, and I mentioned the floors thing. He said, oh, yes, her father did that his whole life, on *all* smooth floors, even in his own house--hugging the walls, toes spread out. Funny thing is that in looks and attitude, she's so much like her mother (whom floors never bothered).

Previous posts about Evil Floors (some with photos):

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Started Another Blog plus History of Martial Cottle Park

SUMMARY: Martial Cottle Park Naughty Neighbor Patrol.

Sooooooo I haven't been posting here much. Maybe blame it on Facebook (where I do post pithy pointless sayings and photos), or blame it on not doing much in the way of dog sports or dog training, or whatever.

Meanwhile, a new, nearly 300-acre park opened its perimeter trail right behind my house. We've been waiting for this for many, many years, and the neighborhood loves it, based on how many people I see out on the trail at all times of the day. This, in an area where going for walks at any time of the day usually found the sidewalks deserted.

No landscaping yet, and the west side near me will mostly be agricultural land, but it's still nice to go walking.

A little history: The Cottle family moved to the San Jose area in the mid-1800s. San Jose was next to nothing until the gold rush, when the whole valley began providing food for the booming San Francisco and the mining towns in the Sierras. This is really where money was to be made! The Santa Clara valley is amazingly fertile, and over time, agriculture spread across the valley, with plum and cherry trees in particular, so that in the spring, the whole valley bloomed. It became known as The Valley of Heart's Delight. (Now it's Silicon Valley. Which do you prefer? Discuss.)

Martial Cottle, born in 1833 in Missouri, came here with his family when he was 21. They were fairly affluent to begin with, bringing 600 head of cattle with them.  They bought and married into--I think--several square miles of the the valley.  When his father died, Martial ended up with hundreds of acres, but on this 350-acre parcel he lived, built a Victorian farmhouse (still there), and raised wheat, cattle, and orchards.

His five children were born in the house, including Ethel (1891-1977). Ethel married and had two children, also born in that house, Walter Cottle Lester (b. 1925) and Edith Lester. Walter (and possibly Edith?) lived in that farmhouse their entire lives. Ethel started the idea, as she watched the valley change around her, from agriculture to suburbs and business parks, of preserving the site as a reminder of the valley's agricultural roots. After Ethel died, Walter talked with various governments for probably two decades--not trusting government and not liking what they wanted to offer--before an agreement began to unfold with the state or the county (not the city--some bad feelings there of some sort).

And then Edith died. Leaving Walter with an enormous inheritance tax: Developers had reportedly offered him up to half a *billion* dollars ($500,000,000) for the property.  Eventually, after more negotiations, the state, which had a bit more money at the time, bought half the property, allowing him to pay the taxes, and he donated the rest to the County of Santa Clara, along with a deed that covered BOTH parts of the property as one park and stating explicitly how the park could and could not be used (this is often referred to as "the donor's vision," but it is, in fact, a legal document).

Part of the agreement was that he could continue to live on the property in the same house, along with his barns and orchards and smaller fields, in the Life Estate part of the park, until he died.  So no development or planning could occur in the Life Estate until then.

This was a few short years after I moved here. Then began the long permitting (environmental reports, etc.) and planning process. I attended many of the public meetings, which started in 2007, and provided my input, as well.   Construction finally began first on the perimeter trail last autumn, with heavy equipment working behind my house for months.

We looked forward to the promised opening at the beginning of February. Plans were made for a huge celebration and official opening.

On the evening of January 31 of this year, Walter Cottle Lester died.

On the morning of February 1st, the official opening of the perimeter trail abruptly became a hasty memorial as well, as the very first public access to the park opened: About half of the Perimeter Trail (I think it's about 1.8 miles of trail).  Sadly, I was off doing dog agility that weekend and didn't attend.

I think that Walter might have held on until he could really see that his mother's and his sister's and his vision had become a reality.

Anyway, back to us.

We've been out walking around fairly often, and [sigh] picking up litter and occasional abandoned poops. Then, last week, I decided to make a blog about it.

Check out my Martial Cottle Park Naughty Neighbor Patrol blog. Main goal is to track what I'm picking up (and there are others, probably staff, also picking up), but as long as I'm out, might as well throw in some photos and commentary.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Happy 9th Birthday, Boost!

SUMMARY: Well... actually January 31.

I didn't post here--but I did post on Facebook.

Still, just so she doesn't feel left out, here's a new picture for today.

Happy 13th Birthday, Tika!

SUMMARY: My Valentine's Day girlie.







And just a few bonus shots from random years:








Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Martial Cottle Park Perimeter Trail is Open!

SUMMARY: Our first walkies there
Backfill: Added May 15, 2020 because I was sure I had already done a post but apparently not. Don't know where it is. Maybe Facebook? Anyway--here you go--

Martial Cottle Park -- nearly 300 acres behind my house. I have been waiting for a decade and a half for it to open so that I could have a place to walk my dogs that's actually park-like, not neighborhood-like.

And of course now I'm in pain and Tika is old and struggling. But we went today anyway; I could hardly wait and felt good enough to go.

We walked across the top segment, left to right.
Branham on the right. Snell at the bottom.

Approaching the entrance in our neighborhood, past a neighbor's flowering tree.
Very excited, first time this is available to walk into.
And it looks great! Beautiful wood fences. Dog Poo station! How cool is that? 

Tika and Boost checking peemail.
Apparently there have been male dogs here prior to our visit. Heh.  

It is a park. There are rules.
Boost, being a Border Collie, read them and she said that we're good.

Riprap just inside the entry, in front of big gates into the agricultural area that will be leased to an organic farming company. 
This is part of the swale all along the path that might be flooded during rainfall.

Some neighbors wanted much, much more space between the trail and their back fences.
I think this is more than enough. And I, too, live in a house whose back yard faces the park.

All of this area will be landscaped. So much work that they still have to do, so we can't walk on the dirt.
Who wants to walk on dirt anyway, when we have such a nice path?

Wonderful path! The property is flat and square, but who wants another straight-away to walk down? I love the meandering, and the dotted line for people going in different directions. 
You can see how they've just finished plowing out the swale to catch rainwater and replenish the groundwater.

And the view of the mountains looking south! Mount Chual at the left; Loma Prieta next to it with radio towers (epicenter of 1989 Loma Prieta quake is under the far side of that); on the right Mount Umunhum but this photo doesn't show the radar tower. 

Caution: Congested Area.  ... Well, maybe someday...
(Looking north towards Branham.)

Now we exit the gate at the right side of the map (north actually). There's poo bags here, too. Yay! So thoughtful!
Looking back at the entrance on Branham. Such nice fencing!
And a brand new sidewalk, with an elevated side wall for people to rest on briefly if their sciatica is so bad that they need a long rest after a short walk. Not that I'd know about that.