Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘dog

Delilah Helping

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While Cyndie and I were playing around with building more robust stone borders in the labyrinth over the weekend, we enjoyed some special company from Delilah. Even though she couldn’t pick up any of the rocks, she made a very notable point of being as present as possible in a clear gesture of moral support.

Normally, when we secure her leash somewhere while we are focused on a project, she sets off exploring every distance she can reach, seeking out any potential burrs she can collect in her thick coat or digging ferociously after some tunneling rodent in pursuit of entirely selfish entertainment.

On Labor Day Monday, she came over as close to “in my way” as possible, at the farthest reach of the leash that strained against her harness, and laid down to “supervise” my work. It was such uncharacteristic behavior, I paused to take a picture of her.

I didn’t realize at the time that I was also going to capture Cyndie in the background setting down a rock the size of the soccer ball with such little apparent effort that it looked to be as light as a soccer ball, too.

I assure you, none of the rocks that size were light. My back and legs second that assurance. We moved some heavy stones over the weekend.

We worked so hard, I think we tired out Delilah.

A short time later, I noticed she had laid her head down, using a rock for a pillow, and closed her eyes for a little nap, still at the far reach of her leash.

I think she was telling us the labyrinth is a very comfortable place to be.



Written by johnwhays

September 9, 2020 at 6:00 am

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Bold Color

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Yesterday was a comfortably quiet Sunday. I stole some time to nap in the hammock, but otherwise, my day was consumed by a small number of tasks in the incredible comfort of a gorgeous summer day. I took Delilah with me to trim a rash of willow tree sprouts starting to clutter the main drainage swale running the length of our southern property border.

She is back to her old bouncy self already, long before the shaved wounds have fully closed.

The beef cattle in the adjacent field took an interest in my activity and congregated along the fence. When a couple of them pushed their giant heads between two strands of the barbed wire to munch on the leaves of a tree I had just tossed aside, Delilah asserted herself enough to back them all off.

She appears to have a keen grasp of our property line.

We are back to full walks around the periphery trails, where we came upon one of nature’s brilliant displays of uncharacteristic color.

Looks like this could be where the idea for crunchy Cheetos® originated.

Delilah totally ignored it as she strolled past, but I stopped to give it my full attention. I decided against checking to see what it tasted like, though.



Written by johnwhays

August 17, 2020 at 6:00 am

Slowly Convalescing

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She is doing a fair job of allowing time and medication to heal her wounds, but Delilah can’t hide her sorry state of the wounded animal. We suspect the powerful pain killer is rendering her somewhat loopy and the antibiotic is definitely wreaking some disruption on her digestive system.

One of the puncture wounds continues to drain and the area of swelling is noticeable and changing colors daily.

We keep finding her squeezed into rather odd locations around the house and she stays curled up in each place for remarkably long spans of time. Cyndie found her curled up in barely enough space beside the toilet. She tends to push herself behind furniture.

Once we get her up and moving, she will go out for a brief walk and take care of bodily functions, so it is good to know she can still move normally if she puts her mind to it. She just doesn’t want to very much, and I don’t blame her.

Really, the best thing for her is to rest, and for the most part, that is exactly what she is doing.

There is no need for her to rush, so she is taking full advantage of our care. Time will ultimately be her best medicine.



Written by johnwhays

August 10, 2020 at 6:00 am

Bad Day

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This is the saga of Cyndie’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Really. It was the kind of day that no one deserves when they are already under the strain of grief from the recent death of their father and having just spent the prior day unexpectedly moving furniture and mopping basement floors after flooding rains.

It’s doubly frustrating when the trees outside keep toppling over from the abuses of wind and heavy rain.

We lost another oak tree near the backside of the house sometime in the last two days.

To soothe the pangs of angst banging around in Cyndie’s head, she opted for a craft project to occupy her time and talents, one that would create useful masks in benefit to others. Unfortunately, a problem developed with the bobbin and threading mechanism of her sewing machine which consumed hours, wasted yards of thread, and produced results opposite from soothing angst.

Next, she tried baking, also a love of hers which normally produces oodles of good feelings.

Walking the dog took too long for the tray of parmesan cheese toasts that were in the oven and the results were burned just enough that they couldn’t be salvaged. The delicious smell lingered long after the acrid tasting morsels had been discarded, providing an unwelcome reminder of what was lost.

Luckily, the two loaves of bread she followed up with came out perfect and tasted delicious. She offered a warm slice for me to test. Then, she took Delilah for a jaunt and I stepped outside to finish a chore. When I came back into the air-conditioned house, I found she had returned Delilah to the coolness indoors while she stayed outside to pick wild raspberries.

That is when I spotted the still-warm loaf she had just cut test slices from was now moved just to the very edge of the counter and there were delicate bites missing along the full length of one side.

Each attempt to get the better of her angst ended up providing nothing of the sort.

It had all the makings of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad type of day.

I’m thinking she might benefit from exorcising her demons by way of wielding a chainsaw toward a bunch of oak branches and cutting them to bits.

Take that you terrible, horrible, no good, eff of a day of failing sewing machines and baking disasters.



Written by johnwhays

July 1, 2020 at 6:00 am

Restorative Return

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We slept in our own bed again last night. It had been almost a week since Delilah had seen Cyndie and the reunion aligned entirely with the hypothesis that dogs perceive absence to be the equivalent of death and if a pack-mate returns, it is a miracle.

Cyndie reported that her gardens looked so thirsty for water that a few plants appeared within inches of demise. The labyrinth is a jungle. That will be our first project this morning. It deserves a double-team effort. I hope to get the rest of the grass mowed before predicted afternoon thunderstorms.

One highlight of yesterday was a call from our log home company announcing their plan to arrive tomorrow to begin preparing to reseal our logs.

Thank goodness.

We have seized the moment to eat breakfast in bed, catch up with our online accounts, and take in some favorite Sunday morning TV before setting out on our labors of the day.

Both the obituary and feature article for Cyndie’s dad made it into the Sunday StarTribune newspaper and she and her brothers continue their efforts to fill in the pages of the memorial website for Fred.



The beginning of life-after-Fred is unfolding with not-unexpected fits and starts, but we are underway as best as we are able. Not doing too bad, if I do say so myself.



Written by johnwhays

June 28, 2020 at 9:17 am

Mamma Returns

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One explanation I have heard for a dog’s overzealous greetings when their masters return from time away is that the absence was interpreted as a death. I believe that theory was based on an interpretation of wolf pack behavior. When a wolf disappeared from the pack, it was generally due to death. The survivors don’t expect to ever see that missing member again.

If that missing wolf does reappear, it’s a miracle! No wonder they would get excited.

As far as Delilah was concerned last night, the mamma who has doted on her for most of her life returned from the dead.

I was careful not to utter the highly recognizable sound of “mamma” to our dog until I saw Cyndie’s car coming up the driveway. I made that mistake one other time when Cyndie wasn’t going to be home for days and Delilah walked over toward the door to the garage and stared at it for so long I began to feel awful.

There was a blur of spinning and some squeaky sounds and a whole lotta love.

“She’s alive!”

My resourceful wife beat me to the punch and ordered her own favorite Gina Maria’s pizza on her drive home from the airport, and since it wasn’t ready when she arrived, took advantage of that time to go grocery shopping.

Gone for over a month, and she walks in the door with dinner and groceries.

Sheltering at home just got a lot less lonely for me.

Welcome home, Cyndie. Welcome home.



Written by johnwhays

April 16, 2020 at 6:00 am

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Clean Driveway

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One of the really great features of a spring snowstorm is when the snow melts on the driveway as fast as it falls. When Delilah and I set out on our first walk after I got home from work yesterday, there was no snow falling. After circling the majority of our acres, I parked her in the barn while I tended to chores at the chicken coop.

While I was down with a couple of egg-laying hens, the sky opened up and poured out a downburst of snow. It quickly became a mini-blizzard with little spinning snow-tornadoes that made my trek back to the barn into a heroic expedition. From the barn, Delilah and I hustled our way up to the protection of the house and turned our focus toward each of our respective dinners.

The next time I looked out the window, the cloudburst had ended. It went from everything to nothing in about ten minutes time.

But it wasn’t done yet.

Before dinner was over, flakes started flying again. This time, it lasted much longer. So long, in fact, I started to wonder if I was going to need to shovel. Delilah started getting antsy to make her obligatory after-dinner outing, but I kept delaying her in hope of waiting long enough for the snow to stop falling.

Not only did my plan succeed, but we were subsequently gifted with an outbreak of sunshine! The icing on the cake of this whole mini-drama was stepping out to the sight of a clean driveway. It was downright photogenic.

Take that, winter snowstorms…



Written by johnwhays

April 14, 2020 at 6:00 am

Special Report

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How many times do we have to hear the “special” announcements before we grow numb? I can’t answer that because I wasn’t counting last week when the numbness began to set in. During these “uncertain times” affecting everyone in the world, businesses that are scrambling to adjust are all issuing announcements of what they are doing to be safe, stay safe, help you, help others, unfortunately, to the point of becoming downright annoying.

It is my civic duty to assure all readers that Relative Something is striving to do everything possible to assure that all posts are maintaining a proper social distance and avoiding going to restaurants or concerts until this crisis is over. Epidemiologists are confident that reading blog posts is unlikely to pose unreasonable risks of transfer of the coronavirus, so feel free to spend extra time during your sheltering at home to visit the “Previous Somethings” archive to rediscover what the world was like before 2020.

Yesterday, in effort to clean up some of the mud-saster around here, Delilah and I –well, mostly me, she just sat nearby and stared toward the chickens in the woods– dismantled six pallets to reclaim enough lumber for extending the boardwalk on one of our trails by about seven rows.

You can see a difference one day makes when it comes to spring snow. The white stuff has melted, but that leaves behind a wet, muddy mess for trail conditions.

Actually, it was frozen this morning due to low overnight temperatures, so we hauled a wheelbarrow full of the blocks down into the woods before breakfast. The reward for that effort resulted in a special condition on Delilah’s hairy legs that I call “mudcicles.”

The doggie towels we keep at the front door for drying her feet when we come in from a walk aren’t able to wipe off all the frozen mud stuck in the long hairs on the back of her legs. That tends to slowly melt off around the house over the following hour after we come in.

Luckily, since I am home alone and am not able to host any guests during the pandemic crisis, I simply pretend not to notice how gross the house is becoming. When I try communicating with others in the world via Zoom or FaceTime, I just make sure to keep the camera pointing well above the floor.

Rest assured, despite the thin coating of silt covering every flat surface of the house, the risk of transmission of the coronavirus continues to remain unlikely.

Stay safe while washing your hands everyone!



Written by johnwhays

April 5, 2020 at 9:56 am

Big Melt

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If it was possible to measure, I’d claim yesterday as the day when the balance tipped from winter to spring around here. It certainly appears so in terms of the snowpack. That glacial iceberg that was covering the land has suddenly transformed into a massive snow-cone ice dessert spill.

Look at that texture and try to convince yourself it doesn’t appear as though a shaved ice machine must have overflowed.

Even though there are a lot of places where the ground has become fully exposed, there still remain significant areas in the woods where the depth of snow is almost to my knees. Imagine what it’s like when you step in snow-cone shaved ice that is deeper than the top of your boot.

Yeah, like that.

Out by the road, there was a clear delineation where the edge of winter’s glacier was receding.

Our local forecast is teasing a chance for 60°(F) over the coming weekend. That will be a pleasant “welcome home” for Cyndie, who is currently in Florida with Elysa for a short visit with Fred and Marie. A warm weekend here will be like a cool night down there.

I’m back to entertaining the pooch non-stop from the moment I walk in the door after work until I put her to bed in her crate. She was insufferably persistent in begging for attention last night, only the first day without her mamma around. Lucky for Delilah, that sweet face is pretty irresistible.

She won several full-body massages and multiple exploratory expeditions around the grounds. My writing is slowed significantly when typing with one hand while the other is fending off her insistent snout pleading for interaction.

I’m clinging to the evidence supporting how much emotional benefit there is from having the companionship of a dog.



Written by johnwhays

March 4, 2020 at 7:00 am

All Cat

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It’s not enough that Pequenita has established her dominance over our bed day and night, she was recently spotted making her royal self at home on Delilah’s bed.

They do not have a cuddly relationship. Seems to me they get along like cats and dogs.

I expect Delilah was occupied at one of the windows in the front sunroom, barking at squirrels at the time this photo was taken. Pequenita wouldn’t be on that bed if the dog’s toenails were clicking the floor anywhere in the house. At that sound, the cat makes a mad dash for the “safety” of our bed, either beneath it or on top of it. That maneuver is not out of fear, but as a show of her dominance.

While I was writing this, Pequenita was hard at work in the foot attack zone waging war against my blanketed toes.

She is all cat.

We know who’s boss around here.



Written by johnwhays

February 28, 2020 at 7:00 am