Tuesday, March 8, 2016

It's a Zoo Over Here

I'm going through another one of these phases where I am ill every day and those animals I own who have anxiety disorders are letting their bad habits and unwanted behaviors take over.  Yesterday I had three completely different health ailments, two of which required medications that put me to sleep.  With everything blooming out of control, my eyes itch, my nose won't stop running, I get headaches, and I cough a lot.  I can't get much done if I have to blow my nose every few seconds, and the only kinds of allergy medications that dry me up and work for me are those that contain antihistamines, which knock me out, and I can't get anything done if I'm sleeping either.

The weeds are outrageous.  One of them actually scared me, because I walked around the corner and here was this large thing standing in front of me, about the size of child.  It was just a weed that grew overnight.

I'm really not sure why doctors recommend to people with respiratory problems that they go to Arizona.  Arizona in the spring is the cause of my respiratory problems.

When Scrappy's anxiety acts up, it manifests itself in endless licking.  He licks the fur right off himself, he licks the sofa, he licks the carpet, he licks the cabinets, and trying to get him to stop is almost impossible.  Sometimes his licking gets so loud that I can't hear anything else.  The noise makes me crazy like fingernails on a chalkboard.  Also, he has awful breath and the licking releases the smell, so I can't have him in the same room as me when I eat if I don't want to lose my appetite.

Scrappy has also started this behavior in which he drinks water every few minutes after dinner, and then paces around the house because he needs to pee again.  I keep missing my favorite evening TV shows, because of Scrappy's incontinence.  Every time I've had a dog die of old age, the first sign is always excessive drinking and peeing, so I suspect I will have to be taking him to see the vet soon.  The excessive drinking and peeing is a sign of the pancreas shutting down.  Old age is a slippery slope.

Midge has been doing this thing where every time I start preparing food in the kitchen, she licks the kitchen floor.  I keep chasing her out of the kitchen, but she comes right back and licks it more.  If I'm wearing flat-soled shoes, I slip in her saliva.  If I'm bare foot, it's gross stepping in all that dog saliva.  And I just don't walk around in socks anymore, because that's the worst.  The spit soaks up into my socks and I have to throw them in the hamper.

When Stewie is anxious, he stops eating and I have to hand-feed him so that he won't starve himself, which takes me away from doing other tasks.  Hand-feeding a neurotic dog is time consuming.

It's also hard to get the dogs to do their business outside for a variety of reasons.  It's mostly that a lot of wildlife is coming out of hibernation, and all the dogs want to do is follow the scents.  I have to count down from five loudly and stomp my foot with each count (because they are deaf) to remind them to go potty.  They know that when I hit number one, I drag them back indoors.

My next door neighbor's relatives are visiting him again, so the dogs pick up on their scent and keep trying to climb the wall to get to his yard.  Fortunately, these guests did not bring their camper this year, and are spending most of their time indoors.  The last couple of years were miserable for me, because every time I'd take the dogs outside, my neighbor's guests would run back and forth between their camper and the house, slamming doors the whole way, which distracted the dogs from getting down to business.  I had to clean up a lot of accidents off the carpet back then.

Both Scrappy and Midge have lost most of their hearing, so if they take off after a rabbit, bird or squirrel, they can't hear me calling them back.  I have to keep them on leashes or I'll lose them.

Then there's Gabbrielle.  She has this super fast metabolism that allows her to poop at least three times as much and as often as the other horses.  For some unknown reason, she always waits until I get right up to her and then she poops or pees in front of me.  It's like having a roommate who leaves the bathroom door open every time she uses the toilet.  I don't need to see that.  It's disgusting.

Even if I simply walk out onto the porch, Gabbrielle will wait until she gets eye contact from me, and then she lifts her tail and makes this big production out of pooping while I watch.  What adds to the grossness of it all is that she grunts when she poops.  She also poops in the most inconvenient places, so I have to drop everything I'm doing and clean it up right away.  Then as soon as I put the fork and wagon away, she gives me another look, waits for eye contact, and poops again or spreads her legs and pees in front of me.  She has such horrible timing that I'd swear she intentionally waits until I put all of my manure clean-up tools away before making another mess.  It's like she's an exhibitionist.  You know, like men in trench coats who flash women just to get a rise out of them.

Spreading the D.G. and sand has been slow going mainly because of her.  She always has to claim her territory by leaving a steaming hot pile of manure right where I've been digging.  Then while I am cleaning that up, she does it again right where I've been dumping and spreading the ground cover, and I have to clean that up too.  I put the manure fork away, turn around, and find her pooping a third time on top of the D.G. or sand pile where she knows I am digging.  She drives me batty.  The only way I can get all this work done is if I have help.  One person spreads the ground cover while the other person follows Gabbrielle around with a manure fork.  I keep forgetting to lock her in the round pen when I spread D.G. and sand.  Since the ground cover in the round pen is dried manure, she can poop to her heart's content in there and I never have to clean it up.

I've been trying all kinds of tactics to get her to stop the behavior, but at best, I just get a temporary fix.  I wanted to have a whip by the barn gate so that I can grab it and chase her away from me as soon as she lifts her tail or spreads her legs, but all the critters that are out like to eat anything I leave lying on the ground.  So, now I'm keeping a little pile of rocks by the barn so I can chuck one at her each time she tries to poo or pee in my face.

Last night I actually caught her in time and chased her out of the barn.  Then she pooped in the arena away from me, which is what I want.  This morning she still pooped the second that I walked into the barn, but she stayed in the arena to do it instead of running up to me or doing it in her stall.  So, I suppose that's a little progress in breaking this disgusting habit.  I'd rather that she disassociate my presence with the action of evacuating her bowels and bladder, but doing it in the distance away from me is a start.

The other horses occasionally poo or pee near me, but the difference is that they just go when they need to.  My approach is not the trigger.  With Gabbrielle, it is more a matter of her always dropping a deuce as soon as I arrive to feed, do barn chores, or halter a horse.  Even when she doesn't have anything left inside her, she still grunts and pushes as hard as she can just to pop out tiny turd in presence.  She so weird.  I kind of interpret it as her saying, "Here, Slave.  Clean this up."

We get these free newspapers delivered to our house whether we like it or not, and I have found the past several papers to be in this condition:

At first, I didn't think much of it.  I just noted that I had a defective newspaper and I tossed it in the recycling bin.  The second time I blamed the mail carrier for running over it with his truck.  The third time, I realized that the mail carrier hadn't even arrived yet, so something else had to be going on.  Nobody had driven through my driveway, so I thought perhaps it was tossed in the street, someone ran over it, and then someone else, like a hiker or bicyclist, picked it up and tossed it onto my driveway.  The fourth time it happened, I realized that it was shredded and the shredded parts were missing.  Upon closer inspection, I saw teeth marks.  Dang squirrels are nesting!

So, now if I hope to read the newspaper, I have to pick it up first thing in the morning.  Animals!  Can't live with them -- can't live without them.


lytha said...

It's low-level stress. Baasha used to fart every time we had a house guest, what was really embarrassing for me. He meant to expel whatever was inside, in case the need to escape arose. Of course that never happened, even after 25 years. Predictable pooping/gas when a human comes near is just a potential escape plan. I tried not to take it on a human level (farting bad). Arabians are so sensitive. Gabrielle isn't afraid of you, just like Baashsa wasn't afraid of me. They just saw something that might happen, and had to prepare themselves.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

lytha - Well, that's a perspective I hadn't thought of, and now I'm causing her more stress by throwing rocks at her each time she poops in my face.

Mrs Shoes said...

I'm sorry to hear that Scrappy isn't doing so well lately. While I feel grateful that we are able to render mercy to them when they need it, it's never easy to lose a pet for whatever reason.

What you said about Gabrielle reminded me of my days on the track where we trained the horses to pee on command. We'd start out catching them peeing & give a long, low, repetitive whistle while they did it. The association was quickly made & would evolve into every time they heard the whistle they would pee. This was so that, in the stand by area, we could take a horse to the shavings stall, whistle, & feel confident that they had "emptied out" before their race.
*Aside: Certain horses seemed to prefer to go 'on the fly', hence the bit of towel hung from the crupper if you wanted to keep your driver.*

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Mrs. Shoes - That's a pretty funny aside.

lytha said...

I was trying to think of other situations where horses poop at what seems like the worst possible times and trailer loading came to mind. Even my very good traveling horses would poop on entering a trailer, as if preparing themselves for the situation. (Although you would never know it from the way they happily self-loaded, there was a certain amount of stress/discomfort in trailering.) Baasha would poop on any water crossing where he had to get his hooves wet, leaving lumps floating around us, so embarrassing. But if I think about it, horses never use poop or fart to show annoyance/"punish" each other, do they? So he couldn't have been doing it to show his displeasure with me by messing up my newly cleaned trailer, or killing salmon. Stallions, of course, use poop for other things...

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

lytha - Horses never poop or fart to punish each other. LOL. No, but humans do. Killing salmon. Ha ha! Okay, I'm done laughing.

I do know for sure that the mares use poop to mark their territory. When Lostine or Gabbrielle have had enough of the coyote packs coming around at night, they poop in the four corners of the paddock. Gabbrielle also poops lining her stall entrance to ward off other horses from eating her leftovers. It doesn't work, though. They just step right over it or kick it around.

Yeah, I didn't think she was doing it to torture me. I figured it had just become a habit that I want to break. But if you think it might be her way of preparing herself for escape in case I ask her to do something she doesn't want to, then it's probably more ingrained than training can fix.

lytha said...

I just think Gabrielle is one of the more sensitive Arabians.

Mara used to hit me with her tail on purpose as I groomed her or worked around her. They know exactly where their tails are, and what/who they're aiming at. I don't understand what I could have done to diminish that behavior. She never tipped an ear at me or gave me a dirty look of any kind, with her face or hooves. But her tail was her message that...what? I have no idea. I was extremely gentle with grooming such a thin-skinned horse. I wish I knew.

Crazy side note - when I was 20 we were playing with Baasha and Kafiza standing side by side. We took their tails and swished them around, hitting them with their own tails. Nothing. Then we switched and swished a horse with the other horse's tail. Immediate reaction. Both sides. So, horses know the feel of their own tails, even though to us they feel the same.

Oh my. Right now there are children riding box cars/skateboards lying down rushing down our street, 7 PM, rushing past our pasture where my animals are. Good for them, keep going! The kids are having so much fun, and training my horse for me. Hey, it's dark out, where are the parents? Ah, I see now, it's over. Ruffianism at night is for big cities.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Yes, but are they training your animals to get used to the activity or are they terrifying them so that handling them becomes even more difficult because they will now be afraid of the street like my horses are afraid of the arroyo after the dune buggy incident? We don't really have control over the outcome of this type of "training" unless it is set up and we are putting on pressure and releasing the pressure at the appropriate times.