Feathery Little Therapists

There is something amazing about nature, especially animals. I’ve always felt a spiritual connection with them. They’re simple; they make sense. Sometimes, I think they are smarter than people.

Job 12:7-10 (The Message)

“But ask the animals what they think—let them teach you;
let the birds tell you what’s going on.
Put your ear to the earth—learn the basics.
Listen—the fish in the ocean will tell you their stories.
Isn’t it clear that they all know and agree
that God is sovereign, that he holds all things in his hand—
Every living soul, yes,
every breathing creature?”

Growing up, we would occasionally raise a calf to sell at the livestock auction. The four of us kids would take turns getting up early before school, mixing a huge bottle of formula, and feeding it in the big red barn. When I was in a bad mood, I’d sit in the stall and talk to the calf. It was great therapy.

Time to burp the baby!

Time to burp the baby!

We would sometimes buy steer from the livestock auction and feed them out for beef. We named one of them Stanley. He would lie down in the corral, and my brother and I would sit on his back. He’d stand up slowly…he did everything slowly…and walk into the barn. He was also a great listener.

What's bothering you? You can tell me.

What’s bothering you? You can tell me.

Now, I have 13 feathery little therapists. Each morning, I intend to quickly feed and water them and get to work around the house. But I always spend more time with them than planned. Same thing in the evenings. My husband says I spoil them, but they deserve it. After my oldest son said something hurtful to me, I sat with the chickens until my mood was better. They always know just what to say.

Those cicadas are louder than Buffy!

Soon, we’ll have cattle, goats, and bees on our little farm. (Lord willing and the fence gets built.) I may never be able to leave the house again, but at least I’ll be sane and smiling.

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You Miserable Vomitous Mass

If you’re a regular reader, you’re familiar with my dog, Katie. She’s a sweet, cuddly, smart, and stubborn Rottweiler. I love this dog to pieces, but she has some annoying quirks.

Katie Up

Katie has an eating disorder. She eats everything–fabric, sticks, plastic bottles, rotten food and compost–and it makes her sick.

I threw a bag of trash out the back door into the sunroom for my husband to take out. Katie and I later discovered it had leaked ick all over the floor. She decided to help clean it up with her tongue.

My philosophy is not to clean anything major until something disastrous happens. And it always does. For example, if I mop the bathroom floor and then the toilet overflows, I’m mad. But if it overflows on a dirty floor, it’s not such a big deal. I needed to clean it anyway. (Our old house had plumbing issues. The bathroom floor got cleaned a lot this way.)

This method has worked well for me. Living with boys, a husband, and a dog ensures disaster on a regular basis.

As I said, Katie decided to help me clean by licking the icky, sticky stuff off of the floor. I figured She’s a dog. She knows what she can eat. Animals always do. It’s instinct. Apparently, she’s missing the genes that impart that particular insight.

I shooed her away and finished cleaning the sunroom. Soon I heard, “Mom! Katie spilled her peanut butter on the carpet!”

Just fill with peanut butter or dog treats for hours of entertainment for your dog!

Just fill with peanut butter or dog treats for hours of yummy entertainment!

ASIDE:

Some people buy their dogs a Kong. You know, the dog toy that you put peanut butter inside to keep them entertained while they try to lick it out. I invented the poor-man’s Kong, or the redneck Kong. It’s an empty jar of peanut butter. There’s always peanut-buttery residue left in the jar, and Katie’s tongue is almost long enough to reach the bottom of the large one. This keeps her occupied when we leave the house for a bit.

BACK TO THE STORY…

“Peanut butter doesn’t spill, honey,” I replied, walking around the corner.

First the smell hit me. Then I saw the pool of dog barf on the carpet.

Have you ever watched the Princess Bride? Where Wesley calls Prince Humperdink a miserable, vomitous mass?

Worst. Insult. Ever.

"You miserable, vomitous mass."

“You miserable, vomitous mass.”

(My favorite movie of all time! Long clip, and it doesn’t start for 12 seconds. Tried to start it at 1:50…”You miserable, vomitous mass.” But I’m technology challenged.)

Not until that very moment when I rounded the corner did I feel the full weight of that insult. My nostrils were in pain. I stood there staring, unsure what exactly to do about it.

My next thought was Thank God my husband’s not home. He has the most sensitive gag reflex in the history of mankind. My 8-year-old was doing a nice job of imitating him as both boys ran out the front door. (Note to self: stink up the house to get the boys to play outside.)

That doozy of a puddle almost made me imitate Mr. Rains, too. And I’m like Wonder Woman with the stinky stuff.

I shall deflect the offensive odor with my bracelets made from Athena's shield.

I shall deflect the offensive odor with my bracelets made from Athena’s shield.

My first step was to get the dog outside before she erupted again. Katie thought she was in trouble and hunkered down on the floor with her droopy-eared, sad-eyed, I’m sorry look. And she wouldn’t budge. So I carried her. A 50 pound puppy. I’m surprised I didn’t Heimlich more out of her.

Now, she’s playing outside with the kids in the fresh air like she didn’t just expel a demon through her throat. And I’m in here on my hands and knees over this toxic puddle.

I squeegeed it out of the carpet with a dust pan, sopped it up with an old towel (which promptly got thrown in the trash), and used a special enzyme cleaner for pet messes.

Still stinky. Putrid.

Next, I mixed alcohol, vinegar, and Febreze. I inhaled the fumes of the mixture to make sure it would be potent enough. It burned my nasal membranes. Perfect. Poured it on. Sucked it up with my carpet cleaner after soaking a while.

Still stinky.

Next, I shampooed the entire room for the fun of it. (This validates my cleaning philosophy. We moved in February and I hadn’t shampooed the carpet yet. Silver lining!)

Still stinky!

So, I took the spray head off of the Febreze, imitated Katie’s puking sound, and dumped it in the biohazard zone. After a short soak, I sucked it up with the carpet shampooer.

SUCCESS!!! Febreze is made of magic.

...and horrid dog-barf puddles!

…and horrid dog-barf puddles on carpet!

But that dog is not to be trusted.

She later hoarked down a 1/2-inch-thick disk of solidified milk that my youngest had left in the truck for a week. She got to it as I was trying to dump the cup’s nasty contents into a drainage whistle where she couldn’t reach it. But she was too fast. Motivated by putrescence.

"Bow down to the queen of slime, the queen of filth, the queen of putrescence!"

“Bow down to the queen of slime, the queen of filth, the queen of putrescence! Her name is Katie!”

Her crate and the porch had to be hosed down and bleached the next day.

She does this so often that she’s not allowed to sleep anywhere near carpet. But the porch and linoleum get disinfected regularly.

If I am to look on the bright side of this,  I could say, “Thank you, Katie the Queen of Putrescence, for motivating me to keep the house clean.”  But I wouldn’t mean it… At. All.