Wile E. Coyote in the Fur

“What the heck is your problem,” asks Wile E. in response to the cracker yelling HBO words at him. “Alls I’m doin is standing here, minding my own business, looking for that rascally Road Runner. Why all the noise?”

One day last week, after our walkies, the cracker refused to come inside. It’s not like him to do that, unless there’s a fly in the house. This time though, apparently he had work to do. When I sat down to lunch, he raised the alert from orange to red, going full-on cracker-insane alert mode at the dog fence, about 50 feet from the dog gate. I guess this is what happens when you don’t use the trails in a while, interlopers move in. Everyone has their opinions on coyotes, but I happen to think they are beautiful, albeit very dangerous to domestic dogs. Continue reading “Wile E. Coyote in the Fur”

Bee-Hind

I’ve been a bit bee-hind in posting photos and stories. What can I say? It’s hard to stay vertical when you are constantly about to toss your cookies. I took this week off Lyme meds just to catch up all the things happening in the garden’s macro world and the cracker and criminal’s world. I don’t want to leave anyone bee-hind so I’m letting you know, that this is where I’ll post most of my nature and dog photography with stories going forward rather than on social media. Of course this blog has an FB page you can use to follow along there if you’d like.

Here’s a bumblebee nomming on the newly planted Alstromeria (Peruvian Lily) we planted in the garden. I hadn’t been a fan of this plant because the colors that I’ve seen in person seemed drab, but when I saw the varieties available online, I just had to have them. This variety is called Rock-N-Roll and we planted six, three in two different locations. It’s a little taller and floppier than the other varieties which are compact and leafier. We had to stake them at first because they were so floppy. I’m not sure they’ll do well in one of the locations (steep hillside) and having them has been a bit of challenge in terms of keeping them looking good. You pretty much have to pull the spent blooms from the bottom of the stem, so the entire stem comes out of the ground, not just dead head it. This really makes the plant go crazy and start shooting up new stems with bushier leaves. So now we’re pulling out the stakes one by one hoping we don’t need them much longer. But honestly, I’ve never seen bees and other pollinators so happy. Next year I may try a more compact version if these don’t do well and stay looking good.

Gardening is sure keeping me in a busy learning-mode which continues to be a nice distraction while  I’m still unable to be useful in a work setting. How weird is that by the way? On one hand I seem perfectly fine, because here I am, writing stories and learning about what’s in my garden. But on the other, I have no idea when my body will bonkers and out of commission. Frankly, I’m still being held together by a lot of meds, herbs, supplements and sleeping remedies. I can’t be accountable to a full time job just yet until I have some sort of management handle on this.  I do miss work and my own income.

Happy Loki-versary!

This weekend marked Loki’s 9th year with us and roughly his 10th (maybe 11th) birthday. Time sure flies when you live with a cracker. He’s been our greatest teacher, our best friend, our most loyal companion.

This is the photo that melted my heart. When I called AHAN, the rescue, they literally said, “I’m not sure he’s suitable for a home because he’s a biter. He may have to go to dog sanctuary.” Thank goodness for his foster who worked with him on his less desirable behaviors. She sold with the words: “He really wants to do the right thing.” Those words were never truer.

The first two years with him felt like a constant struggle. A dog with a very high working drive and a high anxiety drive can be a challenge to someone who never worked with a high working drive dog let alone one with anxiety. I don’t know what changed between us, and how handling him became so much easier. Perhaps it was when I changed from trying to physically control him to working hands-off with his drives and needs rather than against them. Sometimes people look at this as “cross over training” in the dog training world. I developed a very hands-off approach to handling him and it’s worked out better than I could imagine. Teaching your dog to think and make decisions goes a long way in developing a trusting, confident dog. As much as I joke about managing my dogs with an “iron skillet,” with a dog as strong, powerful and intelligent as Loki, you can’t win through physical force. Getting him to use his head to make decisions and let him freely control his own body was the key to him becoming more balanced and less anxious.

Every night, before dinner, he goes out to the dog run and patrols the fence, preemptively barking at the wild life (we get lots of coyotes, bobcats, deer and mt. lions on our property 10-20 feet outside the fenced area), as if it’s his job and his payment is dinner. Then he comes in and watches me finish making their dinner, just like this in the photo above. After dinner, he goes out and does the same thing. If you don’t give a working dog work, they will always make work for themselves. And that’s OK with me. I enjoy his patrolling routines so much, and not only encourage them but thank him for his excellent service. And when his patrolling barks raise to cracker-insane cujuo, I, or Mr. Wild Dingo go out to assist him. Every single time that happens, Loki is 100% correct. It’s usually a skunk, a coyote or raccoon. That’s OK with me too. Because one day, it could be a burglar. We tell him he’s a good boy and reward him for his accurate alert.

One of the other things I’ve come to love about Loki is the trust he’s gained in me as well. When I first got him, he would flip out over anything touching him other than petting. This can be troublesome if you have to investigate a tick bite or a fox tail or anything that could cause a dog harm. But now he’s so trusting, he comes to me and asks for help. My favorite of course is when he eats too much grass and it gets stuck coming out the other end. He looks at me sheepishly and knows I will have a bag to help him out his uncomfortable situation (it pulls right out and no it’s not gross, i pick up dog poop). It took a long time to develop this “lemme see” approach whenever he had an owie or something bothering him. He’d jump around like a Mexican Jumping Bean rather than letting me see or touch the source of his concern. Now he comes to me for help and stands still to let me handle it.

One of my favorite experiences is when I come home and Mr. Wild Dingo is out in the garden with the dogs. Loki runs and greets my car at the gate and herds me 500 feet down the driveway into the garage. In the beginning I was always panicked that he’d get hurt no matter how slowly I drove, but over time we both figured it out. He’s a herding dog, and this is what he does so I let him, carefully of course, herd me and my car to the garage. As soon as I open the door, I get a big sloppy kiss and some cries. When he herds me, no matter how badly I feel, it brings a mile-wide smile to my face.

He enjoys communication and using his head to make decisions that make me happy. I never miss a chance to tell him when he makes the right decision and what a good boy he was for it. Even if that decision was for coming to me to help him with a problem, he gets a “Good Boy” and lots of pets. That is literally all it takes. How I wish I knew that early on in our journey.

I love you Loki,” I tell him. “Thanks Mom! I love me too,” he replies. Sigh. Self love: another important lesson he teaches me.

Happy Loki-versary handsome! You are the light and soul of our lives! Love, Momma, Poppy and Juicy

A Life Without Cheeses

The past two weeks, while Mr. Wild Dingo has been on travel, I, Evil Momma, have led Juno off her spiritual Path of Cheeses. This is what we call a “necessary evil” to lose a few pounds. No matter how much she prayed at the sacred altar of Mount Kitchen Island and proclaimed her faith, Cheeses has not appeared before her offering salvation and everlasting joy. Naturally, she’s begun to question her faith. Tomorrow night, Mr. Wild Dingo, the virtuous dairy minister, will be home to preach the glory of Cheeses and Juno’s faith will be restored. Hang on little girl! Your righteous cries have been heard. Cheeses is coming and you will be saved from a life without the divine! We can find other ways to balance your diet so you never have to sacrifice a life without Cheeses again. (Until the next business trip.) Hallelujah!

I am the Anti-Cheeses! Boo wa ha ha ha!

Seriously Internet, Juicy needs to lose a few pounds because of her hip problems. Her weight plus her desire to go off trail down steep slopes and climb back up impossible hillsides all contribute to pinched nerves and knotted muscles in her hips.  Because of her hip dysplasia, she doesn’t use the proper muscles to move properly, especially in challenging situations. Plus carrying extra weight contributes to that improper movement.  She gets regular physical therapy 2-3 times per month to release the knots. But I’ve also implemented a strict on-leash-walks-only policy, especially around steep areas so she won’t keep pulling muscles or pinching nerves. After two weeks of strict diet and staying leashed she’s not in much pain and limping is way down. In fact, she’s much more playful and interested in getting up to join me in the garden in the afternoons, which she stopped doing when she’s in pain.

UPDATE: We had a visit with the dogtor today for PT and found that Juno lost 2 lbs in just these past two weeks! And she’s much more playful and moves so much easily. She has at least 2 more to go for reasonable weight. She was best at 58, but I’d be fine with her at 60 lbs too.

Now I have to train Mr. Wild Dingo to restrict her snacks and use a leash on our property walks, where she tends to hurt herself the most on the steep trails. He’s not going to like it, but I can remind him how much spinal injury will cost ( Loki’s TPLO surgery cost is nothing compared to spine surgery) and that may motivate him. Internet, he’s harder to train the doggies. Maybe I can put a shock collar on him.

 

The Buzz Around the Garden

Every morning, the ceononthus plants are covered in a variety of pollinating insects from honey bees, to bumble bees (pictured here), to hoverflies and butterflies. For the most part, they all peacefully work together, collecting pollen and ignoring me as I watch and photograph them. The bumble bee, however, can get mighty annoyed with me and it’s common for a bumble to buzz around my head, telling me off. They even do this as I’m pruning, dead-heading, feeding or watering. I love them to pieces but damn, they can be such a pain. It just so happens that one of the 250 species of bumble bees, the rusty patched bumble bee, one of the many native pollinating bees was added to the endangered species list this year. So I don’t mind a few of them telling me off now and then.  “Buzz off photographer! I got work to do,” says this bee! Continue reading “The Buzz Around the Garden”

Hump Day

Happy Hump Day! Here’s your Money Shot. I think it’s time for a career change, perhaps in ladybug porn, no?

Help! I’ve Climbed Up and I Can’t Get Down!

Poor Javier. He found himself on top of the backside of the outdoor love seat. He scrambled back and forth looking for a way down for better hunting grounds. Jumping spiders are active hunters and don’t weave webs. Instead, they use a silk tether to leap to their destination or prey. If that leap doesn’t work out, they climb back up. I saw poor Javier jump 3 times off the back of the chair exactly 6″ each time and each time he chickened out going any farther and climbed back up. An impatient subject, he merely tolerated my big lens. For the imposition of capturing his portrait during his distress, I helped him find a better hunting spot in one of my potted plants. I hope he repays me by eating a mosquito or yellow jacket. Bon Appetite Javier!

Church of Cheeses

Not many people know this, but Juno is devout spiritual being. She follows the path of Cheeses. Worshiping nightly, she prays for the coming of Cheeses, while MWD ministers an amuse-bouche in the kitchen.

“Like an angel descending from heaven, Cheeses makes its way from the great Mount Kitchen Island, and behold, lands directly on my tongue where it fills my soul with joy. What Cheeses has to offer, let no man put it anywhere but in my mouth.”

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Last May, I was on my way off treatment for Lyme Disease and Co-infections. I was also practicing yoga again. By fall things went downhill. By December I couldn’t get out of bed. Four years after starting treatment it’s the same thing but different pill jars. Finding new pill containers is my idea of indulging. Typical pill boxes can’t hold all my meds for a single day. For a while, I used empty spice jars which work fantastically. When I found these cute color-coded lid jars and well, I just couldn’t resist. To a Lymie, a new pill box is like buying this season’s designer purse, but cheaper. Continue reading “May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month”

Mesmerized

As I was leaving for an appointment today, I found this adorable banana slug dining on a mushroom. I didn’t have my camera so I shot it with my cell phone. This little guy was really into tonight’s meal: they simply adore decaying mushrooms.  Continue reading “Mesmerized”

Dogs Can Express Gratitude

Have you ever noticed your dog express gratitude toward you? I’m not talking about the affection he gives you when you walk through the door after work. I mean, real thanks, for something specific. I never gave it much thought, until one day a few years ago, on a very hot walk, I stopped half way through as I usually do, to offer Loki and Juno some water. I poured it into the bowl. And instead of heading tongue first into the bowl, both gave me a kiss on the cheek, then proceeded to drink their water. In fact, they must have both kissed me before drinking hundreds of times in the 9 years we’ve been together and I never connected it as gratitude. It doesn’t matter how hot or how thirsty they are, they almost always tell me “Thanks Mom,” with a kiss, when I offer them the water. Continue reading “Dogs Can Express Gratitude”