Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘dogs

Woods Changing

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Fall has arrived and it sure feels like it outside this morning. There is a distinct chill in the air, despite the ongoing global warmup occurring.

Well before the fall landscape color palette changes from green to red/orange/yellow, an inside view reveals the impending change.

There aren’t a lot of leaves on the ground yet, but there is a definite thinning of foliage going on. Delilah and I were traipsing along the soggy trail yesterday when I took the above picture. Times like this bring great appreciation for the “boardwalk” we envisioned in one of the swampy spots of our trails. It is an ongoing installation of blocks I remove from shipping pallets I salvage from the day-job.

Once again, it is getting easier to leave the trail and bushwhack through our woods to explore rarely visited spaces. I think this may subtly contribute to a universal attraction people share for fall, along with the obvious colorization and comfortable dew point temperatures. The woods open up and provide easy accessibility.

Friday night the easy access seemed to invite a noisy visitor to the grove of trees just beyond our house. Delilah spends many precious minutes every day barking in response to the sound of neighboring dogs miles away. Friday, that neighboring bark came from darkness just beyond the reach of our flood light.

Oddly, Delilah felt no need to respond, although she took great interest in our sudden fascination with the mysterious trespasser outside the back door. My guess was the stray visitor had treed a raccoon, or squirrel, or turkey and was “shouting” at it.

Last evening, during our last big walk of the day, I let Delilah’s nose direct us off-trail through the woods along the many odd paths frequently traveled by a variety of resident critters.

I also put fresh batteries in the trail camera to resume monitoring the night life visiting the chicken coop.

It was a very quiet night there last night. No motion until almost 6:00 this morning, when a cat wandered past.

We took down the netting around the coop yesterday, making it easy again to clean the poop board, so maybe traffic will pick up with time. Not that we wish for that. I just see it as inevitable.

Inevitable like the end of summer growing season, which is marked by the first real overnight freeze. I’m in no particular rush for that, other than a desire to be done mowing the grass for another year.

With the woods changing noticeably, and the noted chill greeting us this morning, we sense the big freeze isn’t far off.

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Written by johnwhays

September 23, 2018 at 9:38 am

Split Second

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I thought Delilah had tripped. She appeared to stumble as one of her paws slid out from under her on the landing in front of the door to the house.

We had just returned from tending to the horses for the afternoon feeding where Delilah had uncovered one of her prized possessions: hoof trimmings. She had retrieved it from a hiding spot and was clenching the precious find in her teeth as we walked straight back to the house.

There are no detours at this point, because Delilah knows that the next order of business involves serving her dinner. I’m sure the cut of hoof was intended for dessert.

I guess she wasn’t expecting there would be appetizers, too.

As I was sweetly questioned Delilah about what had just happened, using a soft, comforting, albeit confused tone, the wingtip of a songbird appeared out of the side of the dog’s mouth.

I stuttered in surprise for a second and before I could utter a command for her to drop it, the bird let out a little tweet. This brought about two reactions.

I switched to my loud voice to demand that she drop it, and Delilah quickly began chomping.

Sorry about the image that may create, but keep in mind, I had to see and hear it first-hand. You get off easy.

All it takes is a split second.

Then, in one complete second, Delilah swallows and bends down to pick up her piece of hoof. She looks up at the door handle, and then me, ready to go in for dinner.

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I’d lost my appetite, but it didn’t slow her down one bit. For my part, I cut back her portion of canned food in her serving. She just had her protein.

If you could use some consolation, there was a mark on the glass of the storm door that revealed a reason for a bird to be laying on the front step. It might not have been dead when Delilah snatched it, but its demise may have already been determined.

I’m sure Delilah’s intentions were entirely directed by compassion.

Mmm hmmm.

She’s such a dog.

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Written by johnwhays

September 2, 2018 at 9:47 am

Getting Along

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It has become a daily occurrence to randomly hear a startling eruption of Delilah suddenly darting after Pequenita and chasing her down the hall in a race to our bedroom. Our first inclination is to holler at Delilah about the altercations, but there has been plenty of evidence implicating ‘Nita as the occasional instigator.

We try to pass it off as sibling rivalry, but I suspect the infamous history of perceived animosity between their species is the real culprit. Delilah wants to play like a dog and Pequenita seems to think that is a ridiculously un-feline way to behave.

There is no doubt that Delilah flaunts her size advantage. On more than one occasion, I have seen Delilah simply walk over and stand above Pequenita. Sometimes she will try to augment that with a single paw draped over ‘Nita’s back.

Pequenita’s response depends on her mood. She always seems wary of the possibility things could escalate to a hazardous level, but primarily chooses to be patient and wait out the disturbance in her finest queen-of-the-world repose.

When the canine gets distracted for a second –a guaranteed occurrence, every time– the feline will make her escape. That is the moment the unexpected race to the bedroom suddenly shatters the serenity we might otherwise be enjoying.

Sometimes, when I reach down to pet Pequenita, her back feels wet. I always hope it was just a gentle grooming she received from Delilah’s tongue, and not an attempted “tasting.” We have seen Delilah hold her mouth open, combing Pequenita’s back and tail with her teeth as the cat walks away.

Then we get that look from the dog.

“What? I was just standing here, breathing when she walked by!”

Our house pets are doing nothing to refute the perception that dogs and cats can share living quarters, but it’s mostly a function of barely tolerating each other in the face of a constant preference to rather be with their own kind.

Sounds like a couple of political parties I’ve read about.

Hmm. One method of helping dogs and cats get along well with each other is to socialize them when they are little puppies and kitties.

I wonder if we can devise a way to eventually improve government function by intentionally striving to get play dates between children whose parents hold opposing political views.

I’m not confident the planet will remain habitable long enough to see if that could work.

Living in a house with a couple of pets who are constantly practicing the art of tolerating each other has me frequently thinking about how nice it is when we all just get along.

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Written by johnwhays

August 18, 2018 at 9:22 am

Star Spangled

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Cyndie cooked up some star-spangled black cap jam yesterday! It all started with some pre-canning berry picking when Elysa and Ande arrived to join in the fun. Made from real fresh berries.

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Then the cooking magic in the kitchen commenced, using more sugar than I am allowed to be in the same room with, leading to jars upon jars of the precious dark jam.

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And a filled kitchen sink.

Just to top off the busy afternoon over the stove, Cyndie baked two loaves of bread so we could test out the jam while it was still warm. The flavor treat set off fireworks in my taste buds!

Speaking of fireworks, one of my trusted news sources (who shall go unnamed to protect their reputation) let me down royally with a timely story offering four tips to help dog owners ease the stress of frightened pets during the sunset hours of exploding ordinance this time of year.

One: Don’t take your pet to the fireworks show.

Really?

Two: Keep your pet safe at home.

Isn’t that the same thing as not taking them to the show?

Three: Try over the counter remedies.

Oh, why didn’t I think of that before?

Four: Make sure your pet is microchipped.

July 4 is the number one day dogs and cats get lost, it says.

Well, that is not a tip that will ease my dog’s stress, so that was only three morsels of expert advice.

Color me thoroughly disappointed in that “helpful” tidbit of intrepid journalistic expertise.

We ushered Delilah into her “den” for the night, and she was able to quietly ignore the repeating echoes of small arms fire sounds percolating well past my bedtime. Delilah sleeps in a crate with a cover draped over it, which seems to provide her with enough comfort that she will generally ignore most activity overnight.

Last night, I could have used a sound proof cover over my bed. Regardless, once I got to sleep, it was dreamy visions of star-spangled black cap jam dancing in my head all night long.

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Written by johnwhays

July 5, 2018 at 6:00 am

Not Silent

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When Delilah suddenly barked at the door to the deck, Cyndie asked me if I had heard what set her off. I missed it completely. She said it was howling of some dogs or coyotes.

Nope. Didn’t hear that.

It’s not rare for Delilah to jump up and bark at some distant sound. Honestly, more often than not, I don’t hear what initially sets her off. When thunderstorms are on their way toward us, Delilah provides an alert well before I perceive the first rumbles. When it’s not thunder, it’s usually gun shots or barking dogs.

She is always quick to add her statement to the chorus. It is a general robust report of a bark, or sometimes several. When we don’t react to her concern, she often loses interest in short order.

Later, Delilah suddenly erupted with a distinctly different explosion of barking. It was pretty obvious that this time she had actually seen something that was setting her off. Cyndie went to the door to have a look for herself and Delilah almost pushed her over in frenzy of reaction over whatever was out there.

The last time I saw something similar from her, I discovered several deer standing right outside the front windows, almost as if they were teasing her by not panicking over her outburst.

Whatever she saw last night must have vanished immediately. Cyndie couldn’t get Delilah to settle down, so she walked her out of the bedroom. I decided to step out onto the deck. With no critters in sight, I wanted to listen for something that might explain the doggie dramatics.

I spoke loudly to be heard through the closed-door, telling Cyndie I’d seen nothing and it was silent out.

Except it wasn’t.

As I paused with hope of detecting some sign of an animal invader, it struck me how not silent it actually was.

Off by the barn, or maybe around toward the front yard, there was some repeating shrill chirp or tweet at a steady rate loudly making itself known. The silence I was interpreting was with regard to barking, howling, rifle reports, or grumbling thunder. There was none of that.

However, once I recalibrated my listening threshold, I became aware of a multitude of additional sounds. By this time, I was well past finding anything to explain Delilah’s flip-out, but I was wonderfully entertained by the growing number of sounds I was beginning to notice.

There was an obvious large truck taking up more bandwidth than was pleasant. Several other small bird calls were suddenly adding warbles to the audio track. Somewhere in the vicinity of where I was standing, a small critter sounded to be picking at some tree bark, but my eyes failed to locate it.

I suddenly stomped on the deck, hoping to startle a potential stowaway. Tuesday night/Wednesday morning there was a raccoon on the deck that had Pequenita smashing into the glass door somewhere around oh-dark-thirty. Our kitty was showing some territorial concern, but the ‘coon almost looked as if it had amorous intentions.

Nothing reacted to my stomp.

The night went back to being silent, except for all the ways that it was not.

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Written by johnwhays

April 12, 2018 at 6:00 am

Little Details

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In the slogging day to day of experiences that are hardly noteworthy, little details can become a surprise of noteworthiness. You can’t plan it. Things just happen. The greatest value is in simply noticing when happenings happen.

Yesterday, I was walking Delilah along one of our oft treaded trails when I suddenly felt this child-like urge to toy with her as obsessively fixated on some scent. I dropped to my knees in the snow and put my head next to her, excitedly asking her what she was smelling.

She seemed a little taken aback by my odd behavior, but carried on sniffing when she saw I was just joining her in the action. I zeroed in and put my nose right at the slightly discolored spot she had been checking.

Nothing, nothing, nothing, OH MY!

Skunk!

I smelled a faint, but very identifiable scent of a skunk.

Maybe if I would put my nose to the ground in the same manner that dogs do, I would gain a much greater understanding of why she reacts the way she does on our daily treks around our land.

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Written by johnwhays

February 18, 2018 at 10:44 am

She Survives

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Much to our surprise, our Buff Orpington appears to be functioning normally after enduring a dangerous encounter which drew blood on Saturday in a fracas with our Belgian Tervuren Shepherd, Delilah.

Yesterday afternoon, Cyndie witnessed the hen drinking water and eating food in the coop, and when I peeked in on the chickens, our hero was in one of the nesting boxes, cooing.

I don’t know how she does it.

Looking back over the whole experience of deciding to make the blind leap into having chickens, despite knowing we had a dog who would do everything in her power to foil our plan, I am in awe of these three survivors who have endured every calamity of our inaugural year.

We thought it would be good to have chickens to help control flies, but we didn’t have a coop. So, I built a chicken coop. Then we just needed to get chickens. Cyndie ordered three each of three breeds from an online site.

Therein started our crash course in caring for chickens. Absolutely every challenge that arose was a first for us. Cyndie learned how to clean baby chicken butts when several of them developed problems.

We gambled on moving them to the coop before the weather had really warmed up consistently. We basically guessed our way through training them to free range, yet return to the coop. Finally, we left them completely on their own to avoid any number of potential passing predators.

Unfortunately, the losses started with Delilah, who ended up producing our first fatality when she broke free and grabbed a Rhode Island Red by the neck. Then in June, we lost six birds all in one horrible evening to an unseen attacker.

Somehow, the three that have survived all the challenges are closing in on their first birthday next month. I feel like they are doing it almost in spite of us.

After what the Buff has just been through, she has earned the bragging rights as toughest of them all.

Here’s hoping they all channel the survival skills gained in their first year into long and prosperous lives, and more importantly, that they might teach any new chicks that happen to show up, how to do the same.

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Written by johnwhays

February 12, 2018 at 7:00 am