Category Archives: Bailey

My dog eats a live bird (musings on animals doing what animals do)

(This originally appeared on my blog at Patheos.com in May 2016.)

Photo by Pixabay

Photo by Pixabay

My dog Bailey was just outside, just hanging out in the grass, enjoying the evening air. She’d been outside maybe ten minutes when I went out to bring her in and saw that she had something pinned to the ground…it was a bird. I called to her, she moved towards me, and the bird jumped away. Bailey went after the bird, pinned it, and let it go. It hopped, she pinned it again. When it flew up about a foot, Bailey leaped up and caught it midair.

And the race was on. I told her to drop the bird, trying not to freak out. The bird was alive, squeaking and flapping its wings. I threw Bailey’s favorite ball in the hope I could distract her long enough to throw the leash on her and get her away, but all she did was run around with the bird, periodically dropping it to yank out feathers and then grabbing it again and taking off, bird bones crunching audibly as she chewed on the run.

My god, the poor bird! I tried to chase Bailey (bad idea). She’d drop the bird, I’d call cheerily and throw the ball again, and she’d start running. I used every attention-getting trick she’d trained with, to no avail, the bird getting smaller and smaller and me getting more and more panicked as the seconds ticked by. Could the bird even be saved now? There was no blood, just feathers flying. Maybe there was still a chance.

Eventually I ran into the house, reached into the fridge, grabbed a handful of mashed potatoes, and ran outside to throw them to the dog. She came running gleefully, but only because she’d already eaten the bird.

THE WHOLE BIRD. The head, the beak, the feet, and most of the feathers. I’d love to tell you what kind of bird it was, but the only thing she didn’t eat were a few feathers and the entrails, which oddly enough were left intact in the grass.

The entire scenario, from the moment I spotted her with the live bird until the time she finally came to me? Maybe two minutes, max. Probably considerably less, although it felt like an eternity.

I called the vet. We’ve just finished more than three weeks of dogs with stomach viruses and diarrhea and antibiotics, and I have no idea what’s going to happen to all of that bird that Bailey just ingested. The vet receptionist told me that dogs usually digest that kind of stuff really well, implying that this was a common thing, dogs eating entire birds. When I asked about the head, the beak, the feet, she simply said, “Yes.” When I pressed her – my dog ate a whole bird – she offered to have the vet call me to reassure me everything would be fine.

Will it be fine? To say that I’m traumatized is an understatement. I watched a bird go from hopping and flapping one minute to feathers and entrails the next, its life taken before my eyes by the animal that I cherish. There wasn’t even any blood; just feathers and that little string of bird guts. My dog did that.

I’m horrified that Bailey didn’t listen to me. She knows these commands cold and I tempted her with her favorite things. She should have listened to me. Then again, I had nothing to offer that could match a live bird. In her mouth.

Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised. A few summers ago, she and Bandit made quick work of the three tiny baby bunnies that had been living in the back yard, bunnies who made the bad choice of hopping around right under the dogs’ noses and flaunting their frailty. It took me weeks to get over the fact that my dogs killed bunnies.

Of course, I understand that this is real life, it’s nature, it’s animals doing what animals do. We have a hawk that often visits our yard; I’ve come outside to find more than one headless sparrow who couldn’t escape the clutches of a bigger, stronger predator.

But at this moment, a few pin feathers still fluttering across the grass, this is too much nature for me. When I came inside after inspecting the yard for any body parts (there were none), Bailey was guzzling down a bowl of water and panting, her tail wagging, she clearly joyful for the hunt and capture she’d just executed. I looked her in the eye and, my voice shaking, whispered, “I can’t believe you just did that.” She stopped wagging and lowered her head a bit, and as our eyes met we both realized that, despite our mutual love and deep emotional connection, she will always be a dog and I a human. She will always eat birds and I will always be traumatized by it.

I reached out to hug her. She nuzzled my neck. I stroked her head and cried.

Bailey is sound asleep at my feet as I write, but I can hear her stomach gurgling, the bird likely making it’s way through her intestines. I’m praying she doesn’t throw up, at least not before darling husband gets home. The last thing I need now is a dog barfing up a bird’s head.

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Dead squirrels and wormy birds (no wonder my head aches)

Bailey – she certainly keeps life interesting.

We’ve had an ongoing prediction here at The Funny Farm, that someday Bailey is going to catch a squirrel. Not only is she a fast runner, she has a super sniffer. If a critter is in the yard, she can sniff him out faster than he can find a place to hide.

Sometimes when I let the dogs out, the bolt to the back and I can hear squirrels scratching up the trees. Bailey once trapped a squirrel at the top of the 8′ high fence. The squirrel would run left; Bailey was there. He’d run right;  Bailey was there. Not that she could catch him up that high. She’s just intimidating, what with that bark.

If there’s something unusual – or dead – in the yard, Bailey will find it. Poop, peanut shells from the neighbor’s feeder, trash blown from the other side of the fence. I once saw Bailey chewing on what I thought was a stick. It turned out to be an entire dead bird. A whole bird! She had the entire thing in her mouth! I had to pry open those jaws and literally reach in to remove the intact bird.

Talk about gross.

Anyway, I had gone out to run an errand. When I came home, I let Bailey out and stayed inside for a minute to be welcomed home by Bandit. Things were quiet outside – no barking, no yipping, not a sound. That’s a good sign, usually. I went out to switch dogs – and that’s when I saw Bailey in the driveway standing over what looked like an old stuffed toy.

Except it wasn’t a toy. It was a squirrel.

Bailey had the squirrel pinned down, then she’d let it up. The squirrel would try to get away, Bailey would paw at it, it would squeak, she’d paw at it, and on and on. Bailey was strangely calm, as if she wasn’t really sure what she’s caught or what she wanted to do with it. And the squirrel was clearly in distress but seemed to know that if he stayed still Bailey was more likely to just stare, rather than cause him further harm.

I knew that freaking out would send Bailey over the edge – she’s reactively weird that way. A screetch from me and the squirrel would be toast. So I ran into the house, grabbed some biscuits and started calling Bailey, tossing biscuits in an attempt to lure her from the squirrel just long enough so I could grab her collar while avoiding a scratch from the squirrel.

It took a second or two, but I got Bailey in the house, and hoped that the squirrel would run away to wherever it is that injured squirrels go.

I called the vet – Bailey is up to date on her shots, she didn’t appear to be injured at all, so there wasn’t any worry in that regard. But when I looked outside, there was the squirrel. Dying, right outside the screen door.

The squirrel crawled up there in the middle of the garden hose tangle. And died. Sort of.

So I called the village animal control office (which in our town is also the building inspector). Not surprisingly, the clerk told me that animal control really doesn’t do anything and that usually in this situation, the critter will crawl away on its own. (This is actually a very, very common policy.) But when I told her the critter was … Eeeeww!! Right at my door!!! … Dead in the hot sun!! …. she sent over Dave, the building inspector/animal control officer.

Dave thought that the squirrel had a broken back, and that it was entirely possible that the critter was already injured when Bailey found it. I tend to agree; Bailey wasn’t worked up into a frenzy, and she didn’t seem bent on shaking or chewing or otherwise causing the critter harm. She was much more curious than murdurous about her little pal.

Thankfully, Dave removed the squirrel – it was still alive so he had to … let’s say … humanely remedy the situation. He was so nice and he took care of the situation so calmly. I will never complain about how high my taxes are again.

As I watched him drive away, I looked down, and there was a dead bird in the front yard. A gross, wormy, ant-covered dead bird.

Seriously, what is going on over here? Continue reading

Me and my “disposable dog”

Bailey, the day I brought her home from the shelter, January 22, 2011. She was six weeks old.

13WHAM News did a story tonight on what they called “Disposable Dogs,” puppies and dogs that irresponsible backyard breeders keep producing and then bringing to the shelter. Sometimes it’s day old puppies; sometimes it’s the mother dogs who have been bred till they’re no longer useful and then dumped; sometimes it’s adult dogs people bring home and then turn over when they’re bored with them.

Reporter Jane Flasch said in the story that about 1028 pit bulls were euthanized in 2011 at Rochester Animal Services. I volunteered at RAS for a year – an experience I absolutely loved but also one that broke my heart every time I was there. (I only stopped volunteering when I had to get a real job, which lasted a few weeks. Then Scout got sick, Bailey and Bandit had their turn of events, and I wasn’t able to go back. But I digress.)

The report included not just interviews with people like Jenn Fedele, founder of Pitty Love Rescue – the story incorrectly identified Jenn as a breeder; she is most definitely not a breeder – but also photos taken in the tech rooms at RAS of dogs being euthanized.

Seriously, having just had to put my darling Scout to sleep after a battle with cancer, I did not need to see that. But maybe you did, so that you could understand how serious the problem is.

As I watched the story, one thing stood out: had Bailey not come home with me on January 22, 2011, she would have been one of those statistics. Continue reading

Bandit explains Valentine’s Day – and it’s scary!

Visit Bandit on his blog, http://www.MyNameIsBandit.com!

Bandit took some time today to explain Valentine’s Day – and boy, is it a scary holiday! Here’s the beginning of his column:

“It is time for Valentines Day, the day when people go around telling other people how much they love them or they try to get people to fall in love with them. It’s all hearts and hugs and kisses and love.

“But it is all a big lie. Really, those people are trying to kill you.

“First, a naked baby named Cupid flies around with a bow and arrow trying to shoot people in the heart. Where I live, babies are not allowed to fly around without their mommies (or their diapers), and they are definitely not allowed to play with bows and arrows. Plus, just in case you didn’t know, if you shoot someone through the heart with an arrow they will die. And they probably won’t love you for it, either.”

You can read his whole column, “It’s Valentine’s Day and Someone Is Trying To Kill You!” on his blog, www.MyNameIsBandit.com!

Puppy mills, shady petitions, and other updates

For those of you who don’t read my Heavenly Creatures blog over at Patheos.com, you may have missed the hot topic last week about a commercial dog breeding facility proposed for Gorham, NY. The town board originally approved a special use permit for Curtis and Jolene Martin, who currently operate a facility in Varick, NY (near Seneca Falls in Seneca County). The plan is to build a facility to house 200-500 dogs to breed and sell wholesale to pet stores across the country.

The approval for the special use permit was unanimous, but once word got out about the planned breeding facility, it was clear the board didn’t have any idea what they’d just OK’d. The Martins run what is nicely called a wholesale dog breeding facility – but is also referred to as a puppy mill (or puppy “farm”, if you listen to Channel 10 news). Hundreds of dogs bred over and over and over to produce puppies for sale to commercial pet stores. They’ve been cited for violations in the care of the dogs. And even without violations, breeding 500 dogs factory-style just isn’t right any way you look at it.

Well, that’s how I feel about it, anyway.

It’s a hot story that culminated Wednesday with an open meeting in Gorham that saw 400 people show up to share their views. The meeting opened with a statement from the town supervisor that the permit had been nullified and plans would have to be approved by the Ontario County Planning Board. If you missed anything, you can catch up on the Heavenly Creatures blog:

One of the things people who were riled up did to try and make a difference was to start petitions. One girl in Buffalo collected 9,000 signatures. And I found out today that someone had started a petition opposing the puppy mill, with the target as my blog … to “STOP HEAVENLY CREATURES APPROVAL TO BUILD AND BREED.”

Which is ridiculous, because I’m a writer, not a breeder or a builder.

And even worse, they used a photo of my Scout as the logo for their petition.

So if you are asked to sign a petition about a puppy mill that includes “Heavenly Creatures” and this photo of Scout – don’t sign it. I have no clue what this person is trying to do – he appears to be an animal welfare advocate –  and I don’t want my readers to be taken in because you see darling Scout’s photo and assume I’m involved.

All of the hubbub did do one positive thing: I’ve become fascinated by the fervor that some animal welfare advocates have approached this topic; it reminds me of the polarizing, self absorbed, single issue mindset I’ve seen in religious communities. People driving hours to protest puppies while ignorning animal cruelty to other animals. Also surprising: the diverse attitudes within the Christian community; there were people of faith whose response to the puppy mill issue is “it’s their business.” So I’ve launched a little project to research and write more on animal advocacy and religion.

Well, that’s all the writing news from The Funny Farm for now. In dog news?

My crying bouts over Scout have become controllable; his remains are in a lovely wooden box from the vet, which is inside a pretty box that says, “Love and Inspire”. It also holds his collar and paw print in plaster (OMG that was such a lovely thing to get from the vet). It sits near my bed. I still can’t go into my office, where he spent most of his time. He preferred to hide under my desk and wedged behind the chair. Even though he chose that spot, it pains me to think of him there, hiding out by himself. I’m plagued by guilt over what I could have done, should have done, the stress his had in the last six months of his life with Bandit and Bailey. Sigh. I need to go find the tissues.

Bailey is doing a lovely  job with her puppy school practice, what little we manage to do. She’s quite fond of doing circus dog tricks – through the hoop, over the yardstick; I think she’s channeling Scout. Bandit occasionally seems a bit lonely without his brother but he’s one super snuggle monster. We’ve been hitting the park for romps and runs, and Bandit made a new friend at Beyond Hardware. You can read more on his blog. These two are still separated 24/7 but they’ve calmed down a lot. I still don’t leave them home alone together, even separated. Bailey is an escape artist and if she broke out of her crate … well, we’re not ready for that yet. But she’s doing great working on spending time in a crate. And when I go somewhere, I just take a dog with me!

Well, that’s all for now. Stay tuned and keep in touch!

Happy New Year – yes, we’re all still here and yes, it’s still madness

Bailey, honing her pillow unstuffing skills

My blogging efforts in the last part of 2011 were lame, I know. I was overwhelmed with sick dogs, barking dogs, fighting dogs, slow computers, and the need to focus writing energies where the money was.

Which means I’m once again chasing page views. From covering “The X Factor” on m Beliefnet blog to my new adventure covering animals & faith at Patheos, I’ve been trying to fit in required writing and researching while managing the dog situation. Which, quite honestly, has consumed almost every waking moment. (And even the non-waking ones; I had a dream recently in which actor Dylan McDermott came over to adopt Bailey. I’m still waiting for him to show up.)

Bandit, not to be outdone, proves he can still unstuff a dog bed and chew a shoe faster than a speeding bullet

So here we are at the start of 2012 and you’re probably wondering how we all are. Well, I’m sitting here trying to type a slow laptop, with no mouse because Bailey has dumped yet another cup of tea on the table where I’m working. I also have very sticky “y”, “n”, “e” and “t” keys, thanks to spilled tea and Murphy stretching his claws out on the keyboard. Yes, you can remove a laptop key but they don’t always go back on so easily.

 Bandit is barking, Bailey is at my feet ready to spring into action should Bandit bark at something interesting. Scout is lying in the kitchen, saving his energy for a round of b-u-b-b-l-e-s, should the opportunity arise. He’s still here, winding down a bit. In fact, we had a rough night.

In fact, I’ve had a year of rough nights. I estimate that from January 22, 2011, when Bailey came home with me, to December 31, 2011, I had maybe 5 full nights of sleep. And that’s a generous estimate. My nights allow for 1 – 3 hours of sleep in a row (that’s the max; since Scout got sick we average about 2 hours at a time). First it was a new puppy who was a wild animal in her crate and needed to go out every few hours until she was potty trained. Now, it’s a sick dog nearing the end of his life.

We still, thankfully, have our daily “Sleepy Nap Time” but I can’t lie on the couch for more than a half hour because it kills my back, hip and knee. I think that’s from that very graceful tumble I took down the stairs a few months ago. My feet slipped out from under me, I went airborne, and WHAM! Landed on my tailbone. I think I whammed my hip, too, so that when I was out with Bandit a few weeks later and he bolted after a cat – he rarely does that, so it was clearly a very special cat – I twisted my ankle. Ta da! Pain in the back, hip and knee.

But I had a really, really grand bruise on my butt for a long time. I mean, Guiness Records worthy in size. Which of course proves that having a grandly padded ass can really be a benefit. Because had I actually been in shape, I most definitely would have broken something.

So you can see how it might be difficult to be creative with all of the barking and fatigue and constant distractions. But on the bright side, Scout – who was given 30 days to live last May – has had 7+ great, normal months, outside of the need to pee every 2 or 3 hours every night. So it’s been a worthwhile trade off.

There you have it: things are pretty much the same as the last time we met. We’re still looking for a home for Bailey – you can read more here. We’re hoping Scout stays as healthy for as long as possible, and when his time comes he goes peacefully in his sleep. (God willing) And I need to go now, because Bandit has stolen my shoes – again.

Photos of Bailey and Daddy’s field trip

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David took  Bailey out today for some fresh air and exercise so Scout, Bandit and I could have a peaceful afternoon. I took Scout and Bandit for a walk to the library to return some books, and then left them home while I ran an errand. I confess: it was a relief to take those two without having to worry about Bailey home in a frenzy, and to not worry about the dogs fighting while I was gone.

Bandit’s chest is still really swollen, and I think the stress is taking its toll on Scout. So we just hung out and let everyone rest and have access to their favorite napping spots; Scout’s been blocked off from both my office and behind David’s recliner.

And while we were having a much needed, restful and tension-free day, Daddy and Bailey were having  super romp. They went to Mendon Ponds park, Ganandogan, and Hemlock Lake. I think they both needed some outdoor time; she’s never had an wildlife adventure like that.

So far, we’re still on eggshells. David has one more day of vacation, so tomorrow we’ll have another day keeping the dogs separated, and then on Wednesday  Bailey will begin boarding. We’re still checking a couple of places; I want her to be someplace where she’s not “in jail” but we also are really strained financially.

This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, dog-wise. Ranks right up there with making the decision to put Natasha to sleep after her battle with kidney failure. This time, though, Bailey is healthy and a wonderful dog with a serious challenge that makes it impossible to live with us. But she’s not impossible to live with the right home. In fact, the right home is going to be wonderful for both her and her new family.