Monday, April 26, 2010

Suburban Rodents

It has been a very long time since rats carrying diseased fleas spread the Black Death. Still, the prejudice against rats and other rodents remains strong. Case in point, my neighbor. Here in my little Royal Oak neighborhood, we share fences. Though I try to gain as much privacy as possible by strategically placing shrubs and vines, there is no denying that my neighbor's space is smack up next to mine.

Thanks to this brutal fact, I am painfully aware of my neighbor's predilection for murdering local rodents. Now, mice or rats in the house and garage are not welcome by even the most tender hearted of animal lovers. But, get this, my neighbor puts rat and mouse traps in his garden and in his flower beds.

Did you know, a squirrel doesn't die right away when he breaks his neck in a rat trap? I do. So does my neighbor, and he keeps setting traps in his garden and in his flower beds.

You tell me, who's the rat?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Yuck, my dog is eating poop!

Eating excrement, or coprophagy, is a fairly common problem. The theories as to why dogs eat poop range from diet deficiencies to being hungry to boredom. Bottom line is, if your dog is eating poop you want him to stop.

Some say sprinkle hot sauce or some other substance on the poop to make it less attractive. That's fine if you want to, but since you're already there at the poop site, how about picking it up so it is not available to eat?

Meanwhile, watch your dog when he has opportunities to eat poop. Catch him about to eat it and stop him! Tell him NO or startle him in some other way before he takes a bite. Then remove the poop. Keep monitoring him.

Eventually the dog will stop eating poop, just like he stopped other behaviors after you taught him those behaviors were unacceptable.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Rescuing vs giving back

We hear a lot about "giving back". It appears to be in fashion, or better said, a fashion imparitive.

Resuing a dog is a valid option for many people. Sadly, what has happened, starting probably with the political correctness nonsense, is the all too common obnoxiousness of those doing good.

"Let me tell you about my dog" has become "let me tell you what a great person I am." What ever happened to quietly giving to charity or doing a good thing, like rescuing a dog, because you want to do a good thing, not so you can brag about doing a good thing?

Learn more about dog breeds to help decide what breed is the best fit for your family. One place to start:

Monday, April 5, 2010

Bird food

If your pet birds are like mine, they usually leave some uneaten seed in the bowl every day. Don't throw it away. Add the leftover seed to your wild bird feeder outside. House finches and zebra finches can certainly eat the same seed. And really, is a Cardinal or Pigeon going to reject a seed because it is marketed for a Cockatoo?!

For more information on finches:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Neighbor Possum

I was busy with yard work but couldn’t help but notice the neighbor standing at the back fence. This is not a let’s chat style neighbor, in fact she avoids eye contact so we rarely speak at all. But now there she was. I waved a hello. She didn’t respond. She just stared. I moved closer and realized she was staring down. “Hi,” I said. “Anything wrong?”
She looked up vacantly. “There’s a possum,” she said.
Sure enough, there was an opossum lying motionless beside the base of the concrete birdbath situated near the fence that we shared.
“I don’t know what to do,” she said, gesturing to the south. “I’m waiting for my neighbor to come over.”
Ah, the neighbor to the south. I don’t share a fence with the neighbor to the south of Possum Gal but I am aware of this neighbor. We have never been formally introduced but I call her Big Mouth. She yells, frequently and at length. The first few times, I wondered if she needed help. Eventually it was clear that she was just yelling; yelling at her dog, yelling at her husband, yelling at the birds in the trees.
So there we stood and waited for Big Mouth and stared at the motionless opossum. Soon Big Mouth was standing there with us. We all agreed that it was an opossum and it was not moving. One of them said it might be dead. I suggested we leave it alone and tomorrow if it’s still there we’ll know its dead. I even volunteered to bury it if it turned out to be dead. We stared at the opossum some more.
I said, “maybe he’s, you know, playing possum. “
They gave me a blank look. It was difficult not to laugh.
“We ought to do something, “ Big Mouth said.
“Well,” I said, “if he is playing possum and we leave him alone, he’ll just leave.”
Big Mouth looked at me like I was a stupid and said, “but he could bite a child!”
“Possoms aren’t really known for being aggressive,” I said.
“We don’t know that!” Big Mouth said.
Yes, I could see the headlines now, Crazed possum on rampage in Oakland county neighborhood! Children in danger! Rogue killer possum strikes again! Citizens abandoning their homes!
“Look,” I said. “He’s a wild animal. And we shouldn’t mess around with a wild animal. But dangerous? Highly unlikely. We should simply leave him be.”
Big Mouth glared at me. Then she said to Possum Gal, “we should call someone.”
Yep, good idea, call someone. Try the neighbor to the north, maybe you’ll get the answer you want.
“Good luck,” I said, and went back to my yard work.
Good thing it wasn’t a raccoon, he’d probably have a shiv.