Backyard Murders

There.  I now have your attention.  Here is an eyewitness account from the scene of the crimes….

Sometime this Spring, a female hawk built a nest high atop our backyard pine tree. Being the good momma that she is, her daily priority is to provide food and shelter for her babies.  From her perch in the family’s home and sometimes from neighboring rooftops, she scours the area for their next meal.  One evening, we were dining on the deck when Mama Hawk (nicknamed Toni Hawk) suddenly and swiftly flew past us towards a family of bunnies munching on grass in our side yard.  One bunny leapt into the window well of the home next door, but we believe that an unlucky sibling became supper for the Hawk family.  Our leisurely meal turned into a murder mystery.

I remember a few of the science lessons I learned from my long ago school days.  For example, I can recall the concept of the Food Chain, defined as “a hierarchical series of organisms each dependent on the next as a source of food.”  Simply put, this definition explains whom eats whom in the wild.  I can also retrieve from the recesses of my memory the concept of Natural Order, defined by Merriam-Webster as “the orderly system comprising the physical universe and functioning according to natural as distinguished from human or supernatural laws.”

At this current point in my life, I am somewhat hypersensitive to death and the sometimes untimeliness of it.  I fully understand the concepts of the Food Chain and Natural Order and their relation to the wild.  I know why Mama Hawk is hunting and killing in OUR BACKYARD.  She is providing food for her children.  I bet she also fiercely protects them from harm, and tries to teach them about life, which most likely includes flying lessons.

As a mother, I attempted to do the same with my only offspring.  I fed him, attempted to protect him from harm and served as his teacher.  He was supposed to develop his own wings, leave the nest and fly off into adulthood, a career, marriage, family, and fulfillment of his dreams.  Our life was supposed to follow the Natural Order of Humans, where Rule #1 is: Parents don’t bury their children.  Children bury their ELDERLY parents.  There really is no such thing as the “Natural Order of Humans.” We just like to believe that life will follow some logical and “normal” order.  It. Does. Not.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I see a cardinal on a regular basis.  I fully understand the spiritual meaning of his presence and frequent visits.  I also believe that Mama Hawk did not take up residence in our backyard as coincidence, as you know I do not believe in coincidence, accidents, chance or luck.  I think she is here to demonstrate and remind me that Natural Order only applies to nature and its wildlife. She is here to help me understand the Unnatural Order that is a purely human experience.

Dog Gone

It has been nearly a month since we said our goodbyes to our beloved yellow Labrador Retriever.  We rescued her in May of 2006, just two months after we put down our Rottweiler, Fritz.  I was ready to be done with pets at that time, but with the passing of my spouse in 2001 and now the dog, my family kept getting smaller and smaller, leaving just me and my then eight-year old son.  Also, the boy had never known life without a dog, as Fritz was our “first-born.”  We adopted Biloxi Blue just shy of her second birthday.  (We got her from a Lab rescue in Indiana.  I recently learned that in all of the years that Jan and her friends operated the rescue, they were able to find homes for over 700 Labs.)  Upon bringing our new dog home, my son had trouble remembering her name, so I shortened it to Lexi and then later tagged on “Lou.” So, Biloxi Blue, which to me sounded like the name of a race horse, became Lexi Lou.

Miss Lexi provided us with companionship and unconditional love for just under eleven years.  She was sweet, affectionate and hugely loyal-a word in the Lab world that can be synonymous with shadow or stalker.  Wherever I was, that was where Lexi had to be.  She followed me from room to room as I performed chores, sat outside the shower while I bathed, and insisted on joining me for “other” bathroom duties as well. She was exhausted on Mondays from all of the “shadowing” that went on over the weekend.

Her passing has been exceptionally difficult not only because her daily presence is missed and my daily routine has drastically changed, but also because she is my last dog.  I will blow out 57 candles on my cake in August.  I do not want to take on another 10-13 year commitment to a pet.  Mr. Joan and I are semi-empty nesters, and want to enjoy the freedom to pick up and go at will.   I will always cherish the love and affection provided by all six of the dogs I have shared a portion of my life with-Kessie, Shosha, Misha, Natasha, Fritz and Lexi.  And while I am fairly certain that there will be a “grand-dog” in my future, my days as Dog Momma have come to an end.  I would like to think that I have been a good Mom to my four-legged family members.  My own mother used to joke that in her next life, she wanted to come back as one of my dogs!

There is so much I already miss about having a dog in my life.  I miss your sloppy kisses.  I miss your insistence on being a lap dog, though the smallest dog I owned weighed 40 pounds, but most were 60-110 pounds.  I miss our daily walks, which provided us both with exercise, but also enabled me to meet tons of neighbors over the years.  I miss the back and forth of a great game of fetch.  I miss the way you hung your head out the car window, the wind blowing back your ears.  I miss the smile on your face.  Yes, dogs do smile.

I like to believe that we are reunited with our dogs when we cross over, just like we reunite with our family members who have gone before us.  So, until we meet again, I will miss you.

Gone to the Dogs

We share our home with an ever-shedding yellow Labrador Retriever. There isn’t a corner or crevice in our home that doesn’t contain small, blondish/white hairs. They are EVERYWHERE! In an attempt to take back some of the house, I basically banished her from the beds. A few weeks ago, I decided to take back the sofa as well. (One of her favorite places to curl up with her head nestled on the throw pillows.) The photo below shows where I found her the other day. Obviously, we now know who rules our house-her Highness, Queen Lexi!

Rooftop Guest

As we pulled into our driveway a few weeks ago, I spotted an unfamiliar object on the roof. A hawk was perched on the vent, just checking things out. I am uncertain what prey it might have been patiently stalking, however, I enjoyed observing and photographing our visitor. I understand that hawks have incredible patience, hence the saying, “watched like a hawk.” Our bird of prey remained in command of his post for quite some time. I hope it was time well spent. I could use a lesson or two in patience from this feathered friend!


Stalked by Sleeping Beauty


I have written a few posts about our lovable Lab, Lexi. We adopted her nearly three years ago from a rescue. She is my first venture into the world of retrievers. (Previous canine companions have included a beagle-poodle mix, a couple of Chow Chow’s and a Rottweiler.) I have been introduced to a few common Labrador attributes, such as their incessant urge to hunt, chronic ear goo and an inability to be separated from their top dog (me) for even a nano-second. It is this last trait which has forced me to label our dog, The Stalker. If I am home, simply going through the motions of the day, she literally follows me from room-to-room. If I head to the basement gym for a workout, she tags along, often standing over me kissing my face as I crunch my abs. If I need a moment for bathroom duties, she feels compelled to follow. Her latest stunt is to jump on me while I talk on the phone. (I am pretty sure she learned this technique from Junior, who still, at the age of eleven, is in desperate need of my attention as soon as I have a telephone receiver in hand.) I have been forced to shut the door and hide from Miss Lexi Lou in an effort to speak on the phone or flush in private.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love our Looney Lab, but some days between Junior’s constant supervision with homework and Lexi’s silent stalking, a girl tends to go a little crazy. Calgon take me away!

A Dog’s Life

I have always said that in my next life, I want to come back as one of MY dogs.  Any dog that is fortunate enough to be adopted by our family is guaranteed a life full of premium doggy kibble, peanut butter treats, oodles of chew toys, daily constitutionals, siestas on the sofa, warm, soapy baths complete with pedicures,  silly nicknames, tons of kisses and cuddles, and lots of love.

Our current canine family member, Lexi, has experienced nearly three years of the above mentioned lifestyle.  (Below, you can see her tucked in for the night.) If she could talk, I think that she would tell you that she likes it here.


The Pack Mule

My son has a new bath-time ritual. Instead of putting his dirty laundry in the hamper himself, he hires our dog, Lexi, to do it for him. He gets undressed and then piles his clothes on her back. She does not try to shake off the unfamiliar items. She either stands still or walks slowly to wherever I am. She looks at me with this face, which says, ” There is something on my back. PLEASE get it off, now!” Our Lab, the pack mule. Two animals for the price of one.dsc002803