You probably thought I was talking about Arthur. And when I renewed my interest in riding my bicycle a year or two ago, I did think about taking Arthur with me. I even bought a Pet-a-Roo pet front carrier that remains in its box on a shelf in my laundry room closet.
No, it’s not about Arthur. This post is about Penny the biker.
We were finishing our walk at the VOA when Mark directed my attention to a man and his dog. And his motorcycle. He was attaching a harness strap to the passenger seat of his Harley. (Truthfully, I have no idea if it was a Harley, but it makes for better copy.)
This I gotta see, I thought.
And not being particularly shy, in fact being a bit on the forward side some might say, I asked him if I could take a picture of his dog on the bike. The man’s name was Chris and he couldn’t have been nicer. He spent several minutes talking to me about his hobby of taking travel and family photographs, and about his boxer Penny.
Nice man. Adorable dog.
Chris put on his helmet and got on in front of Penny. He started the engine. Penny stayed calm and as cool as she looked.
The sun was low in the sky behind them, throwing their faces into shadow, so Chris accommodated my request and circled around before leaving.
When I sent the photos to him, Chris comment on the one below. “That pose makes me think of the George Thorogood song, B-b-b-b bad, bad to the bone! She looks so serious.”
I think she looks adorable. And inspiring. I may have to pump air into my tires and unpack that Pet-a-Roo carrier after all. But first I need to find Arthur some goggles.
Bad to the Bone:
Grasshoppers dot the sun-warmed paved path every couple of yards or so where I walk Arthur beside the rippling lake on a cool autumn day. Arthur gets close and pokes his nose at one. It hops away.
Arthur scampers along beside me in the grass, his nose to the ground. Following a trail. His little white paws startle grasshoppers hiding there. Arthur ignores them.
I remember a long ago fall day on the river levy of my dad’s youth where we scampered along the hillside, our little Ked’s-clad feet startling the grasshoppers who hid there. Grasshoppers popping up all around us.
We set chase, catching them with bare hands then letting them go again. The thrill of the catch enough.
We had time for grasshoppers then.
Arthur and I were hanging around the kitchen after breakfast this morning. Arthur was at his post by the side door monitoring the garden outside and I was still at the kitchen table when a little motion from outside near our deck caught my eye. I saw a little black nose attached to a small gray-brown head that was poking itself up through my deck railing right above the space where we’ve housed a family of groundhogs in the past.
Before I could react, the little critter, groundhog I think, made its way up onto our deck. That’s when Arthur noticed it too.
Then all heck broke loose. Arthur started barking. I ran for my camera which somehow rarely manages to be in the right room at the right time.
When I returned with camera in hand, the little critter was gone. I hurried into the adjacent laundry room, Arthur at my heels, but didn’t see anything from that window either. I didn’t see which way it went, and Arthur wasn’t talking.
“It’s gone,” I told Arthur.
A few minutes later the little wild critter came walking along the deck from the back of our house where Mark grows two tomato plants in pots. Need I say more?
The groundhog, I think, was taking its time sauntering back off the deck the way it had entered. That’s when I caught the photo and evidence of at least one of our produce thieves.
He walked down through the St. Francis garden and out into the woods. When he was out of Arthur’s boundaries and reach, I let the little dog, who could hardly contain himself, outside. Arthur did his thing of sniffing, finding a trail and nosing around for a few minutes while I investigated the tomato plants. I didn’t see any tomatoes, but that doesn’t mean much. Mark might have gotten them all earlier.
I heard a loud rustling sound and looked down by the creek where the ground hog was tearing across the bottom of the yard and then jumped down the creek bank. Arthur somehow may have rustled him out, although I don’t know how. Arthur was up by the back of the house and the groundhog was down by the creek. It might have been a diversionary tactic to get Arthur away from the nesting space under our deck.
Nature can be exciting.
I am adding an addendum to this post to correct the identity of the wild animal pictured above. I have been informed that it looks like a baby beaver, and I have to agree. At the time I saw it, I didn’t think it looked exactly like a groundhog, but I wasn’t sure what else it could be. I was worried it might be a big rat, but it’s tail was too broad. The thought of a beaver never crossed my mind. You can see a diagram of a beaver in the link graciously provided by Teepee 12 in the comments below.
In case you missed them, here are earlier posts about the groundhogs that sometimes share our abode.
I’m thinking about taking Arthur back to obedience classes. It’s not that he doesn’t know the basic commands like sit, stay, down, off, and come, it’s more like he doesn’t see the need to obey them. He does pretty good when I reward him with a small piece of chicken. I was told that worked well for training dogs by the last trainer we had. If I’m giving him treats the need factor goes way up. In fact Arthur gets so excited to follow my commands when I’m giving him chicken that often he will immediately flop down onto his stomach when I say “sit.” I imagine he thinks that if sitting is good, lying down must be better.
While I was walking at the VOA park with him this morning, I decided to try out some of his commands. I often tell him to “come” just to check and see if he will. I worry that his harness will have a catastrophic failure and Arthur will be free to roam unleashed, in which case he’d better know how to come if I call. This morning I told him to “stand,” and he very smartly sat down. In Arthur’s defense, that really wasn’t a fair test because I’m not sure we worked on standing very much.
I also worked with him on “heel” today. That went pretty well because, let’s face it, Arthur is a small dog in a harness and I can pretty much keep him wherever I want him, which works out nice when we are walking in areas of muddy puddles. However, he was looking at the dog behind us most of the time we were heeling, so I’m not sure he would have gotten high marks on that one.
We’re trained to get Arthur back in the house after we let him out. He comes to the door. We open it and then go to the refrigerator for a piece of chicken, which we may or may not actually take out to give him. Opening the refrigerator door is often enough incentive. He comes in every time. You’re probably thinking that coming back in the house when you are standing at the door looking in is something you wouldn’t require a treat to do. I know. I feel the same way. I refuse to play. If he doesn’t come in when I open the door I close it right back on his little face, soulful eyes and all, turn my back and walk out of the room. He usually comes when I try again, if I leave him out there long enough, especially if it is raining.
Arthur graduated from beginners obedience class and was taking intermediate class when we quit going. He did not graduate from intermediate class, which I think was partly due to the fact that the instructor was not at all charmed by royalty.
We are not entirely to blame for Arthur’s attitude at times. We were heartbroken people finding comfort in cuddling an adorable soft and fluffy puppy.
Our first dog, Honey, was a rescue dog that the neighborhood vet was boarding for a client who found her in their yard. Honey came to us well-behaved. She loved to please. I took her to obedience classes too and the teacher loved her. So did we. We didn’t need chicken to get her back in the house.
When Honey died early and suddenly from a disc problem in her neck, we were all heartbroken. I maintained that I did not want another dog for about the first 24 hours, and then I knew I needed one. This time I wanted a small dog that I could pick up if he or she had a problem. Honey had collapsed in our yard one afternoon from her neck problem while we were at a relative’s house. Our daughter called us home. On our return we saw Honey lying in the yard and Anna sitting in a lawn chair beside her. I don’t want to go through something like that again. If Arthur collapses anywhere I’ll be able to get him back home and into the house again.
At first I looked for a rescue dog and found a little black puppy I wanted to look at, but by the time Mark was able to go with me to see it someone else had adopted it. It quickly became apparent to me that puppies and small cute dogs were not stranded at the SPCA very long. It reminded me of trying to enter contests on the radio in the ’70s. You had to be highly motivated, vigilant, persistent, and on the mark. I still don’t know how you can ever be the first caller, or the 10th, or the 50th. I wasn’t motivated enough to persist at that.
I found Arthur while searching online for peek-a-poos. My sister had one and I liked the mixed breed. When we got him he was just a little ball of white fluff. He looked like a cotton ball hopping across the back yard when he was still small enough that we could easily catch him if he decided to go for a marathon around the neighborhood.
So maybe we coddled him. A bit.
But I believe you can teach an old dog new tricks. We shall see.
Although we were walking beside fascinating geological features and cliffs that rose as walls around us on our way to Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills State Park, I often found myself gazing at Roots.
Over the years park authorities have incorporated human-man structures to assist the population in experiencing the wonder of the park’s features. This bridge is actually a series of free-standing, unconnected concrete steps with small gaps in between. It reminded me of Robert Jordan’s concept of “the ways” in the Wheel of Time series where characters got on and traveled through the dark without clear guidance or expectation of destination. A lot of bad stuff could happen in the ways, especially if you encountered traveling trollocs. I’m just glad we were traveling here in the light of day.
We took the low road. It’s a long way up to the rim trail.
It’s difficult to convey the immensity of the surrounding landscape. I was Enchanted with the green mossy growth on the walls.
The ferns growing out of the base of a tree looked like someplace you might find magical forest dwellers living.
And of course, the Water Runs Through It. Largely because these geological features were created by water dissolving way the more soluble minerals leaving behind the hard structures, like in Ash Cave.
The cave itself does not look overly impressive from a distance. It appears as a dark horizontal crevice in the face of the cliff.
Another human-made structure helped us get to The Main Event.
Some people think that this profile of a face in the rock is the Old Man. Not so. The old man was a recluse named Richard Row who made this cave his home in the 1800s. The face in the rock looks like something out of the time of Cleopatra to me. Do you see it?
It was fun to watch fearless Arthur boldly go . . .
and even cross A Bridge Too Far. Nothing seemed to deter the little guy out there. He was, however, afraid to jump off the bed at the cabin. It was a wee bit too high for his liking.
Inside Old Man’s Cave Richard Row clearly had A Room with a View.
The green mossy rocks transform the landscape into a Paradise Lost.
Without a doubt this cave was big enough for a whole clan and their cavebears.
Tomorrow I’ll show you the brick house, or was that the rock house?
The trail to Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills State Park was another easy one to travel although there were more steps than the Ash Cave lower trail. And we were actually walking on a dirt path instead of a concrete one for most of the way.
Interestingly enough, we were informed that there are actually no cedar trees in this park, although there are a lot of evergreens that I think were primarily hemlocks. Not sure where the name for Cedar Falls came from. An amateur botanist or two, no doubt.
But there is a nice trail of water creating reflective still pools and gurgling along the trail to or, I suppose more technically correct, from Cedar Falls.
Arthur was trying to figure out how to get a cool drink from his perch above the stream.
It’s a beautiful and serene place to walk.
Because of all the spring rain the falls were fully cascading. Mark remembered there was only a trickle here during our last visit several years ago.
Cedar Falls is a popular attraction at Hocking Hills, and even on a Monday in April we found several people there. New friends for Arthur.
I tried to get pictures of the water flowing smoothly, which you do by setting a slow shutter speed, which also creates blurred photos if you don’t have a tripod. Mine was in the car where it did me absolutely no good.
So I did the best I could. This is something I will work on later, with my tripod.
On the way back the trail ended at a crevice in stone. The children of a family of five who had already passed through were happy to tell us we could get through if we squeezed through the crevice, climbed down some boulders, and hopped across some stones in the creek.
Arthur missed the part about skipping across the stones, as evidenced by the lower half of each leg.
We saw this sign on the other side of the creek as we continued on our way.
You can see the remnants of what might have been a bridge in the rubble in the background.
No harm, no fowl.
Just two grown adults and a little white dog.
I know other people do it. I’ve seen dogs at beaches, at rest stops along the road, at state parks . . . Other people sometimes travel with their pets, so we decided to give it a try.
We found a pet-friendly cabin at Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio and booked it for two nights. It was close enough, about a three hour drive, and we were only going for a short stay. I didn’t know what to expect from a cabin where pets that could be much larger, more prolific shredders, and less well-behaved than Arthur, if you can imagine that, were allowed. Maybe I would discover that I am in fact allergic to dogs and would fall into an interminable sneezing fit.
And we didn’t know exactly how Arthur would respond, and just how big of a pain it might be to attend to his necessary trips outdoors someplace where we couldn’t just let him out the door, go back to our sofa, and wait to see his little face in the door side lights when he was finished.
Better to keep the stay short and not take any chances on being stuck somewhere in a full-blown allergy attack, having to traipse outside in various states of dress in whatever conditions the weather decided to provide.
We made it to the cabin, and at that point I would say Arthur was only doing so-so, partly because of the car ride.
You see, Arthur made it pretty clear he did not want to ride in the back seat by himself. Usually when we go someplace either it is just he and I and he rides strapped into the front passenger seat with his harness, or it is a short trip for the three of us and I hold him in the passenger seat while Mark drives—not the safest way to go, but sometimes we bend the rules.
He clearly identifies himself as a lap dog.
Anyway, Arthur did not get off to a good start on his trial-run of traveling with us with all the crying, barking, and carrying on he did at first. But when I told him that if he kept it up he was going to fail his trial run and not be included in future trips, he calmed down, curled up, and silently sulked.
The second strike against him was when he immediately went out on the screened-in porch upon our arrival at the cabin and relieved himself. Sometimes I just don’t know what he is thinking.
Hocking Hills State Park is probably best known for Old Man’s Cave, but there are quite a few other interesting geological sites throughout the park. We started our visit at Ash Cave, which we noticed was a trail for the physically challenged. And you can see on the right, it is a paved path all the way to the cave’s falls. Mark and I were the most physically challenged people on the trail with my arthritic knees and Mark’s replacement parts.
Along the path we saw crevices and small caves like this one. My inner child yearned to run exploring, or play hide and seek, or live here for a while.
I don’t know if people actually did live here, but the cave got its name from the large amount of ashes that were found here left by native people or early settlers.
The path is at the bottom of a canyon with steep walls and was formed by water dissolving the softer minerals but leaving the harder rock.
I think Mark and Arthur are technically in Ash Cave here, which is more like an indented space beneath a large overhang.
The ground in the protected space is largely dry and composed of sand.
Overhead a streams runs along and drops over the edge of Ash Cave forming the falls that collects in a shallow pool.
You can walk completely behind the falls. It is a large space.
And in the late afternoon as the sun begins to lower to the earth, it shines through the water for a magical effect.
Arthur redeemed himself by proving what a good hiker he was, even if the trail was more like a sidewalk than a path.
Back at the cabin Arthur spent most of the time sleeping alternated with sniffing all around. I think he was trying to figure out just who was here before us. Hopefully whoever it was had better manners than Arthur.
I meant to throw these photos in yesterday, but the post got long, and my neck got tired, and you know how all that goes. So I’m going to try out a gallery or two. I’m not sure if I can put different galleries on the same page.
As you will see, our blooms right now consist of the daffodil and hyacinth bulbs, a few pansies we put on the deck, the Lenten Rose powerhorses that have done remarkably well this year, and the beginnings of the bleeding hearts. Those are one of my favorites. You’ll sweet woodruff near the bleeding hearts, it’s a pretty bright green color and will produce a lovely little white blossom.
This is a tiled-mosaic gallery. I had to delete a few pictures and add others to be somewhat satisfied. I don’t know if there is a way to choose exactly where the photos go, so it was trial and error. I would have liked to exchange the large deck picture with the smaller bleeding heart one. You might miss it altogether. If you find it I do hope you’ll click on it to see the bleeding hearts larger. They’re just coming out. Once you’ve clicked on a photo, you can scroll through them all if you want. And I could have used captions, but just got lazy.
The hyacinths are beautiful, but the best part is their fragrance. Arthur thinks so too.
This is a slide show I did with just two photos. I was a little slow at the start-up, but I think I’m really going to like the fairly new galleries at WordPress. Question answered. Yes I can put different galleries into the same post. This may not be news to you, but I am in a remedial blogging class over here.
Have you made it out of winter yet and into spring in your neck of the woods?
The day had finally arrived. Arthur was going to the groomers. “Let’s go, Arthur,” I said, “we’re going for a ride.”
“I’m not buying that ride stuff,” Arthur said. “The last time we went for a ride they shaved my leg, stuck a needle in it, made me throw up multiple times, and then kept me in a cage for three hours.“
“Come on, Arthur. You need a haircut.”
“I don’t know why you say that.“
Four hours later Arthur returns home with his new haircut.
“Dang. They put a scarf on me again. And they didn’t fix the place on my leg where they shaved me. I look like a half-baked poodle.“
“You’re so clean, and nice and soft, Arthur.”
“I wonder if I can lick this perfume off.“
“Arthur, look at me so I can take your picture.”
“Really? Haven’t you done enough for one day?“
“Maybe I can rub this off,“
“or roll it off.“
“If I can just push a little harder.“
“Yes. I think this is working.“
“Hey, did somebody say ‘squirrel’?“
“Arthur, watch me.”
“Nope. I’m not. I’m not going to look at you.“
“I’m going to hang my head in shame until my hair grows back.“
“This is as good as it gets.”
I should have known better. I plead innocent by virtue of a grief-induced foggy mind. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.
Over the past weeks since both my parents died, my siblings and I have made a valiant effort to clean-up, clear-out, and distribute the possessions that remained, bizarrely, after my parents departed. It’s one of the strangest things about this whole experience. The things they bought, used, loved, kept, didn’t know what to do with, are all still here, without them.
Anyway, in what seems like an endless series of trips home, from the house they lived in that was left behind, I brought home boxes of photos, books, china, memorabilia, and so forth that either I couldn’t part with, or thought that my parents would have wanted kept. I realize my parents’ wishes in this matter are dubious at this point, at best, but the mind and heart does strange things when facing the absoluteness of death of a loved one or two.
Mark and I brought home the bird feeders we had given my dad for Christmas a year or two ago. And while we were in the garage, with the tools and fishing poles that my father also left behind, we went ahead and took the bird seed containers as well, including the one that contained peanuts in the shell for a little wire snowman feeder.
This morning I saw the birds checking out our empty feeders and I decided I would feed them the peanuts. In my exuberance to feed the birds, I remembered the little squirrels who are hungry, and threw a couple of handfuls of the peanuts on the ground in the garden. Arthur, who was accompanying me in my works of generosity for nature’s creatures, immediately snagged a peanut and ran off with it.
At first I was worried, confusing peanuts for chocolate momentarily and trying to remember if Arthur was allergic to peanuts. By the time he returned to grab a second peanut, having devoured the first one shell and all, I realized that if Arthur could eat peanut-butter, which he can, he should be able to eat peanuts.
Then a nagging thought occurred to me, how old were those peanuts anyway? And the old girl scout song, Found a Peanut, in which someone finds a peanut, cracks it open, finds it is rotten, eats it anyway, and ends up getting sick and then dying, from decades ago came back to haunt me. By now Arthur has returned for at least a third, and possibly fourth peanut.
I crack one open. It is moldy.
I grab all the peanuts I can find on the ground and throw them away. I empty the bird feeder of peanuts.
I think Arthur’s stomach will reject the moldy peanuts he ate if they are a problem and he will likely throw up.
But he’s just a little dog.
So I call the vet.
Three hours and $94 later, I pick Arthur back up from the animal hospital where his system has been chemically purged, then chemically calmed down again. Except for a shaved area on his right front leg that they used for the IV, Arthur does not seem any worse for the wear.
But his long-overdue haircut scheduled for tomorrow will have to wait.
What kind of responsible pet owner would deliberately traumatize the little guy two days in a row?