Memories – Written 9-14-2017

Richie smaller (1 of 1)The days are long and my heart is cold
thoughts of Richie are NOT growing old
as quickly as I want them to be
to lift the weight of grief in me.

I worked outside around the shed
the area that the snake had hid
waiting probably in fear
as he watched the little dog draw near.

Poised and ready no rattle to warn
a natural reaction for which it was born
striking the dog to preserve its life
as the law of the wild provokes such strife.

Richie let out an almighty roar
a sound I had never heard before
as he flew out from under the shed
knowing that he was already dead.

He looked at me with his big brown eyes
pleading for help with no disguise
as I rushed him to my local vet
who worked to save my little pet.

Alas for it was not to be
as he died the next day peacefully
and I brought him home in a box
my faith in God forever lost.

I blame myself for Richie’s death
for not cleaning out from under the shed
and leaving a place for the snake to hide
from the dog exploring with curious eyes.

Everywhere out in the garden I see
traces and memories of what used to be
holes dug here and a dirt pile there
and trails through the plants leading who knows where.

Even though there are Ginny and Pete
their personalities do not compete
and are different in the ways they shine
and cannot replace what’s left behind.

Maybe I should get another pet
one that likes to dig and yet
it would never be the same
even with the very same name.

So all that remains is for me to heal
knowing that I will always feel
love for the little dog that I lost
as I remain behind to bear the cost.

If the Gods are kind to me
one day I hope that I will be
with Richie in another life
one where there is no strife
and pets never do grow old
its called “The Rainbow Bridge” so I am told.


 Rainbow Bridge 

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Author unknown…

Richie and the Snake

Yesterday, my little Dachshund Richie, the same one that is always sniffing around, was struck by a venomous snake that was under the deck that is in front of the workshop. I was working on something no more than 3 feet from where it happened and counted myself lucky that it was the dog and not me that was struck. I was not able to identify the snake as I didn’t get to see it being more concerned with Richie but there is definitely an uptick in them in my yard this summer. I have lived in this house for 32 years and this is the first time that I have encountered a poisonous snake inside of the yard.

I have several garter snakes that live in and around the ponds and yesterday while I was looking for whatever struck Richie, I found a black Whipsnake about 2 feet long that had just eaten something as its body was pretty distended. You can’t be too careful especially around the ponds or in dark shady places like under sheds. It seems that this hot, dry summer has really got them moving presumably to find water.

I rushed Richie to the vets but he was already in shock and was out of it by the time I got there. My vet is only 10 minutes from my house and when I walked in, they went into action like a well oiled team and had saline and other solutions including anti-venom pumping into his little body in no time flat. I stayed back out of the way and watched and hoped against hope that Richie would make it. They kept him overnight which I always dread as that is when animals seem to die after surgery. At least, that has been my experience. If they get through that first night, they have a chance.

True to his word, my vet called me around 9:00 pm that evening to give me a report. He had come back in especially to check on the dog and told me he would call me in the morning. After a restless night, I was up very early, (for me) waiting for the call back from the Vet. He had promised me that it would 8:00 am when he called but as I waited and waited all the while my thoughts thinking the worst. He finally called about 8:45 am with the good news that Richie was doing as well as could be expected and was alert although his throat and face were very swollen. But he was alive and my Vet thought that barring a sudden relapse, always possible with snake bites, he might pull through.

I told him I would be along to see Richie later in the day and stopped by in the afternoon. I spent some time with Richie but he was pretty drugged up and really didn’t recognize me. I left and it wasn’t 45 minutes later that I got a call from the Vet to say that Richie had passed away. I was in the car at the time and had to pull over as I just couldn’t stop crying. I had been hoping like hell that the little guy would make it but it was not to be. The Vet suggested that maybe Richie had been hanging on in the hope of seeing me before he passed on but that is probably wishful thinking.

I picked Richie up, this time in a box and brought him home. I took him out and let Ginnie and Pete sniff him over and I hope that this will explain to them Richie’s absence from their little pack. After all, he was the pack leader.

I put him back in the box and took him out to where all of the rest of the animals are buried alongside the Big Pond. The ground was hard and the sweat poured off of me but it helped me to work out some of my grief as I really loved that little dog and I’m pretty sure he loved me.

Now we are down to Ginnie the female miniature Dachshund, who does not really get on with Pete the overweight and bossy Chihuahua and Ellie who has her own problems trying to recover from the loss of Brown Cat. The one saving grace out of losing Richie is that I will no longer have to shut the cat up in a separate room every time I go out for fear that Richie would repeat his attack on her as he did many years ago.

Will I try to find another Richie? He was definitely one of a kind so probably not. I will see how it works out with the other two and then go from there.
Rest in Peace Richie. You were my Best Friend and very much loved. You will be missed.
One final note. It is ironic that of all the things that I revere the most, Mother Nature, she is responsible for Richie’s death. It was one of her creations that killed him. Payback for what he had done to other snakes? Only she knows…

Richie-the mighty hunter

Richie checking up on the opposum

I have this small dachshund named Richie that has been mentioned in many of my blogs mainly due to the fact that he is so energetic and gets into everything. Today was no exception as I saw him nosing around one of the sheds. The more he nosed, the more excited he got so I figured that something was under there. Usually, it’s a rat or a mouse but one time, this small kitten came out. It was a ferrule kitten and was like a bloody spitfire. Richie couldn’t get near it and like a fool, I tried to pick it up and it nearly ripped my hand off. Luckily, I was wearing heavy gloves so it didn’t do me any damage.

We both decided that it wasn’t worth it and the kitten climbed over the fence to escape. Turns out, we were all unharmed by that episode, me, Richie and the kitten.

Richie was keeping up with his prowling and I checked to make sure that all of the blockades put up to deter him from getting under the shed were in place and went back inside. Fifteen minutes later I came out to clean the hot tub filter and heard Richie barking up a storm and it was coming from under the shed. He had found a small opening and had dug it big enough to squeeze himself through to get at whatever was under there.

The last two times Richie has had “under shed episodes” he nearly got himself into trouble. One of these was under a different shed and one was under the deck. The shed episode he got into it with a big old tree snake that was all of 6 feet long. I managed to call him off from that one and we let the snake slip away. The deck episode happened at 3:00 am and this time, he cornered a racoon and they had a heck of a battle which consisted mostly of jumping in and jumping out as each took a shot at the other. The ‘coon got in the final blow and Richie came limping out covered in his own blood from a very small scratch on his nose but with a huge dent to his pride.

This episode was different. I should mention that this shed is raised up enough for small dogs and animals to get under but access is from one side only which is the side that I thought I had barricaded up. Years ago, the oldest of my cocker spaniels who was blind, managed to end up under this same shed. The only way I got her out was to literally dig a trench big enough for me to slide into to get far enough back to reach her.

I had visions of having to do the same this time so I cleared away my barriers and dug enough out that I could shine a light under the shed. Meanwhile, Richie was barking up a very excited storm and laying on my belly with the flashlight pointing under the shed, I saw that Richie had cornered an opossum. It was giving as good as it was getting and there was the usual jockeying for position followed by a swift dart forward with the other guy doing a backward jump to avoid the onslaught. All the time, Richie was keeping up this constant barking which for all I know was to help terrorize the intended victim. Or maybe it was Richie’s way of keeping up his courage and the barks were self reinforcement.

Richie is not well-behaved at the best of times and given the current circumstances with him worked up into a hunting frenzy and highly excited, he paid absolutely no attention to me and continued with his battle. I went around the other side of the shed to see if I could dig a way under closer to the action but to no avail so back to the front and I started digging the trench so I could get in there. I was able to crawl in a little way but could not see them as they were behind a block that helped to hold up the shed so I crawled back out and got a hose pipe and tried to end the fight with water.

That didn’t work and I went to get a better digging shovel and started back on the trench. In the meantime, it had gone awful quiet. The silence was deafening. I couldn’t see anything and crawled back out and Richie was standing there looking at me at eye level as it to say, “What are you doing under the shed”?

Breathing a sigh of relief that he was not hurt other than a small scratch on his nose …again, I shovelled all the dirt back in and did a better job of blocking it off in the hope that there would not be any re-occurrences of these situations, yeah right, probably wishful thinking on my part.

The story is not over as I had no idea what happened to the opossum but I found Richie, some ten minutes later, over by the compost heap looking very suspicious. Sure enough, he had dragged that opossum out from under the shed when I was getting the other digging tool and had carried it a full 40 yards to the fenced in yard which has the compost heap and many other things and was standing there looking at it. The opossum was doing his opossum thing and was not moving and I could see that it was still breathing but was chewed up in a few places. So, I poked him with a stick and he got up and kind of staggered over to the fence.

I took Richie inside along with the other dogs to give the little opossum a chance to recover. By the time I got back out there, it had managed to climb up onto the fence although he didn’t look in very good shape. I let the dogs back out and Richie stood guard just in case the opossum fell off the fence.

Opposum on top of fence, recovering

I had to run some errands and when I came back an hour later, the opossum had gone hopefully making his way back into the woods. I checked around just to be sure but there was no sign of him.

I am hoping this story had a happy ending. I know it did for Richie as he did not get hurt and had the excitement of the chase and the capture albeit only temporarily. I hope that the opossum got away and recovers as we try not to kill anything in our house except those damn rats. Dirty smelly things.

It got me thinking if today was a good day for Richie. Do dogs have that sort of reasoning ability that makes them happy or sad? In his case, he is nearly always happy and has a tail that non stop wags madly from side to side even when he is poking around in the garden looking for lizards and frogs and the occasional mouse or rat.

But today was different. He actually had to fight to win his prize albeit only temporarily. Does that give him more or extra satisfaction? I guess we’ll never know…

In the meantime, Richie is back out there sniffing around for anything that moves. The mighty hunter…

Routine Maintenance or just Busy Work…

Fish Fountain Water Feature

I was in one of the ponds the other day fixing a pipe that had gone astray
the pipe to the Fish Fountain Statue led but was  spraying water in the pond instead.

I do not mind getting in the ponds when the water is warm and the temperature high
for it is like a swimming pool, but not as clean and a little green with algae
and dirt floating around and with fish for company tho they cannot be found
except when against my leg they do swim not knowing who this is and why
I am around but they really don’t care as I move slowly so as not to step
on any of them and I cannot  forget that at least two turtles live in the pond
so warily as I move along  just in case  one under my foot should be found.

With so many ponds it’s hard to say which one the turtles are in today
as on the  move they can often be found going on walkabout
without much design as the course they are taking to them seems fine
Richie, the dachshund kicks up a fuss  as he barks frantically to make me aware
at least, I like to think it is so but probably he is more interested to go
to see to the turtle what he can do although with the big one he has met his match
and the big turtle retreats into his shell at the noise
and is too heavy for Richie to surprise by flipping on his back
as this seems to be his favorite thing.
The small one is more of a match as on his shell Richie chews
in a frantic attempt to eat him as he does with the rats in the shed.

I fixed the pipe,it didn’t take much and while I was there the pond I did clean.
Keep in mind the ponds do reside under the trees which means
that leaves are always inside the ponds
so now and then, with my hands as a shovel I scoop out the muck
and onto the bank it goes and then in go the hands for another big load
and so it goes on until satisfied me that the pond is as clean
as it’s going to be as leaves fall in it all of the time
and cleaner than clean is not my line besides the muck in the bottom I find
is a place where the Koi can nuzzle around to find tidbits and larvae and small little bugs
that add to their diet instead of the stuff that I feed.

Turtles in Stream Pond

Red Eared Sliders

In go my hands just one more time, whats this round and hard with sharp little claws
its one of the turtles the middle-sized one who struggles and scratches
as I lift him out just to quickly examine him and to see
if any leeches have attached to his body as they will kill him given the time
as is the way Nature decrees as we all fall in line in the food chain
and in the grand  scheme of things.

The pipe is fixed and the pond is clean
at least cleaner than before I started the task.
While I was at it a pump I did change as the old one was stopped more than it pumped
which is a sure sign that it’s on it’s way out. It will soon be history and will be added to the pile of used pumps that I have out of view.

I check its number and make a note to see if under warranty
Darn, it’s not so there goes that hope of exchange for a new one mainly
to put on the shelf as it’s a pretty safe bet that given the time
one of the pumps will go off-line
and the new one that’s sitting on the shelf will be placed into action
it’s work to begin and the old one back on the pile will be thrown.

I clean up the mess of the leaves from the pond and put water lilies back in the tank
to recover from damage the Koi they did make
as they chewed and buffeted them all along
I replaced the lilies with strong growing ones and in a safety net did place
to protect them from the damaging Koi  as in the ponds they do grace.

Water Lily in net

Routine stuff all  in a day but not if the Koi had their way
as damage they do to anything new that is green and tender
as on them they chew.

I walk the yard, what else do I see that needs attention immediately.
Ah yes, the filters need to be changed and then cleaned to be used again
simple work it is true but the difference is great what the filters can do
to keep water clean, after the dirt I kicked up
as I was cleaning out the muck.

I change the filters and hose them down knowing that the next time I’m out
checking things in the yard to see the things to be done will always include
feeding fish which is fun to watch as they splash and turn
disturbing the water in their mad dash to eat as much of the food as they can.

If nothing is found then inside I’ll go, give the dogs cookies
as they hang around,  check for messages, oh good nothing for me,
this gives me a chance to work on this blog as in the back of my mind this idea I have
of writing about my dip in the pond.

Today in the Garden 5/5/2012

Today was an eventful today day as far as the garden is concerned.

The turtles of which I believe there are four, have been pretty active sunning themselves on the rocks around the ponds. When I say active, I don’t mean they are jumping about. Quite the contrary as they are just sitting in the sun but they have come out of the water and are showing themselves which is always a pleasant surprise.

The biggest of the two in this picture is probably 8-9 inches in shell size whilst the small one is about 4 inches. The small one is the same one that wandered up about a month ago when I was mulching and discovered him by the trailer. I wondered if he had hung around and it appears he has. They do move from pond to pond as both were originally sighted in the third pond and this picture is taken by the pond and stream.

As a follow-up to this blog, after I had posted it, I took a walk around the garden as I often do and came across the little turtle on one of the walkways. Guess he was on a walkabout so I picked him up and put him back in the same pond hoping that he will stay there.

Turtles in Stream and Pond

Turtles in Stream and Pond

Another and much more interesting event was the discovery by Richie, my inquisitive dachshund, of a large tree snake. This may well be the same one that he had a run in with last year which I wrote about in an earlier blog. Luckily, I am beginning to recognize some of his barks and can tell the squirrel barks or the buzzard barks. This one had a note of real panic and concern which got me over to him pretty quick. Again, the tree snakes at first glance do resemble the markings of a rattlesnake. I moved the dogs indoors whilst I dealt with this intruder.

So, armed with a camera I went back and given more time, was able to determine that this snake was harmless. I took a few pictures and made sure that it left the property by slithering under the fence before letting the dogs back out. Richie was straight back to the spot he first encountered the snake and was most disappointed that it was gone. Nothing left to kick up a fuss over. By the way, this snake was all of 6 feet long.

Tree Snake in Defensive Mode

Tree Snake in Defensive Mode

If you double click on the picture, you can see a larger version of the snake in all of his glory.

Today’s Discussion – 4/9/2012

This beautiful weather here in Texas is just making the garden grow in leaps and bounds. Everything is just shooting up and as long as we get a shower or two in the future, this years Pond Tour on June 9/10 looks like it will be outstanding.I have more roses this year than I have ever seen. They are growing in abundance. I have red’s and yellows and yesterday, I bought a white one just because I liked how it looks. The Sacred Datura are already beginning to flower which seems a bit early compared to other years. They have large white bell-like flowers that are easily six inches big. They only last a day and then wither down until the next one comes out. They are actually members of the Nightshade family and all parts of the plant is poisonous.

The Jasmine is supposed to be flowering at this time of the year but I lost so much of it in the drought, that there are only a few flowers showing up. Normally, one almost gets giddy with their strong scent bit not this time around. Oh well, can’t have it all.

I have finally finished mulching the entire yard or at least all of the flower beds. I had to make six trips with my trailer and used 6 cubic yards total. It took a while because of the abundant vegetation. Next year, I am going to wait for the first frost to knock everything down and then I am going to mulch. Sure will be a lot easier. The only major thing I want to do before the Pond Tour is to add crushed granite to the walkways. That won’t take long as compared to the mulch, the gravel is plain sailing.

The latest report on the Koi in three of the ponds is that they are still doing their mating thing and knocking each other around and at the same time, doing their best to destroy their chosen plants. When they are through, eventually, I will have to get in the ponds to clean up the mess.

Yesterday, while I was finishing up unloading the trailer, which I park outside the garden in the driveway, I walked back for yet one more load pulling my trusty hand cart and there was this red slider turtle in front of me. This one is about five inches big and was exceptionally clean. I don’t know where or how long he has been on his walkabout but I picked him up and placed him in one of the ponds to joint the other three turtles that I have there. This morning, my little tearaway dachshund, Richie, was kicking up an awful fuss down the very bottom of the garden. He does that for squirrels and buzzards but this time, it was a little more frantic so I wandered down there to see him busy attacking the new turtle who of course, was withdrawn into his shell. He had managed to get out of the pond that I put him in yesterday and was obviously quite determined to continue on his walkabout. I picked him up and put him back into the smaller of the ponds where there are no other turtles. I don’t know if turtles are territorial so this time I figured he could have the pond to himself.

It wasn’t fifteen minutes later that Richie was barking again and lo and behold, he had found the turtle who had just climbed out of the small pond. Talk about determination. So, we now have him in a pond that is a little more but not impossible, to get out of keeping one of the other turtles company. it will be interesting to see how long he stays.

A Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor). Photo ...

Tufted Titmouse

I noticed a pair of Tufted Titmouse showing an interest in the nest box that  one of my young soccer players, Dominick Mauro, had made    and passed on to me. This is the first birds that I have seen to take any interest in any of the nest boxes scattered around my garden. Something to keep an eye on.All in all, yesterday was an extremely good day as for me, there are no bad days unless I lose one of my pets. All things being equal, I have a great life. I finished mulching the yard, I found the turtle, I saw the Tufted Titmouse looking at the nest box, no one cut in front of me or otherwise teed me off, Manchester United beat Queen’s Park Rangers 2-0 and to top it off, Arsenal beat Manchester City by a single goal increasing Manchester United’s lead at the top of the table to eight points with six games to go.

Who could ask for a better day or a better life…


Be-Be on the left, Richie in the middle and their big friend, Danny

I have three dachshunds. Abigail is a couch potato, Be-Be is a wannabee tearaway and Richie is the tearaway.

Be-Be, short for Beatrice is a very small female with little short legs that are hardly conducive to match her personality. She is always out in the yard, poking about in the hopes that she can raise something to chase. With her short legs, the only thing she could catch would be one of the turtles that occasionally get out of the ponds. If she does spot one, she wants to bark it to death always with very little success. As the turtle just withdraws in its shell, Be-Be loses interest and wanders off. No fun chasing something that won’t move…She did get tangled up with a rat early in her wannabee career and the rat fastened onto her neck. Be-Be went tearing around the yard at top speed screaming at the top of her voice. When I finally caught up with her, the rat just fell off and I assume, of a broken neck after Be-Be’s mad dash. A trip to the vet for a shot and she was fine.

Richie on the other hand is a whole new ball game. He is about a mid size dachshund with very powerful legs and is very quick. he can jump onto my lap and even higher if he thinks there is something in it for him. This story is about him and his exploits to date.

Richie came to me almost six years ago from a friend of a friend that could no longer keep him. He was about 4 years old at that time so he is about 9 or 10 now. Having already Abigail and Be-Be, I thought I knew a little about dachshunds. that was, until Richie showed up.

When I picked him up from my friend, he was all over me as though to say, “you are the one I have been waiting for”, at least that is how I interpreted his joyful kisses and excited jumping up and down. Little did I know what secrets lay behind his doggie actions and what hold he would have over me.

As we walked around the my backyard together that first day home, which, I might add, is surrounded by a 6 ft high wooden fence made of 6 inch boards nailed closely together, he heard a mule on the other side of this fence in the wooded area and before I could even move, had dug himself a hole no more than 3 inches big where he squeezed through to the other side. I knew that the mule would kill him if I didn’t move quickly so I struggled to climb the fence and drop to the other side which had the remnants of a barbed wire fence surrounding it, making my movements so much more difficult. I finally broke free, scratched up all to hell and went after Richie who was having a fine old-time trucking around the woods. I didn’t know how well he had been trained but took a chance and called for him and lo and behold, he trotted quietly back to me. That was the first excursion of its kind with Richie saying,”welcome to my world”.  I should have realized there is something wrong with this picture.

The second time a couple of weeks later, he slipped out the side gate as I was closing it when we were working in the yard and immediately made a mad dash towards the main road. This was prior to my knee surgery and I was wearing a leg brace to work in the yard so I ran after him.  We both were running up the middle of the road with traffic behind and in front of me. With one hand as I was trying to get the cars to stop that were coming towards us and with the other, trying to stop those behind us, all of this wearing a brace that did not help my movements very much. Luckily for us, both sets of cars did stop and when I hollered at him, Richie again stopped running and trotted back to me as if to say, “we got our exercise, let’s go home”. We must have looked pretty funny with this little dog going at full speed, tail up, followed by this old man with wildly flailing arms and an enormous knee brace both running at top speed which for me, was not very fast. If Richie had not decided to come back, he could have got clear away as I was no match for him.

By this time, I had gotten a bit smarter and had run an electric fence, powered by a doggie shocker, all around the bottom of the fenced in yard. I think Richie has probably made contact with it a couple of times as he steers clear if it now.

I had been told by the previous owners that Richie liked to chase squirrels and cats. I had three cats at the time and I watched them pretty closely but he never made any move to bother the cats at all so I figured that he was OK with them. Big mistake. I went out one day leaving the cats and dogs all together as per usual. When I returned, the place was a shambles with furniture overturned, blood on the floor and a strong smell of cat urine. I searched around and located two of the cats but could not find the third. I eventually located her under the bed squeezed into a corner. She was a big old fat cat, and between the five dogs, they had managed to tear her up pretty good. I rushed her to the vet but she died overnight from complications. So Richie, as the last dog introduced to the pack that had never had problems with the cats before, was held responsible as at least the initiator of the attacks with the pack instinct the reason why the rest joined in.

I thought that several months later, Richie was over his cat thing and made the mistake of not separating the remaining two cats and locking them up as I had been in the habit of doing. Again, when I came home, there was this same scenario as before and this time between them, they had cornered Ellie, one of the other cats. She was a different target and gave them a good run and was only mildly hurt with her tail still intact. Again, another trip to the vets and this time, the cat came back home with me. I kept her locked up for about a week to get over the trauma but when I let her out of her room, she slipped out the doggie door and away into the night. I thought that was the last I had seen of her but about a week later in the evening, I heard her mewing on the roof and got the ladder out to rescue her. She was as pleased to see me as I to see her. However, she had problems from her injuries and required vet care the next day resulting in her losing her beautiful tail. This time, everything was OK and she remains one of the family pets. What is amazing about all of this is that in the evenings when everyone is fighting (figuratively speaking) for a place on the couch next to me, very often both of the cats and Richie are laying side by side. Go figure. Incidentally, I never go anywhere now without locking the cats in a separate room, a real case of locking the stable door…

There was one other instance of Richie and excitement leading him to attack one of the cats. I heard a knock on the front door which always sets everyone barking. I spent some time talking to the visitor at the door with the dogs still barking up a storm. The next thing I heard was a cat screeching as only cats can do. I tore back inside and Richie again was going after the same cat, Ellie, who by now was tailless from the previous episode and much harder for Richie to catch her. This time, there was no harm done but it is interesting that the excitement of a visitor at the door sparked off Richie’s aversion to cats and his reaction is always violent.

For all of his cat exploits, Richie is still a very loving little dog. He wants and gives affection and it is hard to see him as a cat killer. However, Richie and squirrels are a different story as he will spend hours chasing them from tree to tree. The squirrels for their part, often taunt him by coming down to drink or eat the birdseed with him just a few yards away and it becomes a competition with Richie always willing to give it a try. He actually has done pretty well and in the last couple of years, has caught three squirrels that I know of as I caught him eating two of them and watched him catch the third. Don’t know how he caught the other two but this one came down to ground and Richie caught is before it could get back in the trees.

Richie on a bush

One of Richie’s early exploits was to climb trees. He hasn’t done it in a while and has hopefully outgrown it but he would select a tree that had a curved trunk and then use his claws to grip the bark on his way up. I have a couple of trees that have ground cover climbing up them and he would use that as a means to get up the tree. He has been as high as twelve or so feet off the ground and always worried me that he would fall and get hurt. I have pictures of him up trees, up bushes and even on a load on the trailer.

Richie also gets very excited when the buzzards fly over head. He knows he can’t reach them but tears around all over the yard as they fly their slow circles on the wind currents. It’s real funny to watch him. He went absolutely nuts when the buzzards came in to clean up the last big Koi that died a month or so ago. They would sit in the trees above him as he tore around the yard barking at the top of his voice. He didn’t seem to bother them one little bit. And they ate all of the Koi.

During the fish spawning season, the male Koi chase the females round and round the pond with several of them chasing the one female. I am not quite sure why they do this but I think the action of the chase does something to the female to make her release her eggs which of course the males will fertilize. One day as I was sitting outside just enjoying the sun, I heard the Koi splashing and racing around but could not actually see the ponds from where I was seated. I never gave it much thought until it occurred to me that Richie was acting awful quiet. That was enough to get me looking for him and I found him at the bottom of the garden. Apparently, one of the female Koi, had jumped completely out of the pond in an effort to avoid the male’s attentions. That was the splash that I had heard but as I didn’t react, Richie, not one to miss a golden opportunity of a fresh fish meal, managed to pick up this Koi which had to weigh at least 10 lbs , carry it to the bottom of the yard and start gnawing on it. The fact that the fish was still alive didn’t bother Richie one little bit and he was very upset when I took it away and threw it over the fence where all the dead fish end up.

All of these previous tales pale in the light of the last two episodes, at least up to now, in Richie’s life. One of Richie’s favorite hangouts is under the workshop. I guess he can smell the mice and rats and whatever else interesting things that come along. One day, he was barking up a storm which he does if he gets excited and he wouldn’t stop so I went to see what he had gotten into this time. With him, you never know.

The only way I can see under this shed is with a flashlight and to literally lay down to shine it in. I did this and couldn’t make out very much so I decided to dig down through the leaf pile on the side of the shed so that I could get closer to the action. I was alert enough just in case it was a cornered rat or something like but I was not prepared when all of a sudden, a large snake stuck his head out and tried to bite my shovel. That did it for me as regards digging so I went back to my first position and focused more in the area of the excitement. It was very interesting and scary to watch first Richie and then the snake trying to attack each other. As one would dart forward, the other would jump back. As I still couldn’t see much of the snake except that he had a big body and was marked and coiled like a rattlesnake so had no idea if it was dangerous, I eventually managed to get Richie to come to me where we both went indoors and the slot was put in place to keep him and the other animals indoors for the night.

The next day, as I was standing on the deck and looking over at the big pond, I could see something white in the skimmer opening. My first thought was damn, another fish has died, as the current takes them back to the box so I went to check. Imagine my surprise when I took the cover off and all I could see was this bloody great snake who had decided that the box was a good place to hang out. I could see the head and could see that it was just a tree snake or rat snake and was not venomous so some of my panic disappeared. As I poked around, the snake emerged from the box and swam over to the other side of the pond. It was big and probably at least six feet or so long and the body was at least 4-5 inches in girth. That was the last I saw of it. I could have used its help clearing the rats out from under the shed and would gladly have exchanged free food and lodging for it to stay a few days but I guess that noisy Richie eventually drove it away.

The final episode was nearly just that. It was 3:00 am in the morning and I heard Richie outside and kicking up a fuss. He often went out at night as did the other dogs if they heard any strange noises. Richie must have picked up on something as he was the only one out so I put on some clothes, grabbed my trusty flashlight and went out to check it out. This time, Richie was under the hot tub deck which is at least two feet off the ground and much easier to see under. When I shone the light under the deck, all I could see were this big round yellow eyes reflected by the light. Closer inspection revealed that those eyes belonged to a big old racoon that Richie had cornered and as before with the snake, they were both going at each other in an effort to get in a telling bite. This was a whole different story as for all of his bravery, Richie was no real match for the teeth and claws of a big coon. So, I went back up to the deck and grabbed the hose pipe and squirted it in the general direction of both animals. I couldn’t see what was happening as I could no longer see under the deck from where I was but all of a sudden, Richie stopped barking.

The silence was absolutely deafening as I couldn’t see any sign of Rich as I searched around and was beginning to expect the worst when all of a sudden, Richie came wobbling out from under the main deck with his head all covered in blood. I grabbed him and we went inside. I cleaned him up and all he had was this one little tiny scratch that had either bled a lot or he had managed to take a chunk out of the coon. Either way, Richie was a very subdued little puppy having been spanked by a much larger coon. I think the coon had slapped him across the nose enough to knock Rich out for a bit, hence the silence and before he slowly crawled out from under the deck.

We both went back to bed for what remained of that night and the next day, he was back to his normal jolly little self.

To say that living with Richie is not an experience, would be an understatement. I am never quite sure what he is going to get into next. I find myself wondering where he is or what is he up to if I haven’t seen him in a while. If I have been away, I am always checking to see him and hoping that he will greet me at the door as the others do so I don’t have to go out looking for him. His personality registers more with me than all the rest of the dogs, I love them all and will do anything for them but in his case, he has made that extra special.

Quite the little man.