Monday, June 10, 2013

Skunks and Bugs

Back in the fall, I mentioned that there are a lot of skunks here, judging by the smell.  However, "a lot of skunks" does not do this issue justice.  People, I am smelling skunk at least two nights a week.  Even in winter.  Why are all of these skunks here and, more importantly, who is setting them off?!  Can there actually be people and/or animals in Newburyport who have not yet learned their skunky lesson?  Are there people out there who don't freeze like a statue when they see a skunk?  I saw one a few months ago as I was taking an evening walk, and I stood stock still for a good five minutes even after the skunk was gone.  I swear the skunks outnumber the dogs.  Are there ding-dong dogs who are willing to chase a skunk more than once?

Of course, it could be some sort of sick skunk joke.  Perhaps they got together and decided, "Oh, look at this cute town.  Let us destroy it with our stink!  Mwa ha ha ha ha!"  I just don't know.  It's weird.  And smelly.


Bugs.  There are bugs here.  "Of course, stupid," you say.  But you must remember that I just spent 11 years in Seattle.  There are almost no bugs there.  (In Seattle, not the entire Puget Sound area.)  Many people don't even have screens on their windows, that's how bugless it is.  I usually got a couple of spiders each winter, but that was it.

Now I am inundated with bugs, and I'm told that I haven't seen the worst of it.  That there are swarms of huge flies that are going to come and bite huge chunks out of my flesh.  But until then, I still have big, black ants that I haven't seen since I-don't-even-know-when; mosquitos (itchy bug bites!); ladybugs; and other various flyers and creepy-crawlers.  Luckily I don't mind bugs (until they bite/sting me).  It was just a shock to remember they exist.

And so I am back to buying citronella candles (I always want to say "salmonella" candles -- ha!) and Off.


Skunks and bugs.  Aren't you just chomping at the bit to come visit me?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Deserved Life of Leisure

Earlier this month, greyhounds came to the library!  A wonderful greyhound rescue group called "Greyhound Friends" came to talk to folks about greyhounds: the breed, it's history, and what to expect if you adopt a retired racing greyhound.  I knew next to nothing about greyhounds.  Now I adore them, and I am not even a dog person!  If I ever adopt a dog, it will be a greyhound.

We were lucky enough to have five greyhounds visit.  Here they are with their three adopters (the people with leashes).

One of the myths about greyhounds, a myth that keeps some people from adopting them, is that they are hyper.  I assume people assume this because they are bred to be racers.  It turns out that this is patently false.  One of the owners said (and I think only half jokingly) that they are the laziest dogs in the world.  In fact, even when they exercise, they play really hard for about 15 minutes and then collapse in a heap and go back to sleep.

As you can see below, in a room full of people they don't know, the greyhounds feel fine about laying down and hanging out.  I don't have a picture of it, but at one point they were all sprawled out flat on the floor half asleep.

Another thing I learned is that you shouldn't adopt a retired racing greyhound by him/herself unless you have another pet at home.  If you don't, you should adopt two.  From the minute racers are born they live in a big place filled with dogs.  They have never lived by themselves.  If your greyhound is alone s/he will get very, very anxious.  Even if you stay at home, if your greyhound has no other companion s/he will stick to you like a burr.  It was made clear that the friend doesn't have to be another greyhound.  Any dog will do, even a little one.  In fact, friendly cats will do the trick, too!  Though my guess is that a rabbit probably isn't a good choice.  Ha!

If you adopt a greyhound, you also need to remember that they know nothing about houses.  One of the presenters reminded us that a greyhound will never have experienced stairs.  He adopted two greyhounds.  He tossed a treat up the stairs, and one of them learned the stairs in about 30 seconds in order to get to that treat!  But the other, who had particularly long legs, took three weeks to figure out how to use stairs.

I guess they also have no concept of glass.  If you have sliding glass doors, you have to take a greyhound up to it and touch its nose to the glass.  Otherwise, the greyhound will have no idea a barrier is there at all.

In addition to their laziness, greyhounds are very laid back.  Many are very good with children and make excellent family pets.  I don't have a picture of the exact acts, but some of the kids you see in these photos were less than gentle with the dogs at times, and dogs didn't react at all.  In fact, they seemed happy for the attention!

As I wrote earlier, the five dogs came with three different owners.  Some of the dogs had never met any of the others.  All five were immediately fine.  There was no fighting to see who was in charge.  The only fighting was to push each other out of the way for pets. :)  They all snuggled together and hung out during the program.  It was amazing.

We were also told that greyhounds will get along with other animals, as I wrote above.  The presenters told stories of greyhounds living with small dogs or cats, and the greyhounds were never in charge!  I think they are too laid back to want to be in charge.  So now, if you ever see a little dog bossing around a greyhound, you know why.

My Dad and Sue were visiting for this program.  They both loved the greyhounds.  Here is a picture of my Dad, apparently horning in on this little girl's greyhound time.

Aw.  Dad and Nova, the sweetest greyhound who was rescued from West Virginia just in time.  In another 24 hours, she would have been dead from neglect.  Take a look at her lean frame; when she was rescued, she only weighed half of what you see.  She must have looked like a skeleton.  But now she's the most outgoing, darling dog of all, living a life of leisure and representing rescued greyhounds.

Here is Sue with one of the greyhounds.  Sue looks like she wants to take this one home!

My coworker, Paula, with a greyhound.  Paula was ready to take one home, too.