Pigeon Wars

Sometime during this summer, we put feeders out for the birds. Unbeknownst to us, the seeds we chose were delicacies for pigeons. Not too soon after, a little family of the birds made a nest on our roof.

Pigeons Nesting, Mating and Feeding Habits
Not our nest…ours was much more messy

I thought this was lovely news but my lovely hubby was concerned. Turns out, pigeon droppings have toxic chemicals in them that, if ingested, could kill dogs. Hubby didn’t want his baby hurt. When the pigeons stayed after their babies had left the nest, he realized these guys were settling in for the winter and set out to change things. The pigeons, he decided, had to go.

The only issue was that our new feathery visitors were quite happy with their new home. They had chosen a spot between two dormers that is sheltered from the rain and wind. They had constant food below and a beautiful view of lovely old trees to admire. They weren’t going anywhere.

Round 1 consisted of my hubby trying out banging pots and pans near the roof. It made our neighbours come out and stare but the pigeons didn’t even budge.

Having accomplished nothing with the banging but to look ridiculous, Hubby decided to bring out the heavy guns and bought a wind chimer. Apparently, the soothing sounds of wind chimes are incredibly irritating to pigeon ears and they fly away. Delighted with his cunning, Hubby installed the biggest wind chime he could find. Right under their nest.

ChimeOut wind chime silencer - large

The wind came and the chimes rang. And rang, and rang. And nothing happened anywhere in the neighbourhood. Day after day, Hubby peered up into the roof to find our unwanted guests snuggled together, as happy as could be.

Round 3 -Hubby decided to involve technology. He bought a machine that made a sound humans ears cannot detect but apparently scares birds. The contraption was massive, it took him an entire day to hook it up on our balcony and get it going but he did and he turned it on with delight.

Of course, we couldn’t hear anything but Ocean did. She started howling at the moon, the sun and pretty much every celestial object in the sky. I had a headache spring up every time I stepped in the house but, otherwise, nothing else seemed to change. Certainly not the pigeons, who were still snuggled together on our roof.

Round 4 – Hubby bought a plastic ball that lit up when thrown and stretched out his throwing arm. The idea was that he’d throw the ball close enough to the annoying birds that they would leave and never return. The problem with this plan was that my hubby has many talents but accuracy is not one of them. The ball landed on the neighbours’ yards, the street, our deck, our backyard but it didn’t come even close to the pigeons.

Seeing the crazed look in my husband’s eyes, even I took a turn at throwing the ball. I got pretty close. The birds did fly away…and returned as soon as the ball fell back to earth.

Pigeon Watch: Get to Know (and Love) Our Amazing City Birds | Audubon
I like my home

By this point in the war, it was winter. Every morning, on my way to work, I would look up as I left and see the two fluffy pigeons in their nook. Clearly winners of the war, they were not moving. I suggested to my hubby making them another home in our yard, one that would tempt them away from the roof, but my idea wasn’t a winner. If they stayed, so would their droppings and that would still endanger Ocean.

Hubby started asking for help. He discovered that a lot of people have had unwanted feathery guests stay with them for a while and that it is really hard to discourage such guests. Everyone had advice but it went from the shocking to the ridiculous; someone suggested getting a pet eagle, another wanted him to build an electric fence on our roof…the most consistent one was to shoot them. But my hubby is a gentle man and he didn’t want to hurt the birds.

Then, finally someone came up with the idea that he liked.

He was told that if he got an owl, a fake, plastic one, and installed it near the pigeons, it would scare away them away. Owls are natural predators of pigeons, the person explained, they’ll be terrified of the thing.

My hubby went out and found a massive, plastic owl that terrified everyone, even him. Before the day was out, the thing was hanging from the roof right next to the pigeon home. And, sure enough, the pigeons were gone.

He was ecstatic. “He was right,” Hubby grinned. “It terrifies them. They’ll never come back.”

Do Plastic Owls Scare Pigeons?

Volunteering…

I’m volunteering. It’s true. They were asking for people at work and I just couldn’t say no. It was for such a good cause…

The cause is a really good cause and we’re doing great work and making a huge difference. That’s all fantastic news and really really good. The problem is that volunteering takes about 2.5 to 3 hours after work and it is every blessed day.

Every. Day.

But it’s for a really, really good cause.

My hubby barely sees me during the week now, though he tries to be supportive of this cause. But, this is why I have been less prolific with my little blog lately.

The good news is that our goal is coming up soon and this volunteering should end.

The bad news is that my hubby tried to cook to help me…

These were once asparagus…

He was much more successful at purchasing Ocean a little gift…

Ocean is thinking about forgiving me from all the time I’ve been away. This new cushion also helped ease the tension…

Though her Fluffiness did only use it once…Apparently, it wasn’t the exact colour she liked…

Finally, to tempt me to stay home, my hubby has been sending me pictures of cute akita puppies…the idea being if we have two dogs, I’ll stay home more…

Ocean’s lesson

We lost River about a month and a bit ago. I didn’t post about it because, at first, it was simply too painful. Then, I didn’t want to post because this blog is about positive things. Now, finally, I think I have turned a corner.

And it’s all thanks to Ocean.

I came home from the vets that day, wrung out and still crying. Saying goodbye to River was awful, just god-awful. It tore my heart into pieces and I cried inconsolably for hours at the vets. I couldn’t see past my pain.

I opened the back door to let Ocean in mentally preparing myself for her reaction to the loss.

Ocean bounced into the house like a spring lamb. She bounced as if she had springs on her feet. She pounced on her toy and proceeded to throw it in the air, bouncing around the furniture with sheer joy.

I couldn’t believe it. Didn’t she miss her brother? Where was her sadness at this terrible situation? Didn’t she care?

Ocean cares. There is no doubt in her soft eyes or her gentle acts towards us that she loves us completely and unconditionally. She adores us and she loved River. But she also lives in the present, not the past. And that was something I had to learn from her.

Is it a house or a home?

They say it takes a year for a house to become a home. I had never heard that before we moved to our present house but it certainly didn’t feel like home when we walked in. As time passed and I walked around the place expecting the old owners to come in and kick us out, I wondered just how true that saying was.

Our previous house was a tiny, cozy thing, just right for two people. By contrast, this house is big and poky, with doors, hallways and stairs everywhere. When I first saw it, I thought it’d be the perfect house for witches to live in–if they used a gas fireplace and needed air conditioning.

It’s been a year and things have changed. This is where Ocean got really sick and we almost lost her. It’s where the fence failed and our dogs got to run freely down the neighbourhood. It’s where my hubby built a dog castle.

We’ve made some memories here.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s starting to feel like home.

Akitas on the run

I was working from home when something flashed by and I glanced out the window and there was River, outside the fence, striding among the flowers, having a wonderful time.

We’d like to think we’re responsible dog owners. When we moved in, we installed a six-foot fence along the perimeter of half the back of our house. We also put metal bars at the bottoms and tops of the fence and tied the fence to the bars with zip ties so that they could not dig their way out or bend the fence.

Six feet. With bars.

Well, they found a way.

I ran out with leashes in hand and found River pretty quickly. He had probably started to wonder where his next meal was going to come from and was heading home. Ocean was a blur in the distance. I called her, she wagged her tail happily and took off.

Cursing that it was me and not my husband who had found the dogs, I put River inside the house and ran back out towards Ocean. She wasn’t thinking about her next meal, Ocean loves nothing more than to run and she was doing just that.

I shudder to think what out poor neighbours must think as they see these two escape artists legging it around. Big fence but pretty useless. Don’t those people check on their dogs? We should call the pound, the dogs don’t even come when she calls them.

I have managed to get both hounds back. They are delighted with this morning’s activities and don’t show an ounce of shame between the pair of them. They can’t wait to see what’s in store for this afternoon. I, on the other hand, am exhausted.

Best time ever!

One scary night

It happened yesterday, just before supper. Ocean, our akita girl, wasn’t acting right. I thought maybe she was feeling sad or off and I started giving her kisses and petting her. That’s when I noticed how tight and bloated her stomach was.

And she was trembling.

Now, most people wouldn’t panic but I panic at the drop of a hat. Watching Ocean shift restlessly in what I now recognized as pain, made me want to call an ambulance over. Instead, I called my hubby and two minutes later, we were in the car on the way to the nearest emergency vet.

We got there with a dog that was quickly deteriorating. Thankfully, they saw her right away. Ocean was inside the clinic for a minute before the vet called us (we weren’t allowed inside–I asked) and told us the diagnosis: A twisted stomach. Either Ocean got an immediate operation or she would die.

We had to wait hours for the results of the operation but I’ll tell you right away. Ocean survived and is recovering. She’s still at the vet hospital because until she can eat solid food again and take her medicines by mouth and not an IV, she can’t leave. We are at home, relieved and looking at River with sharp eyes. If he so much as yawns too widely, I worry.

I don’t want to jinx our situation and celebrate too early her recovery but I did speak to the vet this morning and she said Ocean was doing much better. We’ll know better by the end of the day because complications can still happen but the nightmare of yesterday is over.

I know Ocean is only a dog, and I know she’s going to die but yesterday, while we were driving to the vet and she was shaking with pain, I was beside myself. And she would try to lean against my side to try and console me. It’s things like that that make me think: humans could learn so much from our doggies.

Morning kisses

We have morning kisses in our house. They don’t actually involve my husband and I. They involve…well, our doggies.

It started innocently enough, with me giving our two pooches kisses after they ate their breakfast. I was just hugging and petting them because they’re simply adorable and so loving that I couldn’t hold back the kisses.

Soon, though, it turned into something bigger. Ocean started ignoring her breakfast until she had received her ‘quota’ of kisses. And now, her bowl of food doesn’t have the attraction my smile and hands do. Her ears flatten sideways, her tail waves like crazy and she wiggles her entire body dancing her way towards me; thrilled at the prospect of those kisses.

It’s a mutual thing. I believe there is something therapeutic in seeing a little creature closing her eyes with bliss while I kiss her forehead and ask her how her night was. I whisper softly into her ears and tell her I love her and that she’s going to have a lovely day and I believe I get more out of it than she does.

My hubby, the therapist explained to me that witnessing something horrific is traumatic for those who see it. I believe the opposite is therapeutic. It certainly feels like it. When I kiss River’s flat, soft head and tell him that there is a sunny-filled day waiting for him outside and he closes his eyes and sighs, I can feel a part of me heal.

Best therapy in the world.

River’s troubles

River is our male akita…we have two of them. He’s larger than Ocean (our female), more easy going and definitely fluffier. We often say Ocean looks like a wolf while River looks like a bear. His fur is so thick, you can’t see his neck.

But lately River has been having fur troubles. He was losing it in areas and it was oddly greasy in others. Worse, he’s itchy. All the time.

This isn’t new. River has had fur troubles for a while. And he’s always been itchy. We’ve gone to vets about it, changed food, washed him all to no avail. Finally, one vet suggested testing him for allergies and Seborrhea dermatitis.

That’s when we found out that River has both Seborrhea and allergies. Severe allergies. In fact, he’s allergic to…well, to everything.

The treatment the vet suggested was overwhelming. We would have to get a serum made for him specially on a monthly basis. We would have to put him on special diet made of nothing but soy (the only protein he’s not allergic to). He’d have to take special anti-itch pills and go to the groomers on a regular basis to bathe in special anti-seborrhoea shampoo.

It had taken us quite a bit of money to find out what River had. The treatment the vet suggested was…well, it was expensive. Really expensive. The alternative was…well, saying goodbye.

When I heard about it, I cried and then tried to think what would be the best answer for my dog. Hubby had a fit. He cursed, threw his fist in the air and got on the phone. After a long conversation he finally got the vet to agree to an alternative solution. Steroids.

So, now River is on steroids. It’s not a perfect solution and we know that. But we’re not saying goodbye and we’re not selling our house to keep him alive. It’s a compromise.

I really hope he knows just how much we love him. I also hope that what little time we have left with him helps us be able to say goodbye when that time comes. Still, it’s pretty sucky news and that’s why I’ve hesitated about posting this. My humble little blog is supposed to be cheerful and positive.

So, here’s some positivity, thanks to Wicked Aww Pics.

And a doodle. Thanks to yours truly.

If you have a pool…

It so happens that we have a house with a pool. We’ve never had one before and had no idea what to expect. An odd thing happens when you have a pool. Suddenly, people come over; and, more often than not, they bring their little ones in tow.

When we lived in the country, we had few visitors and even less little children over. Now, we’re suddenly the destination of parents. By the horde.

Adults like the pool but it doesn’t have the attraction for them that it has for children. And, if the children are poor swimmers or just out of babyhood, their passion for the watery domain knows no bounds. This is where I get worried.

I don’t know if it’s because I was once a lifeguard or because I tend to worry, but something happens to me when l see little kids kicking underwater and only the top of their head showing. I need to haul them out or give them a flotation device or jump in and stand beside them. I need to know they are safe. And breathing air.

Overall, none of the parents we’ve had share my concern. They simply trust that their offspring will emerge from under the water and take their next breath; some go so far as to turn on their cells and tune the entire scenario out. I can’t do that. In fact, their easy-going attitude freaks me out.

I wish I had a trusty Newfoundlander by my side who would happily splash into the pool and save the soggy, struggling swimmers. But I don’t. What I have are two fluffy akitas who have no idea how to swim or interest in the pool.

Newfoundland Puppies: Everything You Need to Know
I might be useless in the pool but I’m cute and I know it.

She’s right. They’re really cute.