Wednesday, October 7, 2009


We have a new member of our household this week. She is an Irish terrier puppy we have named "Dixie." She is 9 weeks old. Terry and I drove to Little Rock Sunday evening in the pouring rain and spent the night with our daughter. Early the next morning we drove to southern Missouri to the breeder and picked her up. Why would you go to so much trouble for a dog, you might ask. Well, we didn't think it was trouble to drive to the southern part of Missouri this time of year. Actually, we made a similar drive last year, just to look at the fall color and wildflowers. We were a couple of weeks earlier this year and the wildflowers were much prettier.

We lost our beloved Sadie, a sharpei-yellow lab mix this year. She was a wonderful, faithful companion for 16 years. She lost her hearing a few years back, and in the past year had really developed problems with arthritis. It was pretty empty around here without her. Dealing with Sadie's sharpei-isms and lab-isms led me on a hunt for a dog about the same size as Sadie, without the shedding and allergy problems that plagued her and us all those years.

There were a handful of breeds that fit my criteria, with the Irish terrier having the least amount of health problems within the breed. Of all the breeds I pursued, an Irish terrier in southern Missouri was my closest option. We were not eager for a little puppy to housebreak but the IT rescue folks would not place an adult dog in a home with a cat. Our cat is not thrilled with the puppy, but at this point, she is larger than the dog. She has swatted her on the head several times when she grew tired of the attention. The cat loved Sadie, and missed her as much as we did when she died. We are hoping she will grow more tolerant of Dixie and appreciate the company when we are gone.

Terry and I are getting a whole lot more exercise, walking a puppy every hour. Right now she gets tired way before we do, but it won't be that way very long.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

From Mammals to Reptiles

The morning after in the pantry, I affixed, with nails and screws, the panel that blocks access to the area below the afore-mentioned stairs. I finished off the edges with caulk and Great Stuff (spray foam). Then I put everything back in the pantry. The cat is no longer interested in the pantry. Good sign. However, last night early in the evening, I heard mouse sounds on the other side of the wall when I was standing in the hall. I called out to the miscreant that I hoped it was gnawing on the tasty poison bar I had placed in there the day before. I have decided to clean out the other pantry to make sure it is still mouse-proofed. I am glad I live in the country and only have to deal with little mice. I have had to deal with rats once, when we lived in a subdivision in town. Rats are much more of a town problem. They got after the dog food in our garage store room, and transferring it to a metal can they could not chew through discouraged them enough to move on to greener storerooms. Rats are high on my icky list.

The title implies there were reptile encounters today, and there certainly were. I had a garden club come to tour the grounds today. They arrived around noon. I spent the morning doing the last minute stuff to get ready. I began by fogging around the Visitors Center building for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes love the Visitors Center building, with all the porches and the deep entry. After fogging I went off to do something else while it did its work. I returned an hour later and immediately spotted a medium sized speckled king snake up near the front doors of the building. I studied the situation and realized it was small enough to make it through the crack at the bottom of the door into the building. I really didn't want it in there. Too many hiding places. I tried scaring it away from the door on the inside, but it wouldn't move. I ended up with a broom, trying to encourage it to go out into the flower bed in front of the building. It really did not want to go. It fought me out the whole way, coiling and striking at the broom over and over. It was so determined, that for the rest of the day, I kept peering into the entry way to see if it had returned. I knew it would not be popular in there with the garden club ladies. Fortunately, it stayed out of sight, and I didn't tell them about it.

After snake wrangling, I wandered around on fire ant patrol, waiting for the ladies to arrive. Much to my dismay, I spotted a very large piece of scat, freshly laid, right up there by the building in the middle of the driveway. It was clearly from a large canine. I grabbed a shovel to dispose of it, wondering what on earth thought it needed to mark the driveway right there. Moving it, I noticed that there were some persimmon seeds (they are fairly large, so easy to spot) in it. I figured it must have belonged to a coyote. They have done that before in the driveway.

My husband had a more exciting encounter at work this morning. His secretary opened the back door to the office, saw something, and called him to come quickly. There was a live alligator, about three feet long right out the door. Someone had to have put it there. They called LDWF to come remove it. He said it was injured, like it had been run over or something.

Sorry I don't have pictures to illustrate all these encounters. I was really wishing I had my camera with the snake. It had recently shed its skin, and was very bright and colorful. I wouldn't have posted a picture of the scat, probably....