Dogs, Racoons and Rural living

remote_harbourLiving in a rural area as I do means living in the vicinity/proximity of wildlife.  We have deer, turkeys, rats, raccoons, snakes  and even a mountain lion has been sighted on occasion.   My dogs for the most part stay reasonably close by but once they get the scent for something to chase -well the chase is on!  At night time I have lights for them to wear.  Super bright led lights.  Sky my Australian Shepherd wears the red lights and Zulu the green lights so I can easily tell them apart when they are running in the dark.

Last Tuesday when I got home from work at about 11pm after a double shift I had plans to take the pups for a brief walk around our marina.  Mostly just over to the beach but not too far from my dock.

We had barely started our walk when Zulu, my 48lb Catahoula took off and ran all the way up to the habour master’s house.  I could see his green lights from his collar going crazy as if he was in a fight with something (wild animal) but without the noise from his adversary.

I ran to his aid.  (This is the first time I have attempted running since my ankle tendon replacement surgery last July – and I mentally took note of this and mentally said a short prayer for both myself and the pup).  I was terrified that he was being injured by his prey which I could only assume to be the most common of our night critters, the raccoon.

Anyone who has encountered the cute little raccoon up close knows that there cuteness is generally racoon (1)accompanied by a ferocious claw and a temperament that is not prone to surrender.  They are vicious animals in the up close and personal!  This does not mean that I wish harm on the raccoon -only that that their cuteness must be accompanied by a wariness for their viciousness.

Zulu by nature is a hunting/prey driven animal.  He is almost 5 years old now and has become far more of a ‘home-body’ than even me.  He used to be gone for hours in his hunting explorations but now he comes almost instantly when called, and stays closer to home than my Australian Shepherd (known for her desire to be invisibly underfoot – like in your blind-spot-step-on-the-poor-dog zone!!) Zulu was right in the middle of this audible altercation and not backing down and I was scared and running ! 

I came upon Zulu and his foe.  They were in open space right under me.  I was yelling at Zulu to drop the raccoon and simultaneously trying to kick the racoon – they were really right in the middle of the drive and literally under foot.  Reason set in with me and I realised that the only sounds of distress were coming from zuluthe raccoon.  Ideally I would have loved for both animals to walk away unharmed but in this circumstance I had to root for Zulu and pray he would be ok.  He apprantly had the raccoon in a death grip and the two of them circled and circled through the brush and up and down a small crest of hill.  The harbour masters’ son, Mark, heard our calls of distress -(mostly mine) but the dog’s & raccoon’s as well and came out with a shotgun in hand.  He warned me that it would be loud but there was really nothing to be done until Zulu released the raccoon and that didn’t happen until Zulu felt he had won.

Mark yelled at Zulu to get out of the way and then put the raccoon out of his misery.  I don’t think either Mark or myself had any pleasure or desire to see any living being having to be shot but as the circumstances warranted this deemed the only humane solution and I do thank Mark for being there and helping to end the altercation.

I was so grateful that my other dog Sky, my Australian Shepherd did not attempt to go to Zulu’s aid or get involved.  After it was all said and done the three of us, Zulu, Sky & myself headed back home.  Zulu, as if another day in the life and nothing had happened stopped to relieve himself in a matter of fact way.  I personally was rather shaken up and in disbelief.

Ever since that day I have found a way to have the pups on leash after about 6 pm.  It gets dark around 430 or 5 pm.  I really don’t want to be in this situation with either of my dogs again and was an idiot for not having had them on leash at the time.  Lights or not raccoons are probably our most dangerous foe in the immediate neighbourhood.  Yes there is the mountain lion we have seen and the occasional coyote over the years but in all honesty the most viable threat in the immediate vicinity and regular appearance would be the raccoon.  As sorry as I am to see a life lost in the situation (the raccoon’s) I remain grateful that it was small enough (about 10-15lbs) for Zulu to be the victor in this instance.

2015-01-12 17.10.17-2We live in a remote area where wildlife, humans and pets must find ways to coexist.  The raccoons and the rats eat the trash in the outside trash cans and the dogs keep the boundaries defined.  The humans remind the dogs that there are boundaries and the dogs remind the humans that there are wildlife.  We all have a purpose and a meaning – for today I am just grateful Zulu was the winner and is an especially good rat hunter and keeping those rodents off the docks and at bay!

Photo 101: Day Seventeen: Glass, Squared

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Incorporate glass in today’s image: a window, a mirror, a wine glass, sunglasses, or something else. It doesn’t matter what form the glass takes.

Today’s Tip: We’ve practiced shooting at different angles and from unique POVs. How can you interact with glass to create an interesting photo?

  • Look through.
  • Look between.
  • Find an unconventional surface.
  • Experiment with your flash both on and off.

Day Five: Solitude & the “Rule of Thirds”

Instructions: Capture a snapshot that conveys the state of being alone
Today’s Tip
framing with the ‘Rule of thirds’

solitude
Meditating/stretching solitude

My neighbour meditates daily and she also likes to stretch by lying on her back with legs against the wall.  It really is a great stretch if you have the wall space!  I noticed her stretching/meditating today and thought it would be a perfect photo for the solitude assignment.  I did not get the thirds framing thing to work out quite right but will keep that in mind more for future assignments.  She does know I am sharing this photo.  And yes I did add a blur to part of the photo outside of the desired focus.

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Home: Harmony Of Mind Expressed

Day 1 of Photo101 -another excursion into attempts to blog daily only this time with photos!  Today’s assignment:  What does home look like or mean to you? Share an image in a new post.

When I think of Home I think of it representing the acronym, Harmony Of Mind Expresed.  There is a saying, home is where the heart is!  For me, home represents beauty, harmony, peace and love.  Living in a community of friends, surrounded by the beauty of the ocean, nature and the most incredible sunsets.  I am so grateful to have this harmony as a part of my life ….

Home_harbour

Community lost without swift response (Daily prompt use it or lose it)

Use It or Lose It

Communities are seeming like a lost art in the hustle and bustle of daily life in this ‘civilised world’.

How civilised are we if we don’t know our neighbours. Do you know yours?

We need one another all the time but sometimes it is only in an emergency when we truly feel and recognise the neighbourly love and care that could be felt every day.

harbor_ovrlkI’m grateful to live in a close nit community where we do know and care about one another on a daily basis. We have no security here, no emergency services within close reach. We do have one another and the care and compassion and challenges of this knowledge.

Use it or lose it is the subject of this daily prompt and I for one find that it relates to using or losing our sense of community. Love is meant to be shared and if we don’t use and express the love and caring for our neighbours and neighbourhood before you know it though we have people living next door we have lost our real neighbours and community.

It was a quiet night. Nothing out of the ordinary. I was at my computer working on some sort of mindless project or perhaps a mindful project… then I thought I heard the distinct sound of two cats at each others throats wailing their dominance. It was high pitched and brief but enough of a commotion in our quiet harbour community for me to go to my door and look out and listen … nothing. Nothing at all. My neighbour Ike in his boat berthed next to mine looked out at the same time and we commented that we had heard this commotion and then went back to our respective activities.

308266850_2404aab0e7_oWithin moments -we both heard it again. My view faced my neighbour, Ike so I was looking at one half of the harbour and his view looked the opposite way towards me and faced the other half of the harbour. This time the high pitched call remained long enough for us to hear it while we had our heads outside. Ike’s view suddenly brought perspective. He could see a few docks over and saw the flames erupting into the air as one of our neighbours floating homes was clearly on fire.

Ike yelled to me fire and we both immediately dropped what we were doing and raced out of our boats and over to the dock where the flames were engulfing the floating home. Seems at least 10 of us in the harbour had risen to the occasion and we were all scrambling to hook up hoses and get in position to battle the fire down. The emergency services had been called and were on their way but we are in a remote area and know that our first defense was in one another. I think we all felt the sense of emergency and the very real urgency. Wooden boats and docks are no match for an out of control fire so we could not let this fire get out of control.

I don’t think I ever really felt that we might never come back form this if not handled professionally and swiftly.  Somehow we are survivors out here so that frame of thought isn’t in the cards!

The fire had been started by a chimney fire and the residents of the house hadn’t even realised they were on fire till all the commotion began. They were still inside trying to round up their animals. My neighbour, Ike, had grabbed a few fire extinguishers from the dock and was inside the house dousing the flames at the source. Meanwhile our harbour master and owner Eric, had climbed up on the roof of the house and we had passed hoses to him so he could get the fire out from outside and keep it from spreading. With the team work on hand the fire was extinguished within probably 20 minutes though I think for all of us it felt more like a couple of hours.

firefighters2The fire department showed up in a timely manner considering our location and took over with the investigation and ensuring no further sparks etc. The fire department was there for a couple of hours probably but there were no more flames to extinguish and all was safe now.

The events related are true and took place about 12 years ago .. in 2002 or 2003

Time to see the glass ‘half-full’ not ‘half-empty’

Is the glass half full -or half-empty?  Are people generally good -or bad? …

img_half_full_glass_2I like to think people are honest, and by nature, good.  I’ve certainly had my share of experiences that could jade that outlook but have found that my own state of thought is in a much better place if I stick to my conviction that people are generally and genuinely good.

One of my neighbours (I’ll call him Dan) is one of those truly good people.   You can ask him for help or for a favour and not once does he ask why or bat an eye.  He is always willing and able to help. Unfortunately, Dan seems to have allowed life to cloud his outlook to some degree. He seems suspicious of strangers and at times even willing to think the worst of his own neighbour(s) ! A rather humourous example of this took place over the last few days.

I’ll try and keep this short but will there are several parts to the story.  One of my other neighbours, ‘Gary’, was cleaning out his liquor closet and offered ‘Dan’ the remnants of a bottle of vodka.  Dan took it gratefully but decided he didn’t like the taste and set it aside.  Shortly thereafter another neighbour happened by, and in the spirit of camaraderie Dan offered the vodka to to this other neighbour, ‘Sabrina’.  She added it her glass of juice and didn’t consume more than maybe a glass or so when she started to sense that something wasn’t quite right with the taste.  After commenting on the taste, both Dan and Sabrina decided to smell the alcohol, and decided that it smelled nothing like vodka!

smirnoff_or_not

Dan could only think the worst at this point.  He became convinced that his neighbour, Gary must have intended death by poisoning for Dan and as fate would have it, the deadly poison was given to an unintended, poor Sabrina.  He told Sabrina of his fear and she instantly fell prey to Dan’s conviction of ill-intent by Gary.  Sabrina rushed to confront Gary, angrily demanding with fist raised, that he come clean and tell them what toxin he was passing off as Vodka.   He swore that it was nothing more than Vodka which he had received from someone else over 10 years ago.

Dan found himself consumed with his conviction that his neighbour Gary must have wanted too poison him.

I was introduced to the whole story with Dan calling out to me and wanting me to smell the liquid in the vodka container.  I have to admit it was the worst vodka I had ever smelled but I can’t say that I am an expert.  After my obligatory smell of the vodka, Dan promptly informed me that Gary was trying to kill him, and instead, Sabrina had drunk the poison and was off to the emergency room.  Dan then qualified his statement and apprehensions, as if trying to convince himself otherwise, ‘well if he had wanted to kill me this would have been a stupid way to go about it’ … ‘everyone would know’.

I have to admit, I could not resist adding to Dan’s apprehensions.  I know Gary perfectly well and know him to be an honourable person who just wants to get along with everyone and is meticulously neat and well-organized.  He would never do something to spite another person let alone even consider poisoning even his worst enemy let alone a neighbour like Dan who is so harmless and nice.

I also know Dan’s proclivity to thinks the absolute worst.  My comeback to Dan, was perhaps mean in light of his fears, but I could not resist, I must admit.

I told Dan that, if in fact his theory were true, regarding Gary’s intent was to poison him then it was an absolutely brilliant plan and not stupid at all.  “Just think about it Dan” – “Gary gave the vodka to you with the complete anticipation that you would drink it all yourself and not share it with a soul”.  “We all know you partake of a few drinks in the late afternoon and evening so what better way to off you than to give it to you”.  “Gary could only anticipate that you would disappear into your boat for an evening of spirits.  The catch is, had the plan come to fruition, you would never emerge again!”  “It really was the perfect plan Dan!  Gary couldn’t possibly have anticipated that you would share it with anyone at all -so it was a plan devised just for you!!”

I then spent the next few minutesimg_half_full_glass_4 reminding Dan that Gary really was not a bad guy and no ill had ever been intended for Dan or anyone else.

Unfortunately, Gary’s intent to be a generous neighbour was not successful in this instance.  Dan did agree that it was not in Gary’s nature or intent to do ill to anyone and life has resumed as normal as normal can be in this quaint community.

As for Sabrina, her trip to the emergency room seemed more based on the fear planted by Dan’s assumptions and they could find nothing wrong with her or the sample of vodka she had brought with her to the hospital.  She was released within an hour of admission and is alive and well to this day.

Ahhh ..the power the imagination if allowed to run rampantly loose!!!

 

A Windy Night

Living on a boat is full of adventures.  There are days when it seems no different than living on land. Then there are days like today when you have no doubt you are living on a boat!  This morning the rain was pounding down and there was nothing I could do to convince the dogs to brave the rain and go outside.  They were more than happy to wait till a small break in the weather came to go out and do their business.

All day the rain came down and the wind gusted through the marina.  I actually love this time of year and the storms that brew in the winter time.  I love my boat moving in the wind storms as though it were out on the high sea.  I don’t know that I loved it so much when I first moved onto my boat 15 years ago.  I was still learning the dos and don’t of living on the water.  One of the ‘dos’ is being prepared.  You must be prepared for the winter storms.  Dock lines need to be adjusted, anything that might blow away must be tied down, flashlights ready, and just a willingness to stay alert and pay attention to your own boat and your neighbours’ boats.  The biggest don’t would be, don’t put on a bunch of new dock lines right before the rainy season.  The rain will cause the lines to stretch out and you will be retying them constantly  all winter long.

I think the reason I love the windy days and nights so much now has to do with my experience.  I know I have done my part to be prepared and I don’t have to worry about sinking, or coming loose from lines.  Of course this does not mean I can let my guard down – I do still have to be alert and aware of the weather but I have a better sense of knowing what is happening and ways to be more proactive in being prepared and staying that way.

pspyh_