Category Archives: pets

If I Could Talk to the Animals

My friend Deb  is dog sitting her son’s 15 year old Boxer, Marilyn.  Deb also has a 16 year old Fox Terrier named Ellie.  Marilyn  is a regular guest at Deb’s house and knows the house and the inhabitants very well. Deb talks to both dogs in a way I find terribly funny. They respond to her in ways that makes me think that dogs are even smarter than we already give them credit for.

One night this week,  Deb was awakened by Ellie pawing at her arm and whining. This can mean that Ellie wants food or that something is wrong. Deb told Ellie “Lie down and go to sleep! You can’t have any treats.” yet Ellie persisted, so she told Ellie “Show me what’s wrong.” Ellie led her to the kitchen, where she found a horrible mess. All the lower cupboards had been opened and all their contents swept onto the floor. Peanut butter containers had been chewed open and the contents devoured.  Marilyn has been known to do this before, but she can only open one side of the two-door cupboards.  Both sides had been opened. This means that someone else (a certain Fox Terrier) helped open all the doors.  Deb yelled “Marilyn, come here! You know you aren’t supposed to open the cupboards”!  Marilyn came over and glared at Deb and blew out her dewlaps, and grumbled “row row row row row” the way Boxers talk, and blew out her dewlaps again.  Deb told Ellie “You go in your bed!” and Ellie slunk to her dog bed with her tail down.

The next morning, Deb gave Ellie her favorite treat-two ice cubes, and Marilyn stole one. She chewed only half of it and spat out the other half onto the hardwood floor because her mouth got too cold.  Deb didn’t see it and stepped on it. Deb was quite annoyed and  told Marilyn “You pick that up and put it on the carpet if you are going to eat it!” Marilyn turned her head away from Deb in an insolent  way and blew out her dewlaps. Deb repeated her command. Marilyn glanced at her, and again looked away insolently and blew out her dewlaps.  After a third try,  Marilyn picked up what was left of the ice cube and took it over to the carpet to finish it.

How did that dog know to take the ice cube to the carpet? That is a complex command involving at least two concepts. It isn’t something Deb says to Marilyn on a regular basis, so she didn’t learn it through repetition.  Marilyn is usually a pretty sweet and compliant dog with Deb,  but they have differences of opinion at times. I love hearing about their arguments. Deb says that she never wins because Marilyn always gets the last word by blowing out her dewlaps as she walks away.

How do you talk to animals? What would they tell you if they could talk to you?

The Hat

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

I received this hat as a Christmas present a few years ago. I thought it was the dumbest hat ever. The earflaps? Man, what a dork. I put those down and immediately make the “L” on my forehead.

And the lights on the bill? What’s up with that. And camo?? I don’t do camo. I don’t own anything camo.

But ya know…. It’s come in handy. Cold as it’s been, those ear flaps are invaluable.

And the lights, well, that saves me from holding the flashlight in my mouth. Because sometimes I drop it in the chicken pen and then I do actually hesitate for a couple seconds before I put It back in my mouth figuring a little dirt never hurt anyone. But that hat. I groan everytime I put it on and I’m thankful that it keeps my ears warm.

In his book, “Semi True”, Russ Ringsak says, “I couldn’t blame nature for trying to murder me but I wished she wasn’t in such a hurry.” Yeah, really. Does it have to be this cold?

You know it’s cold when I get this many water bucket stumps piled up.

I’ve got a small outside water tank with a tank heater in it. I put the frozen water buckets in there while I put out corn (which is supposed to be for the chickens and ducks, but seems in the winter, only the turkeys and deer find it.) After doing the corn, I can just dump out the ice from the buckets, refill, and take back to the chickens. They don’t actually drink much. The 50 chickens drink maybe a gallon per day.

Meanwhile, my ducks that won’t come eat this corn, some of them, the ‘wild’ ones, are down in the pond.

I know it’s cold when the pond gets ice on the edges. The water comes from springs, through the pipe, under the ice at the top of the picture.

Although since the hawk got a duck in the pond last week, I don’t put corn out there anymore. And the ducks aren’t that interested in going over there anyway.

This is Humphrey being curious about the hawk. Humphrey is very curious about everything.

Ever gotten a gift you don’t like yet still find valuable?

The Cats of Yore

Oh, where are the cats of yore, those aloof, independent creatures who disdained we mere mortals unless it was dinner time,  and who were happy to accept a few scritches before they had enough and left to find a nice, solitary napping place?

We and our daughter have welcomed an entirely different breed of cat into our respective homes over the last year. I call these the needy cats, and they are interesting to live with. Daughter tells me that her cat, almost 9 months old, is either on top of her or following her around her apartment.  She wants to play with daughter all night, hence kitten’s banishment from the bedroom so daughter can sleep.

We adopted a 5 month old rescue kitten in October. Her name is Millie and she believes that the  best place to be is right by our side. She loves to sit on the counter and watch us wash dishes.  She wants to supervise when we cook. Any food we eat must be hers, too. We have tried to dissuade her jumping and intrusiveness with water from a squirt bottle, but that backfired. She really likes water.  She hurls her body against the closed bathroom door so it opens, and jumps in the tub even if the faucet is turned on. Wherever I sit, she plops herself in my lap, demanding to be petted. At night I am awakened by her gently patting my cheeks with her paws.

Given the tufts of hair between her toes, the tufts of hair in her ears,  and her extremely long and very fluffy, luxurious tail, we think she may be part Maine Coon. Perhaps that could account for her personality.

This is also the first time we have cats without having terriers, too. The terriers did pretty well with the cats (as well as any terrier can do with creatures they consider vermin).  The dogs would pursue and bark if the cats were too active or jumped on the table or counters.  Maybe the dogs squelched  the cats’  full expression of their personalities.  All our new cats are rescue cats. Perhaps they are just so grateful to us that they can’t stop thanking us.

The header photo is of Millie in the bathroom sink. The other photo is a head shot of Millie after we caught her with her face in the cream cheese. She provides lots of photo opportunities and topics for conversation, which are somewhat redeeming qualities.

What kind of personalities  have your animals had?

Naughty Dog!

I have a naughty dog.

She’s 12+, moving slowly but three times this week I’ve come home to chaos. Three nights ago she had gotten into Nonny’s room and eaten the last two little bags of kitty treats that I had wrapped as gifts, as well as ripping open the wrapping on another gift.  One box with a Ukrainian egg was downstairs, but luckily not chewed or broken.

Two days ago she managed to get a hold of a bag of spiced almonds that I thought were pushed back far enough on the counter. Guess not. She ate the entire bag (about a cup of almonds).  I also found the box that had had rosettes in it on the floor, but YA says the box was empty when she left.  Tell that to the shredded tissue paper that was in the box!

Tonight Rhiannon had managed to get back into Nonny’s room… she pushed the gate down. There wasn’t anything to eat in there anymore but she did knock down the box with the remaining Ukrainian eggs.  Again no damage (luckily).  That box is now locked on the attic steps.

She can’t even blame it on YA’s dog, as Guinevere is always kenneled when we’re out of the house.   All the other dogs I’ve had over the years have become mellower over the years.  Guess Rhiannon is going against the grain!

Are you getting naughtier with age?


Every morning our grey cat sits expectantly  by the front door, waiting.  She waits for the magic moment when the light appears on the living room wall and ceiling above our media cabinet.   She knows it is somehow associated with my cell phone.  This morning she saw me walk into the living room with my phone, and immediately jumped on top of the media cabinet, waiting for the light. The kitten stays on the floor, as her legs are too short to make the leap to the top.  The light sometimes appears low enough for her to pounce, and she waits for it, too.

When I sit in the love seat  by the bay window, the sun reflects off my cell phone screen and I can flash a light all over the walls and ceiling. The kitten tries to grab it. It always slips between her paws. The grey cat just sits and watches it with fascination and excitement.  It seems to be strangely satisfying for her, as though her day is off to a good start when the light appears.  As the days shortened this fall, the light sometimes didn’t even show up, since the sun wasn’t in the right position until after I left for work.  The grey cat never gave up hope.  She waited each morning.

Today we planned our garden and chose the seed varieties for next summer. I hope the rains come and we don’t have a drought.   I don’t think we are too different from our cats, waiting with hope for the promise of light in this dark season and these even darker times.

The new year has just started. What are you hoping for?







Second Chances

Today’s post comes from Crystalbay.

I can’t recall if I shared that my new Ragdoll kitten tragically died of cardiac arrest during a routine neutering a month ago. I read that one out of every 1100 kittens have a fatal reaction to anesthetic. “Trouble” drew the unlucky number. My vet was so devastated that he said he wanted to pay for half of the $850 cost for another Ragdoll. I searched everywhere for a kitten my remaining kitten’s age (they were littermates) and found one just two weeks older. This poor, young vet was so distraught by losing an adorable healthy young kitten that he’s called several times to see how I was doing. It’s been pretty clear that he’s the one who most needs consoling.  The breeder drove the replacement kitten here, and when she let him emerge from the carrier, I was stunned by the large size of him.  He weighs three times what my female Ragdoll does. She then said that his mom is 20 pounds and his dad 26 pounds. My expectations of replacing Trouble with another small kitten were immediately dashed!

I wrestled for two weeks deciding whether or not to keep him, and ultimately decided I would make the 15-year commitment. I landed on the perfect name for my giant kitten: Buddha. He sits around like Buddha on his throne. 

Today, I had to take him in for his pre-op exam. Tomorrow he’s being neutered and laser declawed (he’s already torn up some upholstery). First, I tried putting him in the carrier. He splayed his back legs and I couldn’t get him in. He’s so large that he can only be put in a carrier head first. A couple of tries and I gave up. My next ploy was to put him in a pillowcase – something that’s worked with 18 previous cats. He squirmed and he rolled and he fought to escape in the car, so I ended up literally trying to hold the opening shut with one hand while driving with the other. He succeeded in pushing his head up through my grip anyway, and commenced to yowl and crawl around.

Here I thought getting him to the vet would only be a problem when he’s full grown, but it appears that there may be no way to corral him for future vet visits in the future! I ended up leaving him at the clinic instead of bringing him back in the morning for his surgery. The staff said they’ll help me shove him into the carrier to come home.

This photo was taken the first time he laid on my lap a week ago. All two feet of him. I’ll also post a picture of my little girl, Sweetie.

Tell about some of your second chances.


Today’s post comes from tim.

i have been raising fish for about 20 years.

i don’t know a lot but i know what i know. cichlids are my favorite because they are colorful and tend to be more on the active side rather than the docile and the tank thus has movement

people complain about koy being dirty fish but i really like them my koi tank has only two koy left in it along with 3 tetra’s. it is a boring tank. it at its peak this go round had 5 koy and 6 tetras and the action was pretty good

when you have cichlids you need to have have male only and they need to be one per species or the alpha hormones kick in and fighting to the death is guaranteed.

last week i had a koi acting odd and then he went and lid down on his side in the back of the tank and breathed with great difficulty and couldn’t get his balance to swim. the other big koy (the sick one was the biggest and the leader ) went down and offered comfort and never left the sick ones side. instead of dying the next day as i expected the others brought him food and hovered right above his head for the week and the healthy fish even went so far as to rub its own scales off in a nervous reaction to losing his friend.

my dogs are unbelievable companions. they follow me around and offer nothing but love. never anger or frustration. on occasion they let me know they need a little more but usually they are appreciative and loving in the best ways they know how.

people do have natures like cichlids koi or mutts, is it genetic or environmental? a little of both. i believe some breeds of dogs are good natured and some aggressive to a fault. fish the same way, no one has a problem making broad generalizations about animal breeds.but with people it is stereotyping. bob newhardt when asked by johnny carson what was his nationality said he was a german irish…. he said i am a meticulous drunk.

got any good generalizations that can be expressed in light bulb joke form?

how many irshmen di=oes it take to change a lightbulb? none they just lay down and let the room spin