Friday Felines

Sylvester came into the office last week to check on what we were doing. It looks like the planter stand was made for a cat to sit under.


It has been two weeks today, Friday, since Zoe disappeared. We haven’t heard or seen anything about him. I guess it’s time to face facts. He’s probably not coming back home to us.

Fall Drive

I had an early dentist appointment Wednesday. I usually drive down the back side of the mountain (back in the sense that it’s down into Texas Valley rather than towards Huffaker Road and town). On the way back home the leaves were so colorful I decided to capture a video.

I used my iPhone to capture the video. It wasn’t as dangerous as it might look. The day was overcast, so there’s no brilliant blue sky like there has been for the last few days.

This vide covers almost the entire walk I do with the dogs, usually every other day since I alternate going down the front and back of the mountain. The area to the right just before the right turn is our new property. The right turn from Fouche Gap Road to Lavender Trail is at the front corner of the property. The dumped deer carcass where I saw the bald eagle was just beyond the turnoff. The video stops near the upper end of the property where our driveway will be. If I had continued the video for a few more seconds, there would have been a left turn onto Wildlife Trail right at our house.

The Berry Eagle

I mentioned in an earlier post that someone had dumped a deer carcass near the intersection of Fouche Gap Road and Lavender Trail, not far from our house. On Saturday our neighbor stopped to talk when I was walking the dogs. He said that a bald eagle had been feeding on the deer carcass. I didn’t see it when we went down the mountain, but when we came back up, it was feeding. I stopped as soon as I saw it and took some pictures. Unfortunately, all I had was my phone, which has a wide angle lens.

eagle on deer_atadistanceThe eagle is the little speck that looks like it’s part of the shadows where the road curves back to the left. If you squint and take my word for it, you can see the bird standing on the carcass. Here’s a blowup that’s not much better.

eagle pointed out

I tried to get closer, but as soon as I moved, the eagle saw me and immediately flew up into a tree.


The image quality is not good, but it’s the best I could do with the phone. I cropped down as far as I could without losing too much detail.  I took my little Canon with a short telephoto lens on my dog walks on Sunday and Monday but didn’t see the eagle. I’m afraid the deer carcass is so worked over now that the eagle may not come back.

This was almost certainly one of a pair that has been nesting on Berry College property for the last few years. Berry has a Web cam at the nesting site. According to Berry’s Web page, this is the “first documented nest in the modern history of Floyd County.” There are two eagle nests on the Berry campus, but it’s not clear whether there are two nesting pairs. One nest is close to the main entrance of the college, and the other is somewhere on Lavender Mountain in an inaccessible area. The inaccessible nest is probably only a few miles from our house.

One pair has laid, hatched and fledged eaglets from the accessible nest.

Berry College had planned to construct an athletic facility near where one nest is located but has moved the construction site away to avoid interfering with the eagles.

I have never seen a bald eagle in Georgia, so it was a real thrill to see this one. There is an eagle nest on an old bridge over the Tennessee River near Scottsboro, Alabama. I used to cross that bridge almost every week when I worked in Huntsville, and I am pretty sure I saw an eagle on that nest on one occasion. The only other time I have seen eagles is when Leah and I visited Alaska on our honeymoon in 2005.

Friday Felines

Our new neighbor, who is building a house down the street on Wildlife Trail, runs an earth-moving company. He asked us if he could park some of his equipment in our driveway overnight because he said that kind of equipment gets stolen pretty frequently. Of course we said yes. He had just pulled this bulldozer onto the driveway when Dusty discovered it. Can you see Dusty?

dusty on a dozer

Poor little Zoe hasn’t showed up yet and there’s no trace of him. He hasn’t had his pain medication for his arthritis or his eyedrops for his glaucoma in a week. The ad we put in the paper started on Tuesday, but we haven’t had any calls. We’ve talked to our three closest neighbors and no one has seen him. I have looked around the neighbors’ yards and Mark has walked up and down the mountain with the dogs and there was no sign of him. It doesn’t make any sense at all.


Bella, the second Doberman

Zoe’s disappearance has made me think about my Doberman Sheba’s disappearance, and that has made me think about the long search for her that eventually resulted in my finding my second Doberman, Bella.

I said in my post about Sheba that I read the lost-and-found section of the Huntsville newspaper for a year after Sheba disappeared. It was a year before a Doberman appeared. It was a female with uncropped ears and a docked tail, a description that fit Sheba but also fit many other Dobies. I was certain it couldn’t be Sheba, but I had to look anyway.

And, of course, it was not Sheba. It was a Doberman that had appeared at a family’s house and stayed, probably because they had dogs in their fenced back yard. They wouldn’t let the Doberman into their back yard, and they said if no one claimed her in the next few days, they would take her to the pound. I said if no one claimed her, I would take her. And that’s how I ended up with my second Doberman.

There was no way to know her name, so I called her Bella. She jumped up into my truck and we went home. Bella was mature, and I think she had led a hard life. She showed signs of having had puppies. Every bony point on her body had calluses. It was obvious that she had spent a lot of time on a hard surface. I imagined that she had been bred, probably more than once, and that she spent her life in a kennel with a concrete floor. In her new life, she had a soft bed next to the wood-burning stove in the living room. No more hard surfaces for the rest of her life.

Right after I got her I tried to train her to her name by sitting next to her every evening petting her gently and saying her name over and over. I think that kind of attention was new to her.

Bella seemed to settle in pretty quickly. As with the dogs that came before, she went everywhere with me. When I first got her and was trying to acclimate her to her new life, I took her in to work with me when I had to stay late. She had an unfortunate problem with gas at first, so she was not popular at work. I eventually found a dog food that didn’t contain soy, and that seemed to resolve the issue. However, I think her digestive problems were a sign.

Bella had health issues for most of her life. On one occasion I took her to the vet with vague symptoms that ended up being what the vet called a “toxic insult to the liver.” That seemed to indicate that she had somehow ingested some kind of poison, but since I controlled her food and never let her run loose (I learned my lesson with Sheba), I have no idea how that could have happened. All the vet could do was give her fluids and let her rest. It was not at all certain that she would survive.

One a couple of occasions she became lame, and I had to carry her down the front stairs of my house to let her outside. She showed signs of hip problems all her life, even on her best days.

At that time I was still trying to run. I took Bella on walks every day, but when I ran I didn’t want to take her with me. I knew she would make it about a mile and would then have to walk, which meant I never got a full run in when I took her with me. When I closed her up on the deck and left, she barked and whined until I was out of sight. I knew what would happen if I took her with me, but sometimes I couldn’t resist her pleas. And she would make it about a mile before she had to walk.

I have no idea how old she was when I got her, but I suspect she might have been as old as five or six, possibly even older. Whether it was from age or from poor treatment in her early life, by the time I got her she was not an athletic dog. But she seemed happy enough. She took several trips with me and my parents when my parents were traveling with their RVs. Here she is on one trip to Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho.

bella at craters of the moon

It’s not really visible here, but Bella’s tail had been docked too short. It occasionally bled. I suspect that the original owner docked the tail himself. I have found that some Doberman owners think docking a tail is easy. All you have to do is cut it off with pliers. Or so they think. Most are smart enough not to try to crop the ears, and Bella fortunately escaped that particular mutilation.

She was house trained from the start. The only time she ever pooped in the house, it was my fault. One day I was working outside for most of the afternoon, and I left her inside. Later that evening as I laid on the sofa watching television, I noticed that a little rug I had in front of the sofa was folded in half. I opened it up, and there was a little deposit, which Bella had very neatly covered up.

I had Bella for five years before she showed signs of osteosarcoma in her right rear leg. Osteosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that large-breed dogs are particularly susceptible to. It is a terrible disease for which there is usually no treatment. It appears at a joint. The first sign is usually a slight swelling of the joint. The only treatment is amputation, but by the time osteosarcoma is diagnosed, it has almost always metastasized. Here’s what the North Carolina State University vet school Web site says:

With surgery alone, most dogs experience a good quality of life for approximately 4-6 months. With the addition of chemotherapy, survival times extend to approximately 10-12 months.

That is probably optimistic, although maybe treatment has improved since the late 1990’s when I had Bella.

At any rate, Bella’s right rear leg eventually became essentially locked. She was obviously in pain, but Rimadyl worked well for her. Amputation for pain relief was not an option for Bella. I don’t think she would have recovered from the surgery, and I don’t think her hips could have taken it anyway.

The disease and her hips caught up with her when I was visiting my friend Tom in New Mexico. She went down and wasn’t able to get up. After a full day of watching her struggle to move around and to have a bowel movement without standing up, I decided that it was time to end it. We took her in a stretcher to a vet and I had her put down. That was in 1999. I still have her ashes.