Category Archives: animals

Foto Friday

Pigs – Rupert, VT

So, You Want to Rent a Cat?

Here’s something that turned up in my inbox:

I saw your post online about renting one of your cats?  Is this actually a reality.  My roommates and I would love to rent a cat for the spring.  If the offer is no longer on the table do you have any idea where we could get a cat for 2 months but then give it back.

It’s been four years since I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post about renting my cats out as rodent control contractors, yet I still get occasional comments and emails from people who are interested in the make-believe service.

It’s hard to tell if people are just pulling my leg. Seriously, I don’t know how much stupider I could have made the blog post. For example: “Maeve can be baited to make her more attractive to mice by rubbing cheese or peanut butter on her head. Rodents find these scents irresistible and will walk right into her clutches.”

I find that people sometimes don’t know when I’m kidding. Do you ever get that dead eyed stare at a meeting when you say something you think is funny and it doesn’t seem to register? It could just be people don’t have a sense of humor. Or they think you’re an idiot. Or maybe a little of both.

It’s hard not to think that there may have been something to the cat rental concept. Maybe if I were just a bit more ambitious I could have been the cat rental king, providing a service the public needs, making a nice living and putting some cats to work doing something useful.

Ireland

One of my favorite memories of visiting Ireland was visiting the ruins of Rahinnane Castle in Ventry, up in the hills outside Dingle.

To access the castle, you pay 5 Euros to park at a nearby farm and walk out across a field dotted with sheep. A boy from the farm came with us and brought along a few border collie pups — who in short order started herding the sheep — herding them directly at us!

I managed to retain my composure — even while a herd of sheep raced directly at me — and shoot this video:

It was one of the highlights of a trip filled with strange, poignant and unforgettable experiences. Yes, that’s my wife in the background saying, “Oh, sh*t… watch out!”

Learned Behavior

THUMP-THUMP-THUMP-THUMP-THUMP-THUMP…

That’s the sound of a ball bouncing down the basement steps, which I’ve now heard three times this morning.

Our dog Scarlett has learned that if she drops a ball down the steps I will often retrieve it and toss it back to her. Then she drops it down the steps again.

It occurs to me now that this is a bizarre turnaround in the training routine; she is giving a cue that makes me spring into action. I have been conditioned to react in a certain way, and she knows — to the extent that dogs know anything — what I’ll do.

Predictable behavior on command. That sounds a lot like training to me.

But she’s just a dog and she can never get me trained properly. I’m quite sure that no matter what she does, I’ll continue to eat food off the counter, lay on the couch, and poop in the house. So there.

 

Wordless Wednesday

For the Birds

By spring you’ll see American robins on every lawn, but the common local bird really caught my attention on Monday morning. There were dozens of them picking at the tiny, shrivelled crabapples on a tree in front of my house.

Seriously, I’ve never seen so many robins in one place — and they were having a hell of a time out there, flitting around, tugging fruit off the tree, relaxing on the branches. It was quite a show for my cats as well; to them, watching birds is like a Netflix binge.

My wife said there were a bunch of waxwings hitting the tree also. I wouldn’t know a waxwing if it were pecking my eyes out, so I’ll have to take her word on that.

I don’t know if this influx of robins means anything. We can be hopeful and see it as a sign of spring, but I’m mostly hopeful that they have enough to eat until the snow finally melts.

If a Dog Poops in the Woods

Walking the dogs in the winter is cumbersome, especially when they do their business. Picking up means fumbling with two leashes, heavy gloves, poop bags — you get the idea. That’s why I’m not sure I can also handle a compass on top of everything else.

A recent study claims that dogs align themselves on a north/south axis when pooping. Naturally, this makes me curious, so I’d like to confirm these findings on my own — and while I generally know which way is north, if we’re being scientific, accuracy is important.

Anecdotally speaking, the study seems to be hogwash.

If anything, my dogs appear to line themselves up parallel to the road or path — and on a public street they seem to always face the direction of oncoming traffic. As for the backyard, at this time of year a veritable minefield, there appears to be no discernible pattern. I might as well be reading tea leaves. Maybe we need to consult the Delmar Dog Butler.

But in the name of science, the results must be documented. I encourage you all to take up the cause with your own dogs; maybe we can crowdsource a reply of some sort. Meanwhile, do not rely on dog poop for navigational purposes.

Channel Hopping

It sucks being sick, but it’s really wonderful to sit around and do absolutely nothing and not feel the least bit guilty about it. And the perfect tool for doing nothing is your TV.

Cruising through the channel guide I found something intriguing: Dog With a Blog. Ha! This I have to see! I love dogs — and well, blogs, hey, that’s something that interests me, so how could I not watch Dog With a Blog?

It was the typical Disney channel kid sitcom, except with a talking dog. A dog who has has a blog. According to Wikipedia, “The children learn of Stan’s talking ability in the first episode and agree to keep it a secret from their parents, fearing that if the world finds out that Stan can talk, he will be taken away and experimented on.” That’s sinister.

So, basically, this is Alf, except with a dog — and a first cousin to the famous Mr. Ed, of course, which was begat by Francis the Talking Mule. One could also argue that it’s loosely related to My Mother the Car, I suppose.

Dog was predictably bad, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most popular Disney Channel programs, and a regular fixture among the top 25 shows on cable. Kids have absolutely no taste.

By the way, Disney hosts a page that’s supposed to be the dog’s actual blog, but it’s terrible, even worse than most of what passes for blogging. If my dogs wrote a blog, it would at least be interesting.

Anyway, enough of this talk about bad TV. If I’m not mistaken, there’s a Doomsday Preppers marathon starting soon, so I gotta go.

Spring Has Sprung

Around here, spring comes in fits and starts. Everybody has a different idea on when it begins, but me? I was finally convinced that spring is here this morning during my run, when I noted three indisputable signs of the season:

1. Peepers According to my research department (Wikipedia), peepers “are heard early in spring not long after the ice melts on the wetlands.” This morning I noted that the peepers are peeping — and while the wetlands near my house are diminishing, thanks mostly to hideous and ill conceived residential development, the peepers still peep.

2. Skunks I don’t know where the skunks go in the winter, but in the spring they emerge from their hidey holes and stink up the neighborhood. Never champs at crossing busy roadways, I found one this morning that had become the proverbial dead skunk in the middle of the road, as imortalized by Loudon Wainwright III.

3. Worms Another mystery of nature, the spring brings worms who slither out onto the sidewalks and driveways after rain. There were many of them this morning, albeit very skinny ones, for it has been a long winter. It is my observation that they do not stick to running shoes. Could squished worms be used to improve a product or process? Perhaps.

So, welcome spring! None of us will be here forever, so don’t take it for granted.