Category Archives: Pets

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

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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.

I’m blogging at Patheos.com

If you’ve been wondering where I am lately, here’s some big news: I’m recently taken over the Heavenly Creatures blog at Patheos.com, where I’m blogging about animals, life and spirituality! It’s a fun new writing opportunity, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to write about something I love and (hopefully) make a little money at the same time. Check out the new blog at http://www.patheos.com/community/heavenlycreatures!

Do-it-yourself photo shoot, Funny Farm style

Think I could use this as a head shot?

Every publication that I write for wants a photo of me to run with my bio. Unfortunately, I take terrible photos. I’ve tried to get darling husband to take a candid picture, but he likes to kneel down and shoot up at his subjects. Which, as you know, makes the object appear larger. Great if you’re a white tail buck. Not great if you’re an overweight, middle aged woman.

I planned to have get a professional shot done, but I used the money I’d set aside for the photo to get highlights in my hair so I’d look pretty for my photo.  I’m not a great financial planner. So sue me.

So today I made another attempt to take a photo of myself using the timer option on my handy dandy camera. I hoped to get one of the animals in there as well. I did my hair, put on make up with care (foundation, blush, lipstick, the whole nine yards). I found a pretty scarf to hide my ugly neck. And I tried to create a semi-acceptable background.

Well, this picture kind of sums up how it went.

Photo shoot, Funny Farm style

I hauled a stool around to set the camera on; I tried to hang a sheet for a neutral background. I ended up with sweat running down my face, my hair frizzing, the cat pulling the sheet down as I put it up. I hauled the kit and kaboodle outside and used the sports mode to take 100 frames in a few seconds, hoping to get one decent frame out of … well, about 400. I cropped this one to show my sister my new highlights; you can’t see Bailey licking my feet.

Pretty highlights that I got instead of paying for a professional photo. By the time I save up enough for the photo, my gray roots will have grown back in.

I was able to salvage a couple of fair snapshots – certainly not professional by any stretch of the imagination. But hopefully one is usable enough for the blogs that needs a picture of me. Personally, I’d like to use the one with Bandit’s big yawn. It’s the best representation of life here at the Funny Farm. But what do you think?

Sheet managed to stay up, Murphy trying to escape. This might be the only photo I can actually use.

A “hydrant” kind of day

Sometimes you know the minute you roll out of bed that it’s going to be “one of those days.” This morning, I should have stayed in bed.

Not that anything tragic or horrible happened. It was just one of those dreary, frustrating days when you’re reminded that sometimes you’re the dog and sometimes you’re the hydrant.

Today, I’m feeling like a hydrant. Continue reading

CBS Sunday Morning’s Faith Salie, “Not A Pet Person” (video)

This morning CBS Sunday Morning did a show of reruns of pieces they’ve done on pets, from Dean Koontz’s book “A Bit Little Life” to Alexandra Horowitz’s “Inside A Dog” to Bill Geist at a fish show to Austin, TX and their bats.

Tucked in there was a commentary from Faith Salie about not being a pet person. I’ve only seen her commentaries a few times, and every time I think, “Good grief, she may be the most annoying person on the planet.” Well, with today’s commentary, she solidified that honor.

So she’s not a pet person. Good for her. But she’s such a … well, you know … about it that it’s probably a good thing. I mean, would you trust your dog to a woman this bitter?

(PS: just to clarify, Faith, your pets don’t give you the plague. Fleas spread the plague. And you can get bit by a flea even if you don’t own a pet.)

Adventure Girl strikes again, which is why Darling Husband may be a teeny bit cranky tomorrow

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If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be married to Adventure Girl, just ask yourself, “Why is Darling Husband so cranky?”

I had the brilliant idea this week to put flower boxes on the gate that goes across the driveway to keep the dogs in the yard. It’s a wonderful gate that Darling Husband constructed after I experimented last summer with chicken wire and snow fencing. An unsuccessful experiment, I might add.

I thought the window boxes would serve two purposes: look pretty, and hopefully give the dogs a reason not to jump on the fence. Because these dogs jump on the fence and eventually someone is going over. (Again; last week Scout took a flying leap and sailed right over. But that was a fluke.) I figured a visual barrier would help.

I bought the boxes and gave Darling Husband instructions on where I wanted them hung, leaving him to figure out how to do it. He’s an exacting kind of guy and I knew he’d make sure it was done right. I could tell he had some doubts about what I was doing, but over the last year or so he’s stopped arguing with me. Or in his words, “I give up.”

And so he hung the boxes. And I planted the flowers. And doggone it, they look fantastic. Even he said so.

Then he brought up the one thing I hadn’t considered: that the weight of the boxes on one side of the fence might cause the gate to be unstable. I kind of remember him bringing that up before he started the project, but I ignored him, and he was in an amiable mood and figured this was one of those projects where, if it didn’t work out, it could be undone fairly easily.

So the plants look great. But sure enough, he’s right. Try and open the gate. It’s super top heavy.

Ooops.

So now he’s out there trying to figure out a way to shore up the gate without having to put a post actually into the driveway.

Darling Husband is a man of many ideas, some of them good, some of them exceedingly more complicated than they need to be. It’s best if I stay out of this fix it situation. The flowers look great, and he’s still in a pretty good mood from the success of that.

But if he’s cranky tomorrow at work, just know that it’s not your fault. Adventure Girl struck again.