Tag Archives: Dogs

A Working Dog!

Dog chasing geese.
Zekie chasing geese off our neighbor’s pond.

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!

Dog returning
Zekie returning after getting rid of the geese.

Please note, no geese were harmed in the clearing of the pond. They always fly away well before he reaches them.

Zekie’s Big Stick

Dog fetching
Zekie retrieving his big stick.

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.

Dog retrieving stick
Zekie carrying his stick out of the water.

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.

Three Dogs
Zekie, Claire, and Cassius.

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.

State Park
Southern shoreline of West Branch Reservoir.

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.

WBSP little bit of land
Tiny island in the Reservoir.

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.

We are blessed to live in such a beautiful area.

You Have Survived!

Self-portrait
Me after my first shot today.

 

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.)

Mama and Zekie
A girl and her dog, Zekie.

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.

Remember, you are a survivor!

Brighter Days

Shetland Sheepdog

Claire this evening.

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.

Sheltie

Claire’s happy face.

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.

How Do Your Dogs Get Exercise?

Five Dogs
Hubby waiting with five of our dogs.

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.

Sleeping greyhound
Cassius after a hike.

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!

Exploring on a Hike

Dogs on the lake
Zekie and Claire posing during a hike.

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!

Sheltie holding a sit command
Shelby sitting near the shore line.

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.

Ice at West Brach State Park, Ravenna, Ohio
Ice still on the water at West Branch State Park.

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!

Ice on Reservoir
Ice on the reservoir, visible from 15 foot cliff.

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.

How Can One Little Dog Cause So Much Trouble?

Shetland Sheepdog after a bath
Claire-damp from her bath.

It’s been one of those days. Things were going great, and then…they weren’t. How many things can you need to wash in one afternoon? Lots!

This afternoon was worse than the day I was babysitting and the baby had diarrhea. What happened that day? The diarrhea came up and out the back of the diaper. It got on the onesie when I was trying to do a diaper change. So, I took the onesie off and in the process, the diarrhea got in her hair. This necessitated a bath. At least that day, that was the end of it.

Today’s escapade started while we were on a walk at a local park the next town over from us, near Kent, Ohio. We were having a nice walk through the woods and enjoying the scenery. All five dogs were relatively well behaved and the weather was beautiful. It was a fine day. As we were nearing the end of our walk, Claire suddenly had to poop. It was a little loose which is unusual in itself. Claire is a walking pooper as are many shelties. I think it helps to keep things from getting stuck in their fur. As she’s doing her business, she walks over top of her leash. So, she now has poop on her leash. She also manages to get her legs tangled up in the leash. I pull on the leash to extricate her and she flips over and rolls through some poop on the ground and comes up with it smeared across her shoulder. Now I have a poopy leash AND a poopy dog.

Thank goodness for that towel back in the car. I just have to walk Claire and Shelby back to the car without either of them running into the leash with poop on it as they walk on the trail. It sounds so easy. We did make it to the car with little more trouble. I wrapped the towel, that I keep in the car for wiping dog feet, around Claire and she wore it for the ride home like a cape. It actually seemed to calm her down and keep her still. Maybe it worked similar to a thunder shirt. My husband drove and I held Claire.

We made it across town and were nearing home in an otherwise uneventful trip. Until we got on our road about half a mile from home. Where Claire had explosive vomiting. Did I mention that Claire is our worst poop eater? And that all the dogs had been out in our fenced pasture this morning? The vomit was quite odiferous. My husband made disgusted sounds and immediately put the windows down. When Claire was sick, it bounced back off the window and went everywhere. Down the inside of the car and into the map pocket of the car door, on the seat cover, and on the floor. That wasn’t the worst of it. It also went on my coat sleeve and shirt sleeve, through my pants, and some bounced back and splashed me in the face and glasses. Fun times! I felt like I was in some sick Warner Brothers cartoon and at any moment the roadrunner was going to come zipping by with a “Beep, beep” because some other humorously, awful thing happened.

We got home and the first order of business was to give Claire a bath. My husband tried to help, but I told him, “Just let me handle it, I’m already covered in it”. No reason for both of us to suffer. After giving Claire a bath, the car needed a good scrubbing and wiping down, after which I put the seat cover, towels, leash, and my clothes and coat into the washing machine. Then I showered and washed my hair. Three hours later everything was as good as before we left for our walk. Whew!!!

How can one little girl cause so much work? I always thought that dogs were much easier than kids. I may have to rethink this!

Snapshot into a Life with Multiple Dogs

Kitchen Doors
The doors that safeguard our kitchen.

Living with multiple dogs requires a certain way of life that many are not suited for. I appear to thrive on it. I certainly find the sacrifices that are necessary to be well worth it.

For instance, we have doors on our kitchen. My husband made these doors for us so our lives would be a little bit easier. And I am grateful every day.

We cannot leave food out on the countertop or on the stove without it being in danger of being taken by a few of our dogs. The cats are not totally innocent in this either. They have been known to knock loaves of bread on the floor for the dogs to eat. And the cats like to lick some of the things they find there. Butter is a favorite. And I don’t know about you but I don’t care to eat butter that has been licked by a cat. Or by a human either for that matter, but we don’t have that problem.

So, whenever there is a cake or pie, or any food, cooling in the kitchen, or the remains of dinner is still on the stove while we are eating, the doors are closed. You may have noticed the elastic bungee cord on the left hand door panel. This is because our animals will nudge the doors open if they are not bungeed shut. Our animals have us well trained.

If there is food out and you leave the kitchen even for a few seconds, you must close these doors. I walked from the kitchen to the hall pantry and back, which took me less than 30 seconds one day. Zekie, my no mistake dog, made me pay. The Day of the Bread Thief. Where once there were three baguettes rising, there were suddenly only two. The link above tells the excitement of that day.

You may also notice the bare board covering the baseboard to the left of the doors. That covers the remnants of the day/s Zekie had separation anxiety episodes before we had the super tough Impact Dog Crate for him. Story told here Salvation. In those days he eventually escaped every crate we put him in.

On one of the shelves you can see our apothecary jar full of dog biscuits. These are a necessity. Any of our dogs will immediately incarcerate themselves in a crate for half a Milk Bone! Don’t feel sorry for them. Several of our dogs will go in their crates by choice to have some time to themselves. The crate door is open, but no one can sneak up on them without their knowledge.

The calendar on the wall holds not only family birthdays and appointments, but the dates the dogs were given their heartworm prevention medicine and any flea or tick treatments. It also serves as a record of wormings, antibiotics, and other noteworthy things.

This simple picture provides such a snapshot into our daily lives. Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Meet Our Pack!

Dog napping in a sunbeam
Baxter napping in a sunbeam.

 

This post features each of our animals here at Sanctuary Acres. We currently have six dogs and two cats. They were all feeling sleepy earlier this week when the weather was cold. I took the opportunity to capture their restful moods in these photographs.

Baxter is 12 years old now. He was a drop off that someone left when he was a young pup of about three months. He has spent his entire life here. This is notable because we don’t often get many of our dogs as puppies. He grew up to be a wonderful dog with amazing frisbee skills. He is also very obedient and an easy dog to have around. He has taught the ropes to many a foster dog. His calm nature teaches them that it will be ok.

Napping sheltie
Shelby having a rest.

 

Shelby just turned 11 years old. She came here as a foster dog through Northeast Ohio Shetland Sheepdog Rescue (NEOSSR). She arrived when she was 18 months old. The folks who dropped her off said she was hyper and too much dog. Shelby is anything but hyper. She just happened to be in her teenage years when her previous owners left her here. She has grown into an obedient, serious, hard working girl. She is a certified therapy dog who I can count on for nursing home visits, walks with kids, staffing public events, and assisting with training or testing future therapy dogs. She is my right hand “man” and working partner.

Shetland Sheepdog napping
Claire chilling out.

Claire is 6 years old. She is our newest addition, joining our pack in January of 2020 as a foster dog. She became a permanent member in July when I realized that I was too attached for her to leave. She is a bit of an airhead and not as serious or intense as our other dogs. She is, however, a clown and keeps us laughing and wondering what she will come up with next. She is also eternally happy. She makes us smile every day.

Napping dog
Zekie taking it easy.

Zekie came to us as a foster sheltie. He is not very sheltie-like in looks or temperament. He is a sweet and loving boy. Due to his extreme separation anxiety and leash reactivity, we decided that he was not adoptable (except by crazy people-us!), so he became a member of our pack in 2016. He is fairly obedient, but you have to keep him busy all the time. His mind doesn’t stop and he can come up with lots of things to get into. This dog has an amazing, and sometimes frightening, command of the English language. One day he was running from the pasture to the house with the frisbee and dropped it half way there. I told him to pick that up and take it back to the pasture before he went in the house. He did. That’s just one example of the things he understands.

Greyhound resting
Cassius resting.

Cassius is our retired racing greyhound. We adopted him from Greyhound Adoption of Ohio. He is our fourth greyhound. He is the opposite of the shelties. Large, lazy and laid back, with little grooming required. He adds a nice balance to our crew. Oh, and did I mention, he’s a momma’s boy. He loves nothing better than to lean against me when I am trying to cook, or to lay up against me on the couch with his head in my lap. He’s a 70+ pound love bug. He loves riding in the car nearly as much as he loves me.

Sheltie in front of the fireplace
Nikki in front of the fireplace.

Nikki turned 13 last fall. Not only is she our oldest dog, she is also our smallest weighing in at 20 lbs. Don’t let her small size fool you. She is a tough little thing with a big bark. She came to us when her owner became ill and was no longer able to care for her. Nikki was four years old then, so she has been here a long time. She was very good at her commands-sit, down, and stay. She can’t hear them any more, but if I work her in tandem with Shelby, Nikki will follow her lead and perform the commands. She is a favorite at the nursing home because she has that cuteness factor down pat.

Orange cat
Orange Kitty.

Orange Kitty will turn five this year. He has been with us since he was just under a year old. He is a very sweet cat. Our other animals are fortunate that Orange Kitty is mild mannered. Thank goodness, because he is also VERY large. We put him on a diet and he is now slimmed down but still weighs 17 lbs. He has the loudest purr I have ever heard. You can hear him from other rooms of the house.

Black and white cat napping
Morty having a cat nap.

Morty will be 10 this year. I still think of him as a kitten because he is tiny. He only weighs 8 lbs. but he and Orange Kitty are fast friends. They often sleep together and groom each other. Once in a while, play gets too rough and Orange Kitty will chase Morty and there will be a bit of hissing and spitting. Shelby does not allow this sort of behavior and will run to stand between them and break it up. And it works. No one messes with Shelby.

All of our animals get along quite well. There is no serious fighting, and very little grumbling. Sometimes a dirty look will be cast but that’s generally as far as it goes. As I look around now, I see all the animals sleeping and know all is right in their world.

The Challenge of Burning Wood with Dogs

Wood box by fireplace
Wood box by the fireplace.

Living with a lot of dogs gives you experiences you never dreamed of. We have six dogs. And we live in an old house that was built in the year 1830. Since we have old, leaky walls and windows, we supplement our heat by burning wood. Most of the wood is harvested from our property. As old trees come down, my husband splits and stacks them for firewood.

For years, we have had a wood rack beside the wood burning stove and a large wood box on the porch. Wood is brought from the wood crib behind the garage, where it is stored to dry and season after splitting. We move it from there to the wood box on the porch by wheel barrow, tractor cart, or sometimes just by filling a recycling tub and dragging it to the porch. The porch wood box holds enough for 4 or 5 days of burning. This keeps wood close to house so we don’t have to go outside in the cold and snow every time we need more wood.

We had the small wood rack, and now the small wood box, beside the fireplace so we don’t have to open the door to the porch every time we want to put a few more logs on the fire. Why did we switch from the small, indoor wood rack to the indoor wood box? One word. Dogs.

Four of our six dogs have suddenly decided that they like to chew wood chips and pieces of bark. A lot. This lead to us constantly yelling “no wood” or “drop it”, because we don’t want our dogs ingesting excesses of wood. A few bits, no problem, but they were starting to chew wood all day long. Boredom, I guess, although this has not been a problem in past years. So my husband built the new wood box and we have peace again. As much peace as you ever have with six dogs. Things have been much quieter. And we are not spending time every day sweeping up wood bits that have been strewn across the floor and around the house. Good job hubby, good job!

Sheltie in front of the fireplace
Nikki in front of the fireplace.

Nikki loves the fireplace. It feels good on her 13 year old bones. She and Shelby are our two dogs who do not chew wood. Nikki can be found in front of the fireplace most of the winter months. Even when there is not a fire going, she is often to be found here. She looks like she is encouraging us to start a fire to warm her up. She loves it there so much that often, she will not move when we open the door to add more wood or work on the fire. We either have to work around or move her. I guess that is one of the benefits of being the senior dog in the pack.