Amphibian Tragedies

July 21, 2010

Since I was a child, I have always had a deep interest, love & fascination with animals. Of course, the cute and cuddly kittens & puppies, the tiny little hamsters and adorable bunny rabbits kept my attention as a young girl, because – well, that’s just across the board in my opinion. As I’ve grown older, and have experienced different parts of the world, my fascination has expanded to other things, like frogs, lizards, birds.

 Living in Florida is like living in a giant terrarium, the wildlife that surrounds me in the suburbs (or the city, for that matter) is nothing short of breath-taking. For example, every early Summer the baby tree frogs make their appearance on our back windows & sliding glass doors. I first notice them in the evening, tiny lime green translucent bodies plastered all over the glass awaiting the night fall which is bound to bring the flying insects attracted to our back porch light, or the light escaping from our windows into the back yard.

 

Every evening, I have sat and watched these little guys as they capture food and grow and commune with each other in their joint efforts to survive and thrive in the wild wild wilderness of the outdoors. And during the day while waiting for Pieter to finish his business outside, I watch as they slumber in the shade created by the door jamb.  And I know it sounds like an over-statement that I literally SIT and WATCH these little buggers as they do nothing but breathe and eat and crap all over my windows, but I assure you this is the truth. (Seriously, what else am I supposed to do? And there’s really only so many hours a girl can occupy herself with the trash on television.)

Occasionally, while letting the dog outside to relieve himself, one of my tree frog friends will get confused of the sudden door movement and accidentally find himself on my kitchen floor, so I quickly scoop him up and show him back outside where he belongs. Every few days, I’ll walk by the back door into the kitchen and see one of them in a peculiar or interesting body position and call for the City Boy to come take a look. He usually doesn’t bother – and I feel sorry for him to miss out on the wonder that is Nature.  What must THAT be like, to not even care?!?

Over the past few weeks, the congregation of tree frogs has dwindled significantly. What used to be 20-30 bodies, is now limited to about 4 or 5 on a good night. Now, this could be due to the fact they’re growing bigger and have gone in search of a larger food supply, or perhaps a good number have died for various reasons, I am not sure. Regardless, I do realize their first Summer is probably their hardest, so I’ve always strived to help out (or work very hard not to HINDER their survival chances) in any way possible.

So, today after letting the dog back inside from doing his business I went to pull the sliding glass door closed, and something stopped it from closing all the way. I checked to make sure the curtains hadn’t gotten caught in the track, and then tried again. Still wouldn’t close. On the third try, I really slammed it shut, and just right as the door had left my grasp and any chance of regaining control of the door, I glanced up and saw what I had done. Apparently, one of my almost full-grown tree frogs had been resting between the two glass doors, and the sudden movement of the door jarred him from his position at the top of the doors. He fell onto the door track where I quickly crushed him with the weight of the door being pulled over the track. I honestly cannot even tell you how devastating this was to me.  I feel as though I have murdered a friend.

Now, here I was: faced with my crime, still not able to close the door (there was about a 1” gap that could not be sealed), and now unable to reach the broken and twisted body of the frog (I only HOPE that he was truly dead at this point) I had been admiring and caring for these past few months. My day, until this point, was productive yet still frustrating and sad. And when I realized my responsibility in this innocent frog’s tragic and painful demise it was too much to bear. I needed consoling, so I thought my husband would know what to say, or could perhaps at least give me an idea how to get the damn door shut. He sounded sympathetic, but I could also hear that “other” part of his voice that couldn’t believe I was sobbing over a “stupid frog”. After several failed attempts I opened the door a bit wider, which exposed the frogs lifeless feet. Taking hold of his feet, I could feel how heavy he had grown (which only intensified my sadness. This frog was one of the SURVIVORS! He had beat the odds and was going to make it!!), and quickly I was able to free him from the door track and threw him into the yard.

The sobbing continued until I laid down on the couch to nap it off. Several minutes later, the City Boy did call back to check how I was holding up. Although some (and probably my own spouse) think it’s ridiculous to care one bit about a dead tree frog, I cannot understand that. I mean, not only is their entire life cycle completely amazing, but they’re really beautiful little animals and they serve a big purpose (my yard has MUCH less mosquitoes right now than there were a month ago, let me tell you!).

So while I am still terribly saddened by the loss of my tree frog this afternoon, I am also hoping that my daughter adopts my love of animals and not her father’s indifference to them. I really pray that when I tell her about the different animals and the neat and gross things they do, that her eyes will light up with interest and not glaze over like her father’s do.

In the meantime, here is a haiku to my Tree Frog Friend: 

I cared for my Friend

Until I killed him one day

Treacherous glass door

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My Little Terror

November 5, 2009

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So, this whole “puppy training”, or as I like to call it “trying like hell to live peacefully with a raging, carnivorous beast” is not exactly going as well as I had expected.

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At least I have one angel right now.

Truthfully, I know that once she is out of this whole “puppy phase” she’s going to be a kick ass dog!  She already misses me when I’m gone (much to the City Boy’s chagrin), she sleeps through the night (MOST of the time), she’s a great alarm clock, is good for running with, is usually a good playmate for Pieter, and growls and barks at people at JUST the right times.

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Obviously, she’s a work in progress. (and, YES, I know that she needs a nail trim)

Look at the role model I’ve provided her!  She’s got a lot to live up to.

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Some Pre-Halloween Drama

October 31, 2009

“Halloween Hype” Movie.  Roll tape. 

This feature film stars the irreplaceable and always-obsessing thinking Em with her two adorable co-stars, Pieter and Lexi.

Scene 1:

Em comes home from boot camp to the usual routine.  Take dogs out, feed dogs, feed self, work online, watch Law & Order followed by Dateline NBC which happened to be about a murdering husband/son.

Scene 2:

Chase Lexi around the downstairs of the house trying to “be the pack leader”.  Throw the tennis ball through the house while playing with dogs.  Take dogs out for yet another potty break.  Continue watching Dateline.

Scene 3:

Just as Dateline is speaking about the danger involved with the FBI’s investigation of a man who allegedly killed his wife & son, and was conspiring to have his parents murdered, Em’s brow furrows as she finally takes notice of Lexi, and realizes she has been doing something unsettling all night. 

HISTORY: Em and the City Boy use a baby gate to block Lexi’s access to the stairs.  Usually, Lexi protests the fact that she is limited to the downstairs by sniffing around the gate, and occasionally trying to claw at it.  Typically, this behavior can be corrected after a few “Tssk’s” and “No, Lexi”‘s.  But, tonight was different.  She had been barking intensely, looking intently up the stairs as if she has a target in mind.  She is jumping, making attempts to literally leap OVER the baby gate.  Initially, once her changed behavior toward the gate was noticed, Em thought “Stupid Dog.” 

Return to Scene 3: 

Em suddenly realizes the remote possibility there may be someone IN the house.  Hiding UPSTAIRS. 

She thinks to herself: Perhaps Lexi witnessed this person enter the house before I arrived at the house.  Perhaps Lexi KNOWS there is someone upstairs, hiding, lurking, waiting to surprise me the moment I ascend the stairs.  It must be the ex!  He found out that I told his sister-in-law about his little “secret disease” mentioned here and has finally flipped his lid!  He must’ve looked up my address via the public records online, drove to my city (about 3 hours from his locale) and is now sitting upstairs while I’ve been mindlessly watching crime TV and chasing pups around like a sitting duck!!  My “protection” is upstairs too, which means HE is more likely to find it and use it against me.

Return to Scene:

Quickly, Em grabs her cell phone and takes the dogs outside through the back sliding glass door.  She calls the City Boy – voicemail!  She calls her mother – voicemail!  She calls her ONE Orlando friend – voicemail! 

She thinks: “Damn people for having lives on a Friday night!” 

She calls her sister (who she knew was with her parents) and she answers.

Em: “I think there’s someone in my house, but I also think I may be paranoid at the same time.” 

Sister: “Hold on (with intensity)  I will let you talk to Dad.”

Dad: “What’s going on?”

Em: (beginning to get choked up) “Dad … I think I’m just being paranoid, but there may be someone in my house!  Lexi is going crazy trying to get upstairs and I can only assume that there’s someone UP there!”

Dad: “Is the City Boy there?”

Em: “No.  He’s working.”

Dad: “Go to your neighbors and call the police.  Let them come and check it out.”

(some slight bantering back & forth while Em protests making mention that she doesn’t want to waste anyone’s time if it turns out to be nothing at all.  Father argues “that’s what they’re paid for!”)

Em: “Okay” (fighting tears) “I’ll call you guys back.”

Scene 4:

After a 5 minute conversation with a very pleasant 911 dispatcher and 6,000 mosquito bites to the flesh, four police cruisers and one undercover car roll onto the street and park 4 houses down.  Questions are asked and answered.  The pups instinctively understand Em’s mental state and sat alert immediately next to her waiting for an indication of what is happening.  Six police officers entered the home, guns on the ready and flashlights in hand.  From the street Em can see their flashlights as they enter the upstairs and check empty bedrooms which don’t yet have light fixtures installed.  Several minutes pass and the police return to give the “go ahead” for re-entry into the home.  Embarrassed “thank you’s” are said, sympathetic responses follow. 

Back inside Em makes sure all windows are locked, sliding glass door is locked and tries to relax.

She thinks: “No more watching multiple shows about murder and mayhem when home alone.”

She calls the City Boy to explain, calls her father back to say “Thank you.  All is clear.  As you were.  At ease, Sir.”

Dad: “Well, you know … if you lived up here in Burlington you wouldn’t have to call the police.  You could just call me or your brother to come keep you safe.”

Em: “You people and your sales tactics!!”

The truth is … you don’t realize how alone you are somewhere until things get a little scary.  With the City Boy working late nights and no friends or family in the area it’s a very isolated feeling I have at times.  Usually, I have no problem running at night in my neighborhood or taking the dogs out at all hours of the night.  I don’t get nervous pumping gas when the sun goes down, and just yesterday I walked about 2 miles in the early dusk hours trying to locate my Halloween costume in a slightly sketchy part of town.  But … sometimes … my imagination kicks in and I end up monopolizing 6 police officers evenings.  Such a wimp.

Guess the spirit of Halloween has seeped in this year.


On New Motherhood

October 10, 2009

Tell me: is it normal for new mothers to feel absolutely overwhelmed with the tasks they have to complete?  Ridden with guilt for all that they are failing to do?

I know that all “true Mothers” who read this will want to slap me across the face, but our pup is 4 months old and is very demanding on the attention.  I’m constantly yelling, “Lexi, DOWN!” “Lexi, no!” “Lexi, get off the couch!” “Lexi, don’t eat those shoes!” “Lexi, take Pieter’s head out of your mouth!”  Couple this with the fact that the City Boy is not here in the evenings to pitch in, I feel like I’m a single mom, chained to the kitchen/living room areas of the house.  I have these things that I’m committing myself to do each night, but the list … it goes un-checked.  And my patience … it becomes more and more diminished.  And my sanity? … I don’t know where it went. 

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I’ve found myself crying more about this damn puppy and the feelings of failure I’m experiencing than I care to admit.  I stayed home from the office yesterday and when the City Boy was leaving for work, he asked me for the smallest favor – that I would print a document for him that evening.  My response?  Tears!  I wanted to say, “Of course Hon!  I’ll be glad to do that small little favor for you”, but I KNEW that I wouldn’t be able to deliver the goods.  And for that, I was so angry and ashamed at myself.  He told me I was being too hard on myself.

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How is it possible that I’m exhibiting symptoms of post partum depression with a stinkin’ puppy?!?  What the hell is wrong with me? 

So, here it is, Friday night.  Chained to the kitchen – NOT completing my list of To-Do’s and trying to watch Law & Order while chasing the puppy away from the vacuum cleaner cord, the TV remote, Pieter, the couch. 

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Come on City Boy!!  Come home soon.  Your presence is absolutely NEEDED!!


My Beast of Burden

September 23, 2009

Lexi Girl has grown quite a bit since we brought her home August 2nd.  She is exactly 16 weeks old today.

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RELAXED ...

I found Lexi slumbering on her blanket yesterday.  She was in good spirits, and allowed a brief photo shoot.

CONFUSED ...

CONFUSED ...

Or, my personal favorite …

DIGNIFIED!

DIGNIFIED!

It’s so hard to accept that she is growing older and bigger … and louder, with sharper teeth and bass’ier barks.  With a massive attitude and big paws, and a mouth big enough to put Pieter’s head in — she’s tested that theory. 

This week has been a real challenge with her, but Stacy reminded me yesterday that she’s still just a puppy.  So, I’ll just need to KEEP reminding myself of that for the next 2 months.

Remember this?

DAY ONE.

DAY ONE.


I Know Why The Caged Dog Poops

September 21, 2009

I didn’t go to work on Thursday or Friday.  I spent the largest portion of yesterday in bed, and I wouldn’t have come into the office today either if it weren’t for the fact my only other option would be to spend the entire day at home with the dogs.  It’s amazing to me that my aversion to them right now is that strong.  And, actually, let’s be fair.  It isn’t really the dogs (plural) that I want to hide away from.  It’s from the puppy.  Uno.  Singular.  It is she that drives me crazy and tests my patience (I fail every time).  It isn’t that she’s a perpetual terror.  She really isn’t.  She’s just so very trying and manipulative.  Diabolical, even.

Last Sunday started off as a great day.  It was the first Sunday of football and the City Boy and I were all geared up to watch a few games together.  I was sprawled out on the couch, with Lexi at my feet on the farthest cushion and Pieter was curled up next to my belly.  It was so comfortable!  A few times I sighed a sigh of contentment.  “Look Honey!”  I said to the City Boy.  “Isn’t it great that these two are laying on the couch together and no one is getting chewed on?”

Not too much later, I was playing tug of war with the dogs.  Then it was a game of chase, around and around the couch in the living room.  Lexi stole a chew toy from my hand, ran and jumped up on the couch cushion to get away from Pieter who was close on her heels.  I smiled and started in her direction to pull the chew toy out of her mouth.  It was at this very moment that time stood still.

I could see the laughter glinting in her eyes.  As if she were saying to Pieter, “Na Na Na Na Boo Boo!  You can’t get me or this slobbered on squirrel toy in my mouth!  HA!”

But, then suddenly.  I saw a light bulb go off over her head.  She suddenly squatted and pee’ed ALL OVER MY COUCH CUSHION!!!

“NNNNnnnOooooooo!”

I threw her outside and immediately tried to catch the run off from the couch.  Luckily, she only hit one cushion.  Also, double-luckily, my couch has Teflon micro-suede to counter the efforts of pissing animals trying to destruct my home. So, the cushion got a good spraying and thorough cleansing on Sunday.  Followed by drying in the sun and a dousing of Febreze.  You can’t tell anything ever happened.

Three days later, I was at work.  The City Boy was at home, getting ready to head to work.  I suddenly received a text message stating that she had pee’ed on the ottoman.  He was asking for instructions on cleaning it.

Once again, she tried to destruct but our quick reflexes and super sturdy upholstery were too strong and fast for her to beat us.  Instead, the City Boy did the best he could cleaning it (I followed up that night with a thorough scrubbing), let it dry for a day then took the Febreze to it.  Good as new.

However, there is a new rule in the house.  No Lexi on the furniture!  She had her one day of freedom to explore the couch territories but couldn’t handle the vast responsibility.  Therefore, she is to be banished to the floor from now on.  It was her choice and she made it loud & clear.

Fast forward again from last Wednesday to yesterday morning.  After a late night, the Lexi pup begins her usual cries to be released from her kennel around 6 am.  Groggily I sit up in bed and mumble something about hating the dog.  I reach for the bedroom door knob and once I turned the knob and stepped into the hallway, a stench so horrible and rancid smacked me upside the face.  “Oh no”, I thought. “I bet this is bad.”

Oh yes!  It was very bad.  There was poop everywhere in her kennel.  Her little kennel towel?  Was destroyed.  I refused to even wash it.  It went straight into the trash.  Twenty minutes later, the crate was clean, she was clean and all smelly remnants of her accident were now the Osceola County Waste Department’s problem. 

I don’t know about you, but starting my day cleaning up dog shit usually doesn’t set the right tone.  I was sick all day yesterday (not because of the feces, but it probably didn’t help my mood any).  I slept from 11 am to 7:30pm.  At 10pm last night I took a sleeping pill so I could continue my sleeping until this morning.  It was great!

Again, around 6:12 this morning, Lexi began her daily alarm duties.  I got up and walked into the hallway – no stench.  Sigh of relief.  Walk downstairs, already in a semi-decent mood.  Flip on the kitchen light to say hello to the puppy and …. Poop!  Again!  Another towel into the trash, another scrubbing of the crate, another morning sabotaged.   Only this time, she had finally broken me.  I cried as I cleaned up the crap.  I cried as I yelled about it to the City Boy.  I cried in the shower.  While getting dressed for work.  Before walking out the door, the City Boy told me he was going to bake me some chicken today so I would have something to eat for dinner tonight.  I cried some more.

To put it in a nutshell I’m nothing more than a crying cry-ball of a cry baby today.  I blame the dog.  When I get home tonight she is getting the longest walk of her life!!  She will be asleep and in bed by 9 o’clock, so help me God!  Why is she doing this?


City Boy Has a Bad Day!

September 9, 2009

The City Boy has a best childhood friend in Chicago who breeds & trains dogs (Giant Schnauzers & Doberman’s.  If you’re interested in them, let me know).  He started distributing a natural, organic dog food a few months ago and has been hounding us to purchase some for the beasts.  Based upon what I read about it, it truly is superior to any dog food you can purchase at the pet store or grocery.  They use human-grade food, no weird by-products, no corn or wheat, filler-free.  It is high in fiber and even though each bag costs more than the grocery stuff, the dogs need to eat less of it, so it ends up being fairly economical.  Finally, after a few months we decided to take the leap.

We began slowly, but giving the kibble as treats when the beasts did what we asked.  This actually turned out to be the perfect treat while clicker training.  It’s small and tasty so they are MORE than willing to do whatever command we throw at them.  After a few days, we began feeding them more and more of the new super food.  As was expected, Lexi developed a pretty nasty case of diarrhea, but we expected it to diminish within a few days.  Unfortunately, on Day Two, we had to take her to the sitter who would be keeping her while we were in Kentucky.

I arrived home Wednesday evening to a house that had experienced what I like to call a “shit bomb” exploding in the kitchen!  Not only had Pieter, who has been house broken for 2 years, left a nice piece of poop in the foyer but Lexi had sprayed diarrhea all over her crate and my kitchen wall!  Talk about high in FIBER!!  I instantly kicked the beasts outside, picked up Pieter’s gift, and brought the puppy’s crate to the side yard to be washed out with the hose.  Then, I started on the mess in the kitchen.  Once everything was cleaned up, the house still smelled “a bit smelly” so I left the back door open, which allowed the pups to run inside and out, chasing each other back and forth.  A few times I caught sight of Lexi trying to rid herself of the bile in her intestines.  “Poor thing”, I thought.

By the time the City Boy got home, she seemed to have exhausted all resources of upset tummy, so I thought it was safe enough to take her to the sitters.  We loaded up her food, some toys and put her in the backseat with a blanket to sleep on.  As we were making our way out of the neighborhood, Lexi began scratching at the sides of the car doors.  City Boy took noticed and said, “I hope she’s scratching because she’s excited and not because she has to go to the bathroom.”  It was hard to tell.  But, within 15 seconds we knew why … suddenly the car filled with the unmistakable aroma of dog shit.  She had sprayed diarrhea all over the back seat of the City Boy’s car!!  It was clear that she was upset about this, as was HE!  I immediately held onto her collar so she couldn’t roll around in it, we rolled down all the windows and sun roof, and the City Boy started an understandable tirade about what a horrible day this had been, and how in the world was he going to clean this up?  After a few moments of listening to him blow off steam, I couldn’t contain the laughter any more. 

You know when you are in the middle of a situation that you KNOW for a fact you will find humorous SOME DAY?  This was it!  My thought process at the time was, “why wait?”  It was funny!  The City Boy quickly reminded me that I wouldn’t find it so funny if it had happened in my car, and he was probably right, but the fact was – it WASN’T my car.  I volunteered to clean it up when we returned home, and told him to not worry about it until then.  I know … much easier said than done.

So, we dropped Lexi off with the couple we received her from.  They had missed the puppies and were wanting a “fix” anyway.  I made sure to warn them that we were in the process of switching dog food and apologized in advance for any misfortune they experienced as a result.  I gave them permission to keep her outside with her mom and dad if they felt it necessary and we headed home in a shit-filled car.

No doubt about it … the City Boy had had a shitty day!

Side note: we found out once we got home and read the bag again, that we had been feeding her too much food, which we believe is the cause of her upset tummy.  Pieter has been doing great with it.  He loves the food, and hasn’t had any further accidents in the house.  Now that we understand the daily amounts appropriate for Lexi’s weight we are expecting very good things.

So, if anyone is interested in knowing more about the food, please let me know and I’ll be happy to pass along the link.