Category Archives: Dogs & Other Animals

Hiking with 5 Dogs

Hiking scenery
Zekie enjoys the hike.

I’ve been enjoying hiking again now that fall is here. I even hiked when my husband and daughter went on vacation, and I was hiking with the dogs by myself. The photos in this post are from hikes I took back in October while my family was away. That’s why there are still leaves on the trees in these pictures. The leaves here in Ohio have been down for a while now.

At the water's edge.
At the water’s edge.

I was quite proud of myself on these hikes. I took all five dogs by myself! I had to choose carefully where I was going to go each time so there would be enough room for that many dogs. I tried to pick trails that were very wide and little used. I also have coupler that allowed me to hook Zekie and Claire to one leash. This helped immensely. When Claire stopped to sniff something, Zekie pulled her along. This kept each dog in their allotted position and helped to limit tangled leads.

Shelties
Zekie and Claire on their coupler and leash.

Each of my dogs knows where I expect them to walk. Baxter, Shelby, and Claire always walk to my right with Shelby sometimes behind me if she is tired or the trail is narrow. Cassius and Zekie always walk on my left-hand side. I am not usually alone to walk all five at once, but with some minor modifications and communications, we figured it out.

Any time I walk dogs on my own, usually three of them, and they get out of their assigned position, I correct them and send them back to the expected spot. This saves on rearranging leashed on normal walks and was a great help when I took on five dogs!

Cherry Blossom Trail at West Brach State Park

I even tried a new trail that I had never been on before. That wasn’t in my plans, but when I got to the trail I intended to walk, someone was unloading a horse from a trailer, getting ready to go for a ride. I didn’t want to deal with all the dogs AND a horse and rider. I don’t think the rider wanted that either. So, we drove a little farther and went on a nearby trail called the Wild Black Cherry Loop at West Branch State Park. It was a very nice trail. There was woods and shoreline both to be enjoyed. There was a bit more up and down hills than I preferred when handling extra dogs, but we made it work.

West Branch State Park
View of the water at West Branch State Park.

The water views were beautiful. I can’t believe we never went on this trail before. It wasn’t very long at just a little over a mile, but we saw different types of terrain and woods and water views. There is another trail that splits off called the Club Moss Trail. It is less than a mile and if I hiked both of them, it would end up being about the distance we like to hike. So, that is an adventure for another day.

Hiking dogs
Baxter and Cassius

I stopped a few times for a photo op and Baxter and Cassius wanted to know what was up. There is no way I can walk five dogs and take pictures. I am good at multitasking, but not when traveling over tree roots and up and down hills.

West Branch
Evening view.

It’s turned out to be a good thing that it was a short walk. We went later than usual, and the sun started to go down about three quarters of the way through. This provided some lovely scenery, and I knew we weren’t far from the parking lot. The lateness did keep us moving at a good clip. Since we had never been on this trail before, I was relying on the trail blazes to chart our course. At certain points on the trail, I had to stop and look for blazes because I couldn’t tell which direction the trail took. This was of little concern to me because I knew we were less than a quarter mile from the car at any point since the trail was a loop. If it came to it, I could use the compass on my phone and find the campground road by walking due north. I did always manage to find that blue blaze and continue on.

Water view
View near sunset.

The angle of the sun as it began to set, gave the leaves a beautiful glow. I would highly recommend this trail. I think it does get a lot of use since it is within walking distance from the campground. Still, we only saw three people while we were there and two of them were hiking together.

We keep track and we managed to get in 22 hikes in each October and November. I am guessing we will not do as well in December. There are likely to be days when it is too cold or wet to walk. We are good to go down to about 15-20 degrees. Below that, you will find us at home with a cup of tea and a good book.

Books I Read in October 2022

Home Library

Hello Readers! The typical fall flurry of activity has been keeping me busy. This is a transition season. Lots of clean-up chores from summer, that must be completed before winter hits. I dug up three paper grocery bags worth of gladioli bulbs. The bags are covered with bulbs one layer deep across the bottom. This is to prevent crowding and allow for proper air flow. If there are too many bulbs in one bag, they will rot from the moisture retention. I still have to dig up the begonia and dahlia corms. They were still blooming, so I let them go. It snowed the past two days, so I will dig them up during the next warm spell we get.

Most of our outdoor time the past few weeks has been spent raking and hauling leaves. Some of the leaves went into our new compost bin. My husband built us a large compost bin from lumber and chicken wire. We are composting leaves, grass clippings, and kitchen scraps. Our first batch should be ready to add to the garden next year. I’ll let you know.

I was here by myself for a week in October while my husband and daughter went on a trip to New York and Massachusetts. I took a trip to the library the day they left, so I would have lots of reading material. I stayed home with the dogs and managed to have another foster dog by the time they returned from their vacation. Foster Puppy! Bodhi, Part I We had a fine time here at home! So, here are the books I read…

  1. The Wind Through the Keyhole-Stephen King

This book is one from King’s gunslinger novels. It is the prequel to the original series. It is a tale that seems like a cross of a past land and a futuristic fantasy world. I am not a Stephen King fanatic, but I do like to read an occasional one of his works. I found myself becoming invested in the main characters and rooting for them. An enjoyable read.

2. Write for Your Life-Anna Quindlen (Non-fiction)

A book about the importance of seemingly common writing to our everyday lives, and to the world. Sometimes, common makes all the difference, and proves not to be common after all. Well worth the read.

3. Maggie Moves On-Lucy Score

House flipper & You Tuber Maggie Nichols takes on her next project in Kinship, Idaho. She discovers a landscaper with lots to offer and discovers that you can build a family with something besides blood bonds. The house they are working on has a history involving a stagecoach robbery and lost treasure. A fun read.

4. Growing Wonder, a Flower Farmer’s Guide to Roses-Felicia Alvarez (Non-fiction)

Good information on choosing, growing, and harvesting roses. There is always more information to be gleaned and I appreciated the info on pruning. Alvarez is a third-generation farmer and has a degree in agricultural science. Good information to be had. Living life on a beautiful flower and vegetable farm in California sounds like an idyllic life until I think about the amount of work involved.

5. English Country-Julie Fowler (Non-fiction)

An interior decorating book in the style of the English countryside. I enjoyed perusing the page and got a few ideas. Sit down with a good cup of tea while you read it.

6. Sugar and Salt-Susan Wiggs

Margot Salton started life as Margie Salinas. She made the change after suffering a rough start in life. She becomes a successful chef and has a new life, complete with a budding romance with Jerome Sugar who works in the bakery next door. Margot must deal with her past as it comes back to haunt her in her new life. Susan Wiggs books are always enjoyable.

7. The Secret Supper-Javier Sierra

The write up promises a historical thriller involving Leonardo da Vinci and the Catholic Church. After reading 125 pages, I decided to return this book to the library. It has too many details and little action, being told as a narrative by a friar years later. I cannot bring myself to contine reading.

8. Where Women Create-Jo Packham (Non-fiction)

I’ve had this book out of the library before and I love it! Has pictures of various women artists’ studios and creative spaces. I find it to be inspiring. I’m not sure how these artists pull off the creative, cluttered look and make it so appealing. My own area looks like someone just dumped a bunch of stuff and ran for it.

9. Hill House Living-Paula Sutton (Non-fiction)

This is a decorating and life style book. Hill House is in England. There are nice photographs and some cute ideas within.

Magazines-Cottages and Bungalows(2), Tuscan Home & Living, Forks Over Knives (2)

Dogs and the Country, Sex and the City, It’s Not!

We’ve been watching the television series Sex and the City which neither my husband nor I had ever seen before. We just started Season six and I got to thinking how this program is the polar opposite of my life. It’s not much like any of my friends lives either. The show is based in New York City. I live in the countryside, outside a relatively small town, in a sparsely populated, mostly rural county.

The group of best friends from Sex and the City are all svelte and stylishly dressed. They wear well fitted and often skimpy, slinky clothing on their jaunts around town. They love their shoes. The main character, Carrie Bradshaw, even has a shoe obsession. She spends hundreds of dollars on her Manolo Blaniks and such. In one episode, the girls calculate that Carrie has spent approximately $40,000 on shoes and that is why she has no down payment to buy her apartment.

The ladies frequent night clubs, swank parties, and upscale restaurants. The women focus mostly on looking for the perfect man for relationship material or deciding whether they are content to go it alone in life. Sights of the city abound, from the normal New York City Street scenes to images of the majestic skyline at night.

My life is quite different. I am… well…not so svelte. I once was but that has been a couple decades ago. I don’t know how someone who subsists on fancy restaurant fare and takeout and works on a computer in her apartment, like Carrie, can maintain a size 2. I guess because it’s television. I hike two to three miles most days, work in vegetable and multiple flower gardens, rake mountains of leaves, etc. and am nowhere near a size 2, or even a size with a single digit.

And their shoes! Most of their shoes I would ruin on my way to the mailbox. That is why my shoe collection consists of sneakers, hiking boots, athletic sandals, and plastic clogs that I can rinse off with the hose after a day of gardening. On a bad day I’m may even be rinsing dog poo off my shoes.

On to clothing comparisons. No shiny, high maintenance fabrics here. In the summertime, I wear tank tops made of serviceable fabric, no silk or dry clean only items! And shorts or capri pants. In the cooler months, it’s sweaters and jeans. For “fancy” times out, it’s usually a Lands End slip on dress with sandals or boots. One of my main considerations when purchasing new clothing is, “What will happen when a dog jumps on this?” I also prefer no-snag fabrics that cat toenails are not going to shred. Priorities, people!

The Sex and the City girls may have their outings at exciting events and locations, but I have some worthy experiences too. I don’t often go out to eat in restaurants and rarely get takeout. Mostly, this is because we can cook far better at home than most of prepared foods we can find around here. That and the fact that there are no exciting restaurants in our town. In the summertime, I go into the garden, see what is ready to harvest, and use it to prepare dinner. That is the peak of freshness. We are decent cooks from years of practice and are usually happier with what we cook at home. We make Indian, Mexican, Italian, Greek, and other assorted cuisines in addition to good old American selections.

We don’t have New York landmarks or a city skyline to gaze upon, but we do have lakes and beautiful sunsets to watch from our porch. I have the satisfaction of sitting on my patio with my dogs and taking in wonderful sights and scents of flowers that I have grown with my own hands. It used to be that I spent little time on our patio because it was not fenced in. Now it is entirely fenced, and our five dogs can be with me whether I am working or relaxing there. The only hitch in this set up is when we have a foster dog that has not been trained to stay out of the flowerbeds. It is a little more work, but a leash solves that problem.

I’m not saying that the city is bad. It is not. It is just not for me. My priorities lead me in other directions. I have not lived “in town” in 35 years. Town is someplace I go when I have a specific task that must be completed. And my very favorite reason for going into town has never once been mentioned on Sex and the City. The library!!! I find this rather odd as Carrie makes her living as a writer. I never see her, or any of the characters, read. Granted her newspaper column is about sex and relationships. They must be too busy making experiences!

As this column comes to an end, it’s time for me to put on my raincoat and hat to take the dogs out in this heavy rain and pick up the soggy dog piles before coming in to dish up five bowls of kibble.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Foster Puppy! Bodhi, Part II

Shetland Sheepdog puppy
Bodhi running to me when called!

This is Bodhi responding to my recall command while we were outside in the pasture. He appears to be in a real bonding phase and is quite responsive. That is one of the reasons I think it is a good idea to move him on to his permanent home quickly. It is not fair to him, or his future owners, for him to spend the time and energy bonding with me. But, oh how I love it. How could I not? Look at what a joyful worker he is! Makes me wish we had the space and money to keep one more. Alas, it is not to be. We need to have room to help that next dog in need. And rest assured, there will be one. Someday there will be no need for rescues, but today is not that day.

Bodhi is so refreshing to have around. He reminds me of a five year old child who sees everything as new and exciting. His name is fitting. There is a Buddhist term, bodhisattva, that means ” a person who is able to reach nirvana but delays doing so out of compassion in order to save suffering beings”. Bodhi has certainly brought much happiness to our home. I’m sure he will spread happiness wherever he goes as well.

Fast sheltie puppy
Bodhi on the run.

One of the things that has helped Bodhi to be a good guest, is that we keep him well exercised. In the mornings, he has play time indoors. He chews bones and plays with other assorted toys. When he gets bored with that, he tries to entice the other dogs to play with him. Then he’ll move on to the cats. They all usually stare at him like he is an alien. Once in a while Zekie will play with him a little. Usually, one of us humans ends up playing with him. My husband tosses a rubber bone for him to fetch. I will play tug with him. He really likes it when I hold one of his Nylabones while he chews on it. He finds it to be much more fun than when he holds it himself. One of the toys that was in the large paper bag of things that he arrived with is a talking ball. Bodhi loves his talking ball while we do not! It talks every time it is bumped, moved, or picked up. It says things such as “walk the dog” in a maniacal voice. I put it up on the shelf for most of his stay with us. Perhaps his new owners will be more tolerant. I find it to be the equivalent of someone giving a drum set to a toddler.

Three dogs
Bodhi and friends in the pasture.

By afternoon, it has warmed up and we put all the dogs in the pasture to enjoy the outdoors. Bodhi goes in the pasture only when I am going to be within sight. This is where he releases his puppy zoomies and gets his serious exercise for the day. He is so fast! We throw the frisbee and the jolly ball for the dogs. In typical sheltie fashion, Bodhi does not chase the toys. He chases the other dogs while they are chasing the toys. Claire does the same thing. Shelties are bred to herd moving animals. They get the same amount of exercise, so it doesn’t matter to us. After all this exercise, Bodhi is a tired boy by supper time. He plays with bones and toys in the evening but is much calmer and sometimes lays down and has a nap or wants to snuggle.

Bodhi, all tuckered out.

It’s time to announce that Bodhi went to his new home on Monday! I am sad and happy at the same time. Our dogs and cats are relieved. I am sad for the obvious reasons. I miss Bodhi. Our house is so quiet and still. I loved the little guy. If things were different, I would have loved to add him to our pack. I am also happy for Bodhi to have a wonderful new home with two girls to play with and love him in addition to the parents and a canine sibling. The family is a repeat adopter from our rescue. That’s where they got their current dog, also a sheltie. So, I am not worried about Bodhi’s well-being, and they live nearby so there is even a chance I may get to see him again. This does make giving him up a little easier, and for me to employ my self-help mechanism of pretending that someone is taking care of the dog for me. We have fostered close to 60 shelties over the years, so I have a very large family of dogs spread across Ohio, and into Pennsylvania and Michigan! And in a way, it is true, all these dogs are mine. Every dog that we have fostered has taken a part of my heart with them. Fortunately, they leave me a part of their hearts, so my heart is always full.

Foster Puppy! Bodhi, Part I

Kitten with the new foster dog.
Jasper meets the new foster pup while Claire supervises in the background.

We got a new foster pup. And I mean puppy! Bodhi will be six months old in five more days. My husband had been away on vacation with our daughter, and he had a surprise waiting for him when he got home. Part of his welcoming committee was the puppy. It wasn’t totally unexpected as there had been talk that our fostering services might be needed soon.

Bodhi was purchased as a puppy from an Amish man. The lady who bought him took excellent care of him. He was up to date on shots and medical procedures. She also sent a detailed list of his daily schedule. This included scrambled eggs that she made for herself and her dogs. She also had another dog that was a year and a half old, so basically she had two puppies. The daily schedule included numerous meals and snacks, multiple play times, and snuggle times. Apparently, Bodhi was too rambunctious and his puppy behavior was intimidating and stressing the other dog. So, it was decided that Bodhi would be re-homed.

His original purchaser had him until about a week ago. Then Bodhi went on to his second home. There, I suspect his puppy antics were misinterpreted. His boisterous barking, growling, and playing were not a good fit for this home. It happens. That why rescues are here. So, Bodhi came to stay here with us for a bit.

Sheltie puppy
Bodhi watching me in the kitchen.

I had forgotten just how tiring young puppies can be. You have to watch them every minute. Bodhi really is well behaved for his age. He rarely chews on anything besides his toys. If he does pick up a random item, you tell him no once and he leaves it alone. He is reliably housetrained. The only accident we had was my fault. His signal to go out is to stand at the door and I missed it. I thought he was just playing but he was saying, “hey, I need to go outside”. That one was on me. And his crate training is excellent. He will rest quietly in his crate when it is nap time or if I have something to do and can’t watch him. He slept quietly in his crate for the entire night from his first night here.

Bodhi is really quite the joy and will make someone very happy. He is making us very happy right now. Puppies have such unfettered joy. He is happy to see us every time we come back in the house or even just return from another area of the house where he couldn’t go. Our dogs and cats are not as thrilled with him as we are. Bodhi loves cats. So much, that he follows them and runs after them to sniff and nibble them. Our cats are fairly good natured so they either ignore him or stay in a location that he can’t reach. There is an occasional hiss or smack, but Bodhi doesn’t take it personally.

Our dogs find him to be tiresome. Bodhi finds them to be wonderful. He follows them and tries to jump on them to play. Baxter and Shelby have told him off a few times with a curled lip or a loud Woof! Bodhi responses appropriately and looks for someone else to harass, um I mean play with! A few times I have found Bodhi chewing on Zekie’s foot or tail. Zekie looks at me and says, “Mom, I’m being good, but help! There’s a delinquent pestering me”.

I am having the best time with this puppy. But there is a permanent home in the works. Stay tuned!

Sheltie pup and me.
Bodhi and me!

Dear Friends Make Life Worthwhile

Two friends, Acadia National Park
Becky (left) and Me (right), 1998, Acadia National Park, Maine

My dear friend Becky passed away in 2016 and I have missed her ever since. Recently, I have received some gifts from her, and from her sister Karen who mailed them to me.

In the first mailing, I received a Chestnut Burr yearbook, which was published annually until recently. It is the yearbook for Kent State University (KSU) where Becky and I met in our first year of college at the Tuscarawas Branch Campus of KSU way back in the fall of 1981. There was a group of us that met and developed friendships that lasted for many years. We went on to finish our degrees at the main campus. Becky and I eventually became best friends and had many adventures together over the years.

Also, in that first mailing from Karen was Becky’s photo album of our trip to Maine in September of 1998. I have many photos from that trip as well and looking through Becky’s album brought back so many cherished memories. We had so much fun, and I think that trip played a part in the people we were to become forever after.

A week later, a second mailing from Becky’s sister arrived on my doorstep. It contained three things. A charm for a friendship bracelet that Becky had started for each of us. A silver necklace with a looping pendant that has the engraving, “I am thankful that in God’s design, he planned it, so your path crossed mine”. Karen said that Becky had set the necklace aside for me to be my Christmas present the year that she died.

The third thing in the box is something that is even more dear to me. It is a ring that Becky bought for herself on our Maine trip. It has a sapphire tourmaline which is the state stone of Maine. I have one that is nearly identical except that the stone is rose tourmaline. We knew that Becky was going to die soon when I made what turned out to be my last visit to see her in May of 2016. I asked her if I could have her ring later on if she had no other plans for it. She responded, “I would be honored for you to have it”.

Becky’s family lives far away from me and life eventually goes on. That ring came “home” to me earlier this week. I am so thankful to Becky’s family for sharing it with me. If anything, it is even more meaningful to me now. I put the ring on as soon as I took it out of the shipping box. I have not taken it off and do not intend to any time soon. I feel a connection to Becky that I haven’t felt for a long time. We were the type of friends who became more like sisters over the years.

Rings of Friendship
Photo of Becky wearing the ring, 1998, and me wearing it today.

This ring is especially meaningful to me not only because we purchased them together in Maine, although there is that. Becky and I were both recently divorced when we went on that trip, and we were celebrating our independence as well as our friendship. We put the rings on and announced that we were married to ourselves, and the rings symbolized that we didn’t need any man to take care of us and make us whole! (I am happily remarried now because I want to be.)

I plan to eventually have the stones from each of our rings put into one setting that I can wear as a remembrance of two friends, one friendship come together. For now, I am content to wear Becky’s ring and think of her.

Best friends
Becky (left) and me near the end of our week of camping & hiking. Still sporting big smiles!

Becky and I had many other fun times over the years and spent many a weekend together. I don’t remember us ever having a fight or harsh words. I am blessed to have these renewed memories of my dear friend.

Fall Hiking Has Begun and a Few Words About Dahlias

Hiking with dogs.
On the trail.

We started hiking for the season on September 24th and have only missed a couple days. Since we started, we have hiked 35.1 miles in 14.5 hours. Not breaking any speed records but considering the terrain we are covering some days; I am happy with it.

Fall hike
Fall colors!

The trees are really starting to turn! There are beautiful colors everywhere we go. I was not happy with our lack of rain when I had to water plants everyday but now that we are out in the woods, I am glad that it is dry. We are exploring trails that we previously hadn’t spent a lot of time on because they were too wet. We are also seeing many beautiful asters along the trails and one day we saw a flock of five turkeys wandering through the woods.

Woodland stream
Stopping at the stream.

Above, we stopped by the stream at one of my favorite local parks, Shaw Woods. I like this park because we seem to be the only ones who know about it. The two times we went, there were no other cars in the parking lot! It’s not that I don’t want anyone else to use it, but when you’re walking a reactive dog, it’s nice to have the place to yourself. There was one couple starting out on the trail with their dog when we were leaving yesterday. This park allows horse riding. We see evidence that horses have been there (read, road apples!), but I haven’t seen a horse there since last year.

Three dogs
Zekie, Claire, and Shelby

And lest you think Shelby always has to stay home, I include this photo with my three walking companions ready to get started on the hike. My husband walks Cassius and Baxter. Shelby stays home once in a while if her limp is flaring up. The limp appears to be from arthritis. As grandma once told me, ” Getting old is hell.” Most days Shelby does go with us and is fine. One day I took her along and let her stay in the car while the rest of us went on the hike. No reason for her to miss out on the car ride. She was perfectly content to stay in the car while we were gone. The weather is cool enough that we can leave her without concern.

Dahlias
Dahlias

And I couldn’t close this post without sharing a picture of a couple of my dahlias. They are growing amazingly large. Especially the red and white ones. The smaller, yellow dahlias are six inches in diameter and the plant is covered with blooms. Probably a dozen of them. The red and white flowers are larger than my hand and there are several blooms on the plant. All of my dahlias are staked upright because the weight of the blooms pulls the plants over, and I don’t want the stalks to snap. I will definitely be digging up these tubers and planting them again next year!

Fall is Here!

Sheltie mix
Zekie, a happy boy!

Fall has arrived and with it, time for an update on things around here.

With the cooler weather, we have resumed hiking! This makes for happy dogs. We have hiked four days so far this week for a total of 9.35 miles and 3.5 hours. It is good to be back on the trails. I was afraid that Baxter and Shelby would have trouble keeping up as our senior dogs at 13 and 12. They have done pretty well. I did keep Shelby home today as she was limping a little. Yesterday’s walk was on hard surface, and she does better on dirt or grass trails. She can go with us next time. I gave her a dental chew as we were leaving, and she seemed happy enough to see us when we came home.

Hiking with dogs.
Hiking on the trail.

There aren’t many people on the trails as we’ve been hiking before lunch time. The few people Zekie has seen have been from a distance and he hasn’t barked at them! Is his reactivity better? I don’t know if it’s because they aren’t that close or if he is doing better after being on Prozac for over a year. After our last trip to the veterinarian, we decided to increase Zekie’s Prozac by 50% because he still tries to chew his way out of his crate when we have to leave him at home to go away. The vet warned me that some dogs’ behavior gets worse with a higher dosage, not better. After six weeks of the higher dosage, I decided that Zekie was not doing as well as he had been before. He still tried to chew his way out of the crate, no change there. What I didn’t like was that he had a perpetually wide-eyed and upset look on his face. He appeared to be continually surprised or like he was waiting for something unpleasant to happen. Not the effect I was going for. So, Zekie is back to his original dose of Prozac and seems to be more comfortable. We also left Zekie (and the other dogs) in the car while we stopped to get apples at a local orchard today. He was only without us for five minutes and he didn’t seem to have a separation anxiety attack. We didn’t want to push our luck. Once we chose our apples, my husband went back to the car while I waited to pay.

Greyhound under a blanket
Cassius getting warm.

Although the cool weather makes Cassius chipper and eager to hike, he does get cold when laying around the house. We cover him up and he seems pretty happy. Does he have us trained or what?

Sheltie
Lilly!

And in other news, we have a new dog in the extended family! My mother-in-law got a sheltie through a seniors for seniors program. She felt her other dog Paisley needed a companion. After a week of settling in, the two dogs have begun playing and having a good time. The new dog’s name is Lilly. We have been over to visit twice with all five our dogs and Lilly has adjusted to them too. She is an adaptable little thing.

Dahlias
Dahlia blooms!

It took long enough but we have dahlias! I was late in planting them, so the blooms are just coming on. We should be having our first frost in a couple weeks. I will throw a sheet over the plants for the night when frost is forecast, and they will be fine. We generally have a couple more weeks of good weather after that first frost.

I planted a small crop of cold weather vegetables on the far end of our garden. They are where our zucchini, yellow squash, and cucumbers were. Those plants are long gone. In their place, I planted mixed lettuce, beets, turnips, green onions, baby bok choy, and Chinese cabbage. All of these places should survive multiple frosts. There are just a few seeds of each. What I think we can eat before winter sets in.

Take care and enjoy the crisp fall weather!

The Garden in Fall

Patio Garden
Zekie in the garden.

The garden takes on a different feel in the autumn months. I know, it’s technically not fall yet, but you can definitely tell a difference. The light has a sharper feel and the path of the sun over the course of the day has changed. There are more shady places to sit on the patio throughout the day with the angle of the sun on the move. I see this as prime patio time. I can load up a tote bag of books and magazines, grab a beverage and the dogs, without worrying that the blazing sun will drive us back indoors.

In this shot of the garden, you can see Zekie photo bombing all the plants. Actually, it was a fortunate accident. Who wouldn’t want to see a photo of Zekie Bear? The other dogs were with me but laying in out of the way places.

Dahlia
First dahlia!

We finally have dahlias! We have two blooms so far. It is my fault that we are just now getting them. I was late in planting. I find that I’m rather glad about it. So many of the other plants are winding down. It is nice to have dahlia blossoms coming on to look forward to. I learned this year that you are supposed to pinch off the top of the main stalk when the dahlia plant is 12-18 inches high. This forces more branches to grow, and more branches means more blooms. Yay! If you want large blooms, you need to pinch off a few of the buds too. I also learned that dahlias are heavy feeders and need lots of fertilizer. I won’t claim to have kept up with fertilizing them like I should have, but I did do it a couple times.

Gladioli
The Leaning Tower of…Gladioli?

This is one of the last spray of gladioli blossoms for the year. They have been so reliable for me. I follow the routine of digging them up in the fall, planting them in the spring, and they never disappoint. These days, most of them get planted in my rose bed. That is the only place I have in the garden that remains sunny enough for their tastes.

Mandevilla
Mandevilla

This is a mandevilla that I wintered over last year. The summer was half-way done before it produced many blossoms. Now it is putting on a show. The mandevilla is a Zone 10 plant. We live in Zone 5. During January we wondered if our upstairs hallway where the plant sat was even warm enough to keep it going, 55 degrees when it’s really cold out! Ah, the joys of an old farmhouse. It dropped a lot of leaves at the beginning of May, right before I moved it to the enclosed porch. I’m glad we toughed it out. It turned out to be worth it.

Butterfly bush
Butterfly bush

The butterfly bush is one of those plants that I wouldn’t grow just for the flowers. What makes it worth it, is the fact that it lives up to its name. Once it starts to bloom there are butterflies on it every day, throughout the day. The majority of butterflies we see are yellow swallowtails and monarchs, although many others visit too. Not to mention the hummingbirds and my personal favorite, the hummingbird moth. So many pollinators like this bush that it makes me wonder if bats feed on it at night? That would be awesome.

We bought a couple butterfly bushes many years ago and have not been without them since. They reseed prolifically. Ours prefer to grow in craggy, inopportune places. Between sandstones in the garden wall. Along the fence. In walkway screed. They are easy enough to move when small and always seem to survive. They are such good reproducers that we weed out lots each year. Definitely don’t let one take hold where you don’t want it. They develop massive roots that require my husband and the spud bar to remove them. We have had them in different locations over the years. The bushes bloom nicely for two or three years and then start to look straggly, and we take them out, wondering where the next generation will sprout.

Sedum
Fall sedum or stone crop.

The sedum that we have, was transplanted from my husband’s grandmother’s house shortly before it was sold. I don’t find it to be a very showy flower. It has other merits. It is reliable and brings fond memories. Reason enough to grow any plant.

Cleome
Cleome

The first year after we planted a four pack of cleomes, we were inundated. I was ripping them out by the handfuls for two years. It must have been 10 years ago that we planted the first generation. We are down to one this year. Will I plant them again? I just might. They have shallow roots and are easy to pull out. It probably depends on which plants the garden centers have to offer when I am shopping.

Canna lily
Canna lily

This plant has been a pleasant surprise. We purchased it for $5 at Walmart thinking it was worth a try. It has done well, growing to about three and a half feet tall and blooming several times over the summer. We save our canna lily bulbs and replant them in the spring. They never do as well as that first year. The leaves don’t get as big, and the flowers are tiny. If anyone knows what we are doing wrong, speak up! It may just be our climate. They are a tropical plant. I see huge ones growing at the nearby university each summer. Perhaps they throw them out and buy new ones each year?

Hanging basket
Hanging basket

And last, I’ll leave you with our hanging basket on the grape pergola. I bought yet another basket and threw in leftover plants that we had purchased in multiples for various garden beds. They appear to like it there.

Incidentally, this is the first year that the grape leaves have provided enough shade that we can sit under them and escape from the sun. My husband did a heavy pruning on the grape vines in early spring, and they really grew after that. Incidentally, if you have dogs, I would not recommend planting grapes! Grapes are toxic to dogs in case you didn’t know. I did know that but did NOT know that grapes fall continually from the vines throughout their growing season (at least ours do) which seems to go on for months. Each time I want to sit on the patio with the dogs, I must pick up all the fallen grapes first and throw them over the fence. This gets old very quickly. Still, I do it religiously to keep my pups safe. I imagine you can guess which dog starts looking for grapes as soon as he gets out there. My problem child, Zekie, of course! Zekie the Wonder Dog

Take care, my friends!

Fostering is Rewarding

Shetland Sheepdog
This is Max!
Shetland Sheepdog
And this is Pitusa!

We have had foster dogs again! It has been a long time. Two and a half years to be exact. Our last foster dog was Claire, and you know how that went since she is the most recent addition to our pack.

We haven’t fostered much in recent years. Once we got Zekie, he was all we could handle with the other dogs. (Zekie the Wonder Dog) He has calmed some over the years he has been here, or maybe we are just used to him. There’s also the miracle of Prozac in his life. (Good News-A Somewhat Calmer Zekie Bear) After Zekie was with us for about two and a half years we fostered again when our rescue group received an influx of five dogs at one time. One of those was Claire, who came into rescue with the name of Topanga! She never left.

I want to say that she was here for so long because of Covid isolation that I couldn’t bear to give her up. In fact, I have claimed this for a long time. However, I fear that the truth is closer to…now that I am retired and home with the dogs all the time, I get too attached to them and can’t let them go. And so, between that and the fact that we had six dogs, we took a sabbatical from fostering dogs.

We lost our oldest pack member, Nikki, last autumn at 14 years of age. (Miss Nikki Pouncer Pants: A Tribute) That put us back down to only five dogs. We made the decision that we could do short-term fostering again if the need arose. And we got the call that there was a need last week. Next thing I knew, I was in my car on the way to pick up two shelties from our rescue’s intake coordinator. They are named Max and Pitusa. I know, I was surprised by the female’s name too. Apparently, Pitusa means “sweet, funny little girl” in Spanish. And as I discovered, she is aptly named.

Max and Pitusa were sent to a boarding kennel because their owners were no longer able to care for the dogs due to their own failing health. They are one male and one female Shetland Sheepdog. They are 10 years old and appear to have led good lives and been well cared for. I am unclear as to whether they are siblings, but they are a bonded pair. And they already had a new home awaiting them. They just needed somewhere to stay from Wednesday until today (Monday), when transport was arranged.

This was the perfect set up for me, and they turned out to be perfect house guests. They were well mannered, sweet, friendly, and a little playful. I picked them up last Wednesday and put them into crates in the back of my car for the trip home. We didn’t get far down the road before the whining and yipping started. I put a podcast on my cell phone and the dogs quieted down for the rest of the 40 minute trip home. When I got home all of our dogs were outside except for Shelby who doesn’t do the pasture anymore. I brought Max and Pitusa inside and they met Shelby and our three cats. The new dogs were perfectly behaved, briefly sniffing the other animals and then keeping to themselves. Shortly thereafter, I brought the rest of our dogs inside in groups of two to meet our guests. There were some brief bouts of sniffing and that was it. Dogs, okay, cats, okay. Oh, look, a soft bed to lay down on.

At bedtime, I put the two foster pups in crates side by side in the dining room. They did quite a bit of whining and woofing. It took me a number of times coming back downstairs to squirt them with a water filled squirt bottle for barking to get through the night. I discovered that the crates were the problem for these two. I don’t think they had ever been crated before judging from their reactions. As I got to know them, I discovered that they were so well behaved that the only thing we used the crates for were mealtimes. We crate dogs at mealtimes to ensure that everyone eats their own food and no one else’s. It also prevents food related scuffles between dogs. Max and Pitusa were fine at night without being crated and we even went away and left them loose in the house or while we were working outside. No trouble at all. Let me point out that this is NOT typical for foster dogs, or any new dogs, coming into an unfamiliar house. I don’t believe I have ever left any dogs uncrated until they have been at our house for some time, and I am confident that all will be well. It just goes to show that there is always an exception, or in this case, two.

Max and Pitusa acted like they had always lived here from the moment they walked in the door. They got along with everyone, showing absolutely no aggression. They were completely relaxed, drinking from the water bowl with the others, following the humans from room to room with the others, running down the back stairs and out the door to do their business when everyone else did. They blended right in.

Shetland Sheepdog
Pitusa snoozing on the couch.

From the first day, Pitusa would come up to either my husband or me and paw us so that we would pet her. She would also give us a big grin to let us know that she was happy to have our attention.

Shetland Sheepdog
Max giving me a Class A smile!

Max was also good at giving happy grins. His favorite thing to do in the evenings was to sleep with his head on my foot. I think I loved it as much as he did.

The only notable difference with having these two here was in trying to navigate the house when all the dogs were laying down. Seven dogs take up a bit more real estate than five. It was a bit of an obstacle course trying to move from room to room. As soon as Max realized that I was going somewhere, he got up to follow me anyway. And these pups are only around 25 pounds, so they didn’t take up a lot of room.

We greatly enjoyed their stay, and we got to show them off. We are a family of dog lovers. My mother-in-law came to meet them one day and my daughter came the next day to meet the new dogs. So, I anticipate that we will be doing short-term fostering again since it was such a success. I doubt that the next dog will be as easy as these two, but that is not necessary. We do what we can for the rewards of being able to make a difference. I even told our intake coordinator, if we get a dog that comes into rescue and has a home scheduled but just needs some work before they are ready for placement, I think we are up for it!

I dropped Max and Pitusa off this morning for the next leg of their transport and they are probably in their new, permanent home as I write this. I am sure they will be happy. We found a home where they can stay together with one of our previous adopters, so I know they will be well loved. Have a good life little ones! It was a joy having you here, and I even got to include you in my post for National Dog Day.

National Dog Day
Our resident dogs at the time of National Dog Day.