bors, 2000-2014.

Bors, a.k.a. Booger Boy, a.k.a. Elder Dog, is no longer with us.

He had a seizure of some sort a week ago, but bounced back to normal very quickly. This morning, it happened again, only there was no bounce. He went quietly in front of the pellet stove, the favorite doggy spot in the winter, with all the other dogs nearby and us there to comfort him. He was 14 and in declining health, so it wasn’t a surprise, but it’s always sad when they finally pack their bags for Rainbow Bridge.

Unfortunately, it happened ten minutes before school bus time, so the kids are a little upset this morning, especially Lyra. Later this morning, I’ll be taking the Booger to our regular vet to have him cremated, and then we’ll have another long conversation about death and dying when the kids get home. It’s their first hands-on brush with mortality–Guinevere, Bors’ mother, went two years ago, but Robin took her to the vet for that last service while the kids were at school. This one was up close and personal for them.

Bors was a sweet boy, an eternal puppy, good-natured and easy-going. He was a therapy dog for a while–he visited the old folks in the nursing home and made the rounds with Robin while she worked there. (He was the New Hampshire Health Care Association’s Volunteer of the Year in 2011, beating out a bunch of humans for the title.) One of her patients used to have dachshunds before she moved into the nursing home, and that dog’s visits were the highlight of her week every time. She passed away two or three years ago, and in this instance, I’m pretty sure that Bors is going to have someone waiting for him at Rainbow Bridge already.

Farewell, Bors. We’ll miss you terribly, but we are glad you could join us for a while.

Nurse Bors Sir Bors certificate

 

on dogs, chickens, and suburban sensibilities.

There’s a WaPo article in our local fish wrapper about the law regarding dogs who kill poultry. Current law allows for farmers to shoot dogs caught in the act of killing their poultry, and the article had a decidedly…oppositional slant. It tells the story of one Alan Taylor, a real estate developer who brought his two dogs to a farm with him on some business. He let his dogs roam free while chatting about planting grapevines (the article calls the dogs “pups”, even though the accompanying picture shows two fully-grown setter-type dogs in the 40-50lb. range), and they got shot while killing some farmer’s chickens. Both dogs survived, but the vet bills ran over $3,000. The author of the article is very sympathetic toward the dog owner, referring to laws that allow farmers to shoot livestock-killing animals as the “doggie death penalty”.

What really ticked me off about the article was the following quote from the dog owner:

“The simple solution for a rational person is to pick up a phone, but what this law allows people to do is to pick up a gun.”

Mmm-hmmm.

Look, I own dogs, and I own chickens. I understand that your dogs are your companions, and I’d never shoot someone’s pet unless it was in the act of chewing on my kids or killing my animals. But you, sir, are an irresponsible asshole.

The simple solution for a rational person?

Let’s see here and take this simple solution step by step.

There’s a ruckus outside, and when I go to check, I see two dogs in my chicken coop, killing my laying hens. (Two dogs of any size can kill the entire flock in moments. Chickens don’t have much in the way of martial prowess.)

The simple solution (rational person and all that) is for me to run out there, try to separate two riled-up dogs in a killing frenzy from my birds without getting bitten in the process, then check for the tags they may or may not be wearing, keep them away from surviving chickens while I call the number on the tag, hope that someone picks up, and then secure two strange dogs until their owner can show up and collect them?

In other words, the onus of dealing with the situation falls squarely on me, and I should deal with it in the manner you deem rational, despite the fact that it’s your irresponsibility that caused the problem? You are responsible for your animals, and if they run free without supervision, anything that is done by them or to them is squarely on your head, not mine.

“Oh, but they’re just chickens, you stupid trigger-happy country bumpkin. You can just get new ones.”

Even assuming that you’d actually be willing to own up to your dogs’ trespassing and livestock killing instead of just going “Nuh uh! Wasn’t mine! Hank and Boo wouldn’t harm a fly!”, those chickens represent a higher dollar value than even that vet bill you had to pay. Sure, the chicks were maybe two bucks a piece, but I had to build them a coop ($1,000), a covered run ($1,500), and then feed and take care of them daily for months and years. (Care to add up the labor and feed costs for our flock of seven after two years?) And you can’t just replace them on the spot because you can only get new chicks or pullets in the spring, so I’ll be out my investment and the money for all the eggs the hens would have laid in the future, had they not ended up as Hank and Boo’s chew toys.

I love dogs, and I’d be very, very hesitant to shoot someone else’s companion animal and would never do so without severe emergency. But letting your dogs roam free in farm country and then getting pissed off at others for dealing with the results of your irresponsibility in the most expedient and least expensive manner is not rational.  The rational thing would be to keep your damn dogs under control. I love my dogs just like Mr. Taylor loves his, but if I allowed them to escape the property, and some farmer down the road killed them while they were busy slaughtering his laying hens, I wouldn’t blame him in the least for shooting them to prevent thousands of dollars of damage to his poultry. I certainly wouldn’t get all in a huff and cry to the newspaper lady about rational people and the “doggie death penalty.”

puppy play.

 

Henry and Ygraine doing what they do most of the day. (Ignore the messy floor, which I’ve TOTALLY PICKED UP since then.)

This fiber-optic connection kicks ass. That was a 153MB video straight from the iPhone, and it uploaded to YouTube in a minute or so. 50Mbps download speed is very nice, but 25Mbps on the upload makes a great many online tasks a great deal shorter.

ot-nay oo-tay ight-bray.

We had a door put into the back wall of our garage. it has a doggy flap in it, so the dogs can get into the fenced-in yard from the garage without anyone having to let them out through the porch door.

It’s interesting to see the ability of the dogs to adjust to this new entry/exit after five years of being let out through the porch door exclusively. Henry is the smartest of the bunch–he figured it out in a few hours. The others sort of get confused every once in a while and seemingly forget the new door temporarily.

Ban, bless his pointy little head, is as dumb as a bucket of gravel. He just let himself out through the garage flap, but on his journey across the yard his little doggy brain has erased that locational information to reuse the storage capacity or something. Now he’s standing in front of the porch door and barking desperately to be let in. We’ll see how long it takes him to remember/discover the unobstructed door a hundred feet to his left that leads back into the warm house. I suspect I’ll have to get up and let him in by early afternoon so he doesn’t turn into a dogsicle.

summer’s end.

We’ve had a rainy, buggy summer here in Upper Cryogenica, and I am greatly looking forward to the fall, which is my favorite season.

How buggy has it been up here, you ask? Buggy enough to support the breeding of this truly monstrous orb weaver, who is in residence next to the Castle’s main portcullis (behind the split to spare you arachnophobes):

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and they wear tiny sunglasses and earpieces.

Lawn maintenance and landscaping: not my favorite tasks in the whole world. They do, however, provide a handy excuse for unsheathing a machete.

Funny thing about the chickens: as skittish as they are when it comes to unfamiliar sights and noises, they don’t mind the lawnmower at all. They’ll graze right in front of it and will only grudgingly move out of the way when the mower is close enough to almost bump them. Moreover, they’ve learned that the mower chases off bugs (and shreds the ones that don’t get out of the way in time), so they actually follow me around when I mow to catch the refugees and broken bugs. It’s like having my own little phalanx of poultry Secret Service agents around me when I mow the front yard.

Someone requested an update on the state of the novella, so here it is: it ain’t done yet. I had to spend most of my writing time the last few weeks on edits for Book #2, and then the kids were home from camp and we went off and did some family things together. I still intend to finish and release the novella in August, but depending on how much (or little) editing it needs, it may be September before it’s in sellable shape. I’m not going to finish something and then upload it to the Kindle store ten minutes later because OMG THE MONIEZ—there are way too many first drafts masquerading as finished product out there as it is. But rest assured that a.) it will be out soon, and b.) it will not suck.

Birdnado.

These birds are riding the thermals over the local McDonald's parking lot. They do this EVERY MORNING. I'm guessing the kitchen throws out a good deal of heat, because there's nary a wing flapping in that flock.

 

chicken recess.

The girls have been confined to the run and their coop since last summer. With the weather finally nice, and the bugs finally out in force again, I decided they should have some recess time outside in the afternoons again. They love their freedom, risky as it is.

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