Velcro Dogs Are There If You Need Them Or Not

You know if you have one.

You are in the house, going about your business, and two feet away from your leg is a pair of soulful eyes

and a ball of fur.

In my case, it’s a little further away and mostly black fur with white accents, but the feeling is the same.

They’re called Velcro Dogs.  They require their own way of dealing with them.  Their own discipline. 

Some people aren’t the kind of people who like being that close to another creature.

You have to wonder why they got a dog in the first place.  It’s a case of being given the privilege of being asked to be the leader and showing them through life.

Yes, Asked.  You have a dog who isn’t an alpha and wants to know what it can do.  Not always for itself, but for you.

So show it.  Now that you have been promoted to Boss, do something with the job.

My Back Of The Pack Beta dog Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) is starting to ask.  He’s not glued to my right calf.  Actually I insist he walks on my left side since I am very right handed.  But what he’s doing in his own gentle way is to follow me around the house.  If I go to another room he will wait to see if I am coming back.  If I don’t he gets up and moves over to the same room I am in and picks a spot.  Since I have mats in every room for him to sit on, it’s a compromise.

There are other dogs that will literally sit under you when you’re at the desk.  It can be unnerving but they’re there for their own reason.  They want to be available if you need them.

Mine is helping me learn Spanish.

There’s a small area of about a yard/meter square in the corner next to my Big Green Chair.  He would hide

back there if I left it open so I keep an old cooler back in the corner just so that he can’t hide there unless I want it.  I move the couch in place to block access unless I’m over there.  If I am not sitting in the Big Green Chair, he actually will park in the corner so that he can look out at what is going on, watching.

I put myself in that chair, turn on the TV and put on one of the children’s programs in Spanish that I’m using to learn with.  Sure, Plaza Sesamo or “Los Pies Magicos de Franny” is juvenile and basic, but basic is what you need when you’re told by Duolingo that you are only 50% fluent in the language.  There are other programs, but all are chosen for simple sentence structure.

Animal shows in Spanish with Closed Captioning can be remarkably educational and remarkably helpful.

All I have to do is to move, and Rack alerts to watch what I’m doing.  Shift in the chair and he lifts his head

to see what I am doing.

Get out of the chair and he listens.  If I am in the kitchen too long, he gets up and walks in.  Back to the bathroom and he walks past to make sure I am there, then sits just out of sight.  Return to the chair and he’s back by my side, gazing up at me with those twin brown eyes, then settles in, job done.

Uber Beta Dogs don’t confront, they do what they have to without being noticed.  He will grow out of that as confidence builds.

So if your dog is velcroed to the leg, consider what the dog is telling you.  It’s asking you to show it what you want of it.  If your dog has a play drive, toss a ball for a bit.  Think of that as a bonding exercise.

It is an endearing way of saying “What’s next, Boss?”.

War On Mosquitoes

I’ve had it.

It’s been a week of this.

It’s time to up the game.  To bring in the big guns.  The Next Step.

I’m making a trap.

The reason is that since the construction we had on the house, I’ve been plagued by mosquitoes.   I have finally had enough.

Last night, I was in bed.  The house was quiet and there was only one light on.  That light was over the bed in the back of the house.

I saw a black dot flick across the computer screen. 
I saw that same dot flick back.

I knew I was being targeted.  A mosquito had found its way to the most distant part of the house from any door or window that had been opened in days to find me.

Sorry, Miss Mozzie, but I am not your food.

I pulled the covers up as high as I could get them leaving my arms exposed and waited. 

She came in close and landed on the back of my hand.  I wasn’t fast enough to kill her.  She flew off.

More targeting and she landed on the other arm.  This time success.  I could sleep safely.

The next morning there was one in the bathroom so aggressive that I couldn’t use it for its intended purposes until I unleashed sweet death on the creature.  I used bathroom tile cleaner on it all the while laughing like an old movie villain.

Muwahahaha!  Die Mosquito, Die!

I thought to myself “Evil thing” as I went back to my desk forgetting about the Intended Purposes.

At my desk, I managed to kill one more using the “Tennis Racket”.  It’s a tennis racket shaped appliance that has parallel wires where the strings would normally be.  You flick it through the air and it makes a satisfying “SNAP!” as it vaporizes the life out of a worthless bug in a brilliant blue white flash.

Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) hates that thing.  Every time I go on patrol looking or more of those blood suckers, he cringes.

“I’m tired of this!” as I walk into the kitchen and grab a 2 litre bottle that I saved for this purpose.  Cutting it in half and then trimming it down, I make a mosquito trap.

Add about a cup of water, two teaspoons of sugar, one half teaspoon of yeast, I shake the mixture up.  It’s now making carbon dioxide on my counter.  I’m hoping the little monsters find it.  I’ll then target them again with the Tennis Racket of Doom.

Time to evict the house guests.

Yes, it’s all happening indoors.  Before 8AM, I killed a total of four mosquitoes, one of which was trying to bite its way through the blue jeans I have to wear inside and outside to not be targeted.  I guess I have that Sweet Blood everyone hears about, always have.

But it’s time, this has to end.

As for that trap?  I had one outside the house for a while.  It didn’t actually “trap” the mosquitoes.  I think they may be too smart for that.  They merely made a cloud around it trying to get at the CO2 emitting source, but realized that it isn’t an actual creature, they flew off.

If that happens here… I’m prepared.

Besides, next step is chemical warfare.   I have a can of bug spray, and I know how to use it!

Moving Ducks Out Of Harms Way

I think I have spent the better part of the week moving wildlife on.

I’m very good at moving geckos and lizards out of the house.  We’ve got a clear plastic cylinder that I place over the critter.  They don’t realize they’ve been captured.  A piece of paper is slid under them and they run up into the cylinder.  Out to the garden they go.

There’s a normal patter of mosquitoes that were getting in the old windows.  About one a night would be moved onto its next life as something more useful.  Perhaps a leech or other nasty creature.

The Tree Frog was moved on when construction and demolition happened.  I’m sorry for that one since I am really quite entertained by them.  There’s a piece of plastic that serves as a lean-to and if it comes back, I’ll make something more permanent.

Then there are the ducks.

Muscovy Ducks.  They’re semi-wild distant relatives of the pet ducks that some neighbor invariably has somewhere in your town. 

Harmless creatures if left alone, and they can become quite tame if gently handled.

My own version of Gently Handling them is to let them be and do “Duck Things” unharmed.


I’ve been told stories that I call urban legends.  Someone has a friend of a friend that said that the ducks colonized their swimming pool in the next town.  They fouled the water, made the pool deck dirty, and made them a Sad Panda.

First problem with that is that if there is no food, the ducks will move on, so they won’t really hang around where they’re not welcome and hungry.

There was a problem with my own Live and Let Live attitude this weekend.  Construction.

The gates were left open to the backyard and people were literally all over the property.  Tools were set where needed, cars were being moved all day, things were dropped.  The normal kind of bedlam that happens when you’re having work done.

I had baked some chocolate chip cookies from The Internet Recipe using home churned butter as a thank you to my two neighbors who were allowing us to park the cars on their property.  The one neighbor was in and out all day but came by with some leftover pizza since they weren’t going to be there.  They’re moving out soon.

I saw them and came out with a pound of those cookies and said “Turn about is fair play!  Here, have a carbo load!”.

Coming back to the house, I saw the ducks.  They were heading into the backyard.  Not good.  There is a corridor between the fence and the house and the ducks would be harmed if a boot came too close. 

Harmed, stressed out, bothered.  I had no desire to do that or have that happen.

Rambling Moose to the rescue, I herded them back out to the front yard.  Momma Duck should be used to me now, she sees me all over the neighborhood.  I simply walked behind her and her brood. 

Of course I had to get pictures.  She should be used to that too.

The neighbors came over to see the Ducks, construction stopped to see the Ducks, and we managed to herd them gently on their way.

Closer to the park at least.  They’ll get there eventually or if not, they found a nice quiet place to hide.

I’ve come across her and her charges very early in the morning.  She’s sleeping with her ducklings under her like petals on a flower radiating from the center.  I have heard others mention her so she’s a minor celebrity in this part of town.

I’m just glad we’re able to keep her safe.  The babies can’t fly yet, and while she’s welcome in my yard, I’d just rather have her in the front yard and leave the pool be.

Especially with hammers and ladders and boots everywhere.

Evicting My Tree Frog

We had to do it.
We had to send a friend away.

Goodbye little tree frog.

We hated doing it too.  For more than a year, maybe two, this little critter has been spending it’s daytime watching over us.

It found a nook between the glass and a piece of Fascia Board on the outside of my Florida Room.  There it would shimmy up before dawn most mornings, and rest the day away.

It got very predictable.  About an hour before dawn I would hear a meaty smack on the window and there it would be. 

Slowly walking up the glass of the Jalousies to the shelter that someone created years ago, it would find its spot.

My intention is to make a Frog Hut.  I saved all of the beaver board and scraps I could find from the construction.  I have a sheet of plywood and some crown molding and from that, if I have the time, I think we can make something just large enough.

If I do make that, I’ll make it so it can be removed for cleaning.  We never could clean that spot on the window because it was too close to the wood for my hands.  The frog’s timing was that I could have gotten out there on days it wasn’t using us as Kermit’s Hotel For Wayward Tree Frogs.

That particular day, the frog arrived when construction had already started.  It was a late morning for it so I figure it was out visiting Miss Piggy and having whatever passes for a frog party.  Maybe Bugs a la Mode?  The one worker had just stepped away from the window after removing the first bit of Fascia board and our friend saw its chance.  I spotted the frog mid window and the worker hadn’t even seen it.  It climbed back up to its spot and we all tried to move it along as gently as possible. 

For now I have shiny Impact Resistant Windows where those leaky Jalousies were.  The house even feels different, so the new ones are markedly more fuel efficient. 

But no home for Frogs.

Sorry little friend, I’ll see what I can do.  Maybe tape a piece of cardboard for the time being.

A Housefull Of Windows Replaced In Two Days

We’re beat.

26 windows down, 1 to go – if I got my count right.

Part of living in South Florida is accepting the environment and preparing for it.  Oh, sure, you do the same in other parts of the country.  Actually you do it everywhere, but you generally don’t give it all that much thought.

When you move in, set down roots in a new place, you begin that process that you learned when you were growing up – but didn’t realize it.  You adapted to your environment, and bent what you could to fit it to your own preferences.

We’re doing that here.

The house was built some time after 1956.  We aren’t completely sure whether it was 1956 or 1968.

Neither is the City.  Records are a bit sketchy.

We do know that nobody did any major renovations here.   A pool was added in the early 1960s, or maybe the 1950s, there isn’t a record of that either.

Someone laid tile in the “Public Areas” of the house.  Right on top of the grey travertine, or what ever it is called.  You could correct me and an hour later I’d get it wrong anyway.  One of those names I can’t keep in my head.

Just like most names.  They just don’t “stick”.

It was actually laid by most of the Police force of the City at the time.  They did a crappy job, just like anyone you’d expect to be drafted to do something by their boss.  Some of the tiles have a hollow sound to them when you step on them, and the grout is crumbling.

Another project for the future.

But past that, the cabinets were put in and left alone, just as most of the rest of the bones of this place.  We’re replacing some fairly major systems here as time goes on.

The first thing to go was the fire hazard of the electrical panel.  Do yourself a favor – find your electrical panel and see if you have the words “Federal Pacific Electric” on it or the initials “FPE”.  If you do, you had better replace it.  Major design flaws resulting in fires.  Such a bad design that the company was bankrupted and stripped for parts.  They actually cheated on the “UL” tests and got the approval they were looking for then sold the hell out of those faulty Stabloc circuit breakers.  Go check, I’ll wait!

But the windows remained.  Leaky Jalousie windows.

Not. Any. More.

Impact resistant windows.  The words “Impact Rating: Large Missile” are written on that sticker on the windows and are waiting for the inspector. 

I won’t test that although I did get a chuckle out of the phrase.

Much quieter too.  I’d say it knocked the noise level down outside to where I can’t hear the cars on the street and I’m hearing different sounds from inside the house.

I may have to let some of the old style mechanical clocks stop because they’re now so prominent when the radio or TV is off.

The sounds changed so much that now Rack is alerting to different things.  He actually “moofed” at the ice maker until he got told it was OK and got used to it.

It was 2 solid days of construction.  Knock out 27 windows, replace with 18 or so, and then caulk everything.  New woodwork.  Stucco where needed.

Oh and lets not forget that while all that is going on, the house is effectively without windows.  No, not “open windows” but “missing”.  Letting in a Mosquito is not an option.  Letting in 50 mosquitoes was what happened. 

And “Letting In” is not exactly correct so much as they let themselves in.

We have a thing that looks like a tennis racket.  It has a set of parallel wires and when you swing it through the air, it will zap any bug it hits into a vapor with a white hot flash and a “SNAP!” sound.

Rack hates it.

But it works.  When the first day of demolition and construction was finished and we were sitting in the chair, one swipe through the air killed 21 mosquitoes.

At One Pass.

Inside the living room.

The next morning I killed one on each arm before construction began anew.

I’m a quart low at this point and the top part of my brain is drying out from the donation.

But it is mostly done.  One window left and we’re done.

What.  A.  Weekend.


Jose Visits America

Jose came to America from Mexico and wanted to go a baseball game so when he went home, he could tell his family all about it.

When he got there, the game was sold out, so he decided to climb to the top of a flag pole to get a better look.

When he returned home, his family was anxious to hear about his experience.

“What happened?” asked his family.

“Well, America is the nicest place in the world!!” he said.

“Before the game started, all the people in the stands and all the players stood up, looked at me and said, “Jose, can you see?”

I always wanted to tell jokes, but I had pretty severe social anxiety.

So, I wrote the jokes down on pieces of paper and taped the paper to frisbees.

Then I threw the frisbees at passers by so they could read my jokes.

The trouble was, most of them flew right over their heads.

Two Guys Were Roaring Down A Road On A Motorcycle

Two guys were roaring down the road on a motorcycle when the driver slowed up and pulled over.

His leather jacket had a broken zipper, and he told his friend, “I can’t drive anymore with the air hitting me in the chest like that.”
“Just put the jacket on backwards.” His friend advised.

They continued down the road but around the next bend, they lost control and wiped out.

A nearby farmer came upon the accident and ran to call the police.

They asked him, “Are they showing any signs of life?”

“Well,” the farmer explained, “the driver was until I turned his head around the right way!”

Lizard on a Hot Tin Roof

Up North in the Big Cities, if you find any wildlife indoors, you call an exterminator.

I don’t mean pets, or your weird relatives, but “wildlife”.

Non domesticated animals or insects.

Here, I’ve grown a bit more relaxed about that.

When I moved to South Florida, I remember being told a few “important things”. 

Always bang your shoes out on the ground.
Check your bed for spiders.
Don’t go swimming in a lake, there are gators in the water.

Ok, the Gator thing?  Yeah I believe it.  I was at a park in Dania Beach once and had to leave a dock because I saw a gator approaching.  I think it wanted to turn Lettie into its next meal.  She didn’t know what to make of it and was getting agitated.

Trust in Dog, I got out of there.

But the shoes thing?  Nah.  At least not in my house. They were trying to throw a fear into me about scorpions.

Nine years later, I have seen exactly one scorpion and that was living outdoors where it belongs.

Now mind you, wildlife does get in.  We have killed more mosquitoes here than I care to count.  We’ve also got one of those cool tennis racket looking dealies that you press a button and wave through the air.  You see a flash and hear a “SNICK!” and the nasty girl is vaporized.

They’re always female if they’re trying to bite you.  Always.

Spiders?  Not if you make your bed.  Plus, like Constance says, the bed just LOOKS better if it is properly made.  You could bounce a quarter off that blanket!

On the other hand, there are my Lizards.  Typically they are Cuban Browns that get in, but there are also the pink Geckos that end up being seen right around dusk.

The Geckos get hungry and come out looking for food.

Hey, Geckos!  You’re slacking.  Go after the mosquitoes and I’ll even set up a habitat for you!

Don’t laugh, there’s a story I was told about people in New York City keeping lizards in the house like you and I do with dogs.  They run around and eat cockroaches.

If I see cockroaches, we call and have the house tented.  *shudder*.

But the Cuban Browns are everywhere keeping a watch over you.

I have never found them in my shoes, but they do get in the house.

For some reason people fear them.  I’m deeply entertained by them, and I think they know it.

Yes, I am the Lizard Whisperer.  Or something like that.

But tapping your shoe on the ground before you put it on?  Only if it was left in the closet too long.  Then you might have to worry about those spiders making a web in them.

Oh, in that case, they’re most likely dead.  After all, a web in your Size 11 Boot won’t catch many bugs to eat behind a closed door, will it?

They can’t bite you, although if  you find an ornery one they will try.  They just don’t have any teeth.  Just like Grandma, all they can do is gum their food.  Girls would catch them and get them to bite their earlobes to wear lizards as earrings.

I guess they tickled.  Silly girls.

How Can I Tell Rack’s Feeling More Confident? I’m Wearing Out Shoes

5AM I am usually not at my best.  Oh, sure, I’m awake, but I’m pretty much on Auto-Pilot. 

Left foot, right foot, through the morning for a while.

Somewhere about mid Dog Walk, I wake up more fully.

We start out with just about the same route every time, of course.  It’s out of the house, down the driveway, off the block.  By the time we get to Wilton Drive, my brain is sputtering to life.

I can tell Rack is waking up too.  Being as fearful as he is, we start with him putting his head into the harness.  I snap the clasps in place and he’s shivering a little.  Not from cold, but uncertainty of what is going to happen. 

But the shivering is getting less intense.  We go through this routine at the last walk of the day, he is nervous.  Who knows why, but I blame whoever he was unfortunate enough to have as a first owner.

Mind you, there are three walks we do.  Each one has its own routine.  Both we and the dogs like that.  Dogs in general like routine.  They can’t read a clock, but they can tell roughly what time of day it is based on what is going on in the environment. 

We’re on the drive and the Goya truck goes past, roaring at a speed I’d bet is well above the 30 MPH limit.  If it isn’t Goya, it’s the truck going to supply some of the shops, or maybe even the 50 Bus.  At least one, usually two or three of them will fly past.

Rack doesn’t like trucks.  When we first tried walking The Drive, he would flatten out like a pancake on the pavement.  Then he’d sit with the leash completely taught trying to get away.  Who knows why, it’s just something that happens.

Lately his reaction is noticeably less.  The ears go down, he’ll tug toward the nearest building but it isn’t the abject terror of before.

There definitely is an association between The Drive and noise or some sort of discomfort.  The association is weakening.  I know because there’s a strange thing happening.

Most mornings when we hit the end of that first block to turn back into the neighborhood and head back home, Rack has been trying to pull towards a longer walk. 

On The Drive.

The regular walk is just over 3/4 mile.  It’s a largish rectangle that we can do in about 20 minutes or less. 

This isn’t a regular walk.  We got to one of the few stoplights and I got towed toward the “wrong direction” instead of heading back home.

I said “Ok, Rack!”.
He looked back at me.
“Show Me Walk.”.

Show Me is a phrase I used with Lettie, my departed dog.  If I said that phrase even to someone else, she
would go to what she wanted and stare at it, then back at me until I gave it to her.   It wasn’t always food, it could be a toy, a door to go out, or even a leash for a walk.

Rack is starting to learn Show Me.  Sure, your dog can sit, but if it can’t tell you what it wants, you’re going to be limited to what you can do.

In this case Show Me gave me a walk on the entire drive, plus the blocks in The Neighborhood to get home.

At 5AM.  Ok, give or take. 

He’s not really all that fond of Long Walks in the middle of summer.  It was in the low 80s all week before sunrise.  The hottest walk of the day was above 90 on some of the walks.

Metric that translates to Bloody Hot For A Floridian Degrees Celsius.  A Floridian and his dog who are used to the heat.

The last Show Me Walk that we did, which was about the sixth pre-dawn walk that he did this in a row, was a mile and a third. 

Metric that translates to My Feet Hurt.  Two K’s.  Before coffee.

*grumble* OK, Rack, lets go!

Nice to know you’re feeling your oats and we don’t have to treat you like you aren’t quite so fragile.

A View From The Trail at Pompano Airpark

I’m at that point in the workout when everything falls together and I stop thinking about what I’m doing.

That may sound counter-intuitive but what happens is exactly that.

You get going and you fall into the zone.  The Groove.  That whole “Zen” thing of the workout.

No matter what workout it is, you cease thinking about where you put your feet or your arms, and just go with it.

I was rolling along at the Pompano Airpark, looking at what they’re trying to do with the trail, and wondering why people plant Crepe Myrtles.  Everywhere I have seen them, they look like they’re struggling to get a foothold.

Then I rounded the corner onto the West side of the trail.  I found myself lined by twin columns of pink flowers, being accompanied by Dragon Flies, and generally impressed at the fact that it managed to hide the rather industrial looking airport just over my right shoulder.

The airport has its own charm, but beautiful it isn’t.  Having the Goodyear Blimp come and go from time to time is fascinating, but the General Aviation airport isn’t exactly what I’d call home about.  Looks like a collection of squat boxes flanked by someone’s toy airplanes.

But those Crepe Myrtles did exactly what they intended.  Block the view. 

I dropped into a racing posture, and flew through that particular mile.  Winds low, it felt like everything moved fast,  even if I was only going about 15 miles per hour at best.

For a distance inline skater, this is probably the best trail I have found in South Florida.  I did the Broadwalk at Hollywood Beach and found the people on bicycles too arrogant and too ready to attempt to crowd you out. 


Pompano doesn’t have any other real attraction at the park.  You could sit by the fire station in the shade and watch planes come and go, but that can quickly get tired.  There are only two water stops, at the fire station and at mile 1.5.  But what it does have to offer is 4.5 miles of “Black Ice”. 

For the most part, it’s skating rink smooth, and no interruptions of streets to get in your way.

On the other hand, for a sport that has just about vanished, you get to use it all by yourself, practically.  Just you, a few well behaved people on bikes, and the self absorbed people who insist on walking on the “wrong” side of the trail and don’t yield to “On Yer Left!” warnings when someone is approaching.

Then again, that sounds more like society these days than a workout.

At least the flowers are in bloom, and it’s a good place to adjust the bindings.