Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Doofus Dog

It's been a bit of a crazy week and weekend with lots of work and baseball.  I spent most of my free weekend time either doing stuff for work or else researching stuff for our upcoming South Dakota trip.  I'm definitely ready for vacation!

Most nights I wake up WIDE AWAKE around 1:30 or 2am.  I come out the the living room to my recliner and get on my computer and/or read until I hopefully fall back asleep until 4 or 5am when I get up for the day.  Scout is my little shadow and he comes with me.  Normally, he sleeps in bed and then either sleeps with me in the chair or else somewhere on the floor around the chair.  Occasionally, though, he's a total pain and goes around and barks at the rats and chases the cats and finds things to chew up.

One night last week I had moved from bed to chair around midnight.  By 1:30 I was reclined and had just dozed off when I heard Scout crying underneath my chair.  Somehow, crazy dog had snooped and sniffed under my chair (something a dog with REAL legs could never, ever do!) and got his head stuck between two bars.  Somehow I had the sense to not put down my footrest or I might have crushed him.  He was stuck, stuck and I screamed for Gene to come help.  Gene does not normally wake up in the middle of the night, but he went into hero mode and found the tools to take apart the chair just enough to free Scout's head.  Scout popped out, shook it off and within approximately less than a second forgot that anything bad had happened and was back to normal.  It was all good!  Gene and I duct taped the bars so it doesn't happen again, because with the minuscule level of trauma on Scout's part, it seemed the odds were against us.  I, on the other hand, was so worked up I didn't sleep the rest of the night.  It's a good thing Scout's so cute...

That was by far the most exciting part of our week.  I did take Kaylin to see Brave.  As far as Disney princess movies go, it was pretty good.  I only fell asleep a few times.  It was a sweet story and Kaylin absolutely loved it.  It was nice to have an independent, smart princess who just wants to be herself, rather than the usual stupid sheep princess who is either saved by or will change her entire life to be with a prince. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Awesome Weekend

Meghan and I spent a fantastic weekend watching cranes in Wisconsin.  One of the biggerst perks of being a zoo keeper is getting tours of other facilities the general public couldn't even pay for. We started out with a guided, behind the scenes tour at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo.  The curator first toured us around the office area and we got to see the camera monitoring system that can check all the cranes in their breeding facility, Crane City.  We also got to watch whooping crane chicks being "trained" to be adult cranes by costumed workers.  This was also via camera because the chick area requires total human silence, visible humans in costume only, etc.  Whooping cranes are the world's most endangered cranes and ICF is playing a huge role in restoring wild populations.  The curator had sort of implied that this would be our tour and even stated he'd send us to tour the public part of the facility on our own.  Our excitement and interest must have made an impression because before we knew it, we were in a van headed to Crane City, where few non-employees/researchers ever get to go.

Crane City is a vast area with dozens and dozens of yards and houses for breeding cranes.  The majority of the Crane City cranes are whooping cranes because they are so highly endangered, but the other crane species are represented as well.  ICF is the only facility in the world to house all 15 species of cranes.  It was already a HUGE thrill to be in this off-limits, behind-the-scenes area, so imagine our excitement when we got to enter a house and see a super-cute, fuzzy hooded crane chick up close!  We stopped to check out several other cranes as well, including the most genetically valuable pair of whooping cranes in the world.  Again, we must have shown a proper level of excitement and interest because after we left Crane City, the curator gave us a personal tour around the entire public area.  It was excellent because the cranes all came up to him and displayed.  We did get to see all 15 crane species.

We were so excited about our tour we almost immediately set out for Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, hoping to see wild whooping cranes.  We hiked a hot and buggy trail, drove for miles around the 40,000 acre site and climbed to the top of a lookout tower.  We saw lots of sandhill cranes and even an adorable chick, but no whoopers.  We left the refuge and found a dinky but decent mom and pop motel in the nearby town and had a late dinner at the bar/restaurant next door.  We were early to bed, early to rise and hit the refuge again in the morning.  We went right to the lookout tower and were rewarded with some great views of a pair of whooping cranes!  We watched as they browsed for food and chased off a sandhill crane.  It was excellent!  We saw and identified 50 wild bird species on our trip as well as several flycatchers, sparrows and warblers we couldn't positively ID from a quick look.  Maybe a few years from now...

After one last walk around the boardwalk trail by the visitor center, we headed back into town and had an excellent breakfast at the Little Crane Cafe.  We moved on to Wisconsin Dells and visited the Deer Park where we fed crackers to deer and got to see lots of adorable fawns.  We hit a cheese store on the way out of town where I bought some silly and fun toys for the kids for our upcoming South Dakota road trip.  We started home around noon and arrived home ~4pm.  It was a perfect weekend trip and we both had a blast.

Meanwhile, Gene had a very busy Saturday morning with the kids.  Kaylin and two of her friends sold her Flufferdoodles (feather hair clips) at the Riverfront Market.  They sold 57 and were thrilled!  This was my dad's big adventure and he supervised, but Gene went very early to set up their table.  Gene then left and took Logan to his baseball game where Logan hit a game-winning three-run homer!  Go Logan!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ancient History

One thing that annoys me about the kids' day camp is that they are constantly required to bring a small amount of cash.  I don't mind at all that they need money for a wiener roast or for popcorn at the movies, I just never carry cash anymore and end up rummaging for change or making an emergency ATM stop.  I always try to remember to get some cash over my weekend, but it never seems to work out.

One day last week, each of the kids needed $2 for lunch.  I had two ones I gave to Logan and told Kaylin to go dig two dollars in quarters out of my change jar.  As we were driving to camp, Kaylin realized she had accidentally grabbed a nickel instead of a quarter.  I always have some change in my car so it was no big deal.  Then she was looking closely at the nickel and realized it was from (gasp! wait for it!) 1959.  She was astounded that a nickel that OLD could still be in circulation.  She just went on and on about that old, old nickel.  (In case you're not a coin collector, yes, it looks like every other nickel through 20whatever when they started whatever they're doing with the new nickels- it's not buffalo head or anything.)  Logan asked to see it and he, too, was amazed.  Kaylin talked about how she was going to write her Young Authors book next year about the nickel and from the point of view of the nickel and how many people had spent it, etc.  I just giggled and felt old.  That night Kaylin's friend came over, saw the nickel and her response was "WHOA!!!"

Yep.  That is one old nickel!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

More Scout

I've been too busy playing with Scout to write about him.  He is turning out to be an excellent dog.  Scout has been great with the kids and all their friends who have been over.  He's not completely housebroken, but he's doing better every day.  Poor doggie got bordetella (kennel cough) from the shelter and while I've only heard him cough once or twice, he's sneezing a lot and sprays snot everywhere.  Gross, but he can't help it.  Otherwise, you'd never know he's sick; he's eating well and playing like a maniac.  I'm sure he'll catch on soon, but right now he's the easiest dog I've ever medicated.  I could probably just give him a plain pill and he'd eat it.  One really weird thing he does is sniff around the back yard for hours at a time.  He just sniffs and sniffs and sniffs.  It's completely shocking that I'd get another OCD dog :)

As far as the other pets, Scout pretty much ignores Tiger the cat.  Tiger is WAY bigger than him and Scout pretends Tiger doesn't exist.  Tiger was pretty unfazed by the teensy dog.  Willow was terrified and spent two days in the garage before figuring out that Scout doesn't care about her.  She still runs from him sometimes and he chases her until she turns around.  At first I was terrified Scout was going to tear apart the rats' cage and kill them.  I moved the cage to another room and he now leaves them alone most of the time.

Otherwise, he's cuddly and wonderful.  He likes riding in the car and playing fetch.  We took him to Logan's baseball game today and he either snooped around in the grass or curled up in one of our laps.  I am so happy and relieved to have a dog again.  We were only without a dog for a few weeks, but I couldn't stand it.  Scout is the perfect addition to our family.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


We had planned to spend the weekend in St. Louis, but that got scrapped because we found a new dog!   I took Wednesday off work for the kids' last day of school.  My dad picked them up and took them to lunch, so I spent the morning running errands.  One of my errands was picking up rat chow at PetSmart.  The visit to PetSmart sort of knocked me for a loop.  I was so sad and missing Duncan so much I decided to go back to the shelter and look at dogs.  I was hoping the dachshund Kaylin and I played with on Friday was still there.  It was!  Maybe this was meant to be! I pulled his card and requested to meet him.  The shelter has some colored sticker system that IS simple and explained to the public, but I hadn't paid attention.  The sticker on his card showed he was already adopted.  Bummer. The  front desk ladies double-checked his info and found that the adoption had been canceled. Yay! They brought Scout the dachshund to a private room and he was a total sweetie pie.  I filled out a hold form and went to get the kids.

I called my dad and he was close to our house, planning to go to the playground before bringing the kids home.  He was driving right by our street anyway, so I asked him to stop at home first.  Kaylin was very excited about meeting Scout because she had already seen him. Her excitement was contagious and Logan quickly agreed to go meet the dog instead of going to the park. This was the true test. Would Scout be good around the kids? Yes! I won't pretend like our meeting was all flowers and rainbows. Scout would have much preferred a walk outside than meeting with a roomfull of strangers, but he was totally comfortable with the kids.  He showed no signs of aggression and didn't mind one bit when Logan was patting his head a little hard.  Scout allowed me to touch and play with his feet and ears, check his teeth and mouth and roll him on his back with no aggression or resistance.  He wasn't fazed when the kids picked him up.  With these positive signs, I called Gene and begged him to leave work and come to the shelter.

The shelter has a policy that all family members must meet an animal before it can be adopted. Gene reluctantly left work and came to join us.  The shelter people brought Scout to the room and Gene immediately fell for him.  We filled out the rest of the adoption paperwork, paid the fee and were told we could pick up Scout on Saturday.  SATURDAY?!?  Three days? Hahaha. Our terrible test of patience...  Scout needed to be neutered and it couldn't be scheduled until Friday. I was instructed to call Friday after 2 pm to be sure the vet cleared Scout for surgery.  As long as everything went well last night, we'll be picking up our new dog after 9 this morning.  We can't wait!

Since Scout was picked up as a stray, we have no idea if he's housebroken.  We don't know what he'll be like around cats.  We don't know if he'll eat shoes or tear apart the couch.  I'm fairly positive his stumpy legs won't allow him to jump a 6 foot fence, but will he dig?  Bark incessantly?  Walk on a leash?  We'll see.  His age is estimated at 2 years old so he's probably mostly out of the puppy craziness.  He certainly seemed laid back and non-aggressive in our meetings.  It's quite a gamble, but Scout certainly seems worth it!  Four hours until I can call the shelter and then hopefully go get him.

Since we had planned for St. Louis, we all had the day off yesterday.  We needed to do something to get our mind off the terribly long wait for the dog so we decided to take a day trip to Springfield.  Gene's been wanting to go to the Lincoln Presidential Museum/Library since it opened a few years ago.  Yesterday was his day!  Wow, that place is quite a production!  The movies were Disney quality.  We had a good old time playing with toys from the period and I think we all learned a LOT about Abraham Lincoln.  It was a gorgeous day so we moved on to Henson Robinson Zoo.  Logan found two peacock feathers and we had way too much fun playing attack the feather (through the glass) with a pair of young bobcats.  They would pounce and leap and stalk those feathers! We also played with a very active wolverine that was following us along its exhibit and jumping up on the glass to "get" us.  That little zoo has made some really nice improvements since the last time I visited a few years ago.  We had a great time!

It's just starting to get light and I'd love to go down to Forest Park Nature Center and bird a while.  I should probably clean the house and prep for the dog instead. Hmmm.  Maybe I can do both.