Yellowjacket bee

Setting My Husband Up For Failure

It’s never intentional if my husband injures himself while assisting me. For instance, one day after shopping, I returned home and found him sitting at the kitchen table staring at me with cold, bleary eyes. I asked him what was wrong.

He said, “Though I am not big on gardening, you wanted me to turn your compost pile, and I thought that I would get some exercise and help you. It didn’t work out well.”

“Thanks for aerating my garden soil, but your face is flushed. What happened and why are you giving me a mean look?  Why are you breathing hard?”

“While I was raking, I hit a yellowjacket nest. Bees swarmed and stung my neck, face, arms, and legs. They even got into my shorts and up my tee-shirt sleeves. I think that I was stung over 20 times. I ran up the deck stairs to escape them and found a locked door.  I ran back down the stairs, around the side to the front door, in the house, and up the steps. With my clothes on, I jumped in the shower to remove the bees that continued to sting me. If you have any questions, I left several in the drain for you to count. Why did you lock the door anyway?”

” I’m sorry, but latching the door is a habit. Did the dog didn’t get stung?”

“No, he’s okay.”

“Thank goodness, but I hope that you are alright too.”

I gave my husband some Benadryl, and then to ensure that he was not exaggerating, I counted about 12 bees in the tub. We rode to the emergency room, and the doctors gave him a shot of adrenaline that made him anxious for a few hours, but he survived another episode caused by dorothyadele.

Since I didn’t want a divorce, I never asked him to work with my dirt compound again. Before I raked it, I waited until the bees were hibernating because they were not stinging me.

Now, I have a barrel composter that I turn to mix the soil. It’s a shame that my husband learned the hard way.

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Black snake

Squatter Snake

The first eighteen months that we lived in our home, I had traipsed barefoot through the basement, using the stairway light, and the sun that streamed through the window to guide me. One night, I turned the corner and nearly stepped on something, consequently I have never walked through the basement in the dark again.

 

I flipped on the light, and a snake lay on the floor in front of me. We eyed each other for several minutes deciding our next move. When I looked closer, I noticed that he had a pattern on his back and a triangle-shaped head. I guessed that he was possibly poisonous.

 

However, there was one thing that I knew for sure: Snake handling was not in my wife/mother employment contract and removing one was a man’s job. Since my husband has always loved a challenge, the logical solution was to present my husband with the gift of letting him determine how to get rid of the snake. When my husband returned home from work, ready to relax, I would surprise him with his next job.

 

The thought of getting close to the snake unnerved me, but I decided that I would put a large bucket over it, and I would weigh it down with several hundred bricks. Though I didn’t want to let our squatter out of my sight, I left to get a bucket. I chuckled wondering how my husband would remove the snake. Would he slide the bucket?  Would he lift the bucket and take a chance of the snake striking?

 

Naturally, when I returned, my husband’s friend was gone. Now he was a full-time resident. I had lain awake the next few nights –or years—  wondering if it would slither up the steps to our bedroom. Suppose it slid up the side of our bed? What then?

 

The following spring, our housemate had donated his skin to decorate his living quarters, and I couldn’t help but wonder, did it belong to him or one of his siblings?

 

Though I have had our home inspected and sealed, this was the first of several snake episodes. Each family member has had the joy of encountering at least one.

Leonberger Dog

Dog Finds Possum

My husband called my cell phone and said, “Your dog, B, escaped the yard. I found him sitting on the hill in your garden outside the fence, and I can’t leave for work until he is in.”

 

This was a first, and I wondered why he had escaped, and I asked my husband to try to get him back in the fence. My husband had gone outside to drag B in and found him sitting next to a dead possum. The dog was panting and smiling like he found the golden urn.

 

My husband called back and said, “I think that he may have killed a possum, because I thought that I saw blood when I reached over it to grab B. However, the possum warden refused to leave his departed playmate, so he’s still in your garden.”

 

Bad thoughts swirled through my head. If he, the dog, not my husband, had tasted blood, was he bloodthirsty? Would he kill other animals? Suppose he kills a dog or cat? Would our kids and their friends be safe in our yard? I decided that when I got home, I would call the vet and ask these questions. I may have to get rid of my dog.

 

When I had returned home my husband said, “The dog is in the backyard. I held a piece of steak in front of him, and I was about six inches away from that big possum, when I grabbed his collar to him drag away.”

 

I went to see my dog hoping that my husband was wrong.  I lifted his lips and checked his teeth and gums looking for signs of blood. I also ran my hands over his body checking for wounds. I couldn’t find anything. Maybe the possum had already been dead or died quickly fighting a 140 pound dog.

 

The next morning, my husband grabbed a shovel and bag to dispose of the remains. I said, “Why don’t you just throw it in the woods so an animal will eat it?”

 

“No, I’m taking it off our property, because I don’t want B to exhume the body.” I understood his rationale, because the dog was enamored with his numb soul mate, and he might break the fence to visit it.

 

After my husband collected his mortuary supplies and donned heavy gloves, he headed out to transport the deceased. I had no intention of assisting him as a pallbearer or attending the viewing. Within five minutes, my husband returned.

 

“Where’s the possum?”

 

“It’s gone.”

 

“Gone, dead?”

 

” Gone away.”

 

The possum fooled us and I was relieved that my dog wasn’t a bloodthirsty killer. I couldn’t help but think about my husband’s possible reaction if the possum had moved when he was reaching across it to grab the dog. That would have been worth filming.

 

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A five-month-old Leonberger puppy

Puppy was Attacked Four Times

My dog trainer teaches dog obedience and owner etiquette.  I have learned the following three tips:

 

  • Dogs on a leash are on the defensive, therefore it is not a good idea for leashed dogs to mingle.

 

  • Retractable leashes can confuse a dog because jerking the dog back is a correction and without training, they don’t understand the correction, so it’s not fair.

 

  • You should try to protect your puppy from bad experiences because it could affect its life.

 

I failed my puppy on this last point because he was attacked four times, though he was leashed. From these attacks, I had learned that some dog owners don’t understand or practice dog etiquette. Since I have a large dog, this concerns me.

 

When our puppy was five months old, our daughter was walking him through a wooded park and an unleashed husky tore around the corner and ripped puppy’s face causing him to yelp and wine. The couple with the husky watched while my daughter pulled the dog off puppy. They didn’t apologize and seemed to find it humorous.

 

The second time, I was walking our eighteen-month-old puppy on a semi-crowded street. I stopped to talk to a friend while my dog sat at my side. I assumed that puppy was safe sitting close to me. However, a guy with a pit bull released his retractable leash and his dog charged. The dogs were face to face growling, biting and screaming. When we separated the animals, the guy said, “Sorry,” and walked away.

 

A few months later, I was walking puppy, who was about 110 pounds but still impressionable, when a dog bolted off a neighbor’s deck and attacked him. I believe that the dog had probably escaped because the owner had run over to grab his dog and apologized profusely. Sometimes, things are unavoidable.

 

A few weeks later, a tiny dog dashed off its property and grabbed my dog’s neck. The owners watched until I yelled at them to get their dog, and I was surprised that they didn’t react immediately especially because of the difference in the dogs’ sizes.

 

As a result of these attacks, I have had my dog neutered, and when I walk him I try to avoid other dogs. If I see someone with a dog near us, I walk him to the far side of the street and keep him close to me. Invariably, the person across the street releases their retractable leash and their dog approaches us. Ironically, the owner usually pretends that it is the dog releasing the leash. In addition, these are probably the people who allow their dogs to stretch their leash across the street making it a hazard to pedestrians, runners, and bikers.

 

Sometimes, I head down a side street to avoid other dogs, and the owner and dog will stand by that side street waiting for my return. I don’t understand why they insist on their dog meeting mine.

 

My favorite story is when I had been avoiding a couple and their dog for days. When they saw puppy and I walk, they would approach us while releasing their dog’s retractable leash, and I would pivot and walk in the opposite direction. I suspect that they were elated when they spotted our son walking our dog. They brought their dog over to him and the leashes entangled. Can you imagine what could have happened if one of the dogs become aggressive?

 

These encounters have made me tense and watchful when I walk my dog, and he probably senses it. I believe that if more dog owners learned dog etiquette, dogs and people would be safer. Therefore, if a dog walker avoids you and your dog, please don’t take it personally.

 

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Winter storm Niko produced hazardous conditions in New York.

Out of my Comfort Zone

Last week Mother Nature dumped about ten inches of snow on New York City. From my hotel window, I saw that few people were walking or driving. I turned on the news and the newscaster said that the blizzard conditions were deadly because a doorman had slipped while shoveling and had fallen through a window and died. They were warning people to stay off the streets. Though I was in New York to see my daughter, J, the news report made me think about falling on the ice, and I was apprehensive about leaving the hotel. I had already fallen twice in New York, and wine was not involved.

 

The first time, I was walking on a pretty day with J, and I tripped over a sidewalk crack and I was down on all fours. Ok, I really tripped over my own feet.

 

J had said, “Mother, get up before someone falls over you and hurts themselves, you’re fine.” Though I was shaken, I got up like nothing had happened.

 

The second time I had fallen, I was wearing boots with little tread and it was snowing. I was sliding all over the sidewalk like I was on greased ice. I resembled a three-year old that had never ice skated before, and I grasped my husband’s arm like it was the wall that child clung to as he encircled the ice rink.

 

When I almost pulled my husband down he said, “What’s wrong? No one else that is walking is acting like you. Let me see the bottom of your boots.”

 

I lifted my smooth-bottomed Ugg. He said, “We’re buying you boots.”

 

Unfortunately, I didn’t get those boots fast enough, because within minutes, I slipped and fell on my back. Since I had already made a scene, my friends laughed because they thought that I fell on purpose. Did they really think that I would lie on the dirty New York street in my dress coat just to entertain them?

 

I was thinking about these previous trips, when J called and said that it was just slush and she insisted we go out. She is determined that I am not acting old no matter what, and she digs me out of my comfort zone.

 

She said, “My eighty-year-old superintendent is out shoveling snow, so if he can go out, you can too.”

 

J had come to get me, and I stepped outside and tentatively took a few steps on the sidewalk to determine if it was slippery.

 

“Mom, if you walk like that, it looks like you are trying to fall, so can you just walk like everyone else?”

 

I walked but watched the road for ice. J was ahead and she casually glanced back ensuring that I wasn’t sprawled on the ground. As we walked to J’s apartment, I told her that I was not relishing ascending the steps to her sixth-floor apartment, actually twelve-half flights, but who’s counting unless you are gasping for breath.

 

J said, ” There are 80 year olds that live up there, and they take the steps everyday and carry groceries, it just takes them a little longer. If they can do it, so can you.”

 

After visiting her apartment, we walked her neighborhood. I was glad that we had this time together and when I left, I thought about those snow-shoveling-eighty-year-olds. I know that I will live a fuller life if I listen to J, but I hope that she doesn’t kill me in the process.

 

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Dog Bite Report

My husband had to file a mandatory dog bite report for our Leonberger puppy when he was 8-weeks-and-one-day old, and these photos clearly show his mean streak. The top one is his mug shot.  Puppy had only spent one night at our house, when he scampered down the front lawn with my husband to get the newspaper.
After my husband picked up the paper, he saw puppy in the middle of the yard joyfully chewing on an unknown object. He hurried over to him and tried to pry his mouth open to remove the object, but puppy was determined not to reveal the prize in his mouth, and he kept his jaws clamped shut like he thought that he was a snapping turtle. With a little maneuvering, my husband finally opened his mouth and nicked his finger on his needle teeth in the process. Can you imagine his glee when he discovered that the coveted treasure was a possum skull? No wonder puppy didn’t want to give up this gem because he probably never had his own skull before.
A few days later, my husband’s finger became infected and he had to go to the medical center to have it treated. Because of a new law, that is more applicable to vicious dogs, he had to file a report indicating that his dog bit him before they would see him.  He tried to explain that the puppy was 8 weeks old, but they wouldn’t hear it. He filed the report, and it took two rounds of antibiotics to treat him.
The result of this incident is that the dog must be on his best behavior for the rest of his life because he has a record.

 

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Harlequin Great Dane Puppy and Dalmatian

Pet Control

My father had often said, “Those dogs aren’t running my life,” but my sisters and I still laugh, because unbeknownst to him, he and the Great Dane and Dalmatian were part of a chess match. The dogs were the chess masters, and he was their pawn.

 

My parents usually took the dogs with them when they went to the beach. One day,  when my parents were packing their car to leave the beach for my father to go to work; our Dalmatian and Great Dane had slipped out the door and took off. My parents walked and drove the neighborhood for hours, and they finally called the police. It was a sad day when the policeman gave my father the bad news: The dogs had become criminals and they were locked up behind bars.

 

I would have loved to have heard the conversation between my parents when my father had to drive to the police station that was several miles away and bail them out. Luckily, he was an attorney and visiting clients in jail was nothing new to him. He said that when he saw the jailed dogs, “They looked guilty.”  After loading them in the car, my parents headed home. Unfortunately, they were stuck in rush-hour traffic, and my father missed work. The dogs were affecting his job.
Though my father often complained about our pets, I believe that he liked them though they intimidated him. At Christmastime, he saved empty cardboard rolls from the Christmas paper and stacked them in the corner in the family room. Though he would never hurt anyone or anything, when he thought that the dogs were misbehaving, he would grab a cardboard roll and say, “See this!” and the dogs ignored him as usual and continued what they were doing. I guess holding something in his hand taller than the Great Dane made him feel powerful.
We needed a new car, and my father thought that he was buying the family a station wagon. We, us kids, knew that he was buying the dogs a car, though we hadn’t pointed that out to him. The dogs needed room to spread out for long car rides, therefore their requirements dictated what my father drove.
Though my father pretended that he didn’t like our dogs, when the Dalmatian was diagnosed with a terminal illness, my parents drove her to a veterinarian school hours away as a last ditch effort to save her life. Unfortunately, it was unsuccessful, but I give my parents credit for making that trip.
Ironically, years later after my mother had passed, and the dogs were gone, my father called me and said, “Dorothyadele, a vagrant has entered my office and said that he is leaving town. He has a golden retriever, Ralph, with him, and he plans to have him euthanized. Should I take him?”

 

“Absolutely!” I said.

 

 

The cycle continued. We never knew the dog’s age, but he was a good companion for my father for about five years until Ralph became ill. I knew that my father liked dogs.

 

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Top Ten Dog Training Mistakes – Guest post by Blogger Kevin Davies…

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We Weren’t Alone With Passport Trouble

I awoke abruptly around 1 a.m. on December 24, 2013, not thinking about Christmas Eve, but worried that I hadn’t checked the expiration date on my son’s passport for our impending trip on December 27. I knew that his child’s passport expired after five years of the issue date, not 10 like an adult’s.

I quietly slid out of bed and checked the box where I had stored the passports. When I opened my son’s passport, my heart raced, because it had expired.

Since I couldn’t sleep,  I checked the U.S. Passports and International Travel website that indicated that some countries will not accept a passport with an expiration date within 60 days of departure. I also learned that processing time for an expedited passport could take days to weeks.

We needed an appointment, and I exhaled loudly when I thought about the improbability of getting one on short notice the day after Christmas. I learned that we could walk-in without an appointment, but if they were busy, there was no guarantee.

The next morning, my worries were validated. I called the Washington office, and they said that they didn’t have any appointments and suggested that I call the Philadelphia office. I called the Philadelphia office, and thankfully they gave us an appointment at 9:00 a.m. on December 26. The representative said that we needed to fill out an application and bring his expired passport with proof of international travel reservations, and they would issue a replacement passport that day.

After checking the documents needed for the passport, I woke my son on December 26 at 6:30 a.m., and we began our drive to Philadelphia.

“Why do we have to leave so early?” he asked.

“Because if there is an accident, or we have a flat tire, or run into Christmas Eve traffic, and miss our appointment, we miss our trip,” I said.

We arrived at the Philadelphia Passport Agency, and I noticed that several people had luggage, and I assumed that they had been turned away at the airport. As we stood in the first line, I sweated thinking about the consequences, if I had not checked his passport expiration date. Also, I worried that somehow I missed a relevant document needed for the renewal.

The agent confirmed our appointment and sent us to the second line. While we waited about 40 minutes, I shifted my weight like a pendulum. Finally, we approached the desk, and that agent accepted our documents and sent us to have my son’s photo taken, where they told us to return at 2 p.m. to collect the passport. We left to explore Philadelphia.

“How lucky are you to tour Philadelphia with your mother on Christmas Eve?” I asked.

“Funny mom,” he said with a slight smile.

We traversed Philadelphia and ate lunch at the historic City Tavern. I loved this unplanned time with my son. Who needed to pack anyway?

When we returned to the U.S. Custom House to pick up his passport, a lady ladened with luggage stood in front of us in line. I heard her tell the custom’s agent that when she checked in at the airport with her family, she learned that her passport had expired. She said that her family had continued their trip, and she was planning to get her passport and meet them that night if she could get a flight.
I thought, what a terrible way to start a vacation, knowing that could have been us.

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Goat Shot on Virgin Gorda

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Shots fired from the dirt road on Virgin Gorda. (Photo by dorothyadele)

Goats bleating and roosters crowing, some clueless about dawn’s arrival, awakened us each morning in Virgin Gorda. Skittering anoles, singing frogs and dancing butterflies made us feel like we were in a sanctuary safe for all. Unfortunately, that changed today.

I was sitting on the porch sipping coffee when I spotted a pickup truck driving down the dirt trail adjacent to our rental. It stopped. Someone perched a rifle, or similar firearm, out the passenger’s window. Lights flashed as four shots blasted from the gun muzzle through the thick brush, just yards from our residence. Goats bleated, and one screamed louder than the rest for longer than I wanted to hear.

As the whimpering subsided, the truck crept haltingly down the mountain, made a full stop, then proceeded to the bottom of the hill and turned around. As it ascended, I saw what I believed was a goat carcass in the back of the truck.

Though the slaughter disturbed me, someone was making their living on Virgin Gorda.

 

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