Monday, July 25, 2005

Parallel walking. With Rottweilers.

OK, we haven't practiced the brace obedience walking thing since last winter when I'd take them daily to the river park, let them run themselves stupid and then walk both on a coupler leash.
So. Mid summers eve in the 'hood. The crack dealers are biking up & down between the Illinois Ave house and the Penn Ave house (I'm in the state street neighborhood.) Cell phones dingalinging and sometimes Baby On Board bike. The nicer cars belonging to customers come and go. The girls who are waiting for the bus but not-really are hanging out in hot pants, jiggly thighs and skinny arms.Ugly, a guy would have to be desperate. I think, though I'm not a guy.
So, hook dogs to coupler, hook up 6' leash, make them sit and wait for the door to open & they're OFF! Charge of the Light Brigade misic, or maybe William Tell Overture. I decide I am not going to fly horizontally down the street behind the Rottweilers. Dammit, they are going to pay attention.
It's a whole different deal walking two, because they pull against each other. One pees here, the other must back track and pee right on the same spot. Big loops of dog slobber curl across their backs as they clamber over each other to leave pee mail. I decide we are not walking another fucking inch unless we are doing it nicely. Several blocks are walked with me hauling up short every time they pull. Either of them, I don't care. Each time, they turn towards me - yes? What? Us? What? Oh, riiiight.
After a few more blocks we are waiting on command at cross walks and not pulling. If anyone wisecracks "Who is walking who" I will deck them, I swear. Nobody does. Many of the kids in the neighborhood know the dogs because I walk them regularly. Several people cross the street as we approach, to get away. The one dealer who I particularly dislike because he hollers God Bless at everyone & always crosses the street when he sees me, trying to look casual. When I see him I tug up on the leash and hiss at the dogs so they get suspicious. I don't really like doing it, but I want them to act unfriendly sometimes. Right now I am a single female living alone in Murder Capital USA, East Flint. If I didn't give a whit about security, I'd have Goldens.
There's a woman named Diane who lives several blocks away and runs a daycare out of her house. She and the kids weren't out tonight...but she & I chat & the kids know the dogs and come out of the yard to play with them. It's too hot for the dogs to be buttheads for long. After a while, they settle down and walk nicely. The house with the three frenzied fence-running dogs is always a challenge, but we manage to get by them without embarassment tonight.
Is it optimistic to think I can graduate to bicycling with them both at once?

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Swerve. Daphne in the 'hood.

In June, I was invited to join an online writers' group. One of the requirements was to maintain a blog - hence this. Well one thing & another, I wasn't happy with the group, so I opted out. Just a mismatch, nothing heinous.
Anyhow so now I have the silly thing and I've been feeling guilty about letting it stagnate! So I've decided to let it ramble on for my own amusement and that of my little handful of regular readers.
So today's topic is Daphne in the 'Hood. Wherein Daphne learns not be terrified by rotting Halloween pumpkins and Alarming Tricycles.
At the "other" house with Dr Psycho, she was very much a house dog - huge area to run in, dog friends, a couch to sleep on at night. Apart from occasional rides and walks, she didn't get off the property much. New situations got her so stressed, it just seemed easier to ask little of her.
So I move to the 'hood right after Thanksgiving, in all that turmoil of the breakup. Aaron & Robbie came up for support. Everything changed, rather violently and abruptly. The dogs have a small fenced yard, and I decide for everyone's well-being to make daily walks a routine.
The first time I took Daphne out in the neighborhood, everything was like Yikes! Shit! What's that?! Halloween pumpkins. Kids' toys on the sidewalk. Barking ghetto dogs. Funny-looking gates. It all had her very, very concerned, and she peed a lot.
I did the recommended light hearted jocularity routine with all Scary Situations with her. Oh silly Daphne. It's just Mr Tricycle! Hello Mr Tricycle, how are you today? See Daphne? He means us no harm. Let's carry on, shall we? Anybody watching probably thought I was out of my gourd, though I don't suppose it matters much around here.
Now, I can even bike with her. She stays with the bike, and obeys when I tell her to ignore loose dogs trailing us down the street. She takes toys, funny-looking gates and everything else pretty much in stride. On walks, she stays with me without pulling. Even if she's 20' ahead of me on the long training leash, she'll stop and wait on command at the curb. Now we're working on "left" and "right" when she's up ahead. I think she's getting it.
If we stop to chat with someone, she mostly doesn't try to jump up on them, and she's sweet with children. If there's nobody in the park to get scared, she gets off leash to run and splash in Gilkey Creek.
Despite her difficulties, Daphne is still a pretty damn good dog.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Unrelated to anything else on this blog...

My grass is being cut this summer by a 15 year old who uses razors to make long, thin cuts on his inner arms.
He does a precise job of doing the lawn - he's careful about not whacking down flowers and always rolls my hose up nicely (I leave it stretched and twirled wherever.) He rides his bike, steering the lawnmower alongside him like a sidecar. He lives in my 'hood, in a trashed out house about 5 blocks away. I am not sure about his family situation. Around here you never know. Anywhere you never know, I suppose.
Call him Trevor. He likes to talk about things, and I like to listen because I find teenagers interesting. Like alien bugs. Ha. He's very bright, I think. Nice kid.
Anyhow today I showed him my mosquito-growing/dog pond, because I think it's interesting and there are some bright red worms in there now. He rolled up his sleeves to check it out, and I saw all these cuts, lots of them. I said, ouch, why, Trevor? He looked embarrassed. Said his only excuse was, he was a teenager. Just playing with razors. I said I was sorry he felt he needed to do that and let it be.
What else was I supposed to say? Nothing I suppose....I do have a tendency to want to jump in and fix things. Or people. (Ask me about my ex husband/s hahaha.)
It suddenly started raining very hard. But my lawn looks nice.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

A conversation with a wildlife rehabber

Last week I spent a few hours at the home of a federally licensed wildlife rehabilitator. I earned a ton of interesting stuff from her....some interesting feeding-related things: She takes in various carnivore/omnivores, like foxes, coyotes and raccoons. Since the aim is to keep them wild and release them, she feeds as much wild food as possible, including live animals. She also lets meat and dead animals rot in buckets and develop a good maggot population. Maggots are important food for numerous wild critters, and rotten meat is not a problem. Ditto eggs. She also will not release a baby predator unless it has had at least one live kill under her care. She raises rabbits, captures starlings and mice, even large bugs. If they can't hunt, they'll likely starve in winter.

She has never encountered an animal who is sick or dying from their diet.
Most are brought to her because of human intervention. " Adopting" baby wild animals, (she calls it kidnapping,) shooting or running them over; attacks by dogs and cats. Very few die of parasites unless they are parasites novel to that species. ie, from animals brought into an area who may harbor worms or something from animals outside of the natural geographic habitat.

She feeds kibble and commercial food including baby formula - anything people donate, basically - but only for weaning, or in a pinch. Feeding these things to wild animals doesn't teach them to hunt and forage for their own food, and they won't survive in the wild. Or, they will become nuisance animals by hanging around and raiding garbage etc, and will end up being trapped and killed by the DNR or pest control companies, or be poisoned or trapped by homeowners.

So: Leave all healthy baby animals alone. Even if they look adorable or hungry. Mothers often leave their babies alone all day - don't assume they're abandoned and kidnap them. It's cruel.
Making wild animals "tame" is sentencing them to death, and other animals in their circle of life. Don't put out food except for bird seed in winter. It is ultimately cruel to feed wild animals, or habituate them to humans in any manner. The ones that die provide food for species higher on the food chain, so if a rabbit or bird starves, it provides necessary food for other animals. This is the natural order.

Donate to your local wildlife rehabilitators because they receive zero government funds and have to pay for their licenses and required classes, as well as cages, pens, bedding, food and bedding. I spoke with Carolyn Fell at her home. One of her sub-permittees - another rehabber working under Fell's license - was also there. Neat women, and both of very modest means. I mean, they were poor. They did this because they love animals and cared enough to give back. When the article is published next week, I'm taking several copies to her house along with some big cans of puppy and kitten formula...I found a good price at a feed store.

This was a public service announcement. :)