Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Grab Bag Day

SUMMARY: blog issues, sad week, funny list,  d*d rats.

* Blog: Just got notice from blogger that they are doing away with the mechanism by which I post and manage my blog. They have an alternative that they really like but doesn't fit my needs. I'm going to have to convert or think of something else by March. Sucks. I wasn't really planning on spending time figuring out new technology or finding a new blogging service that will support me. Sucks being a techie geek who wants to do things most people don't. I understand their reasons, but still--after 7 years... converting everything to another site will be impossible. Argh.

* Sadnesses: Can we erase the last week and start over? Wednesday, Jigs. Friday, Scully. Saturday, Shooter. Monday, Katie. (Suddenly discovered cancer; escalating kidney disease; age-related illness; unknown (just--found her lying there, she was 11).) Please let it stop for a while. Meanwhile--go do something special with your dog.

* Funniness: I really needed this--"You know you're an agility addict when...". It's a facebook group. I hope they'll post their list on a public site, too, because it's too good to hide just on FB. Meanwhile, if you're on FB, read the list.

* D[amne]d d[ea]d rats. Can't find. Place reeks. Too cold to have windows open. Argh.

* Have some nice photos of the Merle Girls from this weekend. Will post when I have time. They are SUCH GOOD-LOOKING DOGS! I am so lucky to have them.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rats 3, Me 1

SUMMARY: Rodents *again* dagnabbit.

Yesterday, 4 spring traps baited with peanut butter in the attic.

Today, one dead rat in one trap, the other three looking untouched--except there's no more peanut butter. How do they DO that?

Dogs pay absolutely no attention when there are rat noises in the ceiling. Not that they could do anything about it--but Remington would've been faaaaahscinated.


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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Olio a la Canine

SUMMARY: Dog Day, rats, computers, lawns, cameras, ballet, agility, and anything else I remember to stick in here.

Ballet: Canine freestyle keeps advancing in wonderful ways. Plus this is a blue merle working border collie. Let's see your jumping horses do this.

National Dog Day: Who knew? Check it out.

Rats: Returned to my attic shortly after we thought that they were eradicated and sealed out. Apparently gnawed a new hole. Didn't I vow live traps after my last trauma? There's a reason why you wire the traps to something large or immobile when you set them: Yesterday, a young rat caught just his rear leg. Dragged the trap as far as the wire let him. Tika is an avid rodent hunter and slayer, so I figured, take it out to the yard, release it, and Tika will make quick work of it. Boost was intrigued, especially at the squeaky-toy squeaking. Tika? Turned tail and ran into the house. Came out when I insisted but wouldn't come within 5 feet of the rat and backed off as quickly as possible. Boost, who apparently has a soft mouth, thought it was a great toy--picking it up, carrying it around, tossing it in the air. This was a cruel way to treat the poor injured thing, and when neither dog showed any interest in completing the task that I really didn't want to do, I got a shovel and dispatched it with one quick slice. Sorry. It was traumatic for me, too. I am definitely in the market for a live-capture trap. I have no idea how effective they are. Dang dogs. Dang rats.

Camera: Still haven't decided for sure what to get. But it might be postponed even longer. Because--

Computer: Have been putting off buying a new Mac for as long as possible. Bought this one in January 2001. Invested in an upgrade processor a year ago, plus new internal disk drives. The processor died back in April, but it cost me a goodly sum of service dollars to get to the root of the problem. Went through 2 replacements under warranty until we got a 3rd one that finally worked. This week--all the symptoms are starting to reappear. I am close to not having a working Mac anyway. Jeez, I hate computers. I would really LIKE to get a new one, but it's all about the $. However, I'm starting to get into a negative time & $ flow on the existing one. Sort of like having an old car--when you start paying more on repairs than you'd pay monthly for a new car, it's time to switch. Sighhhhhhhhh--

Lawns: Mine. Infested by grubs. Last year they killed a small section of grass before I figured it out. This year lots being killed, but I kept checking and didn't find any grubs until last week, when suddenly all very visible. Applied grub poison yesterday. Labeling is very scary. Kept dogs off lawn all day yesterday until it had been watered in twice & dried (label says once/dried is enough). But can't afford to keep resodding lawn, either. Maybe too late. Much dead grass.

Agility practice for this weekend: Ha.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Mouse Semifinals

SUMMARY: Uh-oh...

There has been no mouse activity in any of the traps for at least 30 hours. Therefore, they're out of the house now, right?

I grabbed some steel wool from the garage to seal up the space around the pipe under the sink--recommended in various places. Sure, there's already some there on the *top* side of the pipe, so I'm guessing that there used to be some on the *bottom* side, too, but is no longer for whatever reason.

I empty that half of the sink cabinet--really not much there--liquid and dishwasher detergent, a small bucket, a couple of water filter refills, a container of extra sponges--don't bother pulling the neatly organized wire storage drawer out of the other half because it's not in my way-- and I crawl under with my flashlight so I can see what I'm doing. Cram that steel wool into that hole. Hercules Mouse himself could not get that steel wool out of there, I am so brutal at cramming it in there.

I decide to leave one of the traps that's still there at the back of the cabinet; what the heck, who knows, maybe in the future it'll be an early warning system if somehow I get another mouse invasion. I put back the water filter refills, the small bucket, the detergents, the basket of sponges. I close the cabinet door. I put the flashlight away on its shelf and turn to the refrigerator and reach for the door handle--and the mousetrap goes off.

What, did I leave something unbalanced under there? Did I nudge it while I was there and somehow destabilize it? A quick glance--nope, there's a mouse in it. So the big question is--where was the mouse while I was cramming steel wool into its escape route? And does he have more friends in the same place(s)?


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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Mouse Finals (I Hope)

SUMMARY: One last one, opening needs sealing

No activity on any traps from about 6:30 last night til half past midnight; one under the sink when I came down in the morning. So I'm pretty sure that they're coming in next to the pipe under the sink and I'll just have to block that off.

It has been such a challenge to keep the dogs away from the traps! Under the sink cabinet is not an issue, although they were very interested while I was putting them there. But the ones in my bedroom, despite being behind heavy furniture with things blocking access, you can't imagine how hard they tried to get around my blocks!

Of course, they also spent a lot of time yesterday sniffing around all kinds of interesting places as if there had been a lot of rodential activity and they were following the scents to see if anything exciting was afoot. In fact, a couple of times when I kicked or bumped something at floor-level abruptly while moving things, the dogs instantly pounced on whatever it was, so they had primed themselves for vermin.

I hope this excitement is over and I can go back to setting traps in my agility courses in the yard instead of the mousey kind.


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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mouse Count

SUMMARY: And another...four...bit the dust

I just made the rounds of all the traps and got another one under the sink; both traps in my bedroom and one of the traps in the housemate's room. That's 8 in 24 hours; I bought 12 traps and started with 2. I hope I have enough! Jeez...

The challenge is putting the peanutbutter-baited traps where the mice will go but the dogs, who love PB, can't get their tongues onto them.


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Today's Briefing

SUMMARY: Upcoming events, rodents, Jake's ghost

Only two weekends to our next actual trial. It's a CPE trial, so I'm hoping that I'll be more relaxed and focused on using it as a training experience with Boost (although CPE doesn't allow training in the ring, there's training and then there's training). On the other hand, I'll also be Big Chief Running Score Table Czar, being the resident expert on CPE scoring, so who knows how relaxed I'll really be. Fortunatly we've got a bunch of people who are good at score table.

Then--I planned my calendar out for this entire year. I was supposed to be doing another CPE trial 2 weeks after that. However, for whatever dumb reason, I missed the fact that the premium was out, and now the trial is full and I can't get in. Have I mentioned before how very much I despise limited trials for exactly that reason? There go my year's plans, down the tubes. If I had been counting on that trial for a specific purpose (as opposed to simply "convenient trial on convenient date", I'd really be floating my begonias. (Whatever THAT means. Sounds distraught, though, doesn't it?)

However, conveniently there's an ASCA trial the same weekend, and closer to home. ASCA agility is now the way NADAC agility was originally. Simple--Standard, Gamblers, Jumpers. And all the usual normal equipment. But I haven't done any of that in so long, that really I can't count it as a weekend for earning legs, because they'll be of pretty much no use to me. But they do allow training in the ring like NADAC did/does. So it's a fun match. A pricey fun match, but a fun match none-the-less.

Tika made it out of Novice to Open and Elite in NADAC, but so few of those were dual-sanctioned with ASCA that in fact according to them she's still in Novice Jumpers and open Gamblers. But apparently I can run her in Elite and they'll just apply any Qs to the levels I'm missing. For me, it wouldn't feel fair towards the other competitors to put her into Novice or Open, so Elite is what I'll do.

Apparently I didn't even bother to register Boost with NADAC or ASCA. So I had to send in her registration to get a number. Get this: It costs only $10 to register a dog. But you have to be a member to register a dog, and the minimum membership fee is $10. So what they're not telling you is that it costs $20 or more to register a dog. It's all in how you phrase it, I guess.

Her, I *will* enter in Novice because that's about where we belong, IMHO!

Even though she seems to be channeling Jake's ghost.

I used to have this old, low-slung, wrap-around-backed chair that was so crappy and ugly that I always had it covered with a throw. I kept it only because the dogs liked it. Jake in particular. One of his big hobbies was digging enthusiastically at the throw cover until he had bunched it up into a useless glob or thrown it off the chair entirely, and then going off on some other urgent chore. I'd put the throw back on. Next time he came by, he'd notice this travesty and do his artistic rendering of a lump of fabric again. This went on several times a day, for years.

When Boost came along and tore the chair into a zillion pieces, I finally got rid of it. Poor Jake, his main hobby out in the trash. I finally got him a nice replacement bed, a soft outer part with a removable inner cushion. In January of this year. Talk about bad timing. Anyway.

The bed has been sitting there. The other dogs have used it on occasion. But over the last couple of weeks, Boost has used it more and more, and Jake's spirit seems to have taken over her brain. (Sounds like a bad horror movie, doesn't it?) I've noticed her on occasion digging and pulling at that center cushion until she gets it out of the bed, and then she goes off on some other mission. So I put it back. Next time I notice, it's out in the middle of the floor again.

It's nice to know that some dog hobbies can be passed along from generation to generation.

I'd like mouse-catching to be one of those things, but apparently catching mice in the house is a lot harder than catching them outside. Outside, you can dig under the compost bin, then push on it until it tips over, then, after spending half an hour eating all the really nummy bits of kitchen waste that were inside the bin, you can actually get at the mice or rats and dispatch them. Not so easy to do with a fridge in the kitchen.

Maybe it was yesterday's weather--very unsummerlike, overcast and gloomy and windy and looking for all the world as if it wanted to rain (apparently did in san francisco & a few other places around the bay)--but the "mouse" that I have had in my kitchen and bedroom was hyperactive all day yesterday. I could hear him digging and chewing and dashing around in cabinets and behind the fridge and under the stove and dammit there was nothing I could do about it. Even saw him dash across the floor several times. Even the dogs were going nuts. They wanted to go into the living room, next to the kitchen, and were poking around eagerly at the couch as if they had seen and/or smelled the furry little beast right there. Boost even stood or lay in the kitchen for about two hours, ALMOST catching him as he scurried out-from-and-back-under. Driving me nuts.

So I finally took the two traps that had previously been sprung but caught nothing, and reset them and placed them more strategically carefully under the sink. I had barely sat down at my computer when i heard one go off. Bingo! I disposed of him in the trash can, sat down at my desk... and the other one went off. Got another one of the little buggers.

It's heartbreaking at the same time as it's a relief to catch them. I don't want or need their diseases and their pee and poop all over my house. But I do really love little furry wee beasties, and opening the cabinet and seeing the little bright black eyes (deceased) and little sweet furry bodies, oh, it tears me up. But catching them live and turning them loose outside isn't going to help me or whoeve else's house I'd put them near.

So I put THAT one in the trash can, along with the trap (I dont' bother trying to separate ex-mice from the traps--they all go to the dump together), went back into the kitchen... and heard one scamper among the items stored under the sink at the SAME TIME as one was gnawing under the cabinet on teh opposite side of the room. This morning, my housemate reported that one ran into his bedroom and back out again right in front of him. Dammit!

Anyway, bought a ton more traps today. Set them all over the place in clever strategic areas, but there doesn't seem to be quite as much hyperactivity in the heat of this sunny summerish day. Still, sat down at my desk, and heard one under the sink go off. Disposed of that one, set another one. Later--heard it go off again. So that's four down and I could've sworn that when I went up to my bedroom to set traps up there, I heard scurrying.

I've never had a mouse problem like this before, and it's a little intimidating. How many of them are there? One female can have up to 10 litters a year with up to a dozen or more babies per litter. Yikes. I might be doomed. We'll see whether I can get 'em all with billions of traps. I don't really want to use poison bait, which seems to be the more effective but scarier method.

And on that note--I'll be off to Wednesday Night 8:15 class shortly. It'll be a quiet night, as our usual instructor Jim is gone (Nancy's taking his place) and three class members--that I know of--are also out of town, including Ash and Luka, who won ALL THREE tournament events at the northwest regional last week. Jim says that he can't remember any dog ever doing that. So when they're back in town, we'll have a big old celebration. It's just amazing to think about how far he's come since he first joined our class as basically a novice, seems like not that long ago, but I guess at least 2 years now. And here the rest of us are, putzing along...

But it's good for a lot of celebrations. I hope he doesn't get tired of it and decide that it's all too easy. Although rumor has it that he might be thinking about a second dog so he can play with the big dogs--

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Little Doggie Thoughts

SUMMARY: Ellen's mind wanders.

Nope, these are not thoughts about little doggies (of which I have none), or thoughts from little doggies (sometimes questionable whether there are any of those, either); they are my little thoughts related to doggies. Since I'm not competing, I have to think about *something*.
  • Dogs are useless as mousers in my houser. Was woken yesterday morning by a mouse gnawing under my nightstand, fercryingoutloud. Didn't wake the ALERT GUARD DOGS up, though. In fact, as I tried to position Tika to where she'd be able to see the mouse when I moved the nightstand--and surely she could SMELL the blamed thing, right?--she was more interested in whether she was about to get a treat for doing whatever it was that I was asking her to do. When she finally caught a whiff and looked interested, I moved the nightstand, and the little bugger streaked out the OTHER side and under the bed. While Tika vigorously investigated the now-vacated nightstand, I shoved Boost under the bed--surely she could SMELL the blamed thing, right?--but she made a u-turn UNDER the bed and came back out to help Tika check out the nightstand. Good thing they're good at agility, is all I can say.
  • Boost's weaves are getting very nice. Hope they stay that way. Interestingly, she's doing consistently better at the soft entry to the weaves (she says, bandying about this phrase that I just learned from another blogger, meaning coming at it from the right where they don't have a clear pole to wrap around). Coming at it from the left, she's more likely to skip a pole or two. In fact, that's where she'd skip 7 or 8 earlier this year when her poles had deteriorated so much. But usually I can fix it now by putting any slight sort of diverter to remind her to tuck in, and then she's good for a while.
  • No class for Boost last week due to the evacuation for Canby; no class for Tika this week because of the 4th and no class for Boost because it was too danged hot Thursday at noon. Hey, what's a little 100-degree weather where a fanatic, driven dog is concerned? Good thing we've got a fun match tomorrow. And a VERY good thing that the weather seems to have gotten its head together: It's 11:30 a.m. and it has barely reached 70. Nice after a week of scorching.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Of Mice and Women

SUMMARY: Boost finds a mouse but we can't catch it. Plums are pretty much gone and I'm glad. In a barely related story, menopause is now hip.

Three evenings ago, while I was (as usual) at the computer, Boost started her "Alert! Something is weird and out of place!" bark, except this time it was in the kitchen, not the yard, and she was staring at the microwave. I couldn't figure out what it might be. There was nothing out of place--the cover was off the toaster, but it often is; there was a loaf of bread on the counter but it had been there for a week; the lid was off the teakettle but I doubted that she could even see that.

So I went back to work and, a couple of minutes later, the alarm-barker went off again. I walked along the counter, touching stuff, to see whether she seemed particularly interested in anything, but nooo--as soon as I came into the room, she just went into "Hi, mom!" mode instead of helping me figure out what her britches were in a bunch about, which is what she usually does on an alarm-bark.

Back to the computer. Another alarm-bark. This time I picked her up and walked her along next to the counter so that she could see what was there. She seemed intrigued at the idea of being able to see what was there and felt inclined for a real close look, but nothing along the lines of cautious worry that she exhibits for other causes of alarm.

So I put her down, and she's looking at me cheerily, and Tika is buzzing around noisily at all the commotion, and I'm standing there, leaning on the counter, asking The Booster what on earth she's going on about, when of a sudden I think I hear something in the cabinet next to me. Just the tiniest of whispery sounds, and gone again. I managed to get the dogs into down-stays so that their jangling and toenails didn't interfere, and stood there and listened. After a minute, there it was again, a teeny whisper. Mouse in the wall? With all the rodents we've had around lately, it could be. And then came the distinct (but very quiet) sound of tiny toothers chewing cellophane.

I stepped to the front of the cabinet (the one over the microwave, which on the counter) and yanked open the door. Silence. I scanned the shelves. There was a package of spaghetti on the bottom shelf, in cellophane. I reached in and started to move it, and Zam Zoom! A little furry body plunged past me out of the cabinet, across the microwave, onto the counter, across the stove, and down the gap next to the fridge, all in the time I was still trying to form the thought "Eek!" and coming down out of the air.

Now, I am not an eeky person and I am not afraid of rodents. But from a still, silent cabinet, having a creature launch itself at you abruptly is more than startling.

Meanwhile, the dogs are watching me curiously (my body having hidden the cabinet from their view and the rest of the activity up out of their sight). I told Boost she was a good girl and went exploring. Sure enough, mouse droppings under the sink. (There seems to be some unwritten mousey law that, when invading a kitchen, you must deposit droppings beneath the sink.) I cleaned all that out and put mousetraps there and between the fridge and the stove. To no avail, apparently.

Which brings us to plums.

It has been plum season for about the last 3 weeks.I've harvested and eaten as many as I could, gave quite a few away, made two separate batches of plum sorbet (mmmMMM! but it still uses only a handful of plums), and picked up zillions from the ground day after day and tossed their squashed bodies into the compost bins.

This, however, is where I keenly feel Jake's absence. He was a profligate plum eater, and as you might imagine, this worked wonders for loosening up his intestinal fortitude. And he had the most luxurious petticoats on his back legs and long silky hair on his tail, and in plum season I spent a prodigious amount of time hosing him down and letting him out in the middle of night to answer the call of the bowels.

This year, there's no Jake, and the current dogs seem far less enamoured of the purple fruit. Except that in the last few days, Boost seems to have discovered the joys of decaying plummage. So now I've been letting *her* out in the middle of the night.

Last night, it was twice, and the second time, I couldn't get back to sleep. Lying there comfortably, thinking about nothing in particular, but wide awake. (With the occasional hot flash to keep me entertained kicking off the sheets and pulling them back up again.) I finally got up and went downstairs to settle at my favorite putting-my-brain-to-sleep station at the kitchen table. Made myself a nice hot chocolate and started a crossword puzzle. The dogs, of course, had gone back upstairs to bed and by all accounts were quite comfy there.

Then, out of my peripheral vision, I detected motion. Glanced to one side just fast enough to see a mouse vanish under the fridge. I cursed silently and went back to my crossword. A few minutes later, the dang thing skittered from the fridge to under the stove. A few minutes later, it skittered from there back along the wall.

OK, this was NOT relaxing. And why wasn't the dang thing kindly throwing himself upon the mercy of the mousetraps? And what could I do about it in the meantime? I debated getting the dogs and trying to chase the mouse out from under something, but who knows where he'd be by the time I came downstairs, and even if I could convince the dogs to take part and I could flush him out, I figured that my renter/housemate might not appreciate my efforts at 3 in the morning. So, unrelaxed, I returned to bed.

I did, eventually, fall asleep, along about dawn. The dogs let me sleep til 9, which is very late for me (but there's the warped benefit of letting them out in the middle of the night--they were prepared to hold anything further until much later in the day). At which point I got up, enjoyed a liesurely breakfast while reading the paper, and was amused to see (just a few days after posting my Cold Flashes blog) an article saying that it's now apparently the cool factor to be in menopause and suffering from hot flashes. And how, even 5 years ago, no one ever talked about them in public (well, I know that's not strictly true), but now women yak about them to anyone and turn them into social clubs, so that nonmenopausal women feel left out in the cold (so to speak). And, perish the thought, hot flashing women even BLOG PUBLICLY about these previously very personal issues! The nerve!

But, if those left-out-feeling women are looking for something else to do with their time while us in the In crowd are putting on our fleece sweater, taking it off, putting it on, taking it off, they're welcome to come by and clean up old rotting plums from my garden and herd the mice out of my kitchen so I can have a good night's sleep.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

BBQ Party in an Agility Yard

SUMMARY: Party here Sunday without any agility. Well--mostly.

Yes, in her excitement over life and rodents, Tika dug a big hole in my lawn right while I was trying to groom everything for a BBQ on Sunday. I was beginning to wonder whether I'd have a yard left! It didn't seem to be connected to a gopher, and it was in fact in a big bare spot already, and I managed to rake and scrape most of the dirt out of the surrounding lawn and back into the hole, so I doubt that anyone noticed the hole.

The BBQ was nice. Mostly nondog people, although one friend whose young corgi just made her debut (at a trial I didn't attend) came and we chatted briefly about young dogs, and another friend who lost her German Shepherd a couple of years back has been on the edge of getting a new dog, so there were some doggie discussions there. And I have a couple of friends who have had dogs in the past, so most people had dog experienes to share.

A boy named Remington attended (I had to show him my Remington's NATCH plaque). I think he's in the 8-to-10-year-old range, and Boost wasn't sure about him at first, but her love of playing overcame most of her worries, and she did a few tunnels for him and then played fetch off and on all afternoon. But she still wanted to play after everyone went home! Dang border collies.

Then, when he asked questions about how to get the dogs to do the agility equipment, I had to show him a few things and also get The Booster revved up a bit to show him how it looks when done by an expert. Of course, being a kid, he was thereafter perfectly spot on in doing it himself (mostly tunnels, which she loves), although Boost slowed way down and was a little stressed out about it. She was much happier eventually just playing fetch.

He tried to get Tika to play, too, but she is considerably more food-motivated than toy-motivated, and as there was a sea of people milling around with snacks in their hands, she was too busy monitoring for crumb drop to want to go chase moving things. Although by early evening, when most folks were gone and no one was eating any more, she did put on quite the ferocious display of squirrel chasing, verbal abuse thereof, and throwing herself against the fence trying to knock them off.

Having a party here is rough, in two ways. (1) It takes a while to move enough agility equipment out of the way that you can actually see all the nice flowers and lawn and get a feeling of spaciousness. (2) I *like* it like that and don't want to put it back to an agility yard afterwards! It looks so nice and pleasant out there without tunnels and jumps and weaves and tables every 10 feet and across the patio.

Anyway, the BBQ was nice, friends were pleasant, food was good (if I do say so myself)--my homemade banana bread is one of my favorites, and my homegrown/homemade blackberry sorbet was the bees knees! And there is even some left over for snacks this week! Although as usual the deviled eggs and potato chips seemed to go the fastest.

And so busy, I forgot to take any photos, even though I left my camera out!

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Canis Tika vs Rodentia

SUMMARY: Tika removes many rodents from this world. And is making a fine mess, too.

Tika has declared a personal jihad against rodents of all sizes and shapes. She has always been an avid verbal abuser of squirrels (and occasionally has sent one to the great walnut in the sky), but now--perhaps it's because they plowed the 200 acres of grassy field recently--we have an infestation of small skittering things. Mostly mice, but I've noticed an influx of lizards, too. I think the lizards are too subtle for tika--or, at least, I've not found any little ex-lizards.

On Monday, I picked up three late mice and a very very late rat. On Tuesday, Boost went into her "alert! danger!" mode out back, which she usually reserves for when I've done something dire such as, say, move a chair from one side of the yard to another. I went out to see what was up. As usual, she takes my company as good backup and proceeds farther into the yard towards whatever it is, at which point I can walk up to whatever it is and calmly pat it while she creeps forward and stretches out her nose to sniff, while yet ready to run away with all due haste if it makes a sudden move, say, back to its original side of the yard.

However, in this case, I didn't see anything out of place where she was barking, and it became apparent that her focus was on the shrubbery along the rear fence. Sure enough, as I came near, there was a rustling of old dead shrubbery leaves. I approached cautiously, with images of the rattler that came in from somewhere 3 or 4 years back, when suddenly a blur of gray shot past me from behind (no, not Boost) and plunged into the shrubbery. While I yelled futilely, there was a tremendous to-do among the foliage, then brief stillness, then Tika emerged cheerily, shook herself off, and trotted away in search of mice.

I peered cautiously under the bush and found a freshly dispatched gopher.

Now, it's all very well and good that she's after these critters. However, she's digging holes under and into my compost piles, strewing uncomposted whatnot around the yard; she's dug holes in my lawn (why that has anything to do with rodents, I don't know--they don't look like gopher-chasing holes); she's trompled entire flats of (expensive) unplanted 6-packs of flowers, she's toppled and broken flowerpots and dumped planted flowers out onto the ground; today she ripped apart the (probably expensive) covering holding the insulation in place around the pipes and wires that run between my hot tub and its pump/heater. I managed to block that off (I hope), but I don't know where next she'll strike.

I *was* happy to see the rodents go, but the price is getting a little steep--

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