Must be spring…

It must be spring because the squirrels are out teasing Gypsy every chance they can.  Gypsy will watch from the backdoor, we open the door let her out and after the squirrels she goes.  But they are too fast for her.  Up a tree with her at the bottom looking up at them, then the squirrel jumps from tree to tree with Gypsy following on the ground.  Yesterday a squirrel jumped from one tree in our back woods to another getting closer and closer to the house until it ended up on a maple close to the house, on a lower branch.  A lower branch just out of Gypsy’s reach.  Gypsy circled and circled the tree while (I imagine) the squirrel sat up in the branches laughing to itself.

Due to the deep snow we had this year the neighbor’s chickens haven’t been over in at least 2 months.  Needless to say we are out of practice in performing a “chicken check” prior to letting the dogs out.  We need to get back in to that practice.  When I let Gypsy & Fiona out this morning I thought Gypsy was looking at a squirrel.  Nope, it was the chickens by our woodpile between our house and the neighbor’s.  Off she went and the squawking began, chickens running helter/skelter.  None were injured and Gypsy came back when I called to her.  Curiously enough, yesterday I was thinking about how beneficial it would be to have the chickens over this year to keep the bugs down in the yard.  Guess they want to get an early start.

So for now spring is starting; however, we won’t get too comfortable—still haven’t heard any spring peepers (frogs that come out every spring in the ponds in our area), there is still snow on the ground AND the potential for another snowstorm to come up the coast later this week (track uncertain at this point so no definite prediction about snowfall).  Also after our 60 degree weather yesterday, it’s back down to single digits tonight.

Chickens in our yard last fall

Chickens in our yard last fall

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Tis the season for…..”poop”sicles

Not every dog owner has had the pleasure (?) of finding out how much their pooch likes “poop”sicles.  For those uninitiated, a “poop”sicle is frozen dog feces and these are only available at a certain time of year (once the temperature dips below freezing for an extended period of time).

“Poop”sicle season started about a week ago in our geographic area.  At first it was only for a day or two until the temperature warmed back up to the 50’s but the season has since resumed and will probably continue now until spring thaw.  It caught me unaware and when Phoenix was caught munching on a “poop”sicle and I yelled at him to drop it at first he had a guilty look on his face but he did drop it (good dog!).  That was when Gypsy realized “poop”sicle season had started and she went out to look for some for herself.  Again, once her name was yelled and she was told “drop it” she did but not before enjoying a bite or two.  I am not saying Fiona is immune to eating “poop”sicles she just does it on the sly.

What can be done about avoiding/eliminating the munching of “poop”sicles you may ask.  Well, one can keep the waste picked up; however, there is a phenomenon dubbed “autumn turds” which makes it hard to find the waste if there are leaves down in the yard which hides the waste to humans but because of their strong sense of smell the dogs can find them.  I have also been told to give the pooches pieces of pineapple which apparently, once digested, makes the “poop”sicles unappetizing or put meat tenderizer on their food which has the same effect.  Needless to say over the past week, since we don’t have any pineapple, I have used meat tenderizer on their food once a day.  Is it working, I think so, at least for dog “poop”sicles but there is another gourmet treat out there that I have no control over—-chicken “poop”sicles and chicken poop is even harder to find since the droppings are not large.  We are hoping once the snow covers the ground we won’t have to worry about chicken “poop”sicles cuz the chickens probably won’t be able to make it over to our yard.
For those of you who live in climates in which the temperature doesn’t often fall below freezing…..be grateful that this is one aspect of dog ownership/parenthood you don’t have to experience!

Our daily constitutional

We walk daily, 1-2 miles depending on which direction we turn at the road.  Yesterday was a 2 mile walk, we didn’t think it would be that long but the weather (temperature and wind) were favorable to a nice stroll so rather than turn around after 1/2 mile we continued down the road.  Not that we were given much of a choice, when we reached the spot that we thought we would turn around the dogs kept going straight.  When we stopped and said “time to turn around” no one paid any attention, Fiona looked up at both of us and whined a little so we relented and kept going.  A couple of houses down the road one of their dogs ran out to the road and barked at us, we had seen this golden before just never saw her run (she is missing her front “passenger side” leg).  She stayed on her property and once we passed she turned around and went back to the house.  On our return trip past the same house we heard a bark, this time it was the black lab that resides there.  He made a bit of a fuss (his owner was outside with him, I think he was making a show for the owner’s benefit.)  Phoenix wanted to cross the street and say “hi” but I think he wanted to say hi to the owner not the dog.  One thing you need to know if Phoenix thinks he is the welcoming committee for the neighborhood; he feels he needs to meet any and everyone he sees on our walks.  Being part hound, Phoenix also bays, not just barks.  He has started baying at other pooches he sees walking when we are out for our exercise, then he keeps looking back over his shoulder at them until they are out of his line of sight.

As if seeing the neighbor dogs wasn’t enough, when we got home the chickens were over visiting.  Luckily we have learned to listen for the rooster to determine where he is from where we hear the crowing so nobody was let off their leash although Gypsy would have LOVED to get and give some exercise by chasing them.  Once again it is sunny out today and the forecast is for fairly mild temperatures, needless to say the chickens are out of their coop and this means the pooches will be happy because they get to watch them again.

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Just short postscript to the chickens being out today, Gypsy wanted out (it’s been a while so I thought she might need to “pottie”.  She ran up the back hill into the woods, not thinking anything of it (she chases squirrels up trees) until I saw chickens start running back toward their own yard.  Don’t worry, she was a VERY good girl and came back when I called rather than chase after the chickens.

Sun’s out, neighbor is home—must mean CHICKENPALOOZA!

I wondered why suddenly all 3 dogs wanted out.  Luckily we now do a quick check of the yard before letting Fiona and Gypsy out loose because we are having a “chickenpalooza” day, perhaps one of the last of the year since once the snow flies I don’t think they will be able to make it over to our yard.

Anyway, it isn’t easy to see the chickens now that the leaves are down when they are in the woods but boy can the pooches see them.

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Gypsy was staring at something in the yard so I followed her line of sight and there they were, in the woods, just behind the garden plot.  Once out Phoenix spotted them and it didn’t take long for Fiona to see them either.  The 3 of them watched as the birds made their way to the compost pile, did some scratching then worked their way back toward their own yard so everybody came in.  Just a few minutes later there was clucking on the side of the house so Gypsy ran over to the side window to jump up and look out because now the chickens were near our cars under the lilac bush, coming up to the outside water bowl (we’re nice neighbors, it is so convenient for them that there is a water bowl they can drink from) before going back into the yard to scratch for bugs.  Really, it is sort of fun having the chickens come over to visit/look for bugs.  The dogs LOVE to watch them and they haven’t had many ticks/fleas this year because of the chickens.  Over this summer the chickens have been over so often all we have to do is say “Palooza” and Phoenix comes from where ever he is to look.

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Well, now there is clucking in front of the house so let “Chickenpalooza” continue!