Thursday, February 20, 2014

Four-Legged Troublemakers

I don't know what has been in the air lately, but I have had my hands full with the horses and dogs.  They all decided to start misbehaving right at the same time.  We began yesterday morning with Rock and Gabbrielle going at it butt to butt, kicking each other over a tiny sprinkling of hay that fell on the barn aisle floor.  I chased them around and only released the pressure when they showed me they could eat it together without fighting.  Fortunately, they know the rules and showed me that they can share after just one chase.

Then I spent the entire day trying to guess when the dogs are telling the truth and when they are lying about needing to go outside.  It felt like I was taking them out every 15 minutes, and still Stewie peed and pooed on the carpet.  Midge has this habit of asking to go outside, and then just laying down and looking around.  I bring her back in, and she suddenly remembers that she never did her business, so she wants out right away again.  It wouldn't be so bad if I could just open a door and send them outside, but I have to walk them out on leashes, supervise, and serve as protection.

Also, the dogs have a knack for always having a bathroom emergency right when I am in the middle of cooking, eating, and getting out of the shower.  So, I eat a lot of burnt, cold meals and often go outside half-dressed in whatever I could throw on with wet, tangled hair hanging in my face.  When I look my worst is always when the neighbors drive by and honk, calling everyone else's attention to my disheveled appearance.

Even the wildlife has been a pain in the butt.  The raven couple has been stealing bones from the dogs next door and dropping them in Bombay's stall again, and Bombay does chew on them despite being an herbivore.  He'll play with anything.  The bones are a choking hazard for a horse, so I have to get rid of them as soon as I find them.  I've thought about asking my neighbors if they could just give their dogs bones in their covered kennel where the ravens can't get to them, but I don't want to restrict their freedom just because being vigilant about collecting wayward bones is a hassle and a worry for me.

Yesterday the ravens really grossed me out when they sat on the barn railing eating a dead rabbit.  We've got a litter of baby bunnies under the haystack, and they aren't quite yet aware of how dangerous the world can be.  I can get pretty close to them before they hop under the pallets.  The coyotes come around every night and whoop it up over their latest catch.  Then the coyotes leave humongous turds behind that I have to clean up so that the horses don't step on them and get bacterial infections in their hooves.  They always poop right by the side of the horse trailer where we tie the horses to tack them up.  So, now I try to get out of bed and race to the window to scare them off as soon as I hear them, before they can kill any rabbits and poop in my yard.

I've been trying to simplify my chores by cutting out the step of closing all the horses into their stalls before feeding them.  I figure they should learn to stand and wait in their stalls for their serving even with the gates open, and they have been doing that for several weeks now.  However, yesterday Rock decided to kick Lostine out of her stall and steal her rations.  I grabbed the long whip and chased him out, but then all the horses started running around snatching hay out of any old feed bin, and I had to chase all of them out of the barn.  All it takes is for one horse to get out of order and chaos ensues.

It wasn't easy keeping them at bay as I ran between the haystack and the feed bins trying to fill them, especially when the hay is sliced too thin and I have to break flakes in half to add to the first serving.  It took me eight trips to get the right sized serving to everyone.  Anyway, once all the bins were full, the horses had no problem going to their assigned stalls and staying out of each other's hair.  They just don't have the patience to wait for me to make my rounds.  It's really bad if I have to cut open a new bale.  It probably takes me 30 extra seconds to find the scissors and cut off the twine, but the horses act like it is an eternity.

I had just taken all three dogs outside on leash twice in the previous half hour when my daughter came home from work, and Stewie got so excited over seeing her that he let loose twice in her bedroom, in one case peeing up into the air and spraying her while rolling on his back.  Ahh, the joy of puppies.  My daughter has got to deal with all kinds of bodily expulsions with her job, and she really needs a break from that when she comes home.  So, in the future I will keep him locked in his kennel when it's time for people to come home from work.  My daughter said, "You know, I just realized that I'm not much of an animal person."  I think that is code for, "I'm looking for a new place to live and will be moving out shortly."

Anyway, I get interrupted so often by dogs asking to go outside and having accidents on the carpet, (although it's hard to call them accidents, because they have plenty of opportunity to go outside) that it's very difficult for me to complete simple tasks in one sitting.  So, if I leave comments on your blogs that make no sense, it's probably because I'm distracted, writing two words, and then running the dogs outside, writing two more words, and then running the dogs outside or scrubbing the carpet.  Today I took Stewie outside, stood around with him waiting for him to do something outside for 10 minutes, gave up, brought him back in, took off his leash, set it down, turned around, and found a turd inside the house right by the back door.  Awesome.

Stewie has this pattern of obnoxious behavior when he gets hungry.  He races around the house sticking his nose into people's mouths and the dogs' mouths looking for food.  Then after I feed him, he gets hyper like a kid on candy and races around the house jumping on everyone and everything.  This makes Scrappy nervous, and he starts chasing the puppy around growling at him.  I don't care if he disciplines him, as long as it stops with the growling, but last night he full on attacked the puppy when the puppy was just sitting in my lap.

Stewie had finally settled down after one of his fits, and next thing I knew, Scrappy was flying through the air and pouncing on him.  There was growling and biting and yelping.  Stewie had rolled onto his back into the submissive posture, but Scrappy was still on attack.  My nerves were shot from not being able to get a moment of rest all day and I yelled loud enough for even Pappy Scrappy Deaf Dog to hear.  Now my vocal chords hurt.  My scream hardly had an effect on Scrappy, because it probably sounded like a whisper to him, but scared the puppy into quivers, so now I'm just not going to put up with anymore B.S.  As soon as Scrappy starts growling, the instigator is going into the cage for timeout.

Last night I was having a hard time sleeping because of hunger pains, so I got up for a late night snack.  All the dogs woke up before I could make something for myself to eat, and I had to spend some time taking all of them outside.  At night I won't take more than two dogs out at a time, because if we run into coyotes or rattlesnakes, I can't control three dogs.  So, it takes more time to coordinate bathroom breaks.  After a long process, I finally got my snack and tried to fall asleep again.

It felt like I was only sleeping for five minutes when everyone in the house was woken by a screaming alarm.  I fell off the couch raced around looking for the source.  It turned out to be an amber alert on my phone at 3:00 AM.  I was so pissed.  I've been playing with the settings for emergency alerts, because I want to get them, but without all the noise.  Somehow these alerts override all of my phone settings, so that they use the absolute loudest alarm.  I had to just turn everything off and feel bad for the people who get abducted, because now there is one less person who will be aware of their situation.

I finally fell asleep a third time, and again it felt like I was only sleeping for five minutes when I was woken by a Chihuahua snout and whiskers in my mouth.  Time for breakfast.  No rest for the weary.  Oh, and apparently, I sleep with my mouth open.  Isn't life glamorous?


Cindy D. said...

Do you not have a fence for a dog yard?

My dogs tend to get that way...demanding and not wanting to coordinate the bathroom breaks, etc. They always want to go out at different intervals in the middle of the night. Simply solution- I throw them all out and they can bark until they are hoarse for all I care. Pillow over head- and I am out!

Working nights though I have started waking all the dogs up and throwing them out as soon as I get home for about 15 minutes or so. Once they potty they get to come in and have a treat. Then they are told to go to bed. That usually keeps them quiet for the rest of the night until TC gets up.

Right now the weather is perfect out, so they do not even get to come inside as much as they would like. When it is hot they can come in but right now the weather is perfect so they stay out more than in.

That is the reason why having a dog yard was so high on the priority list for a house for us. I just can't place a high enough value on having the ability to throw their butts outside if they are annoying me.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Cindy - The answer to that question is a whole nother post in itself. We don't have a dog yard, and it is not for a lack of effort. You can't leave little dogs outside where hawks can scoop them up, so we have to get a covered kennel, and the gates for those all have big enough gaps between the frames that a dog as small as Stewie can easily slip through. We'd have to bring someone in to make a custom kennel to our specifications, and even if we have one, we still have to walk the dogs between the house and the kennel. We can't put it right outside a door. There's more to it than just this, but that's the short of it.

Cappy said...

A friend of mine got one of these from Lowe's|1&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNs%3Dp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1&facetInfo=#BVRRWidgetID

It's tall enough that she can walk in (not stoop over) and I think you can get panels to add on to make it bigger.

They also sell just the gates, so you could build your own fence and use one of these gates. The clearance on the gate was very small.


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Why not build a dog yard using t-posts and chicken wire?

That's what I have for my flock of chickens and it's right beside my house. The chicken wire is only 4' wide, but I overlapped it to make it 6 tall and then 2' of it lays across the ground. I have railroad ties placed on top of that 2' section, around the entire coop, and that keeps predators from digging in. But it would also keep dogs from digging out.

On top of the fencing and across the entiire coop, I have bird/hawk netting...the same kind used to keep birds out of a garden. This is what keeps my flock safe from hawks and owls.

In the almost 7 years that I've kept chickens, I have never lost a chicken to any predator, by land or air, while it is inside the coop.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Cappy - That might work if I could get a bigger one. I wish they showed the door closed in the image, so I can see the size of the gap between door and frame. I looked at all the dog kennels in Lowe's search results, and several had that gap I'm trying to avoid. I think I'll just go to Lowe's and hopefully, they'll have some set up for display.

Lisa - It's good to hear from you. I wish I were handy in building things. That's a good point about making sure the dogs can't dig out. I'll have to go back and look at images of your chicken coop again.

Before we can get any kennel, though, we have to make sure Stewie can consistently sit and stay. Otherwise, we need an airlock system with two doors, so that he can't take off for Timbuktu the second we open the gate.