Category Archives: animals

Raison D’etre

Our tortie cat loves anything related to eggs or chicken. She was a hobby farm kitten before we got her, and we suspect she was exposed to eggs and poultry.  Any time she hears eggs being cracked in the kitchen or finds out that we are preparing a chicken dish, she is a constant pest. She steals eggshells out of the sink and bats them all over the house.  She fishes eggs out of bowls on the counter and rolls them on the floor.. Her favorite prank is to steal chunks of chicken off our plates or serving dishes. She rolls around provocatively on the counter in front of us whenever we have chicken out, in what we imagine to be an attempt to charm us into giving her some. We call it her chicken dance. Stealing chicken and being charming are her current reasons for existence.

Other of our animals have had definite life goals. Our terriers lived to have fun and investigate anything new. Our current grey cat lives to chase paper balls. I think my raison d’etre is still tied up in my work, but I am beginning to think about other things to live for.

What have your pets lived for?  What is your raison d’etre? How has it changed over the years?

The Importance of Pals

I was tickled to see the New York Times article last week about the benefits of baboon friendships.  Researchers have studied the friendship patterns of baboons in Kenya since 1971.  They noticed early on that female baboons with lots of gal pals lived longer than those with fewer friends. Male baboons have been harder to follow and study, but the evidence is now in that male baboons’ life spans are longer the more  platonic female friendships they have.  Female baboons groom both  their male and female buddies, thus decreasing parasites and strengthening bonds that reduce conflict.  The same lifespan and  platonic friendship associations  are noted in many social species from horses to dolphins to humans.  Let’s give thanks for our friends!

Who have been your best male and female friends?

Who Dunnit?

Today’s post comes from Jacque.

What a week for dog drama and a Who Dunnit.

Lucky, our 8 year old Beagle/Terrier mix, had been ill for about 9 months with a tumor in her bladder.  We noticed the problem last January in AZ when we walked her during the day.  We pursued treatment for an infection, but then an ultrasound showed a mass in her bladder.  We knew for some time how this would end, but it became clear that my soft-hearted husband was struggling with the decision.  This caused conflict between the two of us.   Lucky’s illness  progressed, she was not feeling well and her behavior was getting irritable.  Several times she got a bit aggressive with our other dog, Bootsy (Corgi mix).  But it was only growling and barking.

Our neighbor, with whom we have had a very good relationship, was caring for her sister’s three large, movie star dogs (the  neighbor had two for a total of 5).  They are the dogs, a black Airedale and a part wolf dog, in the dog food commercial in which a dog leaps, then turns from an Airedale into a wolf.  These dogs have been escaping lately.  They have ordered a fence, but it was a long waiting list, so the dogs kept escaping despite their best efforts.  Meanwhile, coyotes have been hanging out in our yards and have been getting bold, sometimes showing up midday.

Tuesday afternoon something/someone, the coyotes, our sick dog, or the neighbor dog, mauled our other dog, Bootsy.  She was injured very badly, requiring surgery.  Lou had the girls outside with him in the yard, but he did not see anything happen.  Later, back in the house he noticed she was hiding and would not eat.  I looked around, finding her in the kennel.  Then I found patches of blood on our bed, in the kennel, and two guest beds which she visited looking for comfort. Lou had not seen the blood which left me incredulous.   We rushed her to the emergency vet.  Finally, at 1 am she was sent home from surgery with an external drain, many stitches, and a mesh cover over her torso.

Wednesday evening, Lou let Lucky out and stood at the door.  The neighbor’s dogs got out again, rushed into our yard, and Lucky yipped.  The neighbor texted me apologizing for the dogs getting away from her and scaring our dogs.  But one of those dogs had bitten Lucky on the shoulder.  It was superficial, so we did not even find the bite until the morning.

Friday morning Gentle Pet Vet came out and euthanized Lucky.  It was peaceful and actually, a very sweet experience.  We had a good cry, then buried her in the yard with her beloved squirrels which she loved to chase.  Bootsy is recovering very well.    Now we are still wondering, who mauled Bootsy?   Lucky?  The bite marks appear too big.  Coyotes?  A real possibility.  The neighbor dogs?  That is my theory.

Have you had any mystery or drama lately?  What is your theory of my mystery.

Bird Stuff that happens while we sleep

I really don’t know where and when I got interested in birds. I don’t consider myself a “birder” who has a list to check off of birds I’ve seen, though I do sometimes write down if I see a new one. And I try to identify the songs for as many as I can, with the help of the internet, and a book that contains a tiny tape recorder:  The Backyard Birdsong Guide.

I also like reading about birds – What the Robin Knows, H is for Hawk; Suburban Safari; One Wild Bird at a Time… (OK, I haven’t finished them all, but they’re under my roof.)

A friend has alerted me that end of September is an extremely good time to hear migrating birds flying (way) overhead at night:

Migration alert: high intensity migration predicted for the night of 28-29 September 2020

To quote from this 9/28 article by Andrew Farnsworth:

“We estimate that 594 million birds will take flight tonight across the contiguous. And there will be additional, similarly large flights, in the coming nights! This will likely represent one of the largest series of migration nights of the year for this contiguous US.

For those in areas under heavy migration advisories, this will be a great opportunity to experience nocturnal migration by listening at night to vocal birds in flight, or by observing the following morning for new arrival and departures. In the highly urbanized areas, especially cities in the central and southern US, it is also particularly important to turn off lights at night to avoid attracting birds into hazardous conditions in which they can collide with buildings and other structures.”

And here, in 24 seconds, you can see Nocturnal Migration Flows from January – December… it’s quite dramatic:

And from Colorado State University’s Aeroeco Lab, are US maps of migration forecasts for the next several nights:

https://aeroecolab.com/uslights

“Aeroecology is the study of airborne organisms and their utilization of the lower atmosphere (i.e. aerosphere).”

What connection/interest, if any, do you have with birds?

Is there a bird that you would go out of your way to see? … or get out of your bed to hear?

Mad Cat

When I moved into my house 30 years ago there had been a cat door installed in the door from the kitchen to the basement.  At the time it never occurred to me that I would ever have a cat so I took out the flap (which was broken anyway) and put a brass kick plate across the hole.  Since I left the door to the basement open most of the time anyway, it was just fine.

Then I got a cat.  And a cat box in the basement.  And a dog who was VERY interested in the cat box.  Eww.  So I took off the kickplate and closed the door.  Zorro was just fine with just a hole in the door for many years, although it always bothered me.  When we got Nimue I decided that I wanted something nicer looking so I bought a cat door/flap kit to install.  Of course, the hole was too large to install the kitty flap (or any kitty door/flap that I could find) so my local hardware store crafted a piece of scrap wood to fit into the hole so I could install the door.  Of course, this makes it sound easier than it was; after I got the scrap piece in place, I put off installing the door for a couple of weeks.

At the end of that two weeks, we had a thunderstorm during the day.  I’m sure I’m probably mentioned that my Irish Setter was not a big fan of thunderstorms.  At night I could keep her a little under control but that day, while the storm raged, I was at work.  I came home to see that in her mania to get to the basement (she always thought she would be safer from thunder in the basement), she had completely clawed the wood piece, to the point where it was unusable any longer.  I decided a hole in the door with no kitty flap would be fine after all.  I left the scrap piece in place and put the kitty flap kit in a drawer.

Fast forward to this week.  Rhiannon is no longer with us and Guinevere, while afraid of almost everything else on the planet, is not afraid of thunderstorms (don’t ask me why, it doesn’t make any sense to me either).  And we have company coming in October so I have a long list of projects that I’d like to get done.  Kitty flap/door was yesterday.  Turns out that the kit had instructions written by Martians and if I originally had all the pieces and hardware, I didn’t have them now.  Punting took just two trips to the hardware store.

Once the flap was installed, I took Nimue’s favorite kitty treats, went down the basement stairs and shut the door behind me.  She came to the door almost immediately when I shook the treat container; I had a treat in my hand and was just about to partially open the flap from my side when the dog decided she needed to assist in the operation.  Unfortunately, she wanted to assist by herding the cat, which is one of the cat’s least favorite things.  She fluffed up and ran.  When YA tried to help, Nimue ran upstairs where she ensconced herself in the middle of my bed.  She practically dared any of us to get near her.

She did eventually settle down but I’m worried that her first traumatic experience with the kitty door may be a bad omen.  I put several of her kitty treats on the other side for now, so we’ll see what happens.

Have you pissed anybody off lately?  On purpose?  Are you sorry or not?

 

 

Took another new route this week; as we were coming down a hill, I thought I saw a statue in someone’s backyard.  “Must be St. Francis” I thought to myself and as we got closer I realized I was correct.  And then we got even closer and I started to laugh.  The photo says it all.  When I came around the corner of the driveway (yes, I trespassed a little for the photo), I laughed even harder when I saw the second, smaller statue.  This just made my day.

There is a new federal law – you are required to have a statue of someone in your yard.  It has to be a person (although secondary and tertiary statues of any type are ok).  Who will it be?

San Diego Surprise!

When YA and I went to San Diego last month, the second attraction on our list was the San Diego Zoo.  The zoo has a great reputation and YA has wanted to go there for years.

It was hot that day (although not as hot as the day before at the Safari Park) and due to covid, none of the zoo shuttles were running.  Like the Park, the zoo is built on the hills of San Diego, with different regions of the world represented in their own areas.  And like we did at the park, YA and I covered the whole thing during our day there.

Our first surprise was the North Sulawesi Babirusa.  Never heard of it?  Neither had we!  The last time I encountered an animal new to me was 20+ years ago on my first trip to Africa.  In Kenya I saw an okapi – a large deer that looks like a cross between a horse and a zebra.   Babirusa means “pig deer” Malaysian and have daunting looking teeth and the males also have remarkably dangerous looking upper tusks.   We didn’t see any baby babirusa but if you look online, they are very cute.

We got our second surprise about an hour later in the Africa Rocks section of the zoo.  We came upon a large empty enclosure with a sign that said “Fossa” – another animal that neither YA nor I had ever heard of.  One of the zoo employees told us that they had just cleaned the enclosure and would be putting out “lunch” for the fossa in a minute, so we stayed.  She put food all over the space so the fossa would “hunt” for it.  If you’ve every thought about what the result of a dog and cat union would be, the fossa is it.  Or maybe dog, cat and weasel?  It was beautiful with a long, luxuriant tale and looked like it would be quite a proficient hunter.  Their natural home is Madagascar and apparently they are able to bring down even the largest lemur species.

It was a great day and we were both happy to have made the acquaintance of two new animals that we had never encountered before.

Have you learned anything new lately?

Chez Abattoir

I’m starting to feel like our animals are staging their own production of Sweeney Todd around here.

Guinevere is fast.  Really fast.  No squirrels yet but she’s way into double digits with rabbits and chipmunks.  Last week when I called her in at the end of the night, she wouldn’t come.  I looked out into the yard and saw a large furry lump that Guinevere was clearly guarding.  It looked too big to be a rabbit so I slowly made my way out.  It was a possum.  It didn’t look alive but then I remembered that old phrase “playing possum” and wondered if maybe it was really alive.  YA was out at that point and we managed to catch Guinevere and take her inside.  YA stayed in the yard (taking pictures) and within a minute the possum had raised its head and looked around.  Within 20 minutes it had moved to the very back of the yard.  In the morning, before we let the dog out, we checked and the possum was gone.  We figure that it wasn’t injured, but putting on a good show to throw the dog off.

Nimue is also on the rampage.  It’s that time of year when mice try to find a warmer spot (apparently a mouse can get in a hole that is half the size of a dime) and this year is not exception.  Like most cats, Nimue isn’t even remotely interested in the mice after she’s chased them around and then killed them, but it does mean that I’ve come downstairs in the morning to find the little lifeless bodies – several of them in the last week.  Unfortunately, when the cat gets busy during the night, the dog thinks she needs to go down to see what fun is being had without her.  Then there is barking and some mess making.  The last couple of nights, we’ve put up the gate at the top of the stairs to keep the dog from joining the mayhem.

Usually the mouse situation is a short term issue… in a couple of weeks, the mice will have found a warmer spot and the cat will stop leaving us little gifts. The backyard?  It will remain an abattoir as long as Guinevere on guard!

What’s the last musical you’ve seen?

Lining Up For Lobster

Until the last oil boom, fresh fish of any kind was a rarity here in the grocery stores. The influx of oil workers from Gulf Coast states changed that, and now we have a pretty reliable supply of fish and shellfish.  Fresh lobsters are still a rarity, and when one of the local grocery stores advertised fresh lobsters, $9.99 each, Husband and I decided to try to get a couple.

The sale was on for a Saturday starting at 10:00. Customers were limited to four lobsters each.  We arrived at 9:45 to find the line stretching from the back of the store to the front door. We qued up, and waited  patiently while the line got longer and longer behind us. Store employees were taking photographs of the customers.  By 10: 15, they were sold out. We didn’t get to move ahead much at all before the lobsters were gone.

I can’t say I was too disappointed not getting lobster. It was going to be a busy weekend anyway, and a couple of lobsters would have made it even busier. I marveled, though, at the dozens of people who got there before us, determined to get a lobster at a fairly decent price.  I typically hate standing in line for things.  I don’t know why I was willing to do so this time. I suppose the novelty of fresh lobster was a draw.

When have you stood in line for something.  Was it worth the wait?

 

The Little Bridge

Yesterday Guinevere and I turned right where we normally turn left.  It was just a half a block later that I noticed a path peeking out between the trees with stairs heading down toward Minnehaha Creek.  I was pretty sure where the path would lead so we took the path.  After just a bit, I could see the bottom of the steps; there was a rainbow-painted bridge across the creek that I had never realized was there.  The steps were completed embowered (I love that word) by a little forest of trees and the creek gurgles nicely as you walk over the bridge.

For several years I avoided using rainbows.  It’s hard when something becomes a symbol for a movement; you’ve never sure how your use of that symbol will be interpreted.  And not just rainbows but the symbol of the rainbow bridge!  But I’ve found that I’m craving rainbows the last couple of months – for me, they give me hope and bring me beauty.  I’ve made lots of rainbow-themed cards over the summer and added some rainbow stamps and dies to my collection.

So I was very happy to see the little rainbow bridge.  I think that Guinevere and I will visit the path and the bridge often in the future!

If you had a symbol for your life, what would you choose?