Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat!

I don't dress my dogs up in costumes. Now mind you, I don't hold anything against those who do, and I giggle right along with everyone else at those forwarded emails of little wiener dogs wearing hot dog buns, and labs in Superman costumes. My one effort at a doggie Halloween costume a dozen or so years ago involved coaxing Jessie into a skeleton costume. She wore it nobly, as of course a German Shepherd would. Not to mention the fact that Jessie would do absolutely anything I asked of her without complaint. So that year for Halloween, I was a black cat, and Jessie was a noble skeleton. It was fun, but not fun enough to do again. I concluded that perhaps big dogs weren't exactly right for playing dress up. 

So how is it that I spent Saturday afternoon with Lucky and Katie all decked out as a "jolly band of pirates?" Temporary insanity perhaps? Well, whatever it was that took hold of me, it was a lot of fun. Animal Compassion Network sponsored a Halloween costume contest with categories for children, adults, pets, and people with their pets.                                                                                                             There were pets available for adoption, and booths for trick-or-treating (both people and doggie treats)! It was controlled Halloween dog pandemonium, but we had a great time. The show stealer of the day was Paula Deen with her little stick-of-butter dog. What a riot. Not only did this woman look like Paula Deen, she sounded exactly like her. She was carrying around a serving tray of grits and Bil-Jac. Hilarious. 

Paula Deen and her 4-legged stick of butter shared the grand prize with Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf.

Although we didn't win in the human-pet category, I won $25 for "scariest" costume, despite assuring the panel of judges that I had not entered as a contestant in the individual adult category! Guess my attempt at "jolly" didn't work (we were supposed to be a JOLLY band of pirates, remember?). 

But hey - far be it from me to turn down $25. All of the costumes were adorable, although some a bit this little dog with the green blob attached to his back. 

Any guesses as to what he was supposed to be? One of my personal favorites was the "Thing 1, Thing 2" family from Dr. Suess. Check out that blue hair. I want a Thing suit!

All in all, we had a great time. Well, in the interest of full disclosure I should confess that some of us enjoyed it more than others. See if you can tell from this last photo which of us was grinning the entire time and having fun, and who just wanted to go home...

Ahoy Mateys!! :) 
Happy Halloween!

( thanks to my talented niece for the use of her pumpkin to open my Halloween post!)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dancing for Dinner

Dinnertime is exciting around here. It's hard to understand how a fairly monotonous routine of Natural Balance kibble could elicit such unbridled joy, but it does. Granted, a spoonful of canned food is added for variety, but really. Same old dinner, different day. The dogs don't see it that way though. Lucky and Lady both race into the kitchen when the dinnertime routine begins.

 "DINNER!!! OH BOY, DINNER!!!" It's like they haven't eaten in weeks.

But Katie, quiet and unassuming little dog that she is, puts on the real show. Joy fills her body and soul, and she begins to dance. Front legs out and straight, up and down, like one of those Russian dancers. It sounds something like this, as we move from getting the bowls ready to scooping the food, to adding the meds:

Tap tap tap.

Tap tap tap tap!

Click click click tap tappity tap!

Clickety click tappity tap click click click TAP TAP!!


(notice fine dance technique)
It's entertaining, but all this dinnertime euphoria did make it challenging to get her trained into Lady and Lucky's dinner routine. They are expected to sit politely and wait while the bowls are placed on the floor, and then wait for the "okay!" Lady - as I've written about elsewhere - requires a higher level of pack leadership.

Katie's learning period, which took a couple of months, was hardest on Lady and Lucky. They had to sit and drool with anticipation while Katie's bowl got taken up again and again.

No Katie, sit. She'd sit. I'd put the bowl down and say "wait." She'd rush it. I would take it away. No Katie, sit. She'd sit. I'd put the bowl down and say "wait." She'd rush it. Eventually one or both dogs would turn and stare at her. You could just see the thought bubble over their heads "For mercy's sake, SIT already!!!!!!"

But Lady and Lucky were such good dogs while Katie learned. I tried to get some photos of this last summer, but Katie was too camera shy to get more than just a shot or two (and then, poor dog, after all that eager anticipation, she ran away into the living room). But she's gotten used to the camera now.

Good dogs! Good Katie!


Friday, October 21, 2011

Frost On The Pumpkin!

The old saying "frost on the pumpkin" came to me this morning as I stepped out into the chilly air. We haven't had frost yet, but it's coming. Tonight the forecast low is 34 degrees, and my dahlias are worried. I see the concern on their bright yellow, purple and red faces. At this time of year I always find myself torn - excited and happy about the crisp, fall air (and the silly dogs frolicking about in the cooler temperatures), but sad that the blooms are coming to an end. I don't want to say goodbye to my flowers!

Something made me google the saying "frost on the pumpkin" this morning, and surprise surprise. It's a poem! (you all knew that already, didn't you?) I got such a kick out of reading it - this poet who lived 100 years ago felt exactly as I do this morning! Happy October everyone, have a great weekend!

When the Frost is on the Punkin

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,
And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it’s then’s the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here—
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;
But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries—kindo’ lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin’ sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover over-head!—
O, it sets my hart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin’ ’s over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too! ...
I don’t know how to tell it—but ef sich a thing could be
As the Angels wantin’ boardin’, and they’d call around on me
I’d want to ’commodate ’em—all the whole-indurin’ flock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

On Dogs Behaving Badly

This sweetheart from last week's Intake is the picture of innocence, and his need for a new home has nothing to do with bad behavior. However, a number of the dogs brought to our rescue this month were there because the owner couldn't manage the dog's behavior. This is an unfortunate but common refrain heard at shelters and rescue organizations everywhere. 

My role as Intake photographer keeps me busy, and I generally talk with each dog's person only long enough to get a brief description for the website. Last week I spent a little more time with one woman. Her dog was big, strong, and difficult to manage, at one point dragging us both across the floor as it tried to greet another dog. But I was struck at how when instructed to "sit!" he immediately did so, looking eagerly and expectantly into her eyes for direction. That dog was an excellent candidate for training. After a brief internal debate, I shared my observation, along with a personal story about Lady and the benefits that both she and I got from training. I'm always cautious about offering advice at Intake. If the person is relinquishing a beloved pet due to some complicated, painful circumstance, I don't want to make him or her feel worse. This woman listened but did not respond, and I quickly moved on to the next client. Over the weekend, however, I was surprised to receive an email from her asking for the name and number of the trainer I'd used. Yaaay!   

Behavior management with a challenging dog is hard work. Even basic obedience training takes a commitment of time and effort. You have to carve out time for the classes, and practice at home. But no training at all is even harder. I've never understood when people choose to deal with a lifetime of irritating dog behavior rather than invest a little time in training during the early years. 

I got a kick out of reading all the comments on my last post. As I read your blogs week after week, it never occurs to me that any of your adorable dogs ever misbehave! I particularly loved the image of the little girl happily declaring "Oh look, Mr. B and Miss M from Two Pitties In the City!" and then - BARK! BARK! BARK! BARK! BARK! That's too funny. I can totally see Lady doing something like that. 

One of our readers mentioned the Gentle Leader. Much to Lady's chagrin, that is the collar I use with her. She's a serious Drama Queen about the indignity of having to wear it, but it works. We tried the Easy Walk Harness and the New Trix collar, but the Gentle Leader worked best. Another tool in our bag of tricks is DAP spray, which contains a pheromone that mimics the mother dog's scent. It presumably reminds your dog of being a puppy, all cozy and safe with mom. Hard to know for sure whether it makes a difference, but I like spraying some on a bandanna for Lady if we're likely to encounter a high stress situation. I'm pretty sure it helps me, if not her. I walk along feeling cozy and content despite any unfortunate barking outbursts. Hey, whatever works, right? ;)

Friday, October 14, 2011

One Of Those Days

It was not a good day. Lady's "bad" behavior on the morning walk infuriated me beyond all reason. She had a full blown flip-out episode when a jogger and dog passed us, frustrating me to the point of making ridiculous declarations like: "I am never walking this dog again." Somehow it feels personally insulting that after all this time, I still can't get her to respond like a normal dog in these situations.

There are times when she does respond to her training, in tune with (and caring about) what I want. When she can interrupt the cycle and look me in the eye even for a moment, I see it register there. "I need to leave it alone."  There have been times, particularly this past year, when I was convinced we had overcome this problem.

But then the jogging person and dog go by and she's lunging on her hind legs and bouncing around on the end of her leash, barking like a junkyard dog. "Who is this dog? How long have we been working on this? UGH!!" This was one of those days, when by the time we got back to the house I was longing for the good old days past when I could go for a walk or jog with a "normal" dog - or no dog at all.

But this dog that can frustrate me to the very limits of my patience in one moment can completely catch me off guard with her tenderness in another. She has this habit of resting her head on my foot at night when I'm watching TV. Not in a pushy, I-own-you way, but just in a quiet way that communicates "I'm right here." The soft warm fur of her face against my bare foot makes it very hard to remember ever having been frustrated with her at all. Funny how that works.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Does This Make My Butt Look Big?

Yes? Well then I guess I'm doing a good job stuffing myself 
full of nuts, seeds and berries for the long winter ahead! 

Hmm. What is that scent wafting through these trees? 
Could it be... the neighbor's birdfeeder?? 
Gotta go, bye!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

iPhone 5, or iPhone 4s?

Apple fans and tech geeks the world over have awaited this day for months, the day of the Big Announcement. The speculation recently has turned to whether Apple will release the iPhone 5, or a fluffed up version of the iPhone 4, dubbed the "iPhone 4s" by the chatting and blogging masses. Now I'm no tech genius, but it seems to me that getting your devotees stoked for the iPhone 5 and then releasing the 4s is like promising chocolate and delivering strawberry (sorry, strawberry fans!). Well, whichever it is, one thing is for sure - Apple will sell a gazillion of them. Most noteworthy, in my opinion, is the awe-inspiring marketing machine that has managed to create this fervor. 

Lucy has been a fan of Apple products for a couple of years now. She says they are warm and good for keeping your toes toasty on chilly fall evenings.