It’s National Dog Day!

In our home it’s always Dog day! But today’s the perfect excuse for all of us dog lovers to brag on ours.

CJ & Esme got to hang out with me at work today, meeting and greeting people and their dogs. CJ loves the people, Esme loves the dogs.

How did your dog(s) spend National Dog Day?

Freddie Mercury doesn’t really give a crap! He knows cats are superior.

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We’ve finally found our niche, Part III … Embracing the Rural Life & wanting to make the ESVA our permanent Home

If you need to catch up, check out Part I and Part II before proceeding. Or just read on and if you get lost, I warned you…

Now Chris and I are both working full time. He was working at Wallops Flight Facility and I got a job at Atlantic Animal Hospital. He had a 30 minute (23 mile) commute, I had a 10 minute (4 miles out, 3 miles back) commute. His job paid a LOT more than mine and his hours were more flexible than mine so I couldn’t feel but so bad for him and his commute. Though he did realize it was a good thing that he could make a 23 mile drive in under 30 minutes. In California a 23 mile drive would’ve taken at least 45 minutes to an hour no matter where we were going.

I was home long enough with the dogs and cats before I started working to get them well acclimated to their new home and surroundings. Chompers and C.J. were both the most trustworthy dogs on the planet, so I never had to worry about them getting into anything they shouldn’t. I just worried about them chasing critters outdoors, especially at night, and that only happened when we were home with them.

PRODUCT PLUG: Noxgear Lighthound Vest has been a GODSEND for us since moving to the Eastern Shore of Virginia!

Esme sporting her Noxgear Lighthound vest during an evening stroll.

After being at the animal hospital for a few weeks, I had a conversation about the ticks in the area. My dogs were on Frontline Plus but I would still find numerous ticks on them, some were dying but several were engorged, enjoying a nice blood meal. One of my coworkers had suggested we get some chickens on the property. The chickens love to eat bugs, including ticks. Someone else had suggested we get guinea birds. Chris and I discussed it for a few weeks and decided on giving chickens a try. Before we even had a coop built I brought home a dozen little baby Silkies.

It took only a weekend to erect a small chicken coop. I came up with the design and Chris helped me build it. I thought I did pretty good considering I am not a carpenter.

Our first Chicken Coop. It was small, raised and completely enclosed. It served its purpose for a few years before we realized a few design flaws!

A few weeks after we brought home the biddies, they were ready to go to the coop. We confined them in the coop for about 2 weeks, then started letting them out to explore the yard during the days when we were home.

By early Spring the chickens were well acclimated to their home. We would let them out to free range when we were home, and they would return to their coop every evening. I had zero experience with raising chickens prior to bringing these home. I have to tell you, it was pretty easy to raise them from hatchlings to free rangers! I was not familiar with this particular breed of chicken either and thought they were the cutest things ever. They are a small, bantam type chicken with fluffy plumage. We called them our poodle chickens.

Our silkies were very friendly and personable, and loved a snack of stale bread or left-over French fries.

By late spring we started to notice that we were no longer finding ticks on our dogs or us. Then there was a little added bonus that started to appear in the coop…eggs!  And they were the best-tasting eggs we’ve ever had.  When we had extras we’d share with our friends and neighbors.  If we were going to be making a trip to the midwest to visit family, we were sure to bring eggs with us.  Chickens.  Who’d-a thunk it when we were leaving California…

In the years that followed, we both completely embraced the rural lifestyle of the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  We have met some very amazing, interesting, and wonderful people during our time here.  We had come to truly accept this as our home.  We felt at home.  We wanted it to be our permanent home.

Then things started to get a little rocky for Chris at Wallops.  His project was losing funding and he wasn’t sure whether or not his position would still exist when it was time for contract negotiations.  Every year he managed to still have employment!  Until the summer of 2017.  The project was no longer getting any funding.  At least not enough to keep him on it.  He got laid off.

…To be Continued…  Stay tuned!  And thanks for following along!

We’ve finally found our niche, Part II … From Urban to Rural with dogs

If you haven’t already, check out Part I before continuing. Or not.

As we turned down our little Neck that would lead us to our new home, my eyes widened and my jaw may have dropped a little bit.  It looked like heaven.  A house here, a field there and there and there, another house here, a thick grove of trees on both sides of the road, a little house there, another field, and then we came upon our little bungalow.  It was, and still is, the cutest little place on a property that is magnificent!  I could hardly wait to let the dogs out to run in this wide open area!  They already had some of that at my parents’ house, but this was home!  They would get to run here every day.  But…

…crap!  There are deer all over the place.  Foxes.  Raccoons, opossums, muskrats (all things my dogs would love to chase!)…and TICKS.  I already knew there’d be fleas and was prepared for them.  But the ticks.  Yikes.

I arrived, with the dogs and cats, to our new home in early December.  The weather was cool here, with highs in the 50s & 60s and lows in the 40s and 30s.  It was really pretty nice considering what it was like when we left Northern Illinois.  There were deer everywhere.  In the midwest we contend with deer all year long.  In California, we didn’t have to deal with deer, or many other wild mammals for that matter, at all.  Those critters stayed in the mountains and foothills near the area we lived.  When we’d go hiking in the foothills we’d come across a jack rabbit here and there, maybe evidence of a coyote, but otherwise all of the wildlife we’d happen upon was avian, arachnid or reptilian.

Neither ticks nor fleas, or mosquitoes for that matter, were an issue for us in the desert.  Probably one of only 4 good things about living in the desert, in my opinion.  We didn’t have to worry about flea and tick prevention, and heartworm prevention was not a top priority either.  I would keep some Frontline Plus on hand to use if I knew we’d be making a trek up the mountains or to the East.  I’d have Heartgard Plus on hand to use if we would be traveling to the midwest.

After being on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for one entire week I learned that I had trained my dogs well in terms of their recall.  Nearly every single time we would let them out to eliminate or explore, there would be some critter worth investigating.  All it took was a “EH!” and they’d stop dead in their tracks.  So the wildlife issue was not an issue at all.  But the tick issue?  We were not only finding ticks on our dogs, but we were picking them of off ourselves every day.  Yikes!  Thank goodness I stocked up on some Frontline Plus before I left California.  It worked well.  I’d find a few well-fed ticks on Chompers and C.J. every now and again, but mostly they were dead or dying.  But they’re still just freaking gross.  Chris found one on him one day in a place that you would’t go searching for one.  It freaked him out so much that he had me shave his head shortly afterward, worried that there might be ticks hiding in his mane.  He had long hair for the majority of our time in CA, got a decent hair cut just prior to his interview here in VA, but he had never ever had a complete buzz cut.  Welcome to the boonies city boy!

Chris already had a job lined up prior to our relocation.  I had sent out resumes to all of the local veterinary clinics once I learned we’d be moving.  I had gotten a response from only one of 5 veterinary clinics on the Eastern Shore before I left CA.  They wanted me to fill out an application.  Chris went and picked one up for me, as I was still in CA and wouldn’t be leaving for a few weeks.  He filled it out to the best of his ability.  When I finally arrived on the Eastern Shore, I called and scheduled an interview at the animal hospital.

Just a few days after I arrived I visited the animal hospital that I had been in contact with.  I had a nice tour of the facility, met all the staff and then sat and chatted with the practice owner for a few minutes.  It all seemed promising, then I was told they didn’t have any positions open at that time but they would keep my application on file for 6 months.  I was a bit bummed, but I still had plenty of unpacking to do to keep me busy for a little while.    It really was a shame because the practice was less than 3 miles from where we were renting.  It would have been an ideal place for me to work!  Alas, I had to keep searching.

A month had gone by and, though I wasn’t desperately in need of employment, I was ready for a job.  I had settled into the house, unpacked what was unpackable for the short term that we’d be living there, learned to navigate my way from home to all of the important places:  DMV, grocery story, post office, hardware store, etc.  I figured out right away that I’d be spending a LOT of time shopping on Amazon.  I continued to look for work that I might be able to tolerate.  My heart and soul wanted to continue to work in the animal care field, but after having been ignored or denied employment at every veterinary facility and animal care facility (SPCA & Animal Control) I started to pick up applications for factory work and retail work. Then I received a call from the animal hospital that seemed interested in me from the beginning.

There was a recent and unexpected opening at the animal hospital and they hit me up because of my experience (ie:  I wouldn’t require much training).  I hadn’t had any other offers at that point so I took the position…as a Receptionist.  Did I want to be a receptionist?  No, because I’m a technical person, not a people-person.  But I did know how to field phone calls and triage patients at the front desk quite well, and I really needed a job so I took it.  The pay was okay, and it was more than the nothing I had been making, so I was all in!

Something was meant to be, because I was a receptionist there for maybe 6 months until I got repositioned as a veterinary assistant.  I double-dutied for the longest time, but now am able to keep to the technical stuff more, which makes me happy-er.  I am still willing to fill in on occasion when needed as a customer service specialist.  Truth is, whether you’re a receptionist, a vet assistant, a licensed vet tech, or a veterinarian…you’re still a customer service specialist!  I just prefer that title to be lower on my list of responsibilities, if you get my drift.  I went into animal science for the animals.

Again, I digress.  So I got a job!  And it was something that made me happy.  I am still there, if that tells you anything.

To be continued…