Archive for the ‘dogs’ Category

Sadie and the heron

Sadie had a bad week last week.  She started dragging her back legs, and was unable to come up the steps from outside. So on Friday, we said goodbye to her.

Our wonderful vets, one of whom was responsible for getting her picked up after she was hit by the car 3 years ago and the other of whom did the surgery to put her pelvis back together, came out here on their lunch hour.  We all sat out on the grass on Sadie’s crate blanket, and with Buster, who lay quietly beside us.  While the vets were preparing, a great blue heron flew low overhead, directly above us.  Sadie whipped her head around – she was always an optimistic chaser of big birds, “Maybe this time I can catch it!” – and then laid it back on Rick’s lap.

We think she had a glimpse of the goodness of her afterlife, deeply deserved.

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Sadie again, sadness

I haven’t posted in a long time on this blog.  Egghead Junior just requested that I do so, and I do have something to say. In February of 2010, when I was running out of steam on posting here, we got Sadie, and I wrote about her a couple of times.

She is the sweetest doofus of a dog.  We adore her, and now we’re going to lose her.  She has a tumor in her right shoulder that will likely metastasize into her lungs.

Because of the steel plates holding her pelvis together, she has a funny peg-leg way of running, and so we probably didn’t notice that she was limping on her front leg until last Thursday.  We saw it in the morning, and in the afternoon when I took the dogs for their walk she was really struggling.  But she’s a game dog, always up for whatever’s happening, so she was trying.  I cut the walk short.  We thought she must have hurt her leg jumping off the porch on last week.

The next morning A took her to the vet, where they x-rayed her and saw the tumor.  Apparently it is not unusual for animals who have endured some sort of trauma (like being hit by a car) to get this kind of tumor.

The day after that, the dogs saw a coyote out in the field below the house and as usual went bananas.  A and I at first hesitated to let them out, but then we thought, what the heck, why take away the thrilling experience of being a dog from her?  She and Buster went tearing out in the normal way, Buster out front, Sadie gamely lolloping along behind.  This time she ran out of steam partway down the field.  She stood for a few moments, her head low between her shoulders.  And then she laid down.  A and I watched from the house in sorrow.  Then he walked out to get her, prepared to carry her back if necessary.  She saw her favorite person coming and got up to meet him.

She’s on pain medication, which seems to be making her comfortable, better today than yesterday.  We’re going to do our very best to prevent her from being in pain.  We always wait just a tad too long to make the difficult decision to put our pets down, and we’d like to avoid that this time.

We have been able to give her a second window on life, and she has given us great joy.

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Hoo boy, skunk

Sadie (aka Smudge for her pig-pen-like characteristics) went out tonight below the retaining wall and immediately got skunked. Wow.  Peeeeeeee-yewwwwwww. It was raining and so Buster the big wuss did not get off the porch, thank goodness.

A couple of weeks ago we got a new shower head, partly because the old one was all crudded up and partly so that we could have a hand-held for dog-washing purposes. What timing! A stripped down and got in the shower with Sadie to clean her off.  Here’s the recipe:


  • One pint of hydrogen peroxide
  • One-half a cup of baking soda
  • Two tablespoons of dish soap
  • A bottle of vinegar


  1. Mix the hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap in a large bowl and stir until the baking soda is completely dissolved.
  2. Next, use a spray bottle or sponge to generously apply the mixture onto the pet’s fur. Work the mixture through the fur and onto the skin below, massaging the solution into the affected area for ten minutes. Be cautious when applying this solution to the face, as the mixture should not come in contact with the eyes.
  3. After ten minutes has passed, thoroughly rinse the solution from the animal’s fur and skin. Once the solution is completely rinsed away (there should be no soap bubbles remaining in the water as it flows off the body), towel the pet’s fur.
  4. If the odor is still relatively strong and skunky, repeat the above-mentioned steps. If the odor is largely eliminated, then continue on to the next step.
  5. Once the solution of hydrogen peroxide, dish soap and baking soda has been rinsed away, use a sponge or spray bottle to apply generous amounts of vinegar to the pet’s damp fur and skin. Again, saturate the fur and massage the solution into the fur and skin.
  6. After letting the solution sit for twenty minutes, thoroughly rinse the pet with fresh water.
  7. Often, the pet is left smelling vaguely of vinegar. To leave your pet smelling fresh and clean, follow with a gentle pet shampoo and conditioner.

Read more at Suite101: How to Remove Skunk Odor from Your Pet’s Fur: A Recipe That is Proven to Rid a Pet of that Skunky Smell

Frankly, I couldn’t care less if my pet is left smelling vaguely of vinegar. It beats the heck out of skunk.

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We got a new dog today.  Sadie was hit by a car around Christmas, on a bitter cold day.  Her pelvis was broken in three places, and her owner couldn’t afford to pay for surgery.  He asked for her to be put to sleep.  This sounds harsh, but it’s not – she was in terrible shape.  The vets were all set to do it, but then they decided she was meant to live.  She’d lain outside all day long and survived.  So she’s got a pelvis full of metal, and she walks very strangely, at least for now.

She’ll be high maintenance for a while, because she has to go outside on a leash, and we have to support her when she goes up and down the steps.  Right now she’s in her crate.  I put her there so she’d get the idea that it’s her place.  A and Buster are outside.  Sadie is NOT happy.  She’s whining and moaning. I’m going to free her in a minute.

So far Buster has behaved pretty well. He took over her crate when we all got home, but other than that seems not very interested. Fine with us at this point, because she can’t horse around too much yet.

Yellow lab


dog looking out window

The main person and the main dog have gone outside. Woe!

Man patting dog

That shaved back probably itches. You can see who she likes best already.

man and dog entering dog crate

Let's see if we can all get in here.

Man and dog by dog crate, smaller dog inside

That white stripe inside the crate is Buster's Bentley - the white dividing line down the middle of his head.

man and dog lying down

It's been exhausting!

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First of all, I’m going to recommend Army of Women again.  They want one million women to sign up to help with breast cancer research.  Recommend it to your friends, and if you’re a woman, sign up!

Next, I’m sure I’ve mentioned Sustainable Dave’s site, 365 Days of Trash.  He is a person who puts sustainability into practice in a big way.  If we all did this, the world would be a better place.  If you have a blog reader (which I recommend highly), add it to your list.  

And third, we have a bench outside our kitchen window where Buster jumps up and barks to be let in.  Here he is on the other side of the screen.

Neglected dog

Neglected dog

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The stinkification of the house

We use a lot of dog treats here so that Buster remembers what he’s supposed to be doing.

This year, A and our friend W bought and raised six head of cattle.  To be fair, W did most of the work, because he knows how and because the cattle lived at his place.

These are organic, grass-fed animals.  A couple of months ago, two of them were slaughtered, and we split the meat between our freezers and W’s.  We’ve sold a fair amount to friends.

I was looking in the freezer the other night and realized that we have many packages of beef liver.  I know people don’t eat liver any more because it’s the sink for all the toxins ingested by the animal, but these livers are nice and clean.  However, I hate liver.  So I decided to make dog treats.

I sliced up a one-pound package of the stuff, and put the slices on a rack over a piece of tinfoil on a cookie sheet.  Then I cooked them in a 250 degree oven for about an hour.  (The tinfoil was to catch the bloody drips, yuck.)  The result was liver jerky, and it’s going to be very useful on the evening walks.  But whoowee, even with the vent fan on, it did stink!

Buster was highly attentive.

Liver jerky, yum yum bleah

Liver jerky, yum yum bleah

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Mr. Hilarious

We have two Mr. Hilariouses in the house.

B is genuinely funny.  He has been since birth, practically.  He was making puns just about as soon as he could speak.  When he was in preschool, he made jokes all the time.  The other kids would be looking blank.  “Huh?”  And the teachers would be laughing hysterically.

He’s been home from college for a couple of weeks.  A few nights after he returned home we had dinner with friends, and B regaled us with tales of his new job showing apartments, of his boss, a former Latin Kings gang member, and of the second business – erotic photography (“You don’t call it porn, the girls get nervous”) – he (the boss, not B) is trying to get started.

I can’t duplicate B’s delivery or even content, but let me just say that having him home is extremely enjoyable.

The other Mr. Hilarious is Buster.  He’s the funniest dog we’ve ever had.  Unlike B’s humour, I don’t think it’s intentional.  His face is quite expressive, even though there may be nothing but dust bunnies up in that cranial cavity.  And he’s a doofus.  He falls over his own feet.  He hides under the bed with his whole back end sticking out.  Last week on our evening walk he went to take a drink from the pond and fell in.  He looked deeply offended when he came out, and  has avoided the edge of the pond since.

I love a good laugh.  I was once telling someone how great it was that B had such a fine sense of humor, and how important that was.  She nodded, and then said, “Wait, why is a sense of humor so important?”  Poor thing.

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Busyness, water fear

We’ve had lots going on this week.  My sister Deb has been here to work on her website with me (and blab and shop and eat and go sailing with our brother and hang around with our sister Priscilla), we had a stunning dinner made by Erin of With Vanilla and Honey fame, friends came through on their way home to Minnesota from a summer trip to New Mexico, Monday was B’s 21st birthday, and I can’t even think what else.

It has also been a million degrees in the shade.  Yesterday when we took Buster for a walk he leaned over into the pond for a drink and fell right in.  He hauled himself out and shook off.

Now this is a dog with severe fear of water.  Last year A threw him off the dock to see if he’d figure out that water was OK.  Buster broke all Olympic speed records getting back to shore and wouldn’t come near the dock for the rest of the summer.

Tonight when we took him for a walk, even though he normally takes a drink from the pond, he avoided it completely.  We sat on the cabin porch for a while, and I gave him some water in a pan.  He guzzled it all right down.  My guess is that he won’t be drinking from the pond for a while.  God forbid  he should fall in again.

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Frog wrangling

Have I already mentioned this? I feel it’s a good idea to temper rants about plastic with a little humor.

But first I do want to comment on the excellent question sialias asked about where we recycle the stuff made from recycled plastic. Where indeed? With each successive recycle of plastic the “quality” of the plastic degrades, and it’s no longer recyclable. At least glass, aluminum, and tin can be reclaimed as almost the same level of quality.

Back to the fun. It’s frog-wrangling season! Every day we take a walk around our land with Buster. It’s a way for all of us to get a little exercise and fresh air. We have two ponds, an old round cow pond, and a new pretty one carved out of a ravine. The old pond is perfect, we’ve discovered, for frogs to sit in the sun. Even on a 55 degree day, a few are sitting around the edge getting a nice green tan.  Last year we discovered that Buster enjoyed running around the pond making the frogs leap back into the pond ahead of him.

Now when we approach the old pond, we say “Buster!  Go wrangle!” and he runs down and starts racing around the pond, around and around and around, getting the constant feedback of frogs leaping into the water right in front of him.

It reminds me of that great scene in the movie “The Man Who Knew Too Little” where Bill Murray is driving a stolen car around a roundabout flipping one orange cone after another into the middle.

I might add that Buster never goes into the water as part of this spectacle.  Never.  He hates the water.  Last year we threw him in the new pond and he set the Olympic  Dog Paddle record for dock-to-shore sprints.

Yesterday we had some visitors here from England.  We went for a walk with them and showed off Buster’s wrangling skills at the old pond.  Then we walked over to the new pond.  One of the guests said “Buster, are you going to bojangle now?  So now we have a nice new verb.

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Dang dog

That Buster, we just love him.  But he has been rambling off on his own lately.  He still won’t go outside by himself, but when you take him out, he’s off like a shot.  Last week we found out one reason why:  He killed and brought home one of our neighbor’s chickens.  Amazingly, A got him to sit and stay, and then took it away from him.  Too late, though.

He’s intent on finding his way out of the fence, and if that doesn’t work, heading out the driveway.  He becomes deaf, totally focused on hanging with his pals across the road.  I’m sure they put him up to the chicken killing.

Several people have suggested that the cure for that is to hang the dead chicken around the dog’s neck.  I’m not doing it.  For one thing, I’m hoping he won’t kill any more, and for another thing, he’s an indoor dog.  We’d have all-night barking to come in with his chicken necklace.  For another thing, it seems inhumane.  For another thing, nobody has ever said “We did this.”  Instead, people tell you that they’ve heard of that as a cure, or that their cousin did it.  I want first-hand evidence, please.

We, who have made huge efforts to use only positive training methods (and with good results), may possibly try a shock collar.  The electronic fence isn’t practical for us because there’s too much area to fence in.  He never goes out alone, though, so I think it might work.  There we’ll be, walking along, and Buster will start heading off towards the road.  If he knows we have hamburger or cheese in our pockets, he’ll respond to calls.  If not, he’s deaf.  A little zap just as he’s cresting the hill might work.  It seems horrible, but perhaps worth it if it prevents him from being shot by a farmer.  (Our chicken-owning neighbor would never shoot him.)

Tonight we discussed the idea of getting another dog so he could have a pal.  There was a yellow lab pup listed in today’s paper.  It doesn’t seem like the right time.  We ought to cure him of this bad behavior before we get another dog he could teach it to.

Any good ideas out there?

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