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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Walking on ice

Yup, we head out the door as usual around 8am. The dogs have two layers on: fleece, then a warm coat over. No boots for the dogs today: that's for snow which can freeze between their toes and damage their feet. They wait for W and me at the door while we bundle up to meet the 22oF morning.

Our driveway is deceptive. No slipping or sliding as we hike its steep gravel. The street is another matter.

We live on the side of a hill, perhaps a tenth of a mile from the top. It's the part of the walk I detest because my body is not warmed up yet. First we climb the 150' driveway, then tramp up 2 blocks to the intersection. (Wah wah. Whining, when I should be thankful that it is very good at trimming thighs and glutes.)

The top of Finn Hill is a plateau of gently rolling roads. I fall once, crossing a patch of ice that runs across a sidewalk. Yoga classes have improved my balance to where it's a slow controlled decent with no harm done. The dogs find their grip on the pavement and trot along behind, then beside, then in front with permission. Thankfully, there's no more pulling me headlong - they've become good walkers, and a good team.

We can't believe it. Instead of being tired out by 2 miles +, they are energized and frisky. W and I have oatmeal and tea for breakfast while they play. Then they can't wait for their food: chicken today. I wash their dishes, fill them with fresh water and poultry, and they spring into their crates, and chomp down. There's no sound but the munching and crunching by contented animals. Good doggies!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Socialization continues

Bella can be a wild thing around other people. Yesterday she growled and lunged at a neighbor as we passed by on the bike. She broke her leash last week to go after two dogs who were walking by peacefully. Today we had guests with two little kids: she snapped at one as he put his hand out to pet her while she was curled on the sofa. She'd smelled him, he'd done nothing threatening. She just wasn't confident about his approach.

I've had enough of sternly saying "No, Bella!" only to hear her growl and carry on. So we had the young boys pet her gently while I muzzled her with my hand. I also didn't let her retreat today under the DR table away from company, but made her sit with us among the conversation and laughter. At the end of the visit, she hung around and was friendly and not at all nippy.

She's such a beauty and such a sweety around us at home. I don't want her getting a yappy, nervous poodle reputation in our larger family and friend circle. It's time to bring her into the happy-go-lucky and relaxed state of Spike. He wins friends easily. Everyone wants to take him home.

The dogs went easily into their crates after company left. They haven't made a peep since, falling asleep in their dens. Good doggies!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day

We're back from a 3-mile, 1-hour walk. Bella's energy matches Spike's since we've been feeding raw. Some mornings I wish dogs didn't need walking! Last week, I was moaning about it while leaving my 6 - 7.30am exercise class. "Oh, I'm already sore, and now I have to go home and walk the dogs!" (We walk 1.5 - 3 miles every morning. Photo: noses facing)

"What!" said the teacher. "You're walking after this? I'm not working you hard enough... Now you know why I have a cat." HA HA Wouldn't trade that "we-hafta-walk-doggies" for 10 cats!

The dog full-raincoats arrived from DINODirect a few days ago. Spike ran away the first time I tried to get his hind legs in. Bella immediately lay down with the hood almost over her eyes and wouldn't move. They got the hang of it once we were walking. They were cleaner and drier than usual after our trek in the pelting rain.

Christmas Eve, Bella was not happy with my brother's Russel Terrier Jack, who came for a visit. Bella growled and retreated everytime he came near, refusing to play. I finally put her into her crate at supper and she felt safe. Spike and the very relaxed Jack got along just fine.

Spike was everyone's friend, including 2-yr old Maurin, who loves dogs but is rough with them. Spike tolerated Maurin tugging and petting him at the Christmas Eve party and moved away when he'd had enough. Bella lay down and growled quietly when he pulled her ear. I don't blame her, but quickly took Maurin away, and kept my eye on him. He's too pesky and persistent for little dogs. It's Bella's house and she respects people... but Maurin's mom was not making him mind. Bella is very snuggly, so kind people are all her friends! That said, she may not growl at anyone. "Flee!"-ing like Spike, is better.

Bella is still not secure around other dogs. Last week she broke her leash on our walk, straining to go after a pair of Akitas. I don't know who was more surprised, the Akitas - that a little yapper would take them on - or Bella, at breaking loose to run up to them. I picked her off their heels, scolded her, and fixed the leash. The Akita owner was NOT happy with us. The last few days, we've worked hard on not letting Bella fix her attention when dogs approach, and she's doing better.

We've also gone to dog parks a few times so Bella can meet various canines for socialization. With school and Christmas, it had been a while. W and I took the dogs to Warren Magnusen Dog Park late in the afternoon yesterday. It was dusk, a sleepy time that felt more like 8pm than 4.30pm. Hoards of people and their dogs were walking the trails and playing along Lake Washington. Our doggies were fine: they straggled behind or darted ahead, but always kept an eye out and came back for a treat or to check on us.

Bella surprised us. She is an amazing sprinter! All the walking, jogging, and her improved appetite has unleashed a very fast, fit, bouncy poodle. She raced past Spike several times, going far ahead of us, unlike the 'fraidy-dog she sometimes exhibits. She bounded through the grass along the trails more deer than dog, giving us a good laugh as Spike trotted along nearby. Neither of them were tired when we were done. They sprang into their car-boosters (CL finds), then wrestled toys and played for hours after we got home.

Spike had another poop incident, which W found in the hall upstairs. I let the dogs outside every 2-3 hours, but for some reason Spike can't grasp that I'd like to know when he needs to go outside OR he should hold it until the next time he is let out. He never messes his crate, so I know he can wait.

Ah, most of the time, GOOD doggies.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Home at last

The dogs were delighted to come home Friday. W said they bounced, barked, and ran around when he went to pick them up. He brought them to the airport and I was so happy to see them. Thanks, hon!

That said, we are very satisfied with the care Alexis and her mom gave the dogs while I was gone. I'd highly recommend them to anyone on the north end of Lk WA (NE Seattle, upper Eastside). We'll definitely ask them to watch Spike and Bella next time we need a minder. Alexis had a brilliant idea: tie an old sock around Spike's middle to keep him from marking the house. Great idea! He didn't seem to mind and it kept their house clean.

We went out for a long walk Saturday morning. I was up early: Missouri time is two hours ahead. The dogs rolled out of their crates, still sleepy. Coats on to ward off the rain, leash coupler ready, and we headed up the steep driveway and into the neighborhoods. I bathed and groomed them both. Two fuzzballs. Such soft hair, what pleasure to stroke.

We did two shorter walks Sunday: two miles in the morning before church, in the pouring rain... of course it was raining after blowing out Bella's curls the day before. She was instantly fuzzy again. We walked just over a mile in a dry spell about 3.15pm. It was already getting dark when we got home at 3.45pm. Unbelievable. I'm ready for longer days!

This morning they were raring to go, so we did 2.5 miles. Bella is more than keeping up with Spike. She's fit and spunky. We were all happy that it was not raining!

This morning as I was wrapping gifts, the dogs played fetch and tug-of-war. Tug-of-cat, actually (photo above). No growls, just lots of stretching and pulling the Beanie Baby kitten. BB's are well made and hold up well to small dog antics. Spike bites the eyes out of the BBs, but Bella just tussles with them.

I sat down in the hall and was playing with both dogs today when I noticed they were playing together differently than I'd ever seen. I snuck away and they continued to roll over, bump, and run around the hallway without me. They had a great play date, the first time I've seen them interact with this kind of a romp. I wonder if it's because they were around Alexis' dog and learned to play together more.

I've been watching Dog Whisperer DVDs, which have clarified some of their behaviors. It's taken a while for them to interact as a pack, but we're in no hurry. I'm walking them differently, too, always in front and not playing with them until the "work" of the walk is over.

They're happy together. Lucky us!!! We have no major issues, and Spike hasn't had an accident inside the house for months. Good doggies!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Missing the doggies

I'm away for two weeks of doctoral study. Spike and Bella are hanging out with a "dog family" who has added them to their pack.

"My nieces LOVE them," said Ali, who is the pack leader. "Between the dogs and us, we found a personality for each. Our big dog is not child-friendly, but yours are. We chose "our own" dog and walked them on separate leashes. We had a fantastic time."

What fun! Bella our snuggler curls up in bed with Ali each night. Spike spent his first night sleeping at Ali's feet, the second walking around her bed, and the third happily sleeping back in his crate.

How thankful I am for good care, to have found a place of safety and companionship for the dogs. Spike's cold is abating. Both dogs are enjoying their walks each day and comfortable with Ali's family.

However, I admit how much I miss them. I can't wait to bring them back home with me. I especially miss their little black bodies bouncing (Bella) or trotting (Spike) behind me up the stairs and down the hall. Won't be long now!

Thanks, Ali. I appreciate you. (And of course, I'm so proud of our good doggies for their adjustment and healthy attitudes.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Reverse sneeze

Spike does this weird "reverse sneeze" that sounds like he's dying. I looked it up online at Sounds scary, but apparently isn't. I hold the sides of his rib cage and it stops. 

Because of the cough, I thought Spike might be allergic to dry food, so we have fed them homemade dog food for a few days. They LOVE it. Chopped and stirred: 3 c. brown rice, 1-2 eggs, 1 c. meat, 1 c. cooked vegs. I froze it in portion sizes - oh, those dogs can't wait to get into the crates to eat!

We went for a walk early this morning in the damp and cold. Ugh. Hate this weather. The dogs were very happy in their fleecy coats, and no boots on for warmer feet. They fairly scampered! 

They're off to Alexis' house while I travel. At home, our guys are taking care of the fish and plants. W picked up a nasty cold so isn't up to walking in the drafty winds. I'm really hopeful to have found good care: Alexis is an experienced dog owner with a big beautiful dog of her own so she's an experienced dog owner. Her mom walks their dog every day, too. And I am sending an inventory of dog stuff along.

Why an inventory? After boarding Spike this summer, we are still missing 2 leashes (one retractible), a red harness, a black collar for our Dog-Gone Device, and a stainless steel dog dish. 3.5 months should be time to find the gear, don'tcha think? We've had numerous "misses" (conversations initiated as hellos from the girl who watched Spike, with "howdys back" and appeals from me, "Please let me know when my stuff shows up. I'll come pick it up!") 

One day, she IM-ed hi, and mentioned they were moving to another town. What?! I showed up at their house during their garage sale, and they said they'd packed everything away  the day before. Sigh. What a pain on both sides, theirs (they feel I'm mean and harassing them by continuing to ask for my stuff) and mine (I'm out +$50 for gear I have to replace). 

I'd also never board a dog again with a self-avowed "pet lover" or dog walker without dogs of their own. The family had no idea how to handle a dog. They complained he wouldn't walk on the leash, wouldn't do tricks, and regressed on housetraining (he was completely trained at home before and after.) The gal's mom also insisted that I pay them more money the week before we left. Hmmm. Their lack of integrity with an agreed contract should have been my warning. However, it was too close to our summer trip to find someone else's home.

Live and learn! I love my good doggies. Have fun, Alexis!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New group - Mutt Love

If you have a mixed breed dog, post a photo and why you love your mutt at Mutt Love:
Group home page:
Group email address:


Monday, November 22, 2010

Snow and shower

When we walk out the front door after 7, a few flakes of snow are drifting from the sky. By the time we walk a block, we are in a full flurry. Our three lines of tracks, triangular dog toes and my solid treaded boots, meander up the hill and onto the crest. There's no one in sight.

Bella is feeling spunky. She drags Spike along until he finally digs in for his third effort at potty. She waits for him, then bounds down the sidewalk at a trot to the end of the leash. If they had not been on the line this morning, they would have been in Montana by now. Both have high energy, feel like running, and bounce around in the snow.

On our way home, our tracks have been obliterated. I slip and fall (no harm done) going down our steep street. I'd elected to skip exercise class at 6 because our slope gets so icy. Good call. I don't know that I could have gotten back up the street.

Once we get in the door, it is bath time. Spike goes first, since he'll dry himself off while Bella is getting her shampoo. I put a towel on the bathroom floor, and he flings himself around it every which way until he's nearly dry. Amazing.

On the other hand, Bella gets to try out the poodle dryer (Commander 4) I picked up secondhand. It almost blows her off the new grooming table, but she sits down firmly. She is a mass of fluff and puff when we finish trimming and combing. She looks very poodle-like, though she refuses to look at me for a standing photo.

The dogs run down the hall. Spike finds a toy, and begins to carry it. Bella seizes the fleece tails I've knotted around it, and tugs. They go back and forth with vigor, light growls, and pull-release to let the other drag them along the passage. It is very amusing to watch. I pick them up for their post-grooming photo, and they drop the toy.

Almost time for breakfast! Good doggies.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Baby it's cold out there

Brrrrrr. We head out at 7.15. The dogs are awake and frisky. I'm still in a sleep warp as they drag me up the hill to the flat streets further on. They bounce around in the cold, not minding with their fleece and sweaters on. When I stop to take a photo, they run ahead and wait impatiently for me to get on with it and catch up.

There's no one else around this morning. It's 36oF - and I might have to slip on those dog boots if I clip Bella's feet short enough.

I'm thinking of doing a home-cooked diet since I'm always cooking. Today they eat the leftover stuffing I found from last Christmas: bread, bacon, celery, ground beef. No complaints!

In the afternoon I set up our new grooming table and give Bella face, foot, and sani trim. She's quite patient and looks cute afterward. Spike, who fights the groomer, tries to get away and turn his face but eventually we have both done. His feet are not as short or even, but shorter is better than longer when you're dragging in pinecones. $80 saved already on grooming fees. The table and noose were $75.

Bella does a good job of barking when Amanda come to decorate the Christmas tree with Jono. Spike chimes in to welcome her, but neither have any inclination to run around the yard: it's too cold to travel! We get a few snow flurries in our neighborhood, but the snow melts.

The dogs and I try to ignore the Christmas music while the kids decorate - those Chipmunks are singing Jingle Bells 'way too early!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dog food

After a walk in the morning, I hit the books. The thermostat in the house isn't working, so it's 62oF. Tub time with a stack of research and my notebook beside the bathtub, while the dogs eat lunch in their crates.

I pick up a second airline soft-sided carry-on for $15. The dogs come along, sitting in their Outward Hound seats, looking out the window. Bella immediately hops in, curls up, and watches from a comfy position. Spike's not so sure. I have to lift him in, snug his clip-on leash, and make sure he's not able to jump out. He likes the DogGone Device better, getting in. But it looks so much less comfy. I'm hoping he'll get used to the seat soon.

We're close to the Maltby dog park, so we swing by. We've never traversed the acres of trails and forest. And MUD. Time for some good fun and quick walking as I unclip the leashes and they take off like black rockets down the trails. Both dogs trot their way across boggy dirt and leaves without hesitation. A happy Rottweiler chases back and forth from his owner, sniffing and playing around Spike and Bella. No harm done. He scares Bella the first time he bounds up, and I'm always startled as he pushes past me on the narrow trail through the woods. Bella gets used to his antics before I do.

We walk a mile or two across open meadows and gravel walks, finishing on a clean lawn to wipe dog feet and my muddy boots.

The rain starts to pelt the car windshield as we drive away. Whew, good timing. Spike and Bella settle into their seats for the 20 minute ride home.

I see a clip online about dog food - its chemicals don't have to be listed, and even "natural" and "organic" pet food often includes restaurant grease, the 4 Ds of the pet industry (dead, disabled, dying, diseased), and euthanized dogs and cats from shelters along with the unprocessed drug that kills them. Ugh.

When I check homemade dog food recipes, they boil down to leftovers from a typical American meal (NO ONIONS!) Most recipes approximate these proportions:

1/2 c. cooked ground or other meat, cooked. Can of fish would be fine, too.
2 eggs, optional for added protein
 4 c. cooked rice or other carbs like oatmeal
2 tbsp. oil
1 c. cooked veges (potatoes, Brussel sprouts, carrots, beans, etc.)
dog vitamins, optional

Mix together. Serve or freeze separate portions for later.

It would be easy to cook for them as well for us when I make our company/friends meal on Sundays. Our discriminating Bella, who has gotten used to our dry dog food and eats every last kibble so Spike won't take it? She would be VERY happy with the change. Spike? If he can chew and swallow it, he doesn't seem to care what it tastes like.

Good doggies!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

First wrestling match

It's been a cool wet week.  Ugh to Seattle winters. We get caught in a downpour on a bike ride yesterday. Both dogs have the animal print fleecies on under raincoats, but their legs are soaked.

I put Bella in the wicker basket after 2 miles. She isn't even panting, but the weather helps. Plus, we go a slow 4-7 mph for her. After she's up and out of harm's way, the pace picks up so Spike can run his mile at 8-10mph. He's a running monster for his size! When he stops tugging, we slow down to a gentlemanly 6mph trot.

He is happy all day long and she rests most the day. Bella walks off with Spike's toy in the afternoon. He's surprised and tries halfheartedly to tug it back. No giving in. She hangs on and keeps dragging it behind her (big long squeaky animal). He gives up in astonishment. Go Bella! He's always playing with her stuff, so I'm happy to see that she knows she can share his.

This morning when we get in from a short, cold walk (1.75 miles), the dogs have their first growling and wrestling match. No one is seriously dominating, so no one comes out on top. It's good fun, bouncing, tail wagging, "hey, buddy!" kind of play. Bella does her typical stomach-up surrender a few times, but Spike's sitting and lying down beside her most of the time, snarling wickedly as she barks at him. They don't even nip. Just bounce over one another, trot around the entry, and have fun. (like the photo below - not of them)

I am SO glad. They walked closer together today on a 20" coupler rather than the usual 40". I was too lazy to get the regular leash from the car. Yes, we walked by the car on our way up the driveway, but I would have had to take those keys, unlock the car, get the leash, relock the car, put the car keys back, etc. You get the picture. We walked past with our homemade solution.

I cobbled together my bicycling leg wraps (velcros that keep trousers out of the chain) and attached them to the dog collars and my leash; worked just fine. They trotted like ponies pulling a cart--me. And they walked beside me carefully on "Let's go for a walk."

They felt free to play around when we got back in. Now they're sleeping together in the next room. My office is very quiet with both of them snuggled on the sofa next door. There's a big smile on my face. Peace at last? Good doggies!

Monday, November 15, 2010

First bike duo

We picked up some free dog food ("fresh from the freezer" according to the gal who apparently freezes dry dog food to keep it unspoiled). She's tidying before moving to Texas, so she threw in a few other things - small collars, harness, leash, and elizabethan med collar. Bella wore the "I'm a cool dog" T-shirt to sleep yesterday. Perfect fit.

Today is a damp day, but the doggies went for their first joint bike run. Because Bella is not used to the pace, we cruised at 4-6 mph for 2 miles. She clicks into a trot at 5mph, but it takes Spike until 8mph to do the same.

The rain was pelting down on their raincoats and my cycling rain trousers. I was so glad we geared up or we would have been soaked! Bella hunkered down, watching Spike run another 2 miles while sitting on the warm wool fleecy and secured by a carabiner in the wicker basket.

Spike is gaining weight with our reduced exercise while Bella strengthen her muscles. He's also been sneaking Bella's leftover food from her crate dish in the morning. (Now I'm making sure her crate is locked when we get up in the morning.)

When we got back to the porch everyone had a good shake-out and wiped their feet. Once inside, the famous scoot: Spike dries himself on the entry rug as usual. Bella runs along the sofas after I dry her with a towel. They were perky and happy to be inside, and hopped into their crates to eat their lunches.

We played a bit of fetch and everyone is resting. Good doggies!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Finally Friday

It's been a working day for the dogs - this morning we took a longer-than-usual walk, almost 3 miles around the neighborhood. After a bit of food-searching and then lunch, I met a gal in Kirkland who passed along a fabulous PINK dog bed she wasn't using. She threw in some flea drops - yay for Freecycle!

Since we were halfway there, we went to Marymoor Dog Park. It's 40 acres of dog paradise. There are trails, grass, river beaches.

Today there must have been 50 dogs out with their owners. The retrievers were fetching balls and splashing around the river. The agility dogs were training. Most of the little dogs were doing what Spike and Bella did: sauntering around their owners (give or take 50 feet) and exploring the smells and textures.

I was a bit hesitant about the pace at which Bella has been thrown into Spike's world. She was surprised at all the dogs, but moved through them without snipping or growling. The golden retrievers and German shepherds might have been intimidating, but she let them sniff and then walked towards me when she was done.

I walk briskly, so had to call the dogs a few times when they lagged or cut trails through the meadows. They'd come running toward me full speed and zip along ahead. It's fun to see both of them hanging out.

Of course they had long naps this afternoon. Good doggies!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Busy day!

We start the day with a 2 mile walk. Bella is bouncing as she comes out of the crate, and seems stronger and happier walking. She's giving Spike as good as she gets on the coupler. Once one will be ahead, then another. I'm fascinated by the egalitarian temperaments of both dogs. Neither growls or fusses when the other runs off and drags them along, "drag" being a relative term. The slightest tug, and the trailing dog looks up and they trot off together.

Luckily for us, it doesn't start raining until afternoon. It's sprinkling when we walk up the driveway to get the mail. Spike and Bella snooze, run around the house, bark at Jonathan when he gets home until they recognize him, then drop to the floor or doggie bed for another nap.

Spike's eye is cloudy but open. It seems not to bother him much. The eye drops are easy to put in, and while Spike doesn't exactly volunteer, he doesn't pull away.

Neither dog is impressed by toothpaste and toothbrushes but they tolerate my sticking them into their mouths and scrubbing their teeth. Good doggies.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vet visit

Both dogs are scrubby clean after their showers yesterday. As usual, Spike dries himself on the towel I put on the bathroom floor. Bella has to wait while my blowdryer shuts down a few times - overheating from the length of time it takes to dry her. I just sold my two unused dryers, a commercial floor stand and a Commander (for poodles) last week... before adopting Bella. Argh. Now I'll have to get another. I check out Craigslist. Someone has a used Commander - I write them and hope for a reply.

This morning Bella is curly - a human blowdryer just doesn't get poodles completely dry, even after an hour, so their hair seizes back up. When Spike comes out of the crate, his eye is swollen shut. It's oozing pus and light sensitive. What's happened? The first vet appointment we can get is 4.30 at our vet. I just can't make him wait that long. He is listless, lying down, not following me around the house. Bella stays with him, keeping her eyes on him from her bed under the desk. Usually she's wriggling and happy to lead us up or down the stairs. Not this morning. We skip our early walk.

The vet down the hill can fit us in at 10.30. Much better. I quickly sew up two double-fleece sweaters to pass the half hour before the appointment. Ready to get them into the car, but where are my keys? W's in Salt Lake Airport when he answer the phone - and it takes me another 10 minutes to find the the spare where he stores it. We are a few minutes late to the vet.

Spike lies down at my feet. Meanwhile, Bella bounces around the room, explores all the corners. She's quite happy and confident, running up to the vet for petting when Dr. C comes in. Bella gets a quick exam and vaccinations for rabies, bortedella, and distemper.

"She's in good shape except for one back tooth," says the vet. The doctor can't see how bad the tooth is: there's too much tarter on it. "Get a dental for her in about 6 months," she recommends. Bella is only 7.2 lbs. Is that too skinny?! "No, it's good for her size. Walking her will put a little muscle and maybe another pound on her, but that's all she should gain."

The dogs are the same height, but Spike weighs in at a sturdy 11.5 lbs. "He's chunky and muscular, and probably shouldn't gain any more," says the vet. He's been stealing Bella's treats if she doesn't eat them right away. She's more finicky and takes a while to get her food.

Apparently Spike's scratched his eye. That's it? "Don't let it get infected," says Dr. C. So, $207 later, armed with antibiotics for Spike and a rabies tag for Bella's collar, we head to the park across the street for a couple of loops around the trees. Both dogs are happy to be outside. Spike follows Bella, who takes a commanding lead and drags him along on the leash coupler. Their new coats are cute, but a bit loose: I'll have to adjust the velcro and shorten the straps. Bella keeps putting one leg through the neck as she darts here and there, Spike trailing behind.

An "almost-90" lady with a cute pug stops to exclaim on the dogs. We chat: she's walking "So I live longer. I'm not ready to die yet," she says. "My dog keeps me moving."

I check for email from the Commander dryer lady: "Come to Marysville, I've got one for you." It's $20 less than I got for mine, but has scratches and only one of the two attachments. No box. (Mine was in new condition, box and attachments unscathed.) Whatever. It blows like crazy, and that's all we need. I pick up a pair of dog boots for $5 (reg. $52). Now we need one more set and we can walk in snow and wet.

When I get to the counter, I've used my last check at the vet's and don't have enough cash. Who knows where the VISA card is? We drive to the bank down the street, get cash, back to the secondhand pet store, pay for the dryer and boots...

We're all ready for our 2pm breakfast when we get home. The dogs eat in their crates. There's not a trace of food in Bella's bowl, unlike the bits she usually leaves. They're glad to see me when I get them in an hour. A quick trip outside before we head to my office, where both dogs are relaxed and content.

"These dogs are costing us more than our kids!" W exclaims from the Atlanta Airport. Guess we can't send them to university, or that will be true!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wet Tuesday

The dogs are sitting in the window, looking out at a very wet Tuesday. Bella has her Grinch and her sinew to chew on. They've just "found" a few pieces of dog food in the office. Working dogs, don't you know?

We did a 2 mile walk this morning. It's the first time we've used my homemade coupler and the new dog coats. The coats are black, and the dogs are happy about staying warm. I've looked up making boots for the cold wet days ahead. May whip up a few pairs in the next coupla days.

The coupler? W had a sturdy name tag lanyard left over from some conference. Rather than spend $33 on a leash coupler online, I put the retractable leash clip through the top loop of the coupler, threaded key rings and carabiners to each end, and connected their collars.

Spikey's a wanderer, and Bella's more of a straight walker, so they made a few adjustments along the way. Neither seems to mind being within 3 feet of the other and we got around the block and home just fine. We were thinking of going to the dog park, but this downpour has put a stop to our ambitions. Doggy nap, anyone?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday madness

What a day - I had so much fun I forgot to take pics. We picked up an unopened Frontline flea meds, dog raincoat, and Outward Hound booster. Bella whined all the way down, lying on the seat. As soon as I strapped her into the booster, not another peep! She could see out the side and front and was content. Spike loves his DogGone Device backpack and settled quickly into it so I could fasten his collar through the restraining loops.

We took a detour on the way home to the small dog park (off-leash) at Magnussen. There were at least a dozen dogs, from Cavalier Spaniels to pugs to Yorkies to poodle mixes. Spike ran around with all the dogs. First time in a half-dozen visits he hasn't just walked on the outskirts: Bella's good influence? She was a little hesitant, but got strokes from lots of adult dog-lovers, hung around the friendliest dogs, and sniffed her way around the half-acre. I heard very quiet growling when a dog would get too aggressive, but she never snapped or barked.

They ate lamb bones from my Sunday dinner in their crates (lamb is a non-vegan indulgence). Then it was time to come out and play and visit.

By 7, they were both tired. They quickly did their jobs outside, ran to their crates in the kitchen, and waited for me. Bella stood in front of her crate, hopped in the minute I opened the door, and Spike worked up his courage to jump into his crate above her. He bopped his head getting in last time, but this time around was a better effort. Straight in, turn around, lay down, chew the rest of the bone.

A Craigslist-er sent me 3 warm dog coats "on trust" that my check for $10 was in the mail. Yup. There's a nice fleece and furry black coat that will keep the dogs toasty on our walk in the morning.

For now, all is quiet and happy on the dog front. Time for me to hit the books for another hour or so without dog paws pleading for attention!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Exciting day

We started our early-hour walk at 7.30. W took one leash, I another, and the dogs walked together. Spike got pretty close to nabbing a fat squirrel, and Bella was right behind him. (Squirrel alert, photo below.)

After about 1 1/2 miles, Bella was dragging a bit, so W scooped her up and carried her home. Lucky dog! Meanwhile Spike was happy to stay on the trail. He scooted around the front entry rug to dry off while I hand-dried Bella.

They don't seem to mind the fleecy covers I made from a $3 blanket: I cut out leg holes, and safety-pinned the edges over the top. Comfy, warm, and inexpensive. 

After church (doggies crated), we had lunch and dessert to celebrate Rebekah's birthday. One of the children who shall remain unnamed left cocoa-nuts at the table (gift from a friend) and Spikey at them ALL. We induced throwing up with 3% Hydrogen Peroxide, as recommended. Of course, I got to clean up the office where he did the dirty deed. He seems none the worse for wear. Unbelievable!

Bella's mom called - I had her on speaker phone so Bella could hear her in case her visit didn't work out. When I put Bella on the leash to "go outside" she walked to the center of the driveway and waited. She finally had to come in, but just before Nicolette came over, I put Bella on the leash again. Same thing - she was delighted! when her mom drove up. It was so cute to see Bella wiggle and dance for her. Bella enjoyed hugs and kisses, snuggled a bit, then lay down in her velour doggy bed and went to sleep.

As soon as Nicolette left, Bella ran to her crate and waited for me to put a towel on the foam floor. She jumped in with her chewey and fresh water, curled up, and got ready for a night's sleep. She whined a bit after about a half hour, and has settled down to sleep.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

New name

We're now at

Bella comes to play

Bella is a 6 year old female toy poodle, polite, housetrained, and friendly to people and dogs. She's come to our house to play this weekend.

Actually, we'd love to keep her, and will adopt her if all goes well. Her mom and family are in transition and advertised a good doggie to go to a new home. Meanwhile, we've been looking for a companion for Spike, who loves to play all day long. Since my stay-at-home job is studying, not full-time dogsitter, I thought he'd enjoy a playmate... besides me.

This morning, we all headed out the door for a 2 mile walk. They wandered along within a few feet of each other on long leashes. When I pulled them up for a few blocks of "Go-for-a-walk," (=walk close to me) Bella tugged a few times at first. Then they trotted alongside as though they had always been together.

They nosed out the treats I hid in my office, ate breakfast in their crates, and chased dog toys. Now they're sprawled on the floor, resting.

"Good doggie!" Oops, "...doggies!"

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sweet fit

Someone sent us a perfectly fitted red Outward Hound raincoat. Spike, not impressed one way or the other, tolerates the protection. I appreciate cutting down on wet-dirty-stinky dog hair, too. Instead of paying a fortune for dog coats to warm our recently groomed Spike, I cut leg slits into a fleece blanket ($3.99 at Grocery Outlet). Spike loves the added protection and puts his legs up to fit the fleece before we go for walks.

Plus he's awfully cute in fleecy black and white! People stop us all the time to remark on his little coat and how nice he looks. He ignores them, but I like to hear it.

We went to the dog park at Marymoor today, working on dog socialization. Spike's taken to growling at men the last 3 weeks, and rumbles at other dogs sometimes. A dog tried to bite him (both leashed, on our neighborhood walk = a friendly exploration gone wrong.) The other owner said her full-sized mutt had been attacked in the last week. He was dominating and unfriendly to Spike. We got out of reach in a hurry. Sooo, now we're working hard on eliminating undesirable domination stuff in Spikester.

Lots of room to run at Marymoor. LOTS of dogs to sniff and chase. Spike was herded by a little Maltese mix, and stood up to tell a Great Dane he was irritated with his attention. Funny, and friendly.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Car ride

It must be confusing to be a dog. The owner straps you into a backpack, puts you in the car where you can peek over the top of the restraints, rides you around for a while, then takes you out, and you are back home.

Or, like today, the owner straps you in, puts you in the car..., gets out and puts your backpack into a shopping cart at Dunn Lumber, and rides you around for a while. People swarm the crate, pet you on the head, and coo at you.

If you're really lucky, you get some Mexican food scraps after doing your business in the back of a parking lot, too. Then you ride around for a while, the owner takes you out, and you are back home.

"What just happened here?" asks Spike. "Though I prefer this to staying home in my crate."

What he doesn't know is we'll do it all again tomorrow. I'll give him a bath first thing, let him dry, and then he''s off to Petco for a haircut!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Doggie heaven

My office door is closed, my dissertation files are up. I'm ready to work.

Except that Spike the dog, watching me drink Jasmine tea and eat toasted rye bread, is doing tricks. He gets up on his hind legs and spins. Sits behind me and barks. Jumps onto the desk by the window and lies down, looking at me in anticipation. Lying down is often enough to get a taste of what I'm eating.

No results? No compassion in my eyes? He leaps off the desk and throws his front paws on my legs. He's persistent, I'll give him that.

Now he's distracting me from the task at hand. Spike is cute. And I skipped our three-mile morning walk because I couldn't make it up the hill from house to the stop sign at the end of the street because of an early morning torture session at the XGym. (Oh yeah, it's that intense.)

I throw him the heel of bread. He crunches it with great satisfaction. "It worked! It worked! She fed me."

Sometimes when I pray, I feel like I'm doing Spike-tricks to get God's favor. Maybe he'll satisfy my wants if I am good. Maybe he'll finally intervene in this problem if I do a few extra deeds of kindness. If I keep praying the same prayer, maybe he'll finally take notice.

Oh oh... let's get one thing straight! Our life of faith in Christ is not built on repetition, rules, or getting it right. It's a relationship with a Master who knows what we need and how to build his Kingdom in good times and bad.

The other kind of religion, of begging and chores? That probably only gets us a taste of doggie heaven, with acknowledgment and a few treats from other people, if we're lucky.

And a PS - a friend calls, "Wanna go for a walk?" Of course we do. So Spikey gets that treat too.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Good dog!

Yesterday Spike spooked at everything driving by. Busses, trucks, little Volkswagens. It didn't seem to matter what size the vehicle, he scooted behind me, tripped me by running in front, or tried to hide.

"Yikes, what's the matter with you?" I scolded as I unwrapped the leash around my legs again. "C'mon Spikey, it's ok!"

Finally, I stopped and waited as cars approached. Kept him beside me. Let him shiver until they were past.

About the tenth car, he quit watching. Settled down. Stopped worrying. What it took was the experience of nothing happening.

That works for me in real life too. When I'm anxious, if I can slow down, maybe even stop to look around and analyze what's happening, I feel better.

Our walk this morning was uneventful. He didn't flinch once. "Good dog, Spike!"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The energy of youth

I don't remember having the energy young Spike has, bouncing up and down our stairs. Fetching. Running.

He just spent an hour on the 40' leash, chasing flies in the courtyard, barking up our 150' driveway, getting tangled up in ivy when he checks out the flowerbed.

He's on the hunt for the squeaky toy I tossed over the railing. Spike keeps coming upstairs empty-mouthed. His nose helps him find me when I hide behind doors. He's pretty good at rooting out what he's looking for, so I'm going to keep him tracking until he finds it.

"Where is it? Go find!" He's been looking for fifteen minutes and keeps coming into my office to see if it has magically appeared. Nope. He pants off the heat, and off he goes again.

Tonight we'll take him for a slow run on the Walky Dog. We have to pick up some books at the neighborhood library. Afterward I bet he sleeps like a pup!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Toys and stuff

Spike got a shave at Petco, so naturally we had to check out the clearance section. I found a second harness ($2) and a few collars ($1.20 each). What I needed - leashes and a raincoat - were still outside my budget.

Spike's doing well at learning not to pee at every corner. Tug tug on the leash. From his excited sniffs, other dogs obviously hadn't been as disciplined. He scratched and rubbed himself all over when we got home. Probably itchy from his cut and getting used to his hair length = short.

He gets excited when I pull out the carrier and buckle it into the car. He hops onto the passenger seat, puts front paws on my arm to be scooped up, doesn't mind hind legs held as I fold him into the bucket, and doesn't squirm when I fasten a collar through the loops that hold him in.

When we drive, he loves to look out the window or he turns to me for a pat on the head. Good doggy!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Home at last

Spike is happy to be home, and happy to see me.

I'm so thankful for Spike's great care while we were in Asia for 5 weeks. Thanks to Rachel and my daughter-in-love Melissa for pampering him.

Yesterday we took our first walk through the neighborhood together. It was one tug after another. Spike's inclined to run ahead and pull. He's been indulged while I've been gone, but sorry doggie... I'm back!

Tonight, after strictness yesterday and the morning walk, Spike was walking almost beside me. I had decided that when I got back from summer travels, Spikey would become a "GREAT" dog... good manners, no jumping on people, barking only on command, playing fetch and doing tricks when asked. He's on his way today, aided by a piece of sardine and tiny chunks of beef brisket (smoked for yesterday's lunch by my husband). This dog is food-driven and will do anything for a good treat.

I'm glad to be back, glad to have my dog around, and having fun! Can't imagine what I was missing before Spike came to live with us :-)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

missing Spikey!

Aaaaaaaaaaaah, I miss my dog. Spike did fine with Rachel, according to her updates, and Jono is picking him up tomorrow to bring him home.

But I want to see Spikey and have him around, especially seeing everyone walking their dogs in Singapore. A few more weeks and we'll be home. YAY Can't wait to see his face. I go to the posts and look at his photos. Not the same as having his warm fuzzy body walking around my legs.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Spike baby!

We dropped Spike off this morning at Rachel's. She's going to mind him for a few weeks. Thanks, young lady! You can catch up with him and Rachel, whose cat is about to drop kittens, at Thanks, Rachel.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Race for the crate

When I got Spike, Teri warned me that he would go into his crate reluctantly, and be great once he was in. "You have to give him a push to get him in sometimes," she admitted.

Tonight I had to laugh. "Wanna go to bed?" I said aloud, unclipping the long leash that lets Spike roam the courtyard.

He barely let me help with "wipe your feet" on the entry rug before he belted his way into the kitchen, stood in front of his crate, and waited eagerly for me to open the door. He jumped in the minute the door swung aside, backing up to the far end so I would get out of his way.

Of course, I had put some drops of sardine oil on a few dry dog food pieces before I sent him outside. He's no dummy. There's always food of some sort waiting in the crate, even if it's just an Omega-3 fish oil capsule. From reluctant to racer.

Proving again, every owner trains their dog for their own priorities.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


We're back to dog smell. We've gone from Petco perfume to "au doggie." It's a relief. No pet should stink of artificial flowers.

After the yoga class Saturday, I took Spike to a new dog park. There are fences around 'natural' areas of trees and ferns. The dogs roam and run the cedar bark trails together. It's at least a coupla acres, so they have a good time. Rubbing shoulders with the big dogs quickly restored the fur scent!

When we got home after the park, Spike ran around the yard madly, getting the long leash wrapped up in shrubs (oh, the suffering of our little boxwoods as he barges between the trunks). He loves the bird food that drops under the cage because it has egg in it - but looks so guilty when I tell him to "leave it."

Spike is apparently not intimidated by any dog. He enjoyed playing with the bigger dogs. He ran around with them more and faster than he does with the little guys in the small dog park. Don't know if it's because he thinks he's a big animal (despite his size.) He was 1/3 the height of the next smallest dog.

"Did you wash him on warm and dry him on hot?" asked our son when he saw how tiny Spike looked today.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Close shave

I've been clipping Spike's face and feet, but today he got a close shave at Petco. I couldn't believe it was the same dog... he lost a size or two along with 2" of hair. The lion tip of his tail is gone - he looks like a miniature version of a lab.

All day, Spike's been scooting along the floor, putting the horrible perfume of the groomer on the rugs. Ugh. Dogs are not meant to smell like cheap teenage cologne! His ears are short short short, in spite of the "short summer clip all over, but leave his ear tips long." Oh well, the groomer was busy, and I was delighted to have his toenails clipped, teeth cleaned, and face shaved.

We went for a walk to show him off, and got lots of smiles. It's back to the red harness: without neck hair, the collar can slip over his ears.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mighty hunter... not

We started the day with a three mile bike ride. We stopped twice to talk to people walking their big dogs. "Oooooh, that would be so handy," each exclaimed when they saw Spike running alongside. "Isn't he too little? We hope you put him in the basket sometimes," said one. Well, Spike loves the run or trot, and hates the basket, which he rides down our gravel driveway. I try to keep his paws relatively clean after the run on the streets and a turn on the park lawns.

Today was mostly the adventure of mouse-hunting again. None have been caught in the traps inside the benches, although there are "signs" of them being around. Spike has developed to a fine art getting the yard leash tangled in the legs of benches, porch supports, and shrubbery. When he's ready to come in (usually not for 20-30 minutes), he's wrapped around a post. Or...his 40' leash is tied down to 5-10'.

I grip his collar so he doesn't gallop away, unclip his lead, and begin to unwind it. I'm amazed at how much mileage he gets out of a romp in the front yard. As far as I know, he's still under the illusion that he's a mighty hunter. I keep watching his "dooty" for signs of success at catching a mouse, and am always relieved when he's hopeless as a hunter. Pretty soon the mice will be used to him and let him follow them home. HA HA

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Last bitter pill to swallow

We're done! The last quarter-pill has disappeared down an eager throat. It's not that the medicine, prescribed by the vet for Spike's ears, is tasty. But dip it in peanut butter, stick on a few pieces of dried dog food, and YUM YUM. Down it goes!

Spike had a busy day outside in the courtyard, on his leash chasing mice. We are being overrun with mice, probably getting fat from feasting on the birdseed dropping from the finch cage. Ugh. I even found droppings in our old car.

The traps are set, then sprung without results. I may have to resort to poison in the woods where they nest. Spike can't get there because of the 4' concrete wall around the courtyard. Luckily, his leash is too short to go around the wall into the trees. It would be a final bitter pill for the rodents, to harm rather than heal (like Spikey's).

Friday, June 18, 2010

Haircut day

Oh, this dog has hair. And it grows. Constantly. We've worked out a deal. He holds still enough for some progress in cutting feet or face hair, and I give him a piece of dry dog food (sample pack from PetSmart). It only takes 2-3 pieces for him to catch on that, while it is unpleasant, it's not the end of the world.

End result? he can see out of his cute eyes again, and he looks more like a puppy than ever. As for me, I'm tired and ready for a novel or movie.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Just a squeaky shoe

Spike's kept busy for almost an hour, finding the squeaky shoe. He will keep looking until he finds it - I've thrown it into closets, under foam bedding and desks, over the rail into the living room below, and he always works until he has it. Then he brings it back and sits happily in front of me.

Then he barks as I squeak it so he can fetch it again. What a hoot. And what good exercise - up the stairs, down, run around, run back... he's amazing. And exhausted. He throws himself down for a snooze.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Spin the doggie

It's another lamb-on-dry day for Spikey. (More lamb juice on his regular food). He fairly sprang into the crate to have his lunch.

He's a very tired pooch from all the activity yesterday... so he's been resting most of the day. Mind you, he got into the toybox this morning and was piling one Beanie Baby after another in a corner of the dining room rug. He he. I had to remind him they all belong to me, and he just gets to play with them.

He did get a lot of treats for "find" and "fetch" and is doing well on his invention = a doozy: "Spin!" He was leaping up for a treat ("dance" = walk on hind legs) and happened to turn around. So we did it a few times with a command. For pieces of lamb, of course.

Now, when he's desperate to be noticed, he waits until I am watching, gets on his hind legs, and spins. From his doggy brain: "C'mon. You should be trained by now. What kind of a dog friend are you? I did the trick, now hand over the treats. I mean it!" (upon which he adds another spin if necessary.)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Doggy park

After a 3 mile jog this morning, we had lamb for lunch. And that means juice on the dry food for Spike. He waited impatiently for me to finish making our lunch so I could get his to the crate. No sense in wasting peace and quiet; nice to have no one looking soulfully at us at the dinner table, so he usually eats in his crate while we're eating. Doesn't seem to mind, either.

We went to the small dog park after a quick post-lunch snooze. Between 5 and 10 dogs there at a time, people coming and going. Some people visit the park every day with their dogs. We've been twice, but will go again. It was breezy, the wind twinning the sunshine for pleasant temperatures.

It's interesting to see the temperament of dogs. Some dogs are cuddlers and stay near their owners. Others chase each other around, bounce off the edges, and bound through the grasses. Spike is not so much a runner. He's not a cuddler - once he knows where I am, he'll stroll by occasionally but not pay me too much attention. But he pees on every bush. Twice. And hangs out on the fringes of the pack. He doesn't get rowdy or excited, but is curious and aloof. Doesn't mind the whole sniffing thing, as long as no one puts a paw on his shoulder. "Back off, Buster!" says his body language.

He let me know when he was done. Walked over and stood in front of me until l asked, "Want to go for a walk?" He walked around the park with me, not leaving until I clipped on the leash and walked back to the car with him. He showed no interest in any dogs on our way out.

When we got home, he disappeared into the kennel on the porch for an hour to chew the lamb bone. He especially loves the joint - it disappears completely. The raccoons will be by tonight to get what he left (not much). His breath is sweet, unlike the smelly doggy breath after dry dog food.

He's worn out - sleeping beside me as I type. Won't be long and he can sleep in his own bed and I in mine. I love Sundays, a day of rest. What a good God - who else would have thought of how to make his creations rest, rather than work harder!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fly, baby, fly

"Where is it?! Find!" That's the signal for finding stuff. Spike's getting good at crawling over and under all kinds of place to find the new squeaky toys. He's persistent, and always gets a reward for nosing out a toy. Sometimes it takes 5 or 10 minutes, but he works until he can bring it back.

Today a big fat fly has gotten into my office. It is buzzing around. We probably could have skipped our 3 mile bike ride this afternoon. Spike rushes around the room madly, trying to catch it. He goes so fast he pushes his step-stool to the desk under and skids rather than getting up. I have to reposition the seat, and up he jumps. Then down. Then around. From one window to the other.

The fly is crazy-making. Spike almost snaps it up when it lands on a low file cabinet, but it gets away just in time. I think about swatting it and just getting rid of the droning buzz, but he's having too much fun.  And getting a lot of exercise in the process. Whatever's inside him, this cute little mutt is built to hunt.

He whines as the fly rests. "Fly, baby, fly! And I'll be right there..." It zooms into the room, and he launches himself in another attempt as it cruises by.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Walking fools

This morning we did a 'short' two-mile walk, getting warmed up as the rain sprinkled on us. Then this afternoon when the sun came out, Spike jogged 3 miles while I rode my little Brompton. I'm getting to know my neighborhood in new ways - up hill and dale. This is not a flat part of the word. Makes me thankful for 1st gear on the 3-gear bike. We're walking fools.

There's something about terriers! Spike pulls on the lead or goes just to the end of the lead so there's a little slack, but he won't walk right at my side. Sigh - it's hard work training a determined little guy. He'll pay attention for less than half a minute, even after we slow or change direction. I think we'll hit a few obedience classes when summer is over and we're settled in.

Spike is lying beside my desk, snoozing. Almost time to go to the crate for the night. He's such a compliant little guy... on the surface. Someone somewhere must be missing this doggie. He is almost perfect. So glad he lives here! (Thanks again, Teri and the rest of you at POPP.)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A good day

I had to return a book to the library, so I shoved the bike in the car, popped Spike in his carseat, and off we went. We got out a mile or two from the library. Spike got his run with the Walky-Dog attached to the bike, I got sun and fresh air, and the books were returned on time.

Next to the library, RiteAid was open. We went inside, and the checkout gal didn't mind when I wheeled the bike, Spike running alongside, inside the store - I was originally looking for a bell he can learn to ring to go potty outside.

Nope. No bell. But they had $2 squeaker toys. Spike perked up for two of them, so I tossed them in the basket. He's squeaked the life outa one already - it still works fine, but it sure is noisy!

We went out on the pier on our way home, watching the eagles soar and dive for fish. Spike stuck close, though he's too big even for a bald eagle. Now he's resting in the sunshine, lying on the desk by the window as I try to study. Fabulous weather, good books, a good dog. It's a good day.