Saturday, August 09, 2014

Disconcerting

Yesterday was a scary first in Roc's and my life together. When I got home from running errands, he wasn't barking. He wasn't fussing. He didn't wake up. I called his name, gently at first. Touched him, again, gently. He's at the stage when I check for breathing before I think "Roc's so cute when he's sleeping."
He finally awoke and had his normal amount of difficulty walking and moving around, not so bad. It's another indicator that our time together is getting shorter. So we'll enjoy every day that we have, little Rocky-dude.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Greener Grass

 We had a bit of a problem with our backyard. The grass died along our back fence. The new lawn service (we get a guy to mow) thought it was a feature rather than a bug. So widened it and weeded it and maintained a lovely patch of dirt. We thought it was kind of interesting when the birds in the neighborhood enjoyed taking dirt baths. It was much less fascinating when Booker discovered dirt baths. Which were followed by water baths and wiping mud off the bathroom walls.
 In an effort to do something about it (three Booker baths in two days prompted some action), we went to the home improvement store and bought the required ingredients for lawn: topsoil, fertilizer, seed, and a seed blanket.
My thumb is notoriously black - if it's green and it grows it runs screaming in the opposite direction when I approach. Imagine our surprise when, after only a week, there are signs of an impending lawn! I keep expecting failure in all things outdoors. Booker may be sad about the changes, but he probably won't miss the bathtub.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Running around - again

Sometimes I hate being a grown-up.
Just for a while, wouldn't it be nice if we could shed responsibility? If worries could go away for a while? If there weren't 80 kabillion things we had to take care of?
I'd like to hide in my bedroom, sleep 'til noon, be grumpy and not face the world.

Instead, today's agenda:
Work: actually a pleasure. I'm lucky enough to love my job and the questions/issues that come up are addressable. 
Dentist: My cracked tooth cannot be saved. Exact quote from dentist: "Catastrophic break." 
Veterinarian: Teddy is sleepy. Extraordinarily, worryingly sleepy. Weirdly sleepy.
Obedience Class: 30 miles away in rush-hour traffic. May not get there, depending on what the veterinarian says about Teddy.

The stereotype suggests that middle-aged spinsters like me should stay home with their multitudes of cats, reading in a corner. (I was going to say "rocking chair," but that's probably a bad idea with that many cats.) Not me. My current five-year-old vehicle has more miles on it than my first, 13-year-old-vehicle did. There's always something on the schedule, something to be responsible for, someplace I have to be, go, do.

And, having written about it - I'm very grateful for all of it. Getting older is better than the alternative.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Momma said there'd be days like this...

I love my dogs. A lot. I like spending time with them, doing "stuff" with them, and just hanging out.
Yesterday I didn't like either one of them at all.
Understand that most Sunday mornings without plans are devoted to "dog ablutions" - nails, teeth, ears, etc. Each dog doesn't take long, but when you take care of four (my sister's two and my two), it adds up to a couple/three hour chunk of time.
Afterwards, I just wanted to relax.
Roc was too hot, so I got the cool pack for him to lie on. He settled.
Teddy jumped off the couch and started whining. Booker jumped on Teddy and a vigorous round of "bitey-face" ensued.
Roc got paranoid about the two others jumping on and off the couch and started whining. And shaking, which usually means he has to go outside to potty.
Take Roc out - everybody goes. Booker insists on eating grass.
Come back inside - Booker throws up, Roc poops in the house (his disability means he's not always aware when he has to go).
Get everybody/everything cleaned up, attempt to relax again.
Teddy won't come in the tv room to relax - whines by the back door. Lift Roc off the couch (heaven forbid I leave the room without him), go see what Teddy wants. Mr. "I can't poop when anyone's watching" wants to go out.
Take Teddy and Roc outside.
Come in, attempt to watch tv. Roc's too cold on his ice pack, take it away. Teddy chooses a bone to gnaw on. Booker wants it. More bitey-face, more paranoia, rinse and repeat.
Not the restful Sunday afternoon I'd planned. And, something I never thought I'd say - Tango earned the "Best Dog" award of the day.
Booker

Roc and Teddy

Tango


Monday, July 07, 2014

Getting ready for prime time

Teddy and I ventured back into the realm of competitive obedience on Saturday. We went to a Correction Clinic (practice obedience trial) hosted by a local club.
I realized when I got there how much my training has changed over the last few years. Teddy was one of only a handful of dogs at the match who wasn't wearing a training (choke) or prong collar. I've become immersed in "positive reinforcement" training. I'd forgotten it was the rule, rather than the exception, to actually use "corrections" at a Correction Clinic.
You don't have to, of course. So I didn't. And Teddy did great!
We tried our hand at both Beginner Novice and Novice exercises and Teddy would have qualified in both if it had been a "real" trial.
So it's time to go for the real thing and actually enter a competition. I spent a chunk of time this morning waffling about it. I found a relatively close trial, with great judges, and sat there with my entry all filled out, thinking "I have until Wednesday, maybe I'll see how he does in class tomorrow and then decide," and "Maybe I'll just enter Beginner, instead of Novice, just to see how he does."
I'm not sure why competition has become such a bug-a-boo for me. Teddy knows what he's supposed to do, I know what I'm supposed to do. And I won't be devastated if we don't succeed. But I didn't seem able to hit "enter" for that entry.
Then my sister reminded me of my resolve. "Just put your big-girl pants on and enter Novice." So I did. Wish us luck!
-Hope

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Still learning, after all these years

Last night there was some wild and woolly weather in the Chicago area. My phone kept announcing weather alerts, watches, warnings, etc. The thunder was almost continuous for a couple of hours. We've been lucky that none of our current crew of dogs cares about loud noises - thunder and fireworks don't usually bother this bunch.
So I was at my wit's end last night - Roc couldn't settle. He was panting, restless, and shaking. I didn't know what to do. I took him out for a potty break. We got a little wet in the rain, but it didn't solve his discomfort. I took away the cooling mat he usually lies on in the evening. That wasn't it. I held him close, that didn't help.
Finally, feeling like a really bad dog-mom, I put him on the floor (he can't get on or off the furniture himself any more) and basically threw my hands up.
He went over to the bed that was his favorite for years before his back problems. Climbed in and went to sleep. Napped comfortably there until bedtime.
Sorry, dude. I know you've never really been much of a lap dog/cuddler. There are times when a guy needs some "me" time.
-Hope

Monday, June 30, 2014

Team for a lifetime

As Roc requires more of my time and attention I worry that Teddy isn't getting enough of either. It's a balancing act that's part of everyone's life, since we haven't found a way to stretch time.
To make sure I'm not falling behind with training and spending time with the Ted-Monster, I go to obedience or agility class even on the days I'd rather just collapse on the couch after work.
I always wind up being happy I went - one of the reasons I have dogs is that I love spending time with them, I enjoy the training process, and it's wonderful when you see your dog finally "get" the behavior you're working on. You can almost see Teddy being proud of himself.
It's also an opportunity to spend an hour - even if it's the only hour you get all week - to ignore all of the stresses and demands on your time. I can shut out everything else when I'm training my dog. Precious time, indeed.
I extend that time for a few minutes every day. Whether we work on a perfect "front" or a faster "recall," or just try to get a few, perfect heeling steps, I meet Teddy's eyes, we're working together, and we're a team.
The training and teamwork lasts a lifetime. Roc remembers all those little things, too. And when I ask him for one of them - his tail still wags.
-Hope