THEY’RE BACK! RETURN OF THE GYPSY MOTH

It’s going to be a big year for the gypsy moths. They never really leave, but some years are really bad compared to other, relatively light years.

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This is going to be a bad year. One side of my house is covered with caterpillars. Garry had to dig his car out, as if from under snow. They’ve been coming into the house via the dogs. A few hitched a ride on some Amazon deliveries. I’m spooky about bugs of any kind though I’m not actually afraid of caterpillars, per se.

Unlike spiders and other crawling insects, my heart does not threaten to seize in my chest when I find one. Unfortunately, my startle reflex doesn’t know what’s crawling on me. I only feel something crawling and I do the knee jerk EEK, YOW, UGH, YUK before I ultimately recognize the culprit.

It’s not only that the gypsy moths are creepy pests. They are an invasive pest that consumes oak trees. They have been known to wipe out entire hardwood forests. They’ve almost killed off the black oaks in Pennsylvania.

They aren’t even pretty. No redeeming features that I know of and no natural enemies, either. A pest of the first magnitude with the distinction of being number 1 on our national list of destructive invasive species.

gypsy moth adult

As you’ve probably guessed by the repetition of the word “invasive,” gypsy moths are not native to these parts. Originally a European pest, they took to the New World with a vengeance as soon as they got a bite of it. They’ve been in New England since 1869. at which time they were accidentally introduced near Boston, Massachusetts. Normally, we are happy to have visitors to our fair shores, but not these guys.

In their 150 years on these shores, they have made their way from Massachusetts to Canada,  down to Florida, then back up the middle to Wisconsin and beyond. It’s only a matter of time before they are literally everywhere there is food they can eat. They prefer hardwood trees, but in a pinch, will eat literally anything that grows.

On a purely person level, this means that I won’t go outside unless I must until the moths retreat. We haven’t had a really bad gypsy moth invasion in a few seasons. Probably the exceptionally cold, snowy winters kept them in check.

They are back. I’m so very sorry to see them again.


NOTES:

1: In case you’re interested, click on “gypsy moths” here or at the beginning of this post. It will take you to a link where you can find out more than you ever wanted to know about these nasty, hungry pests. Yuck.

2: Don’t forget the ants. Just because caterpillars have arrived, it does not imply the ants have departed. Have I mentioned how much I hate the bugs? This is not going to be my favorite summer.

3: Sometimes, life in the country is way overrated.

L.A. PUPPIES – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I went to Los Angeles to visit my daughter and she treated me to a unique and fun experience. It involved puppies and you can’t get much better than that as far as I’m concerned! We spend the afternoon taking three pit bull puppies to a shoot for a live podcast at a local digital media company.

5 puppies

My daughter, Sarah, volunteers for a local dog rescue group called Angel City Pit Bulls (Angelcitypits.org). Rescue groups pull dogs from shelters and place them in foster homes until they are adopted. This increases their chances of adoption because they are socialized and trained by the fosters and also have a chance to recover from the PTSD they suffer from being abused, abandoned, or caged in a shelter.

Sarah with puppies

Angel City is 100% volunteers and is very well-organized. They are also very hands on with their foster families and dogs. They cover all medical costs, pay for all food, and provide logistical help for the fosters. For example, they will get other volunteers to take foster dogs to vet appointments, obedience classes or just on walks when fosters can’t. Angel City also helps get the dogs adopted and follows up with adoptive families and their new pits.

Another part of Angel City’s mission is to counter the misinformation that has recently given pit bulls a bad reputation. Pits are actually smart, loyal, loving and eager to please. In fact, they are rated on a breed scale for aggressiveness in the middle range, between golden retrievers and yellow labs.

This shoot came about because one of Angel City’s fosters works at a digital media company that was looking for puppies for a live podcast. The foster knew that Angel City was working with a mother and her litter of eight puppies. It was a match made in heaven. Angel City uses themes to name its puppy litters and this was the Harry Potter Litter. So we had to go pick up Harry, Hermione and Dumbledore for their film debuts. The hard part was tearing ourselves away from the other adorable puppies!

We put the puppies into a crate and took them to the Awestruck TV office for the shoot. When we arrived, the office practically shut down as everyone crowded around to play with the puppies. The show is geared to Millennial Moms so the host and her actress guest were going to talk about taking care of young children and dogs. The guest even brought along her 2 ½ year old daughter to hang out with the puppies. The two women also talked about adopting puppies and specifically about Angel City. This was great PR for the group.

puppies in cage

When it was time for the live show, the puppies were ready for their close-ups. They played the classic “cute puppy” roles perfectly. Hermione found a giant stuffed raccoon and started dragging it around the room. Harry grabbed the raccoon too and they started an adorable tug of war. Meanwhile Dumbledore kept stepping in the water bowls and splashing water all around.

You can watch the podcast on Facebook

At the end of the day we were tired, but not as exhausted as the puppies!.

sleeping pups

DARK OF THE MOON – BEWARE OF LURKING BEASTS!

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE BEASTS WHO LURK WITHIN!


Last night it was the new (dark of the) moon … and Friday the 13th. Although the day passed without incident, as darkness fell, our dogs became scarce.

Not the usual cheerful countenance! What is he planning?

Not the usual cheerful countenance! What is he planning?

They are “free dogs,” having a door of their own through which they can come and go. They are hysterical, obsessive barkers, but fortunately, not as loud as some previous canines we have owned and I have more or less given up trying to coerce them into a less raucous lifestyle.

Gibbs is ready!

Gibbs is ready!

The thing that made this remarkable was that they didn’t come back when we enticingly rattled the biscuit box lid. They were not on the spot to collect a fresh biscuit! All three were gone quite a while and came back looking tired, but satisfied. What was going on?

They had been out there, changing into another form in the dark of the moon. I had underestimated their lurking weir-genes. Two weir-Scotties and a weir-Aussie … that’s lot of “weir and tear.” I urged them to come inside, but was only able to catch a few quick pictures.

Clearly the change held them it its grip.

Bonnie

Bonnie

This morning, of course, all evidence is gone and they are “merely” dogs again, looking to cadge a belly rub, a scratch behind the ears, and the ubiquitous treat. But we know the truth.

Do not underestimate your furry friends. When comes the dark of the moon … the darkness within may appear. Watch the woods, watch the glowing eyes. And keep the biscuits handy!

WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS

Bishop, our oldest dog … a gorgeous, shaggy Australian Shepherd … had a nasty infection in his foot. It had been there off and on for a long time. Mostly on, rarely off. I’d taken him to the vet several times and he’d had multiple rounds of high-powered oral antibiotics.

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But the infection was back. Again. With a vengeance. The antibiotics knocked it down temporarily, but never knocked it out. As soon as the prescription finished, a few days would pass and the paw would be red, raw, swollen, and obviously painful.

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I didn’t see the point in another trip to the vet or more antibiotics. The vet had no idea what was causing the infection or what would cure it.

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I was feeling that particular kind of helplessness one feels when a pet is sick — and not getting better. When you’ve done everything you can think to do … and it isn’t working. Being me, I had to do something, however ineffectual or lame, so I slathered his paw with over-the-counter triple action antibiotic cream. The stuff I keep in the house for my own and Garry’s cuts and bruises.

Bishop Almost Christmas

The next day, the paw looked nearly perfect. Most of purple mottling and swelling was gone. I slathered the paw again that morning and a second time in the evening. The next day, there was no sign of infection. Unable to believe I had somehow cured an antibiotic-resistant infection with an over-the-counter remedy, I kept applying the cream to his paw for another few days. Then, when there was no sign of returning infection, I stopped. And waited.

When the frame is completely full, your picture is by definition in the middle!

Three weeks later, his paw looks normal. No limping. He will let me hold the paw and examine it without any sign of discomfort. He had that infection for more than a year. I despaired of curing him, yet in less than a week, it’s gone. My son wonders if maybe, that was all Bishop needed in the first place. Antibiotic cream applied directly to the infection site rather than oral antibiotics. Hard to argue, considering the outcome.

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Talk about a Hail Mary pass, this was a classic. I did it because there was nothing else I could think of to do.  It worked. If it weren’t me, I wouldn’t believe it either.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Pets

cee's fun foto chall

ANNOYING THE DOGS – THE HUMAN-CANINE COVENANT

I read an article the other day. It announced (with great solemnity and employing many big words and more than a few pie charts) that dogs — our dogs, your dogs, pet dogs — don’t like being hugged. Not merely do they not like being hugged and display measurable levels of stress when hugged, but they really totally hate being kissed and nuzzled.

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The article suggest a pat on the head … and a treat … would be much more appreciated.

Not by Garry or me.

I know they don’t like being hugged. It’s obvious. They stiffen and put their ears back when we hug them. They also don’t like it when I grab their tail and refuse to let it go. That’s what all the growling and head butting is about. You can almost hear them sigh, wondering when you’ll be through with this nonsense and get on to the important stuff, namely distributing cookies.

I told Garry about the study. He said: “Tough. They’ll just have to cope. Because I like it.”

My thoughts exactly.

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Our dogs are disrespectful. Messy. Flagrantly disobedient. They are masters and mistresses of selective hearing. Do I believe for a single moment when we tell them to go out and they stand there, in front of the doggy door, ignoring us, that it’s because they (a) don’t understand what we want from them, or (b) cannot hear us? That if I stand in the doorway calling them to come in that they can’t hear me or figure out that I want them to come inside? Of COURSE they hear me. They know. They’re just playing us.

If they can hear the click when we remove the top of the biscuit container from the other end of the yard, they hear us just fine. It’s a power play.

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Since they persist in disrespecting us, they will have to deal with our periodic compulsion to give them hugs, nuzzling, and the occasional (“Yuck! Stop that you stupid human!”) kiss on their big moist noses. It’s the price they pay for sofa lounging, high-quality treats and silly humans getting down on the floor to play with them.

We put up with them? They will have to put up with us, too. That’s our deal.

It’s a Human v Canine Covenant. I’ve got their paw prints on file.