Tag Archives: Play

Winter Storm Prep

4 dogs
(Claire, Cassius, Zekie, and Baxter)
This photo reminds me of the meme that says, “I have never wanted to belong to a gang as much as this one”. Lucky me, I do belong to this one!

We have been preparing for and waiting for winter storm Landon to hit as has most of the eastern half of our country. Living in the countryside in a house that is 192 years old poses its own challenges. My husband did most of the outdoor prep. This involves shoveling snow off the roof and removing ice. Clearing piles of snow away from paths and driveway, so there will be room for more snow. And hauling more wood to the house to feed the woodburning stove.

Two dogs
Zekie and Baxter waiting for the frisbee.

We knew that our daily walks were not likely to happen for a day or two, so we made sure to get the dogs some exercise as well. They went out to the fenced pasture and put in some frisbee and ball time. They made a few laps around the paths my husband made for them with the snowblower for good measure.

Cassius plays with his ball.

Cassius (and sometimes Baxter) wear a coat when we go for walks. For pasture time they aren’t out long enough to need them, plus they are running around like fools. Not to mention Baxter is prone to pulling coats off of other dogs when left on his own. He seems to get a chuckle out of us calling out “Baxter, now he’s naked”. I imagine the neighbors must get a laugh out of this too.

Claire enjoys the snow.

Claire never catches the frisbee. Not because she can’t, but she doesn’t seem to want to. She enjoys running after it and barking with the other dogs. She even reaches the frisbee first, many a time. She just doesn’t like to pick it up. She still gets in plenty of exercise, and we have other dogs to bring the frisbee back, so we don’t mind.

Shelby staying indoors.

Shelby goes on walks with us, but when I asked her if she wanted to go out to the pasture, she declined, giving me a look that said, “Surely you jest”. Shelby will be 12 years old in a couple of weeks. Since last summer she has decided that hanging out with “dogs” in the pasture is beneath her. She prefers to stay inside and guard the house. I don’t know how she explains the fact that Baxter will be 13 in the spring, and he is out there catching frisbees. We do restrict how long he plays and use lower tosses these days. If we stopped playing altogether it would break his heart.

wheat bread
Bread fresh from the oven!

I did some indoor storm prep too. The weather forecasters were calling for ice storms, so I made some foods to have on hand that could be eaten cold in case we lost power. Homemade pizza and some homemade bread for sandwiches. I also made sure all our electronic devices were charged up and that we had candles ready.

The storm began last night and the potential ice that was predicted appears to have missed us. We are getting snow, but so far it is only about four inches. Continued snow is predicted through tomorrow morning, so who knows how much will come down in total.

cat and dog
Jasper and Cassius.

After all that play, the dogs are tired out. Jasper kitten and Cassius sleep in what reminds me of a yin-yang symbol. Raising kittens from a young age does have its benefits. Jasper is a well-adjusted kitten. He does not mind any of the dogs coming up to him and sniffing him or barking or running near him. He does not mind the vacuum cleaner. He does not even move for it. He naps on one or the other of us every evening. He usually splits up his time so we both get to enjoy his company. He’s an equal opportunity napper. The Animal Protective League called yesterday. They put Jasper on the intake waiting list back in September to bring him into the shelter so they could find him a new home. They finally had room for him, and it was his turn. I told them “Thank you, but he is mine.” I shared a laugh with the shelter worker and then assured her that Jasper is now neutered.

Stay warm and safe my friends!

Transformation of a Foster Dog

Claire the sheltie relaxing
Claire hanging out at home

Claire has been with us for a year now. She came to us as a foster dog last January. She was turned in with four other dogs from the same owner. The elderly owner knew that she was reaching the point where she could no longer give the dogs the care they deserved. So she made the heartbreaking decision to turn the dogs over to our sheltie rescue group. I really felt for this lady because these dogs were members of her family.

Claire became a permanent member of our family over the summer. She was with us longer than expected because of the pandemic. When there was finally a  serious inquiry into adopting her, I couldn’t bear it. I couldn’t let her leave. Luckily for me, that adoption fell through, so I didn’t have to let her go. I remember when things were up in the air. I spent an afternoon sobbing while weeding the vegetable garden and thinking about her departure. The neighbors must have thought that I had received bad news and had some dread disease the way I was crying. So, once it was determined that she wasn’t leaving, we adopted her.

She has undergone a transformation in her time with us. Not only has her coat become shiny and plush, but she has developed an outgoing personality. Upon her arrival, she was quiet and shy. This lasted the first few months. She kept to herself and didn’t interact much with the other dogs and did not seek attention from us either. Boy, have times changed. Now Claire comes up to us and pokes us with her nose for attention. She is very persistent. And she will put her front feet in your lap and sit beside you demanding that you pet her. If you don’t, you get “nosed” repeatedly.

Claire the sheltie relaxing with daddy

Claire relaxing with daddy

We are still working on obedience commands. She has mastered the sit.  And when I tell her to come, she approaches me and stops at the half way point. Any thing else is currently beyond her. We continue to work on commands and know that one day, she will get there.

Dogs playing frisbee in the snow
Claire and Baxter playing in the snow

Claire has recently developed enough skills that she is a pack member, playing with our five other dogs. At first she didn’t understand respectful boundaries in regards to the other dogs’ food and toys. Fortunately, our other dogs our quite tolerant of new dogs. They have survived enough foster dogs that they cut a new dog some slack until they learn the ropes.

I just put the dogs outside for a minute. Claire and our sheltie mix Zekie (Zeke the Wonder Dog) were chasing each other in circles and playing. And when the other dogs play frisbee, Claire tries to join in. She has yet to grasp the idea of picking up the frisbee, but she has a grand time running and barking with the rest of the pack.

I’m sure the changes in her will continue and we will enjoy watching the development. We are blessed to have her.

7 Ways to a Tired Dog

Zekie exhibiting the benefits of a tired dog.
Zekie exhibiting the benefits of a tired dog.

A tired dog is a good dog. This is Zekie, my problem child. Can You Tell Which Dog Is Reactive? You can read more about him at the link. This is Zekie resting after today’s walk.

All dogs’ behavior will be at least a bit better if they expend some energy. Here are some ways to do that which allow you to maintain social distance from other people.

  1. Walk your dog. You can take a mask along incase you encounter others. There are many trails that should provide good opportunities.
  2. Play frisbee or ball. You can play in your yard or in a field at a school. Enclosed tennis courts may be an option if your dog needs to be confined.
  3. Kick the toy. Rather like the child’s game kick the can. We play this indoors, down the center hallway of our house when the weather is inclement. Extra points if we can get the toy past the dogs and down the basement stairs!
  4. Obedience or trick training. This expends more mental energy than physical, but this is also tiring.
  5. Hide and seek. Played indoors. Have your dog sit and stay. Or someone can hold your dog. When you’re ready, say ok, find me.
  6. Hide and seek variation. Confine your dog in some manner while you hide treats for them to find. Make the first ones easy until your dog gets the hang of it.
  7. Provide chews such as nylabones, rope bones, antlers, etc. Monitor so your dog does not swallow small pieces. Chewing does not use as much energy as running around but it does help.

Walk your dog.
Walk your dog.

Dogs are social, active creatures and need to be provided an outlet to burn off energy. Finding a way to do this make both of your lives happier.

Play With Me

Does Zekie still suffer from separation anxiety? I would have to say yes.

This is Zekie waiting for daddy to come home this morning. He was only gone for an hour. To be fair, Zekie didn’t hurt anything. He just waited, and waited…even though I was still home with him.

Zekie doesn’t need to go in his crate if one of us is still home. He just gets forlorn, not destructive as long as someone is there. When he becomes aware that someone will be leaving in a minute, he grabs a bone or toy and tries to entice the person to play instead of going out the door. If that doesn’t work, he can even chomp the bone at you and bark with it in his mouth. You can tell he’s saying, “wouldn’t you rather play with me and have this bone than go away?”

Well, generally, yes we would. But unfortunately, life calls.

The Three Amigos

Since it gets dark so early now, we never made it for a walk today. So, we took the three boys out to the pasture to play and expend some energy. This helps keep them out of trouble and provides entertainment for them and us.

The girls, Nikki and Shelby, wanted to stay inside.

The boys got to frisbee and play with the jolly ball. Zekie wanted to know if I wanted his frisbee. As you can see, frisbees have a short life here. We keep this one for Zekie because he thinks the goal is to disassemble them. He has become a good catcher though.

Baxter takes things very seriously and would never, ever hurt a frisbee. He will let the other dog have it rather than rip his prized frisbee.

Cassius will often catch the frisbee, but his favorite is to chase and chew his jolly ball.

So, although there was no walk, a fun time was had by all.

Fun Times

Finally. Some sunny days. Nikki and Shelby enjoyed the day. They watched the other pups play frisbee and run around playing and being generally crazy.

Grandma’s little dog Paisley ran around and played with the big boys. She is much younger than Nikki and Shelby. A fun time, followed by baths (not a fun time) was had by all. You can see the mud on Zeke’s white legs. Summer weather is near!

Spring Is Here!

Zeke, Cassius, Baxter, and Paisley

This is what dogs do on a sunny spring day! It’s still only 42 degrees but the sun made it feel a little warmer. The sheltie girls, Shelby and Nikki, supervised from the sidelines. Shelby takes her job seriously and barks and chases the others for a short distance telling them to get it right. Nikki just sleeps.

All four of the dogs pictured above have been known to catch the frisbee, but mostly it’s Paisley and Baxter, each getting it about 50% of the time. They catch it and bring it back, over and over. Paisley is a tough little girl. She got rolled in the mud yesterday but still keeps trying for the frisbee every time. She weighs only 22 lbs. to Baxter’s 62, but she’s fast and agile. She’s also two years old to Baxter’s ten.

Here is what the dogs look like in action. You can even see Shelby playing referee from the sidelines. Their just happy to spend more time outside again.

Dogs and Tools

Some people say that a sign of high intelligence is the ability to use tools. In fact, at one time it was thought that only humans were intelligent enough to use tools. Other animals have since been found to employ the use of tools. 

Tools are used to make survival easier. Wouldn’t a greater sign of intelligence be the use of toys? Toys are used for fun and play.  Although I suppose the argument could be made that play is practice for skills needed later in life.

Still play does not support immediate survival. So I think that only highly developed animals play. Food for thought.