Category Archives: Dogs & Other Animals

Jasper Is Growing!

Jasper

Jasper has been with us nearly three months now. And how he has grown! When he arrived, he weighed just three pounds and now he weighs 9 lbs. No wonder kitten chow is 40% protein. It takes a lot of nutrients to grow that fast. Apparently, how much they eat is related more to how much they grow rather than just what size they are. The first two weeks Jasper ate an entire bag of kitten chow each week. Now the same size bag lasts for two weeks. Thank goodness. That was a lot of kitten food. Although I noticed long ago that I spend more money on cat litter than on cat food.

Orange Kitty and Jasper

Jasper is still sweet and affectionate. He loves to snuggle. He especially likes to sleep on us when we are wearing bathrobes. Apparently, all that fuzziness is nap inducing. He is sleeping in my husband’s lap right now. We hope he maintains his nice disposition as he grows older. Jasper is scheduled for neutering next week. This is one way to keep a cat from growing into a more distant and aggressive tom cat. It also prevents unwanted kittens, as well as spraying and marking in the house. Spaying and neutering is the way to go for many reasons. Most cats (and dogs) that are spayed and neutered enjoy better health. They don’t develop infections or cancers of the reproductive organs. If your cat is an outdoor cat, he will also fight less with other cats which prevents battle wounds. Our cats all live indoors because we live on a road that has lots of traffic.

Jasper continues to amuse us with his antics. He plays all day (when he’s not sleeping) and can have more fun with a stray piece of stuffing from the dog bed or a wadded up piece of paper than you can imagine. We are very glad we kept him!

Hiking: On the Trail Again

Fall Leaves

We didn’t hike much over the summer. It was too hot for me. Once the weather reached 80 degrees I started whining about it and when it hits 85 degrees I won’t even go. Not too mention the biting flies, mosquitos, and gnats.

But with the cooler fall weather, we are on the trails again. Fall is my favorite season, not only because of the temperatures, but the colors are just so beautiful. The maples are putting on a show with their golds and oranges. I especially like seeing the colors on the trees against the blue of the reservoir water at West Branch State Park where we usually hike.

Fern moss.

It doesn’t matter how many times we hike at West Branch, we always see something new to us that we hadn’t seen before. Last week I thought we had discovered something called a fern moss. Fern mosses are mosses that have a fernlike appearance and there are numerous types.

Another fern moss.

Upon further research, I discovered that these two photos are not of fern mosses at all. These are apparently something called ground pine or clubmoss. They are more closely related to ferns than either pine or moss. The plant with the flat needles is called ground cedar. As near as I can tell, the other one is called tree clubmoss.

These tiny plants grow very slowly. It takes up to 15 years until they are mature to the point where they can reproduce. For this reason it’s best to leave them alone.

We often see other sights that are new to us as we are out in the woods and walking along roadways. We see birds, snakes, minks, weasels, etc. It is fun looking them up in field guides or online to learn about exactly what it is we have encountered.

We take all five dogs with us when we hike. It seems funny not to have Nikki waiting for us back at home anymore after her passing last week. You can read about Nikki at this link. Miss Nikki Pouncer Pants: A Tribute

Stay tuned for more hiking adventures.

Miss Nikki Pouncer Pants: A Tribute

Nikki

Nikki, October 15, 2007-October 15, 2021. Our oldest dog passed on to the Rainbow Bridge yesterday. She lived to be exactly 14 years old. She had a stroke last week. We were hoping that she would rally and have a few more months with us, but it was not to be. Yesterday, the day she passed, was her birthday. She got to spend a few hours on her last two days in the pasture with the other dogs, enjoying the sunshine and nice weather. She spent Friday afternoon on my lap where she passed away while I was holding her and surrounded by the rest of the family.

Nikki came to us through Northeast Ohio Shetland Sheepdog Rescue. We were her foster family until we adopted her. She was nearly five years old. Her original owner was in the hospital and no longer able to care for her three dogs. Nikki was the only sheltie of the three so came to our rescue. At the drop off, I was told that Nikki had been abused by some young boys earlier in her life. She was spunky and happy all the time that I knew her, although she did have one slightly deformed back foot. It didn’t slow her down though. She went on walks with us until a couple years ago. Her feisty personality caused me to call her Miss Nikki Pouncer Pants. That and her fluffy butt.

Nikki on a nursing home visit.

Nikki loved to visit her friends at a local nursing home and did so right up until Covid stopped us from going. As soon as we passed through the facility’s door, Nikki made a bee-line for the couch in the lobby and hopped up. Residents soon swarmed around and they all wanted to sit by Nikki and pet her. She was happy to oblige. Here she is visiting with our friend, Bob, who was always up for some conversation and having Nikki by his side. She brought joy to many and was greeted with a smile wherever she went.

Nikki chilling.

Nikki was also a veteran at working public events to spread the word about shelties in rescue. She volunteered with me at many an event promoting our rescue group. She was also a frequent attendee of our group’s business meetings. She would sit on the couch near me and bask in the attention she got from other members.

Nikki during pasture time.

Nikki was tolerant of all animals. She saw quite a few foster dogs come and go over the years. She was equally unaffected by the cats that entered the household and became family too. Nikki loved to go out to the pasture with “the big dogs” and would jump up and run to the door, out onto the porch, and down the driveway until they all ran through the gate to the pasture. She was still doing this just last week. You had to get her attention by waving your arm because she couldn’t hear you, but she still wanted to go. Nikki was considerably smaller than our other dogs. She only weighed 20 lbs. We used to joke that we were afraid that some of the large birds of prey would swoop down and get her. She was never outside without her larger pack members, ranging in size from larger shelties to greyhounds, so she was fine.

Nikki relaxing.

Nikki was an easy dog to have around. She never caused any trouble. Even in her last week of failing health, she never had one accident in the house. In her early days with us, she liked to do what we called “the bicycle.” If you motioned at her with your index finger, she would sit up on her back legs and move her two front legs in a circular motion like she was pedaling a bicycle. This was her version of play fighting and she thought she was tough. She was so cute that we let her think so.

She was a favorite of the young and old alike. Not only did she do nursing home visits, she often went along to visit my nieces. My older niece would hold Nikki’s leash on walks from the age of three. When I came through the door, the first words I heard were “Did you bring Nikki?” If I answered no, I was meet with “awww.” I didn’t blame them. Nikki was cute!

Nikki’s happy face.

We have five other dogs, but without Nikki’s presence, the house feels empty. She was a good little dog and we miss her. My last words to her were “Momma loves you.” Truer words were never spoken. Until we meet again my little one.

Books I Read in September 2021

Bag full of magic. Library books!

Once again I have not read as many books as I had hoped because life got in the way. This month it was providing support to my husband as he works on our house. This project is part of the roof structure, soffits, and fascia on the west side of the house. I did get up on the scaffolding a few times to hold things, but believe me, my husband did the brunt of the work. There is also some gable work to be done. In fact I was called away from this post for paint chip clean up.

Oh, and I have also spent quite a bit of time and extra work transitioning our new kitten into the house! See the photo at the end of this post for a glimpse of Jasper. More on him in a future post. He fits right in with our pack because he was a foundling, of course!

And so, on to my slim list of readings for the month of September.

  1. The Kew Garden Girls-Posy Lovell

During World War I, a group of women takes on the challenge of keeping the Royal Botanic Gardens in good upkeep. The book also takes on a number of social issues of the day. After having never heard of the White Feather Campaign before, this is the second book I have read this summer that addresses it. Also discussed are the Suffrage Movement, women’s rights, and domestic violence. The characters in the book become family to each other. A good read.

2. At Lighthouse Point-Suzanne Woods Fisher

This is the third book in a series. I have enjoyed them all and become attached to the family as they go about getting their lives in order. The setting is a Maine island near Bar Harbor, so of course I would be a fan. The youngest daughter Blaine has always been impulsive. Returning from two years in Paris, she sets about figuring out the course of her life, even if it doesn’t go as planned. All the sisters are featured in this latest installment.

3. Pup Fiction-Laurien Berenson

Another gem from the Berenson dog show circuit mysteries. Melanie’s friend mysteriously becomes the owner of three show quality Dalmatians. Shortly thereafter, her friend’s ex-husband shows up, murdered nearby. How could two unlikely events be related? You’ll have to read it to find out the answer.

4. The Shell Collector-Nancy Naigle

Widow Amanda Whittier and her two children are surviving the loss of their husband and father the best they can. Amanda moves them to the beach town where she met her husband, and they start a new life. The friendships they make, and the one they renew, help them to heal as well as help those around them. Amanda makes friends like the ones we all want to have. This book was so good, it had me in tears near the end. Definitely worth the read.

Magazines:  Eating Well, Ohio Magazine, Oprah Magazine, the Cottage Journal, Cottages and Bungalows, Writer’s Digest

New kitten, Jasper!

Retirement: Run by Dogs!

Claire, Zekie, and Mommy

There are many good things about retirement, if you couldn’t tell by my happy face! I knew one of the best things would be that I could spend more time with my dogs every day. That was a given.

Another thing that I knew I would appreciate, is not having to worry about planning my life around my work week. I had no idea just how great this would be though. I no longer deal with the dread of Sunday evening being the end of my weekend and making sure that I pack my lunch and my work bag for the next day. I don’t worry about wrapping up family get togethers early enough to go home and rest up and prepare for work the next day.

Even on week days I would be sure to wrap up my evening and have all in order to leave the house by 6:00 a.m. the next morning. And there is always the wondering if you need to stop for gas, or will I have to get up early enough to defrost the car or allow time for snowy roadways. Or, was there a need to make a stop at the grocery store on the way, so as not to make an extra trip back to town?

No more. When it’s time to go to bed, I just go! When I’m rested, I get up. (Often this is pre-empted by a dog announcing that it is time to get up, but still, it is usually way later than I got to sleep when working.) When I need to go to the store I go. Snowy roads? I get there when I get there.

My life is my own again. I haven’t felt this kind of freedom since summer vacation as a kid! Ok, ok, we all know my life is run by dogs, but at least I’m happy this way.

A Vision of Beauty

Gladioli
Gladioli

This is the time of year that I’m happy I dig up 80 gladioli bulbs each fall, give or take a few. In our Zone 5, if you don’t dig them up, they may survive the winter or they may not. It depends on how cold it gets each year. I don’t want to take a chance on losing that many bulbs.

I started out with only about 20 bulbs that I purchased from a local discount store, some years ago. They have multiplied to the amount I have now and seem to stay around 80 for the past few years. Maybe I am just too lazy to dig up the small ones when I have so many others already.

The pink and white ones with the dark pink throats shown above, are my favorite. Note that my favorite glad changes, depending on which one is currently blooming.

Some gladioli photos from previous years showed up on my Facebook memories today. I wonder where I planted the dark burgundy and the deep scarlet ones. I haven’t seen them yet this year. They will bloom one day soon and it will be a nice surprise to see an old friend again.

It seems that the yellow glads are the first to bloom, then the pink ones, followed by the darker ones. I have no idea why, but this seems to always be the case.

Gladioli
Glads in multiple colors.

The gladioli are a bit of work but the rewards are worth it. Not only are they a vision of beauty, the butterflies and hummingbirds love them too. I sat in the garden and watched a hummingbird flit from flower to flower just tonight.

Butterflies
Monarch and swallowtail, shown here on butterfly bush.

One of my favorite parts of August is the butterflies!

A Beautiful Thing

Shelby has her credentials!

My dog Shelby is a certified therapy dog. This means she has passed a test indicating that she is qualified to visit nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, residential care facilities, hospice patients, and she can participate in “Read to a Dog” programs at libraries and schools. It also means that she exhibited a temperament that is suitable for such “work.” It is work, even though this is a volunteer position and cannot be done for money, as certified by the organization we are members of.

Shelby and I have not done any visiting since February of 2020. This was the time Covid started to rear its ugly head in our area. Nursing homes and the like were one of the first things to be shut down because of the vulnerable nature of their residents. It was deemed too great a risk for dog and handler teams to visit. (And I agree with this determination.)

As late spring 2021 arrived, things were looking up as the Covid vaccine started to be distributed. Case numbers fell and it was safer to go out, with the proper safeguards. I got Shelby’s veterinary care and records up to date and sent away for her 2021 credentials, seen above. I was taking steps so we would soon be ready to resume visiting our friends at a local facility and maybe consider going back to the schools with the Reading Role Model program through the United Way.

Now cases are sky rocketing again to over 100,000 per day in our country. I’m not feeling so safe anymore. And I certainly don’t want to take a chance on spreading Covid to any people Shelby and I would visit. I am not ruling out the possibility that Shelby and I may still be able to visit this year, but I am putting our return on hold for a while longer.

Shelby after a Reading Role Model visit a couple years ago.

This is a sad thing to me for multiple reasons. The obvious is there are more Covid cases and some people will die from it. Some will suffer long term, perhaps permanent, damage.

And then there are my self-centered reasons. I need to be more cautious when I do go out in public. I must be sure I have my mask and avoid mass gatherings. (No, I don’t like wearing a mask. I consider it the responsible thing to do, for myself and others even though I have had the vaccine.)

I have other selfish concerns too. Will the folks I used to visit still be at the nursing home? A few of them probably died in the year and a half since I was last there. Will they still be able to remember us? Shelby is 11 1/2 years old now. She had just turned 10 when last we visited. That is a long time in dog years. I have no doubt that she will still do a fine job and be a reliable partner for me. She may tire faster than she used to and I will have to pay attention to know if she needs a break. I will also need to think about training a younger dog to take her place when it is time for her to retire. I like to train my new dog with the old one. They learn faster and take cues from the old pro. I have found this to be the best way to train a therapy dog for me. And it’s best if I do it over a long period of time. Months, at least. I can teach a dog the basics faster, but giving the new dog time to ease into it and process the adjustments has given me dogs that I feel are more confident and trustworthy.

A therapy dog needs time not only to learn the obedience and desired behaviors and responses. The dog needs to feel that he and I are a team. He needs to know that I will always look out for his safety and best interests. He must know that we are working together and he can trust me to have his back. These things take time. A relationship on this level cannot be built quickly. I must earn the dog’s trust and respect just as much as he must earn mine. A good dog/handler relationship is a beautiful thing!

New Friends

Mourning Dove

We have a couple new residents here at Sanctuary Acres. At least for the time being. We have two young mourning doves hanging around in the patio area. There is a small pear tree in one of our raised beds that has a bird’s nest in the top. There are so many leaves around the nest that we never got a good look at the resident bird although we did hear nestlings chirping at one point and noticed an adult coming back to feed its young.

It must have been a mourning dove. Occasionally we see an adult, but usually it’s two slightly smaller birds that must have been born this year. They don’t show much fear of us or the dogs, having grown up with their nest so near us. They grew up watching us sit on the patio, so we are nothing of concern to them.

A young mourning dove listening to me talk.

I am able to get within a few feet of the young birds. Often when I enter the patio garden the doves are there. One time they were sitting on the brick walkway sunning themselves when I came along. They moved to keep around 3 or 4 feet in front of me, but never flew away or seemed too concerned. I can stand there and talk to them and they listen to my voice, cocking their heads from side to side as if they find the conversation very interesting. I have come upon the a number of times and taken the opportunity to socialize with them.

Claire watching our two young dove friends.

The doves spend some time in the pine trees that surround the patio. They sometimes fly down to the patio as if they want to hang out with us. They have even come to the patio when I am sitting out with the dogs. The dogs do show some interest in the doves. If the doves stay still, then the dogs leave them alone. The doves will fly up into the trees if one of the dogs runs near them and barks, but they will come back later.

I am working on teaching the dogs not to chase the doves when they move around. It is going pretty well. I tell the dogs, these are our doves. If they move towards the doves, I tell the dogs “no no.” This is working well. Claire is our most active dog and likes to watch them. She likes to watch every thing. Even she usually leaves the birds alone at my request. They provide fine entertainment.

I worry that I am not doing the birds any favors by acclimating them to humans and dogs. I hope they stay around here where they are safe. We certainly are enjoying having them around. I had forgotten how much I enjoy watching birds. I recently learned that mourning doves usually mate for life. And that their diet consists of seeds, which they eat from the ground or from a tray style bird feeder. They are too big and heavy for other types of feeders.

I don’t know how long we will have are little friends, but we are making the most of the time they are here.

A New Normal?

Zekie has graduated to sleeping outside the crate at night! Read about all the trouble he has been causing recently, here Zekie-2, Mommy-2; or Exuberant Love. He had a couple nights that weren’t too bad. The Prozac may have helped Seeking Inner Peace Through Prozac.

I had high hopes for being able to teach Zekie to sleep on the floor. In the evenings, he usually prefers to nap on the floor at my feet rather than on the couch beside me. We don’t want him to sleep on our bed because he sometimes shows a sense of entitlement that results in trouble. I hoped it would be the same when it came to sleeping on the bed.

A few nights ago I decided to try him sleeping out of the crate. I folded up a thick fleece blanket that has my scent on it and put it on the floor next to the bed where I sleep. When it was time for bed, I tapped the blanket and said “lay down and stay there.” I then turned off the light. I didn’t hear a peep out of Zekie.

I got up to use the bathroom once during the night. When I returned, Zekie had moved to lay on the floor near the head of the bed, so he could see the bedroom door to know when I returned. He stayed there when I got back in bed and remained there the rest of the night.

He has done well each night so far. Only moving if there is a reason. Sometimes he finds the blanket to be too hot and moves onto the wood floor. He goes right back to sleep.

With any luck this will be our new normal. Life with Zekie is always a challenge and I don’t expect this to change, but here’s hoping our nighttime struggles at least, have come to an end.