Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hang ten

Scout is a professional surfer. Counter surfer, that is. At this point he could win pro-surfing competitions with all the practice he's had. And Scout is not shy about his surfing. He will do it right in front of us if he thinks there is something worth going after on the counter. His regular raiding runs have netted him several prizes already including, but not limited to: an entire container of dog treats, a hot dog bun, cookies, bread, a variety of lids to a variety of containers, plastic bags containing or previously containing food, the top to a thermos for Mom's tea, plastic water bottles, dog toys, training treats, half a jar of peanut butter, an entire cube of butter including the wrapping, and his latest prize: a bottle of fish oil for the cat's food. Much to his disappointment I caught him red handed and confiscated the smelly item, but not before he chewed several holes in the bottle and spilled fish oil all over the living room carpet. This was, presumably, a tactic to ensure he would have some for later, like a squirrel storing nuts for the winter. He spent the next hour licking fish oil out of the carpet, even after Mighty Mouth - our industrial carpet cleaner - tackled the mess. What remains from Scout's counter surfing is the unpleasant aroma of fish permeating the house, and several large stains all over the carpet. 

This was obviously not Scout's first misadventure with counter surfing and I'm sure it won't be his last. Case in point: just a few days ago I found a chewed up bottle prescription bottle and several pills scattered on the living room carpet. This pill bottle was previously a resident of the kitchen counter and we have never made a practice of storing our medications scattered across the floor. Clearly Scout had been at work again, and this time it cost us $65 to call the animal poison control emergency line to make sure that Scout had not inadvertently poisoned himself with Molly's Prozac. (He had not, although he was rather more sleepy for the rest of the day than a ten month old puppy should be, which was actually a nice change for us all.) As much as we try to keep items that may be of value to Scout out of his reach, he has a habit of turning lemons into lemonade and finding a purpose for anything he encounters in the kitchen, whether it is edible or not. Non edible items make great chew toys, after all. It would not surprise me if there was a sequel to this story.

Monday, August 10, 2015

There's one in every hatch

Well, it's happened. Again. Our latest batch of chicks, like our last batch, came with an unexpected surprise: a rooster. Gretchen is, apparently, a Gregory. The last time this happened with our "hen" named Buttercup, we were forced to re-home him after he started crowing at a few months of age. With neighbors that complained about nearly everything (our trees, our bamboo, the dogs barking in the neighborhood, the kids playing next door, the fact that the sky is blue and not purple with green polka dots; you name it, they probably complained about it) we knew it would not be long before they came knocking to complain about our little songbird so we regretfully re-homed our rooster. 

This time around the situation is somewhat different. Sir and Misses Complains-a-lot have moved out, along with two other neighbors with the subsequent result that now the neighborhood is full of nine barking dogs, three noisy teenagers, two screaming kids, one shrieking parrot, and a partridge in a pear tree. So the addition of one rooster seems to hardly make a dent in the general noisiness of the neighborhood. Add to that the fact that Gretchen has yet to utter a single cockle-doodle-doo: not so much as a peep has escaped his tiny bird mouth. (Knock on wood.) Should Gretchen decide to start, we are going to try to a No Crow rooster collar (check them out here if you want: At best it will reduce or eliminate the crowing. At worst it will be a fashion accessory to make him look charming while he does crow. As long as Gretchen maintains his vow of silence it looks like we will be keeping our rooster and starting a new adventure here on the Unfarm as rooster owners. He does seem to round out our flock of four hens nicely. Keeping our fingers crossed.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Super Dog!

... Or, How I Came to Walk Scout Before I Walk Molly and Axel. But "super dog" has a better ring to it, don't you think? Dog walks. It sounds like a simple enough activity: attach leashes to dogs on one end, your hand on the other, and proceed to put one foot in front of the other. But add in one slightly grumpy 90-pound dog, one extremely exuberant 50-pound puppy, and one overly neurotic ten pound dog all pulling in opposite directions and/or barking like a crazy thing (Molly) and the task becomes decidedly less simple. The solution was obvious: I needed to walk in shifts, taking one or two dogs and then the remaining dog(s). The first day I attempted this was a utter fail. 

I decided that I would talk Molly and Axel together so that I could ensure that Molly's bad habits would not rub off on our impressionable young pup; Axel being rather set in his ways and not so easily influenced. Scout would walk by himself because he tends to be calmer on his own, and he was in obedience class at the time and could benefit from the extra training time. So off I set one summer evening, Axel and Molly in tow. Scout was less than pleased. He was convinced that I was leaving without him and he would not get a walk this day. As I rounded the corner of the house, Scout ran to the master bedroom, jumped up on the bed, and pounded on the window. Which was, unfortunately, open. I stood outside, shouting for Mom and trying to force my frozen muscles to move my body back into the house. While I stood there watching, Scout pushed the screen out of the window and almost fell out. My heart skipped a beat, but he recovered and managed not to fall out. You can imagine my relief. Followed by my utter dismay when Scout took a look out the (second story) window, figured, "I can make that," and proceeded to JUMP OUT THE WINDOW. He went flying, like some sort of super dog, out the window. My heart stopped. I had visions of Buddy jumping off the garden retaining wall and injuring his wrist and how that was the beginning of the end for him. I was sure that jumping out of the window would have some kind of dire consequences for Scout. He landed behind the trailer and I stood without breathing for half a second, waiting for the worst to happen. What actually happened was that Scout ran out in front of the trailer and came bounding up to me, as if to say, "Well? What are we waiting for? Let's go!" My relief was immeasurable.

That he was uninjured was a miracle. That he was unfazed was somewhat disturbing. What, after all, was to stop him from jumping out the window again? This then, is how I came to walk Scout before I walk Molly and Axel, in hopes of draining off some of his energy before he sees me walk off without him. This is also, incidentally, how I came to be even more anxiety ridden than I already was, which is saying a lot. Prior to all walks now we shut every window, every door, lock all doors to the outside, and insist that anyone coming or going does so through the garage, which means there are two doors for the dogs to get through before they can gain any access to the outdoors. These precautions afford me a small measure of comfort but as I am about as neurotic as Molly, it doesn't afford much.