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
The “bed of honor”
With 3 dogs needless to say we have several dog beds around the house; 2 in the kitchen with a crate that Gypsy feels belongs to her exclusively, 2 in the living room in addition to the couch which Phoenix feels is his while Gypsy sleeps under the dining room table (we have an open floor plan and the dining room is just off the living room forming an “L”) as well as 3 dog beds in the bedroom. Gypsy and Phoenix like to sleep under the bed while Fiona likes to sleep on our bed (one side or the other OR across the foot of the bed warming both sides for our feet).
Despite all the available places to sleep there is always a competition to see who can claim the bed between Fred’s chair and mine in the living room. Fiona thinks this is her place, Gypsy thinks she should have priority and occasionally Phoenix gets in the act to claim the spot too.
Last evening I had to chuckle to myself as Gypsy was laying on the bed, Fiona then faked her out acting like she wanted out, when Gypsy got up Fiona doubled back so she could lay down on the dog bed. Later Phoenix got off the couch to get a drink of water, Fiona followed him into the kitchen AND he doubled back to claim the “bed of honor”. We don’t know what the attraction of this dog bed is but it sure is the place to be in our dogs opinion.
So, I was traveling for work earlier this week (YES, I FINALLY GOT A JOB AFTER 8 MONTHS OF UNEMPLOYMENT!!!!!) which meant Fred was home alone with the dogs.
Normally Phoenix will lay on the couch, the floor or a dog bed but Saturday evening while I was sitting on the LaZ-Boy he came over to me and started nudging my knee. Since the dogs had just finished dinner I presumed Phoenix was trying to tell me he needed to go out. So Fred took all 3 dogs out, Fiona went into the brush between our house and the neighbors, Gypsy wanted to walk further back on the property (now that we are down to 4 inches of snow from the 12 inches we had on Tuesday, spring-like temperatures on Saturday—the winter solstice—and again today, Sunday) and Phoenix just stood on the step of the porch. A bit later I got up to go to the bedroom to change into my lounging PJs; when I came back the LaZ-Boy was occupied! Phoenix had climbed up and made himself comfortable, head on the armrest, legs tucked under him and eyes starting to droop closed as he started to doze off to sleep. Apparently he didn’t want outside but wanted me to get up so he could sleep on the chair. I chuckled and Fred came back to the livingroom wondering what was so comical, told him he had to see it to understand. When Fred looked Phoenix opened his eyes and wagged his tail. In my absence Phoenix decided he would sit where I normally do and wasn’t ready to relinquish the chair back to me.
Fiona, on the other hand, missed me as well. BUT Fiona will “share” the chair with me, meaning she likes to lay on my legs while I sit in the chair—her lap time. Friday evening she was on my lap for the majority of the evening, same thing Saturday morning which is not normal. Usually she will climb up for a short period then decide it’s time to lay on her dog bed—not this weekend, she was into some SERIOUS lap time.
You may wonder what Gypsy did; well, she just wanted belly rubs and for me to pay constant attention to her when I first got home. She did do some snuggling when I went to bed on Friday because, you know, she is our “snuggle puppy.“
While doing dishes last night my mind wandered and I recalled an incident with Fiona and a skunk which happened early in 2013.
I put Fiona and Gypsy out while I got breakfast ready then went to bring them in after I put their dishes down. Gypsy came right in but Fiona, well Fiona was busy with an animal that came to visit. First, out of the corner of my eye I saw a black nose. Hmmm, one of the cats in the neighborhood must be visiting, strange that neither Fiona nor Gypsy made a big deal about this by barking I thought to myself. Upon looking closer I thought I didn’t recall seeing a black and white cat around the neighborhood, certainly not one with white down its back. WAIT A MINUTE!!!! WHITE DOWN ITS BACK—THAT IS NOT A CAT!!!!! There was no telltale odor from a skunk. Image my panic seeing Fiona nose to nose with a skunk! Trying to stay calm so the skunk wasn’t frightened I started to call Fiona to the door, very quietly. She looked at my like “but I’m making a friend here” and proceeded to go around to the skunk’s rear end to sniff. OH LORD, DEAR JESUS NO! DON’T LET IT HAPPEN!!!! goes through my mind. The skunk just stood there and let Fiona sniff at it. FINALLY I was able to coax Fiona back into the house BUT the skunk followed her up to the step. Calmly I let Fiona in and closed the backdoor.
I still don’t know how it happened that there wasn’t any spraying of anyone by the skunk which I dubbed “Flower” (like the one in Bambi). All I can say is I was relieved and glad that Fiona had made a friend instead of an enemy. I am also amazed that Gypsy didn’t incite any adverse reaction from the skunk either. We haven’t seen Flower since then (at least not to my knowledge unless Flower visits without my knowledge). All I know is we make sure we have the makings for the de-skunking solution on hand “just in case”.
If I haven’t mentioned it before, Gypsy LOVES to chase squirrels. Our back porch is enclosed (more like a mud room) and we have a full view storm door as our outside door. During the summer the glass is replaced by a screen but right now it is a glass pane from top to bottom. Gypsy likes to lay on the back porch (when it is warm enough) and look out the back door.
Before she goes out she looks around the backyard to see if there are any beings she needs to “guard” against. She has been amazed when we open the inner door and there is a squirrel sitting on the back step looking at the house. Gypsy stares as the squirrel as if sizing it up and the squirrel stares back like it is daring her to try to catch it. We make a move to open the door and the chase begins always ending with the squirrel reaching the safety of a tree before Gypsy gets to the foot of the tree. If she could I think she would climb up after it. Many times, like once last week, she will take off up our back hill into the woods and normally she is chasing a squirrel. We have learned to look around the backyard as well to make sure there aren’t any deer or the neighbors chickens out there but when it comes to squirrels they aren’t as easily seen by us humans.
But I digress. Recently one morning I went to put the dogs out, took a look around the yard before opening the back door and didn’t see anything. However, Gypsy did: halfway up the hill and midway between the start of the tree line and the path to the back of our property she ran. I saw the squirrel dart up a tree and there she stood at the bottom of it. Then to her surprise, CRACK, down came a branch on the side opposite her and up jumped that squirrel (either he was hefty or that branch was weak). Gypsy stood there looked confused while the squirrel jumped up and ran to another tree. She then circled the bottom of the 2nd tree as if expecting another squirrel to fall from the sky! The squirrel survived to tease her another day.
It took a couple of minutes but she finally decided the excitement was over and came back to the house looking a bit disappointed. Gypsy hasn’t given up, she still checks out the yard before going out the door to see if she can chase any other squirrels up a tree.
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.
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.
Gypsy happens to be the only dog we have adopted that is not part Labrador. She is 1/2 golden retriever and 1/2 german shepherd. We didn’t know what we were getting into when we adopted this mix. Not complaining, just up until we got her all our pooches weren’t very vocal. Gypsy, however, feels it is her duty to alert us whenever ANYTHING and I mean ANYTHING moves outside. She can appear to be in a deep sleep and all of a sudden she is up, running to a window or door and barking. When she hears a large vehicle coming down the road she will start to growl before she gets up to bark at it through the window. When out in the gazebo she will growl at any movement in the yard, the neighbor’s yard or in the road. When called by security companies attempting to sell us systems (i.e. ADT) we tell them we don’t need one, already have one it is D.O.G.
I stand corrected in her age, Gypsy was actually 5 years old this past October. We were on puppy alert while visiting family in Indiana, waiting for a call that the pups had been born. In fact, every time my cell rang our nieces and nephews asked if it was the “puppy call”. That call never came, what actually happened was I called the individual with the pregnant dog one morning to see if the pups had been born and was told she was delivering a pup at that moment. I stayed on the phone with them, asked if the pup was male or female, was told it was a female, asked if there were any distinguishing markings and it was the only pup with any white on it, the back toes were white so it was decided that would be our pup.
We had been naming our dogs by following the alphabet (OK, OK, Phoenix came pre-named and Mandy just looked like a Mandy) but when it came to this new pup we were up to G. My husband came up with Gypsy. And a Gypsy she is, free spirited and a bit wild at times. She also likes to roam around the property despite not being allowed to go far. My husband tells her to “stay in the yard” and she “stays in the yard” almost as if she knows her “yard” consists of 7 acres. She LOVES to chase squirrels and has attempted to chase the chickens when they come over for “palooza” but will come back when we call to her. She also likes to perfume herself in eau de deer poop, particularly at this time of year.
Gypsy is also a snuggle puppy. She likes to jump up on the bed and nuzzle under our chins while we rub her belly. She is really a sweetheart.