Those Days

Do you ever have one of Those Days. You know. The kind where you wake up and think it is going to be a good day, only to arrive at work to find out that while you were sleeping the world turned and things happened you have no control over, but that somehow you are supposed to be the one to fix it? I thought I had an issue at work that was resolved. A technical issue. Then I got to work and found out that instead of the problem being fixed, it was made much, much worse. Craptastic, I tell ya.

Then I go to get a pop from the machine. I am not a coffee person (love the smell, hate the taste) so this is my morning caffiene. I put in the money… and the damn button lights up to rudely inform me that particular item is OUT. Water just isn’t cutting it.

I decided after days of soul-searching that I need to let one of my cats go away to a new home. It’s been hard. Very, very, very hard. I try not to show how hard it is to my family as they have had other losses as well and I don’t want it to seem like my pain is any worse than theirs. It isn’t, I know, but it doesn’t mean it hurts any less. It is our newest kitty, Cleo. She was the stray that we saved when she was eating bird seed off the porch and was skin and bones but loads of personality. She’s still a sweetheart, and that’s what makes it so fucking hard to say goodbye. Several months ago we noticed ‘someone’ was pee-ing and spraying around the house. Not good. Since we have five cats, it was hard to catch someone in the act. When we finally did, it was Cleo. We took her to be checked for any bladder infections, etc., and she came out with a clean bill of health. She was put on anti-psychotic medicine and we’d thought that was helping for awhile. Guess not. The problem has cropped up again. From all I’ve read and researched, it is an issue that should be taken care of by her being an only child. I put a flyer up at the vet clinic hoping we could get her adopted out quickly, but no one has called. I decided to take her to the animal shelter. We have a local shelter that has a no-kill policy (I couldn’t take her to anywhere that wasn’t.) I call ahead, as daughter has kindly offered to take her over as I’m working… and would be a blubbering mess if I had to do it. Now they tell me they don’t know if they can take her – the person who answered said she’d have to talk to their director and call me back. Damnit. Just when I make the decision and get myself all psyched up… and, yes, say a tearful goodbye before leave the house this morning, now we are in ‘wait and see’ mode.

I’m sure this all seems so trivial in the big picture. I keep reading about all the pain and heartache floating around the internets… and so many people are hurting and suffering, even in my own home. I just sometimes feel the need to scream… ENOUGH.

So, you with me people? …. Deep breath… “ENOUGH!!!”

Feel better? I do.

Cody

Yesterday was a hard day. Seems there have been a few of those lately. Yesterday another beloved pet had to be put to sleep.

Cody came into our lives a little over 12 years ago. He was three at the time. It was my youngest daughter's 16th birthday and she'd been asking for a dog for ages. We went to the animal rescue league (the pound) and saw this schnoodle (schauzer-poodle) that was a bundle of energy. He was there because he'd kept digging out of his owner's fenced-in yard. We lived in the country with plenty of running room, so thought he would work out okay. After a couple of days, daughter thought he was a bit toooo energetic for her, but her 14-yr-old brother had fallen for him, so we kept him.

From then on, they were pretty inseperable. Our son and the dog were very like-spirited. Very active, and had "bad habits"… but we loved him. The first thing we learned was if he got off a cable or leash, he headed right for the busy road out front. That was cause for extreme anxiety more than once when we'd have to round up the kids and chase him down – and let me tell you, he was FAST. That dog could MOVE! He could zig and zag quick as a bunny rabbit and you had no chance of catching him. We finally figured out if we would make our german shepherd bark, then Cody would come up to find out what he was barking about – and that was the moment to grab him.

When our son got a bit lax in taking care of the dog, as children often do, I threatened to return him to the pound. (Trust me, it was only a threat). When son didn't seem to find that a possibility, I tricked him by boarding the dog overnight at the vet office… and, yes, telling him I'd returned the dog to the vet. Tears were shed and I was probably deemed the meanest mom on the planet  – you are probably thinking it even now – but when I "went to the pound and got him back the next day before he was sold to someone else"… there were more tears shed of happiness and the lesson was learned.

After a few years of not being able to trust Cody off of a cable, I finally was able to coax him into staying within sight of me and not running for the road – as long as I stayed outside with him and watched him. He became used to the farm and was able to be free to roam a bit without worry he'd go out on the road. If someone pulled into the drive and opened the car door with Cody there… watch out! You'd have a 12 pound bundle of energy in your car before you could say "wha?"…

As quickly as he would jump into a car, he hated to go anywhere. When we had to take him to the vet he'd yip and bark and whine the whole way… standing up on the seat and looking out the window trying to see where you were taking him. Interestingly enough, when you came home, he would sit quietly, just as he knew you were all done and home was waiting.

When we moved to our new house about five years ago, our son moved back into our old house. Because Cody had learned his limitations, we decided not to make him learn a new area and a new routine and we left him there. Our son was happy to have him back with him as well… not that he'd been out of the house all that long himself, but the few months he'd been living out on his own he'd missed that mutt. 

A couple of years ago, some health issues started popping up. He tore his ACL and spent several weeks healing up from that. Never really did get all his muscle tone back, but he managed to get along pretty good with a limp. Then a couple of months ago he started slowing down. About a month ago my daughter-in-law took him to the vet to be checked out and at that time they were considering some explority surgery to see what was going on with him, but with his age they didn't even know then if he'd survive the procedure. The decision was made not to do the surgery and just to make him comfortable and send him home. The diagnosis was cancer.

A couple of weeks ago Hubs and I drove over to pick up my daughter-in-law to take her to the races with us. The dogs were outside (they have another dog, too, a young huskie). Cody slowly, slowly, walked across the drive to the car. Hubs opened the car door and he slowly put his paws on the running board of the car. I went around and picked him up and carried him back to the house – he was light as a feather and his paws just shook with palsy. I could tell he wasn't going to last long.

Son was hoping he'd go in his sleep. On Thursday evening when he got home he said Cody just lay there… and when he gave him a treat, he just dropped it. He hadn't eaten since Monday, only had been drinking water. He was so weak, when he stood him up, he would crumple and fall to the floor. He put him on the sofa, wrapped him in a soft blanket and sat softly crying as he called his wife at work. He'd told us a long time before that he didn't think he'd be able to take him to the vet… he just couldn't do it. His wife is a nurse and a little more used to those "life and death" things. She called the vet, but they couldn't get him in until morning. Hubs and son were going to a race, so I went over and sat with Cody until his wife got home… for about 90 minutes he lay on the sofa, barely moving… I pet him and talked softly to him, telling him what a good dog he'd been, what a good friend. The husky was confused, I'm sure, but they say they know more than we give them credit for. Usually she is a pretty active dog as well, but this night she just climbed up on my other side and lay her head on my lap and let me rub her tummy.  When my daughter-in-law got home we talked about the morning and I told her I'd go to the vet with her. She said she would be surprised if he didn't pass during the night, but she'd let me know if we didn't have to go.

Morning came and I got a text "We still need to go". I was already on my way to pick them up.

Son was so upset he could barely speak. I hugged him and we took Cody and headed to the vet. When we arrived, his wife got a text… would we wait for son to come? Of course we would. A few minutes later son walked in … he'd been afraid he wouldn't get to say goodbye and decided as hard as it was for him, he needed to be there for Cody. It is so hard to watch your children suffer…no matter how old they are. Cody had been his companion for half his life. If he was home, Cody wasn't more than a foot away from him at any time. He never got over some of his bad habits, but he had a huge heart and he loved my son to pieces…and the love was returned. To lose Cody was a terrible sadness. He was an "old man" by doggie standards and had led a much better, fuller, more loved life than he ever would have had we not adopted him. This I know. He went peacefully… and is chasing bunnies with Benny, as bright and busy and crazy as he ever did. We'll miss you, psycho dog…. 

Sweet Benny

  

On February 2008 I wrote the following post after the Westminster  Dog Show. Last weekend we had to put our sweet Benny to sleep. On Friday he didn't seem excited about his food – definately NOT his style – and on Saturday morning it was still there in his bowl and he was lethargic. I took him to the vet in the afternoon and they ran some tests and said he had liver failure. His chart said he was 11 years old, but because we'd gotten him from the pound and he was a stray, they'd guessed at his age. The vet said it was possible he was even two or three years older than that. He was a sweetheart to the end and he's been missed so dearly. I told Hubs, "I've cried more over Benny than I ever did for my own dad"… Hubs, in his normal astute way said, "Well, your dog never hurt you." We loved you Ben… have fun chasing bunnies in heaven with Toby, Dusty, Betsy, Max, Bud, Callie, Turbo, Freck, and all the other critters we've loved before.

Even non-dog lovers probably didn't miss the announcement this morning that a beagle, Uno, had won Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show. I've had a special place in my heart my whole life for beagles. When I was growing up, my first and only dog was a beagle. Toby. Since I was an only child, he became my 'brother', my partner in crime, my confident, my playmate. He took my tears and soaked them into his fur and kept all my secrets locked away. Every day he was my escape – allowing me to take him for a half-hour walk where I got to get out of the house and away from the craziness that was my homelife. He lived to a ripe old age of eighteen, but I was out of the house by then and my parents had him put to sleep and let me know afterwards… giving me  no chance to say goodbye.

About six years ago Emily and I went looking for a dog at the local animal shelters. My sweet shih-tzu, Dusty, had passed away and we had a hole to fill in our family. As we saw dog after dog, one caught my eye. He was just sitting in his pen, leaning against the fence, and looked up with those sorrowful brown eyes as we walked by. With great effort (it appeared) he reached up with one paw and lay it on the fence. My heart went out. We kept going, looking further, and ended up in a nearby town where we found a cat that we couldn't resist. (That turned out to be my huge black cat – but that's another story).

Although we got the cat, my mind couldn't get rid of the sight of that dog, just sitting patiently waiting for someone to come. I told Emily I had to go back and check him out. We went back and I don't think he'd moved one inch since we'd left! Once more, he put his paw up on the fence. Brown eyes pleading for escape. We took him out to one of the rooms they have to get to know the animals better, and he slowly walked around and veeery slowly put his paws up on my leg. Everything he did was in slow motion – we were tempted to name him Slo-Mo!

He became a member of the family and we named him Benny Beagle … aka… the Bowling Ball (Hubs' nickname). He was not a "normal" sized beagle as Toby had been, but rather a large lump that soon grew to a whopping 50 lbs. We found that the "slo-mo" movements were a ruse and that he could be extremely quick and clever if either a bunny or a sandwich were involved. Hubs even had me ask the vet if he was a mixed-breed of some sort, seeing as he was so large. She then told us that beagles come in varying sizes and we just happened to end up with one of the big ones.

He's a personality. Here in the new house he has a kennel in the garage that has doors to a fenced in kennel outside. He has an igloo dog house in the inside kennel as well as a fan in the summer and a heated pad in the winter (although our garage isn't heated, our vehicle thermometers generally register 50 degrees even in the most frigid days of winter). He plays on sympathy – when you go out to see him he pulls out all the stops, making this horrid wheezing sound. I thought it was asthma, but the vet says it is a "reverse sneeze"… and although he can't seem to stop himself from doing it the minute he sees you when he's in the kennel, the second you hook a leash on him to take him out for a walk, he'll stop. He can got through his whole walk without doing it until you bring him back to his kennel. Faker.

His other trick is to play the slo-mo card. He'll walk very slowly on his leash, practically making you drag him at times to catch up (trust me, walking him is no exercise). However, when he gets a whif of a bunny you'd better have a good grip on his leash or you'll be trailing him to the next county. When he wants to, that dog can move! Luckily, the last time he got loose out in the open was at the old house and he'd run into the evergreen grove – which just happened to have an old fence around it. Whew!

Anyway, I just had to take a moment to acknowledge the mighty beagle. Way to go, Uno! (I'll be giving Benny an extra snack today in honor of the win!)

The Fly on the Wall

Lately, that seems to be how I feel. I'm just observing all the chaos around me. There have been bits and pieces of things swirling through my mind, usually in the dead of night, that I say, "I really should blog about that"… and then? Obviously I've not. I have too many things to throw all into one post, so guess I'll make an attempt at some regularity for awhile and see if I can catch it all up. In my mind, if not in yours.

As most of you who come by here know, we live in a rural area just outside of a medium-sized town. We built our house on the edge of a timber with a creek and we are on the edge of about an 80-acre corn field. To the front of our house is the corn field, then another field, and no houses through to the next mile over, which is a fairly well-traveled paved road that we used to live on. To the back of our house is timber, a creek, more timber, a gravel road, and although we have a neighbor who lives directly across from our house, they, too, have a large yard and the house sits to the back. So it ends up they are probably a good half-mile from us. To the south, we have a large yard, then timber, creek, timber, and gun-shooting asshole (who will be moving soon. yay!). North is our driveway, which is long and follows the edge of the cornfield before exiting onto the road, then more fields and our nearest neighbor to the north is about a mile away – not counting the psycho old lady who lives right across from the end of our driveway.

At night we can see the lights of the town off in the distance (as the crow flies we're only about 3 miles out of town)… but it can be very, very quiet and dark and from our house you can't see much of any signs of life in any direction.

Cue creepy music.

A few nights ago I and my daughter both heard what appeared to be a bunny being killed in the woods. If you have never heard a bunny being killed, they scream and it isn't pleasant. It puts your goosebumps right up. What was strange, was we heard a short burst, like one being killed (kind of to the south) then a silence, then it started in again only this time longer and moving throug the woods to the north. Now I heard some other noise as well – probably whatever was killing the bunny, but daughter didn't. I can't describe the sound except it didn't sound like anything I'm familiar with. We think it may have been a hawk that picked up the bunny and was flying it through the timber, but it seemed to move slower than that and it seemed like that bunny lived… or rather died… a long time.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get Hubs awake to hear it as he's more of an outdoorsman than I am and may have been able to identify it.

Then, a couple of nights ago it got even weirder. I woke up to go to the bathroom (yea, TMI, but I'm letting you know I was awake – not dreaming) and got back in bed only to hear a huge crash in the woods that made me sit up straight. A new sound came through – one I've not heard, but have been told of. A bleeting…which I've been told is the sound a deer will make being killed. It stopped, and I froze as I heard a roar. Yes, a roar. It was no wolf, coyote and definately no kind of bird. That was a cat – and a big one. Now, the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) have tried for years to tell people that we don't have cougars (mountain lions) in this part of the country, but I beg to differ. I know people who have seen them, shot them, and had them mysteriously disappear when they've contacted the DNR about them. Some even believe they were brought back intentionally to control the deer population but that people would be outraged if they knew so it is all hush-hush. All I know is I heard something that sounded like a National Geographic special… and it was chilling. I remember when we built our house about five years ago and we spotted a large paw print that was bigger than any dog and had the characteristics of a cat print – the retractable claws. We figured then that there might be something living in the timber. It would make sense. We have tons of deer, bunnies, and other wildlife to sustain them, plus the creek for water and lots of cover.

I love living here, but in the middle of the night when you hear those sounds it can feel like you are in the middle of the wilderness, not three miles from town. Needless to say, I watch the puppies very carefully when they go out!

Call of the Wild

Anyone who thinks the country is quiet needs to come by my house. As I stood outside with the puppies at 5 a.m. I took inventory of all that I could hear.

  • Roosters crowing across the field – in a direction where I didn't realize anyone HAD roosters. Another neighbor has them, but they weren't being vocal yet.
  • Two owls communicating with each other
  • A dog (coyote?) howling
  • A dog barking
  • Frogs
  • A train off in the distance

We won't mention the TV that Hubs had turned up waaay too loud (again) in the other room that I could hear after I went back to bed…

Another Encounter With the Wild

Coyote

 Sooo… I'm sitting in my bedroom, reading my e-mail, mid-afternoon today when one of these went walking across the back yard. I jumped up and watched from the window, wondering how fast I could find my camera… but not fast enough. He went around the front of the house and I watched, then stepped out on the porch which, of course, spooked him and he kicked into high gear loping down the driveway.

I knew they were here. Our contractor said he'd seen one four years ago when building the house, but I'd never seen one myself. Especially that close. He looked well-fed, fluffy, and in good condition… what a magnificent animal. When he went running, that tail just was a plume flowing out behind him.

Now, I just have one more thing to worry about when I let my Shit-tzu pups outside… Owls, hawks, eagles… and coyotes. *sigh* 

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are!

I'm living in a friggin' Disney movie. Snow White, I think.

I live in the country, surrounded by fields of corn and soybeans and some timber. Timber runs behind my house and along the creek which also runs behind my house. I've spoken before about the deer in the yard, the deer hitting my car, the various critters that come and go through the property.

A couple of days ago I was on my way to work at the butt-crack of dawn (one of my Hubs' colorful phrases). It was barely getting light out so I was driving slowly so as not to hit another one of those roaming deer. I had just gone across the little bridge that goes over the creek, when a huge shadow flew up almost hitting the corner of my car windshied. Of course, I freaked… then realized as it slowly glided in front of me down the road it was a great blue heron. I've seen them flying across the yard before, but never so close. Those things are huge!

Then on Monday I was once again going to work slowly in the pre-dawn hours when I saw a small fawn going across the road in front of me. I practically stopped, waiting for more to appear – there are usually more than one. Waiting… waiting… but it wasn't a deer that appeared, but a big fat raccoon! Followed right in the deers' path across the road.  I called Hubs and told him I was just waiting for the rest of the forest creatures to come ambling out. I swear, I felt just like Snow White!

Horseplay

Another blogger jogged my memory today (bad pun, if you know the blogger.) She was talking about riding horses and this brought straight to my mind my horse-riding experiences. First and foremost I remember going to my uncles' farm where they had several horses and ponies. My cousins were very good at riding and rode all the time and I, being the city raised kid, had never ridden. I think I was about 8 at the time, and my cousins being 10 and 12. They were so good at riding that they rarely even rode with a saddle! Well, despite my willingness to ride the horse, and despite my muttering under my breath that I was not afraid… I was shaking like a leaf when my uncle gave me a boost onto the animals' back. The bare back. Not having a clue what it was I was doing, I sat frozen, clutching the reins for dear life, while my poor gentle steed stood quietly waiting for some command. Then it happened. It had to happen, you know. The fates were laughing their asses off that day and town kid got theirs big-time. Did the horse run? Buck? Crazily whip around and bite the rider? Nope. None of the above. All he/she had to do was bend down to eat some grass. I found myself on the ground before you could say, whatthehelljusthappened?!?!

That was the highlight of my horse-back riding experience. I've never quite gotten over that feeling of total helplessness. I like horses, I do. But they still scare me a little. Yes, I've been "back on the horse" but I really didn't enjoy it. I think they're magnificent animals and I truly envy people who make it look easy. I'll just admire them from afar, thanks.

We won't even talk about the time my cousins shut me in with the pigs…

A Plague?

tree frog

Isn't he cute? This would be a Copes Gray Tree Frog or Hyla Chrysoscelis (for you educated types). You can read all about 'em if you go to the link. I won't get into detail. We live in the country, along a creek and for the past several evenings we have had one of these little suckers (literally) stuck to the sliding glass door or walk-in glass door driving the cats nuts. Last night after most of the family left (from the birthday dinner) Emily and I took the dogs out and as we were coming in the front I noticed something on the white porch pillar. We put the dogs in the house and started looking closer… and counting. We found two of these out front of the house and eight of them in back! Ten! Ranging from the size of a penny to the size of a golfball. Stuck to the siding, the grill, the porch railings… literally all over. I'm sure they had plenty to eat, the bugs were thickly drawn to the lights in the house. Good thing they aren't a damaging kind of critter. Still… ten! I'm sure if we would have stayed out longer we probably could have found more. That was in about a 10 minute search. Now if they were spiders I'd still be hiding under the covers shaking…

Batman

bat

No, not THAT Batman, but my batman, Hubs. We have a bat. In the house. In our three-year-old house. To be exact, in our sono-tube. (It's a sky-light type tube that snakes up through the attic and brings light into the kitchen – I have two of them.) The other day I noticed a dark spot inside one of them. The glass panel on the inside of the house is frosted, so I could just see a dark shape. I thought that wasn't right, but ignored it for a day or so until I realized it had moved. Looking closer, I could see what appeared to be a body and legs. Now we've had several types of frogs around the house, including some pretty wild looking tree frogs. I thought maybe one was sitting on the outside of the tube and the sun was showing the shadow inside. I walked out and stood as far out on the back deck as I could to see what I could see. Nothing. I went inside and took some pictures of the strange shape which I then showed Hubs later on that night when he got home. First words out of his mouth were… "bat". What? No…really?

He proceeded to take a shower and it was early enough in the day there was still plenty of light coming through so I could see the shadow in the tube. I watched it for a bit and sure enough, it started moving around and I actually saw a wing extended… oh, ick! My next thought was how it could have gotten in there? The tube is like your dryer vent tube, expandable, but very shiny on the inside to reflect the light down through it. I thought maybe they'd gotten into the attic and chewed through the side of the tube.

Neither of us was looking forward to going into the attic. Visions of a cloud of bats living up there gave both of us the heebie jeebies. Meanwhile, Barney the Bat was going nowhwere. He had now drawn the attention of the cats who proceeded to stare at the ceiling with unblinking attention… freaking us out with their intensity. We remembered other times our male cat had stared at the ceiling when we could see nothing and wondered what he was hearing up there that we were not…

Finally, on Sunday my "batman" Hubs got a ladder and braved the depths of the attic. To our surprise (and great relief) there was no sign of other bats, mice, bugs, or water leaks. The attic was pristine. So how in the heck had the bat gotten in? Hubs thinks he could see a tad bit of light showing through at the top of the sono tube, on the roof… so maybe it had pulled away a bit, just enough for a bat to follow a bug in. They are like mice, notorious for being able to fit through tiny spaces you'd never dream they could get into.

Next thing will be to go up on the roof… but he's not looking forward to that, at all. I suppose the cover of the sono tube will have to be taken off then somehow we'll have to attract the bat out. Either that or get an exterminator out. What a deal. We were expecting deer, bunnies, coyote, fox, turkeys, pheasants, and, yes, crazy neighbors… but bats? Never crossed our minds.