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

Posts Tagged ‘pets

Survival Naps

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Yesterday, Cyndie sent me a text from the doctor’s office. She asked me to pick up some prescriptions for her, and wrote that she had declined their option to go to the hospital.


That got my attention.

They gave her lots of tender loving care while she was awaiting test results, and I headed home early from work. She was a mess when they saw her, with a fever that climbed a couple of degrees while she was there. After a nebulizer treatment to open her lungs, Cyndie headed home for the best medicine of all: a nap on her own bed under the watchful eye of Pequenita.

Too bad we left all that warm, moist air in the Dominican Republic. Someone is currently not allowed to be outside breathing our very frozen oxygen molecules.

That means I am on full-time animal care for a while. On Wednesday and Thursday, I tended to the horses and Delilah in the morning before starting my commute. Under the crunch of time and darkness, the chickens were pretty much neglected, left to fend for themselves in the coop.

When I checked on them yesterday afternoon, our winter-hardy birds were doing just fine. The electric waterer was working slick, only freezing around the edge. I served them a portion of cracked corn and meal worms, cleaned the poop board, and they looked perfectly happy with the situation.

The young chestnuts were doing their own version of surviving the cold air. They positioned themselves strategically out of the breeze and broadside to the sun for an afternoon nap.

Luckily, this cold snap is due to give way to more reasonable temperatures this weekend, so the animals and I will get a little break from the extreme elements.

I may even crank up the Grizzly to clean up the inch of snow that has gradually accumulated since I last plowed. It hardly seems worth it, but doing so makes it a little easier to walk around, and who doesn’t need a little more easy when you are trudging through the dead of winter?



Written by johnwhays

January 5, 2018 at 7:00 am

Shocking Transition

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From this:

To this:

It was a 92° swing in a matter of a few hours.

Ouch. There is a reason they refer to below-zero temperatures as “biting cold.”

I can report that our pets were exceptionally well cared for while we were away. The horses were snuggled in the barn when we arrived after dark last night. Both Delilah and Pequenita were very excited to see us and offered a full dose of canine and feline affection, respectively. The chickens are hunkered down in their coop, which is what we will also do for much of today, by the fireplace in our house.

It was a great family vacation, and  it is great to be back home again.

Being away certainly helps me to better appreciate how much I love the place we call home. There is no place I’d rather live, even when the air outside is ridiculously, bitterly cold.



Written by johnwhays

December 31, 2017 at 10:33 am

Animal Magnetism

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For most of my life, it was a struggle just to take care of myself, due to a condition of undiagnosed dysthymia. The additional responsibility of caring for pets every day was a burden I found ways to avoid.

Now I know why people who love horses become so passionate about it. I’ve spent the last five years learning what it is like to own horses, and it has changed me to the point I think it would be hard for me now to live without them.

It’s kind of ironic that caring for animals has contributed significantly to my healthier life. The very thing I was avoiding turns out to be therapeutic for what ailed me.

Yesterday morning, Cyndie captured this wonderful moment as our four Arabians made their way along the fence line of the hay-field back toward the barn in the enticing soft light before sunrise.

She and Delilah had just come out of the woods on their morning walk along our trails, a situation that signals to the horses, breakfast at the barn will soon be served.

As powerful an energy as the horses are for us, Delilah radiates her own compelling magnetism. She looked absolutely stunning after a grooming appointment yesterday.

When I walked in the door and reached down to pet her while she was leaning into me in her overly affectionate greeting, I asked Cyndie, “Did you just brush her?”

Oh, no. That was a full-fledged professional job that gave her the silky smooth coat.

Later, I glanced at our beautiful Tervuren under the old Hays family table and caught her paw draped over the antler chew she found in the woods.

Yeah, it can be a lot of responsibility, but I think I’m getting the hang of this animal magnetism they seem to have.

What a rewarding blessing it is to be healthy and have the added benefits of the positive energy our animals inherently provide.





Countdown Begins

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Prepare for blast off. Make sure your seatbelts are fastened, seat backs forward, and tray tables are in the upright position.

‘Twas the day before Thanksgiving and all through the house… Airports are busy and homes are gaining inhabitants. It’s a short week of work in front of a long weekend of gathering with loved ones.

Oh, and food. We are under a dangerous consumption advisory, after all. I’m ready to commence snacking.

Cyndie and I will be spending Thanksgiving with her family at her parent’s house this year, but we are traveling in shifts. She heads over there this afternoon to begin preparations, and will spend the night with her mom and dad.

I will tend to things at Wintervale tonight, then in the morning, after animals are all fed, I will head west to join the Friswold clan for turkey-day festivities. There is a Vikings/Lions game that will be a great compliment for large portions of Chex-mix munching. The Thanksgiving feast will follow the football.

As if I’ll have room in my stomach.

Then I race back to the ranch to show some Thanksgiving love to our horses, chickens, dog and cat. Pequenita has been practicing for her post-Thanksgiving lounging on my legs in the new recliner. She seems to know the drill.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Hays relatives whom I won’t be seeing tomorrow, and also to all of my readers here and abroad.

It’s just the beginning of the grand holiday season, so prepare for the long haul. Consume in moderation and take good care of yourself so you will be fit and inspired to share love and happiness with everyone in your circle of influence.

If need be, your seat cushion is available for use as a floatation device.



Written by johnwhays

November 22, 2017 at 7:00 am

Safety Glass

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One of our Barred Plymouth Rock hens was checking out the scene on the deck this morning while Delilah napped nearby.

Apparently the dog wasn’t in a deep enough sleep to miss the vibes of a creature entering her sensory field.

Delilah spent a lot of yesterday barking at the sound of gunshots. It was the first day of the deer hunting season. Maybe this has her on a heightened sense of alert today.

We are grateful there was a safe glass barrier between our animals for their encounter this morning. No feathers were ruffled, although the dog did suffer a brief abolishment from the bedroom for her unrestrained outburst against the glass.



Written by johnwhays

November 19, 2017 at 11:12 am

Mostly Healthy

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Other than choosing to regurgitate the entire undigested contents of her stomach on our bed the other day, Pequenita is leading our animals in staying healthy.

The good news about the others is that all are showing promising signs of improvement.

Delilah had a quick relapse to yelping in pain after her promising signs of normalcy a week or two ago. Happily, that regression was short-lived and she has re-emerged with more of her old vim and vigor once again. We remain cautious about encouraging too much rambunctiousness, lest she experience another similar setback.

She has a second visit to the doggie chiropractor scheduled for next week. We are trying to constrain her activity a reasonable amount until then.

Cayenne’s swollen eye has settled down nicely, but shows signs of still being irritated. Cyndie washed it out again yesterday. Since all the horses were due for a fall visit from the veterinarian, we will have a chance for her eye to be seen this morning when the Doc comes to give all of them some attention.

I’m doing my best to keep up with everybody else’s progress and enjoying increased mobility and reduced pain with every passing day. ‘Nita does her best to keep my legs stretched out and warm for me. I think my tight hamstrings do me no favors at avoiding problems with my lumbar discs.









I have been grossly negligent about stretching and exercising for best back health, but as soon as the trouble showed up last week, I became a planking maniac again. The problem with that was that the muscles of my torso became incredibly stiff and didn’t want to take on the load my ailing back wished they would.

Stretching like a yoga master became the third option.


Written by johnwhays

November 10, 2017 at 7:00 am

How’s Everybody?

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Basically, we are all good, but there are some health concerns that continue to linger for some of the Wintervale crew. Time has not healed all wounds.

After the most recent hoof trimming, Cayenne’s showing a tiny bit of improvement. What we cling to there is that she is, at the very least, not worse. She still shows a fair amount of hesitation on her movements, but she doesn’t appear to be in extreme pain.

It’s possible she may have developed a habit of anticipating pain, and she still limps because that is what she has grown used to doing. It sometimes looks like she steps gingerly to protect herself, not because it hurts too much to walk normal.

Now, Delilah, on the other hand, is behaving quite the opposite. She keeps trying to act like she is fine, but continues to have moments of extreme pain. On Tuesday, we resorted to ordering x-rays of her spine and a more thorough blood analysis.

The results of her blood work are not in yet, but the x-ray showed a minor compression between discs 3 and 4. We were told there also appeared to be some abnormal marks or possible lesions on those vertebrae, which the vet is hoping the blood analysis will inform.

We have returned to restricting her movements to a bare minimum. Regardless, she continues to maintain a pretty happy attitude between moments of looking like she’d prefer to do nothing more than lay down and convalesce.

It’s been a long summer of rehabilitation for Cyndie’s shoulder, but it’s not over yet. She continues to have regular physical therapy appointments to improve range of motion. The good news after her most recent follow-up with the surgeon was that he deemed it unnecessary to put her under and break the scar tissue by force. The bad news was the alternative being extended PT with painful aggressive measures to do the same thing.

The therapist used the infamous “cupping therapy” to stretch the scarred tissue across the grain. Makes sense to us, despite a broad belief that cupping is pseudo-science and any benefits are from a placebo effect. Cyndie is growing tired of the pain from her exercises and the ongoing need to push her limits of stretching and rotation.

At the same time, she continues to find ways to function in her daily activities with only minor limitations.

The rest of us are enjoying a grace period of good health. The chickens will be seeing snow for the first time in their lives. Pequenita is happy to be an indoor cat. We brought the horses in out of the windy wet precipitation last night, but we’ll give them a short shift outside for some fresh air before letting them back into their stalls again tonight.

I avoided hitting any deer on my commutes this week. Yesterday morning, I was lucky to not be a part of a 10-car chain reaction crash,  –nor get caught in the significant backup of traffic behind it– when a vehicle hit a deer on I94, right at the bridge between Wisconsin and Minnesota. I had already passed that spot and was well on my way to work by then.

Everyday I don’t hit a deer in October and November is a successful day.

That’s my update on how everybody is doing today. We are thankful for all our good fortune.



Written by johnwhays

October 27, 2017 at 6:00 am