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Woof Wednesday: Have You Howled Today?

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P1010008

Magical-Dawg with a favorite bear toy--when not shaking the stuffing out of it, he sucks on 'em.

Living in Tornado Alley keeps North Texans alert to the weather changes–and the past week has been a doozy. My phone went out last Friday. This morning (6 days later!) the fine folks at Verizon fixed it. Wind, rain, hail (some the size of golf balls) grabbed and shook those phone cables like a terrier with a rat–or my Magical-Dawg with his stuffed bear. At least this time the electrical downed lines didn’t spark a grass fire.

Still had my cell phone. And the DSL line for the computer and email worked. In this “connected” world we’ve got so many ways to communicate–emailing, texting, faxing, FB-ing, twitter-icity–could you go back to basics? What are the options? Smoke signals? The fire marshall would throw cold water on that notion. Tom-tom drums? Gotta have rhythm for that. Why not howls!

We’ve got lots to howl about, actually.  The horrifying “train your virtual dog to fight” Android Ap created lots of raised hackles in the pet writing community. My colleague Steve Dale’s recent blog details the objections–and the REMOVAL of the Ap. ArrrrrrrroooOOOOOOOOOO!  (p.s., just learned it’s risen from the dead in another incarnation, hisssss!)

Another colleague, Gina Spadafori of PetConnection.com is on the road with my one-time co-author Dr. Marty Becker on a 7-week book tour. They arranged with Marriott for stays along the way–including a place for the tour’s spokes-dog McKenzie, a highly trained and easy going Flat Coat Retriever. Well–at the very first stop in Houston on the 30-city tour, Gina and McKenzie got evicted…no dogs allowed, never mind it’d been cleared by Corporate. Same thing happened at the next stop. ArrrrrrrrrrrrrrOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! The powers-what-be are working on it–meanwhile, McKenzie aka McKutie-Dawg spends time in the big bus rock star suite with Gina.

A howl works for celebration, for lamentation, for communication–and lots of other  “ations” including the canine n-ation. High tech human conversation loses lots in translation without the natural audible inflection, not to mention (pun intended!) the silent body language that goes with it. And I am NOT referring to elevated digits in rude salutes–although being without a phone for nearly six days tempted me to flex my fingers. Harrumph!

magic & instruments

Howls are canine singing--sorta kinda in a way...

Dogs know how to communicate. You gotta go “low tech” to really connect with doggy wags, growls, whines and more. My Paw Nation article on doggy communication hit the high spots. Do your dogs howl? When do they howl–and why? Have you howled today? Try it–for a terrific stress relief (and you might get your canine’s singing along). Lately the tornado sirens have stirred up the canine chorus at my house. So I thought this Ask Amy was timely, enjoy!

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Woof Wednesday: Coyotes, Frisbees and Annoying Dogs

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Frisbee fetch is nirvana to the Magical-dawg.

 

My Magical-Dawg loves to run. I’ve lost weight since we got him, just trying to keep up. We have 13+ acres in N Texas, most of it pasture but about four acres in trees and scrubby “schtuff” that can’t be mowed. Every morning we patrol the spread and the dawg-type turns into a nose-with-legs to inhale every bit of nuance he can.

Throughout the day, we take Frisbee-Breaks but stick to the front pasture. He heads out before me and waits for the first throw, dancing doggy joy until he can snatch it from flight. I run Magic up and down the length of the property as many as a dozen times until his tongue drags in the dirt—so I can work without interruption for another brief stint. We’ve got it down to a science. I take three Frisbees, and he must bring the thrown one back before the next gets lobbed—and on the final pass, he brings ‘em back while I hold the two reserves down with my foot. While he’s shoveling them into hi mouth, I can get the leash back on.

He’s not a fan of the leash, but it’s necessary.

The property was nicknamed “Rabbit Hill” by the old timers, and still fosters cottontails by the dozens. I’ve seen wild turkeys, lots of armadillos, aka ginormous pill bugs, and even a few bobcats. But coyotes rule. They especially rule early mornings, and dusk.

Yesterday late afternoon when we headed out for our Frisbee-Break, Magical-dawg raced away before I got out of the doorway. A coyote had DARED to stomp on his pasture! Off he went to give the cheeky devil what-for. . . and as Magic’s black tail disappeared into the scrubby “sctuff” beyond the pasture, a second coyote appeared and raced after him. Oh. My. Heavens.

Now, Magic loves his Frisbee. About the only thing that trumps Frisbee-Fetch is a car ride–honk the horn and he’ll come running from anywhere. But chasing a coyote trumps all. I didn’t bother trying to call him back, just gathered up the remaining toys and trotted after, listening for howls, snarls, or other doggy celebratory shindigs.

After one call at the edge of the property, here came the oh-so-proud Magical-Dawg (GOOD boy!), tongue dragging the dirt and tail wagging with satisfaction. I handed him his Frisbees, and clipped on the leash. And then he dragged me back over the rest of the 13 acres to track where the coyotes had been, all the while toting those precious toys.

Did I mention the leash really hisses him off?

We adore dogs even though we whine about their behavior. After all, we’re “perfect” owners so why do Max and Fluffy bark at all hours, gnaw the kid’s new shoes, or (gasp!) hump the Pastor’s leg?

While aggravating dog habits make owners show their teeth, clueless humans also raise the dog’s blood pressure. Here’s my latest Paw Nation article about 7 common things you do that make your dog howl. By the way, Gina Misiroglu of Red Room put me in touch with the AOL people, which is one of the great ways in which she’s bringing traffic to Red Room and getting attention for Red Room’s authors. 

Okay, I told you mine now you tell me yours—what hisses off your pets?

Woofs & wags,

amy

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