Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Upside Of Pet Ownership

Yesterday I presented some of the downsides of pet ownership. Today I'll present some of the upsides. Looking through the photos, I guess I've only showed the joys of dog ownership, but there's also the companionship and quiet comfort of cats. And the joys of having my doves and parakeets flying around the room each morning. And the guinea pig whistling a happy "Hello." But this post is about dogs, and could can be summed up in two words - dog pile:

Seamus, Clover, Fergus, Daphne and Winky blocking the path to the bathroom:

And taking the dogs to work on Saturdays where there's more dog piles:

Wally is his own one-dog dog-pile:

Receiving attention is always the highest priority, but in between times, a dog must get its beauty sleep:

Seamus is so big and the Papillon puppies so small that dog piles become quite literally a pile of dogs:

And Clover knows how to find her own soft puppy bed:

Back at home, all the dogs except Wally cluster together. It may be difficult for me to walk through the room, but it blesses my heart to see them:

I've concentrated on the joys of sleeping dogs here, but there's also the joys of exuberantly running dogs. Almost every time I let mine out into the back yard I witness something like this:

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Downside Of Having Pets

I love my pets and I have more than my share. But there is a downside to a house full of critters. The other day I got to thinking I'd present some of them in photos. I'll present the upside tomorrow.

Let's begin with mischievous puppies. I have two of them and crate them when I leave the house. One of the crates is held together with plastic locking pins:

But every time I'd turn my back, work at the computer, go to the bathroom, I'd discover the pins missing. One must twist them 90 degrees and lift them straight up through two layers of plastic to remove them. But the Papillon puppies were smart enough to master that trick and and removed all the pins in mere seconds:

They'd leave the pins scattered around the rug. Finally, I covered the pins with duct tape and placed the dog crate behind other things so they couldn't reach it:

Then, of course, there's pee stains on the carpet:

And you-know-what on the carpet:

My cats began this fun hobby of ripping plaster off the walls, but it has since been taken over by the dogs. First Seamus, and now the puppies. When I go upstairs to care for the birds, I now crate both puppies to prevent them from denuding my walls and covering my stairs with crumbled plaster while I'm locked in the room with the birds:

Another fun hobby which the cats began but now is the province of the dogs: carpet shredding. This is especially fun for two Papillon puppies:

In this photo Daphne is saying, "Who me? No, I would never chew your rocking chair. It must have been Clover who did it:"

And then there's the coat tree. The cats sharpened their claws on the upright and the dogs chewed the leg braces. And don't miss that lovely barf stain on the rug. You can see why I must clean the house every day:

Railing posts are fun to chew when a puppy tires of ripping down plaster:

And bed foot-boards make an amusing diversion for long nights when a puppy is not getting enough attention. Tomorrow I'll present some of the upsides of pet ownership:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Two Videos at The End Of The Acra Point Hike

The dogs and I were hiking back down the mountain from Acra Point and were approaching the trail head where the car was parked. It was such a beautiful day and the dogs were behaving so well that I thought I'd stop and take a video of the forest through which we were hiking. Though it's not the same as being there, perhaps you can still share some of the joy of that day:

We arrived back at the beginning of the trail where there is a sign-in box at which hikers register. That's so that if someone gets lost, there's some record of where and when they went. The red disc on the bridge over the Batavia Kill is a trail marker, the same type which was nailed to trees throughout the hike. It'd been an exceptionally scenic and pleasant hike, and the dogs ended it with a chance to get a drink from a mountain stream. And this was the end of a pleasant and scenic hike:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Trekking Up To Acra Point - Part 6

This is, except for tomorrow's videos, the final post from the Acra Point hike. I'd been to the Catskills scenic overlook with four of my dogs. We'd hiked back down the mountain and were almost to the trail head. The dogs had been too exuberant and not very well behaved at the start of the hike, but by the time we were nearing the end, Seamus and Fergus were walking calmly at my heels while Daphne and Clover walked politely just ahead of me. It had been a good experience:

The two Papillon puppies, Daphne and Clover, were a pure joy by this point in the hike. They stayed near me and, when I called, came running enthusiastically:

And I, by that time, had four very happy and very well behaved dogs on my hands. Just look at those smiles!:

Seamus loves being in the woods. He's a natural:

Daphne is a high energy pup, and running is her specialty:

I'm tempted to say that this photo is of Daphne showing "the ropes" to the younger Clover, but I think they both seem quite at home in the woods. If anything, Clover is the real "natural born hiker:"

But by this point we were all feeling happy and contented:

The forest was lovely:

When we reached the place where the trail crosses a tributary to the Batavia Kill, the dogs all stopped for a drink. Then we climbed that small hill to the trail register:

We signed out at the trail register, crossed the bridge over the Batavia Kill and arrived at the car. It was about an hour and half drive home. Winky and Wally were waiting for us, so I didn't want to linger:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Trekking Up To Acra Point - Part 5

I'd hiked up to Acra Point, a scenic overlook in the Catskill Mountains of New York. It was a gloriously sunny day in August and the dogs, who'd begun the hike a little too excited to be called well behaved, had gradually calmed down and begun to be wonderful companions. Daphne and Clover, the two Papillon puppies, were still rather new to this and, of course, still puppies. But they were learning.

I'd already explored Acra Point and then walked to the opposite side of the ridge for a view out over the Hudson River Valley. I'd managed to make it clear to the puppies that their find of tasty human poop was something they could NOT have. I could, at that point, have simply begun the hike back down the mountain but decided instead to walk back to Acra Point for more views, more serenity and more inspiration:

I confess that I did get nervous whenever the dogs got near the drop off of the ledge, but by now the dogs were behaving pretty darn well and I began to relax. Daphne and Clover were everywhere - looking, listening, climbing and sniffing:

I found another exposed rock which offered some nice views and actually sat down and relaxed for a while, other Catskill Mountains seeming like friendly neighbors:

Seamus had by this time rested and been re-energized, so he was feeling very happy:

Since I was sitting on a rock, Seamus nestled in some Spruce boughs, grinning broadly:

And I set the camera on self-timer and snapped a photo of myself with Daphne and Fergus:

But of course the time soon came to begin trekking back down the mountain back to the car. So off we went, hiking back through the forest and leaving the grand vistas behind:

Daphne and Clover were now well behaved puppies. I told Fergus and Seamus to heel and they spent most of the rest of the hike walking just behind me and a bit to the side. They seemed so happy and comfortable there that I just continued hiking that way. Clover and Daphne ran a bit ahead, but not too far - and they came running back for petting whenever I called. We came upon two guys who'd stopped at a brook and the dogs did not run wildly up to greet them. I asked the hikers if they minded the dogs and they welcomed them, so I said "Okay" and allowed the dogs to go say "Howdy." Now that's how hiking with dogs should always go:

I passed a rather large American flag suspended from a rope high in the trees on the ridge. I don't know its intended message or if its display in this manner meets protocol, but I found it a pleasant sight nonetheless:

And walking through the Catskill forest was extremely pleasant, especially now that the dogs were all behaving themselves so very well. I stopped for a photograph and the dogs ran over for attention. No face kisses were allowed, however. I knew what had been in those mouths so very recently. We were headed back to the trail head, but I've got two more posts. More tomorrow:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Two Videos From The Lookout At Acra Point

I'd arrived with the dogs at the scenic overlook at Acra Point which looks out over the Catskills toward the southwest. The wind was blowing, the sun shining, the Balsams filling the air with their aroma. I snapped a few photos and then decided a video was also in order:

After spending some time at Acra Point, I returned to the Escarpment Trail, crossed it and searched for a scenic overlook on the other side of the ridge. This was more difficult, as the entire mountainside was covered with trees. But I found a large rock where I could stand and see a bit of the Hudson River Valley off to the northeast. I took a video of the scene, with an airplane droning in the background and the dogs coming and going:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Trekking Up To Acra Point - Part 4

I was at Acra Point, on the Escarpment Trail in the Catskill Mountains with four of my dogs. It was a spectacular sunny day in August and I was, as far as I could tell, the only person on top of the mountain:

Acra Point is a large rock shelf jutting out over the valley between mountains, thus providing amazing views out over the Catskill Mountains to the southwest:

The aromas of pine, spruce and balsam fir heated by the sun filled the air, the dogs were happy and I was having the sort of wilderness experience which elevates and renews my mind and spirit:

The dogs explored the ledge and then set off to sniff the surrounding forest, especially a campsite which, by the smell of wood smoke, was only abandoned that very morning:

Clover and Daphne, my two Papillon puppies, found something very exciting and I guessed that they'd found food scraps left behind by the campers. When I investigated, however, I found them nibbling on their "treasures," stolen goodies which were actually pieces of poop. I made them drop their brunch and then noticed where some inconsiderate camper had pooped in the woods too close to the trail and campsite. So I issued a stern warning to the puppies not to go near there again and led all the dogs back to a clean, scenic spot on Acra Point:

We walked back to the trail and then crossed it, searching for some scenic view on the other side of the ridge. Finally I found a large rock which I climbed in order to shoot some pictures and dogs followed me, momentarily interested. But when all I did was stand there holding the camera, they went off to explore once again. I'll post a video of the view to the northeast tomorrow:

I had to do a bit of scrambling through the brush to get to my rocky perch, but the view out over the Hudson River Valley was worth it:

And I used the zoom lens to see the valley a little better:

I walked back to the trail and prepared to begin the hike back to the trail head. We had one more "puppies in the poop pile" incident after which I went back to Acra Point to refresh my perspective and possibly find a new overlook I might have missed:

I did find one more rocky ledge which was both pleasant and far from any temptation for the puppies. Fergus arrived first and was quite excited, anxious to show us all what he'd found. I'll post some videos tomorrow:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Trekking Up To Acra Point - Part 3

I was hiking in the Catskill Mountains with four of my dogs. We'd hiked up the side of a mountain and turned right onto the Escarpment Trail. We continued hiking that ridge-top trail until I saw a path turning off to Acra Point, our destination. I'd been there several times previously, so I knew what to look for. I remember that it wasn't so easy to figure it all out the first time. We walked a short distance to the edge of the ridge and saw this:

Acra Point s a rocky shelf projecting out over the steep side of a mountain and providing marvelous views of some of the Catskills. Because I had puppies with me and knew about the sharp drop-off, I'd planned to keep all the dogs leashed. But they had other ideas and I decided to trust their natural instinct for self preservation:

Acra Point looks out to the northeast to the Blackhead Mountains, three peaks which can be seen on the horizon from as far away as Albany:

I'm happy to report that the dogs behaved very sanely - even the puppies. And when I got nervous about them being too close to the edge, I simply called them back to me:

Daphne and Clover, the two Papillon puppies, were having lots of fun exploring and sniffing and discovering the world:

Seamus found a Balsam under whose shade he could rest. Two years ago I hiked here and at that time Seamus was the puppy, while Wally and Casey rested in the shade of that same fragrant Balsam:

But puppies have lots of energy, and Daphne had to see, smell and taste everything:

And so did Clover:

I wanted to sit down and relax in the glorious views, the sunshine and the aromas of the Balsams, but we hadn't yet been there long enough and the dogs (except for Seamus) weren't yet ready to settle down. So I kept walking and snapping photos. I'll post more tomorrow: