Category Archives: Pets

A gaggle of geese

When our kids were little, we got into the practice of assigning age groups to young ducks and geese, based on their size. The tiny, fluffy ones were “newborns,” and from there graduated to grade school, junior high and adult. Somehow the distinction of high school never entered the picture.

So this morning as I ran around the west end of the Buckeye quarry, I came upon a gaggle of geese. They were happily searching for food on the ground and didn’t seem too bothered by my presence so I was able to photograph them. But then a dog barked and everyone hustled down the banks to the water.

I wanted to join them — the humidity and heat were beginning to rise and the water looked pretty inviting.

Here’s a photo and a video:

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Father, daughter place bets on who will see the first hummingbird

At first, it seemed like a fairly passive competition. Two of four family members declared a bet on who would see the first hummingbird of the season. Things were pretty quiet until a week later and neither one had yet had a visit from said hummingbird. The tension began to build.

While these two hummingbird-crazed competitors shared daily phone calls and e-mails to see whether the other had yet won the bet, the other two of four  watched from the sidelines, sharing eye rolls and refusing to play the game.

You have to understand these two. Both are accomplished photographers and will spend hours outside sitting completely still, eyes glued to the hummingbird feeders. Yep. You read that right. Feeders. And not just two….multiples strategically placed around the respective back yards.

Until this afternoon, not a single tiny Trochilida had bared its fluttering wing to either watcher. Sadly, the camera was not at the ready when it should have been.

Backtrack a moment…apparently, the camera had been around earlier in the week, because the Bluffton photographer captured the family pet, a tiny chipmunk who lives under the A-frame. Dubbed Mr. Monk, the little guy had ventured out to inspect one of the hummingbird feeders.

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Isn’t he adorable? Ah, but apparently that only fueled the fire. Until today. The e-mail from hummingbirdwatcher number 1 came as follows:

Here are my past records of first sightings:
June 7, 2003, female (I probably saw one earlier but didn’t write it down)
June 7, 2004, male (I probably saw one earlier but didn’t write it down)
May 29, 2008, female
May 13, 2009, female
May 15, 2010, female
May 17, 2013, female – at 12:30 p.m. in the backyard
*I never started watching seriously until 2008.

Response from hummingbirdwatcher number 2?

RUB IT IN. I have yet to see any, but be assured, will report when I do.
I did see baby chipmunks (many of them) running and hiding in tunnels on campus today. They were cute.

Personally, from a spectator’s perspective, it seems to be a bit of a draw. After all, chipmunks are awfully cute. Still, I told them both: Pics or it didn’t happen.

Both claimed that the bird/animals were too fast and that the other photographer was too slow.

Eye roll.

The Granddog comes for a visit: Parenting skills revisited

One of our granddogs came to visit a few weeks ago while his ma and pa were traveling. Two weeks later, he’s still here, which is fine because he keeps Ike busy.

We’ve discovered some interesting — and humorous — similarities between two children and two dogs — aside from the fact that two eat twice as much as one:

1.) If one thinks he’s been shorted in the food dish, he’ll let you know by (a) staring at you, (b) sniffing the food tub, (c) staring at you, and finally, shoving his dish around to make some noise. Just in case you missed the point.

2.) They fight over who gets to sit in the front passenger seat. The general plan is that whoever gets there first, wins. Sound familiar? Once in awhile they both get relegated to the middle seat, a fact that miffs both.ikeand harvey

3.) If one leaves an unfinished treat (i.e., rawhide) while he runs off to investigate something in another room, all bets are off. He who finds the treat, wins.

4.) Two in the tub doesn’t always work. Getting them into the tub can be a challenge. Sometimes it’s best to divide and conquer.IMG_0408[1]IMG_0409[1]

5.) If Ike, a lightweight at 15 pounds, chooses to snooze on Gma or Gpa’s lap, then Harvey, a heavyweight 45 pounder, becomes an instant lap dog. Beware whoever’s lap is free: Prepare to catch the 45-pounder as he jumps onto your lap.03131318530304130847

6.) They may sleep much of the day away, but 5 p.m. is the witching hour. You may think it’s time to fix supper, but in reality the race is on. The two of them begin a mad chase through the house, running at top speed from the second floor down through the main floor and back. This usually ends with both of them laying on the kitchen floor, panting wildly, slobbering everywhere, completely oblivious to the fact that a galley kitchen is not designed for two dogs and two adults.

7.) At the end of the day, the two are the best of friends. The fact that one is 1/3 the size of the other just means that the big guy gets to hold the little guy.0302131158

Beheading of stuffed toys suggests therapy for dog

Observing our Schnauzer‘s habit of beheading his stuffed toys and then preferring the beheaded creature or its lone body part over new toys, our daughter made the comment that “If that was the behavior of a child, he’d be in therapy.” Wonder if there is such a thing as pet therapy?

Visitors to the house are often taken aback by the headless animals and body parts strewn randomly around the house but our regular little visitors (i.e. nieces, nephews and cousins) immediately head for Ike’s toy box, an antique bread-rising box. Ike knows where they’re headed so races them to the box, where he leans over the side, grabs a favorite item and runs away, hoping he’ll get to play chase.

I’m sure some people find this collection of decapitated stuffed animals thoroughly disgusting but we view his favorite — a lavender arm torn from a Relay for Life teddy bear — as the equivalent to a child’s “blankie.” And like most parents, we’ve learned not to leave home for a long period of time without a well-chewed toy.

Here is a pictorial sample of what you’ll find on our floor on any given day. Taking these photos was not easy — imagine trying to take your child’s favorite toy or blanket — even for a few seconds.0102131950a0102131950

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New Christmas toy -- squirrel house with three squirrels -- two of which have already been torn at the seams....and repaired.

New Christmas toy — squirrel house with three squirrels — two of which have already been torn at the seams….and repaired.

Not for arachnophobes: Meet Inky, the short-lived family pet

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that there are few topics off limits — including snakes and other things that cause instant fear and panic in many people. In fact, if you read past blogs, you’ll find the one about our babysitting gig with Zeke, the pretty little orange and yellow corn snake (https://steinermp.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/snake-sitting/).

So….if you suffer from arachnophobia, you’re probably not going to like this little tale of Inky, the family pet. Inky had a short, but productive life, entertaining us with his constantly disappearing and reappearing acts. Clearly, he was busy doing whatever it is that common household spiders do. We joked that he was doing laps around the dining room.

Inky was, of course, black and tiny. As spiders go, he was pretty ordinary. But entertaining. Even the dog followed his antics, sniffing him from a distance when Inky made a foray down to the lower regions of the room. For the most part he traveled around the upper perimeter of the dining room and often around the window frame.

But alas, he succumbed to a silent death — not, I should add — at the hands of anyone in our house. In fact, after noticing his absence, we found him dead in the dirt of one of our house plants.

For those of you who, like my snake-owning friends, Debbie and Dobie, enjoy a good spider tale, here is a pictorial review of Inky’s travels.0105131244010613085701061319190106130839

Birdman gets his fix

My husband loves birds…all kinds of birds…except he has little respect for the sparrow. I’ve never understood this, but then I’m not much of a bird expert. I’ve always had a soft spot for sparrows so when the birdman gets on a rampage about the sparrows feasting on his finch food or whatever, I launch into a childhood favorite…”God sees the little sparrows fall, I know He loves me too…

Of course, this song usually just results in great groans and rolling of the eyes. Next to the brilliant yellow goldfinch and energetic, aerodynamic hummingbird, the lowly sparrow has little to offer in the way of beauty.

At any rate, the hubs loves his birds. When we’re traveling along an otherwise boring highway, he always manages to catch sight of every large bird — often a hawk — sitting on the fence posts in nearby fields.

So it came as no surprise when he sent me three photos today — two of a hawk and one of a small owl — all three of which he saw while making the daily rounds with the dog.

Here’s what he saw:

This is Xavier Hawk, named for one of our favorite little neighbors, on whose porch the hawk was perched.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then just as the last of the afternoon sunlight was fading into dusk, he caught site of a small — perhaps baby — owl.

Snake-sitting

If you’re an Indiana Jones fan, you never forget Indy’s famous quote from the scene in the Well of Souls in Raiders of the Lost Ark. When Indy discovers the floor is covered with slithering snakes, he says to Marion, “Snakes…I hate snakes.”

It’s not an uncommon feeling — most people either hate snakes or find them fascinating. If you’re on the side of those who hate them, you might want to avoid my house right now. We’re snake-sitting a beautiful little orange and yellow corn snake named Zeke.

In a large aquarium in the basement, surrounded by his water dish, a “house” and a layer of sawdust, resides Zeke, the corn snake. His mama and papa nipped off to Fiji to get married and didn’t want to leave him home alone. Naturally, I offered to keep him.

Of course, a few days later, it occurred to me that I’d better check with the hubs to make sure he was okay with Zeke sharing his office space for 10 days. He was — as I’d thought — intrigued by the idea.

On the other hand, Ike didn’t get a say in the matter. In fact, he still hasn’t really figured out what is in that large glass box in the basement. He hasn’t yet tried to peer over the top of the aquarium, nor did he react when Zeke “stood up” to take a look at that funny creature on the other side of his glass wall.

Here’s the thing. Snakes don’t do anything except hide…under the water dish, house or sawdust. It takes a lot of coaxing to convince Zeke not to slither away when I finally uncover him and try to stroke his back.

Once a week he eats, although like many pets, he wasn’t sure he liked his new surroundings so initially refused to even sniff his weekly allotment of pinky mice. Over the next few days, though, he downed six of his usual seven — but only when he knew no one was watching.

I suspect he’ll be glad when his folks return home and whisk him back to his usual place of honor. But I think we’ll miss the little guy. In fact, maybe we’ll inspired to explore the world of herpetology. But not to worry — I draw the line at venomous snakes.

 

 

Duck, duck, goose

My early morning runs along the local bike path take me past two quarries and usually involves sightings of ducks, geese, a heron, and — on very rare occasions — a bald eagle.

The ducks that hang out at the Buckeye quarry often sleep curled up in the grass near the bike path, and their close proximity sometimes distracts me from running. It’s impossible for me to pass up the chance to try to make friends with the cute little guys and girls?

With spring comes the extra fun of watching for baby ducklings and goslings. This morning I watched mama and papa goose shepherd their four little goslings across the grass. One little guy kept lagging behind and then had to run to catch up. I managed to take a photo of part of the family.

Later, as I was heading out on my bike through our back yard, I saw three male ducks wandering through our yard. I actually saw one of them sitting in our tiny fish pond (just big enough to hold one duck at a time) but when he saw me, he hopped right out and waddled off after his buddies.

Because a creek runs along the back of our property, ducks have become fairly regular visitors to our neighborhood. I suppose some homeowners might not appreciate them — especially their droppings — but hey, who can complain about such entertaining and beautiful birds?

Ike’s visit to the Windy City

Ike decided to tag along on a trip to Chicago this weekend. Actually, he didn’t see much of the city, since he had to stay home while the folks went to town. But that was okay…he had plenty of new experiences.

Here’s what he learned:

If he’s pushy enough, he can weasel his way into the front seat of the car for much of the five-hour car trip. Like a child, he spent the first hour popping up and down to peer out the window,  the scenery of which he did not recognize.

Good thing he doesn’t get carsick.

Sitting in the car for five hours was worth it. He got to spend much of the weekend running leash-free around the fenced-in backyard. This is a big deal for a Schnauzer whose only two times outside off-leash involved mad races through Bluffton trying to elude his weary captors.

Sadly, his dreams of catching up to one of those furry little animals that hop hop hop across the yard while he watches out the window, remain unfulfilled. He discovered today that they can out-hop him.

That’s not to say the hopping bunny didn’t give him an interesting adventure — there was that lovely-scented little nest that just begged for a good sniffing.

Those two little girls who look an awfully lot alike are lots of fun to chase around. Emma even helped him investigate the bunny nest.

Ally — or maybe it was Emma (he still gets confused over which one is which) renamed him Mike. He’s not sure how that happened.

New houses have new smells and sounds, all of which serve to both confuse and intrigue. New neighborhoods have unfamiliar dog smells, which requires careful investigation of every inch of grass and every tree trunk in every yard on the block.

What with all this excitement, life could be pretty boring back home.

 

 

 

 

Four-legged creature leaves trail of unstuffed toys

It is true that time dulls the memory. Once the kids leave home for college, we quickly forget the shoes strewn around the house, the backpacks covering the couch, iPods plugged into various outlets, and the Lego piles left in a corner. Well, the Lego sets really disappeared much earlier than the shoes, backpacks and iPods, but you get the picture.

A few months later they pop in for Thanksgiving break and new items appear in random piles around the house, only to disappear a few days later when off their owners head off again. Eventually, they move on to their own homes and somewhere along the way, learn to deal with their own piles of stuff.

What I didn’t realize was that a 15-pound four-legged creature can manage to make more of a ruckus that two teenagers can. Most days I return from work and pick my way carefully through what looks like a war zone.

The first clue is a path of bits of stuffing that, when followed, lead one to the little mutt’s favorite half-stuffed (or is half-unstuffed), one-legged lavendar bear. Although, at this stage, what was once a bear resembles not much more than a mostly chewed-up piece of fabric.

Nearby is the missing leg, which has oddly become a favorite toy of the aforementioned mutt, more formally known as Ike, the mini Schnauzer.

Lest you think I’m exaggerating, here is a photo lineup of the ravaged toys….all leading to the furry culprit, digging through his toy box for yet another well-chewed favorite.