Dear Bob, here are some photos of my life here on the campus of Concordia Seminary. I love kids, working with the grounds crew, swimming, playing with my dog friends, and especially my own family people.
Ever wonder what goes on in your yard during the middle of the night? Well, with snow covering the grass right now, we don't have to wonder. Our yard is covered with animal tracks of all kinds, big to small, none of them belonging to Ferdie. It's like animal house with real animals using our property for whatever.
I'll be over in Collinsville today for Ash Wednesday church and I'm very curious to see if our backyard shows any raccoon tracks. Then we'll know if our belief we finally got them all holds true.
One thing about snow, you really learn what dogs are constantly sniffing as they take walks. You can see.
Last night the first 4 groups went off and the winners were: Beagle, Shih Tzu, Poodle, and English Sheep Dog. Tonight the final 3 groups will get a winner and all group winners vie for best in show. Of course it wouldn't be Westminster if a poodle wasn't one of the group winners, judges always always go for a poodle and I've never understood this. Poodles with actual fur can be cute and engaging but the way they're groomed for shows is just embarrassing. If judging is based on how accurately a dog fits its standard for whatever it is supposed to do in life, the poodle certainly does not fit any of that, what with the big poofy fur surrounded by bald areas.
Anyway. Tonight the first group will be the sporting dogs which includes the Golden Retriever, a breed which is hugely popular with dog fans but has never won at Westminster. The Labrador Retriever, another very well liked breed has also never won at Westminster. If you watch tonight, this group will be up first and the applause for these dogs will be very loud. But judges just do not seem to be impressed with them.
Dog judges always seem to lean toward the tiny dogs or the froo froo/exotic big dogs. If a Golden ever wins Westminster the applause will be deafening and may ever be so loud the Madison Square Garden roof may fall in.
Last year a Fox Terrier won, but I still watch with hope a Golden or Labrador will pull off a win.
We haven't trapped any raccoons from our property in Collinsville this year, but after several years of catching dozens, these two stories affect me two ways, either they make me laugh or give me chills.
First this video of a couple from Maryland with a bag of Doritos being surrounded by what appears to be hundreds of raccoons. If you haven't seen it, take a look, it's mind boggling and would fit quite nicely into my nightmares.
Then a story out of Los Angeles about the health department trying to take action against a grocery store which has been selling raccoon meat. Entire raccoons, frozen, bagged, and selling for $9.99 per pound. This seems to be a no-no out in LA, or at least there is no regulation in place for making sure these things are safe.
I wonder, even though I wouldn't eat raccoon no matter how much you paid me, if possibly we might find them for sale at Soulard Market. They often have many exotic meats and live animals for sale.
In any event we've seen way too many raccoons up close and personal to ever think they were cute or edible.
Xylitol is a sugar substitute found commonly in most sugar free gums, candies, baked goods, vitamins and most other foods. While not harmful to humans, it is extremely toxic to dogs. We learned this over the weekend when the dog of a friend of ours gulped down a bunch of cookies which were on the counter. The cookies were made with the artificial sweetener, Xylitol. The owner was not only surprised the dog ate the cookies but had no idea of the effect of this chemical.
The dog is barely hanging on and the outcome is very much in doubt. Xylitol strongly promotes the release of insulin from the pancreas into circulation leading to a rapid decrease of blood glucose levels. This then descends rapidly into liver toxicity, liver damage, and ultimately liver failure.
Even a little Xylitol can be dangerous. One piece of sugar free gum or a piece of cookie is all it can take to bring disaster. The signs develop within 30-60 minutes and include lethargy and weakness. Worse is liver failure. The advice given if this is suspected is to immediately induce vomiting and get the dog to medical help. The best way to induce vomiting is dogs (I learned this a few years ago) is to make them swallow hydrogen peroxide.
With the popularity of sugar free foods, people who own dogs need to be on guard and keep even gum in places the dog can't get to. I'm not a fan of artificial sweeteners in anything, but this story panics me a bit since dogs are attracted to sweet stuff and humans are often want to spit out their gum or drop cookies or candy on the ground where a walking dog would go right to it.
Ferdie has a bear he loves more than anything. He has it near him all the time and bear is often an emotional barometer as to what Ferdie is feeling. Sad or happy or tired or lonely or needing some affection. Bear is everything to Ferd. Well, yesterday we left Bear behind in Collinsville when we went back to the seminary. Actually Ferdie took him into the backyard in the afternoon and we forgot to check there when packing up the car. I called Dale when I realized this and asked if he'd bring him in to keep safe til we could get Bear on Sunday.
And there he was, poor guy.
But last night was tough. At one point Ferdie went upstairs and I could hear him going room to room searching for Bear. He was panting very loudly, so desperate was he to find that bear. Then he came downstairs and went into every room looking to no avail. He ended up laying down in the living room and gave the biggest, saddest sigh I've ever heard from him.
On Friday afternoon a few seminary students sat ouside with us for a bit to enjoy the nice sunshine. One of the students is from Southern Africa and he brought along a bottle of Amarula which is a cream liqueur made from the fruit of the Marula tree. The fruit is about the size of lemons or oval plums.
The Amarula is mostly a dessert drink Christian told us and while creamy like Bailey's, it is very fruity tasting.
The best part of his story, though, was what happens when the fruit ripens and drops to the ground. It seems the fruit will ferment if left on the ground and this fermented fruit attracts elephants and monkeys who love it. That's why the stock photo of a Marula tree has an elephant standing underneath it. Christians said the elephants and monkeys will walk right into your yard to eat the fruit. What a great image. And fun to learn something new.