One day this week, while going into town the back way, I noticed this big, brown draft horse in a field.  I wanted to be his friend, so I began stopping along the road, making sure that no car could hit me accidentally, and whispered to him softly.  I did this every day for a few days.  Once, he was 100 feet away and after I talked to him he actually came up to the fence and faced me.  Finally, today, he was right by the fence waiting for me to arrive.  I got out of the car and spoke softly to him, and offered him an apple on the palm of my hand.  He did not take it, but I reached out and petted him on the nose, being scared at the same time that he might bite me.  He didn’t move.  Next time I pass him, I will try giving him a carrot.  I have never made friends with a horse before.  I am thrilled we are getting to know each other, and that he was waiting for me today.  I don’t know his name yet, but it doesn’t matter.  He responds to my soft tones.

I can’t imagine a life without animals. Each dog (I have three) and even my seven cats enrich my life. They give me more reasons to get up and greet them each day. Each pet has their own personality. Of course, I have favorites and so what?! Everyone has friends and certain friends who are favorites. Tilla is the dog I never expected. I lost the first dog I ever raised from a pup, Daisy, who died from cancer and then a golden retriever came our way.

Our one male dog, Pax, impregnated her before we could get her fixed and seven pups came our way, most of them born on our bed. We sold four (one died) and I did not have the heart to tell my wife to separate the last two, which we kept. One male, Tilla, and a female Coco both who I have learned to love dearly. They certainly complicate our lives but we had the means to build a fence around part of out property.

We did have one problem:  Tilla the most athletic of our four dogs could jump the fence so a year later we even built the fence higher now it was too high for him to make it over.  As time went by, I developed a close relationship with Tilla.  Maybe just by giving him belly rubs whenever he wanted them.  Wouldn’t that be something if we can make friends with other humans by just giving them belly rubs?!  Anyway, the human equivalent.  Whatever that might be?

I spotted a piliated woodpecker in our yard pecking away on a tree fifty feet away.  I had never seen one in our yard before.  I quickly called my wife to view it.  She had never seen one before.  She grabbed her camera and got several good pictures of it with her zoom.  The woodpecker stayed on that tree at least an half hour.  Today I kept looking at that tree expecting it to be there but it wasn’t.  It is rare to see one.  You usually hear their wild cackle.  And not them.  It is an exotic looking bird about fifteen inches tall and with a long red crown.

Usually all my three black animals (two dogs and one cat) sack out with me. My cat Cool Hand Luke is the only cat to follow me into my bedroom.(I have seven). I have owned her for over fourteen years. She is Pre L., my other. She settles in the bed depending where Tilla positions himself on my left side by my head. She often lays in the upper left of the corner a few feet from my head. Sometimes she will lie down by my right armpit and purr loudly when I reach out to her. Coco, Tilla’s sister, has her spot on the left side of the bed laying on a thin cushion topped by a pillow and torn ruffled bunched up woolen blanket. That is the typical routine the three animals follow. They are at wits end the time or two during the year I may be away. They will mill around the bed not knowing what to do when the evening comes and my wife goes to bed.

Tilla, my favorite dog, did not miss one night since I came back from my 50th high school reunion. When I go to bed he is waiting for me on the left side of me often sound asleep. We had to board our three dogs when we took a trip to NJ. Tilla let loose an howl when we brought him home from the kennel. I never heard such a sound come from his. throat. It was pain! He must have felt abandoned and did not know if we were coming back to get him. Now every night he sleeps by my side. He does not want to be too far from me. He is not taking any chances.

There were two notable discoveries the last two weeks.  First I saw my first Monarch butterfly in several years on our property and the other discovery was a large box turtle in the backyard.  That was the first one I saw in a few years in our yard.  It could have been six inches long.

Twice we saw a doe and her twin fawns. They were almost in the same stretch of road we often take to go onto the major highway. There are lots of woods in this area and we never know when we will flush a deer. We drive slowly through it particularly when one deer shows itself.  There is often another one behind that one.

The Titmouse or Tufted Titmouse (two names for the same bird) are very common yet I never saw a nesting spot for it.  We were pulling in the driveway and I saw a titmouse fly out of a hole in a tree about five feet up across the street.  I investigated and another one flew out of the hole in the tree.  It must have a nest there.  That was a first.  I never found a nesting spot of a titmouse before.  I really do not want to disturb them any more than I have to.  I will just keep my eyes open for that hole in the tree.

I never knew what Coco, one of our dogs, caught.  She and the other two dogs were having their last “out” of the evening.  I thought, at first, Coco had a bone in her mouth and would not drop it to get her evening biscuit.

I realized it was more than that.  It was alive although I could not tell what creature she had in her mouth.  The lighting was not too good.  First I thought she caught “Oscar” our “local” rat but the animal had fur.

I grabbed the animal out of her mouth and it lay in front of the door.  My wife was screaming, “Get it out of the house!”

Finally I scooped it up with a cat scooper and dropped it over the fence onto our driveway.  At the same time one of our cats got out.

Seconds later I got a flashlight and shined it on the spot I dropped the animal.  It was nowhere to be seen.

It is possible the animal was just stunned (Coco has retriever blood in her) or the cat grabbed it who escaped.  My wife thought the animal might have been a baby squirrel.  I will never know for sure.  I felt bad for the animal hours (an hour) later.  There was nothing else I could do.

The rat I called “Oscar” was very cautious.  He lived under our concrete porch.  I would watch for him from our large living room window.  He would dash out five feet and feed on the spilled sunflower seed from our feeder overhead.  He would only spend a few seconds feeding and immediately dash back to the safety of his entrance.

 

He would sometimes share the space with the squirrels.  Once he actually briefly rubbed noses with a squirrel and then there was a brief tousle and both creatures fled the scene.  Sometimes he chases the squirrels away.  I never watched a rat so closely.  I have seen mice before but this is the first I have ever seen a rat.  I am concerned where he will go if we block his openings.

I decided to visit my creek.  Half the time or more it is dry.  We have been getting some rain and I glanced down in the water and saw a ?frog disappear under a rock.  That was a first.  It is not unusual for toads to be found in our front yard.  Sometimes I even find toads in our garage.  That was the first time I ever saw a frog in that tiny creek.

I am going to vanquish my winter blues. It is too much self–indulgence. My pets love me (and my wife). And that is enough. My favorite dog, Tilla, ‘adores’ me, in the words of my daughter. I did nothing to deserve all that. And that is an incomplete list of the seven cats and two dogs who each love me in their own way. My pets do not care what I do or am. And my wife does not care about the degree I do not have, or job for that matter.