Saturday, April 29, 2006

The diva and the tramp

Tonight our friend Betsy came over with her two Border Terriers. Our Golly (right) and her MacDuff are exactly the same age, born on the same day, a little over 10 years ago. Childhood sweethearts. We posed the picture above, trying to recreate one we took about a decade ago. It was their idea to "hold hands." Later, when we were just sitting around talking, they had another moment, with no prompting from us at all. Luckily, we still had the camera nearby.Wisselwood Golly G Whilikers, CD (Brussels Griffon) and MACH 3 Otterby Thane of MacDuff, CDX (Border Terrier)

Friday, April 28, 2006

They'll Make a Liar Out of You Every Time!

Isn't it true with every living being that as soon as you make a definitive comment about something, the opposite happens? It's certainly true with Golly. If we haven't said it before, I'll say it now. Golly is a princess, a prima donna, a diva. Things must be her way or no way! We say she won't do something, and next thing you know...

We got Golly and her siblings some really nice beds. I mean REALLY nice beds (Woofie cushions, to be precise) - about 6 months ago. Golly has ignored the big one in the office since then. Since no one was really using the bed and it takes up quite a bit of real estate in an already very small room, so we talked about getting rid of it. It was an unseasonably warm day, so we took a throw from the couch and just dropped it in the Woofie Cushion. Wouldn't you know, Golly hopped right in and made herself at home! Needless to say, the Woofie Cushion isn't going anywhere!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Urban life and dog doings

Our next-door neighbor here at GollyGear is an insurance agent. He's a good enough neighbor, as long as you don't mind working next door to Felix Unger. Today I ran into him while we were both throwing away trash, which I do whenever I can't avoid it any longer and he does three times a day. He very kindly offered, if I had a shovel, to pick up all that "mess" behind my shop. That "mess" is a very tidy, four by four foot square of wood shavings. It's our "exercise area" when we have any of the dogs at work. I thanked him and explained its purpose. Felix grimaced. I don't think he approves of dogs. Then again, I can't imagine he approves of any bodies' functions. But he's also too polite to say so.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The great French Bulldog escape

Friday (my day off) was spent carting dogs to and from the vet: Golly and Roc needed their annual physical (read shots) and everybody needed heartworm tests.

Our vet, who I adore (in a wish-she-could-be-my-doctor way) is a bit old-fashioned; no appointments. You walk into the waiting room, sign in, and wait your turn. Consequently, when it's time for heartworm testing, waits can be long. Waiting at the vet can also be loud, depending on the dogs, and entertaining, depending on the other people. Friday morning, when I took Golly and Roc, was dogs-with-pushed-in-faces day, our two Brussels Griffons, a pug and a Boston Terrier.

Golly and Roc were puzzled by the Boston. She looked like their sister, but she was calm. Even sedate. Their little faces kept going from the Boston (Daisy) to my face, as if to say "What is this? Why is it not in perpetual motion? Is there something wrong with this dog?" Their fascination with Daisy perplexed Daisy's dad, until I explained the situation. He was astonished to learn that other Bostons could be, shall we say, more lively than his Daisy. He was gone by the time I brought Ceilidh in later that day. Shame. He could have learned the Dark Side of the Boston Force.

Golly and Roc both passed with flying colors - such good babies. No problem.

Later in the afternoon, I geared up to take Dax and Ceilidh in for their tests. Taking Ceilidh anywhere requires preparation; treats and a collapsible crate are essential. Leashes in hand, purse and crate over my shoulder, treats in my pocket, I sally off to the car. First things first: I sling the crate into the back, open Ceilidh's car crate, pick her up and pop her in. With all of her challenges, she's actually an excellent traveller. We are grateful for small favors.

As I'm putting Ceilidh in the car, I know something's not right. I look down and Dax's leash, which was supposed to be under my foot, is not. And there is Dax, trotting off across the street, into the neighbor's yard, heading for the alley behind his house. She's not running away from me, she's trotting at a very deliberate, very adorable, very terrifying Frenchie clip. I slam the hatch, start calling "Dax, come" (which got an ear twitch) and go running after her. I'm a pretty darn good dog trainer, so I use all the tricks in the book: run the other way, yell cookie, etc., etc. She just keeps on trotting.

I caught her leash at the end of the neighbor's yard. She'll be back in training class this week. You betcha.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The chase is on!

Dax (French Bulldog): "Ceilidh, play with me!"
Ceilidh (Boston Terrrier) : "Are you talkin' to me?"
Ceilidh: "I'm gonna get that bunny butt!"
Ceilidh: "Okay kid: show me what you got!"
Dax: "You can't catch me"
Dax: "I told you it'd be fun"

Friday, April 21, 2006

Ceilidh's a Contradiction

I've talked about Ceilidh, my Boston Terrier, before. She's a nutcase at Agility Class and has two speeds at home: hyper and off. She's also a contradiction. As wild as she is playing, that's how sweet and delicate she is at other times. I gave her one of the new "Squeeze Meeze" latex toys (OK, here's the link: and she went crazy - holding the head of the dragon and shaking for all she was worth. I thought she was going to seriously hurt herself. And then a little later we were handing out treats and she was as delicate as could be. You would have thought you'd have to count all your fingers, but that's just not the case with gentle Ceilidh!

And then last night at Agility Class she was grabbing her ball and tugging, then later, sat nicely for treats. She's a contradictory pup.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The next sound you hear

Last night I was in the backyard with Roc, who for some reason, even after four years, is not really secure on the whole housebreaking thing, which means when he suddenly runs out of the room where he's been peacefully napping you run after him. Unless you feel like cleaning up the mess later. Most of the time he's just desperately thirsty and running to the kitchen for a drink.

Of course dogs get used to routines, they train us very well that way. So after all this time, he gets up, runs out of the room and waits for one of us in the hallway. He knows we're coming, and he's a very social little guy, so he does the polite thing and waits and now we're stuck. We decided to trust him for a while, but he kept waiting in the hall. Like I said, he has us well-trained.

Anyway, I had him in the backyard and like the nine-pound protector of the universe he is, he heard another dog walking in the alley and starts yapping away. I tried to get him to quiet down, but then the other dog barked. It was very dark and the other dog was on the other side of a fence and barrier of bushes. I couldn't see the other dog at all. But I heard his owner say "Quiet," and we had a nice chat:

He: "What kind of dog do you have?"
Me: "Brussels Griffon. Is that a Shepherd?"
He: "Yeah, he's a German Shepherd"
Me: "Have a good evening."
He: "You, too."

So my question is, little dog person that I've been all my life - how did I know, just from its bark, that his dog was a German Shepherd?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Dog Person or Cat Person?

Isn't it fun how you can usually tell who's a dog person and who's really a cat person but doesn't mind dogs (not too much, anyway). I'm reading the latest paperback; The Serpent On The Crown, from one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Peters. It's part of her series featuring Amelia Peabody, a Victorian Egyptologist with an attitude and penchant for getting into trouble. I just smile my way through these books

Anyway, the series follows Peabody's adventures through the years and most mention the household cat, or cats, depending on the year. These felines are full of personality, distinct in their preferences, and are granted status as members of the family. This may have something to do with the fact that cats were revered in ancient Egypt - the cat featured in this book is known as the Great Cat of Re.

For the first time, (that I can remember) the family finally has a dog. That gets no respect. It's a huge, floppy, amiable puppy that gets swatted around by the cat, is left outside while the family is inside but is loyal, sweet and graced with the name of an Egyptian princess.

I haven't finished the book yet, so I'm hoping that the pup becomes a vital member of the family. So far, she's a second-class citizen. I get the impression that Elizabeth Peters is a cat person.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Take a Deep Breath

Whew! I'm not a web designer by trade, but I've taken on the task of the GollyGear web site. We were smart, though, and hired someone to get us started. The last couple of days were consumed with changing the secure shopping cart and all the page headings, footers, links, etc., etc., too esoteric and mundane to get into. I've filled page upon page of to do lists, and have succeeded in crossing almost everything off. I think everything works pretty much the way it should! So now I can take a deep breath, enjoy the sunshine, play with my dog, sleep at night...

Television addiction

I admit it; I’m a terrible mother. My four-year-old is totally addicted to TV. Even worse - I turn it on for him and think it’s pretty adorable when I can’t distract him from his baseball game. Of course, Roc is a dog, so I really don’t think it’s going to permanently damage his little brain. It’s not like he has to grow up to be a responsible taxpayer.

In truth, I think it started before I adopted him. This is a picture of him sitting on his "grandpa’s" chest, watching football at the tender age of four weeks. Bad habits start young. To this day he loves football and baseball. He stops playing "fetch" mid-throw if there’s a particularly tense putt in a golf tournament.

The worst of it is that, like many another sports fan - he adds his two cents to whatever’s happening on screen. I’m sure many umpires ears have burned over the last four years. We’d appreciate it if he kept his comments to himself - Roc’s got a really annoying bark.

His TV addiction isn’t limited to sports. He loves anything on Animal Planet. Animated shows have his rapt attention. And he dashes in from anywhere in the house to see a Fancy Feast commercial. He recognizes the "ding, ding" of the fork on the goblet and comes dashing in, barking all the way. Before he even sees the kitty.

I think his favorite show is actually on every night somewhere on cable. Because of the barking thing, we only let him watch it once a week. Roc adores "America’s Funniest Home Videos." Especially when they have clips of dogs. We could just turn off the TV to stop the barking. But we don’t, cause it’s just so darn silly.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

All over the world, tonight....

I belong to an online forum about Brussels Griffons, which is a good thing, because it's not like you run into other Griffie people every day. (I'm a bit jealous of local German Shepherd folks, they not only have their own club, but a gorgeous training facility, which they're generous enough to let other clubs use on occasion.)

I love hearing from Griffie people all over the world - offhand I know we have forum members from the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Spain, Russia, Brazil, and bunches more. The universality emphasizes how much alike we all are - no matter where we are. And no matter what we look like. Most of us have never met in person and never will.

So the deep, earth-shattering discussion we've been having lately? Whether our dogs like to sleep under the covers or not. Most of them do. All over the world.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Dog training for fun and profit. Lots of fun. Very little profit.

Every Tuesday night for the last umpteen years I've gone to training class with my dog. We belong to the North Shore Dog Training Club. My non-doggy friends tease us about it, asking things like "Doesn't he know enough yet?" or "Aren't you trained by now?"

Silly people. They just don't get it. Every week, for one hour, I get to have fun with my dog. No matter what else is happening in my life, for that one hour, I don't have to think about it. Sure, when we're sufficiently "trained," we go to trials and try to show off what we've learned. But that's not really the point, for us.

Can you imagine a more wonderful thing than getting together with your friends and their dogs for one hour every week?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I'll help you, mom!

If anyone ever again tries to convince me that my dogs aren't aware of every move I make, everything I do, and my every thought - I have the perfect anecdote to contradict their ignorance.

This morning I was working out. I do not enjoy working out. I enjoy eating chocolate. So I work out. Anyway, the dogs and I have a routine - they have a couple of doggie beds near the "gym" in our basement (okay, it's an area we keep clear of clutter immediately in front of the tv where we play the workout tapes). I go work out - they take a nap.

Roc, my little Brussels Griffon boy, is my "velcro" dog. I never have to look for Roc, he is where I am at all times. This morning, I was doing a stretch after some push-ups. Picture me, sweating and panting, sitting on my shins, stretching shoulders and neck. Roc comes over and sits squarely in front of me, rolls his shoulders back and stretches his chin to the ceiling. On the tv the instructor says do it again. I do it again. Roc does it again! I didn't really believe it was deliberate. So I did it again - and so did Roc. My little helper boy.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Housekeeping and Doggy Aerobics

Whoever thinks that vacuuming isn't an aerobic activity - for people and dogs - has never been to my house when it's happening.

Last year when my vacuum (a canister model) wasn't working too well, I loaded it and all its bits into my car and headed for the repair shop. The shop owner wanted to know what the hell I'd been doing to his poor product - the extension tubes looked like they'd been gnawed on! and the beater-bar thingy had deep gouges, too!

Well, it had been gnawed on, viciously attacked, and punished thoroughly every time I take it out of the closet. I explained to the nice gentleman that the reason I needed his very powerful and way-too-expensive vacuum in the first place was because I live with four dogs. And wasn't it very nice of my dogs to attack only the parts that weren't electrical?

He didn't think it was funny. I do. Watching three dogs, all lined up in the hall, backing when the vacuum comes at them, rushing forward when it retreats, diving in for a bite of their arch enemy! It's about the only part of vacuuming I enjoy. Extension tubes can be replaced.

This week even Ceilidh got into the act - it was a major breakthrough. Up until this week, she's hidden in whatever corner of the house was furthest from the nasty invading vacuum beast. This time, for a whole two or three minutes, she added her bark and bite to the general chaos and mayhem. I was so proud of her - she bit the vacuum! Such a brave girl.

I'm the only person I know who vacuums with a smile on my face. Because I have earplugs in my ears.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

And now a word from our sponsor

It occurred to me last night that this is supposed to be a commercial blog, a subtle and sneaky way of promoting our online (and bricks and mortar) dog boutique GollyGear. So far, not so much. So here it is:

The GollyGear Special this month is our unique Treat Sampler pack. Each pack has 21 trial-size packets so your finicky small dog can try every treat in every flavor that GollyGear carries. No more buying blind - try them all! Perfect for the finicky Fido. Don't spend a fortune - let your dog have it all without those unwanted treats moldering away in the cabinet. Supplies are limited - get yours today!

And now, back to our regularly scheduled blog...

Friday, April 07, 2006

Oh My Aching Head

Agility Class last night with Ceilidh. OK, so what do you do when you've got a splitting headache, it hurts to bend over and your dog comes up to your shins and you've got to go to class with her otherwise you'll never hear the end of it? You (me, actually) take some aspirin, past a smile on your face and pretend that you're having a good time. It becomes true after a while.

We got to class early and were able to spend some quality time playing ball - I throw it into her travelling crate and she dashes after it! It's a new ball so the squeaker was driving everyone else crazy. Ceilidh was having so much fun that I didn't have the heart to stop.

The first course set the tone for the night - three jumps, a tunnel, three more jumps and the chute (closed tunnel). As our instructor called it - YEE HAH!!! Ceilidh had so much fun I just had to laugh with her!
A couple of runs later my headache was gone.

My motto - just keep smiling! Those aspirin will kick in and you'll be happy before you know it!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I hate to complain, but

The worst thing about spring? Turning into a doggie doorman.

All four dash out the door as if they're making a break for it. Then they wander around the backyard, sniffing every blade of grass as if it's a new and exciting discovery. Okay, it may have been a few months since the grass was actually green - but they've all seen it before.

"Okay kids, I'm going to be late for work. Go home." I'm a good enough dog trainer to have brought reinforcements - the doggie cookies are in my pocket. I wave them around. Golly, whose greed outweighs her interest in the great outdoors, follows me to the door. She goes in.

Roc figures out that Golly isn't around and comes dashing up, expectantly. He gets a cookie, he goes in.

Ceilidh is a challenge. She finds sticks and carries them around (cute) and plays keep-away (not cute). She's finally learning that we do, in fact, mean business when we say "go home." It really doesn't mean that if you look really cute we'll cave and play fetch for a while. Really. She goes in.

Dax sits in any patch of sunshine she can find. Looking at me with that French Bulldog face that means "Me? Were you speaking to me? So sorry. I don't quite understand what it is you want." Dax eventually goes in.

Of course I could make my own life easier and snap leashes on them. But then what excuse could I use for being late to work?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Introducing the family

This is Dax, 1 year old French Bulldog, at work.
This is Ceilidh, 4 year old Boston Terrier, in the bathtub.
Because everyone should have a naked baby in the bathtub picture.
Golly is in front, as always. Roc usually tucks his paw when he lies down.
I think he does it because he knows it's cute.

Monday, April 03, 2006

We cannot possibly get our paws wet!

There is nothing quite like the look of distress on your dogs' faces when you open the door to let them out first thing in the morning and they look out, see the rain pouring down and look back at you like "Mooooooooooooom, how could you do that? I really gotta go!"

Our bully girls, (Ceilidh, Fran's Boston Terrier and Dax, Hope's French Bulldog) refuse to go out in the rain. They don't like getting their feet wet, they don't like getting dripped on, and, naturally, won't wear raincoats. Fortunately, both are camels and will just "hold it" until there's a break in the weather. If we're ever faced with the Wrath of God, as Noah was, and it rains steadily for any length of time, these girls will be in deep doo doo. So to speak.

Oddly enough, the Princess, Golly herself, is much more practical about things. She looks out, sees the lay of the land, dashes through the raindrops to the best of her ability, does her thing, and dashes back inside. Then she stands there, looking at the towel we keep at hand for the purpose, and waits to be attended to. Princesses may rise to meet the challenge of life's messiness, but they do not have to suffer its consequences for any length of time.

Roc, my Brussels Griffon boy, is all boy. He couldn't care less about the rain. Goes out, does his thing, comes back and tries to play tug-of-war with the towel. I'm really happy that he doesn't care about the weather, though. I'm not entirely convinced, you see, that he has the same conviction about "holding it" as the girls.