Archive for the ‘Creature Comforts’ Category

Ok, so this is one of my all-time pet peeves since I started taking Lola to the dog park regularly a few years ago.

People seem to think that park = park, whether it’s for kids or dogs. Allow me to say how absolutely stupid and dangerous this is. Here are just a few reasons why:

1. Dog parks do not have playground equipment for kids and the ground is covered in dog pee and poop. There is nothing in a dog park for kids to play with except filthy tennis balls, chewed frisbees, sticks, and whatever else you can find on the ground. All of this is therefore also covered in dog pee and poop. Some dogs that come to the park aren’t regularly dewormed, and do you know what kids do with stuff they find to play with? Either the “toy” or the hand that touched the toy goes right into the kids mouth. Do you want your child to develop a potentially deadly parasitic infection?

2. Dogs love a moving target — that’s why fetch and chase are such great games to play with them. Run, pounce, bite/mouth, repeat. You can see how this can end badly when a child is the object in motion. Dogs can scare or seriously injure kids, and I don’t have much sympathy for people who let their undisciplined kids run amok in the dog park — just like I don’t have much sympathy for people who let their undisciplined dogs run amok out in public.

3. Most kids do not know how to behave around dogs. Even if a child was raised with a dog in the house, it’s still ONE dog (or just a few dogs), and every single dog is different. Just because your kid is great with your dog, that doesn’t mean your kid will be great with every other dog they meet — or that your dog will be great with every other kid they meet. Kids need to be taught early on how to behave around strange animals, and no matter what, they should be supervised with ANY animal. Trust to know when your child is uncomfortable with a situation, and that other animals’ owners know what their pet is and is not OK with.

I’m ranting like this because of our dog park visit this afternoon. A young father had his *maybe* 2-year-old son inside the main enclosure. This kid was toddling around by himself with a stick in one hand and a frisbee in the other.

I’m not even kidding a little bit.

Lola is anxious around kids anyway. She loves infants (all the soft fabrics and the baby smells, I think), and she’s OK with teens and adults, especially after she’s met them once. Children, though, are noisy and unpredictable…they run around erratically and make loud sounds and are just generally CRAZY. She will run up, barking an alarm, and effectively scare the shit out of whoever she’s barking at. She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body — she’s just warning them that she’s got her eye on them, and they’d better not do anything nuts.

As soon as I saw this kid in the central “group” area (lots of donated lawn chairs where people hang out and chat), I snapped Lola’s leash back on and took her to the other side of the park so she wouldn’t be tempted to scare this kid and his dad to death. (He did get knocked down by a dog while we were there, and of course then there was screaming and crying. Then other dogs got curious when the dad picked the kid up, and that was another situation to deal with.)

Needless to say, we didn’t have much fun today. She had to stay on the far side of the park with me, and we were effectively on our own most of the time. A bit later on a friend came over to play a bit, but by then Lola was being a butt-head (since no fun was being had), so we left earlier than we had planned.

TL;DR: Don’t take your child to the dog park. Your kid will get scared (or even hurt — I’ve seen bites happen this way) and you will ruin other people’s day at the park.

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True to form, the North Carolina winter is keeping us on our toes. We’ve gone from 50s-70s the last couple of months to bitter cold, ice, and snow in the last few weeks.

The birds apparently love us best, since we’re keeping our feeder full. We added a suet cake and it’s taken the birds several days to give it a shot, but now it’s bringing quite a few new species to our balcony!

I counted 13 species today during the snow, including 2 species that I only saw on the ground below the feeders (American Crows and Eastern Towhees). Here’s a rundown with pics (not the best quality…sorry)!

House Finch Carolina Chickadee Tufted Titmouse

House Finch (male) — These guys are regulars around here all year. They’re not nearly as annoying as the House Sparrows we had in Massachusetts. The males are a lovely shade of pink, and they sing their little hearts out.

Carolina Chickadee — Another resident species, and Peter’s favorite bird. 🙂

Tufted Titmouse — Arguably the best bird name ever. We see these guys all the time! They’re the first ones to yell at us through the window when the feeder is empty.

Carolina Wren White-Breasted Nuthatch Northern Mockingbird

Carolina Wren — Another tiny resident with a lovely song. We’ve seen them sneak into our screened-in porch to snap up bugs.

White-Breasted Nuthatch (male) — Another bug-hunter! They have a distinctive call.

Northern Mockingbird — This is probably my favorite bird…there’s nothing like waking up on a warm Southern spring morning with a mockingbird singing outside your window.

Dark Eyed Junco Downy Woodpecker Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Dark-Eyed Junco (male) — We don’t see these guys terribly often, but they appear occasionally year-round.

Downy Woodpecker (female) — This shy species is another that we see every once in a while, usually from a distance.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker (male) — These noisy guys seem to love dried fruit more than suet or meal worms! We have two visiting our feeder recently, both males; one is noticeably larger than the other (smaller one pictured).

Pine Warbler Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Pine Warbler (male) — This is a new species for me this winter! It’s so exciting! I thought at first he was a Goldfinch until I really paid attention. (We have had Goldfinches recently too, but none today.)

Yellow-Rumped Warbler (female) — My second new species this winter! This little lovely puzzled me at first. Her most prominent feature when I was observing her was the bright yellow area at the base of her tail, on her back. Turns out it’s her namesake!

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Lola is 4 1/2 now, and her pearly whites aren’t quite as pearly-white as they used to be. She has a VERY healthy mouth, but she’s at the age now where we need to be proactive about her health so she’s with us for a good long time yet. She had her first dental cleaning on Wednesday, and it didn’t go quite as well as we’d hoped.

She had some mild gingivitis and a little tartar on her back molars, but otherwise she looked great, the vet said. It seems, though, that she’s one of the few dogs who is very sensitive to one of the two sedation drugs they use during the procedure (asepromazine). It took her a long time to wake up from anesthesia and she was pretty out of it for more than a day afterward. The doctor was concerned enough that she wanted to keep her a little longer to make sure everything was good.

Thankfully, the crew at our Banfield loves her to pieces and were very diligent in helping to make sure she gets back to normal. She’s doing great now, and now that we know about her bad reaction to asepromazine, we can make sure it’s never used on her again — in case we have to take her to another vet for an emergency, for example.

And now, for your entertainment, a picture of dopey Lola, keeping it classy!

Dopey Lola!

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OK, this is a long and rambling story, but it does have a happy ending, so please read it through until the end!

Lately I’ve had a case of puppy fever. Seeing new babies at the dog park and imagining what an awesome big sister Lola would be had me itching to get a second dog. Peter told me one of two things would have to happen for us to bring another dog into our household:

I would have to take up half of Lola’s feeding schedule and take her on long walks in addition to our 6-days-a-week dog park visits.

OR

The universe would plop a dog into our lives with a series of events that would be impossible to ignore.

Well, on Wednesday, it happened. Keep reading »

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Our three Guinea Goddess are together again. First we lost Isis, then Mona earlier this year, and Mimi last month. I miss all three of them terribly.

Peter or I have fetched their fresh veggies every night since I first got Isis in January 2005. It still feels so weird to finish cleaning the kitchen after dinner and NOT reach for the fridge to grab lettuce, carrots, or red bell peppers. I have to keep reminding myself that our routine has just…ended.

Here are their three completed urns.

I used Egyptian imagery for Isis (of course):

Isis' Urn Isis

Mona, born in November, got a Greek cornucopia, since she is named after Pomona, goddess of the harvest:

Mona's Urn Mona

Mimi was named for Artemis, Roman goddess of the hunt, because the orange on her head looks like an arrowhead when viewed from above (I threatened to name her “Insert Food Here,” but Peter argued against it):

Mimi's Urn Mimi

They’re probably together somewhere giving each other hell. Isis is running laps and bouncing around, Mimi has climbed head-first into a pile of hay, and Mona is popcorning so hard she flips herself over…repeatedly.

Our Angel Pigs

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