Training “Quiet” the Brilliant Aussie Way

At dinner, Kiera lies by my chair while we eat. She likes to monitor my eating, as she knows she gets my leftovers when I’m done. If I take too long, she starts “talking” to tell me to hurry up.

Andrew finally gets annoyed and wants me to discipline her to get her to stop being pushy. So I remember Suzanne Clothier’s time-out lesson where you remove the dog from where you are for a few moments to essentially help the dog “reorient” itself toward better self-control. I decide that the next time Kiera talks, I’ll put her in a time-out.

I don’t have to wait very long. She talks, I say, “Oops, so sorry…” and close her in the bathroom (right […]

Grasping the Concept of a Reflection

“Mom,” Cait came running down stairs, “that robin is at it again! Even with the puppets in the window.”

We have a male robin who’s spending a great deal of his energy dive-bombing our glass door upstairs. Why? Because he sees his reflection in it, and perceives the image he sees to be that of a male intruder in his territory. He has been bashing himself into the door to get at this “aggressive intruder” for a few days. No matter what deterrents we try, he persists.

“Did you get our owl (a fake plastic replica) back from Sarah?”

The owl, a natural predator of robins, did the trick last year when this happened.

“No, I forgot,” Cait said.


By |2016-10-24T09:56:55-04:00May 17th, 2007|.Cait and Me, .My Favorites|15 Comments

The Steering Wheel

Cait has a fear of fire. She seems to have been born with it. It’s been a frequent topic of conversation since the time she was first able to express herself. To help her with this concern, we’ve practiced fire drills at home, we have an action plan for what we’d do and where we’d go, and she helps me replace the batteries in the smoke detectors quarterly. Even with all our preparedness, she still occasionally needs to talk about it. Last night the conversation was about how we’d get out of the house, and what we’d want to save.

“Mom, what about Kiera and Graidy and Finn?” she asked, brows knitted.

“The animals are always where we are,” I said. “And […]

By |2020-07-25T15:33:20-04:00February 21st, 2007|.Cait and Me, .My Favorites|27 Comments

My Kitchen Table

I’m typically not a very sentimental person. I can do without all the Hallmark Holidays. The only feelings I care about are the ones that are unsolicited and genuinely offered, the ones that don’t have to be coaxed or coached, or require an appointed day.

I’m also not a saver of any kind of stuff, really. Except for a few pieces of Cait’s baby clothes I think she’d like to have, anything not in use gets given to friends or donated. (Sometime I’ll write about my house burning down because of a propane truck accident, which will help explain why I don’t particularly care about things anymore.)

But as I think about my kitchen table having seen better days, and Andrew and […]

By |2016-10-24T09:56:59-04:00January 19th, 2007|.My Favorites, Life|6 Comments

Rhythms of the Season


Twice a day, for the past few weeks, the Canadian Geese have been flying overhead from the fields to the lake and back again, as they work to store up food.

Morning and evening, hundreds of them decorate the sky like fluid strands of necklaces. There are so many of them that I can hear the concussion of their wings beating the air like drums. They honk in chorus, flying in formation, getting ready to sing their way south.

The air is filled with a palpable sense of anticipation and adventure, as they ready themselves for the long journey ahead.

By |2016-10-24T09:57:00-04:00December 5th, 2006|.My Favorites, Nature|0 Comments

Herding Cats

As I open the back door to let Graidy (my Border Collie mix) in out of the rain, I fail to notice that Finnegan (our Maine Coon cat) has snuck up behind me. As Graidy comes scooting in, Finnegan goes shooting out.

After a few choice words (why does this only happen when the weather is crummy, and my shoes are nowhere to be found), I dash outside in stocking feet with no coat. I call Kiera (my Australian Shepherd) out, and pray that she and I aren’t too rusty. We’ve had a very short herding season this year due to an injury.

Finn is making a forty yard dash to the back woods. I send Kiera for an outrun.

“Go by.” I […]