Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Dog-gardening for THREE?

A cocoa-brown muzzle is snuffling beneath the east fence. It belongs to a dear old dauchsund that, apparently, has become a permanent or semi-permanent resident next door. (His human is dating my neighbor, and he appears to be living in the backyard there most days.)

P&B are delighted. They chase his shadow and sniff his muzzle and can't wait to see what he'll do next.

To accelerate this discovery, B-dog has begun digging a trough under the fence. In about 4 more inches our neighbor will have no trouble squeezing over for a visit. At which point I fear my gentle companions may attack him. (Once when he ambled over to our front yard they became downright hostile. Not sure why.)

The humans next door are nice people but don't quite get the dog-in-the-backyard-all-day problem, and since they witnessed P&B's aforementioned bullying it seems doubtful they'd interpret my suggestion that they reinforce their fence as anything other than a sign that my dogs are bloodthirsty devils. Which is the sort of expectation that leads to weirdly self-fulfilling prophecies.

Seems to me I have four basic options:
  • keep my dogz inside until the romance ends next door, or until the dog makes his way into my yard so I can demonstrate the problem to the neighbor

  • talk to the neighbor about sharing the cost of reinforcing both sides of the fence with a concrete berm (which seems really unlikely both because of the dog-obiviousness issue and because she declined an invitation to share expenses for fence preservation a year ago)

  • do the concrete berm thing myself on just my side of the fence

  • build a 40-foot-long raised planting bed against the fence

Guess which one I'm contemplating?

Hope it's a sunny weekend.


Saturday, February 17, 2007


OK, in the time it took me to write the previous post, P-dog invented a new game:

When a critical mass of birds is in the garden--so many that the earth seems to be undulating with all the brown-black-white camouflaged feathers--P-dog thwaks the ottoman with her curly tail and watches a hundred birds flee in terror.

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Backyard Theatre Takes a Hitchcockian Turn

I created the birdgarden for P-dog after observing how much she seemed to enjoy watching the occasional songbird visit our little feeder. I added a second feeder and a cobalt birdbath, and read up on garden designs that were both bird-attractive and dog-friendly, planting lots of things with seeds and vines and flexible stalks and forgiving foliage and fibers that double as nest bedding and such. That, plus an established holly hedge and a lake park in the vicinity have yielded an afternoon like this one, with the dogz and I sitting (or pacing) at the window watching easily 200 (a conservative estimate) wildbirds of at least six or seven species devour a couple pounds of sunflower mix in, like, 2 hours.

A dozen birds pecking the ground is a cozy afternoon's entertainment around here. Winter and snow bring out the suet blocks, which reckless bluejays and unscrupulous squirrels sometimes release onto the ground--an event P-dog watches for with hawklike intensity (if I don't catch her in time she'll gobble enough suet to damage her pancreas, which means nothing to her except that she gets lots of yummy bread and crackers to soak up the crud).

But when the hungry hoards fill the birdgarden the dogz get territorial. Upside-down starlings look a lot like squirrels (evidently) and act just enough like them to get B-dog's adreneline rushing. As for P-dog, I think she's just peeved that the invaders are eating all her suet and seed and those nasty earthworms she likes to roll on.

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Pet Insurance

I'm nearly ready to take the plunge. Last time I checked, though, veterinary health insurance was going to run me $75 a month. So I've been stalling. Granted, I've been paying my estranged husband's health insurance for 3 years now, which was considerably more and will hopefully go away in the not too distant future. But Oy $75 a month plus sending in receipts and whatnot. I'm so bad at that. I never mail in rebates or keep track of expenses as I should. But budgeting is becoming a necessity--an urgent one--so I'm thinking that making the dogz's health care a regular monthly expense will give me peace of mind.

When I visited my friend in Vietnam her cat wore a flea collar. It caught me off guard. I'd forgotten about flea collars.

Remember flea collars?

You'd buy them at the grocery store, manufactured by Hartz or Sargeant's and they'd sort of work but you'd still find the occasional flea in the fur or hopping on your arm.

Of course, my middle American suburban dogs get monthly chemicals instead: expensive topical formulas that somehow prevent heartworm as well as fleas. Before that I used two expensive formulas--one ingested, one topical, I think. At any rate, I don't know of anyone who uses a flea collar in my canine social circle. Flea collars seem so primitive. SO AFFORDABLE!

Granted, the dogs I saw in Vietnam all seemed a bit, well, scurvish. Even the sweet cocker spaniel I met at lunch with some expats by the lake seemed rather lumpy and dull coated. But I can't say that dog has a lesser quality of life than P and B.

Who am I kidding? Of course I think my dogs are healthier than that dog. Maybe happier--that's hard to say. Dogs have a gift for being happy under most conditions. Including fleas.

So the insurance isn't about my dogs' happiness--maybe it's not even about their health since I'd be unlikely to let expense prevent me from providing them with whatever medical care they'd ever need. The pet insurance is all about me. Will it make me feel more secure as their guardian?