Saturday, June 11, 2016


Yesterday was the first day that my pain was manageable, so I went down to the barn around 5:00 AM and did not finish with chores until 7:00 AM.  You don't realize how much work it is to care for four horses and three dogs until you can't, and other people have to do it for you, and then you return to your regularly scheduled program and think, "I can't believe I imposed on my family and friends by asking them to do all this work for me when I couldn't do it for myself."

My husband told his boss that he's so exhausted that he needs a vacation.  What kills me is that the work around here never ends -- not even for a minute.  Every time I think I'm going to get to sit down for a spell, something happens that requires immediate action.  Here are a couple of examples:

1.  I'm trying to clear all the manure out of the barn so that I can drag the hose from water trough to water trough without spreading manure around, but the horses and pooping faster than I can clean, and I spend the majority of my time picking up manure instead of dumping, cleaning, and filling water troughs.

2.  I go inside the house to rest while a water trough is finally filling, and there's a dog doing a dance at the door because he needs to pee, so I take him outside only to have the water trough overflow while I'm waiting for the dog to decide on the best spot to relieve himself.  Then I have to look around for coyotes, because I have to make sure the coast is clear to ditch the dog and run to the hose spigot to turn it off.

The dogs have been a handful.  Since both Midge and Scrappy are going blind and deaf, I can no longer just yell, "Pee pee outside!" and have them all run to the back door where I attach their leashes and walk them out.  Now I have to hunt for each dog around the house and keep them gathered together while I herd them to the back door.  (There's always one dog that wanders off when I look away for a second.  They really need to have Silver Alerts for dogs as well as people.)

Sometimes I don't have it in me to hunt down and herd all three dogs, so I just take whatever dog is waiting at the door out, only to come in, turn off all the lights, shut the garage bay, and have another dog come wandering around the corner begging to go outside.  Their timing is always awful.  I'd swear that both Midge and Scrappy hide just around the corner and wait for me to close shop before showing themselves.

Right before and after each meal, I usually have to take them out anywhere between six and twelve times, because they go out and they pee, but forget to poo or vice versa.  A few minutes later they are begging me to take them out to do what they forgot.  This usually happens with really bad timing, one dog right after the other, so I have to go out three times in a row.  Our best TV shows air starting at 7:00 PM, but I rarely get to see a show all the way through.  Horses are so much easier.  Having dogs in this house is like having dogs in an apartment since I can't just open up the door and send them outside.

Summer brings out the worst problems with the dogs, because they get distracted so easily by all the animal scents.  I suspect that the heat fries their brains a bit, and that's part of why they forget to do their business once outside.  There have been times when Midge just collapsed into the dirt.  I figured the ground was burning the pads of her feet, so I tried to get her quickly back into the house, only to have her stop right at the edge of the back step or the edge of the garage to squat down and do whatever was needed.  The dogs never did start piddling and pooing in their outdoor kennel.  They just sit there and bark.  Then as soon as I take them out of the kennel, they get down to business.  The only thing the kennel is good for is putting a vomiting dog in there, since the dog can't control that and wait until it is in a preferable location.

Scrappy did recover from his latest illness, so I took him and the other dogs to the dog groomer to get their toenails clipped as soon as I was mobile.  When I was in pain, I kept taking drugs like NyQuil that would put me to sleep so that I could sleep through the worst of the pain, since no pain killers really helped all that much.  It's kind of like a drug-induced coma I give myself in order to avoid having a heart attack because the pain is putting too much stress on my heart.

Anyway, the dogs kept waking me up because their toenails were too long and I could hear them tap-tap-tapping on the tile every time they needed to go to the bathroom.  Midge also had a poorly timed panic attack while I was trying to sleep, running around the house crashing into things, and I had to get myself up to prevent her from destroying the house.  I have no idea what brought that on.  We didn't have any storms moving in at the time.  I suspect she's hearing sonic booms and jets rumbling like thunder.  The air traffic can get pretty obnoxious around here between military flights, commercial flights, search and rescue, police, fire fighters, recreational pilots, tours, and the movie industry.  Our area is getting to be pretty popular for filming a variety of productions.

I was walking with a cane off and on while my neighbor was here, and I'm sure she saw me.  I kind of resented that she kept asking me to do things for her, and never once offered to help me out when I was clearly struggling to do my barn chores.  Amazingly, the nice neighbor on the other side of me offered to help me out.  He said he'd take care of the dogs and horses if we wanted to go on vacation, or help out even if we are home and just need help.  I don't know if he saw me walking with the cane or if he just wants us to go away so that he can have the neighborhood to himself.  He's a bit of a hermit like me, so I'm sure he must feel annoyed that I'm always outside doing something within his line of sight.  I watched his place while he was on a trip and picked up his papers.  He seemed a bit shocked that we rarely take trips because of the animals, but the reality is that I'm a homebody.  I can take a trip to the most beautiful place in the world, but I'll always be looking forward to going home to my pets... just not all of their messes.

A coyote and I nearly had a collision when I walked around the corner of the hedge and it popped up out from underneath it just a couple of feet in front of me.  We both spooked, I screamed, and it took off running across the street.  Again, I didn't have my camera with me.  It's got some beautiful coloring in its coat -- some browns and reds and blacks, not just gray tones.  I almost wonder if it has some domestic dog in its genes.

My wild baby bunny took me by surprise when I walked around the hay barn to find it standing on its hind legs trying to figure out how to get into the tack room.  It had paid close enough attention to me to know that the couple of times I left a small pile of pellets for it on the ground, I got the pellets from the tack room.  It hopped aside and let me into the the tack room, but waited outside the door watching me.  I couldn't resist its cuteness, so I gave it another handful of pellets.  That's got to be like candy to a wild rabbit.

Bombay greeted me with a bloody gouge in his leg this morning.  Someone kicked him during the night.  It's hot enough outside that I'm limited in how long I can stay out, so I skipped cleaning up manure to clean, treat and dress his wound.  Normally, when horses start getting hurt, Gabbrielle automatically gets sent to Exile Island, but I suspect Rock might be involved this time.  I'm going to have to watch the horses more closely.  It's amazing how irritable and impatient they get with each other in the heat.  They are no different from me in that regard.


TeresaA said...

it is a lot of work to have them at home, that's true. There's a gadget you can get to attach to your water troughs that will shut the water off automatically when it is full. it's not that expensive. This is a link I found- it was something like this:

Crystal said...

Im so glad we dont have house pets, I like my horses when i get tired I just leave them to eat and go inside, we both appreciate a break

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Teresa - Dang! The's the first time someone has mentioned that device to me. I got excited, since automatic waterers will not work in my barn for a variety of reasons. Then when I saw this gadget, I realized it won't work either since I have to attach it to the trough. My horses would rip that out in ten seconds. I suspect that I could temporarily hang it over the trough, but I'd still have to stand there and supervise. As is, if I leave the hose running in the trough and walk away, the whole time I keep having to run out of the house to yell at the horses to leave the hose alone. They pull the hose out of the trough and flood the barn. I've never been able to use floating de-icers because they destroy them, so I went to butterfly deicers that are installed in the plug hole at the bottom of the tank, but have always had to keep the tanks at least half-way full or the horses would bend the heating rod ends upward and loosen the connection. I was forking out $75 every few weeks, because if the water got low, they'd pull the troughs away from the fence and chew the electrical cords right off. I eventually abandoned using de-icers and kept a sledgehammer nearby. But thanks for finding a website to show it to me.

Crystal - For years we've been saying "no more dogs", but when one lands in our lap and no one else will take it, we tend to kiss the next 15 years of our freedom goodbye.

TeresaA said...

I've seen people attach the hose to just fill it - not leave it in (for just that reason). I'm sure there's something we could rig up.....

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Teresa - That's good to know. In that case, for twenty bucks, I'll give it a try. I'll still have to supervise the horses so that they don't pull it out and stomp on it, but I suspect at least it will turn off as soon as they pull it out, so that will solve the overflow problem and save water.