I Live with a Serial Killer (or two)

When you live on a 1/2 acre lot that is plentiful in plant life and that backs up to undisturbed wooded lots you cannot be faint of heart.  With all this glorious nature come critters.

We have critters of our own that roam among the splendor.  We have Sadie the Catahoula mix.  We obtained her from a park ranger who had found her abandoned in one of her parks.  After we had her a month I understood why someone might abandoned her.  She is a lively and energetic dog who needs lots of exercise and because of her we have made the dog park one of our favorite places.  Sadie loves her home.  She protects us, all of us, her herd and alerts us to things that are out of place.  She always keeps a watchful eye when she’s not playing.

We have Rocky, the cat that came with the house.  A massive creature that has the heart of a lion.  He is our guard cat. Whenever our gate is open and we are away he makes it his duty to hang out and guard the gate.  He is unafraid of large dogs and before they decided they could tolerate each other he would torture our poor dog.  I clearly remember one incident not long after we had brought Sadie home where Rocky pounced on her and rolled her down the porch steps because in his eyes she was an uninvited guest invading his turf.  In reality, though, he is a large baby of a cat who just wants to come in the house and sleep on big fluffy pillows (he especially likes to displace Sadie from her dog bed).

We have Smudge, a rescue from Texas Litter Control.  My friend Deana who works there knew he was the cat for me and prodded me to come meet him.  I feel in love and brought him home.  I intended for him to be an inside cat, but when he learned there were other cats outside, he was most insistent that he must be let outside to play with them.  Over time he grew to stay outside more than inside.  He is one of the most cat-like cats I have ever owned.  He climbs, chases, hides.  He is fearless and above all, he is a hunter.

The other evening as I called him to come in for bed, he just sat in the yard staring at me. He had been cleaning himself before I called for him, a grooming like that after a meal and I suspected that he may have brought me a present that he wanted me to come acknowledge before he would join us inside.  I went out into the yard to collect him.  It was dark and my eyeglasses were in the house, but even in the dim I could tell there was a dead rodent nearby.  I complimented Smudge on his prowess and brought him inside.

In the morning we got a better look at the kill, it was probably the biggest rats Smudge has ever brought home.   Life with a serial killer can be unpleasant.  What he views as gifts, I find as unpleasant pieces I have to clean up before the child lays eyes upon them.  I can no longer keep track of how many gifts we have been brought by our outside hunters, squirrels, cardinals, a mole, mice, rats, unidentifiable birds, maybe even a snake.

As much as it grosses me out to find the remains of such gifts I understand it is part of the circle of life.  It is part of life on a small homestead.  It is getting to experience nature up close and personal, even if it is not the most pleasant part of nature.  It reminds you of how nature works and when you love nature you do not get to choose to love just the beautiful parts.  You must love and appreciate all nature.

 

 

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12 Tips of Christmas

Check out the below 12 Tips of Christmas to help keep your pets safe this holiday season.  And as my brother says, “Most of this types can also be applied to small children.”

http://blog.aggielandanimalhealthcenter.com/2015/12/12-tips-of-christmas/

DIY Dog Halter

I swear that one of the best inventions that I have ever used with my dog is a dog halter (aka Halti or Gentle Leader).  For those of you that aren’t familiar with a dog halter, it’s kind of like a horse halter, but for dogs.  The halter goes around the dogs muzzle and behind it’s ears and the leash attaches at the bottom of the halter.  It doesn’t go around the neck so you don’t have to worry about choking your dog, especially if you have a dog that pulls.

We use the halter with our dog because she’s a herder and she tries to chase squirrels every chance she gets. If you put Sadie on a normal leash she pulls and pulls and pulls which makes taking walks or going anywhere kind of unpleasant. When she puts her halter on (as much as she hates it) she is a perfect little lady.

This weekend my husband took my vehicle and left me his to take the kiddo and dog to the park, totally fine, except that Sadie’s leash and halter were still in my car when he left.  I had already told both child and dog we were going to the park and they were both running around the house excited, so backing out wasn’t an option.  I grabbed some medium weight rope from the yard and decided to fashion my own halter for the dog before we headed out.  It was really fairly simple.  I made a loop around her nose, then crossed the rope and pulled it up around her head behind her ears and tied my knot.  I pulled it off her and threw it in the car with us and went to the park.  It worked like a charm.

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I often see people with large dogs that are literally being dragged by their dogs.  I used to be one of those people.  I dogsat for some people who trained service dogs and was introduced to the Gentle Leader.  I tried it on our dog and after the initial breaking in period I became a huge fan and decided to never go back to another type of leash method.   I will warn you if you are going to use the head halter on your dog there is a breaking in period.  The first time we took our dog out in public with the halter on she kept trying to get it off.  She put both of her paws in the halter and flipped a few somersaults in an attempt to get “the thing” off her face.  It was quite entertaining to the passerbyers while I stood wide-eyed and mortified watching.  She eventually figured out she couldn’t get it off and is now okay with it for the most part.  She will still occasionally try to rub it off on your leg if you stop to pet her while she has it on, but for the most part, she is fine with it.

One other thing I will warn you about if you decided to give a halter a try is that uneducated people you run into on your outings will think it’s a muzzle.  I’ve exchanged more than a few heated words with people who have screamed at their children “No don’t pet that dog, it’s wearing a muzzle!” Because you know I’d take my dog that needs to be muzzled to a public park filled with people, small children, and other dogs while I also am toting around my own small child.  (Ok, there are some idiots who might try that, but I am not one of them.)  I just try to educate the people that it’s a training tool, like a horse halter and that the only thing you have to worry about with Sadie if your a small child is getting licked in the face.

God Never Gives You More Than You Can Handle

When we first moved into our home we went looking for a dog.  I had always had dogs growing up but for the past few years during apartment living we decided it was better to wait for a house with a yard before tackling finding a canine companion.  I happened to run into a lady at the vet’s office that I had worked with doing animal rescue.  While the group I worked with strictly dealt with cats, her group focused on cats and dogs.  I inquired whether or not her group had any Australian Shepherds or the like currently in the program.  She said they did not, but she had a lady contact her about help placing an Aussie and she would forward me the lady’s information.

I contacted the women and we arranged for a meeting with a dog named Sadie.  The lady we met with was a park ranger and had found Sadie abandon in one of her parks.  She said Sadie was probably there about a week before the park flooded and she felt guilty and brought Sadie home with her.  She lived in an apartment with a German Shephard puppy and even though she said she would love to keep Sadie, she really didn’t think it was fair to have her in an apartment.  We took Sadie home with us that afternoon.

After we had Sadie for about a month I could totally understand why someone might have abandoned her somewhere.  She was about 9 months old and a super high energy Catahoula mix, which was a world of difference for me having had two low energy Pitties as my last dogs.  After a half dozen pair of shoes and a few shirts were eaten we kennel trained, figured out busy toys and discovered dog parks. Later on Sadie was able to start going to work with my husband for a while and all these things helped tremendously in taming down the hyper and mischievous behavior she would display if left to her own devices for too long.

Fast forward a few years and we were blessed with a little boy.  A non-sleeping, stubborn, very high energy little boy.  I’ve heard more than a few times people use the turn of phrase “God never gives you more than you can handle.”  Sometimes I have really questioned that phrase.  When my teeny tiny baby would only nap an half an hour at a time making it near impossible to get any task completed and when it would take 2 hours to get him to go to sleep at night I really thought that line was a load of bull.  Some days I really struggled.  Some days I still struggle.  Sometimes I wonder if I really can handle everything that’s been thrown my way.  Sometimes I wonder if I have been given more than I can handle.  Sometimes the thought of running away cross my mind (I don’t but sometimes the thoughts still flicker.) Why does my child seem so much more difficult than other children?

Then, I read a horror story about something a parent that has done to a child and I think maybe that phrase means something else.*  Maybe I was blessed with this bouncy little high energy child because I would never do one of those things that you read about on the news or see in the paper.  Maybe that’s really what that phrase means.  I was sent this child because I have the temperament to deal with all the crazies.  I have learned the tools that are required to deal with a child of this temperament.  Maybe I was sent a crazy Catahoula mix dog as a test run and when I passed that test I was then sent a child with a similar personality.  Maybe.  And even if not, it helps me have a little more patience when I think about things using that mindset.  Whatever the answer is I love my dog and my child and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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*In all honesty sometimes I can’t even read the stories I don’t make it past the titles before my eyes start tearing up and I get so incredibly angry.

Animals and Instincts

I don’t understand people who don’t have pets.  I guess it goes back to the way we were raised.  We always had animals in the house.  Cats, Dogs, Fish, Hermit Crabs. . . we even brought home a class rodent, although in a house full of cats, let’s just say the rodent was lucky to go back to school.

For those of you who haven’t had pets let me tell you something. Animals and humans share an amazing bond with one another.  Animals enrich our lives.  They entertain us.  They keep us going when things aren’t the best.  Sometimes they can be the only reason we get out of bed in the morning.  They truly are our friends.

When I had a child, I was worried just a bit about how the animals would react to my son, but it didn’t take long before they welcomed him into our herd (or for some, learned to tolerate him.)  It never ceases to amaze me how well our animals behave with our son, who is not always on his best behavior with them.

Our dog suffers the brunt of it.  When he learned how, the babe, started telling our poor dog “No” to everything.  He bosses her around and tells her what she can and can’t do.  He puts his hats on her, puts Tupperware on her head, lays on top of her, steals her toys, occasionally tries to ride her, pulls her fur and ears on occasion and she just takes it.  She has never growled at him (although when he was very small she growled at me for blowing raspberries on his tummy because she thought I was growling at him.)  If he gets too rough, she licks him in the face to occupy his hands or walks away from him.  She also plays tug of war with the babe, or takes him for wild chases around the house.  The babe, in return for their exchanges, is in charge of feeding her dinner every evening.  (And he also shares all sorts of goodies with her, whether we want him to or not.)

Sadie accompanies us to the park every time we go.  We take her to the dog park and then the babe to the kids’ park.  In the old days of the dog park before my son was born Sadie would run around wildly if she didn’t want to leave when I wanted her to, but now a simple “It’s time to go bye-bye” is all it takes for her to accompany us to the gate to leave.

Yesterday when we were at the park Sadie became very interested in one of the incoming dogs. I had let the babe out of his stroller to run around since it was just us, and two other dogs and humans we knew.  (Normally I never let him out of the stroller because there are too many dogs and being a toddler he doesn’t quite understand that 1. Not all dogs are nice and want to be pet and 2. The dogs could hurt him).

When the new dog made an appearance Sadie played her normal greeter at the gate.  She is very vocal and one of the incoming dogs was also being very vocal, but in a way that made me slightly uncomfortable.  I left the babe with a friend and pulled Sadie away from the gate to let the new dogs in.  There owner kept the leash on the questionable dog.  A dog being kept on leash at the dog park is never a good sign.  Sadie went to sniff the dog and he growled.  Sadie is a herding dog and has a thing for trouble dogs at the dog park.  She tends to try to herd the trouble makers away from the main pack.  I have broken up a few dog scuffles at the park (usually over toys) and know my limitations.  A child, a stroller and a dog is too much to handle if things get uncomfortable so I made the decision to put the babe in the stroller to head over to his park.  Sadie stayed near the troublesome dog until I called her to go bye bye.

I’m glad that we left when we did.  I got a text not much later that the troublesome dog had gone after my friends’ dog after we left.  I am grateful for animal instincts and mothering instincts and that the combination of the two kept us safe yesterday.  So, if you’ve never had a pet I highly recommend one.  (Although if you already have children sometimes it’s better to wait until they are a bit older than toddler age to introduce one).  Every little boy (or girl) should have a dog (or cat).008

Summer Safety for Pets

I live in Texas where the summer is more often than not unbearably hot. In your efforts to keep cool, don’t forget your furry legged friend! They get hot, just like we do!  Make sure they have access to plenty of fresh water daily, shade and a kiddie pool if they have to stay outdoors and NEVER leave them in the car!!!

My brother wrote an awesome article on how to help your pets “Beat the Heat” Check it out at:

http://blog.aggielandanimalhealthcenter.com/2015/05/beat-the-heat/#more-964

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Below is a great little chart showing you how hot your car gets!  Don’t take a chance, leave the critters at home.

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