Need a great place to board your dog in the Ottawa area? These people are truly dedicated!
Need a great place to board your dog in the Ottawa area? These people are truly dedicated!
….if a ground-hog could hog sofas!
Of course, I now know that groundhogs can indeed hog sofas!
Today, my post will be uncharacteristically personal.
As in, ‘sofa personal’.
It didn’t start out this way.
It was an excellent, cool summer morning so I decided to do some sewing.
Nothing serious, mind you. I just really, really like buying fabric at fabric stores.
Every now and then, I have to sew something or my hubby begins to question what I intend to do with ‘all that fabric’?!?!?
My husband honestly seems unable to understand that owning these beautiful reams of luxurious fabric, taking them out every now and then, touching them and thinking of all the potential things I could make from them is way more satisfying than actually getting the scissors and sewing machine out and ruining a perfectly good piece of fabric… I suspect that he is too much an engineer and not enough of a Buddhist to really get it!
To keep him happy, I actually have to attempt to sew something – then, his compassion for my disappointment over the ruined project means I can go and buy some more fabric.
So, it being such a nice day and my yard being so shaded and inviting, I decided to sew my new nightie (if things work out – which is a real toss-up, since I will absolutely not use a pattern somebody else made up) in the back yard.
I was using the picnic table to lay out the fabric, with my dog and rabbit by my side, the squirrels frolicking in the trees up above us, the chipmunk swearing at us loudly from his hiding place inside the barbecue – you know, the idyllic suburban paradise!
This wonderful scene was only marred by the occasional rude words floating on the gentle breeze – once it became clear that nobody could possibly cut fabric in a straight line with those scissors…
Then, my dog Yoshi starts barking.
He’s barking into the corner of the yard where the rhubarb is – and won’t stop.
I know he is no fan of rhubarb and becomes very disgusted if he finds a piece of it in a cake – or anything else he was planning to ingest, but he doesn’t usually vocalize his disapproval. At least, not by barking at the plant itself…
After a while of gentle ministrations to please stop that infernal racket, I began to wonder. A chipmunk or a squirrel can easily make it over – as well as through – the fence there.
So, what the Shakespeare is Yoshi barking at so consistently? It’s not his nature to do something so diligently…
After another while, I decided to go investigate what was the matter.
The subject of his ranting/barking turned out to be a young female woodchuck.
Aka a groundhog.
About 3/4 the size of a full grown one.
Now, this was Yoshi’s first close encounter with a woodchuck.
All he did was corner it and bark at it very, very loudly. Like, headache-loudly.
But, I remember how my previous dog dealt with woodchucks…
My previous dog had been a stray – and from all the evidence, we presume he lived for quite some time by hunting woodchucks. He could catch anything – squirrels, chipmunks – and hand them to me, unharmed (a bit shaken, but after a while, the local ones got used to it and would not even bother to run from him…they’d just wait for him to catch them and have me put them it a tree – they learned fast this was perfectly safe). But if he saw a woodchuck, he turned into a hunter extraordinaire.
I used to take him with me to the office (back when I was the boss – so I could make the rule that all employees’ dogs were allowed in the office). And, once, from a lunchtime walk, despite my best efforts, he brought back a woodchuck and killed it in the office.
For 3 years afterwards, weird things were happening in the office…
When the dog would walk by a desk, a perfectly stable stack of papers would topple over and fall on him.
When he would walk by a waste-paper basket, it would topple and fall on him – with no visible force pushing on it!
Even the coffee cups would sometimes spontaneously fall off desks at him!
My employees were convinced that the dead woodchuck was haunting the dog!!!
So, remembering all that, I really did not want to let that encounter between my current dog and the woodchuck continue: after all, a haunted office is annoying, but if it got around that our house was haunted by a woodchuck, it might affect its market value…
So, you will hopefully understand my desire to interrupt this cross-species communication – to make sure all sides come away from it unharmed.
To make a long story somewhat less long, I dragged Yoshi away from the corner of the yard where the woodchuck was, all the way to the middle. Then, as the door was open, I let go of him and ordered him to get back home.
How was I to know that, being terrified into absence of reasoning, the silly groundhog would think that the opened back door to my house was the ideal place to go through to hide?
Sure, we’ve had squirrels and chipmunks make it in. Once, we even had a bossy blue jay – who thought I was too slow bringing the food out – fly into the house and get disoriented.
But a woodchuck?
Them rodents is big!
Even not fully grown, a groundhog is bigger than our rabbit, Hip Hop!
Let me tell you, I will not forget the next 3 hours easily.
Our kitchen is decrepit. We are planning to renovate it – sooner, rather than later. That is why one of the lower cupboards – the nasty corner one – has its doors off.
Well, it would appear that groundhogs seem to think that corner kitchen cabinets make for very good hiding places.
She was not entirely incorrect!
When I ordered Yoshi to go home, I must admit that I was surprised at just how readily he complied! Until, that is, I followed him, found him uncharacteristically standing helplessly in front of the (currently) door-less corner cupboard – with the cupboard chattering away at him!
Let me just say that I was grateful that I had never learned to understand groundhog-speak the way I understand squirrel and crow speak, or I would have been embarrassed at the language George (the young lady groundhog in my cupboard) was using!
If, like the squirrels, this groundhog had not kept telling the dog off, he would have treated her like a squirrel and there would not have been a problem. But, sounding just like a dog squeaky toy, she insisted on bitching at him – which kept his interest up!
So, I did the only thing I could: I boarded my dog with my neighbour and, piece by piece, emptied my corner cupboard. Once there was clearance, I used the broom (I do know woodchucks will bite and scratch when cornered) to move the rest of the dishes out of the cupboard.
George did not like that – and told me so, loudly and continuously!
Once all the dishes were out, I managed to wedge the broom between the woodchuck and the corner – and gently pull her forward.
And, to my dismay, ran right past the wide-opened back door and into the dining room!
It seemed that George had too fresh memories of Yoshi in the back yard to go there….
I opened the front door and began to locate the exact hiding place George found in the dining room. It was not difficult – she hid in the bottom shelf of the bookcase, behind some books and a board-game (which she pushed a bit forward, giving herself away).
I must admit, I felt very sorry for her – pushing all the items off the shelf, she gave me her best ‘Puss-in-boots’ look. It was at that moment that I thought we should adopt her – after all, with our oldest in University, we could fit in one more!!!
And little Goergie was sooooooo cute!!!
Then, I regained control over myself. Note to all readers: it would appear that woodchucks/groundhogs, even young ones, appear to be rather skilled at hypnosis!
To make a long story somewhat less painful: from the dining room, Georgie ran to the living room – which was the plan! I had put bins and boxes to guide her run through the living room, all the way to the front door and out!
…Georgie decided to run on the wrong side of the ‘path’ I had made for her.
Instead of running out the front door, she made for the living room.
There, she hid behind the love-seat. (For non-North-Americans: a love-seat is a short, two-person-sitting-down sofa.)
I pulled the love-seat out and, using the broom, coaxed her out from behind it.
So, she ran behind the long sofa.
There, Hip Hop, our rabbit, was guarding his territory – fiercely! He forced her out!!!
At this point, I had learned an important thing about woodchucks: they can learn military tactics – on the go!!! Georgie, for example, abandoned the looser tactic of ‘hiding’ for the militarily superior tactic of constantly changing position in order to keep your enemy confused!
Indeed, she took the ‘keep on the move’ tactic to an extreme…I had to fetch the dog from the neighbour a few times, just to find her!!!
Then, I realized there was a pattern!
Hip Hop, the rabbit, would not let her go behind the sofas any more – he considers this his sovereign area (in Slavic languages – ‘rabbit’ is a diminutive (or endearment of), literally meaning ‘little king’ – and it fits!!!). So, poor George was reduced to hiding herself under the sofas – areas Hip Hop scoffs at.
But, of course, this was the key!
With Yoshi safely away, I arranged ‘stuff’ around the front and one side of the sofa. Hip Hop patrolled the back. On the remaining side, I set up a thick, bite-proof blanket/comforter. Then, I began to move the sofa and broom under the sofa, until the blanket on my side of the sofa began to wiggle!!!
Georgie was caught!
Yes, I made sure that she was far from the bits of the blanket I touched and that she was well tangled. Then, I carried her out my front door and released her!!!
At first, she sat up and stared at me incredulously.
Then, she started running towards the vacant field at the end of our street, without a single look back. As far as I can tell…
Yes, my house is now woodchuck-free: but Yoshi still does not believe it!!! He keeps looking for George…
The next time I see Yoshi ‘run’ in his sleep, I’ll know whom he’s dreaming of!!!
And give credit where credit is due!
Following a private meeting with Imam Fido Rowf, the Roverand Terry Bones held a press conference where he announced that he would continue with his plans to celebrate the Islamic feast of Eid by feasting on a Koran. “I’ve had a look at the Koran,” stated Bones, “and it appears kind of dry, so I figured I’d add some bacon or pork sausage. I mean, you can’t have a fatwa without ‘f-a-t’, right?” Jones continued, “I’m not against the Koran as a whole, in fact, I’ve book-marked some of my favorite parts…on a Persian rug!”
Humour IS the best medicine!
This past weekend has seen the middle of the summer: the half-way point (cross-quarter-day) between the summer solstice and the fall equinox. We Canadians still celebrate this hottest part of the summer with the ‘civic holiday’ on the first Monday in August.
This is an excellent time to spend with family and just enjoy the hot weather. Which is why I thought you might enjoy a funny – but true – little story of ‘dogs and squirrels’…
Our dog – a golden retriever – loves squirrels. He could watch them for hours!
For some reason nobody will quite explain to me, the dog also seems to suffer from the impression that my husband expects him to chase squirrels! (I wonder if there is a connection fact he’s always trying to get a spot on the sofa by getting the dog to get off by saying: “Go get the squirrel! Go get it!” might have something to do with it….)
So, the dog can be lying in the back yard (trying his best to lie on top of the peanuts we toss out for the squirrels), not moving as the squirrels go right up to him and nudge him. He can lie like that for hours!
BUT! If he notices that my husband is watching him, he’ll jump right up, bouncing as if he had springs in his feet. Barking enthusiastically, he chases the squirrels up one of the two trees in the yard!
When he does this, the dog is not at all ‘hunting’.
He reserves this for the chipmunks….who seem not to realize that squeaking at the dog (like a toy) does not make him go away and leave them alone. To the contrary – he seems to think they are playing ‘fetch’ with him!
When he chases the squirrels, it is in a very playful way – the way dogs try to get other dogs to play with them. He never has the body language of a hunter – not when it comes to squirrels!
There is one place we totally do not want the squirrels to go: the back threshold.
Frankly, the squirrels have no inhibitions about crossing the back threshold…. And, as much as I like them and wish them the best, and as much as I admire self-sufficiency and independent attitude – I really, really do not cherish the idea of them coming inside my house to help themselves to ‘snacks’!
So, we always encourage our dog to ‘play chase’ with each and every one of the squirrels who is sneaking – or looks like she is thinking about sneaking – across the threshold and inside our house!
This weekend, years of dog-training by my husband have finally paid off!
Without any sort of urging on our part (without even the promise of a treat), our hound spotted a squirrel squatting on the threshold, considering if the bowl of the rabbit’s food was worth a venture inside….
Throwing off his usual lethargy, he bounced up, sprung forward and with the greatest cheer and pride, he chased the squirrel off the threshold!
The only little problem with the situation was…
The dog had been outside!
He DID chase the squirrel off the threshold – right into the dining room!
Did you know that, just like SuperMario, squirrels can do wall-kicks?
My dog loves the sofa. He also loves blankets.
He absolutely relishes sleeping on the sofa – and this is one dog that has elevated ‘sleeping’ into an art form. Really – I have known many dogs, and owned a few, but I have never met a dog who relishes sleep like this crazy canine does!
Also, he does not like strangers to sit on his the sofa. He’ll watch to see if the person gets up for some reason – even for a moment, sneak in behind them, steal the spot and immediately start pretending that he’s asleep, has been asleep in that spot for a very long time, and why is everyone getting all worked up about this?
He also loves to steal blankets: and has been known to quietly grab a corner and, slowly but steadily, sneak off with the blanket of an unwary person lying down on the sofa, watching TV late at night.
When my son and I came home Monday, he greeted us with great enthusiasm. He slithered off the sofa, stretched slowly and thoroughly, and wandered over to the front hallway to greet us. Honestly – this passes as ‘enthusiastic’ from him: sometimes, he just lifts his head off the sofa’s arm-rest and wags his tail a tiny bit to show he’s noticed you came in.
So, today’s was an enthusiastic greeting! Then, after he followed me to the kitchen and stopped in front of the fridge, hoping that his beautiful brown eyes would hypnotize me to give him a pepperette, when – suddenly and visibly – a though struck him.
Quite suddenly, he abandoned begging communicating and, with unusual swiftness, he ran to the living room. OK, we knew when we adopted him that he was ‘special’ and, though incredibly good natured, he was no border collie in the brain department – so I thought nothing of it.
Later, when I came into the living room, I noticed that he was not lying down on the sofa, but on a chair. And he was not really lying down in his usual way… instead, he was more ‘splayed’: all four paws spread as far apart as possible, his centre of gravity as low as he could get it. His head was not resting, but just slightly elevated in a high-strung sort of way. And his eyes…
His eyes were priceless! They were ‘big’ – his ‘vigilant look’ (well, as vigilant as he gets) – with lots of ‘white’ showing. And they were flashing, side to side – in a particularly self-pleased way!
Had his behaviour not been so ‘obvious’, I would not have looked around too closely to see what he was doing. But, his very demeanour gave away that he was ‘being tricky’: that he had ‘done’ something naughty and thought he was getting away with it!
It turns out that my son – in a fit of insomnia – brought his blanket down, watched some TV, then forgot his blanket on the chair. The dog knows ‘bed blankets’ are off limits to him: but this blanket was not on a bed, was it? So he lay down on it, spread his body as wide as possible to hide the fact that he was indeed occuppying a ‘bed blenket’ which was currently ‘not a bed blanket’… The dog was very, very pleased with himself!
So, what does this story have to do with my post today?
Yes, it was a bit of a long segway, and this story took me a few days to write up, but…
Monday, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty made an announcement. Some person whose makes his living ‘educating children’ released a report today, saying that ‘children need more educating’!
Why, that is almost as convincing as a ‘Cure-all’ salesman saying this potion in this here bottle will ‘cure all’!!! Better buy a few!!!
And, Mr. McGuinty, he is so concerned about the welfare of children, he’ll have to do what is best for all of the children! (Will somebody please shut up the parents of those pesky Autistic kids? They’re not even photogenic: no photo-ops from that lot!)
As I was saying: Mr. McGuinty, he is so caring, he only wants what is best for the children! And since that report by a guy who gets rich by sticking EVERY child into a ‘one-size-fits-all’ ‘institutions of teaching’, that is exactly what this kind and caring man announced he would do!!!
Aside: make no mistake! Our public schools are ‘institutions of teaching’, NOT ‘institutions of learning’!!! They are centered around the needs and desires of teachers, whose powerful union regularly holds the whole population hostage by refusing to ‘teach’ unless it is ‘on their terms’ – ONLY! Therefore, schedules, methodology, material and just about every aspect of ‘teaching’ you can name is tailored to suit the comfort of teachers. Students, who have no union to represent them, are just pawns to be cycled through the system – a pesky annoyance to be minimized and with which the teachers have to put up with as a minor part of this ‘education system’…
So, what is it that this caring, loving man (who is reportedly married to a teachers’ union activist) proposing to do???
He wants to institutionalize our children for 10.5 hours a day, 5-days per week, 50 weeks per year, from toddlerhood on!!!
Of course, the words he used to make his announcement were not as direct as my statement of it is – but the meaning is identical. His version is all about ‘what is best for the children’! And he has that ‘study’ (by a guy who, among others, will have an increased revenue stream if McGuinty institutes) this to back him up!
Here is the video – I invite you to watch the body language:
Did you notice it?
The way he shifts his eyes, the way he enunciates certain words, the way he uses his whole body to help him spit out some ‘concepts’?
It’s that SAME body language my not-so-bright (but way more lovable than McGuinty) dog used when he was trying to ‘pull one over’!
This sent me ‘looking for’ what it is that is ‘the loophole’ here: what is this man ‘pulling over’ on us?
I’ll rant more on this tomorrow….
For a little enjoyment, here is the laterst look at ‘the Squirrel Watchers’.
The loud sound as the clip opens is made by the Blue Jay: he yells like this if we are too slow to put out food for him. He’ll even sit on our window sill and make this sound…. and last Friday, I guess I was just not fast enough for his liking, so he flew just inside my back door, made this screeching sound, turned around in mid-air and flew out again!
The squirrels had learned that when the Blue Jay makes his little screech, my hubby will put out almonds – something the squirrels much prefer to peanuts or sunflower seeds. So, last summer, there was one squirrel which actually learned to immitate that sound!!! It was not as loud, and a little lower pitched, but unmistakeable! That same squirrel also learned to immitate our neighbour’s little yappy dog’s barking… Who would have thunk it that squirrels could be multilingual!
If you are wondering about the rabbit’s expression – he was getting jelaous that the I – and perhaps more importantly, the camera – was paying attention to things other than himself…. Typical: if you are paying attention to him, he gets suspicious. If you are not, he gets jelaous.
Anyhow, I hope that the little bit of backyard entertainment will be a pleasant interlude in your information-filled day.
More ‘Thanksgiving fun’ for your viewing pleasure:
For your viewing pleasure this (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend:
I am thankful that I have such an attentive watch-dog – he could watch squirrels for hours – and does!