Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘dog

Shedding Season

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The hours of daylight are changing noticeably, but there are other ways the change of seasons is becoming obvious lately. When we step outside our doors there is an interesting series of sounds coming from our giant oak trees. Are they shooting at us? No, it is just the pinging and slapping of acorns strafing the land.

It’s best to wear a stiff hat if you will be spending any time beneath the oaks this time of year. Oh, and walking on the lawn under the tree outside the front door is like navigating shag carpet with a giant Lego® set spilled across it.

While the trees are shedding acorns, our Belgian Tervuren is shedding her fur.

It seems counter-intuitive to be shedding in the fall, but in order to grow the winter coat, dogs will lose the lighter summer coat. Delilah is one of the breeds that have a double coat, with an undercoat of short, wooly hairs beneath the top coat of long hairs, so the shedding is a bit more obvious.

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So, around here this time of year, it’s not just acorns making a mess on the lawn.

Yeah, I wish it was just the lawn where the mess occurred. Delilah spends more of her time in the house, so you can imagine what our floors are looking like lately.

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Written by johnwhays

September 15, 2019 at 6:45 am

Duly Moved

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Last night I watched the award-winning documentary, Free Solo about Alex Honnold’s epic climb of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. What a masterpiece of a film! I highly recommend it. I was duly moved by the intimate glimpse into Alex’s life, and the inclusion of the emotional challenges of those around him coping with the immensity of the monumental risk he was facing in his quest to climb that granite monolith without ropes.

Alex points out that any of us could die at any moment, whether doing something risky, or not. I tend to avoid things with a high risk of death whenever possible, but it is true that my life could end at any time. One way I interpret his thinking is to frame myself as “free soloing” all the time.

It made my walk with Delilah a little more exciting than normal after the movie.

She suffered a bit of a panic inside her overnight safe-space crate yesterday morning when a rowdy thunderstorm rumbled over top of us at oh-dark-thirty. I didn’t have much success trying to assure her we weren’t in jeopardy as I prepared to leave for work, which made it rather stressful for me to walk out the door and leave her alone until Maddie was due to show up an hour or two later.

I soothed myself by considering how she would greet me when I got home at the end of the day, as if clueless that anything out of the ordinary had happened earlier, which turned out to be true. She did.

We then made the rounds on the property, hiking the perimeter trails and surveying the results of the wild weather. There were 2.5 inches of rain in the gauge and the ground is fully saturated, but no new-fallen trees or limbs, thank goodness. That much rain, or more, is expected to fall before this weather event is done and gone.

We will carry on and survive to the best of our ability, even though I now have this new sense that I am doing it all without the benefit of any ropes.

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Written by johnwhays

September 12, 2019 at 6:00 am

Wild Treat

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We took Delilah on a deep woods explore across the road from the lake place yesterday and came home with a new chew toy to occupy her time for a while.

I’m guessing the old deer skull wasn’t giving off much of a scent because we had paused with Delilah almost standing on top of it when I spotted one side of the antlers sticking up. She was busy looking elsewhere, oblivious to the exciting treat below.

Rodents had already gnawed much of one antler, but it’s a safe guess that it was at least a 6-point buck.

I knocked off the remaining portion of the snout with teeth in it and let Delilah have what was left for a chew treat out on the deck all afternoon.

She seemed very happy with the adventure in the wild woods up north that make our little tract of forest at home seem like a postage stamp. It made it worth my having to suffer wearing long pants, long sleeves, and the annoying smell of bug repellant required to survive more than a brief minute under the canopy of the towering trees.

Walking in these woods turns people into wild treats for the mosquitos unless properly protected.

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Written by johnwhays

August 31, 2019 at 8:10 am

Storm Damage

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By the looks of the driveway alone, up at the lake, it is obvious that there was some heavy rain. There is evidence of a flash flood of runoff that washed gravel away into the woods. Farther along on the property, we discovered that the big eagles’ nest had also succumbed to the deluge. There was debris of sticks and dead fish on the ground at the base of the tree. Looking up, the size of the structure had shrunk considerably.

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Still, the two youngsters remained perched, one on a branch above, and one on what was left of the nest. We occasionally hear them calling out to the adults who are the source of their meals. I would expect the stinky fish that landed below to eventually be picked up and delivered above again. It’s not like they’re past their expiration date or anything.

Getting the fish bodies up off the ground would make it a little easier to walk Delilah that direction. It takes a lot of muscle to steer her clear of trying to roll around in all the stench.

On a whim, I decided to be adventurous and take Delilah for an explore in the woods across the highway from our property. As soon as we made our way beyond the thicket of growth along the berm beside the road and got into the spacious forest beneath the spectacular canopy of the tall trees, I discovered the hazard of my decision.

All that rain seems to have unleashed a ferocious new batch of teeny mosquitos. They were unrelenting in their onslaught. I tried to keep moving to foil their attempts to land, but Delilah –lacking the exposed flesh I presented– didn’t share my urgency. She kept stopping to smell every enticing forest odor and, still on leash, frequently chose a path that had us at odds over which side of tree trunks to be on.

I had to cut our expedition short and set a course straight back to the bright sunlight of the roadway.

Things were much calmer when we got to the beach and I let her soak in the water while I stood on the sand taking a sunbath and listening to loons.

By that point, the storm damage was out of sight and out of mind. Almost the same for the chaos of the preceding week.

I will continue this course of therapy for a couple of days. It seems to be just what a doctor would order for what was ailing me.

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Written by johnwhays

August 10, 2019 at 7:51 am

Delilah Nodded

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Has it been a while since I boasted about our brilliant Terv? Being a dog, Delilah is rather highly motivated by food. As random as things are around here, we do strive to provide Delilah with as routine a schedule as possible. She is very helpful in reminding us when it is time to eat, should we ever stray from timing she expects.

I used to think it was a function of her impressive ability to tell time. Evidence now points to her reading our activities and recognizing we put out her food after coming in from certain tasks in the morning and afternoon. If we end up coming inside too early in the afternoon, she still assumes our arrival to the house means it’s time for her dinner.

When that happens, we tend to make her wait for the clock to reach the appointed hour.

With Cyndie out of town this week, I put Delilah in the outdoor kennel while I was mowing the lawn yesterday after work. By the time I decided to stop to feed her, it was about 30 minutes past her usual mealtime. When I reached the kennel to retrieve her, she was incredibly excited to see me. I knew why.

I’m pretty sure she knew I knew.

“It’s dinner time!”

She did the classic excitement behavior of running ahead, running back, and running ahead again. Knowing she was too excited to think about peeing, I encouraged her to take a moment to do that before we went inside.

Her response, in the midst of dashing fore and aft, was a head nod to let me know that wouldn’t be necessary. Going inside so I could immediately serve dinner was the only thing on her agenda. With a very obvious nod of her head, she indicated there was no need for what I was asking of her.

While she ate dinner, I stepped back outside and finished as much mowing as time allowed. Before washing up, I took Delilah outside one more time.

The very first thing she did was pee.

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Written by johnwhays

August 7, 2019 at 6:00 am

Unglamorous Reality

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I think it’s only natural that our minds tend toward the fantastical when attempting to interpret an unexpected scene in our otherwise staid environment. Why would the first impression be the simplest option, when a more unlikely one is possible?

When I got home from work yesterday, I discovered a mysterious disruption around the front of my closet. There had obviously been some sort of disturbance. Several odd shoes had been pulled out, shoes I haven’t worn for some time.

I suspected someone had been looking through my shoes, but it was possible my footwear had been incidentally dislodged by a person looking for something else. What could someone have been after?

Well, I can narrow it down a little bit. The only “someone” around here all day would have been Cyndie. The most likely scenario would be that she was pulling out items to be laundered.

Not all that exciting, after all.

The truth was even less glamorous than that.

When Cyndie came in from trimming fence lines, she offered up a set of facts I had failed to consider. Pequenita had barfed in the vicinity and Delilah stormed in to take care of cleaning it up before Cyndie could react.

Lovely. Sometimes things aren’t quite what they initially seem.

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Written by johnwhays

July 30, 2019 at 6:00 am

By Hand

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Circumstances had me home alone again last night, so I talked Delilah into helping me clear some of the smaller trees that had fallen across our trails, doing the sawing the old fashioned way: by hand. I will try not to hurt myself, patting my own back in pride over once more resisting the urge to use the chainsaw when no one else is around.

Work safe!

The first tree we came upon seemed to be in an advanced state of decay, so I hoped it would be a quick cut. Yeah, …that didn’t come true. The outer circumference was very spongy, but the inside was totally solid wood. Delilah was very patient while I took several breaks to rest my arms.

The second tree was higher off the ground, so that offered a chance to stand up while sawing, but it also had a lot of branches that ultimately led to more cutting.

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Delilah was a great help, standing guard up the trail to make sure no one entered the work area while I was cutting. Using the hand saw, I was able to clear three trees and turn a 10-minute job into an hour-long project. My helper didn’t even complain that our lumberjacking expedition cut into her regularly scheduled evening meal time.

She probably appreciated the greatly improved look of the trail so much that a little food delay was easily accepted.

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The big tree that remains across the trail is high enough up, it gives an appealing impression of an intentional arbor. Maybe I’ll leave it there for a while. I could let the vines that are growing hog-wild everywhere cover it up for increased aesthetic value.

Cyndie and I are short enough that neither of us needs to duck to pass under it, but people taller than us might feel it is a little too low to have left where it fell.

If anyone complains, I’ll just say it was too big for my little folding hand saw.

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Written by johnwhays

July 24, 2019 at 6:00 am