Sunday, January 29, 2012

Been a long time since I rock and roll

I can't think of anything amazing to say-- it's been over 3 years since I have set foot in this blog, and a further year and a half since I had written with any regularity. Quite frankly, I'm surprised it's still up!

Nothing of any note has happened in these in between years. Lost a dog and gained some weight- no surprise. I still live in the woods, but don't miss the city nearly as much as I did. I love my house now, though it is in worse shape than it was 3 years ago.

My dad is still around- still feisty at nearly 96. I toyed with moving out there, and it would be much warmer than here, but with active sweat glands like mine and a cool weather dog, I'm much better off staying up here. Not many people can say they love their job, but I do- there's something different every day and I realize how incredible it is that I get to use my brain!

Anyway, here's to hoping that this is a new start to blogging again and that I find something interesting to say about life and living.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Midwinter Morning's Walk

On a windless moonlit early morning, I take a walk with my dogs. Our 10 feet crunch across the jewel-encrusted, snow-covered road. The old one, Dulse, is tethered to my waist because I know he wants to walk near. The young one, Rudder, is on a long leash, so he can  run where he wants to sniff the new smells that have appeared since his last walk. Down the tree-shadowed driveway Rudder runs out and then back several times to make sure we are there. When we come to the road the moon is so bright that even when we cross the shadows of the trees, I can see clearly. We walk along, woods on either side, the dogs stop every once in a while to  sniff and watch the creatures moving in there that I can't hear or smell, which is probably a blessing. The day has started out right.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow illusions

I walked the dogs last night in the newest snowstorm here in the Northwoods. I had my Petzl headlamp on, and noticed that the snow coming down was mesmerizing. If I looked out into the night from the light of the lamp, the snow arced down and looked like hundreds of thousands of dashes and dots. It's too bad I don't know Morse Code. I had just never seen that effect before. No photos, unfortunately.

In other news, the e-collar training is going well. Luckily Rudder learns very fast, so I don't have to use it that much.

Oh, and I have the awful office Tuberculosis-like cold. Or maybe I have kennel cough. Ick. Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Training the TeeNewf

I was so proud of this photo of the newest member of my fur family, because the powerful stance is so unlike this sweet, goofy beast, but when my new dog trainer, Sharon, saw it, she did not "ooooh" and "aaaaaah" and say, "what a fantastic photo of Rudder!" No. She said, "I see you're allowing Rudder to jump up on things...." deflating my balloon just like that.

Anyway, I started training him in earnest today. I got up and drove the 20 miles to my private lesson, and am slowly learning to use a remote training collar (AKA electronic collar, "shock" collar, etc). I had always been against using them, until I saw a demonstration and I felt what the dog was feeling, at least initially. Remote collars have come a long way even in the past 5 years.

We just did our first session today. He wears the collar unless I am not with him and I always have the remote in my hand. He also wears a "long line" everywhere,for the first week, so I can guide him into doing what I want (or don't want) him to do. I am doing everything the trainer advises, because I have known her a long time, I see how happy her dogs are, and I see that she can take them anywhere with her and they are welcome.

I just hope that as the weeks go by, I become more confident in this method.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Teen Angel?

When have words been so separately different , yet together so true? I have a teen now- not a human, but an adolescent dog, a 120 lb Newf, and boy is it a of work I didn't expect. Funny thing is, that I raised not one other TeenNewf, but three others, including two littermates, and I don't remember having this much trouble with them. It must have been so painful that I blocked it out of my memory, is all I can figure. 

Don't get me wrong, I am having a blast with Rudder - when I am not holding my lumbar region after two walks, a game of fetch, watching Rudder like a hawk in the house so he doesn't surreptitiously lift his leg on everything vertical, taking 25 minutes to get him in the car, which he hates, and splitting up tiffs between Rudder and my 11-year-old Newf, Dulse.

Generally, I like to leave new dogs to work out dominance issues on their own. Here is the exception: Rudder is still intact, although he still respects neutered Dulse most of the time. When he gets a bit of rambunctious teen testosterone, or youthful enthusiasm, however, he "forgets" and challenges and jumps on top of my old resident Newf, and fights have ensued that I have had to break up, lest my old boy gets hurt. I don't want Dulse's last years to be a big struggle.

Training this boy is also a challenge. He wants to please, which is good, but he is easily distracted and I have to pull out my rusty dog training hat to figure out how best to get him to do what I want. He is not food motivated at all. He sits nicely, and is learning to heel slowly, and he does a reasonably good down (with the prerequisite, "Oh did you want me "down" like THIS?" - and then gets down on his side, four feet flailing, with a toothy Newfy smile that I can't resist.

All in all, I am doing pretty well with him until I can get him into some professional obedience training, and, of course, get the "nuggies" (as we call them in the vet world) snipped off.le is getting him into the car

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Fourth

A vet at work gave me a wind chime a few years ago when I still had 3 Newfs. It has the most beautiful sound, and it hangs right outside my living room window, so I look at it a lot. It's got four newfs on it, andI have always wondered if that chime "means" that I will have four Newfs in this house at some time. I am down to one now, one who sometimes enjoys his status and sometimes looks as though he lost his best friend, which he did. I miss having two dogs, too. Watching dogs or even pets interact is like having the PBS program, "Nature" in real life. The body language they exhibit and the fun they can have with each other, make it very entertaining. Even Max, my big ol' Tuxedo kitty, is getting involved with Dulse now that there are only two.

So, why not throw a wrench in the works? I have been thinking about getting another dog for a couple of months now. I had been in touch with Baci/Dulse's breeder through the years and had been updating her frequently on Baci's progress. She grieved with me at Bacis death because she knew how much he meant to me. Anyway, in September, she mentioned an older puppy she wanted to rehome.....

Fast forward to today. I picked up "Rudder" yesterday and, let me say, it has been a LONG time since I have had a teenager in the house. He is a sweet, sweet boy, but needs to be neutered - and soon! I forgot that intact adolescent male dogs walk around saying, "Hmmmmm- this doesn't smell like me - I'll have to take care of that right now!" and have endless urine to help them do just that. They also have endless energy, and this 130 lb teen LEAPS up into the air like a Border Collie. He is charming. Dulse, and even Max likes him. So, I have my fourth, I guess.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The grief is always lurking

I often stop by a group of owners with dogs that have or that have had bone cancer. Although the survival rate is dismal, there are people with dogs who survive much longer than my guy did. I think, "What did I do wrong? I brought Baci to the vet the day after he started limping. Some people wait weeks or months after they see symptoms and their dogs survive a lot longer than 2 1/2 months. Why did this happen to me?" Then I read about people who have dogs diagnosed one day and their dogs are gone less than a week later and remember that there are all different scenarios for this awful disease. I realize that everyone does their best and my heart goes out to all of them.