10 Interesting Facts About Me!

Self-portrait
Hello!

I’m taking a different approach towards today’s blog post. I’m going to write on a topic that I’ve picked from a list of suggested posts on another website. Number 1 is “A recent picture of yourself and 10 interesting facts about yourself”. I’m not sure how interesting they will be, but here we go!

  1. I grew up in a small town. Beach City, Ohio is a village of about 1,200 people. As a child, I always thought we lived in an average sized city. Don’t all children think their lives are the norm? My mother always told me that we lived “in town” and she wouldn’t want to live in the country where neighbors and relatives were far away. Between this and the fact that our village had the word “City” in its name, I assumed we lived the city lifestyle.
  2. I was an only child until I was 16 years old. My younger brother was born the day after my sixteenth birthday. Since our birthdays were one day apart, we always celebrated with one cake. My eighteenth birthday (and my brother’s second) was celebrated with a Cookie Monster cake. At the time, I found this to be annoying. Now I look at things differently. Since there are two birthdays, there is twice the fun, almost on the level of a national holiday! And it turns out that my baby brother is one of the greatest gifts of my life.
  3. Growing up I was an extremely introverted child. I did not want any attention brought to myself. I hunkered down in my chair at school, so the teacher wouldn’t call on me and I never wanted to answer any questions even if I knew the answer. I rarely had much to say unless we were in small groups. This is probably a hold over from when I was growing up. When there were adults around, children were to be seen but not heard. My, how times change!
  4. I love all animals! This may be an interesting fact, but I don’t think it is news to anyone who knows me. Over the course of my life I have had many dogs and cats, dozens of fish, a hamster, several turtles, parakeets, various cage finches, and a rabbit. If it were up to me, I would also have a couple of goats and an alpaca.
  5. My career for most of my life was as an environmental scientist. I am certified to run drinking water and wastewater treatment plants. I am a certified laboratory analyst. Technical work in various forms, has been what I do. Since I am currently retired, I have been focusing on tasks that require the other side of my brain. Writing, crafts, and thinking in more creative and less regimented ways.
  6. I could spend hours reading every day and still not be tired of it. Mostly I stop reading because I have other things to do. Some women shop. A treat for me is a leisurely trip to the library. Just the smell of the books as you walk through the doors to library brings a feeling of peace, and a little excitement. All the magic in those unopened books!
  7. I am a vegetarian. It’s not that I don’t like the taste of meat. I can’t bear to contribute to the way the current industry treats animals as they grow and live. Or the way they are slaughtered. I don’t want to be a party to the cruelty. Technically I am a pescatarian. I do eat fish and other seafood. I see them as lower on the evolutionary scale when it comes to feelings and the ability to suffer. Sometimes I worry that I am wrong about the fish.
  8. I love to bake. I like to cook in general, but baking is my passion in the kitchen. Yeast breads, quick breads, cookies, scones, cheesecakes, layer cakes from scratch (or a mix will certainly do!), cookies, pies. You name it, and I will happily bake it. And eat it!
  9. I practiced Tai Chi for 10 years and Kung Fu for about 3 years. I started when I was in my mid-twenties at the local vocational school adult education program, and then on to a martial arts school in Akron, Ohio. Now that I am a little older (wink, wink) I have taken a few yoga classes and find it enjoyable. I would love to try goat yoga!
  10. My favorite place, of those I have been, is the Maine Coast. Especially the Acadia National Park area where you can climb a mountain and look out over the ocean. There is a certain satisfaction and magic, knowing that you have made it up a mountain and are looking down at the ocean and areas of coastline that you were on recently.

So, there are 10 random bits of information that you may, or may not have known about me before. If you have any interesting random facts about yourself that you are willing to share, please do!

An Icy Hike, and Shelby Is Back!

West Branch State Park
Frozen reservoir at West Branch State Park.

Hiking has been challenging this week. We did take one day off because of icy conditions and bad weather, but then we were back at it. The reservoir at West Branch State Park has been frozen. We have seen several people ice fishing on it each day. Some of them have little tents they set up on the ice for a bit of protection from the elements. Others just cut a hole and fish. The photo above is one I took from a hiking/snowmobile trail on the south side of the reservoir.

Yak trax
Wearing Yak Trax for better traction.

We did hike yesterday. I knew the footing would be slippery with melted and re-frozen hard pack snow. With the warming conditions it was a combination of ice and slush. I strapped on the Yak Trax so I would have a better grip for safer footing. This was the first time I had used them for hiking and I was pleased. I felt much more confident that I could navigate the trails and keep my balance.

We also hiked today. I didn’t wear the Yak Trax today because it was warm enough that there was a fair amount of slush on top of the snow and ice. Footing was a little tricky. The trails were packed from snowmobiles, mountain bikes, and foot traffic. The packed snow was still there, but many times there was enough melting underneath that my foot would punch through the snow and fall a few inches. This means you have to pull your foot out of a hole. The descent through the layer of snow also ends with a jarring impact when you reach the bottom. The snow also slides and moves with each step so it was a tiring hike. We went 2.8 miles this afternoon, but I must say it seemed farther.

Sheltie, shetland sheepdog
Shelby is back!

Great news! Shelby is back to hiking. This is the first day she has rejoined us on our hikes since her attack by loose dogs exactly three weeks ago. Encounter With Loose Dogs, Gone Bad We kept Shelby home while she was healing up and to keep her wounds clean. She also had a thigh shaved due to dog bites and it has been too cold for her bare skin. Today the temperature climbed up over 50 degrees and Shelby has been wanting to join us again, so today was her lucky day. She did great. She was so happy to be back on the trails with us. Baxter was happy too. He never smiles as big as when his “sister” Shelby is walking with him.

Shaved leg, Shetland sheepdog
Shelby’s shaved leg.

It’s not the clearest view, but here you can see Shelby’s shaved leg. The fur has grown an impressive amount in three weeks. I call this haircut on her leg “The Howard Walowitz”. All you Big Bang Theory fans will understand.

Napping sheltie
Shelby napping after some time on the trail.

Here is Shelby napping. Her first hike in three weeks has her tired out. She is happy to be a part of the pack out on the trails again. I feel like we have overcome a big hurdle and Shelby is, if not back to normal, at least well on the road to recovery.

Do You Know What Color Rabbit Urine Is? (Or Another Post About Animal Waste!)

Bunnies at the fair
Bunny rabbits

Do you know what colors rabbit urine can be? I did not, but now I do and I was amazed.

I first pondered this question, because we had red pee turning up in the yard where the dogs do their business. I was concerned because…red pee, that cannot be a good thing, right?

I know we have had rabbits in the dog yard because we kept finding all those little, round bunny poop pellets. This didn’t surprise me all that much because I knew we had a rabbit and baby bunnies in the spring. They liked to feast on the sprouts in my my vegetable garden. As fall turned into winter, they started coming into the dog yard to dine on the large patches of clover. I’m sure it was quite a buffet for a hungry bunny.

It was rather annoying because, much to my dismay, our dogs find bunny droppings to be a tasty delicacy. The dogs all shoot out the door when I let them out to search for them. I hoped that the bunny would grow too big to fit through the fence slats. This has not happened. I thought about putting up chicken wire along the bottom of the fence, but bunnies can jump. Who would have thought bunnies would be brave enough to frequent a location that contains six dogs who leave droppings there several times a day? My best solution has been to try and scoop up the piles of pellets at the same time I scoop up the dog piles.

And then snow arrived. I’m sure the red urine was always there, but it wasn’t visible until it was on the white, snowy background. First, I followed all the dogs around for a couple days, checking the snow after they peed. No red in sight. Only the usual yellow. That was a relief. The red urine wasn’t from one of our dogs. Then I found some of the red snow near a pile of bunny pellets.

I performed a Google search and discovered that it is normal for rabbit urine to be clear or pale yellow, orange, or red. It did not even mean that the bunnies had an infection as I had feared. Any of these colors can be normal for a rabbit. Yet another thing that I have learned from the internet that I never thought I would need to know. My life does seem to revolve around bodily wastes way more than one would expect! Poop Is My Life! (Or gone to the dogs?)

I thought I would share my new found information with you, my readers. You can never tell when someone will need to know these types of things!

Thoughts On a Dog Attack and a Little Bit of Grace

Sheltie dog
Shelby and me.

As you likely know since you are reading this, we were out walking with our dogs on the trail a couple weeks ago when two loose dogs ran up and attacked Shelby and Zekie. Encounter With Loose Dogs, Gone Bad The two ladies who were with the dogs followed us back to the parking lot so we could exchange information. One of the ladies was the owner of the two dogs. She is relatively young. She was very apologetic and took responsibility for the incident. She agreed to cover any veterinary bills incurred.

The next day I took Shelby and Zekie to the vet. Three days after the attack I provided the girl who owned the other dogs with the bill and she sent me a check to cover the expenses on her way home from work that evening. I deposited the check at my bank the next business day. My two wounded warriors are healing nicely and the terrible event is behind us.

Oddly enough, I believe the owner of the other dogs and I are on our way to becoming friends. I chose not to press charges or file a report about the incident since the owner made it as right as she could. I could imagine how I would feel if I were on the other side of what happened. Her two dogs are “bully” breeds, and I did not want to take a chance that they would be put down. I know that if it were me and that happened, I would never recover. Even though they were guilty. And really, it was the owners fault for not keeping her dogs under control.

I have texted with the owner a number of times. She always showed concern about my dogs, saying that she thought about them every day and was sorry that she learned this lesson at the expense of my dogs. She acknowledges that she has learned a huge lesson and will never let her dogs run loose in a public place again. We have stayed in touch and I have gotten to know her better over these weeks and I believe her. It turns out we are both “dog people” whose dogs are our worlds. I look forward to continued contact with her.

I know that the relationship we have is unusual given the circumstances. I was in a position to show her grace. Good will that is not earned. And when it comes down to it, the desired outcome was for her to always keep her dogs leashed when in public. I think this has been achieved.

There were two ways to go about achieving this. The first would have been to get law enforcement involved. I did not want to do that for reasons stated above. Also, we did not know the severity of Shelby’s injuries at the time. The second way was to use this as a teaching experience.

I know I am more likely to change my behavior if someone approaches me kindly and explains things rather than getting in my face and making demands. This gets my hackles up and I want to do the opposite of what is being asked. I do acknowledge that had Shelby died, or suffered permanent debilitating injury, I would not have been inclined to be so kind. I am only human after all. I would have wanted retribution. But mercifully for us all, that was not what happened.

I posted about the attack on social media on the day the attack happened. I took some grief for handling it in the way that I chose. In fact, I received one comment directed towards me for not filing a police report that was particularly venomous. So much so that I took my original post down. I was suffering enough and not ready to deal with projected animosity too. I understand those who suggested contacting law enforcement to file a report. I am not saying that would have been the wrong thing to do here. But it is not what I chose to do. I was also contacted by one person who said that she was in a similar position about 30 years ago. Hers was the attacking dog, a dog that was good tempered and well trained. She said that she learned her lesson that day and has never let any of her dogs run loose since. I thanked her for sharing her story from the other side of the coin. People can learn and change.

In my dealings with the owner of the other dogs, she was nothing but cooperative, remorseful, and honest. She provided me with contact info for her dogs’ vet so I could contact them for proof of rabies shots and she did pay the bills for my dogs as promised. We have exchanged texts since then with her continuing to be remorseful and me saying I forgive her. If she had not shown remorse and taken responsibility, my actions would likely have been different. I don’t think our contact ends here. Maybe there is a purpose to my relationship with her. Given that she has done everything she said she would do during this time, I believe her when she says she will not let her dogs run loose again. It is my hope that I achieved the same outcome as lawful action but in a kinder way.

I wanted to explain the thinking behind the way that I handled this. It may not be the best way in all circumstances, but this time, I think it was. Everyone may not agree, but I hope it is respected. I hope that someone would show me grace if I make such a terrible mistake.

Greyhound

What To Do on a Cold Day?

Well, snuggle under a blanket of course!

If you are a dog at our house, you also nestle close to another dog, or momma, for extra warmth. If you’re desperate, maybe a cat. Our cats and dogs are also frequently found napping in front of the wood burner.

Two dogs napping
Cassius and Baxter napping.

 

If you’re a human at our house, you grab a blanket and wait for a dog to wedge himself in beside you. It will only take a matter of seconds. In fact, you will soon have multiple dogs vying for the spot beside you. The winner sits next to momma. The runner up sits on the far end of the couch. The rest of the pups will grab one of various dog beds scattered around the room or sit on the other couch. Occasionally, one of the dogs will grab a spot on the large area rug. The rug also has value to the dogs because all the rest of the house has hardwood floors. When we take them to grandma’s, whose entire house is carpeted, they view it as one giant dog bed.

Books and Reading
Coffee and Books!

Personally, I have a mug of coffee or tea and a book with me as well, nearly ever time I am snuggled up. This is the best way to pass a winter’s day. Dogs, coffee, books. Does it get any better? I think not.

Using a Kong Toy to Reduce Stress

Dog and Kong
Zekie and his Kong toy.

I have found a way that Zekie is not so severely stressed when I must leave him in his crate. He is just a little stressed. This is quite an improvement for him.

I break a dog biscuit in half, spread peanut butter on each half, and toss them inside a Kong toy. (Make sure the peanut butter does not have xylitol in it. This is hazardous to dogs. I use natural to be safe. ) Sometimes I throw a carrot in too. I spread the remainder of the peanut butter from the knife around the inside of the Kong. The peanut butter keeps the treats stuck inside the toy so he has to work to get them out. This gives him something to do to occupy his mind. Zekie will go in his crate on command if he sees I have the Kong loaded. I used to have to find him and put him in his crate. Now he is willing to go for this special treat.

I also have a bone shaped Kong that I put a baby carrot in each end of, before I put Claire in her crate. Claire doesn’t mind her crate, I just like to give her a treat too. The other dogs don’t require a crate when we go away.

Often times, the treats are still stuck inside Zekie’s Kong when I return home and let him out of his crate. When this happens, he takes the Kong with him wherever he goes. He even carries it with him outside and back in, lest any of the other dogs find and confiscate it. I will eventually dig the treats out and hand them to Zekie.

The distracting toy makes for a much happier Zekie upon my return. And he is not covered in nearly as much “stress drool” this way. Give it a try and see if it makes your pup happier too.

Two Dogs, Sheltie

Shelby and Zekie Got Mail!

Something happened a few days ago that put smiles on the faces here at our house. Shelby and Zekie got mail! It was addressed to them, as was the card inside. As you may know, these are two of our dogs who were attacked by two other loose dogs while hiking about a week and a half ago. Encounter With Loose Dogs, Gone Bad

Get Well Card
Card received by Shelby & Zekie!

The card was signed “Love, Foxy and Wolfie”. These are two shelties that are owned by a friend of ours’ from the sheltie world. Foxy and Wolfie say they are glad that Shelby and Zekie are feeling better and send hugs, and to their mom too (me!).

What a blessing the friends I have made in the dog world, and elsewhere, are! My posts and updates about the incident garnered tremendous amounts of Facebook likes, hearts, and hugging cares. We feel loved. I hear comments about how social media is bad for people and results in stress and anxiety. I say, those people are not using it properly or perhaps associate with the wrong people. I have made wonderful, supportive friends who make my life better. When I have a trauma or upsetting experience, I post it (as long as it will not harm someone else), because I know my friends, acquaintances, and followers will share words of kindness and lift me up. This happens 99.5 % of the time, making it easier to ignore that one. That one was not my friend anyway, if they are “diss-ing” me.

The card that Shelby and Zekie received also points out how one kind action can change someone’s days. It certainly did for me. I feel lighter and more cheerful knowing that people have my back. It makes me want to be kind to others and share the positivity. It created a ripple that will spread to others and make the world a little bit better. Thanks Diane!

By the way, Shelby and Zekie are feeling much better. Shelby has been off pain meds for days, and finished the antibiotics yesterday. I still gently massage her wound area to increase blood flow to promote healing of the deeper tissues. On the surface her wound looks good. Zekie is a miracle, like the whole thing never happened. The prayers everyone sent have been answered. The two of them are doing great.

I thank you for your thoughts, prayers, support, and good wishes. I can feel them.

Encounter With Loose Dogs, Gone Bad

Sheltie Shelby resting after an injury
Shelby with her shaved leg, after receiving treatment for a dog bite.

The week before last was one of the scariest weeks I have had in a long time. My husband and I were out on our daily hike with five of our dogs. We were three quarters of the way done with the hike, back on the main trail and heading for the car. We were coming up on the crest of the last hill which also has a slight curve in the path, the kind you can’t see over. My husband was in the lead as usual and I heard him call out “loose dogs”.

This has never been too big of a deal before. The owners always show up and leash their dogs and we all go on our separate ways. Not so, this time. Zekie was barking like a fool as he often does. The two loose dogs, a large American Bulldog and a smaller pit bull mix, came charging at our dogs with their owners running behind calling them. They first went for Zekie, and his leash was pulled out of my hand. Both dogs were on him, rolling him, until he was on his back.

At this point, things get a little blurry in my mind because it all happened so fast and I was in shock. I remember my husband trying to hand me Baxter and Cassius’ leashes so he could go pull the two attacking dogs off of Zekie. The two girls were also running and trying to get control of their dogs. I was distracted by this and don’t know which dog was where a for a few seconds. I looked down and the smaller dog, about 50-60 lbs., had Shelby’s leg in his mouth. I’m not sure if he had also bitten her other times before I looked down or not. The smaller pit mix let go of Shelby when I was trying to kick him. I didn’t make hard contact because I didn’t want to get Shelby by accident.

I looked over and the American Bulldog, who was about 80 lbs., had Zekie in the ditch on the other side of the trail from where I last saw him. After I got the pit mix off Shelby, he ran to help the other dog attack Zekie. We thought Zekie was a goner. He was belly up with the two dogs biting at him and lunging and it looked like they were tearing him apart. At this point the girls were able to get their dogs off Zekie and leash them and maintained control.

Emotions ran high and there were lots of loud words. However, the girls were incredibly apologetic, taking full responsibility. They continued apologizing and agreed to follow us back to the parking lot.

We hiked the half mile back to the car with the girls and their dogs following at a distance so as not to get any of our dogs worked up again. Shelby was limping, but the bite I saw, looked like a half hearted attempt and I hadn’t found anything other than some red tooth marks, so we thought she was just a little sore. Zekie didn’t seem too bad aside from being nervous. We got back to the parking lot and exchanged contact information. One girl seemed to be the owner of the two dogs. The younger girl seemed to just be her friend. The owner of the dogs continued to say how sorry she was and said she would pay any vet bills that were incurred as a result of this incident. We couldn’t find any severe wounds on our dogs so decided to monitor them.

We went home and looked Shelby and Zekie over some more and didn’t find much. After a few hours, I noticed that our other dogs kept sniffing Shelby and wouldn’t leave her alone. This indicates there is something of note that they are paying attention to. I rolled Shelby over to get a good look. That’s when I found a puncture wound on her lower abdomen that turned out to be quite serious. You can read more about the details of Shelby’s wounds here. Progression of a Dog Bite Wound. She did end up on antibiotics, pain meds, and getting ongoing wound maintenance (warm compresses 3 times a day).

Our experience just goes to show that you cannot judge the severity of a dog bite or attack from what is visible at first glance. Things did not turn out how I thought they would. I thought Zekie was going to be dead at the end of the attack, or at least suffer life threatening injury. He didn’t suffer any major damage. Our veterinarian found some minor bruising and we never saw any other physical signs of damage on him. We think that he submitted to the other dogs and so they did not inflict significant harm like they might have if he fought back. Or maybe he was lucky.

Shelby did not fare as well. She garnered significant wounds. I did learn that much of the damage from a dog bite wound may not be visible to the eye. A lot of damage occurs as the teeth rip underneath the skin. There can also be crushing to tissues or organs. Shelby is healing up and on the road to recovery. I hate to think what would have happened if I did not take her to the vet so she could be put on antibiotics. She is on injury leave and not participating in walks for at least another week. The vet said she was a very lucky girl.

If your dog is ever in a fight, my advice to you is to have him checked over by a vet, unless you are absolutely certain that no damage was inflicted. Better safe than sorry.

Snow Dogs on a New Trail!

Sheltie dog and friend on a winter hike
Zekie and Claire on the trail.

We hiked with four of our dogs today, Zekie, Claire, Cassius, and Baxter. Shelby is still on injury leave from her run in with the loose dogs last week so rested at home. You can read about her injury. Progression of a Dog Bite Wound She is looking much better and her bruising is mostly gone now, we’re just finishing off the antibiotics as healing continues.

We went back to West Branch State Park to explore some of the trails we hadn’t tried before. From the the Mountain Bike Trail parking lot, we went down the main trail to trailhead A3. This trail is a snowmobile trail so it is nice and wide and relatively flat. We hiked out A3 until we came to the Bit O’ Honey Trail which is a mountain bike trail. Mountain bike trails are generally rougher, rockier, and tougher going. I am particularly slow, making sure I don’t trip on rocks, sticks, and so on. Even so, when it is in the 20’s, I get hot enough on these trails that I soon end up with my hood down and my gloves in my pocket. If it is a longer mountain bike trail, I end up with my coat unzipped too. That still leaves me with a turtleneck and a polar fleece and I am just fine. If we slow down, I just zip my coat back up.

Rocks at West Branch State Park
Rock view on the Bit O’ Honey Trail, West Branch State Park, Ohio.

The dogs start pestering us each afternoon around 1:30 pm. They know we leave for walking or hiking near 2 o’clock. On the rare day that we haven’t gone, they mope and give us dirty looks from the dog beds or couch. Yes, they are spoiled pups!

Dogs hiking, West Branch State Park, Ohio
Cassius and Baxter hiking with daddy.

Cassius the greyhound always wears a coat in the winter when we walk or hike. All our past greyhounds have too. They just don’t have the body fat to stand up to cold temperatures. Baxter the Lab/Rott/Dobe mix has never worn a coat until this year, once it got below 30 degrees. In the past Baxter never wanted a coat. Now that he will be 12 in a few months, he seems to get colder and appreciates the warmth. Other than that he hasn’t slowed down much. So, getting ready for winter hiking can be quite the process. In addition to two humans suiting up and getting the right boots, sunglasses, hats, etc., we also have two dogs to put coats on.

Two dogs hiking at West Branch State Park, Ohio
Baxter and Claire ready to get in the SUV after hiking.

Luckily, Baxter looks quite handsome in his coat. Of course, I am biased and think Baxter looks quite dapper all the time!

Winter Trail Hiking Again!

Hiking at West Branch State Park, on the trail.
Hiking again, on the trail.

We are back to trail hiking. We had a scary incident while out last week. Two loose dogs attacked Shelby and Zekie. It was quite scary and between that and the ice, I took a couple days off from walking. For two days after that we walked on paved trails in town.

Zekie survived the attack and wasn’t much worse for wear. Shelby, however, was quite seriously wounded, but is on the mend. I continue to give her meds and provide wound maintenance while she heals. She won’t be hiking again any time soon. I won’t even think about it for a few weeks. She needs time to recuperate, and I don’t want her wound aggravated from too much activity. Also, the wound needs to stay clean and not have dirt and salt from the trails and roads splashing on her underside.

Trail side, West Branch State Park
Trail side, West Branch State Park.

I love hiking in the snow and am glad to be back on the trails. I find it easier to hike with snow on the ground. It fills in a lot of the divots and small holes, and covers the large gravel. These tend to make the walking surface uneven and having them covered in snow makes it easier for me. The trail is beautiful when there is freshly fallen snow. I sometimes feel bad that we pass by and leave footsteps and pawprints to mar its beauty. The landscape at trailside still provides views of unbroken snow vistas. It can also be fun to see who else is using the trails, be it footsteps, pawprints, snowmobiles, or snow bicyclers.

After last week’s incident, we hike with pepper spray. I have heard that a product called Spray Shield, that is citronella based, is safer for dogs. I will look into that in the future. For now, what I have is pepper spray. I need to be responsible for defending my dogs to the best of my ability. I feel guilty that I failed them last week. Especially Shelby. She and I are a working team, having provided therapy dog visits for the past seven years. I need her to trust that I will take care of her, and you better believe that I will do everything in my power to do so.

Sheltie profile
Shelby watching out the window.

It seems odd to be out hiking without Shelby. She is none too happy about it either when we leave her at home, even though she gets a treat when we go out the door. She is used to being part of everything that goes on and she believes she is in charge of safety. The other dogs believe that too! Even while she is healing, she does what she can to maintain order around here. Above, she is watching out the window to see what is going on in the neighborhood. She still barks at the mail jeep and delivery people, alerting us that strangers are about. Last night after we had gone to bed, Shelby even barked at something outside and a few seconds later, our motion activated security light came on.

That Shelby is one smart, and tough, cookie!