Please Watch Over Your Dogs, Cats, and any Sensitive Folks over The Fourth, You May Save A Life

Ok, so I may be a day early. I tend to put out some weird ramblings on Wednesdays.

What I’m onto is this fireworks nonsense. Nobody wants to live in a war zone. To a dog, especially a fearful one, that is what will be happening a bit after sunset for A While.

An Arbitrary amount of time after any given Firework-y event. A couple of weeks if I remember last year.

I love looking at them but what that does to anyone that gets “triggered” by them is truly frightening.

Yeah, I used the word triggered. Which means those big strong (read: callous types) have just closed this window.

Growing up in an area that banned anything more than sparklers, the professional firework displays that shot off on July 4th were amazing. The park near the house, Cooper River Park in Cherry Hill NJ, was a spot you could stand in an open field and watch at least ten displays.

Now imagine your idiot Confederate Flag waving, Pickup Truck driving neighbor setting off his personal jollies in the street next door and having them go wild into your hedges and start a fire.

Meanwhile your cat or dog is freaking out in mortal terror because someone just dropped a mortar overhead.

I would expect this in France in two weeks at Bastille Day, or perhaps in the UK around Guy Fawkes day, but then again Europeans seem to have more sense than some folks around here.

Keep your pets indoors tonight. If you need to walk your dog, a possible suggestion is what I am doing.

Sunset tonight in Fort Lauderdale, Florida is at 8:17PM. I will try to get my walk started around that time. Preferably before. “They” always wait until it’s fully dark out before the idiots start their own battle of lights.

Oh and your cats? First off, if you let your cat out at night, you’re doing wrong by them. They live much longer indoors, and so do the songbirds in your neighborhood that are in decline everywhere. Secondly, you never know what some fool will do with fireworks, your cat, and perhaps a little duct tape.

Yes, we hear about that every year.
Yes, the animal rights laws are getting better.

No, your dislike of those facts won’t stop some freak from taking out their anger on your pet.

Keep them indoors.
Tonight and always.
They’ll be around much longer.

Ok, so I didn’t mean for this to get so strident and rant-y.

Protect the pets you love. Make sure you have a picture of them with you. If you lose yours, look for them at the shelter. Like that graphic above says, the 5th of July is the busiest day for animal shelters with people trying to recover their lost dog or cat.

Their welfare is in your hands.

If you happen to know a veteran, ask them if they need company tonight. They may appreciate it.

Ok, let me rephrase it. If you know of anyone who may be alone tonight or any night, go say hi. They may appreciate it.

It’s just neighborly.

Ringneck Visitors

Sure, I’m in the middle of the city.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t get visitors.

In this case, though, I think they’re not exactly here for me.

They’re for the bar.

The way this started was with Oscar, the orange wing amazon parrot I have had since 1986.  Bloody long time, right?  Well he’s here.  He’s never gotten lost, I guess I’m too good at taking care of him for that.  I have taken him out back many times when it is raining because Amazon Parrots Love Rain.

Just leave the cage out by the pool in the middle of a thunderstorm and let the parrot play in the water.

Step number one, remove the wire cage from the plastic base.  This must be done without freaking the bird out or catching my fingers in the mesh … or the beak within.

Step two.  Go outside.  Better said than done.  I’m a bit unwieldy at times, somewhat clumsy.  One step down to the Florida Room.  Over the threshold and through the double doors to the Lanai.  Out to the pool deck.

And… trip.

It doesn’t happen often but the last time it did, the cage collapsed and had one rather scared green bird within a metal mesh and me freaking out to try to reassemble the cage without letting the bird fly off.

Oh, did I say that this is with Oscar being “Fully Flighted”?

Never mind all that rot.  He just took it all calmly in.  He stepped on my index finger, let me put him inside the cage, grabbed onto my finger a little harder than I prefer and back onto the perch.

That last grab was probably because he was saying I’m being an idiot I guess.

Basically when I have to put Oscar anywhere it is usually in the back yard.  It is quiet there and while we do get “visitors” they are normally at night when I’m snoring into my pillow.

Yes, you can hear it from the corner… well yes that is TMI so I’ll stop there.

Anyway, if I put Oscar in the Florida Room or out back, the outside birds will come to visit.  They range from finch sized little things to the buzzards that have just come to roost for their annual visit.

We also have the Hawks.  Oscar doesn’t like Hawks and will get loud if they come near.

Remember Parrot = Loud.  If you want a quiet house, don’t get a parrot.

I tell Oscar when he gets loud that he can go play with the hawks if he likes.  He has never taken me up on the offer.

This particular day, Oscar was in the Florida Room since it was sunny.  That was when the Ringnecks came for a visit.  Their call is like something out of The Simpsons with “Meh! Meh!” in a reedy voice.  I knew they were here for a visit with Oscar since he was clearly in view of the big double door in the back.

Settling onto the bar for a bit they watched.  I was in the kitchen puttering.  Oscar made some gentle chatter in the back.

Ok, so I spoiled that visit by taking pictures out the Kitchen window, but hey, it is my house after all.

But they do still visit.  If the hawks are particularly active, I will have a bougainvillea full of small birds hiding.  Not today, but many days.   At least it keeps Oscar entertained.

Rack and Oscar’s Visitor at the Door

This was One Of Those Moments.

One Of Those Moments where you just have to scratch your head in confusion, and laugh.

It all started when I got the house to myself for a long week.  About 10 days.

I was rattling around by myself through the holidays, and December 27th, that was going to end.

Boxing Day, December 26th, I had to pick things up.  It was time to stop being a bachelor, and to begin to clean the house.

Living in South Florida, there is a fine layer of dust and sand that gets all over things.  You don’t notice it at first, but you start looking behind things and under things and on top of things that you forgot to look, and there it is.  A layer.  Sometimes there are whole civilizations of dust mites living in it.

You get used to it, so you periodically “Deep Clean” things.

But in just a week, there’s enough that it needs to happen.  Move the furniture around, clean where it was, and move it all back.  Normal boring crap.  However that means that it would get loud.

Oscar Likes Loud.  Oscar, my Orange Wing Amazon Parrot will make noises with anything in the house.  It could be a pencil dropped on the floor, he will chatter to it.  He laughs like I do, says “What?” in appropriate times, and believes that “Hello?!?!?” is an appropriate response to food.

As in “Hello, you had better be bringing me some or else I will get louder”.

Louder can be heard a half mile away.  You don’t want that.  He does “Louder” when the vacuum is run.  The vacuum would be run through the entire house today.

“Oscar, want to play with the Hawks?”

I put Oscar out on the front porch on Aunt Betty’s white plastic table.  She gave it to me with two chairs when she went back Up North and there it sits.  It was pristine when I got it, now three years of Dust later, it isn’t.

Did I say that the dust is from the beaches 2 and a half miles away?

Did I say that the dust is also from The Bahamas about 120 miles east of me?
Did I say that the dust also comes from The Sahara Desert half a world away?

Yes, really.  And it all got cleaned up.

I got out the vacuum and did the house.  Yes, even under the tv table cart and the couch.  All the chihuahua dog worth of loose dog fur were vacuumed away.  You never knew that a McNab Dog would shed so much, after all, he only has one coat and no undercoat.

At that point things got weirder.  I managed to mop the kitchen fairly quickly, and started on the dining room when I noticed that Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) was acting concerned.  “Concerned” in most dogs will mean they might grumble or even bark.  Not with Rack.  He just stares holes through you with twin yellow-green laser beamed eyes as he melts your heart with curiosity.

Or in this case urgency.  He plopped himself in the middle of the living room staring at me.

I looked past him through the big window noticing that Oscar was not being bothered by anyone.

“Rack, I’m going to need that room soon.”

Rack looked at me again as if to say “You had better check the door”.  He’s great for delegating responsibility since he’s afraid of his own shadow.

I went back to finishing the dining room.

Straightening out my own frame and blocking off the dining room, I found out what was going on.  The house had visitors.

Rack retreated to The Corner where he hides but was keeping an eye on both me and Oscar.

Oscar was looking at something just out of view and lunging at it.

And there it was.  A Muscovy Duck.

Mind you, these ducks are completely harmless.  Since they’re Outdoor Animals, they probably have all sorts of things that I don’t want Oscar getting so I watched.  But instead of going to the door and shooing the creature away, I realized it was watching both me, and Oscar.

I reached for the camera and squeezed off a couple pictures hoping that the light in the window wouldn’t wash things out too badly.  It did and I would find that out later.

But there I was.  I was locked in another Wild Kingdom moment.  My house was visited by the ducks again.  This wasn’t a surprise, we’ve got dozens of them.  I am only a short couple blocks from the nearest river and they never quite leave the neighborhood.  They are non-aggressive and harmless.  Since they eat the grubs in the grass, I can even say they’re beneficial.

They’re certainly entertaining, but I never expected them to come quite this close.

There was one a while back that decided that since I hardly ever drive my Jeep, it would roost under it.  I became a foster parent to a brood of baby ducks that would hide under there from the neighbor’s formerly outdoor cats.  Not wanting to disturb them, I would always make certain that I could get outside quietly and go about my business.
Rack doesn’t seem to mind them, but understands that they don’t belong on the porch.

Like this rather curious one.

It hopped onto the porch to see what this green parrot, Oscar, was doing on Betty’s table, and discovered that there was me indoors watching it, and Rack watching all of us being confused.

I squeezed off a few shots more, turning on the flash for the last one.

The duck had had enough at that point when I tried to walk to the door.  It slowly turned around and walked back under the Jeep.  It had to be a part of the brood here.

So that’s the thing.  You may have been used to living around nature, but nature never quite leaves you here in South Florida.  Sometimes it even pays a visit.

I went back to my cleaning and by the time I was done, it was wandering off the neighbor’s property.

Nice to have a little visit when you’re ready for a break from doing things, isn’t it?

Getting Rack Ready For The Walk

Ok, I don’t know which TV Show scarred me for life with these little sayings, but let me get them out of the way first!

“I caught you looking at my butt!”

“Quit looking at my butt!”

*WHEW*!  There we go, back to normal!

You see getting Rack ready for his walk is a ritual.  It could be as many as three or more rituals.

It all depends on the time of day and “which” walk we’re taking.

I suppose we could throw weather into that too although it’s either dry or rainy here.

You see Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) is a herding dog.  A McNab Dog like him loves routines.  He can predict what will happen next and when we make a change to the house, we can see how he’s a bit confused by it all and then adapts.

After all I can’t say “ready” without him wanting to go somewhere.  I changed that to the Spanish “Listo” for when I am “ready” and want to go somewhere and don’t want him to know.  He will learn that and I’ll find another Key Word.

Suggestions anyone?

Herding dogs like the McNab, any collie, or any breed with Shepherd or Heeler in their names were bred for intelligence and flexibility.  You can teach them anything.

I didn’t realize I was teaching him to crawl between my legs.

Yes, they are my legs, but we went through this already.

To get him ready for a walk all I really have to do is show him a leash.  The leash has the harness already clipped to the end for convenience sake.  I hold the harness open and he simply walks through it.

But in typical “One Plus One Equals Three Fashion” of a herding dog, Rack … keeps walking.

Around 43 pounds of wriggling mostly black fur wants to keep going.  The easiest place to go was between my legs.  So as I am trying to reach under his chest to snap the harness together, he has his head stuck back there and is looking around excited.

Trust me, an excited McNab Dog is a very interesting thing.

He will stand there trying to walk forward while there.  I weigh about five times more than he does, roughly, so he’s not going anywhere.  But he’s trying to move forward.

Put your hand under him and push him backwards?  That doesn’t really work, he simply walks forward until he’s stuck.
Step aside?  He’s walking to the front door.

Sure, he’ll come back if called since that is the hallmark of a well trained herding dog, but standing aside isn’t really effective.

So there I am.  A dog sticking his head between my legs, wagging his tail, and waiting to go explore the world.

I’m shaking my head, amused at the entire thing.  Wriggling dog and all.