I love the sound of tree frogs in the spring. This evening I stood at the fence line overlooking our neighbor’s property and pond, just to listen to them. You can listen to them too in the video above! I used to call them all peepers. I learned that these chirpy spring singers are tree frogs, but not all are peepers.
The songs of the different types of frogs are distinguishable if you listen closely. Some are chirpy. Some are croaky. Others trill. I’m sure they are like birds, in that if you study them, you will learn to tell them apart. For now, I just enjoy their songs.
I love to hear them to the point that I will stand outside the back door in the evening and listen to them. Other times, like this evening, I will walk closer to listen to the symphony as they perform. Mostly they sing at dusk although if it is rainy and damp they will make their music during the daytime as well.
I used to think that I heard one call and a future mate give an answering chirp. I recently discovered that only the males sing, so this is not the case. More likely, one is trying to out sing the other and proclaim his superior virility to all female frogs in the area.
And so, when I stand by and listen to the tree frogs sing, what I am hearing are amphibian love songs. No wonder they sound so sweet.
The author describes how he and his wife bought a house in Provence. There are many amusing tales from his first year. He shares a real flavor of local life and you meet many people from the town. A good read. I will keep this book on my shelf and read it again in the future.
2. The Rural Diaries-Hilarie Burton Morgan (Non-fiction)
The author and her husband are both actors. They find and live their best lives in rural New York state. The author turns out to be a down to earth girl and seeing their farm and connection to the community grow is heartwarming. Definitely worth reading.
3. Dragon Teeth-Michael Crichton
This book was published posthumously, and I can still say, I haven’t read a Michael Crichton book I didn’t like. This one has science, dinosaurs, and the old West. I got sucked in and read it very quickly.
4. Bodie on the Road-Belinda Jones (Non-fiction)
The author suffers a break up and adopts a shelter dog to be her companion. After a few weeks together, they take a road from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon, with many stops along the way. Belinda and Bodie both have a fabulous time. It is healing for both of them. Loved this book!
5. The Solace of Bay Leaves-Leslie Budewitz
This book falls into the cozy mystery category. Although I enjoyed this book, it took me a while to finish because once I put it down, I was not drawn back to it. May have been my fault and not the book’s. Pepper Reece, former lawyer, now owns a spice shop. She has a busy life between her boyfriend, friends, shop workers, and the police investigation. She still finds time to solve a murder and another attempted murder.
If you can only read one book from this list, I would read…play drumroll here!…A Year in Provence. I had a difficult time choosing between this one and Dragon Teeth, but since A Year in Provence is the book I am likely to re-read, it has to get my vote.
A Slice of Country Life…
This was another month that I did not do a good job of keeping up with my reading. Too much time devoted to dogs and hiking, I guess. It is only likely to get worse, as far as me having time to read. Gardening season has begun.
Hubby did the first tilling of the vegetable garden this morning, and maintenance of the asparagus bed. Then I planted various lettuces, spinach, and a few turnips and beets. After that we raked up branches and pine cones in the front yard from the winter, and I cleaned dead leaves and debris from the little flower bed beside the house. Don’t worry, these are hauled to a pile in our woods, so any pollinator eggs and larva are still nearby.
We went for our usual hike in the afternoon. Our life is always an adventure and nothing ever goes exactly as planned. I ended up with dog poop on my shirt early on in the walk from a pick up attempt gone awry. A little farther up the trail, Zekie walked up behind a garter snake that he didn’t see until the last minute. He started high stepping in reverse to get away from it. It was quite comical.
There’s never a dull moment. And so, life is good!
Did you adopt a dog during the pandemic to keep you company? Is your dog having trouble adapting as your life begins its return to normal? Then these tips are for you!
Here are some ways to help your dog adjust to his new normal as you return to the work world and leave him to spend more time on his own at home. For the purpose’s of this article, let’s call your dog Max, the number one dog name in America!
Tip #1–Buy a crate and use it!
Crates can avert a host of behavioral problems. First off, you need to get Max used to his new crate before you leave him on his own in it. And don’t think keeping a dog in a crate is mean. Dogs are by nature animals that live in dens. If you introduce him to the crate properly, he will look at it like it is his bedroom and a comforting and safe place to be. Several of my dogs will go into their crates by choice and hang out with the door open. The crate may only need to be used during this transition period, it depends on the dog. You can find many articles on the web about how to get your dog used to his crate.
Tip #2-Get your dog used to spending time on his own.
Whether or not you are using a crate, Max needs to know that he can be alone and be ok. Leaving him to his own devices when he has had you there all the time is stressful. Get him used to it in steps. Leave him alone while you go talk to the neighbors for a few minutes. Drive down the road and come back. Go to the store for a few purchases and come home. Visit a friend for a couple hours. Don’t spring being alone for an entire work day on Max all at once. Give him time to adjust.
Tip #3-Give your dog something to do while you are gone.
Again, this holds true whether Max will be in a crate or not. If you suddenly found yourself alone in a room in the house, would you just sit there in the same place until someone returned? Neither will your dog. My favorite distractions for anxious dogs are Kongs. I have a bone shaped one with two hollow ends that I put peanut butter and baby carrots in. I also have the original sort of funnel shaped Kongs that I put dog biscuits and peanut butter in. I use pieces that are big enough so the dog has to really work to get them out. (Be sure your peanut butter does not contain xylitol which is toxic to dogs. I use natural.) You can also leave your dog with an assortment of toys, but be sure it is not something he will tear apart and ingest while you are away. Using a Kong Toy to Reduce Stress
Tip #4-Don’t make a big deal of your coming or going.
It should be a part of life, not a major event. If you make your leaving and return into a production, Max will see it as something worthy of having a big reaction to. You may not like his choice of reaction. So, treat your going away and coming back home again as a part of life. A pat on the head when you return home is ok, just don’t turn it into a party!
Tip #5-Make sure your dog is well exercised.
Remember, a tired dog is a good dog. 7 Ways to a Tired Dog Max is more likely to relax and take a nap while you are away if he is tired. Exercising him before you leave for the day is ideal, but exercise after you come home is still beneficial. See the link above for ways to tire Max out. The benefits of exercise before you leave are obvious. Exercising Max when you come home will let him relieve pent up energy from the day and give you both something to look forward to. And a dog exercised the evening before, is still more relaxed than a dog not exercised at all.
Tip #6-Have someone take your dog out while you are gone.
Everyone may not be able to do this. Your dog may not be trustworthy with others or you may not have anyone you trust that can help. But, if you can find someone to take Max out mid-day, it will provide a potty break and a chance to stretch his legs while you are gone. Do you have a responsible neighbor kid or senior citizen who would like to have some company and make a few dollars a week? This would be a win-win for everybody. Eight hours is a long day for a dog to spend alone, but it can be done if that is your only option. Be sure to get home right after work to let your dog out and give you both companionship, after all that’s why you adopted him.
I wrote this article to help keep dogs in their homes, and lessen their influx back into shelters and rescues as people return to their normal lives and the effects of the pandemic wane. Remember, Max provided you with loyalty and companionship during some dark days. Return his loyalty now and see him as he sees you, a member of the family.
There may be challenges as our lives change again, but you and Max can survive these together. I provided tips here that I think will help the most people. If you need more ideas and help, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line-Need Dog Advice. We have fostered more than 50 dogs over the years and I may have a few other tricks up my sleeve that I can share with you if you give me some specifics. No guarantees, just friendly advice.
Sometimes, we need to vent to work through stressful times, like dealing with Max as your lives both change. If you just need someone to lend an ear and hear what you are going through with your dog, I can do that too. There are times when knowing you are not alone, and others have been there and survived what you are going through, is enough.
The goal is to increase the number of dogs that get to stay in their homes!
We took a hike on the Rock Face Trail at West Branch last week. We had put this one off at my request because I didn’t want to undertake it when it was snowy and possibly slippery. It turned out that the biggest challenge was the rocks used in paving the trail. This is also a mountain bike trail and marked for experts only. We took this warning to apply to mountain bikes and thought hiking would be no problem. And the trail is definitely hikeable, although the going is slow. I had to stop once and get Shelby out from between two rocks. She could have done it, but I knew she was tired by then and at eleven years old, I didn’t want her straining herself.
What I can’t figure out is why someone would want to ride their bicycle over all those rocks. The trails generally go back and forth over a small area distance-wise. What you could walk quickly as the crow flies, becomes a ribbon maze to create more distance. And of course, the up and down and bumping and jarring from riding over the rocks. I’m thinking it must be a young person’s activity. Something to be pursued before you have achy joints and you still have more cushioning left between your bones.
Of course, hubby and the bigger dogs always fare better than me and the shorter dogs. For some reason I am also the only one who seems to have problems keeping my footing and not sliding in the mud.
Mercifully, for these types of formations, the trail goes around the rock face and not up and over, or down. I don’t think I could handle that. It is always exciting to see new things along the trails. The trees are starting to bud out and new green shoots are springing forth from the soil.
By the time we get back home, I am ready for a cup of tea and a bit of reading. The dogs are ready for a nap.
Spring is officially here! And with it comes geese trying to make a home by our neighbor’s pond. The goal is to keep them away and prevent them from laying eggs nearby. Once they have a nest with eggs, there is no getting rid of them for quite some time.
Why wouldn’t you want the geese to stay? Two words. Goose poop. They leave it every where and all around the pond. These are Canada Geese and they are large birds. With correspondingly large poop. Walking in the area can become like looking out for land mines. And once the eggs are laid and hatch, the geese may become aggressive trying to protect their eggs and young.
I recently learned that when the goslings are about two weeks old, the parents lose their long wing and tail feathers and cannot fly until they grow in again. This takes about three to four weeks. The young geese stop growing in size and are able to fly when they are just over two months old. The goose family is likely to stay until the end of summer when they move on to look for other food sources. So, you can see why the earlier you get the geese to move on, the better. Otherwise you will have them around for a long time and your pond will not be usable.
This is Zekie’s second year as a goose chaser. Geese stopped at the pond several times last spring as well. Our neighbor bought a couple of large plastic swan decoys and put them on her pond. Swans are supposed to trick the geese and keep them away. The geese did not fall for it. They are apparently smarter than us, as we did. For a couple days I discussed the nice swans over at the neighbor’s with my husband. It took that long for me to notice the swans were not moving. They did bob on the water and move a few inches, but they were always in the same general locale. Upon getting closer, I could see there was a thin rope keeping them in place. Mystery solved. But, I was disappointed not to have beautiful swans living nearby.
Last spring, after the faux swan caper failed, the neighbor called and asked if we could walk some of our dogs around her pond to get a predator smell in the area and see if that would keep the geese away. That’s when my husband offered the services of our dogs to see if the geese could be chased away. The first time I took Baxter and Zekie. The dogs chased the geese around the pond until they went into the water and floated towards the center. At that point Baxter was done. No water for him. Zekie waded in the water a few inches and stared intently at the geese. The geese didn’t leave until after we did.
When the geese showed up, our neighbor would call on the phone and ask for the dogs. After a couple times, I started taking only Zekie, because he would jump in the water and head towards the geese. On his last visit to the pond last year, he swam towards the geese and followed them even after they were airborne. Zekie was giving chase to those geese and barking at them, telling them off as he ran. He chased them to the next property which was a few acres away and finally returned to my callings. His tongue was hanging down to his knees but he had an enormous grin.
Today was Zekie’s first encounter with geese this spring. I had to tell him a couple times to “get those geese”. It still only took him about 30 seconds to get the couple airborne and flying away. Zekie is so proud to have a job to do. I imagine he’ll get to “work” a few more times before the pond stays clear. Below, you can see how happy he is to have done his job and be running back to me!
Please note, no geese were harmed in the clearing of the pond. They always fly away well before he reaches them.
We were back hiking at West Branch State Park yesterday. We combined two trails for a total of 3.81 miles. A portion of the walk was along the edge of the Reservoir. It is so nice to hike near the water and listen to waves splashing as the water rolls in and out. Although I am not the biggest fan of swimming, I do love to be near the water for its beauty.
Some of our dogs enjoy getting in the water and some do not. Zekie LOVES the water. In fact, when we are hiking and use a foot bridge to cross over small streams, Zekie always tries to jump off the bridge so he can wade through the water. I often let him. He gets such a kick out of it that he turns around and smiles at me with a mischievous grin.
Yesterday, my husband threw a stick in the water and told Baxter to go get it. Baxter just gave him the “surely you jest” look as he turned his head and walked away. My husband said to Baxter, “Zekie will get the stick. Get it Zekie”. And he did.
Zekie was so proud about retrieving the stick. We were proud of him too. He is a pretty good fetch dog. He will bring things back, but it is difficult to get him to relinquish them. He always brings them to within a few feet of us and lays them down though. He just can’t make the final step of putting them into our hands.
You can see in this photo that Zekie has a sense of humor and a bond with his fellow pack members. Here he is smiling at Cassius. Probably telling him, “Hey, I went and got that stick and brought it back. Did you see me, huh, huh!” Cassius likes to wade into the water. He just stands there enjoying it.
This is the beach area we hiked down an incline to reach so the dogs could play in the water. The level of the Reservoir is low now, so the beach area is bigger than it often is. You can see how shallow the water. This makes it easy for the dogs to walk into the water and back out to the shore line.
Above, you can see a tiny island in the distance. During the summer when the water level is raised in the Reservoir, this little bit of land is probably submerged. Levels are kept lower during the winter off-season months. If you look closely, you can see some birds on the edge of the little island. Most of them were seagulls. As you drive over the bridge to reach the parking lot for this area of the park, you can often see Canada Geese, sea gulls, and an assortment of ducks bobbing on the water. The park is home to various wildlife. Two times within the past week we have seen mink crossing our path. The animals have learned to cohabitate with all the park goers who frequent the area.
I got the first dose of my Covid vaccine yesterday. This is so exciting. It’s the first step toward freedom! I have to wait a month for the second dose and then two weeks more for full immunity, but the process has begun. We won’t return to life as we knew it before any time soon, but will feel safer going in some places while wearing masks and adding a few activities back into our lives.
The act of getting vaccinated seems so simple, but it has momentous results, for us and for our country. Things that we took for granted pre-Covid will be special treats now. For me, going to the library is one thing I am looking forward to.
If you had told me last March that a year later, we would still be isolating and wearing masks, I would have been hard pressed to believe it. Yet, here we are. It was actually a blessing that we didn’t have the foresight to know this would still be going on. I don’t think I could have done it, if I had known at the outset, just how long this would last. I would have been lost in despair. But we did do it. All of us. We have survived.
I can’t imagine forgetting this feeling and enjoying so many freedoms without appreciation again. Time will tell. It’s easy to think that you will never forget while in the moment. But life has a way of moving on and dulling memories.
Knowing that I am going through the vaccination process, changes my outlook and gives me new hope. It renews my appreciation of life in so many ways. I came home from getting my shot and it was nearly 70 degrees outside in mid-March. I took some time to sit outdoors on the steps by the side door to read the current issue of Yankee magazine and enjoy the weather. (I couldn’t sit on the patio because Zekie was in the pasture and that would have put me out of his sight kicking in his separation anxiety. Much barking would have ensued.)
While I was sitting there I noticed so much life. The spring peepers were singing on our neighbors pond. I love the sound of the peepers. I could listen to them all year. They are the sound of the spring thaw and a return to the growing season to me. Soon there will be daffodils, followed by budding trees. I heard birds chirping all around me. One was even rustling in the rhododendron next to me. Or it could have been a resident chipmunk.
I imagine I will forever tie the memory of my first Covid shot with signs of spring. In our state of Ohio, every adult is eligible to receive the vaccine starting on March 29, so I am not in an elite group and any can join me on this journey. I hope it means as much to you as it does to me.
Claire is the only dog who’s still awake at our house this evening. This is typical of most evenings. Our other dogs are passed out in various places around the house.
Claire is our youngest dog, but still, she’s six years old. She is not a young dog. We wonder if she spent a lot of time in her crate in her previous life. Everything seems new and exciting to her. She acts like she’s afraid she will miss something if she falls asleep.
When bedtime comes, she is eager to go in her crate. This is partially due to the fact that she receives a treat before bed. Once she finishes the treat, she quickly lays down and curls up in a ball with her tail over her nose. That is the last we hear out of her until morning light. We are thankful for this because in general, the girl likes to bark.
This is Claire’s typical look throughout the day. The first photo is her slowed down evening face. She still spends time jumping on and off the couches and chewing bones.
She is so full of life. She brightens our days and makes us smile frequently.
We took our daily hike yesterday at Shaw Woods, one of the newer Portage County Parks. We like to go here because there usually aren’t many other people around. Yesterday there were four other cars in the parking lot which is quite a lot for this location. Here, my husband is waiting with our five dogs we take hiking while I run a poop bag back to the trash can. We didn’t even make it into the woods before one of them went. I do greatly appreciate the parks that supply trash cans!
We encountered two others out hiking with their dogs. And while we dearly love dogs, obviously, I always pull out my pepper spray whenever any approach now, in case one is loose. This is my reaction ever since we had a run in with loose dogs that attacked a while back. Encounter With Loose Dogs, Gone Bad. It is my job to keep my dogs safe and I take it seriously.
Walking around yesterday, I could see the beginnings of signs of spring. The leaf buds are visible on some of the trees, the birds are more active, and my favorite, the peepers were singing. Some other type of frog was singing too. If you stood still, you could hear one group of frogs croaking and off in the distance another group would answer their calls. The spring peepers are my favorite though. If I stand at our back door in the evening, I can hear them singing from our neighbor’s pond. Sometimes I stand outside our back door just to listen to the performance.
The benefits of hiking or walking are many. We humans enjoy better health and reduced anxiety. For many reasons. Not the least of which is, if we don’t take the dogs for their daily outing, they make us pay. Without a chance to expend energy they get into trouble. They know when it is around the time we head out. About ten minutes before hand they start pacing. If we haven’t changed our shoes by then, they begin coming up to us and staring in our faces. If we still haven’t responded, a few of them will come up and poke us repeatedly with their pointy noses. Can you say spoiled?
They give us the incentive we need to keep walking even on days when we don’t feel like it. If we want an easy day, we hike up the road to the township park and back. The footing on the roadway is level and the round trip is only two miles. Once the weather warms up we will switch to going in the morning, leaving earlier and earlier, the hotter it gets. We’ll see how long I make it as I don’t do well with heat.
How do you get your dogs exercise? Remember, a tired dog is a good dog!
We went for a hike a few days ago when it was still cold and there was ice in the reservoir water at West Branch State Park in Portage County, Ohio. Our walk took us down an abandoned road and since hunting season is over, we took some of the side trails off the road to see where they went. One took us to a property that was abandoned when the land became property of the the State Parks system. You could still see the old, paved driveway and various detritus from the long gone house and garage. I love looking at old, forgotten sites and thinking about the people who once lived there.
The next side trail we tried took us down an old grassy, farm-type driveway. At the end of a very long drive, there was a row of large trees all planted in a line. No evidence of any farmstead remained but after a short jaunt through the woods, we came out on the water at the edge of the reservoir. Zekie and Claire (above) held a sit-stay just long enough for me to get a nice photo. I drop the dogs’ leashes once I give them the command, so I can back far enough away to get them in the lens. Once I get the shot, I grab the leashes again. Sit-stays are awesome!
After getting the photo of Zekie and Claire, I turned around and Shelby was also doing a sit-stay behind me. She heard me give the other dogs the commands and she obeyed them as well. She is such a good girl. That’s why she gets to go so many more places than the other dogs do.
Here is the view that was just beyond Zekie and Claire. The ice was just starting to melt, but farther around the bend, it was still thick enough that someone was ice fishing that day. The patterns that the ice made in the water were a beautiful sight to behold.
From there I hiked around to the other side of this outcropping to look at the water from there. As I was in route, I was surprised by a large tree branch a few inches off the ground and caught the toe of my hiking boot on it. I recovered enough that I was starting to regain my balance. At the same moment Zekie decided to give an extra tug on the leash, because he wanted to see where daddy had gone. This was all it took for me to continue my downward tumble and fall down. I landed in a pile of dead leaves so it was a pretty cushy impact. And, dedicated dog owner that I am, I did not lose my grip on the leashes as I fell! Zekie did turn around and seem to want to know what I was doing down there on the ground and why I was slowing his progress. Still, I’m claiming an Olympic type score of 10 out of 10 for maintaining control of the dogs!
Once I picked myself up and got on my way, here is the view I saw once I made it the other side of the outcropping. There is a sharp drop of 15 feet. At the bottom is a small beach and you can see a number of teeny-tiny icebergs floating out in the water. There was more melting here because the water is so shallow. Looks like the perfect place for a picnic when it warms up a little more! We’ll have to take a longer way around with a more gradual incline.