Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The glory of fish

I need to get off my butt and start doing a lot of work that I need to get done today but first I want to warm up with a cup of coffee and blog a little.  I took the pitbull out for her morning walk around the loop in the woods and it was freakishly cold for this area for mid-March.  It's doing that kinda rain/kinda snow/really just bits of frozen water whacking you in the face weather thing.  It's also raining non-stop.  I guess it does that at this time every year. I'm glad we're high up from the creek.  The creek behind our house is really high and a couple neighbors on my route to the barn now have creeks where their driveways used to be - that is people who are set way back off the road.  They are set so far back and the land is so overgrown and crazy that I don't actually know if anyone lives in the houses or not.

Yesterday I took Lil Girl out with me to get some new fish for a fancy new 20 gallon aquarium.  We just upgraded after six years from a 10 gallon.  The 5 year old catfish (Catfish) and the 4 year old Tetra (Katie) seemed pretty happy.  But we needed new fish.  So we got some Platys and Mollys and three snails.  My experience with Platys and Mollys is that they rarely live past a couple months but we'll see.  I really wanted three rainbow sharks but they said they need a 20 gallon wide tank not tall tank to really thrive.  So now we have Midnight, Shadow, Sunrise, Sunset, Sheldon, Goldy, Ocean and Ebony.  Sheldon is my fish.  The rest are our daughter's.

It's actually pretty entertaining to watch them.  Katie took up with Sunrise and Sunset and is now swimming all around the tank instead of hiding in a decorative castle like she has the last couple years since the rest of her school (Team Tetra) died out. Catfish seemed a little cranky and stayed in his spot under a decorative bridge until Goldy the snail made the mistake of slithering under there into Catfish's spot. This was very upsetting for Catfish and he immediately tried to knock Goldy out.  Even though Goldy had originally intended only to be passing through, having Catfish head-butt him made him curl up in his shell and hold his ground.  When I went to bed Catfish was still having a snit and head-butting Goldy to get him out of his spot with absolutely no success.  I almost expected to see Goldy and Catfish in the same spot this morning but Catfish must have given up and let Goldy slither out on his own.  I also noticed for the first time that Catfish can recognize his bag of food pellets through the glass and knows when he's getting fed.  That's pretty cool.

Hopefully, this weekend I'll help my neighbor and her kids put together the 10 gallon tank they just inherited as a hand-me-down from a friend.  Right now they have some sort of yucky stomach sickness passing through their house.  And my friend who babysits my daughter on my work day has had her daughter out of school for one and a half weeks because of some really awful virus.  Ugh.  That's been challenging with having just started my new job a week and a half ago, but thankfully it has been working out.

Toadie threw an enormous grand-mal tantrum day before yesterday because she didn't want me to brush the dried pee of her front leg.  To the point where she was swinging her butt at me, going to bite me and when Trainer K. stepped in she literally acted like she was going to throw her body over on Trainer K.  So, it took a good half hour before Trainer K. could get her to stop and let her brush it.  She ended up having to put a twitch on her mouth (basically a chain that pinches the gum if they try to fight you).  What really confirmed it was a behavorial issue and and not that she had pain in that leg, was that we could brush the exact same spot from the other side and she could handle it.  But she has issues with her right side and tries to get worked up just when I brush her on that side.  I'm sure something awful happened to her at that track on that side, but that does not make her dangerous behavior acceptable.  And the biggest problem for her is that for 18 months before I bought her from the teenager, the teenager would either immediately stop what she was doing when Toad acted like that, or get her a bucket of oats or treats to try and bribe her into letting her finish brushing her.  Usually the latter didn't work, so Toadie just got lots of rewards for her dangerous behavior but never learned to put up with the problem - like not wanting someone to brush her leg.  Trainer K. finally got her to let her brush her leg without acting dangerous, then we immediately praised her and put her in her stall where her lunch was to show her that's all we wanted - was to be able to brush her leg without her threatening us.

So, yesterday when I took her out, I put her in the same groom room and picked up the same brush, fully expecting her to be a nervous wreck and sure enough she acted like I was going to kill her just by holding the brush.  Now mind you, the brush never did anything to her - she was never struck with the brush (that is just cruel) and the only time she was struck was with a crop when she directly tried to physically harm Trainer K.  Still, she is such a high strung girl who's had so little boundaries set with her she was a quaking wreck.  So, our grooming session took a long time with me just gently touching her with the brush, letting her sniff the brush and at one point letting her chew on the brush and play with it in her mouth for a minute to see it wasn't a huge, evil monster that was going to kill her.

Then I took her out to free lunge and she got her ya-yas out then walked around the arena with me like a very polite girl so that she could cool down.  I took her back to the groom room and was able to brush her really well this time and clean her feet just fine.  Then I picked up the curry mitt and went to clean the dried pee (again) off the same leg and she started to flip out.  But thankfully, all of Trainer K.'s work the day before paid off, because I just stayed out of the line of fire as best I could, held my hand up against the side of her nose so she couldn't turn to bite at me and just kept my hand with the curry mitt against her leg and followed her around the grooming room as she danced around in a panic - all the while saying firmly, "Calm down. Just stop. You're not being hurt. Calm down." And sure enough, I guess logic finally won out in that hysterical little head of hers and she decided she didn't want to repeat the hysterics of the day before and she finally sighed and let me scrub off her leg.  Of course then she got all sorts of pets and love and kisses on the nose and sugar cubes!

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