Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
The dogs travel so well, they are currently scattered through-out the house on various soft surfaces. Halo is in love with the property here since it's almost entirely made up of forest. Forest means creatures and creatures mean glorious smells and tracking hound heaven. I have only lost her a couple times to the under growth but that's likely because I'm so diligent about "Where's Halo?" Raimi and Leeloo a troopers and embrace this sort of adventure with gusto - Leeloo needs only know where the food is at and Raimi ... well, he just needs to know where I'm at.
We encountered a couple obstacles(literally) that I had not anticipated. In his short past Archer has only ever encountered stairs that were less than 5 steps high. This is a two story home with hardwood stairs and the TV and comfy couches(important) and the spare bedroom on the second floor. Going up was no problem, they followed me like it was the stairway to heaven. Down however, presented a couple issues that needed to be overcome.
Pretty much everyone in their life has seen what blind panic looks like. All the dogs were up when I decided I needed to go down so after a moment or two of 'hmmm' by Leeloo and Raimi(Halo never hesitates - she's seen it all) my entourage clambered down and followed me to the kitchen. Except of course Archer who I could hear whining at the top of the stairs. Huh.
So up I went, dog cookies in hand, large dogs shut behind a door to keep them out of the way. People who know me know I'm short on patience and not much of a coddler when it comes to wussy behaviour regarding things that pose no significant danger(except to me - like moths and spiders in trees or crawl spaces). So I grabbed Archer's collar, spoke gently to him and dragged his ass to the edge of the stairs. He almost choked himself but since it was the martingale the worst he could do was scare himself. I manhandled his feet to the first step and put my hand behind his bum.
Ever so gently we slid from step to step. I even commented to him that this would be a lot harder if the stairs had carpet on them(however he would probably not be so reluctant to go if it was carpet - the wood must feel a little unsafe to dog feet - and socked feet for that matter). I spoke calmly to him the whole time, how silly he was being, how it was not scary, how he was perfectly safe, how he could trust me to not let anything bad happen. At some point he started to believe me. By the time we were halfway down he had relaxed quite a bit and when we were about 6 steps from the bottom he was perfectly fine and walking down on his own. He got a bonanza of treats and has not hesitated since.
Tonight he balked at the stairs from the garage to the basement so we could go from the kennel to the house dry rather than heading into the torrential monsoon outside. Same technique again except this time he started to go down on his own after the second step. Sometimes a person(or dog) needs a little push (and a lot of gentle encouragement) to show them how brave or capable they really can be.
I guess my point here is that a lot of the time the more you coddle the more they think something is really wrong. The tone of your voice and the confidence of your actions plays a huge part in how a dog (or most animals) percieve a potential threat. Who would you trust more - someone who was cooing at you and acting submissive or someone who spoke confidently and enforced action? A mistake a lot of people make is giving in to the 'big show' of irrational fear and allowing it to direct their course of action. Pity for the sad eyes, whining and show of "I'm so scared" can cause more fear problems than it fixes. Just ... you know ... pick your battles.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Sometimes it's sad being right. It looks like a Great Blue Heron - they are both protected species - though not from each other.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
So last night I'm all snug and draped with dog when I hear the never good sound of a dog wandering around the house. Usually it's Archer because he's bored or too hot or just being a puppy. So I yell out "Archer!" and the clicking comes into the room. A big wet nose presses against my cheek and I instantly know it's not Archer.
It's a Lost Boy. Not a vampire thankfully but a very large Ridgeback who has had his favorite sleeping place usurped by one very long and comfy Archer. Raimi likes to sleep right next to me up by the pillows. He is not satisfied until that posistion is made available but he will not force a dog to move, he will fuss until I get whoever is in the way to move.
I could ignore this behaviour and just let him figure out that there is lots of room at the end of the bed or next to Leeloo but no, he spends his time wandering aimlessly around the room or house like a lost sheep.
So I woke up as little as was necessary and pushed and shoved and manhandled Archer until he was moderately out of the way(it was like moulding Gumby). No sooner was this accomplished when Boy climbed onto the bed, settled into a ball, made a happy little grunting sigh and went to sleep. Well, phew, so glad all is right with his world.
I know I should never have allowed the dogs on the bed. One was just fine. Two was okay. Three was making me question my sanity and four makes me think I'll be single forever. I always feel so safe with the dogs snuggled in, it makes me happy that they are happy and a small part of me loves them adoring me so much. Call me crazy ... I like being worshipped.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
For details on our first hurricane experience you can read about it on my New Scotland blog.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
I mean seriously, if you were in Africa would *you* go into the water? Want to retrieve a shot bird from a crocodile infested river? Go on ... just jump right in there and swim with the hippos. Was that a poisonous snake that just swam by or a harmless log? Let's not stay to find out. I think on some level my dogs know that water means danger - we'll work on getting them in to cool off on hot days but they'll never love it and I'm not sure I want them to.
This may paint me as a heartless person but some part of me secretly of enjoys the dog's reactions to water. I get a little tickle of glee at their disgust when I ask them to get wet ... and so to satisfy my funny bone I'll keep making them go in ... just one last time, I promise. Always one more damn time ...
Friday, August 21, 2009
Boy. This dog, I'm sure, has a small incarnation of Petal fused to his soul because he follows me no matter what. He got more and more comfortable with the water the longer we stayed and eventually I got him deep enough so he could attain a semblance of buoyancy. He was so proud of himself!I would like the dogs to learn to swim - I know they do it naturally for the most part but the hyper-ventilating panic they display when they lose contact with the sand is something I'd like to reduce. Only Halo and Archer got deep enough to actually swim and when they did I held them under the belly and chest so they felt more secure. Much splashing and desperation ensued but the longer I held and talked to them the more they calmed and settled into the water. They both swam for shore like crazy but the second time there was less panic ... wait til I get Boy deep enough ... he may try to drown me.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
It's the kind of heat that hits you square in the face with unrelenting force when you open an oven to check on your carefully crafted banana muffins(sans baking soda which means they come out like banana flavoured little pucks - the dogs didn't complain). It's eyelash curling heat. It's break into a sweat while I type heat. It's dogs splayed out like so many fallen dominoes on my couch and floor heat. It's the cats seeking cool spots in corners, grass turning brown, flower wilting, life sucking heat.
I'm not saying I'd trade it for the shit summer Calgary is having this year - and has had every year since I've been alive - I'm just saying it's damned hot out and takes some getting used to.
So we stay in, try not to stress the dogs too much with exposure to said high temperatures and watch movies we've downloaded off the internet.
Leeloo - for all her cheer - is going to disown me after I feed her almost nothing for 48 hours and then start her on oatmeal and pumpkin to try and get her digestive system back online. She's all gassy and bloated and although she retains her canine optimism I can tell she's getting as sick of digestive upset as I am. Mind you, she is also preparing for pretend babies(as this breeding line often does) and that can't be much fun either.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
I often head out to a place called Central Caribou. It's never been really clear to me exactly when you are in Central Caribou but I know eventually it turns into what is known as Caribou Island. On the Northumberland Strait side of the 'island' are the long crescent beaches of soft sand and surf - great for running the dogs but they don't offer much in the way of grass and bushes to sniff.
I've been driving past this little spit of land most times I go out and I never stopped for whatever reason. I think it was because I thought someone owned it. There is a path that leads onto it that people obviously use to get to the end of the spit where they launch small boats because it's a shallow entry and you can drive a vehicle right up to the water's edge when the tide is in without fear of sinking into the mire. I don't think anyone does actually own it since it's unusable land that juts out into the bay on the other side of Caribou Island. The spit is about 100 feet wide when the tide is in and extends about 500 metres into the bay. The water is brackish and when the tide is out it smells strongly of sea water, mud and organics. The dogs love it.
Here is a small sampling of what I must deal with to satiate the dog's desire for fun and frolic in the sands of Nova Scotia. If you're thinking "Oh my gawd her truck must be filthy and stink of swamp muck" you would be right.
Remember Leeloo's cute white feet? A distant memory in the face of this kind of fun. I had to stay an extra half hour past my intended departure to let the sand and mud dry so it would fall off on it's own. It really does do that but you have to give it a chance. The white feet reappeared in good time.How did the dogs get this way? That is a dish best simmered over a few days to absorb the absolute horror I felt upon witnessing the gleeful abandon with which Raimi and his fellows galloped through the low tide sludge. Halo of course stayed relatively pristine and spent most of her time at the edge of the water watching the antics of her kids and half niece (or whatever Leeloo is to her - she is the daughter of Halo's half sister's son) or following her nose through the grass and staying wonderfully clean and dry.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Since I've lived here the cat litter and food have been secured in what will eventually be the dining room - there is a gate across the door that the cats can jump over and the dogs could but don't. The cats get fed on the dining chairs instead of the floor because it means less bending down for me - yes I am the pinnacle of lazy. Since the dishes are high up and the cats are not careful they tend to knock pieces of the food onto the floor which they eventually scrounge and eat.
For whatever reason, a few days ago, Leeloo heard the tell tale 'plink' of a piece of cat food hitting the floor of the dining room and went to investigate. I followed her wondering why the sudden interest. She stood at the door of the dining room, gazing longingly over the gate at the cat on a dining chair partaking in a little afternoon snack.
She stood for some time and when another kibble hit the floor she tensed, her eyes got big and her ears got ridiculous. She kept staring at the floor where the kibble had landed a mere 10 feet out of her reach. She shifted from foot to foot and then the whining began.
Leeloo doesn't whine like a normal dog. She emits a low moaning sound that is reserved specifically for food related frustrations. She has an internal clock that would rival the best Rolex - she can tell almost to the minute when it's time to get fed again. I have to keep a pretty strict feeding schedule (as in take food with me if I think I'm going to have the dogs out past their regular feeding time) otherwise she gets creative in her frustration at not being fed precisely 12 hours after the last time she was fed. The whining, if not satiated in a timely manner, turns into woo-wooing and eventually barking - this of course is directed at me because I am 100% responsible for feeding her and if late, am 100% responsible for her distress.
So the cat kibble lay uneaten at the foot of the dining chair and to Leeloo this was sacrilege. I left her to ponder the lonely dusty cat food, eventually she gave up her vigil but I noticed through out the day that she kept going back to check that the food was still uneaten. The cats do get around to finding the food and eat it but for Leeloo food is meant to be eaten and not left to its own devices on the floor of the dining room.
What has come of this initial revelation for Leeloo is that she now checks the dining room on a regular basis to see if there is any abandoned cat food that may have fallen close enough for her to snap up. Since it's on the other side of the gate, across the room and under some chairs I'm pretty sure that is an impossibility but you never know - cats can be messy. She has taken to making these checks at odd hours of the night as well because you never know ... cat kibble could be nocturnal and only wander at night.