Thursday, October 27, 2011

Smoke tree

Wyatt and Stanzie's mom, who can identify any plant you throw at her, told me this tree in the front yard is called a smoke tree (Cotinus). Some years the leaves are brighter than other years, depending on the weather; but one thing I can always count on is a multitude of shades on the one tree.
This tree branches out in all sorts of directions instead of growing up like a regular tree. Come to think of it, I have several trees in my yard that grow in individual, undisciplined ways.

I'm afraid I just gravitate toward that sort of thing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A visit from the evil fairy

I've about had it with the tooth fairy. Not only did she steal two of Alanis' teeth but she also took a huge bite of my money. In the old days, you'd leave a tooth under your pillow and she'd buy the little fang for half a dollar. Now she has increased her prices about 800% and reversed the charges, just because the teeth were still in Alanis' mouth. If you're thinking the exchange deal only works with baby teeth, then I say you've got an age discrimination suit on your hands. Or the tooth fairy does. If I could find her.

Not a happy camper.
Not long after I brought Alanis home a few years ago, I had her teeth cleaned; and the vet had to remove a back molar. A year ago at her check-up, her teeth were fine; but despite bones and chewies, she developed so much tartar in the past year that the other back molar had to be removed along with a tiny tooth behind the left canine. When the tartar gets up into the gum line, the tooth has to go in order to prevent gum disease. The vet suggested that Alanis just has one of those mouths that manufactures a lot of tartar.

Although she's a tiny Airedale, barely 43 lbs, I can't brush her teeth. Just trying to look into her mouth involves a wrestling match requiring two hands, with none left over for the brushing. Miro is the opposite. I've been brushing his teeth several times a week since he was a pup and he enjoys the process, even if he doesn't exactly sit still. Do you know how strong an Airedale's tongue is when you're trying to get the brush up against his teeth while he's trying to lick off all the toothpaste?

I have seen dogs sit passively while getting their teeth brushed. Passive and still, however, are not in the Airedale's vocabulary.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Damp, dark and dreary

That's fall around here. Some people think brisk, crisp days, slanting light, flaming leaves; we have gray skies and drizzle. Fortunately, we also have Halloween demon-dogs.
This variety is often found in a dark corner of the yard half-concealed under the branches of evergreen trees.


Far more dangerous, this variety of demon-dog roams closer to the house, often hovering at the tops of steps from which vantage point he can view the lower yard and whatever prey is to be found down there, unsuspecting. When he sees an innocent squirrel, he flys down the stairs. By the time he lands, the squirrel is in the next yard.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

How much Airedale is that?

Not much. Thirty years of Airedales and I'm still very inefficient at stripping them.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Animal rights vs. welfare

Animal rights and welfare should be the same thing, but they're not. Last Wednesday, activists shoved about 1,000 minks out of their cages at a mink farm in Spokane, WA. A news report is here.

 I'm so irked by the continued stupidity of  so-called "animal rights" groups that I had to comment. Raids on fur farms have been reported at least since the 1990's. If these groups care so much about animals, they should have figured out by now that if you release a domestically bred animal into the wild, it will die because it does not know how to hunt or fend for itself in the wild. That's not death with dignity; that's torture by pain, illness and starvation.

With utterly no grasp of the irony and stunning ignorance of their statement, the activist group wrote in a press release: "We chose to do this not because we believe that humans wearing fur is inherently wrong. Rather we think that the callous disrespect with which the fur industry treats the animals is despicable."

In this particular case, the minks didn't go far from home and most were recaptured. Sometimes after these "releases," the minks turn against each other and fight to the death because none has established its own territory. Some of the Spokane minks were hit by cars and killed. Are trauma, terror and pain less despicable than life in a cage and a quick death?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tired of tomatoes

Summer was short and tomato season was short, along with the tomatoes themselves. The successful plants in my garden were all cherry and grape tomatoes that came up from last year's seeds. I ate them in salads, gave the split ones to chickens and a few to the dogs--but not many because the high acid content can upset even iron-lined Airedale tummies--and added them to recipes from my new cookbook.
That's Tuscan bean stew from the book. Some of the green stuff is organic kale from the grocery store because I didn't have time to get to the market. Never again. A handful of leaves from the neighbor's poplar trees could not have been more tough and chewy.
I think even the chickens are tired of tomatoes because when I threw a handful into the pen this morning, they cocked their heads instead of rushing to eat, going, "What, those again? How about some leftover parrot food instead?"
I also turned Alanis into Fuzzdog by brushing her out. After you get an Airedale all brushed and fluffed, the first thing she does is go to the water bowl and drench her face so that she can walk away dripping from chin dreadlocks and ruining the photo op. In dog language, that's a relaxed dog, tail and ears neither high nor low, muscles loose. Standing or lying on the grooming table while a person brushes, plucks, trims and--horrors!--Dremels the toenails must be hard work.