Things Have Changed…

Jeff Price-24

I noticed just the other day
that things are different in how I play
in the way I used to spend my life
not counting when I had a wife
for they tend to tell a man
of the things that they have planned
for him to do day to day
even though he would rather play
and do the things that he would like
but he does her things to avoid a strife
no what I mean is that I have changed
where I used to do the same
old things from day to day
like go outside and work in the yard
rake the leaves and toil very hard
and be tired at the end of the day
but feeling good in a tired sort of way
and now I like to sit and write
and spend my days inside despite
that things outside are not the same
with Richie gone myself I blame
and working outside sharing the space
even though he has run his race
I miss that little doggie friend
and always will until the end
and so I spend more time inside
until the memories do decline
and then outside I will go
to do the work I used to do.

Written 10/20/2017


Memories – Written 9-14-2017

Richie smaller (1 of 1)The days are long and my heart is cold
thoughts of Richie are NOT growing old
as quickly as I want them to be
to lift the weight of grief in me.

I worked outside around the shed
the area that the snake had hid
waiting probably in fear
as he watched the little dog draw near.

Poised and ready no rattle to warn
a natural reaction for which it was born
striking the dog to preserve its life
as the law of the wild provokes such strife.

Richie let out an almighty roar
a sound I had never heard before
as he flew out from under the shed
knowing that he was already dead.

He looked at me with his big brown eyes
pleading for help with no disguise
as I rushed him to my local vet
who worked to save my little pet.

Alas for it was not to be
as he died the next day peacefully
and I brought him home in a box
my faith in God forever lost.

I blame myself for Richie’s death
for not cleaning out from under the shed
and leaving a place for the snake to hide
from the dog exploring with curious eyes.

Everywhere out in the garden I see
traces and memories of what used to be
holes dug here and a dirt pile there
and trails through the plants leading who knows where.

Even though there are Ginny and Pete
their personalities do not compete
and are different in the ways they shine
and cannot replace what’s left behind.

Maybe I should get another pet
one that likes to dig and yet
it would never be the same
even with the very same name.

So all that remains is for me to heal
knowing that I will always feel
love for the little dog that I lost
as I remain behind to bear the cost.

If the Gods are kind to me
one day I hope that I will be
with Richie in another life
one where there is no strife
and pets never do grow old
its called “The Rainbow Bridge” so I am told.


 Rainbow Bridge 

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Author unknown…

Richie and the Snake

Yesterday, my little Dachshund Richie, the same one that is always sniffing around, was struck by a venomous snake that was under the deck that is in front of the workshop. I was working on something no more than 3 feet from where it happened and counted myself lucky that it was the dog and not me that was struck. I was not able to identify the snake as I didn’t get to see it being more concerned with Richie but there is definitely an uptick in them in my yard this summer. I have lived in this house for 32 years and this is the first time that I have encountered a poisonous snake inside of the yard.

I have several garter snakes that live in and around the ponds and yesterday while I was looking for whatever struck Richie, I found a black Whipsnake about 2 feet long that had just eaten something as its body was pretty distended. You can’t be too careful especially around the ponds or in dark shady places like under sheds. It seems that this hot, dry summer has really got them moving presumably to find water.

I rushed Richie to the vets but he was already in shock and was out of it by the time I got there. My vet is only 10 minutes from my house and when I walked in, they went into action like a well oiled team and had saline and other solutions including anti-venom pumping into his little body in no time flat. I stayed back out of the way and watched and hoped against hope that Richie would make it. They kept him overnight which I always dread as that is when animals seem to die after surgery. At least, that has been my experience. If they get through that first night, they have a chance.

True to his word, my vet called me around 9:00 pm that evening to give me a report. He had come back in especially to check on the dog and told me he would call me in the morning. After a restless night, I was up very early, (for me) waiting for the call back from the Vet. He had promised me that it would 8:00 am when he called but as I waited and waited all the while my thoughts thinking the worst. He finally called about 8:45 am with the good news that Richie was doing as well as could be expected and was alert although his throat and face were very swollen. But he was alive and my Vet thought that barring a sudden relapse, always possible with snake bites, he might pull through.

I told him I would be along to see Richie later in the day and stopped by in the afternoon. I spent some time with Richie but he was pretty drugged up and really didn’t recognize me. I left and it wasn’t 45 minutes later that I got a call from the Vet to say that Richie had passed away. I was in the car at the time and had to pull over as I just couldn’t stop crying. I had been hoping like hell that the little guy would make it but it was not to be. The Vet suggested that maybe Richie had been hanging on in the hope of seeing me before he passed on but that is probably wishful thinking.

I picked Richie up, this time in a box and brought him home. I took him out and let Ginnie and Pete sniff him over and I hope that this will explain to them Richie’s absence from their little pack. After all, he was the pack leader.

I put him back in the box and took him out to where all of the rest of the animals are buried alongside the Big Pond. The ground was hard and the sweat poured off of me but it helped me to work out some of my grief as I really loved that little dog and I’m pretty sure he loved me.

Now we are down to Ginnie the female miniature Dachshund, who does not really get on with Pete the overweight and bossy Chihuahua and Ellie who has her own problems trying to recover from the loss of Brown Cat. The one saving grace out of losing Richie is that I will no longer have to shut the cat up in a separate room every time I go out for fear that Richie would repeat his attack on her as he did many years ago.

Will I try to find another Richie? He was definitely one of a kind so probably not. I will see how it works out with the other two and then go from there.
Rest in Peace Richie. You were my Best Friend and very much loved. You will be missed.
One final note. It is ironic that of all the things that I revere the most, Mother Nature, she is responsible for Richie’s death. It was one of her creations that killed him. Payback for what he had done to other snakes? Only she knows…

Richie-the mighty hunter

Richie checking up on the opposum

I have this small dachshund named Richie that has been mentioned in many of my blogs mainly due to the fact that he is so energetic and gets into everything. Today was no exception as I saw him nosing around one of the sheds. The more he nosed, the more excited he got so I figured that something was under there. Usually, it’s a rat or a mouse but one time, this small kitten came out. It was a ferrule kitten and was like a bloody spitfire. Richie couldn’t get near it and like a fool, I tried to pick it up and it nearly ripped my hand off. Luckily, I was wearing heavy gloves so it didn’t do me any damage.

We both decided that it wasn’t worth it and the kitten climbed over the fence to escape. Turns out, we were all unharmed by that episode, me, Richie and the kitten.

Richie was keeping up with his prowling and I checked to make sure that all of the blockades put up to deter him from getting under the shed were in place and went back inside. Fifteen minutes later I came out to clean the hot tub filter and heard Richie barking up a storm and it was coming from under the shed. He had found a small opening and had dug it big enough to squeeze himself through to get at whatever was under there.

The last two times Richie has had “under shed episodes” he nearly got himself into trouble. One of these was under a different shed and one was under the deck. The shed episode he got into it with a big old tree snake that was all of 6 feet long. I managed to call him off from that one and we let the snake slip away. The deck episode happened at 3:00 am and this time, he cornered a racoon and they had a heck of a battle which consisted mostly of jumping in and jumping out as each took a shot at the other. The ‘coon got in the final blow and Richie came limping out covered in his own blood from a very small scratch on his nose but with a huge dent to his pride.

This episode was different. I should mention that this shed is raised up enough for small dogs and animals to get under but access is from one side only which is the side that I thought I had barricaded up. Years ago, the oldest of my cocker spaniels who was blind, managed to end up under this same shed. The only way I got her out was to literally dig a trench big enough for me to slide into to get far enough back to reach her.

I had visions of having to do the same this time so I cleared away my barriers and dug enough out that I could shine a light under the shed. Meanwhile, Richie was barking up a very excited storm and laying on my belly with the flashlight pointing under the shed, I saw that Richie had cornered an opossum. It was giving as good as it was getting and there was the usual jockeying for position followed by a swift dart forward with the other guy doing a backward jump to avoid the onslaught. All the time, Richie was keeping up this constant barking which for all I know was to help terrorize the intended victim. Or maybe it was Richie’s way of keeping up his courage and the barks were self reinforcement.

Richie is not well-behaved at the best of times and given the current circumstances with him worked up into a hunting frenzy and highly excited, he paid absolutely no attention to me and continued with his battle. I went around the other side of the shed to see if I could dig a way under closer to the action but to no avail so back to the front and I started digging the trench so I could get in there. I was able to crawl in a little way but could not see them as they were behind a block that helped to hold up the shed so I crawled back out and got a hose pipe and tried to end the fight with water.

That didn’t work and I went to get a better digging shovel and started back on the trench. In the meantime, it had gone awful quiet. The silence was deafening. I couldn’t see anything and crawled back out and Richie was standing there looking at me at eye level as it to say, “What are you doing under the shed”?

Breathing a sigh of relief that he was not hurt other than a small scratch on his nose …again, I shovelled all the dirt back in and did a better job of blocking it off in the hope that there would not be any re-occurrences of these situations, yeah right, probably wishful thinking on my part.

The story is not over as I had no idea what happened to the opossum but I found Richie, some ten minutes later, over by the compost heap looking very suspicious. Sure enough, he had dragged that opossum out from under the shed when I was getting the other digging tool and had carried it a full 40 yards to the fenced in yard which has the compost heap and many other things and was standing there looking at it. The opossum was doing his opossum thing and was not moving and I could see that it was still breathing but was chewed up in a few places. So, I poked him with a stick and he got up and kind of staggered over to the fence.

I took Richie inside along with the other dogs to give the little opossum a chance to recover. By the time I got back out there, it had managed to climb up onto the fence although he didn’t look in very good shape. I let the dogs back out and Richie stood guard just in case the opossum fell off the fence.

Opposum on top of fence, recovering

I had to run some errands and when I came back an hour later, the opossum had gone hopefully making his way back into the woods. I checked around just to be sure but there was no sign of him.

I am hoping this story had a happy ending. I know it did for Richie as he did not get hurt and had the excitement of the chase and the capture albeit only temporarily. I hope that the opossum got away and recovers as we try not to kill anything in our house except those damn rats. Dirty smelly things.

It got me thinking if today was a good day for Richie. Do dogs have that sort of reasoning ability that makes them happy or sad? In his case, he is nearly always happy and has a tail that non stop wags madly from side to side even when he is poking around in the garden looking for lizards and frogs and the occasional mouse or rat.

But today was different. He actually had to fight to win his prize albeit only temporarily. Does that give him more or extra satisfaction? I guess we’ll never know…

In the meantime, Richie is back out there sniffing around for anything that moves. The mighty hunter…

Routine Maintenance or just Busy Work…

Fish Fountain Water Feature

I was in one of the ponds the other day fixing a pipe that had gone astray
the pipe to the Fish Fountain Statue led but was  spraying water in the pond instead.

I do not mind getting in the ponds when the water is warm and the temperature high
for it is like a swimming pool, but not as clean and a little green with algae
and dirt floating around and with fish for company tho they cannot be found
except when against my leg they do swim not knowing who this is and why
I am around but they really don’t care as I move slowly so as not to step
on any of them and I cannot  forget that at least two turtles live in the pond
so warily as I move along  just in case  one under my foot should be found.

With so many ponds it’s hard to say which one the turtles are in today
as on the  move they can often be found going on walkabout
without much design as the course they are taking to them seems fine
Richie, the dachshund kicks up a fuss  as he barks frantically to make me aware
at least, I like to think it is so but probably he is more interested to go
to see to the turtle what he can do although with the big one he has met his match
and the big turtle retreats into his shell at the noise
and is too heavy for Richie to surprise by flipping on his back
as this seems to be his favorite thing.
The small one is more of a match as on his shell Richie chews
in a frantic attempt to eat him as he does with the rats in the shed.

I fixed the pipe,it didn’t take much and while I was there the pond I did clean.
Keep in mind the ponds do reside under the trees which means
that leaves are always inside the ponds
so now and then, with my hands as a shovel I scoop out the muck
and onto the bank it goes and then in go the hands for another big load
and so it goes on until satisfied me that the pond is as clean
as it’s going to be as leaves fall in it all of the time
and cleaner than clean is not my line besides the muck in the bottom I find
is a place where the Koi can nuzzle around to find tidbits and larvae and small little bugs
that add to their diet instead of the stuff that I feed.

Turtles in Stream Pond

Red Eared Sliders

In go my hands just one more time, whats this round and hard with sharp little claws
its one of the turtles the middle-sized one who struggles and scratches
as I lift him out just to quickly examine him and to see
if any leeches have attached to his body as they will kill him given the time
as is the way Nature decrees as we all fall in line in the food chain
and in the grand  scheme of things.

The pipe is fixed and the pond is clean
at least cleaner than before I started the task.
While I was at it a pump I did change as the old one was stopped more than it pumped
which is a sure sign that it’s on it’s way out. It will soon be history and will be added to the pile of used pumps that I have out of view.

I check its number and make a note to see if under warranty
Darn, it’s not so there goes that hope of exchange for a new one mainly
to put on the shelf as it’s a pretty safe bet that given the time
one of the pumps will go off-line
and the new one that’s sitting on the shelf will be placed into action
it’s work to begin and the old one back on the pile will be thrown.

I clean up the mess of the leaves from the pond and put water lilies back in the tank
to recover from damage the Koi they did make
as they chewed and buffeted them all along
I replaced the lilies with strong growing ones and in a safety net did place
to protect them from the damaging Koi  as in the ponds they do grace.

Water Lily in net

Routine stuff all  in a day but not if the Koi had their way
as damage they do to anything new that is green and tender
as on them they chew.

I walk the yard, what else do I see that needs attention immediately.
Ah yes, the filters need to be changed and then cleaned to be used again
simple work it is true but the difference is great what the filters can do
to keep water clean, after the dirt I kicked up
as I was cleaning out the muck.

I change the filters and hose them down knowing that the next time I’m out
checking things in the yard to see the things to be done will always include
feeding fish which is fun to watch as they splash and turn
disturbing the water in their mad dash to eat as much of the food as they can.

If nothing is found then inside I’ll go, give the dogs cookies
as they hang around,  check for messages, oh good nothing for me,
this gives me a chance to work on this blog as in the back of my mind this idea I have
of writing about my dip in the pond.

Today in the Garden 5/5/2012

Today was an eventful today day as far as the garden is concerned.

The turtles of which I believe there are four, have been pretty active sunning themselves on the rocks around the ponds. When I say active, I don’t mean they are jumping about. Quite the contrary as they are just sitting in the sun but they have come out of the water and are showing themselves which is always a pleasant surprise.

The biggest of the two in this picture is probably 8-9 inches in shell size whilst the small one is about 4 inches. The small one is the same one that wandered up about a month ago when I was mulching and discovered him by the trailer. I wondered if he had hung around and it appears he has. They do move from pond to pond as both were originally sighted in the third pond and this picture is taken by the pond and stream.

As a follow-up to this blog, after I had posted it, I took a walk around the garden as I often do and came across the little turtle on one of the walkways. Guess he was on a walkabout so I picked him up and put him back in the same pond hoping that he will stay there.

Turtles in Stream and Pond

Turtles in Stream and Pond

Another and much more interesting event was the discovery by Richie, my inquisitive dachshund, of a large tree snake. This may well be the same one that he had a run in with last year which I wrote about in an earlier blog. Luckily, I am beginning to recognize some of his barks and can tell the squirrel barks or the buzzard barks. This one had a note of real panic and concern which got me over to him pretty quick. Again, the tree snakes at first glance do resemble the markings of a rattlesnake. I moved the dogs indoors whilst I dealt with this intruder.

So, armed with a camera I went back and given more time, was able to determine that this snake was harmless. I took a few pictures and made sure that it left the property by slithering under the fence before letting the dogs back out. Richie was straight back to the spot he first encountered the snake and was most disappointed that it was gone. Nothing left to kick up a fuss over. By the way, this snake was all of 6 feet long.

Tree Snake in Defensive Mode

Tree Snake in Defensive Mode

If you double click on the picture, you can see a larger version of the snake in all of his glory.

Today’s Discussion – 4/9/2012

This beautiful weather here in Texas is just making the garden grow in leaps and bounds. Everything is just shooting up and as long as we get a shower or two in the future, this years Pond Tour on June 9/10 looks like it will be outstanding.I have more roses this year than I have ever seen. They are growing in abundance. I have red’s and yellows and yesterday, I bought a white one just because I liked how it looks. The Sacred Datura are already beginning to flower which seems a bit early compared to other years. They have large white bell-like flowers that are easily six inches big. They only last a day and then wither down until the next one comes out. They are actually members of the Nightshade family and all parts of the plant is poisonous.

The Jasmine is supposed to be flowering at this time of the year but I lost so much of it in the drought, that there are only a few flowers showing up. Normally, one almost gets giddy with their strong scent bit not this time around. Oh well, can’t have it all.

I have finally finished mulching the entire yard or at least all of the flower beds. I had to make six trips with my trailer and used 6 cubic yards total. It took a while because of the abundant vegetation. Next year, I am going to wait for the first frost to knock everything down and then I am going to mulch. Sure will be a lot easier. The only major thing I want to do before the Pond Tour is to add crushed granite to the walkways. That won’t take long as compared to the mulch, the gravel is plain sailing.

The latest report on the Koi in three of the ponds is that they are still doing their mating thing and knocking each other around and at the same time, doing their best to destroy their chosen plants. When they are through, eventually, I will have to get in the ponds to clean up the mess.

Yesterday, while I was finishing up unloading the trailer, which I park outside the garden in the driveway, I walked back for yet one more load pulling my trusty hand cart and there was this red slider turtle in front of me. This one is about five inches big and was exceptionally clean. I don’t know where or how long he has been on his walkabout but I picked him up and placed him in one of the ponds to joint the other three turtles that I have there. This morning, my little tearaway dachshund, Richie, was kicking up an awful fuss down the very bottom of the garden. He does that for squirrels and buzzards but this time, it was a little more frantic so I wandered down there to see him busy attacking the new turtle who of course, was withdrawn into his shell. He had managed to get out of the pond that I put him in yesterday and was obviously quite determined to continue on his walkabout. I picked him up and put him back into the smaller of the ponds where there are no other turtles. I don’t know if turtles are territorial so this time I figured he could have the pond to himself.

It wasn’t fifteen minutes later that Richie was barking again and lo and behold, he had found the turtle who had just climbed out of the small pond. Talk about determination. So, we now have him in a pond that is a little more but not impossible, to get out of keeping one of the other turtles company. it will be interesting to see how long he stays.

A Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor). Photo ...

Tufted Titmouse

I noticed a pair of Tufted Titmouse showing an interest in the nest box that  one of my young soccer players, Dominick Mauro, had made    and passed on to me. This is the first birds that I have seen to take any interest in any of the nest boxes scattered around my garden. Something to keep an eye on.All in all, yesterday was an extremely good day as for me, there are no bad days unless I lose one of my pets. All things being equal, I have a great life. I finished mulching the yard, I found the turtle, I saw the Tufted Titmouse looking at the nest box, no one cut in front of me or otherwise teed me off, Manchester United beat Queen’s Park Rangers 2-0 and to top it off, Arsenal beat Manchester City by a single goal increasing Manchester United’s lead at the top of the table to eight points with six games to go.

Who could ask for a better day or a better life…