Rob Madeo writes this stuff.
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Category Archives: animals
518 Life, the Times Union’s free monthly magazine about the Capital Region, is seeking an editor. Knowledge of the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area is helpful. Must know the difference between a cow and a horse.
Lost might be overstating it, but it makes a much better headline than misdirected or mildly confused, wouldn’t you say?
Anyhow, I woke up on New Year’s Day in a strange house on the edge of Mother Myrick Mountain near Manchester. Our family ski vacation was a bust thanks to the lack of snow, but we turned it into a perfectly fine playing board games and drinking vacation.
So, the dogs and I greeted 2016 with a walk up the path behind the house. It led to a well travelled trail up the mountain, and the gradual climb was the perfect antidote for my throbbing head. We three went along until the human in the group had enough.
It’s not clear when things started looking unfamiliar, but somewhere on the way down it was obvious that we’d missed our turn.
We walked and walked, and eventually emerged from the woods, at a point on the road some three miles from the house.
At worse this was an inconvenience.
There are few places in the northeast where you can really get lost these days. Keep going and you’ll come to a road, and if you’re luck you’ll turn right instead of left when you get to that road. Then , perhaps, you’ll have a half mile walk home, instead of a three mile walk. Oh, well.
Today we return to a theme explored in many blog posts that you’ll find here: dog poop. I don’t consider myself an expert, but I’m certainly an enthusiastic amateur.
Albany’s Capital Hills golf course welcomes dog walkers during these winter months when the links are closed. It’s a terrific place for dogs to run, and this year it’s especially nice because El Niño has deprived us of snow.
But as usual, somebody has to ruin the good time.
There are a certain class of people who feel no responsibility to pick up the piles of poop left behind by their pooches on the course. For the purposes of this blog post, let’s refer to them as assholes.
Seriously, it’s everywhere.
So, on Saturday I’d been doing a fine job dodging the hazards, but in a moment of inattention, stepped in a huge mound of fresh crap that some asshole couldn’t be bothered to pick up. No, not the end of the world, but c’mon.
I’m sure there are no assholes reading my blog, but if there were, I’d tell them this:
Dear dog walking assholes,
Just because nobody’s watching doesn’t mean it’s OK to leave your dog shit wherever you like. Pick it up. Believe it or not, doing the right thing will actually make you feel good, even if it involves something as unpleasant as picking up dog poop.
Thank you. Assholes.
Saturday was supposed to be about raking leaves until my son called early in the morning. He said he was coming home with a deer. It was already dressed, he said, which momentarily summoned up funny images of a buck in a flannel shirt, but I’ve lived upstate long enough to know what dressed means.
He lives in an apartment, so there really isn’t a good way to skin and butcher a deer, so my house was the deer destination. I cleared out a space in the garage and screwed a big hook in the ceiling so the poor devil could be hoisted up by his horns.
I’ll spare you the details. but by mid-afternoon, my son and his girlfriend were vacuum sealing freshly cut venison on the kitchen counter.
My wife does not appreciate hunting, and she would certainly not like having a dead deer hanging in the garage. She was spared his earthy spectacle because she was gone for the day, off baking cookies with my sister in Poughkeepsie.
But fate’s a funny thing isn’t it?
Less that 12 hours later she called to say she’d hit a deer — a very big deer — not far from our house. She was fine, the car was a mess and the deer was MIA, having stumbled off into the woods.
Deer karma? Perhaps.
Before the tow truck arrived, I took a picture of the damage and wondered if the deer community would share pictures of wrecked vehicles the way hunters show off their prizes.
My son said I should have gone into the woods to find the deer. “No thanks — but don’t forget that your mother got a bigger deer than you did this year.”
It was 4am and Maeve was sprawled on the floor. She was cool to the touch and unresponsive. I took this picture to document how she was found — I couldn’t just leave her there until my wife got up — and knelt down in front of her. That’s when I saw that her eyes were open.
We’ve been giving Maeve insulin shots for several years and now she was in trouble, most likely extremely hypoglycemic, and she wouldn’t last long without help.
We called the pet hospital and they advised that we get some sugar into her — just as you would with a human — and their advice was to rub Karo syrup into her gums. So there I am, at 4:30, on the floor with a handful of sticky syrup in one hand and a cat in the other.
She gradually grew more alert, and when I showed her a small plate with a tablespoon of food on it she sat up and ate. Soon she was up on her feet, but a bit shaky; we herded her into the cat carrier for her trip to the vet. It turns out her diabetes was in remission and the insulin was making her blood sugar plunge too low. I’ll be damned.
I’ve told this story to a few people and the wondered if the cat’s physiology may hold some sort of medical secret that reverses diabetes. Actually, it’s not uncommon for diabetes to go away in cats, but wouldn’t that be something? Imagine the side effects listed in the commercial:
Some people may experience an urge to chase mice. Taking this medication could cause you to lick your hands and feet and curl up in someone’s lap…
So, all is well with Maeve the cat. Two days later she’s acting completely normal. You know, by cat standards, of course.
It always plays out the same way: the dogs sprint out the back door and the squirrels dash away from the bird feeder and up the tree — but this time was different.
A smallish, young squirrel fumbled its escape and Scarlett caught up with it at the bottom of the tree. Just as she put her paw on it, I called her off — but the squirrel turned and ended up right in front of Maddy, who cornered it in a nook at the base of the tree.
Maddy — who tends to be stubborn — wouldn’t back off, and I had to go over and pull her away from the startled critter.
Once the dogs were back in the house I went to the tree. The squirrel looked down at me and was like, “Dude, WTF?!” I couldn’t tell if it was injured, but after a while it vanished into the trees, so I’m assuming it was just shaken up.
The next day — like it never happened — the squirrels were back at the feeder, including one who looked a lot like the one the dogs captured.
And the dogs? I’ve got to figure that they’re filled with new hope. Now that they know they can catch a squirrel, anything is possible.
Scarlett looked up from her iPad.
“Rob, you see how New York passed a law that allows dogs in restaurants.”
“Yes — but only in outside dining areas. And only at restaurants that allow it.”
That’s when Maddy trotted in.
“Hey, Scarlett said we’re going to a restaurant!”
“No, not yet,” I said. “The governor has to sign the bill first.”
“What are you going to order Scarlett? I want pork belly. Doesn’t that sound fancy? What’s a governor?”
Scarlett handled this one.
“He runs New York, so he’s in charge of a lot of things. Like Thacher Park.”
“Oh my god, I love Thacher Park. The same guy who runs Thacher Park is going to let us eat at restaurants! He’s the best governor ever!”
Scarlett jumped down off her chair to get a drink of water.
“Maddy, I think this whole thing is just so they can bring us to restaurants — not so we can eat at them. And it treats us like second class citizens. The law says we need a separate entrance and we won’t be allowed to sit on chairs. No offense, Rob, but this is more about vain dog owners than about dogs.”
She curled up in the corner.
“You two can go, have fun. The whole thing just sounds like it will be disappointing. But bring me a doggy bag.”
If you take your dogs to Thacher Park, it’s best to go early. More often than not, you’ll have the place to yourself and they can race up and down the trails without bothering anyone.
One recent morning was different. Instead of the usual empty parking lot, we found three school busses — and the hiking paths were far from empty. We were barely out of the car when college kids started approaching us and asking to take pictures of the dogs.
Pictures of the dogs? Of course you can — but why?
It turns out that this was a biology class from Siena College who were out learning about the forest by conducting a scavenger hunt, and among the things they needed to find was a mammal. As we walked along, we continued to be approached by mammal hunters, petting the dogs, shooting pictures and checking off an item on their list.
At one point, we encountered their instructor, who looked on sourly as the students discovered our dogs. I’m sure he had squirrels, chipmunks or other woodland critters in mind — not dogs — when coming up with the activity.
But hey, you take what you can get, right? And the dogs loved being queens of the forest for a day.