Thoughts About Dogs


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The new little boy, Mikey

Following the death of my fat little Chihuahua, Pete from untreated heart worm caused by his previous owner not taking the necessary precautions, I spent most of the week visiting many of the Animal Shelters around Austin including the one at Bastrop.

I was looking for a small dog of any breed that would keep Ginny  and me company. Not that she really cares that much as she spends most of her days under the covers of my bed, fast asleep in a world all of her own. Occasionally, she rushes out through the doggie door to do her business and if the weather is warm, she may stay outside for a couple of hours or more. Her favorite spot is at the bottom of the garden, sitting in the grass, warming in the sun and barking at anything that moves on the other side of the fence. When she does come back in, she heads straight for the bed again and disappears under the covers. Not exactly what you might call a companionable dog. She interacts with other dogs only when she has to like warning them away from her food or treat. I love her dearly but she is not the greatest of company. This is OK with a couple of other dogs around but when she is the only one…..

When our pack was at full strength a few years ago with Manley, a male Maltese, BeBe, a female Dachshund, Minnie, a female Scottie, Danielle, a female large breed mix, Abigail, a female Dachshund, Richie, a male Dachshund and her, she fitted in just fine getting along with all of them in her own snotty way. I think that was because there were so many of them and they were all established when she arrived. BeBe, Manley, Minnie, Danielle and Abigail were all laid back and could care less about the pecking order and when Richie arrived, he quickly established himself as the leader of the pack.

Minnie and Danielle went to that Doggy Heaven in the sky  due to age related illness and Manley had a heart attack and died in my arms leaving Abigail, BeBe, Richie and Ginny three females and the Pack Leader. Disaster struck and Abigail fell into the septic tank and drowned while we were doing work on the system. BeBe wasn’t acting right so I took her to the Vet’s where she died in my arms in the waiting room leaving just Richie and Ginny. All of a sudden, my house that had been so full of dogs before was suddenly very empty and way too quiet and peaceful.

I had a neighbor call me to see if I would be willing to take another rescue, this time a fat little Chihuahua named Pete and of course I immediately agreed. As it happens both Pete and Ginny got along well with each other so the deal was done. Those of you that follow my blog are aware of the circumstances leading to Richie’s death from the rattlesnake bite and then last weekend, little Pete was struggling with his breathing and I took him to the Vet’s where he died overnight from Heartworm complications . We thought we had treated the recurring heartworm at Pete’s last physical and check up but apparently, his little heart had been damaged and just gave out.

Now that leaves Ginny who not being a super active dog, is not the best of company for either myself or herself so when Pete died, I started to look for another to fill the voids. My Neighbourhood Watch was a great place to start and I visited a couple of people with dogs that were looking for new homes for some reason or another. I took Ginny with me as she was the final test. If she didn’t like them, it didn’t matter what my feelings were as they were not coming into her house and that was that. As it happened, she didn’t approve so we were still the two of us.

I decided to visit the local shelters to see what they had to offer and what I saw made me feel very sad. All of those wonderful dogs just looking for a fresh start. They too had been dealt a raw hand (in their case, paw) in their lives and it was not their fault of their current situation.

The primary breeds in the big dogs were Pit bull or Pit bull Mix and in the small dogs, Chihuahua’s or their mix except at Bastrop where the Big Dog breed was Great Pyrenees. I was not sure if I wanted to replace both Richie, a Dachshund and Pete, a Chihuahua with another of the same breed as neither of them were replaceable in my eyes and heart. I knew that although there were so many dogs to choose from, the right one would eventually choose me.

I received a call from BJ, my very good friend who was looking at the dogs over at the Bastrop Animal Center when they had twenty eight dogs come in all at one time. She called to tell me of the new dog shipment they had received and that I should drop everything and rush on over. When I arrived, they were very busy but the Director took it upon herself to personally give me a guided tour and even though it was a bit of a mad house with the dogs being unloaded and immediately getting their shots, took the time to show me around the facility. It was not the time to be choosing a dog but from what she showed me, it looked like we might find Ginny a buddy out of this batch. The Director told me that these dogs would be available on Friday and Saturday so I told her I would be back.

Friday rolled around as it always does on a regular basis and I was at the Animal Center bright and early as soon as the doors opened. I wandered the aisles of the different kennel buildings and saw several dogs that I might be interested in. With help from one of the kennel attendants, I finally settled on a little long haired Dachshund and Chihuahua mix. The attendant carried the dog whose name was Matthew to the front whilst I went to get Ginny from the truck so they could do a meet and greet. All went well as they both more or less totally ignored each other which was good as at least they were not trying to tear each other apart.

Back at the Office, the Director helped get the paperwork done and held Ginny while I had Matthew. She followed me out to the car and we put Matthew in a crate for the ride home as I was not sure of his reactions in a truck. I made a stop at my friend BJ to show her the new puppy and she was immediately taken with the dog. We spent a couple of hours visiting and Matthew spent almost the entire time in her arms making himself right at home. I should mention that BJ had taken it upon herself to help in finding another dog and for that, I am forever grateful.

On the trip back to my house, Matthew, who previously had been very shy, sat in the front with Ginny and myself and it wasn’t long before both of them squeezed onto my lap for the ride home. At least Ginny didn’t complain or try to go after Matthew so that was a very good sign but it was a little difficult to drive.

Matthew has been renamed Mikey as I could not for the life of me remember his name and so far, has settled in nicely. Except for the occasional growl over her food bowl, Ginny has accepted Mikey as one of the family. Whether she really warms up to him time will tell but as she is not an affectionate dog by Nature, tolerance is probably the best we can hope for. Mikey has discovered that he likes to cuddle especially at night and sleeps as close to me as he can. With Ginny on the one side and Mikey on the other at least I am not cold but it is tough to roll over and as for hitting the bathroom the three or four times a night, the downside of growing old as a male, I have to be very careful when getting out of bed. I think that Mikey sees me as his knight in shining armor after rescuing him as he is never very far away from me at all times.

As for me, I think he is going to work out just fine. We have several challenges ahead like bathroom training, leash training, stop jumping and other simple commands but they will be fun and yet another challenge. Is the pack complete? Hardly as two is not a pack and I would still like to see a couple more dogs around but we can work on that in the weeks to come. Maybe there are more dogs that need rescuing and would like a home with the three of us. Not maybe, a certainty. But that is in the future.

 

You can read more about Richie at these links.
Richie and the Snake
Memories
and Pete at these links.
An Addition to the Family
More Sadness

Written 2/7/2018

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Decisions, Decisions…


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Old age crisis…

I can’t remember that I ever had a mid life crisis. Come to that, I can’t even remember that I ever had a mid life. I suppose that technically that should make it around my 40th birthday as I am currently, 81 years young. From what I can remember of my life back then, everything was as good as I could have expected it to be.

Seeing as how I missed out that time around, I am working towards an end of life crisis instead. I suppose “end of life” is a little strong as I don’t know when that will be, hopefully in the very distant future. As the exact date is unknown to any of us earthly beings, I can only push on with a full life expectancy of one hundred and twenty five. Anyway, it does tie into my current thought processes for to put it bluntly, I am restless and am choosing my right to have that crisis that I missed out on before.

To some, it is a no brainer. I own my home, am comfortably off and do not have a wife to nag and berate me into doing things that I don’t want to do or spending money on things I don’t want to buy. On the other hand, I do not have a readymade caregiver and so need to plan for the future. Instead, I live alone with two dogs, Ginny, a mini Dachshund and Pete, a fat little Chihuahua and Ellie, the one remaining very old cat. I do have about 250 or so fish friends out in the five ponds but “friends” is probably not the right word. I feed them and clean the water and generally get a lot of pleasure from just watching them swim around.

But, I am restless. I am having recurring thoughts of selling this place and either buying 5 acres out in the country and building a mini home on it so that I can disappear off the face of the earth, buying a travel trailer and spending the rest of my days driving around these United States and eventually parking it when I can no longer drive at wherever I end up. Or finally, even returning to my native England to live out what remains of my life and to become a burden on whatever family remains over there.

My Realtor friends tell me that a house with 5 ponds would probably be hard to sell unless I was extremely lucky and the right pond enthusiast happened to come along or if I was willing to take a price cut. So now, if I choose any of the three options that are nagging at me, I would need to close down at least 3 of the ponds which by itself, is not a small project.

So, as you can see, my mind is in a quandary. The easy thing to do is to work on this over a period of time like the next 6 months, closing down those three ponds and leave the two remaining 5000 gallon and 6000 gallon ponds and just landscape around them. I would probably need to do that anyway if I want to get top dollar for the property whenever I choose to sell although all that “Top Dollar” will do is leave more inheritance for any remaining kids.

Looking at the three options that are nagging at me and in no particular order, the following thoughts cross my mind. Why go back to England? It is always raining over there and much colder which was the prime reason for coming here in the first place. People have already got their winter coats on. So, put the England idea on a back burner but don’t discard it just in case this country goes down the toilet with Trump in the White House.

How about the travel trailer idea. I suppose the big question is, “I wonder how much longer I can drive without being a hazard to myself and anyone else out there on the roads”. I would need to buy a bigger vehicle to comfortably tow a trailer of any size and both of them would depreciate over the years. I suppose that as long as the trailer was in decent enough shape at its and mine final resting place, wherever that may be, that is all that is important so that I could park it and live in it for whatever years remain.

Finally, 5 acres in the woods with a mini home on it would require work at the beginning in putting it all together but I am not averse to hard work and as long as I am physically capable, it would help to keep me in shape. Not that I am planning on running a marathon or returning to the soccer fields anywhere in the near or distant future. It would probably cost me $100,000.00 to buy land, buy a mini home, put in a septic system, run water or drill a well and get electricity to the property which is a lot of money but unlike the trailer idea, would appreciate and be worth more when eventually it gets sold. It would also take time, at least 3-6 months to build.

Thinking about it, there is one more way to go and that is to do the travel trailer routine and then when I can no longer safely drive or get tired of it, to buy that 5 acres in the woods and park the trailer on it to live out my remaining days. That way, I could save the cost of the mini house. Damn, all of these ideas and no still no solution.

So, I have laid out my thoughts and am no closer to solving the dilemma that I am in. About the only positive out of it all is the obvious need to close down a couple of ponds regardless of what other choices that I make even if I don’t make a choice at all and stay here until I get shipped out, feet first.

Mid life crisis, what mid life crisis, how about the workings of an old man’s mind instead, making a crisis where there is no crisis. I have either got to live with it the way things are or make a decision about my future.

Written 9/22/2017

Harvey – Day 3


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I checked the computer and watched  the news before going to bed around 11:00 pm on Saturday evening. There were tales of doom and gloom on both of them with dire warnings of flooding and high winds. I figured that there was not much I could do unless the roof blew off the house in which case, I would be busy rescuing important stuff, like pets and electronic gadgets including my cameras before jumping in the car (hopefully) and heading out. Or if this was not possible, hunkering down in any room that was still dry if I couldn’t get the car out of the garage.

Hoping for the best, I went to bed and fell asleep in no time flat only waking when the call of nature prodded my brain to use the bathroom which sadly to say, happens all too often nowadays. I didn’t hear the storm as it continued through the night although my cell phone went off a couple of times with weather alerts telling me to be aware of “strong winds” and “lots of rain”. Sometimes it helps to wear hearing aids which I remove at night enabling me to sleep through anything but the loudest thunder.

I awoke the next morning and looked out of the french doors at the yard. As far as I could see, apart from things laying in different directions from the wind, I could not visibly see any damage. The stained glass window is still hanging in the trees although a little more lopsided than before. I still need to find it a new home when the weather gets better.

Choosing to get up even though it was before 8:00 am, I showered and dressed and went outside to see the extent of the damage up close. There are leaves off the trees everywhere. Many plants are laying lopsided as the wind has blown them over and apart from the water in the 5000 gallon pond being very dirty and of course the downed Cypress tree in the 6000 gallon pond, everything doesn’t look too bad at all. It looks like one of the pumps has stopped working or is blocked in the 5000 gallon pond. I will get to that later. All of the ponds are full to the brim with the overflows working nicely to let some of the water run off.

I wandered down to the bottom of the garden to the area know as Murmuring Creek which, as I have mentioned many times before, only murmurs when we get a real gully washer and although it was very obvious that it had flooded a little bit, it was nothing like I had expected.

All in all, it looks like my part of town has gotten off very lightly. The weather map shows the main part of the Hurricane to have moved off to the East and we should probably only be getting strong winds and rain for a couple more days. If there is anything to report tomorrow, I will follow up then.

Raining Cats and Dogs.


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I took another drive today
this one to the  store along the way
as I was running out of food
which my fridge did not include.

It was raining cats and dogs
which I have never understood
how did that saying come about
as there were no animals underfoot.

I hurried quickly into the store
as the rain came down just like before
I grabbed a cart and walked inside
to get the few things my list described.

I quickly bought the very few things
and spent more time at the Higi screen
trying to see if I was alive
as my blood pressure and pulse did provide.

Satisfied that I was not dead
to the checkouts I quickly went
paid my fee and grabbed my cart
back to the car ready to depart.

It was still raining those same cats and dogs
as back to my house without further loss
of time as I needed to get home
with my groceries no more to roam.

I got back home to my cats and dogs
they were not raining I am at a loss
they were perfectly dry no sign of rain
and pleased to see me back home again.

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More Ramblings


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The Stained Glass Window in the Tree

I have just finished a poem about Hurricane Harvey, the second in the series. Will there be one tomorrow or the day after? Who knows as it all depends on what the weather will bring in that time. There is still a lot of storm left and plenty of time for it to reke havoc and damage. Quite obviously, all outside activity is curtailed for a while except to go out and check the ponds occasionally to put right any minor things that may be malfunctioning. So far, everything is holding up well.

I do have a stained glass window that I hung in one of the trees a few years back. Unfortunately, the branch I hung it on is now dead and I need to get up there and take the window down before the wind breaks the branch which has to be in the near future somewhere. That is nature’s way of trimming the trees, let the branches die until they are rotten and flimsy and then blow them down. Unfortunately, there is sometimes something wrong with the plan as it doesn’t take into consideration anything that may be situated under or hanging on the rotten branch. Make a note to myself to take down the window as soon as the storm leaves.

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View of the Vegetation in the Garden from the Deck

The rain that we are getting out of this storm is very welcome.  We have had around 80 days of 100 sometimes plus degree weather this summer and we are not through yet. The State has been in a drought like forever. Funnily enough, I was thinking just the other day that I have not set up the soaker hose systems that I have ready to go every summer. I have hand watered a few times on a couple of plants but not an excessive amount and the garden and plants have held up well.  Everything is pretty much native plantings and they are very drought tolerant. Except when I have to do a partial water change in one of the ponds which pushes the water bill up around the $60.00 mark, my normal consumption is around $23.00 worth of water. One old guy living alone sure makes a difference and yes, I do shower every day.

All of the animals are fast asleep. Pete is in his usual place on the couch and I can hear him snoring from way over the other side of the room. Ginny had to have her teeth cleaned two days ago resulting in the extraction of a couple of them. Now she is feeling sorry for herself stretched out fast asleep on the bed. I don’t know where the cat is, probably asleep somewhere in one of her hidey holes. Must be a great life to be a pet in a good home.

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A Different View of the Garden and the Native Plants.

Maybe I should take a leaf out of their book and join Ginny and take a nap…Or I could watch the English Premier League on television but  wait, I like to watch those recorded games in the evening. There is always the cat’s litter box that needs cleaning and a whole bunch of dusting and furniture polishing needing attention that I have been putting off for a couple of years or so. Or I could think of something else to blog about and add it to the couple of months worth that I am already scheduled ahead. I know,  while I am making up my mind, I will make myself another Latte to help me to think….

 

Farewell Ellie…


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The cairn under which at least eight of my pets are buried

My beautiful Ellie who I recently wrote about, has joined Brown Cat in that special place that all cats go to when they pass on from this earthly life.

She did not handle the passing of Brown Cat very well and it was obvious that even though they were not close, she did miss him if only for the companionship of another cat in the house. She totally changed her lifestyle from being an indoor cat sleeping on the bed all day to spending hours outdoors in any of the special places that she found to sleep, on the deck, under the deck, in between the trees and under the shed. If I didn’t bring her in at night, she would probably have spent all of her time outside not even coming in to eat. Even after eating, she immediately wanted back outside again although I wouldn’t let her out until the morning choosing instead to listen to her plaintive meowing in protest.

We had a rainy day and true to form, she again slipped out using the doggy door. I looked for her as the rain pelted down but could not find her anywhere. Eventually, around 12:30 that night, I located her under the deck totally soaked and very dirty and managed to get her indoors where I gave her a bath, sort of. Have you vere tried bathing a cat? I do not recommend it as they have teeth and claws and put them to very good use. I eventually got a lot of the dirt off her and dried her and put her in her room.

The next day, when I let her out, she immediately headed for the doggy door but only made it halfway and collapsed on the floor. I could see she was in trouble so I put her in a carry crate and off we went to the vets (again). Although I love my vets dearly having been with them for the 32 years I have lived in this house, they have seen far too much of me these past couple of years.

I left Ellie with them and waited for the call confirming what I already knew the news would be. True to form, Dr Donop, called and we talked about Ellie. Turns out that she had an open wound on her leg that I had not noticed before even when I bathed her.  With her outdoor life, the flies had gotten into it and they had made it much worse with their eggs and maggots and Dr Donop could not find any way to sew up the wound in order to treat it. We discussed the alternatives of which there were very few options and in the end,  based on his recommendations, I told him to go ahead and put Ellie to sleep and out of her suffering. It was something I was prepared for this time, not like Richie. I told him I would be back later that day to pick her up.

I walked out to the garden carrying my spade and shovel and headed for that special place next to the big pond where so many of my pets are buried. Normally, the digging is hard but as we had recently a lot of rain, it was somewhat easier than normal. Being Texas Hill Country, the limestone is usually only a foot or so below the surface which limits the depth of the hole and I make up for it but covering everything up with rocks.

I buried Ellie next to Brown Cat and Richie, the most recent of the many dogs and cats that lay in this special place. I stood for a while and said my goodbyes to Ellie as I have to all of the pets buried here. She was the last of the many cats that I have had the pleasure of living with over these many years both here and in my previous home out in the country as I do not plan on getting any more. My little menagerie has dropped radically in size from an all time high of eight dogs and three cats to two very small and very noisy dogs. What they lack in size, they truly make up for with their noisy barking at anything that moves out in the yard, perceived or real. Ginny is about eight and Pete around four so they should be around for awhile, hopefully, the rest of my lifetime.

There are stone statues of dogs and cats on the cairn.

In retrospect, this has been a bad couple of years as far as pets go in the Allcorn Residence. Four of the last six dogs and cats that I have taken to the vets have all come home in cardboard boxes and then there was Abigail who drowned in the septic tank. In fairness, with the exception of Richie and Abigail, all of the others were getting on in years and their time had come. Ellie was at least 18 years old and she had a good life.

I will miss her as I do all of the ones that have gone to that animal heaven up in the sky. They all asked for very little and in return, gave me their unconditional love. A man could not ask for anything better than that.

Rest in Peace Ellie. You will be missed.

Written 10/8/2017

 

Ellie, the lonely life of an older cat.


Ellie on the printerWith the recent death of Brown Cat, Ellie is the one remaining cat left in this household. Over the years, there have been many different cats, some of the indoor variety and others that spent most of their time outdoors. In terms of lifespan, the outdoor cats didn’t do so well either succumbing to the traffic on the busy road that runs alongside of my property or ending up as food for the Coyotes.

Cats are notoriously difficult to control especially if you have dogs and a doggy door. They are intelligent and learn how to make use of such a gadget very quickly. Consequently, they tend to roam following their natural habits of stalking and hunting. Luckily, as they get much older, they limit this outside practice to sunning on the deck and when that gets too hot, back indoors in the air conditioning.

I think that Ellie misses Brown Cats company at least in the sense that they were generally in each others proximity.  They were never buddies and in reality, could not stand to be too close to one another but they slept in the same room and in their younger lives, both would join me and the dogs on the big king sized bed at night. Never once did I ever see the two of them act affectionately towards each other. Come to that, both cats were very stand offish towards the dogs. Can’t say that I blame them as Richie was not to be trusted.

Brown Cat

Occasionally, Ellie will climb up on the bed using the steps that I built for that purpose but she is not very comfortable being too close to the dogs anymore.  As soon as I turn off the light, she scrambles down off the bed to go to her room to sleep. It’s not that she is afraid of the dogs as the incident with Richie, when he went after her was several years ago and long gone from her memory. Pete, the relatively new Chihuahua is aggressive towards her but only in an excited way and she can probably do without that sort of attention. No, I think that she is lonely as she tries to spend a lot more time closer to me than before and I go out of my way to always make a fuss of her.

I have to be very careful as I stroke her as she seems very sensitive around her back area and almost goes into convulsions as she squirms around trying to lick her back after one of these incidents. Kinda dangerous to anyone close to her when she does that as her claws are flashing around with no control.

Ellie, as best as we can put together is almost 19 years old, 17 of which she has spent with me. A lot of dogs have come and gone in that  time and the only constant in her life was Brown Cat. Now he is gone and that leaves a void for her. Another cat, even an older one is not the answer as who knows how two cats new to each other, even older ones, would get along.

No, I just got to spend as much time with her as I can to help her through this rough patch and hope that she doesn’t die of a broken heart.  Like me, she is slow moving and even slower getting up. Who knows for how long considering her age although she does not show any sign of passing on, yet.

What is the saying, “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst”.