Sunday, May 12, 2013

Annie the Destroyer

This is Annie. Isn't she all cute and innocent looking?

Annie doesn't like to stay in the yard when I'm not home. I have a doggie door, so it's not like I throw her out back and she can't come inside. She can be inside as much as she wants on soft doggie beds or even the sofa. But no. Annie must explore! All my neighbors have me on speed dial. It takes a village to keep this beagle contained.

At some point Annie decided to go into the crawl space under my foundation. From there, she can escape through a ventilation hole under my front porch. There are several points of access to the crawl space in the back yard. Once I realized how Annie was getting out, I covered the holes with vinyl trellis. That stuff is tough! I learned how to drill into the concrete block and set screws in. I was very proud of my handiwork. No way she could get through that!

A couple days later I came home to no beagle in the yard. I found this:

She must have worried at it for hours. You can see scratch marks in the siding. Anyway, one of my neighbors had her, and also Lola, because wherever Annie goes, Lola goes. Sam the elderly GSP is always sleeping in my living room, clueless. He's a good boy!

Next I covered the above hole with a board. A thick piece of plywood. No way she could get through that, right? All was good for the next several weeks. No escapes. And then...

She ripped the board right off the foundation. All the screws were still screwed into the concrete. Look at the top of the board! Again, that must have taken hours.

Next, I bought a couple two by fours, cut them in pieces to size, and screwed those across the opening with LONG concrete screws. That has actually worked! I can see bite and scratch marks on the boards, but she's not able to make any headway. There have been no escapes via the crawl space since.

No escapes; but that doesn't mean she's not trying. I discovered this today:

She was trying to get into that little trellis-covered opening. In the process, she tore up the siding. Now I have to find siding and paint to match. Sigh.

I found Annie on Craigslist, and this is her third home in her four years of life. I am determined that this will be her forever home. All I have to do is be smarter and more tenacious than a beagle. It's so much harder than it sounds.

She's also a digger, and has dug her way under my fences on many occasions. I've finally hit upon a solution that seems to be working. I took chicken wire and laid it flat next to the fence all the way around the yard. I pounded it into the ground using landscape staples and camping spikes. Then I lined all the fences with landscape ties pushed up right where the fence meets the ground, partially covering the chicken wire. She hasn't been able to dig anywhere I've done that. I missed a few spots, and that's where she has dug. I am feeling good now that I have found all her secret spots.

It's a good thing she's so freakin' cute!

Saturday, May 4, 2013


I see that I haven't written a post since October of last year. Apparently I lost my blogging mojo for awhile. This blog has always been centered on riding, and I had stopped riding. I had a rough winter, too, with multiple deaths from cancer in my circle, one after the other. First, I lost my awesome cousin Matthew, who was just a year older than me. He beat back cancer ten years ago, and in the fall it returned. He died over the holidays. He had just gotten his masters in theater arts and was running a theater in his hometown and really thriving. The world is a less vibrant place without him.

In late January, my elderly beagle mix Abby died suddenly of what was probably liver cancer. One day she just started hemorrhaging in her belly. I took her to the emergency vet, and putting her down was really the only option. She was almost sixteen. I got her as a one-year-old from Hearts United for Animals, one of the best no-kill shelters in the country. They specialize in long-distance adoptions, so if you're looking for a dog, you should check them out. Abby was possibly the most well-behaved dog on the planet. I still miss her.

Then, in February, a good friend of mine lost his mother to pancreatic cancer. She had been diagnosed only about twelve weeks earlier. It was very hard for him. And so, it was just a sad winter all around. I still miss Wolfgang, too.

There was happiness as well. Not long after I lost Abby, I decided to go ahead and look for a rescue beagle. This was mostly for Lola the bassador's benefit. Lola is a super playful girl, and neither Abby or Sam was much interested in playing with her. I found a beagle in Portland on CraigsList, and it was love at first sight. Her name is Annie, and she is fifty pounds of personality in a twenty-pound package. Her baying can just about pop your eardrums, and she is a Houdini at getting out of the yard. But she is a sweet little cuddlebug, and she loves to play with Lola. I'm happy I found her.

Sam the GSP is fourteen and hanging in there. He's mostly blind and mostly deaf, and his eye allergies make him miserable sometimes, but his heart and lungs are good, he's still steady on his feet, and he loves his food, his bed, his backyard, and his chin scritches.

One the horse front, I am currently riding a gray thoroughbred named Lee. He's a pretty boy!

His owner has to be out of town for a couple extended periods, and through a friend (Camilla) I got connected with her. So I'm working this lovely boy until the end of June. He likes me. He comes to me in the pasture and sticks his head up against me. It's nice to be riding again.

Sadly, Camilla has decided to sell Huey. She wants to jump over three feet, and Huey just can't keep his head together over the bigger fences. It's not that he can't jump them; it's more that he gets totally jacked up and takes over. But on lower fences he's super, and he can rock first level dressage. I think second level is within his reach as well. At third, it would take a lot of work to settle his flying changes.

My big news is that I have decided to become a non-directed kidney donor, meaning that my kidney will go to whomever needs it and is a good match. I was inspired by a This American Life segment on a Jewish woman who decided to donate her kidney as a mitzvah, or good deed. I also read a New York Times article on the largest kidney donation chain of all time: 30 donors and 30 recipients. I'll write a future post on what becoming a non-directed donor entails; but I have to share my exciting news -- yesterday the hospital in Seattle called to say they found a match for my kidney, and that my donation will start a chain. My surgery is tentatively set for July 10. I'm excited to think that I'll be able to help someone who is chronically ill have a much better quality of life.