Thursday, March 22, 2007

Signs of Spring

You can always tell it's spring here, not by the daffodils or the crocuses or the robins -- though they are handy indicators of the change in seasons -- but mostly by the amount of mud the dogs track in.

We have three dogs.

Every time they go outside in the spring -- when the world, as e. e. cummings said, is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful -- they come in bringing lots of it with them.

It isn't that they intend to. In fact they take some pains to avoid it by walking carefully around the perimeter of the yard where it is less, um, squishy. But that doesn't always work.

Partly it doesn't work because when they get on the far side of the yard and climb the steep slope at the back to check out Emma, the springer spaniel who lives beyond the fence, they are so enamored that their brain cells atrophy (they're males after all) and they forget that they need to walk around the perimeter on their return trip to the back door.

So in great bursts of enthusiasm, the dog equivalent of "Hey, mom, she likes me! She really likes me!" -- they race madly across the middle of the yard, in the process plastering themselves with mud-on-the-undercarriage and jamming it between their toes.

Or if Emma is not out and there is no one to be impressed with their manly canine attributes, they remember to come carefully along the top of the wall (which you can see Micah standing on here at the height of summer -- green grass, no mud). They don't get their feet dirty that way.

But when they get to the side by the door, they have to jump off -- into the mud. The impact of seventy five pounds of dog jumping four feet down has the ability to thrust an amazing amount of mud between furry toes.

Times four paws. Times three dogs.

So we wash paws quite a few times a day. Twelve paws per outing. Maybe eight times out a day. Our dogs like being out, but it's hard to lie in the mud so they come in again. And then go out again. And then come in again. You get the idea. At this time of year we have a fair number of "96 dog foot days."

We also have a designated "animal foot bath." It says so right on the lid of the container. I wrote it myself so we wouldn't inadvertently put the leftover spaghetti in it some night thinking it was that kind of container.

The dogs are not enthralled with their foot bath. They think it is an imposition. They would much prefer to be allowed to track vast amounts of mud into the house and across the kitchen floor. They don't mind wiping their paws on the dining room rug. It gets the mud out, after all.

I've told them this is not acceptable. They aren't thrilled. But they endure. So do I. But it takes a considerable amount of time to wash all those dog feet.

I wonder if my editor would accept that as a reason if Flynn is late.

* * * * * * * * * * *

One of the other signs of spring (besides mud) is that Kate Walker's hedgehogs have awakened. You may remember the Heck family, as I christened them last autumn when I got to watch them in Kate's back garden. They were quite impressive, coming right up to the back door for their ration of cat food. But like bears, apparently the Hecks hiberate through the winter.

Now, it seems, they think it's spring. They are out in search of slugs in the lawn. The slugs apparently don't think it's spring yet (too much ice and mud in the grass) so they haven't reappeared yet. The hogs, however, are hungry. So Kate, because she is kind and because she doesn't have to wipe their feet, is now taking the cat food to them so they don't have to slog across the ice floe that is her garden.

Room service for hedgehogs? Foot baths for dogs?

Who's running this world, anyway?


Blogger Kate Walker said...

You know who's running this world - and it isn't us!
The Hecks enjoyed their cat crunchies by Room Service - or, rather House delivery. They ate every last one and they'd like the same again tonight. I'll deliver their order until the slugs and snails start reappearing - it is after all a matter of Heck life or death - unlike dog muddy paws. Though I suppose that if Gunnar (Hi Gunnar - Sid sends his greetings) ended up on the bed with muddy paws then that might be a life and deatn matter.


23 March, 2007  
Blogger Michelle Styles said...

YOu wash your dogs' feet. And they are trained to walk around the edge of the garden. I am impressed. Particularly at the wealking around the edge of the garden bit.

23 March, 2007  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

Gunnar says hi back, Sid. And he's happy the Hecks are getting 'house delivery.' Next thing you know they'll want it with pepperoni and extra cheese.

Michelle, I was impressed with them walking around the edge of the garden, too. I'd be more impressed if they'd remember to do it on the return trip! As for washing their feet, yes, when required to save me having to pick mud out of the dining room rug and wash the kitchen floor. It's all a matter of expediency.

23 March, 2007  
Anonymous Kate Hardy said...

Walking round the edge in this garden means ferreting under every bush to see if something interesting is there that needs flushing out. So not only do we have muddy paws, we have a wet coat. Ahhh, the scent of wet dog...

I don't have the footwashing dilemma in this house because a) there's only one dog and b) washing the floors is not MY job (because someone can't cook and therefore isn't in a bargaining position). *g* And Byron knows he has to sit on his bed in the utility room until his paws are dry before he can come and sprawl on my office rug...

25 March, 2007  

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