Waiting for a New Granddog

My son-in-law has wanted a dog for some time now.   I knew that he had grown up with Pekingese dogs and when he first joined our family, I think that this was the breed that he was leaning towards.

Photo courtesy of Photos8.com

Now when I think of Pekingese dogs, I think of little bug-eyed dogs with pushed in snouts.  Sorry, but that’s the image I have in my mind.    You see, I just never grew up with dogs that didn’t have nicely formed snouts and the prick ears.  It formed my idea of what “normal” looks like.

This is the type of dog I grew up with…..Fresca, the Wonder Dog….an American Eskimo.  Prior to her, I had Shetland Sheepdogs.  They all had similar looks…the pointed muzzles and the prick ears.  There wasn’t a mushed-in face in the group.  Of course, they were all neurotic, but that’s another story.  But I digress.

Well, my daughter emailed me the other day to say that her Jason was now on a “bulldog” kick.  He had decided that he wanted a bulldog instead of a Pekingese.

Photo courtesy of Photos8.com

My first thought was of this breed….the Dogue de Bordeaux immortalized in the movie “Turner and Hooch.”  Visions of slobber being flung all around the house filled my head.  I recalled the scene in the movie where the character leaves the dog in his car for a few minutes and returns to find the entire car interior ripped to shreds.  Ugh!

Photo courtesy of Photos8.com

I did a little research on the bulldog.  Jeepers!  I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder but to me, this breed was ugly as sin.  I called my daughter up.

“You don’t want a bulldog.  They’re too big and besides, I checked out their intelligence.  Do you realize that on a chart that ranks 79 dog breeds in order of their intelligence, they rank 77th?”, I asked her.

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The latest email arrived a few days ago.  It said, “Jason no longer wants a bulldog.  We are thinking about getting a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel now.”  Hmm, this sounded more promising.  I went online and did some more research.  They at least looked cute.  Their temperament sounded sweet and they appeared to be quite intelligent.   I breathed a sigh of relief.  As of today, Laura and Jason are on a waiting list with a reputable breeder for a puppy from a litter due around Easter.

I mentioned to our vet last week that I might be “Grandmother” to a new dog soon.

“My daughter is probably going to get a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel,” I told him.

“Oh, they’re nice little dogs,” he replied.  “We almost got one but we  got a bulldog instead.”

I started to laugh.  “Did you know that they rank 77th out of 79 on the intelligence chart for dog breeds?”, I asked.  “I told my daughter that a bulldog would be too dumb for her.”

“Well, he fits our lifestyle,” he answered….”big, laid-back, and chilled out.”

I looked at him and then looked over at Fresca the Wonder Dog, who was perched on the examining table and looking around the room with that look that said, “Where can I jump to next and what mischief can I get into?”

“Do you honestly think a bulldog would stand a chance with keeping up with ‘Wild Thing’?” I asked him.

“Probably not,” he laughed.  “A King Charles Spaniel is probably a better choice, although I suspect Fresca would STILL be able to think circles around it.”

I’ll let you know what they end up with.

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The Dog Did It

When we returned from church today, I noticed something on the floor.  It was this…..my granddaughter’s pacifier.  Oh, oh…..there could only be one guilty party.  Our dog, Fresca had obviously been a busy girl while we were gone.

When confronted with the evidence, Fresca tried not to make eye contact with us…a sure sign of her guilt.  Then she tried a different tactic.  She tried smiling at us.  It’s a cheesy grin that she somehow comes up with when she has done something wrong and knows that she has and she wants to distract us.

We showed Mika what had happened to her pacifier.  She was as shocked as we were.  The look of horror on her face was priceless.  The betrayal of it all!  How could her furry little friend take something so dear to her and obliterate it?  That was not a nice thing to do at all.

Her response was pretty immediate.  Scrunching up her face, she started to cry.  Oh, it was a sad day.  Luckily, Mika is getting much better at getting her fist to her mouth and sucking on it so I don’t think it will be too traumatic or stunt her psyche.  Yes, Mika will survive.

The pacifier is another story.  It is going in the trash.  I imagine we’ll be seeing the rest of it when it eventually makes its way through the dog’s digestive system.  As my mom would say, “That’ll larn ya” to leave things on the floor.

Fresca the Wonder Dog Strikes Again

I was finally able to bring my 96-year-old mum home for the better part of the day yesterday with the aid of my son.  Since she isn’t able to walk and can’t even support herself to stand, it takes at least two people to get her out of the wheelchair and into the car and vice versa once she is at the house.  We won’t even talk about trying to get her bathroomed.  Anyway, I knew that Fresca would be super excited to see her, since it has been almost two years since her last visit with our dog.  So we got Mom situated on the couch, padded her lap with a pillow and a big, puffy blanket and went to let the dog in from the sunporch where we had sequestered her.

Fresca made a beeline into the living room, came over to me and jumped up and down and then suddenly realized that there was someone else in the room that was new.  She took one look at Mom and let out a high-pitched screech and headed for the couch.

She tried to jump on the couch, which usually takes her one second, but in her extreme excitement, she actually plowed straight into it and it took her two tries before she was able to clear the hurdle of the seat and make it onto “Grandma’s” lap.  From then on, she was a whirlwind of wiggles, whines, and licks.  We were snapping pictures and laughing so hard that we failed to notice that Mum looked positively terrified.  My goodness, what were we thinking?

I ran over and sat on the couch to grab Fresca and try to calm her down a little.  Our Wonder Dog was just so happy to see Grandma that she was beside herself and wanted to go back for Round Two of kissing and snuggling with Mom.   Doesn’t Mom look positively thrilled at that prospect?

Well, in the end Mom survived, Fresca calmed down and we went on to have a lovely lunch and afternoon with four generations of family.  Mom got to cuddle her great-granddaughter while I played a concert on the piano for her.  Her grandson played guitar and we sang along, including Mum.  Mom even sang a song about George Washington for us that she had learned in third grade.  It was really a lovely, albeit tiring day.

I’ll try to add the video of Fresca with Mom as soon as I download it to the computer so you can see our Wonder Dog in action with her favorite senior citizen.  You’ll wonder what in the world we were thinking as you hear us laughing hysterically but honestly, we didn’t notice Mom looked so terrified.  She has always loved the dog and vice versa.  Guess it was just a little overwhelming to her, given the nature of the greeting she received.  We’ll definitely file that away under “Lessons to Remember” for her next visit.

No Canine Translator Required

Over the years I have read various books on canine communication.  I’ve even attended a seminar on “How to Communicate with Your Pets”, which turned out to be a real bomb filled with New Age kooks and just plain weirdos and me.  In my defense, I thought I was going to be getting tips on recognizing different physical signals that dogs give us when they are trying to communicate and also info on how dogs communicate with each other…..again aimed more at the physical, tangible things that they do.  Instead I sat there trying to stifle giggles as we all were instructed to rub our palms together to generate heat and then to lay them on the photographs of our pets as we thought in “word pictures” that we wanted to communicate to them.  Oh, please!  What was even funnier was the question and answer period at the end of the seminar as the participants asked the instructor for advice on specific situations.  Think “Ghost Whisperer” meets “Horse Whisperer” and you’ve got a pretty good idea of how the evening was going.

I still remain fascinated with how animals communicate with each other and with us.  Fresca, our dog, certainly has amused me over the years with her own individual style of communicating.  These are a few of my favorites.

1.  “I’m top dog.  Get thee behind me!” Whenever her little doggy friend, Schatze is visiting, Fresca always lets Schatze know who is supposed to go out the sunroom door into the enclosed backyard first.  The two dogs will race through the dining room French doors into the sunroom and then Fresca lets out a specific short bark while body slamming Schatze out of the way so that Fresca can get into position as the first one in line to go out the sliding glass door into the backyard.  She does this every time.  There is no mistaking her message.

2.  “Hey, you guys up?” We have two dogs that live next door to us.  Fresca isn’t particularly friends with them but she has a keen interest in what they are doing.  If they are out in their yard, Fresca always can sense this and wants to go out.  Of course, once she’s out there, all she does is bark at them and then I have to bring her back in so she isn’t annoying the neighbors.  But her daily routine each morning is this:  She goes through her normal feeding and bathrooming routine and then, after I’m dressed and ready to face the day, Fresca comes over and bugs me to let her out.  I open the back door into the dog yard and Fresca runs to the middle of the enclosed yard, stops, faces the neighbor’s yard and lets out one short bark.  Then she stops and listens and looks intently.  She repeats this several times more and, if neither of the neighbor’s dogs appear, Fresca will turn around and come back up the steps and sit by the door, waiting for me to let her back in.

3.  “Aw, Dad, you don’t really want to go to work.  Play with me.” Each morning, when my husband goes to get his coat on and gather his briefcase, Fresca disappears downstairs to the family room.  Then she reappears with a toy in her mouth.  The Commander will start towards the door into the garage but Fresca will cut him off at the pass and drop the toy at his feet, looking up at him hopefully.  It never works.  He still leaves but she always tries.

4.  “OK, now you need to open the curtains.” Fresca always comes up to the bedroom when I’m getting dressed.  I have my normal routine.  I’ll make the bed, get dressed, sit down in a chair to put on my socks, and the last thing I’ll do is open all the curtains.  Lately I’ve noticed that when I sit down in the chair, before I get up, Fresca comes over to me and looks at me and then looks at the curtains nearest to me.  If I don’t get up immediately, she walks over to the windows and sits down and looks at them and then back at me.   I’ve heard of seeing-eye dogs but I wonder if anyone has ever thought of training dogs for the memory-challenged?  Fresca might be a good candidate.

5.  “Danger, Mom, Danger!  Come on!” Monday through Saturday, our mail lady drives through our neighborhood and stops at our mailbox to deliver our mail.  And six days a week, Fresca can hear her mail truck coming when it’s still way down the street.  That dog will start barking and racing back and forth between the two front rooms, peering out through the windows for the dangerous interloper.  I’m usually in the backroom, working on the computer.  When Fresca’s frantic barking fails to rouse me, she will come find me and give me a worried look, whining and going back to the front room and then coming back to my room until I get up and go stand by the door, ready to fight off any rabid mail carriers that might breach the perimeter of our home.

6.  “It’s Time for Dinner.” I’ll bet most dog and cat owners are all too familiar with this communication.  Fresca will start pacing between the kitchen and whatever room I’m in, about an hour before it is time for her to eat.  I refuse to be lured to go feed her so early.  So she’ll then resort to coming into my workroom and sitting down by me and just staring at me.  She doesn’t “say” anything but her stare is LOUD.  Usually I’m the one who “breaks” and I get up, saying something like “Oh, OK, for Pete’s sake.  Come on!”  Then she’ll joyfully dart to the kitchen and prance around until I’ve filled her food dish.  Oy!

So how do your pets communicate with you?  I’ll bet you all have some fun stories to tell.

Shawl We Rave for Fave Friday?

FFF fall leaves 2Well, I certainly am behind the eight-ball today.  Here it is after 3 p.m. and I’m just now getting around to writing up my fave five’s for Friday.  However, I may be late but I still have plenty of things to rave about.  I hope your week has been as enjoyable with the crisp fall temps and the leaves turning colors (if you happen to live in an area of the country that experiences the changing seasons).  At any rate, here is what has me jumping this week:

Gale Closeup1.  I have my Gale Shawl pinned out and blocking in the guest room. Oy, sometimes I think I’m getting too old to be crawling around on the floor pinning shawls but still, the end result is always worth it.  This shawl, if you’ll remember me mentioning it in an earlier post, tends to skew somewhat because of the way the thing is knitted so the designer suggests that you block it vigorously.  Well, believe you me, I inserted wires and pinned it vigorously and I think I have it pretty much in a rectangular shape.  We’ll see how it ends up looking once I unpin it.  I promise to post pictures of the final product once it’s dry.

Traveling Woman2.  I finished my Traveling Woman Shawl and have that blocking as well. This is a red-letter week when I have TWO shawls blocking at once.  The Traveling Woman Shawl was a lot of fun to knit.  I’ll be posting more about it in the coming week but just to whet your appetite, here is a wee pic of the shawl pinned out on my new blocking board.

Miniature Sweater3.  I finished one miniature sweater for the nephews’ gift cards. One down, one to go…..maybe more, if I get ambitious.  I put a Sharpie pen next to it to show you the scale.  This was really a lot of fun to knit up.  Since I used the Magic Loop method of knitting it, I didn’t have to fiddle with DPNs and that made it even easier.  The plan is to use these little sweaters to slip gift cards into for Christmas presents.  Then the recipients can reuse the sweaters for Christmas tree ornaments next year.

IMG_46644.  Fresca the Wonder Dog is feeling much better. Fresca had some strange crusty blisters on both eye rims AND she was doing a deep hacking cough on occasion.  I knew she didn’t have kennel cough because we’ve religiously kept her vaccine for that up-to-date.  To me it sounded like bronchitis.  As for the eyes, I couldn’t figure out what in the world it was.  So I took her to the vet and he diagnosed it as hmmm, well, irritated eyes probably due to some allergy.  The cough was a canine version of allergic bronchitis.  So now she is on an antibiotic and on some steroids and the eyes have completely cleared up and I haven’t heard that cough in days.  She’s hungry as the dickens, though, probably because of the steroids.  I’ll be glad when those pills are finished.

Victoria5.  Last, but not least, I just ordered my second spinning wheel…..a Louet Victoria. This little beauty weighs only 6 pounds and folds up and packs into a bag the size of a large backpack, small enough to go into the overhead bins in an airplane.  I can hardly wait to give her a spin when she arrives, which shouldn’t be too long a wait since I just got the tracking information from the Loopy Ewe, indicating that it has been mailed off to me.

If you’d like to write about your own Friday Fave Fives or read about what others are writing about, visit Susanne’s blog at Living to Tell the Story.

Fave Five Friday

It’s Friday and time for my weekly Fave Five list.  Since my camera is packed in my suitcase, I’m going to have to recycle some pics here for my post so bear with me.  Here are five things that I’ve been enjoying this past week.

End Roll Noro Striped Scarf #11.  Susan Pandorf’s Byzantine Stole – No, this pic isn’t the stole but it DOES involve Noro yarn.  Susan’s gorgeous new pattern calls for Noro Silk Garden Lite and the design is worked up over 16 rows which repeat throughout the length of the wrap.  It is a mosaic design that is created by a simple slip stitch technique and when it is combined with the lovely color transitions that Noro is known for, the results are stunning.   This is the type of project that people will look at and think that you’ve done wondrous and complicated things as a knitter.  Oh yeah, baby!  Little do they know that it is NOT difficult.  That’s the wonder of the whole thing.

2.  Mr. K is back and functioning. Ok, it’s a NEW Mr. K but still, we now have a functioning Keurig machine.  Boy, did we miss the convenience of those K-cup brews in the morning while we were waiting for the new machine to arrive.  Once it got here, the first few cups were a little rough because of the “plastic” taste that comes from a new machine.  But today I flushed everything out with vinegar and then ran several carafes of water through so we should be good to go.

3.  I’ve finally picked some baby patterns to start knitting. I decided not IMG_0908to take the Byzantine Stole with me on vacation.  I’m already taking my Vine Bolero project.  So I thought I’d take a baby project, as well.  I had hoped that we’d know the sex of the baby by now but apparently Canada has a rule that expectant parents can’t find out the sex of their baby before they are at least 20 weeks pregnant.  This helps avoid the temptation of them deciding on an abortion because they don’t like the sex of the fetus.  I can understand the reasoning and am fine with that.  So, my first baby sweater is going to be done in shades of lime green, turquoise, pinks, and red.  If the baby is a boy, he’ll have to deal with it.  I figure the child will only be wearing a sweater for a few months anyway before they all head to tropical climes.

IMG_22134.  I enjoyed a fun picnic with our local Mystery Book Club.  We just finished reading “A Killer’s Kiss” by William Lashner and this month we all met at the home of one of our members to enjoy a picnic and discuss the book.   Our group is so diverse when it comes to our literary likes and dislikes (although we all love mysteries) and it is such fun to listen to everyone when we finish our book discussion and get off on a tangent, especially when we are recommending good books to read.  I’ve been exposed to some great new authors, thanks to some of these recommendations.

5.  Watching “Dog Whisperer” episodes with Fresca. This week I’ve stumbled across some Dog Whisperer shows

What shall I put down this year?

on our cable network and have enjoyed watching them with our dog.  She sits right there and watches along with me.  I have to admit that I’m usually quite ashamed of both my ability to assert myself as the “pack leader” and Fresca’s unapologetic enthusiasm when it comes to barking at the world as they go past our house.  But short of Ceasar Milan coming to do some training here, I doubt she will change at this late date.  She’s almost 9 years old.  Yes, Fresca thinks it is her job in life to guard our house from anything and anybody that dares walk or drive past our property.  Since she’s not an outdoor dog, she’s not annoying the neighbors but it does get a little hectic inside at times.  But on the bright side, she helps keep me awake while I’m at the computer.  And watching these episodes gives me the assurance that there are dogs out there that are much worse than she is.

Friday_fave_five_Tamara smallTo find out what others are listing as their Friday Fave Fives, go to Suzanne’s site at Living to Tell the Story.

Designing a Dog-Friendly Landscape

fresca-in-sunroom

Here’s the culprit! Fresca, the Wonder Dog. This little rascal has decimated our backyard fenced-in area. It was fenced in specifically for her before we ever brought her home. We used to have grass back there along with brick-bordered flower beds. However, I read that many plants are poisonous to dogs, including some of the small shrubs and plants that were in those beds so I dutifully pulled them all out before Fresca arrived. In the excitement (and fatigue) of owning a new puppy, I just never got around to replanting anything more suitable to inquisitive canines. Then, the first day I let her outside in the enclosure to do her “business”, I looked out there and saw dirt flying everywhere. By the time I got out there, she had almost dug a hole big enough to slip out UNDER the fence. I grabbed a few planters and stuck them strategically over the hole and took to standing at the sliding glass door in our sunroom whenever she was out in the back. Luckily, Fresca no longer digs holes but I’m still her observer, mainly to make sure she doesn’t decide to roll in anything obnoxious.

grass-disaster

Because Fresca’s yard doesn’t get much sun except for a short stretch every afternoon, not much readily grows back there and things tend to stay damp. It isn’t a problem in the winter because the ground tends to stay frozen and Fresca can just be let out to do her bathrooming and then head on in with no problem. However, when it gets warmer and the rains begin, the fenced yard becomes a mud hole. I keep a towel by the back door so that I can wipe her paws off as soon as she comes back inside. Further complicating the situation is the fact that our neighbor has two dogs. If they are out, Fresca feels that she has to run straight out from the house to the side fence to “warn” them to stay away. Barking isn’t enough. She has to give them some attitude, too…..flipping her back leg out again and again as the mud flies backwards. It looks like a bull pawing the ground except she uses her hind paw. That practice has just about uprooted any grass we had surviving along the one side of the fence. Of course, the other dogs have never shown any inclination to come over to see Fresca but to her mind, that means that her methods are working.

mud-hole

My husband has tried to reseed Fresca’s yard several times, despite my protestations that it wouldn’t work, and each time, it hasn’t worked. Now it’s my turn. I’ve looked through several books, perused countless websites, and clipped out articles over the past years. It’s time to put my ideas into action. As I see it, I’ve got several choices. I can:
1. Brick the back area, making it into a courtyard that could be hosed off for cleanup.
2. Put a smaller chain-link dog run along one end of the fenced area and confine Fresca to this whenever she needs to go out to potty. The problem I see with that would be that I’d have to get suited up in cold or bad weather to take her to the entrance to the run and to get her back out of the run.
3. Kill off what little grass remains and bring in sand to cover the fenced area. We could put down flagstones to make a path from sunporch to the gate. I’m just not sure if the sand would get muddy or not.
4. Kill off the grass and put down crushed rock/pea gravel. Build some raised flower beds in a geometric layout, thus creating paths that will “herd”, er, encourage Fresca to do her business along set routes. I think the urine would just seep down through the pepples and the dog poo would be able to be picked up without taking most of the pepples with it. Right now I’m leaning towards this option. I envision four raised planter boxes maybe 4 foot by 4 foot square and a foot high made out of wood. They would be filled with planting soil and I could plant flowers in them that enjoy shade. Being raised like that, Fresca wouldn’t wander through them or do anything in them plus I wouldn’t have to bend way down to weed in these beds. I’d put them in a square arrangement with space between them forming paths kind of in the shape of a cross.

I’d love to hear any of your ideas, especially if you’ve wrestled with similar problems yourself. Drop me a comment and let me know what you would do.