Category Archives: dogs

It keeps getting better!

Being away from the farm for a week was treacherous, so my excitement had doubled – impossible, I know! – by the time I got there on Monday. I visited some bunnies and the swan and made my way to the corral. Waterford was hanging out so I waited around for Deb and watched as he chowed down on a tree stump. He was excited to see me and between bites we had a great chat with lots of snorts and head scratches.

Niko spotted me from the barn and made her way across the snow. Eager for hugs, she hopped onto my shoulder perch and purred like a crazy person. Pandy appeared out of nowhere, running and wagging her tail. We played a great game of pine cone. One of the roosters even walked right up to me and hung out!

But after my time spent caring for a sick Lunar two weeks ago, I’d have to say that the most exciting part was when she spotted me from the barn and came over and planted her head over the fence. She nuzzled against me and stayed close by. I took the opportunity to hug her as often as possible. We’ve definitely bonded and it feels pretty amazing.

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Here are the best shots from the afternoon. One of these days, I’m going to get there early with the Nikon, which will spare us all from the slightly fuzzy shots that my Cybershot produces when I don’t use a flash.  Animals + Flash = Not so much. Also if you’d like to see a picture enlarged, just click on it (and then click back, it doesn’t open a new window).

And we’re back…

Niko’s face! See how she squints? She’s undergone multiple eye surgeries and continues to be a super, super friendly cat. She’s the cutest!!

By the time I pulled out my camera, Lunar had scared off Waterford. Which struck me as odd since he is super crazy – in the way I like best, of course, but still, I figured he’d nod at her and keep going. Nope. So instead, I took a shot of the poor tree stump that he went to town on. The trail of red pulp goes far and wide outside the borders of this picture and he certainly was the happiest piggy ever while annihilating the wood.

This is the now-friendly rooster with whom every encounter thus far has consisted of me waving and saying hello and him completely ignoring me. Unless I walked by him on a path. In those cases, he’d jet the other way.

The friendship grows. They’re still learning about each other and that always has its ups and downs, but they seem fond of each other; a great start.

Look at her beautiful smile!!! Still no progress with petting Lovely Athena, but I’ll never give up.

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I’ve mentioned my fascination with the alpacas before and it continues to grow. While getting the barn prepared for dinner, I looked out the door and all three beauties were silently standing there, peering around. Just as quietly, they walked off. They are such gentle hushed animals. Aside from hearing their hooves while leaping about, I’ve heard very little from them. And when they do softly utter a call, it is a surreal alien cry. My mouth actually gaped open when I overheard one of them talking to a sibling. They’re like cartoon characters! Fluffy bodies with HUGE eyes, great, great ears, and spectacular sound effects.  I cannot get enough of them!!!

I left everyone in the barn contentedly munching away and headed over to visit the sweet herd in their corral. This was the first time I’d entered the gate. A brand new barn was built in honor of their arrival and it’s really nice inside: sawdust on the floor, mangers to the side and it smells awesome! Fresh wood scent is always a treat. They have room to play inside the fence and their house looks out on the pond behind the farm. It’s beyond idyllic.

They were huddled outside, eying me, but not in a panicked way and I did not attempt to pet them. Like many of the residents at Winslow, these three had a traumatic past and I want them to be comfortable with me before I try to make contact. It’s something I do with every animal I meet and time lines on this vary.  After spending some time with them, I don’t doubt that they like me as their body language was friendly. Not fleeing was also a good sign, and they had the room to do so. I attempted a few steps closer and they moved a few steps away. So they’re not ready. It’s this same instinct – not to rush up, not to speak loudly, not to reach out, not to repeat attempts in the same visit – that guides me with Athena. If she didn’t trust me at all, she’d never enter the barn or sniff my hand with her nose touching me. But she also senses when I’m reaching out to pet her and moves away from my hand. I will gently continue trying each week and wait for her to respond. The same goes for any timid animal. In their own time, perhaps the alpacas will come around like Delilah did. Or perhaps I will just love them from afar. Either way works for me.

I hope you enjoy their precious faces as much as I do.

Look at those eyes! And those EARS! Even the sawdust look is complementary.

I absolutely think alpacas are one of the coolest breeds of anything I’ve ever seen, including all the amazing species found on nature shows and up close during my personal adventures.

Group shot! Smiling for the camera!

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Filed under alpacas, athena, behavior, cats, dogs, horses, lunar, niko, photography, piggies, roosters, sheep, spirit, swan, waterford, winslow farm

Lunar’s Day

I had my first scare at the farm today. A few minutes into meal time, Lunar started coughing. Big chokey coughs. I’ve seen my share of cats and dogs eat too quickly and bring it back up (unfortunately, I’ve also seen many of them eat it back up as well), so I waited her out. I figured that since she’s a big animal, the process might take longer. After about five minutes, I went to tell Deb. She told me that it’s called “choke” and although scary to watch, there’s nothing to be done about it. [“Choke” is typically caused by horses eating too quickly which causes partially chewed food to clump together and stick to the esophagus. And then the horse coughs excessively to try and dislodge it.]

I went back and (this is going to get gross for some for a bit here, apologies), she’d started vomiting out her nose. I let this go on for a bit longer and went in search of Deb again, who said that it’s part of it and it’ll pass. So I went back to poor Lunar who was standing stock still with her head close to the ground gagging; liquid dripping from her nose.

Nobody likes to throw up. And usually, it happens and it’s done and the sweat starts to recede and the chills fade. But here she was doing it every minute or so. I felt awful for her. I tried to get her to drink a bit of water but she’d just stand there. And then a bit later she’d either nose-vomit or gag through a hacking cough again. Her head, usually held up high and proud, remained level with her body in a defeated stance.

I know that when I don’t feel well, a soothing hand on my back helps. Since her back was covered by a coat, I started long strokes down her neck. She responded by moving to face me and head-butting me for more. I focused on her neck and her forehead, the spot right under the tuft of hair in the front. I’d pet and scratch away. And she’d let me know that she wanted me to continue by pushing her head into me. I grabbed some tissues and cleaned her nose periodically. I stood by her as she worked through the spells, petting her as much as I could. And it was arctic out today, like way closer to zero than 32-two pairs of pants and five layers-frigid. The tips of my fingers were frozen and as I stood there, I had a moment of “I have to get inside” and then I looked at Lunar, all sad and yucky feeling, and I stopped feeling the cold. We stood together for at least a half hour, alternating between her fits and my caresses. And while I know feeling good was a far off place for her at the moment, I am confident that I got her that much closer to better by offering a loving hand and soothing words.

I learned a few things tonight.

One) Horses shed a lot. My black coat is white.

Two) Horses can’t vomit so when something needs to come back up, it exits through the nose, which, really, is just the worst way possible for something to make its way out again.

Three) Big giant animals appreciate comforting just as much as we do when they’re sick.

“Choke” is a serious condition and can end a horse’s life. One at Winslow had to be put down after she got a potato lodged in her throat. Deb believes that the reason Lunar was given to her was because of the condition, which the owners clearly did not inform her of when they brought her. It gives me comfort that she’s somewhere where it will be handled with care when it happens and not looked at as a defect or a hassle or a reason to give up on her. She’s safe from that now.

Highlights From Today:

Walking behind Gulliver, whose jacket had come undone, and watching him awkwardly try to kick the strap loose or back up his leg while it stayed firm. Thinking that it would be an easy fix and then watching Deb chase him around his pen trying to put it back on. Hilarious.

Pandy and Wizard were waiting with bubbling anticipation for Mom (Deb) to come back but both still gave me super excited greetings when I climbed over the fence instead. Looking back at Wizard’s black pug silhouette on the white snow as he sat watching her was also noteworthy.

Watching a black duck take a ferocious bath in a huge (FREEZING!) water bucket.

Spirit decided that instead of going into his pen, even though Lunar had just gone into hers, he would stand right behind me and bury his head in my hat.

Putting a bunch of hay on Delilah to cover her completely. I wasn’t sure that she was actually still under there when I took the picture, as it was a good amount of time later, until I opened a can of cat food and she rushed out, looking part scarecrow.

Watching the alpacas play the most delightful game of tag. Here are some grainy pics to show off just how lovely and interesting looking they are.

And of course, I wish that Lunar did not have to have the day she did or that she ever has to suffer through it again, but I am glad that I was there to comfort her and that she wanted me to. Here is her beautiful sad face.

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Filed under behavior, cats, dogs, ducks, goats, horses, lunar, photography, sheep, winslow farm

Yep, I’m still behind you!

I am spending a few days at my parents’ house in Connecticut and while putting away the dishes, I noticed a dog in their back yard. After throwing on my boots and my sweater-shawl (? Read: no sleeves), I ventured outside. Expecting the dog to make its way to me pretty quickly, I didn’t think twice about my wardrobe choice. I should have.

The adorable Weimaraner did not at all respond to me as I expected him to. Instead, he barked fearfully and high-tailed it (low-tailed, actually) down the driveway. When an animal doesn’t immediately come to me, I get frustrated. And confused. Can’t they see how awesome I am? Not easily deterred, I followed him. He parked himself in my neighbor’s driveway and continued barking at me. I used every bit of a cajoling voice I had but he wouldn’t stop, nor would he allow me to get close. He went out into the road and at this point, I had to stop a Jeep from hitting him. (Side bar: Throughout this entire ordeal, I had multiple drivers give me that look that said, “Control your dog, you worthless pet owner. I cannot even begin to believe you aren’t using a leash.” And I wanted to have a sign that read: “He’s NOT MINE! I’m trying to find out where he lives!” Life does not always hand us easy outs like this, though.)

He went up one of the side streets and in between sniffing and eating snow, he’d look back fearfully at me. Whenever I tried to get close, he’d start to bark. He seemed familiar with another neighbor’s house. My hopes were up until I noticed a worker sticking his head out the window, watching the two of us, who said “Nope, but I found him in the walk-in dumpster earlier” when asked if he lived there. The dog moved onto another house and followed a canine trail around to the back. Since he did it so nonchalantly, I thought we might have hit the house jackpot this time. I followed him around back to make sure he’d stopped there and went back to ring the doorbell. One of my parent’s friends answered and I asked if they had a Weimaraner. No dice. Now I had the added pleasure of getting him out of their backyard. This proved pretty easy when I went climbed into the knee deep snow after him and he ran away.

Our next stop was another side street, via another neighbor’s driveway (fingers crossed! sigh). He walked into every driveway like it was his own. Every. Driveway. This was exhausting. By this point, he was becoming resigned to the fact that I was not going away. If I got too close, he’d still bark on the top of his lungs, but if I kept my distance, he’d continue making false leads. But the amount of ground between us was shrinking. Unfortunately around this time, someone’s recycling bin filled with bottles clattered to the ground. It scared him so much his tail was tucked between his legs as he barked. I switched from coaxing him to comforting him and I think that he actually started responding to me at this point. I felt really bad though that he was so fearful and started wondering about his family.

Since I knew he wasn’t going to let me touch his collar, I actually got down on my hands and knees, trying for glimpses of his tag. He moved just enough that it was almost impossible to read. I finally made out a street name and some numbers. Having just a street name was good enough for me.

At this point, I took charge and was happily surprised at how easily he started following me. I also figured out that instead of giving him my hand to smell, which he simply would not do, if I stopped and faced away from him, he would come sniff me. Baby steps but successful ones! As I walked ahead of him and called to him (I still didn’t know his name, but “Dog” and “Doggie” both worked well), he followed. On our way, we walked by two dogs who were standing behind an electric fence. I had no idea how he’d react but as he started to walk over to them, I corrected him lightly and he stopped walking. Nice!

I thought the number on his collar was in the 500’s so we went left down his road when we reached the t-intersection. My parent’s do not live in a busy area (at all) but that doesn’t mean it’s free of cars passing through. With the combined snow and no leash, we had to walk in the road. And because I still couldn’t touch him to grab his collar, he was running from side to side, at will. But he was beginning to spend more time at my side and now if a car or van was approaching, I could successfully use my voice to keep him close. (This is where those looks really popped up since I was the idiot who was letting my dog walk in the road.)

We got to the 400’s and were about to go up a giant hill when I made an attempt at actually touching his collar just to make sure we actually had to hike up it. Wouldn’t you know it? He let me! His name was Monty and his house was in the 900’s which were, of course, all the way back in the other direction! We traipsed through the intersection, and once again it had cars passing through it. Only this time, what’s this? Did he just jump on me? Does somebody finally trust me?? And when a car came by, I was even able to hold onto his collar while he looked up at me in adoration. Yes!

Almost an hour after I found him, we finally got to his driveway, which of course he went into like it was his own. He did make noises of excitement when we waited at the door, so that was promising. His owner answered and was nice, but I couldn’t help but note that she was typical of so many pet owners who, I have no doubt, love their pets but don’t respect them. The two things she said that stuck out the most were, “I let him out this morning and he just kept running” and “We drove around for a while and gave up”. Huh.

You just “let him out”? Regardless of the fact that this is a safe neighborhood, CARS. ARE. NOT. SAFE!!!!!!!!! And cars do NOT expect to see a lone dog running on the road. I witnessed Monty’s instincts and they were full of notions to walk in front of them. I mentioned that I prevented him from being hit and she sort of “ohh”‘d her way through it. If you don’t have a fence of some sort, then use a leash, do not just release your dog to the world. A dog’s idea of freedom to roam is a lot different from a person’s. In addition, I’m not sure that Monty actually knew where his house was so that he could return on his own!

And they gave up looking for him??? So, had I not looked out my window when I did and been concerned about the welfare of THEIR BELOVED pet, he’d have just continued wandering around? I had to work really, really hard to get him to trust me and I know I am not the norm. I bet five other people saw him out their window and thought “Hey, there’s a dog. What was I doing?” And if they did pull themselves outside (without a jacket, mind you!!!), they’d give up perhaps 20 minutes after he continuously barked at and avoided them and call Animal Control. And while they sat in their cozy houses, Monty would still be wandering around until AC showed up and who knows what could have happened!

I wish this was the first time that I’ve found a neighborhood dog wandering around. I wish this was the first person who responded as ignorantly as this woman did.

Care about your pets like you would care for yourself (I think this is really the only analogy that gets through to these people). If you can’t, then don’t have any.

I’m climbing down off my soap box now that the feeling is finally coming back to my arms.

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Filed under behavior, dogs

What birds? All I see are pine cones! PINE CONES!

Deb asked me to give Pandy a bit of exercise on Monday as she’d been cooped up in the house all day. Pandy is the one who’s smart enough to use pine cones as throw toys. I’m still impressed that she’s able to find the same one over and over again with all the others scattered about but I know, I know, dogs have an incredible sense of smell. Semantics.

It continues to amaze me that different species coexist so well at the farm. My cats, who have been domesticated since their start, get into fights every once in a while and I’ve seen what happens to mice when they make the mistake of entering our house. There are cats all over the farm, many of whom are feral, and yet I watch them saunter by a group of geese with barely a glance, let alone a hungry one. While Pandy and I played fetch, no less than three different kinds of birds (a lone goose, possibly a duck now that I think about it, the cranky swan and numerous roosters and hens) were all nearby. Plus, one of the many cats was hanging about demanding pets from me. No hackles were raised between the beautiful orange tabby and Pandy. And even though Pandy barreled past the birds a bunch of times in pursuit of the pine cone, never did any of the birds fly or run off. Pandy was completely oblivious to them. If anything, they were just in her way. And when she went clipping by, all they did was give her looks and continue about their business. Entertainment on all sorts of levels!

Here is lovely Pandy waiting for the pinecone:
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Little Miss Gentle retrieving the pine cone:
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It was hard to take pictures and throw the pine cone at the same time so this is the best shot I got showing the bird/dog perspective. But Pandy was much closer to all of the birds at different points.
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This picture was my favorite shot of the day. So ominous! And yet, no threat here. I love it!
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And just because this was so weird and funny, here’s a brief video of the swan walking back to his house. (And that’s happy little Cubbie coming to check out the scene. He’s super cute!)

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Filed under cats, dogs, ducks, pandy, photography, swan, videos, winslow farm

Nonsensically, With Purpose

Last week, I went to the farm amidst a snowy sort of wonderland. Every time I get out of my car there, a calm washes over me. There are so many different species of creatures who live there and each animal has a different personality. I think that some would argue that the 5 white sheep who look exactly the same are basically that but I see their little idiosyncrasies. There are cranky ones like the loudly honking geese who rush at you until you (I) say something like “HI GEESE!!!” and then they veer off in the other direction honking “just kidding!” the whole way back. I love those geese. There are animals who can’t wait to greet me like Lunar and Napoleon; ones who are a bit apprehensive (I’m thinking mostly of the beautiful swan that you’ll see a picture of a bit later. He likes to shake his tail feathers if I get to close but I get closer each time!) and others that nod from afar (many of the sheep are like this until you have food in your hand. And then, watch out!). When I walk around greeting the happy folks at the farm, my excitement builds until it’s spilling over. It’s an interesting (and very real) challenge for me to contain my enthusiasm when I’m around the more apprehensive, standoffish or shy ones. My frenzied energy bubbles out of my mouth, my pitch climbs higher up the scale (an almost impossible feat), my volume gets louder and I start to flail around a bit. It’s hard to stop myself when all I want to do is give them giant hugs and squeal on the top of my lungs. Learning to control this is an important lesson that I am currently mastering.

The subject of how one talks to animals reminds me of a lesson I learned many years ago. Back in another life, I became certified as a preschool teacher. Because my bachelor’s degree was not in early education, I needed to take a few classes directly relating to the subject and although I don’t remember much of those hours, one concept has stood out over time. The word “motherese”, according to dictionary.com, means “the simplified and repetitive type of speech, with exaggerated intonation and rhythm, often used by adults when speaking to babies”. Essentially, it’s when you see an infant, your pitch goes up and you talk like a baby. According to the psychology behind it, it’s an instinctual reaction that mothers have to their babies. Among other benefits, it actually helps the baby learn language because the baby pays attention to the tone and therefore starts picking up words. It should be no stretch of the imagination then that animals respond to this voice. In fact, many animals nurture their young in a similar way. Cats are a one example of animals who use motherese n their young. And just to throw something weird out there to mull over, one of my cats, Tabitha, has become more vocal over the years and it’s in response to the way that I talk to her. When she “talks” back to me, she often matches my pitch and intensity like she’s mimicking my words. This was not something that she did as a kitten or a young cat.

So, while many people might come out with this voice sporadically, it’s probably pretty obvious that I have a tough time speaking in a normal voice when I see any animal, be it a mouse or an elephant. I can often be found loudly sing-songing to a random dog on the street while its owner looks on in disbelief. Don’t worry, it never stops me. And I say all sorts of weird things to animals that often make no sense. What fascinates me is how they gravitate toward my voice. If it’s a boisterous animal who has few inhibitions, this is no surprise. What excites me is when someone like Athena, the beautiful sheep I’ve been talking about, goes from a ready-to-bolt position to cocking her head and staying close by. In the past couple of weeks, she’s gone from skirting away from me to allowing me to put a food bowl down without running away to sniffing my hand multiple times. And the entire time I’m around her, I’m essentially chirping words of encouragement and letting whatever comes out flow free. like to think I’m comforting her and her behavior toward me seems to prove it. She stays close by and eats her food without looking scared. If I walk around to do my chores and cross her path, she’ll spook but as I continue to talk to her, she returns quickly to her activity. My hope is that our relationship will progress to the point that she will allow me to pet her but if that goal is never reached, I still know that we’re friends and I am happy with that.

Here are some photos that I love (I wasn’t using a flash so there are a couple of fuzzy spots):
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The swan shaking his tail feathers.

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Hanging out!

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I wish I had these prints in my back yard!

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Lunar on the left and Moonie on the right

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Beautiful, beautiful Athena

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Squee! Napoleon!!

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The Cat House (notice the goat?!)

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This is Lunar stealing hay that she discovered. Later she snuck into the pen when I left the door open. :)

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WATERFORD!!!

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Gulliver, in possibly the greatest photo ever!

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Moonie, all bundled up, eating from his special bucket. I lead his face to it and resist overwhelming him with hugs (especially at dinner time!).

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What the barn looks like at night without flash. So wonderful.

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Not sure it gets happier than this!

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Filed under behavior, dogs, ducks, geese, goats, horses, photography, piggies, sheep, swan, winslow farm

And I’m Back!

Over the last few months, we made the transition to Massachusetts which meant saying goodbye to my wonderful clients in Connecticut. Moving to a fresh town means not knowing anyone and the rebuild of clientele will take time.

In the meantime, my cats and I have had super four-on-one time. I never realized just how much my cats actually sleep. It’s unbelievable! One of my major activities is running up the stairs, singing at the top of my lungs forcing them out of their blissful sleep. I also enjoy clattering the dishes downstairs in the kitchen and watching as sleepy faces saunter into the room. Neither of these strategies do much good as they immediately leave the kitchen and go back upstairs or simply flop back down on the bed. Sometimes yelling, “Kitties! KITTIES!!!” brings Quinny to my side though, so that’s nice.

Today I ventured out to meet some new animals in the area. It was my first day as a volunteer at an animal sanctuary in a neighboring town. We visited last week and I knew the moment the farm came into my sites that I was destined to end up there. The cats that jumped the high fence to greet us confirmed this. In my fifteen or so minutes there, I met numerous cats who stayed close to me, a swan who was a bit wary, a border collie who’s discovered that pine cones make great throw toys, a pony and a mule who I admired through the fence plus all the others I could see from afar. I introduced myself to the wonderful woman who owns the farm and we made a date for today to start.

My big assignment was to shovel manure which isn’t the most exciting thing in the world but yes it is when you have a stream of visitors during it. There was a mini goat who was the fattest cutest thing ever and he scratched his head on my boots. He swung by a bunch. I was working near a corral and had visitors in horse, mule and pony form. And then there was the emu.

Last week in the car, I wasn’t really paying attention as we drove along and all of the sudden I spotted him. “Is that an emu? Where are we?” (I’d thought we were visiting the zoo first). Mr Emu, whose name will be included once I memorize all of them including his brother, is a rather interesting character who likes to peck at the rake when it has pine needles on it. He also made many plays at pecking me. Since I wasn’t sure how hard these might be, I danced a lot around him. I asked later if it can hurt and the answer was, “Yes.” But now that I know that, I’ll be prepared when I actually let him.

After I dumped the wheelbarrow on the big manure pile, I headed into the barn to help feed the gathered and now penned animals that I’d been interacting with plus a bunch of their friends. I helped out here and there and pet any goat who walked by, as the horses/ponies/mule were penned separately. And lots of little moments occurred, but there were really two things that stood out to me. First off, after some hay was put down, one of the emus plopped right down on it and fell asleep while goats munched on the hay near his head. This alone was fascinating, but the way that they sleep looks like they’re swallowing a cat. The neck puffs out in front and then the head is set back close to the body. It’s really bizarre and cool looking. I’ll take a photo if it happens again.

The other thing was when I was handed food for one of the horses, one of the goats head butted me so hard, I went right into the wall. Greatest moment ever.

Monday can’t come soon enough!

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Filed under cats, dogs, emus, goats, winslow farm

Just point and click, right?

I am spending the weekend with multiple cameras in my hand since I am staying with two of my little buddies, Digger and Coco for a couple of days. I absolutely love these two. I have been walking them weekly for two years, so I have had lots of opportunities behind a camera with them. Although I’ve gotten a few photos that I love, I haven’t quite mastered Diggie.

Digger is an challenging photography subject because staying still isn’t in his vocabulary. He is in constant motion. He has more energy that any animal I can think of. One of his favorite things to do after you’ve thrown a toy and he’s fetched it, is to run straight at you and then veer off and run back and forth and back and forth, zooming past you as he’s good and ready to come back to you. Sure, other dogs do things like this, but not like him. He loves getting a toy in his mouth and then whipping his head around. Be careful if you’re near him though because he will hit you and hit you hard. He has bruised my shins and arms with a basketball (definitely bigger than his head…not a problem), a giant really hard stuffed fish, many rope toys, most recently the green loofa dog from the photo, the list continues. One time he shoved the smaller blue ball that’s in one of the shots underneath my legs on the stairs. No biggie right? I was wearing shorts and it was covered in dripping saliva. He’ll also hold onto a toy with the last breath in his little body. You can lift him off of the ground by his teeth, even swing him around and he WILL. NOT. LET. GO. So that sort of energy does not lend itself to sitting still for a photo. Even if he is sitting down, he’s STILL frantically chewing on a toy, which makes a still photo not so much. If dogs were candidates for Ritalin, he could certainly be the spokesdog.

In addition, he really dislikes the camera. It doesn’t matter which one I use (biggest one, big one, point and shoot, or blackberry), he knows what it is and acts accordingly. Lots of animals will turn their head away but they can usually be coaxed back. Not him. He’ll turn his head or even his body and that’s that. Last night he looked very cute sleeping, so I put the camera over him to snap a shot and before I even pressed the button, his eyes were WIDE OPEN. He just knows!

I adore the little maniac and I’m learning a lot from him. Part of the anxiety that comes with photography is missing the shot. With him, it happens almost every time. He’s teaching me to be craftier. To be faster. To take twenty shots because even if I missed the one I wanted, he might do it again, or something even better.

I have collected a couple of photos, actually all taken on my Blackberry, that I liked. I won’t actually know what I have on the D200 and D80 until I get home. Hopefully there will be some shots I really like. This picture of him was taken while scratching his head. He will calmly sit for scratches but the instant you stop, he’ll bolt. So, I pressed the button on the camera and kept scratching until the last second since the camera takes a bit, guessed when to remove my hand, and somehow I got the shot. Yes!

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Here’s an classic example of his response to cameras. I wanted to get a photo of him on the pillows so I took more than one to get it right. This is basically the photo I wanted:

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This is his response:

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Shh. Don’t tell him I took this:

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This last one is a video when I actually caught him on tape doing two of the things I absolutely love:

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Filed under dogs, humor, pet sitting, photography

A Montage

I had so many clients in the last couple of weeks (YAY!) that I got a bit overwhelmed with the rest of my world like blogging. So, here are a few things that happened during that time at Pippin and Clementine’s (and The Budgies, of course).

I sat with Clementine on my knee at the kitchen table while he groomed himself happily and I noticed that Pippin had finished his peanut butter on rawhide (favorite!) and was kind of sadly sitting by himself. As he gazed forlornly in the distance, I picked up Clem and went into the living room and sat down next to him and gave him belly rubs. He was in belly rub heaven! He rolled around in bliss while Clementine eyeballed him. Pip’s head was near my feet where Clem was too and Pippin started sniffing him. Clementine puffed up his feathers, opened his mouth in a hiss and tried to fend off the affront. Pippin was so happy with the belly rubs that he licked Clementine on the face!!! Clementine did NOT know what to do with himself. He puffed out more, stomped back and forth and tried to shake the spit off of his face. I was hysterical! I thought it was one of the funniest, greatest things I’d ever witnessed. And what was even more interesting was that instead of running up my legs and hopping up my arm and onto my shoulder to the utmost safety point, he remained at my feet. He continued to stomp back and forth and if Pippin moved to quickly or came to close, he’d go into his stance, but he remained there, watching and waiting for his next move.

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I’d like to point out that yes, that is bird poop on my leg. One thing you get used to when working with birds is that they poop on you all the time. Ah, the hazards of working with these awesome little avian creatures.

Next up, one of the budgies is yellow and is one of the newer pair. The first pair was bonded and the second were just acquired at the same time. While his (or her) counterpart has adapted to the other two and fit right in with the bickering, the all yellow one tends to be a loner. I’ll often find him in Clementine’s cage during the day, hanging out and eating his food. I’ve never really seen him on top of the cage with the others, although I have had the unfortunate experience of trying to get him back in the cage once. He’s just as hard to get ahold of as the rest of them. So, again, I was sitting at the kitchen table while Clementine groomed himself on my knee. He likes to hop down from the table and take up residence, while he’s not busy flinging things off of the table, another favorite past time.

I looked over at the cages and it was nap time. Yes, they do nap and it’s really funny to watch them fall asleep because they do the same thing that a child does with the eyes open and slowly shut and OPEN and slowly shut and open and slowly shut and closed. Clementine falls asleep on me sometimes and I find it to be an outstanding experience that he trusts me enough to do it and super cute to watch up close. But back to yellow budgie. So he’s asleep and he’s upright, like most birds are, and he’s got budgies on all sides (one of whom is outside of the cage right across from him on a perch but is awake), and I notice that his two feet are gripped on the cage and that he’s not leaning up against anything and is practically hanging backwards, meaning that his body is heading toward prone, and he’s ASLEEP! I grab my camera and get closer and while his body doesn’t move from the position, he’s awake due to the click of the camera. So, here’s a few shots of him, the first closer to sleep, the second definitely not, and please keep in mind that he’s not touching the perch that you see behind him. Birds. Weirdos.

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A bit more on the budgies:

As I’ve mentioned, I have a somewhat tormented relationship with The Budgies. Last week, while Clementine showed continuous support with his unparalleled affection, I watched the budgies as I often do. They’d spent the evening alternating between pleasant chirps and flat out screams. They ran around and around the top of the cage disagreeing over who knows what. At one point, one of them sat in the snack plate, beat it’s wings and squawked at the one who’d pissed it off. Food and feathers flung themselves in the air and they continued their persistent struggle. Sometimes they just full on chased each other around yelling.Very complex little creatures.

It was time to leave and three out of four budgies were still bickering on top of the cage. Were I my client, I would have just grabbed them up in my hand and plopped them back in their cage. I am not she. I have gone as far as to seek out a step ladder to gain access to their level. It doesn’t help. Once I reach a hand in their direction, they dart off. Another attempt leads the budgie to deftly shoot down the side of the cage and then over out of the reach. No matter what angle I attempt, they are masters at knowing the best way to allude me. And all of it is accompanied by shouts of defiance. They’re like little protesters at a rally, shaking their fists at my giant hand, growing hoarse yelling slogans about oppression. And they are spectacular at it, winning every time. So, gone are the days where I flail around on my hands and knees trying to coax a rogue lost one out from below the giant wardrobe that acts as a pantry. I am done going back and forth and back and forth and BACK AND FORTH attempting to grab one. Now I just repeat the mantra and remember that they have a permanent door open on their cage and that even though there is a sheet blocking it at night, they know where their food is and happily the two shall meet.

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Can I Come Inside, Please?

I’m FWEEZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Oh, I SEE you in there!!!

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SEWIOUSLY?????????????????????

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I am SO not impressed!!!

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Fine! I’ll just stand here until you’re ready to be an adult and open the door. Humphhhhh.

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Great BIG Hugs

There’s nothing quite like having a giant pit bull entrench his beautiful self in your lap and roll around like a maniac of love.

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That’s my friend Cappy and I could hug him all day long.

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