Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rose throws a wrench into the safety net

It is wonderful to have a bunch of dogs. Each has his speciality or role in the household. One likes to play. Another is up for any adventure. Still another, is serious about guarding the house and grounds. Then, you have the cuddler.

Alas, with this gang of canine diversity comes a dark side. Example. Some of you may recall last fall, Lester underwent spinal disc repair. The bulged disc was removed and Lester made a fabulous recovery. But we've had to make some changes to keep Lester from blowing another disc.

The freedom he enjoyed for the past twelve years to jump up and down on the furniture has been terminated. Jumping up isn't so much the problem, you see. It's the jumping down. The motion of a dog's spine during the act of landing from a height is kind of like the beads on a necklace clanging against each other. Only the beads are Lester's discs and the necklace string is his spinal cord.

Thus, there are some new rules around here. And accompanying those rules is a physical barrier to punctuate the point. So Lester can be kept safe from clanging his beads, a gate has been put up between the dining and living rooms. The dining room has no sofa, stuffed chair, or ottoman to jump on, so Lester is holed up in there with a cozy blanket under the dining table.

Meanwhile, the rest of the pack can lounge on the furniture in the adjoining room. The other dogs didn't seem to flaunt their continued furniture privileges and Lester does not whine about it, even though he is wont to whine when dissatisfied.

Things went fine for weeks. But then a certain mixed breed of uncertain lineage (other than a theoretical certainty that there is some nosy bossy ever active TERRIER in there) named Rose, figured out how to penetrate the barrier. Here's the thing, Rose likes to move around the house. She keeps busy- up the stairs to mess up the bedspread. Then back down the stairs to mess up the pillows on the love seat. Next, down to the basement to mess up the blanket in her crate. These are the sorts of things on Rose's daily agenda. So clearly, this gate cramped her style. Never mind that the gate represents saving Lester's life, if you want to get all dramatic about it - and we do. Rose sees it differently. To Rose the gate represents oppression. "Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall."

Motivated by an innate need for freedom, Rose addressed this impediment. Pretty soon, Rose was able to move the barrier just enough to stroll through. Since Lester is smaller than Rose, he figured out that he could follow suit. All of a sudden, there is Lester sitting on the ottoman! Alarm! If he is up there, he'll eventually jump down! Clanging disc beads!

Enter THO (husband/The Handsome One) and some hardware. Fittingly enough, the metal thingies are called "No nosing hardware for gate". So now, the unit doesn't look as pretty as the catalogue version of Mahogany Free Standing Dog Gate, what with the hook and all, but the barrier is secure. At least until Rose figures out how to rappel.

That's right. The intense little black dog with a touch of gray is none other than Rose.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fun Stuff

Us critters here at the Bad Dog Ranch live in Oakland County, Michigan. So we'd thought we'd pass along information about some fun stuff going on in our area.

(then scroll all the way down, if you dare)


Oakland County Parks Upcoming Dog Programs and Events

A 2011 Annual Vehicle Permit or daily pass is required for park entry.
For more information contact Laurie Stasiak at 248.858.4929 or

March 6, Dog Park Etiquette, Red Oaks Dog Park 1-2:30 p.m.
Dogs may attend but must be on a 6 ft. leash.
Learn tips to help you and your dog get the most out of your dog park experience.
This 90 minute discussion will be led by Joanie Toole, Administrative Supervisor for the Oakland County Animal Control Division and the Oakland Pet Adoption Center.
The Oakland Pet Adoption Center has been aiding animals by providing shelter and care while trying to find them new, loving homes since 1980. The Oakland Pet Adoption Center is also a “no kill” shelter and works to find homes for the 10,000 animals they take in every year. Visit them at or call 248.391.4100.

March 12, Canines, Coffee and Conversation, Lyon Oaks Dog Park 9-11:00 a.m.
Enjoy free coffee, treats and conversation with canines and friends!

April 9, Canines, Coffee and Conversation, Red Oaks Dog Park 9-11:00 a.m.
Enjoy free coffee, treats and conversation with canines and friends!

May 7, Canines, Coffee and Conversation, Orion Oaks Dog Park 9-11:00 a.m
Enjoy free coffee, treats and conversation with canines and friends!

May 7, Rattlesnake Recognition for Dog Owners, Orion Oaks Dog Park 11- 1:30 p.m.
Michigan's only venomous snake, and a species of special concern, the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake will be featured at an informal expo at the Orion Oaks Dog Park. Live snakes and other displays will help everyone identify this protected reptile. Dog owners will learn how to respond if they encounter a Massasauga Rattlesnake on the trail.

May 14, FidoFest, Red Oaks Dog Park 12-4:00 p.m.
Pet Expo featuring vendors, demonstrations and activity.

June 11, Canines, Coffee and Conversation, Lyon Oaks Dog Park 9-11:00 a.m.
July 2, Patriotic Pooches, Orion Oaks Dog Park
July 9, Canines, Coffee and Conversation, Red Oaks Dog Park 9-11:00 a.m.
July 31, Yappy Days Pet Expo, Orion Oaks Dog Park
Aug 6, Canines, Coffee and Conversation, Orion Oaks Dog Park 9-11:00 a.m.
September 10, Canines, Coffee and Conversation, Lyon Oaks Dog Park 9-11:00 a.m.
September 10, Dog Swim, Waterford Oaks – Pre-registration required
September 11, Dog Swim, Red Oaks – Pre-registration required
September 17, Rattlesnake Recognition for Dog Owners, Lyon Oaks 11- 1:30 p.m.
October 8, Canines, Coffee and Conversation, Red Oaks Dog Park 9-11:00 a.m.
October 15, Doggie Tailgating, Orion Oaks
October 22, Howl-o-ween, Lyon Oaks Dog Park 12-4:00 p.m.
November 5, Canines, Coffee and Conversation, Orion Oaks Dog Park 9-11:00 a.m.
December 10, Canines, Coffee and Conversation, Lyon Oaks Dog Park 9-11:00 a.m.

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Wondering why we're called Bad Dog Ranch?

This is just one reason.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Snowy Sounds

A couple days ago approximately eight inches of snow fell here in southeast Michigan. That's enough snow to reasonably call a Snow Day. And since all it takes these days to call a Snow Day is the mere threat of eight inches of snow, actually receiving eight inches of snow gave the kids a Snow Day. So, when will they get out for summer? Around August 1st? But never mind the kids. They were all still in bed when Lois and I hit the driveway.

You may wonder, when does a dog walker walk her own dog? Well, this dog walker walks her dog first thing in the morning. Which explains why Lois and I were digging a path from the back door to the gate in the Monday morning dark. Once I dug the snow out surrounding the gate allowing exit from the backyard, I figured I might as well dig a path for my husband, The Handsome One's truck. My vehicle was safely tucked in the garage but the truck sat in the driveway covered with a thick pristine sparkly white. By the time I reached the truck's rear view mirror, I was on a roll so I kept shovelling towards the porch. (Fun fact: I am a back door gal. THO is a front door guy. Just goes to show- opposites attract.)

As I labored with the shovel, all around me was the amazing sound of snow. The stillness of it. The peaceful perfection of it. Somehow it mutes ordinary sound while at the same time, acoustically enhances it. The indistinct drone of a neighbor's voice over grass becomes clearly audible words over snow.

Two doors down a man ran a snow blower. Three doors down in the other direction that woman who never makes eye contact scurried around her little car. The snow blower was silent for a minute or two. Then like a bell, a single word exploded through the morning. "F*ck!" This was followed by silence and more of that calm stillness. Then the snow blower man took up a shovel and steady rhythmic scraping against concrete punctuated the calm.

This brings to mind other snowy sounds of note: "shrunch shrunch" is the sound of boots on packed snow at twenty degrees. "Shrork shork" is the sound boots make when it is ten degrees. At thirty-three degrees, a snowball striking a big dog's flank goes, "pthumptf".

Lois waited patiently while I shovelled. She stood inside the gate watching me and watching for the rabbit that seems to live under the tree stump near the driveway. We see the rabbit more often in winter. His gray-brown fur is easy to spot against a white back drop. When he moves through the snow the sound is a faint "zsit zsitp".

More on the bunny, later.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

King Zack

Zacharia is twenty-two years old. In snake years, that's senior citizen. Snakes aren't gifted with keen eyesight, even so, for the past few years, let's just say Zack has needed glasses. Only yesterday he tried to eat his own tail. Seriously.

Kingsnakes, like Zacharia, are what you might call "easy keepers". They are mellow enough to tolerate, maybe even enjoy, handling. As long as you maintain temperature in the range of 76 to 85 degrees, provide water, a place to hide, some light and some food, the snake should do well.

Kingsnakes are of the Family Colubridae. This is the largest of the snake families (subdivision of the suborder Serpentes). Colubridaes are mostly harmless snakes, that is, not very many are venomous or are likely to hurt you.

The group is quite varied to include burrowing snakes, constrictors, nocturnals, aquatics and so on. These snakes are considered "common" or "typical" in their snakeness. They are slender bodied and agile. (In contrast, the Boa Constrictor and the Anaconda are of the Family Boidae. These snakes are thicker in build and generally much longer in length.)

Kingsnakes are medium sized, three to six feet in length. The King designation is because of the not so insignificant fact that Kingsnakes are tough. They can, and do, overpower and eat Rattlesnakes.

The Kingsnake is a constrictor, which means they kill their prey by wrapping their body around the quarry and squeezing. The constriction doesn't crush the animal but with slow and steady pressure makes it impossible for the prey to expand their lungs to breathe. This of course, causes death. Then the snake swallows the victim whole.

Snakes are lovely pets: low maintenance, attractive, a joy to hold- literally. No, snakes are not slimy (unless it's an Anaconda fresh from a swim and only a crazy person would keep a pet snake big enough to eat you).

Once a Kingsnake is accustomed to being handled he usually is gentle and enchanting. When handled, Zacharia moves slowly along and coils around my hand or arm, his strength and beauty on display. The only time Zack doesn't appreciate being handled is just after he eats, mostly because he is sort of lumpy after swallowing five mice.

Because Zacharia was captive born, he's never had to hunt down and constrict critters for his meals. As a baby snake, he was fed dead baby mice. As he grew, the size of the rodent meal grew too. Zack the adolescent snake, ate baby rat. As an adult, he eats adult mice, five at a time about once a month.
How do you know when he's hungry? He stops pooping. Honestly. It takes some weeks for a snake to digest. And no, I don't catch mice in my garage and slit their little throats to feed my snake. It's all very civilized. Frozen mice are available for purchase at the local pet store. When it's time to feed, the mice sit in a pretty bowl till they thaw out. Then I drop them into Zack's cage and hang around till he's swallowed all the mice to be sure he doesn't accidentally swallow his own tail.

Recommended reading:
"The General Care and Maintenance of Common Kingsnakes" by David Perlowin
"The Book of Snakes" by Thomas Leetz

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Lurchers are mixed breed dogs. They consist of a sight hound crossed with another breed or breeds, most commonly Herding or Terrier types. Thus you may find a Greyhound/Collie or an Irish Wolfhound/Old English Sheepdog combo. Or maybe a Whippet and a Norfolk Terrier or a Saluki and a Norwich Terrier. The possible combinations are mind boggling!

The dictionary definition: lurcher (LUR cher) noun
-British a crossbred dog used by poachers
-Archaic a sneak thief

Lurchers first appeared in the British Isles. Back in medieval days, laws prohibited commoners from owning purebred dogs. Since they needed dogs to assist in hunting, commoners developed the Lurcher.

Many Lurchers helped their owners to poach game such as hares and rabbits (and perhaps the king's herd of deer). The penalty for poaching was severe. So naturally a fast dog was especially handy.

Bands of Gypsies made use of Lurchers but some considered only the short haired Lurcher acceptable as that indicated a predominance of Greyhound blood. The overly hairy dogs were deemed "lesser" due to a belief that they lacked the speed and endurance that the Greyhound based Lurcher possessed.

Today's Lurchers are typically bred by mating Lurchers to Lurchers. Coursing is illegal now in many countries including England and Scotland. But Coursing Clubs remain active elsewhere where Lurchers are big winners in coursing events. When not enjoying a good run, modern Lurchers enjoy couch time with their people.

Not surprisingly, there is no breed standard for the Lurcher. Personality, coat type, size and such will vary widely based on what breeds are in the mix. It's a good bet however, that a Lurcher will be inclined to chase critters he sees. Also, the sweet gentleness of the average sight hound is bound to be present, as is lankiness and a deep chest with big lung capacity vital for heavy duty running.

For more information on Lurchers and some cool photos and artwork, visit:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Groundhog Day Cancelled Due to Snow

In a shining display of stunning pointlessness, we regret the possible cancellation of Groundhog Day. It snowed, you see. Even though it is winter and all, we must not venture out there. Maybe not even for a silly routine like the annual Groundhog Show.

Groundhog P. Phil made the following statement:

Look folks, this whole predicting with a shadow stuff got tedious long ago. I disliked being trotted out for this useless exhibition the moment it first happened to me.

Just flip a coin, will ya?