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Elsa-the-Dog and I have started taking early morning strolls. Because we tend to overfeed her she is slightly round and I think she needs to run. So, every morning Elsa eagerly looks for a stray squirrel or a deer to chase and I let her go! She doesn’t run into the woods to follow the wild critters out of my sight, but she runs like a wild thing down the road and to the edge of our Forest Primeval. Great exercise!

And it should be noted that I always let her out quietly so the critters will be in sight and not scared off first thing in the morning. Elsa gives chase, gets her morning run, and the wild critters seem to enjoy the whole thing too.

But yesterday morning there was an unexpected visitor.

Elsa came face to face with a great big SKUNK!

There was no barking but there was a confrontation. The skunk turned its back and raised its tail and Elsa backed away. Then the skunk tried to waddle off and Elsa followed. It was like she wanted to keep Mr. Skunk for a friend! Maybe the critter thought Elsa was another (albino?) skunk. They were about the same size but Elsa is a mix of browns, blacks, whites and golds.

No amount of screaming, “Elsa – COME!” from my long distance away had any effect on either of them. Elsa moved in, the skunk tried to run, Elsa moved in again, etc.

Crestfallen about what I was facing to remove the skunk scent, I gave up calling and turned back. But here came Elsa. She finally bade farewell to Mr. Skunk and returned to my side – no doubt expecting compliments, cookies and adulation for coming when she was called.

I was terrified of her approach, expecting the onslaught of painful smells. Having dealt with that scent in the past with other dogs, I knew what to expect.

In fact I once did a blog post about clearing the aisles in a Dollar Store when I carried the skunk scent and didn’t realize it.

But there was Elsa at my feet looking guilty – – – WITH NO SCENT!

I knelt down to give her a sniff but smelled nothing but the great outdoors.

A fleeting thought…was this a symptom of Covid? Losing the sense of smell?

Who ever heard of anyone coming face-to-butt with a skunk and not getting sprayed?

Was Mr. Skunk handicapped (missing his scent glands)?

Did Mr. Skunk use up his spray on something else?

You know what I think?

I think Elsa was non-threatening and communicated a message that she only wanted a friend. Or maybe they were both falling in love. After all, we are just coming to Valentine’s Day. She never even barked one bark or growled one growl. And I think Mr. Skunk recognized and honored her overwhelming wish for love. So much for logical explanations and good country stories.

Nevertheless, in future I do plan to send out morning warnings like rattling doorknobs, banging on things and uttering loud cries as we emerge from the house for morning strolls.

Meanwhile I have learned that Skunk mating season does peak around Valentine’s Day.

Male skunks begin stirring and wooing female skunks around the second week of February. Females refusing this courtship will spray in defense. Thankfully, skunk mating season only lasts from mid-February through mid-April!”

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY and A MESSAGE OF LOVE FROM ELSA AND MR. SKUNK!

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On one of our vet runs to have Elsa’s nails cut, the vet did some blood work too.

“It is as I expected,” he said, “She is hypothyroid.”

And so our little rescue dog must have been exhibiting signs of this hormone imbalance which tends to make humans lethargic and prone to weight gain. Elsa is a bit on the roly-poly side for sure.

In addition, in the olden days people used to describe women with thyroid problems as “hysterical.”

That could describe Elsa too.

She is at least paranoid if not hysterical. And now that I know she is hypothyroid I would definitely say she was/is hysterical.

She breaks out in shakes and shivers from unknown unseen dangers. I used to blame it all on her maybe being abused in her previous lives with other not so nice people.

She has severe separation anxiety.

She will not touch dog toys and doesn’t know how to play.

And she is not only food driven but is food protective.

Now Elsa is on thyroid pills twice a day. The vet says it will probably help her lose weight too.

We already notice a new dog in Elsa’s body. She runs more and wants to stay outside more in spite of snow and ice.

The other stuff remains the same and we return to the vet mid February to assess progress.

A hysterical dog may be just like a hysterical woman.

Who knew?

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Wonder how I can find a place in bed?

Elsa has found ways to worm herself into our little family. And she is winning.

We chose a smaller dog when we were looking to fill the hole left in our lives when we lost Rozie. And that’s what Elsa was – a smaller dog. We figured as we age, we will need a light-weight for us to be able to lift and carry. Ha!

Elsa is verging now on being a heavy-weight who has used her sweetness and big dark eyes for treats and more treats and delicious people food handouts. Yes, I know this is the fault of us humans who fall for canine pleading.

But what about sleeping? What would make a little (fat) dog work on getting into bed between two humans?

Fear.

And witnessing the abject fear demonstrated by Elsa (at any unusual sound emanating from the terrifying forest primeval) prompted us to allow her to join us abed “just this once.”

And now tis a nightly event.

She waits until 3 or 4AM to make sure we are too groggy to say, “NO” and shivers and shakes a bit to convince us she is frightened about something (a bear outside our window or an intruder or thunder or gunshots)? After all, it is hunting season in our neck of the woods in southwestern Virginia.

Alas! We have fallen once again for Elsa’s charms and her well thought out tactics.

The battle is on for bed space.

And there you have it – the ultimate bedtime story.

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My friend Amy discovered this adorable little kitten abandoned and alone. Being a “dog person” with two dogs at home, Amy was not looking to add a feline to the mix. She found a foster family for the baby and was relieved to hand the kitten over. But the foster mom called in two days to announce she could not keep the kitty because her own dogs threatened to harm it.

What to do. What to do. Amy knew little about felines but made sure the kitty had enough food to eat and was healthy. As the days went by Amy became more and more attached and she named him Sam.

And it has been a love story ever since.

But the true love of his life is now Amy and the true love of her life is now Sam.

When Amy was sick for a few days recently Sam slept with her and never left her side and she would wake up to find Sam’s little paw on her face.

This is an ongoing story of course and it will make for a few more smiley faced blog posts.

But isn’t Sam adorable?

I am so glad he and Amy found each other and that Sam has found a real home.

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Photo by Jahoo Clouseau on Pexels.com

I was standing at the kitchen window on a quiet afternoon in Camelot (rural Virginia) when my daily impulse was to do a deliberate scan of the mountain view. Fading light enhanced the Blue Ridge Mountains and then my eyes automatically came around to a serene sight down by the old horse shed in our “back yard”.

I noticed some grazing deer and just beyond them loomed a strange black imposing image.

The image was also grazing but looked out of place since it was a HUGE MONSTROUS BLACK THING! And it was slowly moving in my direction.

I quickly determined it was a big black bull!

Now, if you were to ask me how I knew this was a bull there would be no answer since I have never come face to face with such a creature. It was certainly not your run-o-the-mill cow. And Bill also agreed it had to be a bull.

But what to do about a bull in your back yard!? Fortunately, we know the name of the owner of the pastoral scene across from our hill to her hill. Usually the view is of her smaller sized non-threatening cows. The owner is a very nice young LADY and she answered my call right away. She said she would send out “the boys” to determine how her bull might have escaped.

And sure enough, as the sun began to set and darkness arrived, there came two ATVs carrying the boys. I hollered “Hi!” and they hollered back and I told them where I had last seen the monster. Such excitement for one evening huh?

The next day there was a text from a neighbor who said she had learned there were TWO escaped bulls. One had been found and the other still missing.

Thankfully I have Elsa-the-dog for protection.

Such is the excitement of country life in rural Virginia, especially gazing out your kitchen window.

Well, nothing else really happened after the ATV’s hummed around and all we could see were their headlights. And now we are assuming both bulls are back on their own turf and perhaps dozing from their night out.

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Elsa, our quirky rescue dog is terrified of loud noises. She is convinced the sky must be falling and she is the target.

It is thundering as I try to describe this shaking, shivering fur ball who is hiding in the well of my desk. At least it is walled on two sides and make it three with the wall behind, and the desk top makes for an igloo or cave-like spot. Then there is the added comfort of my knees for human reassurance.

I only hope there will be good weather next week during my hip surgery. There are no worries over hospital equipment or expertise, but the weather?

The weather can make or break Elsa while I am away.

But believe it or not, our son and daughter-in-law are traveling thousands of miles to be here – yep – for Elsa! The paranoid pup does truly love our son but I exaggerate a little. Corky and Emmy are actually coming to help wherever they see a need. How wonderful is that?

The skies are quieter now and so is Elsa.

The storm has passed and she is in her safe place.

Elsa in her safe place under my desk!
Elsa when the sun shines!

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Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

We all have our little habits that die hard. I tend to rub my nose when I am uncomfortable or bored or I just need to get out or move. I kind of whack my nose and have been doing that since childhood. Used to suck my thumb too but that habit had to be terminated.

But did you ever meet a dog with an unbreakable habit? I am still discovering little clues about Elsa’s personality.

Elsa is our not-so-little Rescue Dog. She used to be lift-able but no longer. Now she is well fed (maybe overfed?) as Bill and I continue to hand out halved dog treats plus plus plus. Like in the film/book Eat, Pray, Love, I have begun calling Elsa “Groceries.”

Back to bad habits that die hard.

Elsa thinks flying insects are fair game. When in the outside world she lurks, stalks, jumps, and snaps into midair and sometimes actually nabs a bumble bee! Oh Mighty Dog, Mighty Hunter!

The problem is last week she swallowed one live!

We tried to estimate how long a living bee in the system of a semi-small dog could survive but came to no conclusions.

Watching Elsa provided some explanation though.

  • First, she plunged her nose in and out much like a harem dancer thrusting chin forward and back.
  • Then she coughed a hollow kind of deep cough.
  • Follow all that by an insane need to go out again
  • Followed by a desperate need to eat grass.
  • After consuming about 3 cups of grass, back inside for a restless nap filled with barking dreams,
  • Then repeat all of the above plus
  • Finally she began dropping her bottom to the ground again and again and again.

Can you trace the movement of the poor struggling bee trying to maneuver through a semi-small dog’s system?

I was beside myself with worry. Could it be something she ate? Like a live bumble bee? The vet was closed of course. I made up my mind to wait to the first open business day and I would take her to the vet.

After a bland dinner (chicken and rice) and a lot of in and out of the house, Elsa finally looked peaceful. Vet no longer necessary.

I have tried to tell Elsa (to no avail) that killing bumble bees is a terrible habit that has to stop. However, I now have a dog who is a serial bumble bee killer.

This morning she was on the deck on high alert. One of those great big flying predators was daring the mighty hunter.

I screamed, “NO! Don’t eat bugs!” and this time she listened but she is refreshed, happy, wagging and hungry.

And the world is full of bumble bees. Well one less after this eyewitness of the bumble bee murder.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I love Spring in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. ‘Tis really the season for beautiful color and the clean clear beauty of nature’s reawakening. Even the deer begin boasting their new babies. And I feel happy and productive and eager to think about planting more flowers. But thinking is not doing and since I am still a slow motion walker waiting for a hip replacement I have not injected myself into the wild.

Photo taken by Daughter-in-Law, Emmy – Virginia Redbud

Spring is is also a time of imminent threat from the wild. Whether you go outside to feel your toes in the grass or not.

Three days ago I felt an itchy place on my back just below the left shoulder. A hot shower helped and I thought nothing of it.

Two days ago, the itch was back so I took a look with the help of a hand mirror and saw a red place with a slightly dark center. I asked Bill to take a look with a magnifying glass and he did. He said, there was nothing there…. maybe a little raised mole. So I put some anti-itch gel on it and went to a peaceful slumber.

Yesterday the itch was back in full force and when I looked at it with the hand mirror there was a pronounced dark center, much larger. Bill took a look too and said “it” (the dark center) was kind of hanging loose so he removed it. In my opinion it was a well fed deer tick! And I was immediately off to the doctor.

Results:

  1. It was probably a tick. An adult deer tick is the size of a poppy seed. There are no charts or photos I know of that show a well fed deer tick as opposed to a hungry one.
  2. The doctor said if you check yourself all over each day and you happen to take off a tick, no medication is necessary.
  3. Because I came in early, I only had to have two antibiotics immediately… no more.
  4. Evidently, if you have a tick bite and remove it within 34 hours, you will not need meds.

I am still confused over all of this.

Seems to me, you should report a tick bite no matter what. My niece contracted Lyme and suffered with it for many years.

Anyway, in addition to gimpy walking I now have the remains of a bite on my back. The culprit escaped a plastic bag I swear I sealed. He was a major escape artist.

The doctor’s answer for this latter issue was to put a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover in the bag with the tick. He will then suffocate and die but his body will stay in tact for identification! More than I want to know.

I dislike ticks and other bugs, but do I hate them enough to become a wanton murderer?

‘Tis the season all right.

Spring has sprung in all its glory.

But there is a downside to living in paradise.

Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

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We have our little rescue dog for almost two years now!

She is still an enigma, a bundle of odd behaviors and idiosyncracies.

Here is Elsa.  And if you are a dog psychologist, maybe you can explain who she really is. 

Bathroom Pleasures:  You have your place and I have mine!

We have acres of grassy lawn but Elsa prefers to water the small rock bed just outside the front door.

There is a surprising benefit from this odd preference.  Since no weed can survive Elsa’s acid rain for long, the rock bed stays her pristine and weed free watering place.

Maybe in her previous lifetimes she was walked on leash in a neighborhood of homes and chastised for going on a neighbor’s grass.

Play? 

Huh?

Elsa does not play, will not fetch a ball or anything else, and has no apparent interest in stuffed squeaky animals or even treat-stuffed toys.   Squeak a toy at her and she will turn away as if to say, “Stop hurting that poor little thing!”  Throw a ball and she will watch its trajectory without moving a muscle.

No!  No!  Nooooo!!!!!  Not the Car!!!!!!

Elsa does not enjoy riding in the car.  She acts excited pre-entry, but once inside,  hunkers down to shiver and shake in fear.  Fear of what?  Why doesn’t she look out the window or enjoy the breeze in her face like other dogs do?

Most times Bill drives and I ride in back with Elsa, who promptly puts her head in my lap and shakes and shivers.

Yes it is true! The Sky is falling.

Our poor little pup is terrified of thunder, airplanes, rain, far off traffic noises, falling branches, gunshots, firecrackers, and more.  She is under my desk as I write this (shaking and shivering).  I am sure she thinks the sky will fall because she is constantly looking to crawl under something.

 If I am quiet will they come?

She is quiet and respectful of visiting deer, squrrels, groundhogs, birds or rabbits and never barks at them even when they get wind of her and begin to flee.

I have never had a dog who didn’t enjoy barking at visiting creatures, especially when they turn and run.

Well, she does bark at people (who I consider the most predatory anyway) and she did bark at that bear who came through.

I think she thinks protecting me from truly dangerous looking intruders is her real job.

The Lady-Who-Limps Saved Me.  I will never leave her side.

Oddest of all, Elsa prefers my somewhat droll sedentary company to any other living thing.  She rarely leaves my side and has evidently decided I am the only human who counts.

I totally agree with that last assessment of course.

And I enjoy the adoration until she follows me into my own non-rock bathroom.

Are you inviting me to get up there on that sofa with you?  What will happen to me THEN?

There are times I would really love it if Elsa would jump on the couch or the bed, just for a hug.  But even when I invite her, she refuses.

It is probably a good thing that she is never on the furniture since she is a prolific shedder.  Again, I suspect she had some harsh training to keep her off the furniture. No amount of cajoling will entice her up, even in a thunder storm when she really wants to be cuddled.

I think I kinda like it here!

What Bill and I notice lately though is a more trusting happy dog who does a whole lot of tail wagging (on those occasions when she isn’t shaking in fear of something benign).

Elsa is full of strange behaviors and habits and fears, but maybe aren’t we all?

She is a little bit off, a little imperfect, a lot insecure, but aren’t we all?

It will be a two year anniversary soon and we think Elsa knows this is her safest place and where she lives with her most ardent fans.

And we know we will always be warned of visiting bears and unknown humans, and we are serene in the knowledge she will tell us when the sky is falling too.

 

 

 

 

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animal animal photography big big cat

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

He didn’t stay long.

And of course he arrived uninvited.

I was just having breakfast and almost choked on my tea.  I looked out toward the forest and there he was.

Was that a dog?   Maybe.

But, no, too tall –  and the legs were way too long.

And then, as if he sensed I was watching, he disappeared into the forest.

Google to the rescue!

I found close enough photos to confirm what I saw was a Bobcat!   He was the size of a very tall athletic dog with long gangly legs.  And in a strange way he was quite beautiful.

May Bob reside peacefully in our forest primeval alongside his friends (the bears and other wildlife we are suddenly seeing around here).

Do you suppose the months of lockdowns for the corona virus have lulled seldom seen critters into thinking our rural habitat has returned to Eden?

 

 

 

 

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