Pamwla Wetterman

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bailey’s Favorite Furry Friends

If you tuned in last time, you already know how much Bailey loves squirrels. If anyone says the word Squirrel within her hearing distance, her response is immediate and dramatic. As her barking accelerates, her movement towards the dog-door matches the NASCAR green-flag finish. At that moment, she has one objective-get through the back door and catch her prey before he gets away. If you are standing in the path of an eighty-five pound lab, run! Her intent is not to knock you down, but at the speed she travels, it could happen.

Bailey was also mesmerized by all the cute bunnies around our former subdivision. I am of the opinion that the squirrels collaborated with the bunnies. My theory is that they shared intelligence about predators in the area. The squirrel, able to perform research from overhead, identified the risks of various pets and advised the bunnies. Once they had exposed the weaknesses, they identified who to torment and who to ignore.

Naturally, as a beta dog, Bailey was no risk and too much fun to ignore. The bunnies quickly surmised that sitting quietly in the grass just beyond the fenced back yard, would drive Bailey crazy. Their eyes penetrated her stare. They made no movement. Bailey barked, jumped up and down frantically and barked some more.

One day, when we were at work, she continued this insistent barking for over thirty minutes. When we arrived home at the end of the day, a very colorful note was tucked into our door. A new neighbor, who worked evenings, had found it impossible to sleep.

His note read: 
The Wettermans-
Not being easily moved to anger, today I wanted to kill your dog. Shut her up [, please and let me sleep. @%*@$*&^%$#
Your new friend,

Not wanting to loose either our beloved Bailey or our cranky over tired neighbor, we Googled methods to prevent barking.  Many of the choices were drastic and cruel. After dialoging about several, we hopped into the car and drove to the pet store. They recommended a bark collar. This humane collar had a nine volt battery that jolted the larynx if the dog went into consistent barking. One bark or two would not result in a shock. But with repeated barking, ouch. They assured us that most dogs gave up the pesky long-term barking after one or two shocks. So Bailey’ was introduced to her new collar.

Being of great intelligence, Bailey grew cautious of her barking activities. She would jump and bark then stop and wait. If no shock struck her, she jumped and barked once again. Her spirit never waned. She learned to sit and stare back at the bunnies as they tried to tease her into action. After all, she was no dummy. And if the bunny ever entered her yard, the chase would be on. Maybe some day she would catch a squirrel or bunny. But in the meantime, she could watch and learn their ways.

Be sure to come by next time for more Bailey adventures.

Considering a new family pet? Please check into getting a rescue lab. They are wonderful dogs and seem to know you did something very special for them. Labs give back lots and lots of love.

Monday, February 13, 2012

It’s in Their Blood

Welcome back. Bailey says “Hello.”

Hunting is in Bailey’s blood. Her father was a champion field lab. His boxy shaped body, squared facial structure, and love of fetching his master’s fowl, made him the perfect partner for hunting. Add in the ability to jump into a pond of cold water and the desire to please, labs and hunters go together like kids and candy.

Shortly after moving into our new home, Bailey discovered her prey of choice…squirrels. Those of you, who have experience with the cunning squirrel, know they are intellectual, perceptive, and difficult to catch. This, however, did not deter Bailey.
Her morning routine began as she sat on the screened in back porch surveying her Ponderosa. The squirrel crossed the yard on high, jumping from tree to tree without touching the ground. Bailey watched and waited. The crafty squirrel perched on a lower branch, just above Bailey’s head and chattered as if to say, “You’re too slow and dumb to catch me.” 

Not being one to ever ignore a direct challenge, Bailey jumped and jumped, barked and barked, and did her best to end the game. Then the squirrel upped the challenge. He jumped from the low hanging branch and landed on our six-foot privacy fence. The squirrel’s taunting chatter indicated full control of sweet gullible Bailey.

As the squirrel tired of the game, he moved on to a higher calling, stealing birdseed hanging on a Sheppard’s hook in the middle of our yard. Being a trained high wire artist, the squirrel leaped from a low hanging tree branch, landed on the ground in front of the hook, and shimmed up the one inch round metal pole supporting the birdseed hanger. He secured his feet on the hook, slowly dropped his head towards the ground, and hung upside down from the pole to eat the birdseed.

Not to be out foxed, Bailey raced towards the feeder, her ears cocked, her tail in high flag mode, and her bark engaged.  Sadly, her jump-and-jump technique failed again. But as with any true lab, she continued to fuss at the intruder until he finished eating and fled from the scene of the crime. Once he was gone, Bailey returned to the back porch for a much needed nap.

As she slept, her feet flailed in running motion as if reliving her adventure and preparing for her next face to face with that pesky squirrel.

Next time we will learn more about the pros and cons of a lab’s ability to persistently bark.

Considering a new family pet? Please check into getting a rescue lab. They are wonderful dogs and seem to know you did something very special for them. Labs give back lots and lots of love.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sounds of a Tree Falling In The Forest

Don’t you just love receiving all those annual Christmas letters? If each of us held a pole based on the news shared by friends and family , these letters would clearly show that everyone, except you, is having the most wonderful life, the best children, and nothing but success. Right!

With an empty nest, we’d downsized our lifestyle, designed and built our dream home, and settled into our careers with a zest.

With the introduction of Baily into our world, we were brought to the reality that a backyard full of flower beds and no room to run created potential repair and frustration weekly. After building fences, adding a stone patio, and becoming more realistic with our expectations, we adjusted to our wonderful sweet Miss. Bailey. If one had a lab, one should understand their needs. Her gifts to us were worth the change in our lives.

Life is full of lemons. We all face unexpected challenges which allow us to grow, become more resourceful, and learn to be thankful for every day. Our challenge had grown.  

In the midst of a difficult family divorce and custody battle, Bill and I became the guardians of our nine year old grandson. He presented many blessings and opportunities for us. He adjusted quickly into our family routine. Bailey became his best companion. 

They developed a bond only a boy and his dog would understand. They went everywhere together. He took her biking, walking, and taught her to play ball. She learned how to fish in the creek. As he used his fishing pole; she used her paws and grabbed the fish in her mouth. It was as if when he had an idea, she read his mind, and they accomplished much.

Bill and I decided to move into a more kid friendly home. We built a larger home on a bigger lot. Our new home was surrounded by a forest of trees. Our new landscape concept was the natural look. With one small flowerbed in the back, close to the screened in porch, the rest of the property left open for lab and boy adventures.

Our treed area, left natural, included long hanging vines from the trees. It added that untouched feel and became an interesting challenge for our grandson. He desired to swing from the vines like Tarzan, and often practiced this action for hours. Bailey watched him as she sat in the yard looking for squirrels and rabbits. She loved to chase those furry guests.

One day in the Spring, I glanced out the backdoor window to see what new game the two had concocted. Our grandson had grabbed onto a long vine hanging from a fifty foot tree along our fence line. His focus, pull down that vine. He took hold of it, crouched down, and started to tug. To my amazement, Bailey trotted up behind him, put the vine in her mouth, crouched down as if to mimic his movements, and also gave the vine several tugs. They tugged in unison.

The vision was hilarious. I watched in amazement. Then I saw it happen. The tugging of the two mischievous friends produced a loud cracking sound.  The two turned and ran. The tree began to fall. They ran and ran. I could do noting but watch in horror. The fall of the tree was broken by our wood rail fence. The instigators, had reached a part of the yard where only the tip of the tree branches reached. They saw they were unscathed and jumped and barked in celebration. Then silence came as they realized they had pulled down a huge tree, broken the fence, and had to confess.  If it hadn’t been so scary, it would have been too funny. They both looked as if they had defeated a dangerous foe.

They were safe, the fence repairable, and the tree old and rotten. Just one day in the life of Bailey. Building memories for us all, she is one great gal.

If you are considering a new family pet, please adopt a rescue. They are wonderful dogs and seem to know you did something special for them.

Next time, come by and hear about Bailey’s adventures with squirrels and rabbits.