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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Meeting Rachel

Rachel is a lovely girl who loves animals. She's our sole candidate for watching Spike this summer. Spike is utterly comfortable with her, and she with him. Most impressive, she has a calm and sweet presence that Spike respected and warmed up to.

Rachel and her mom met me this morning at Starbucks. R's cat handbag was cute ("she's always loved pets," said her mom). God instills some of us with extraordinary care for animals. I think I've just met such a gifted one, and a mom who cherishes her daughter enough to let her pursue her passion.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sewing anyone?

Being crafty, I like these links because we can easily whip up a quick outfit with scrap fabrics.
Dog coat
More free patterns
General dog clothes search- free patterns and see what others are making.

Have fun!

The Spikey scoot

We were drenched when we came in from our morning walk. I went around the block first, down the steep hill and back up and around. Nothing. "Do your duty! (PLEASE)" Nothing. So we kept going to the park a few blocks away.

We walked and walked on the field as the skies gushed - the equivalent of 2.5 miles in 3/4 hour. Luckily, Spike wore his black, fleece-lined coat and I had my raincoat and rubber waders. Below my coat hem, water dripped to soak my jeans. Spike's legs, head, tail... saturated. He refused to go potty, thought it was obvious he'd be going soon. When a dog ran by and Spike offered a fierce barking invitation, I seized the chance to go home. Within a half block, success at last. And then he left a second deposit a nicely manicured lawn. (Good thing I have lots of bags along.)

I picked him up and carried him down the gravel drive. No sense in totally wasting yesterday's bath! On the porch, I dried him off as best I could before we went inside. He started "the scoot" right away. flinging himself around the entry rug for about 3 minutes. I'm SO glad it's dark, patterned, and multi-colored, with all the dirt it gathers at the door!

By the time he was done, his tail, legs, and head were barely damp. "Good scoot, Spike!"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Party puppy

I picked up a commercial Oster dog dryer for $20 (Craigslist moving sale; retail $600!) Wow, it is HUGE with its wheeled stand, but just fantastic. I would have loved that for Katy, our previous doggy, a miniature poodle growing out show hair.

Spike got a nice warm shower and then a brush-dry this afternoon. He was happier this time than with his first bath. No struggle, more pleasure in the warm water and warm air streaming by. He was quite frisky when we were done. And ooooh so soft. From photos online (right, not Spikey), I'm betting he's a shih-tsu and poodle mix; same white chest and black hair, round eyes, approx. size.

We had 10 people around the dining table for 3 hours of discussion about theology tonight - and Spike was a hit with all. Everyone wants to babysit him when we teach overseas this summer. "Are we home those weeks?" several spouses asked their mates. He went from person to person for hugs and petting. I put him in his crate at 8 (an hour past his usual bedtime), but they asked me to get him again. "He's no bother, please let him join us," so we did.

Just before company left, one of the guys reached down and picked up Spike in the entryway, stroking him for 5 minutes as we talked and said goodbye. "I bet he's a great companion for you," said one of our friends. Yes. Spike relaxed and enjoyed it all. And he went happily into his crate after everyone left. Good dog!

Spike is quiet, observant, and flexible in his like of people at gatherings. There's no nervousness in his approach to strangers, dog or human. He's barked at few people, usually very tall men with whom I don't feel safe. I take his pup-insight as fair warning. I thank God for such a lovely little creature.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wet dog

Somewhere along the way, someone tossed in a black dog raincoat. It's a bit short and so the elastics pull a little on Spike's hind legs. Other than that, he patiently endures my putting it on and doesn't seem to notice it once we're underway. We did a 1 mile walk about the block and then a bike run (about 2 1/2 miles) in the evening. He got the exposed head and legs thoroughly soaked, so I toweled him off before letting him in the house. He does a hilarious scoot every time we come in from a walk. It's probably a hold-over from his ear infection. He rubs his whole head and body on the entry rug, scootching along every side from top to bottom. We use the word "Scoot", encouraging him to leave any dirt in the entry. He gets a treat when he's done. He also does "Shake" when I wave my hand in front of him. Helps dry him off. Plus, it is amusing to watch!

Spike has finally mastered "do your dooty" (#2). "Go outside" (#1) works everywhere except in our yard. Spike won't even consider "going" along our 100+ foot driveway. We've stood 5 minutes in pouring rain, put him back into the crate, 5 minutes on the driveway, into the crate, etc... for 6 hours one day, and NOTHING. He insists on going to the neighbor across the street or along the walk/run. Luckily the neighbors have an ivy "hedge" near the street that seems unaffected by Spike's hard work.

I emptied and cleaned the entry closet today. Spike claimed his 20+ beanie baby toys (from an $11 Craigslist haul) and had a blast. He put the teddy bear in his crate, and chewed the eyes out of the husky. Mind you, the plastic eyes have to be unscrewed - I don't know how he did it, but I found the eyes beside the toy, in my office. Over a few hours, one by one, Spike hauled the stuffed animals from the entry box to the DR and stacked them on his pile. I had to distract him with "fetch" to reclaim and put them away. He jumped in his crate with the teddy bear and a cod liver oil capsule. He has no hesitation about "go to bed." YAY

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dance the dog?

We're trying to get Spike to walk beside rather than ahead of us. The trajectory of the leash is such that he can get an easy foot-length ahead of our feet, on a loose lead. Mostly we have been turning in another direction and get him to pay attention by finding out he's going the wrong way. He's definitely got the terrier streak that pulls ahead if unchecked.

Yesterday we tried the treats routine, rewarding him for walking properly. It had us in giggles - he started dancing on his hind legs anticipating a reward. He is a funny dog. In the video, I obviously rewarded him for the wrong thing. He treats me like a generous idiot. dance not walk

Pet owners need much more training than pets. Today is another day. He got a few snacks for walking well on our 3 km outing. With no dancing. That's part of the fun once we've nailed the basics.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Trouble in paradise

ooh ooh ...

Today Spike peed a big patch on my office carpet and pooped on the dining room floor. After such a stellar record, I thought he deserved a reward for previous good behavior and to be worn out if he was just bored because we had guests. After our company left. I took him outside to do his business.

Then we got serious. I hopped on the little bike and jogged him for 5 km, up and down the lanes, and then let him romp on the grass at the park. By the time we went home, he was ready for a snooze. Poor doggy. We'll figure it out together.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Spike vs. the Roomba

Spike barked up a storm and attacked the Roomba a few times this morning. He has decided it is not a friend, but an enemy. Having it come straight for him as he growled probably didn't help. He's very quick to distinguish between people and things. He's not inclined to nip even if I move him when he's barking. Nice. But he did try to take a piece of plastic out of the vacuum, which was paying no attention to him. He follows it into the hall and then comes back to have his ears scratched.

We went out for our morning walk in the rain. First, I trimmed his feet, face, and privates. He was not impressed. Somewhere along the line he's had bad grooming experiences, because he shies away from having his feet done and is very uncomfortable having his face clipped. I put the clippers away after doing his private parts - he was not going to let them near his face. It will take a while to get him used to grooming, I guess. His feet were getting long and dragging in mud, even when we toweled them off before coming inside. Much better now.

We will go for another job with the WalkyDog later today. Lucky dog.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Are we having fun or what! I found Beanie Babies on Craigslist for $1 each. They're so much cheaper and better-made than most soft dog toys. The man of the house was in a hurry and just wanted to get them out of there - he gave me a box of over 20 for $11, which was the cash I had on hand. They all still have their tags, in new condition. "I think my wife bought them and just tossed them in the box," he grumbled. They had 2 dogs, but I didn't suggest leaving them there. The wife would probably have a fit if she knew Spikey is the happy recipient.

Spike picked the coiled snake as his favorite and has punched a hole in the fabric with his sharp canines: his new pasttime is trying to shake it to death. He also hangs on to it for dear life if I hold the other end and spin my office chair around. He never can win - I'm top dog. But we play a lot of fetch and tag with it. He can jump pretty high when he's determined.

Some little dogs are afraid of slick floors. The bamboo flooring upstairs is pretty slippery, but it doesn't seem to phase Spike. He scrabbles for footing, hits another carpet, and off he goes again! He likes to jump up on the desk by my office window, toss the snake or another toy around, fling himself off the desk via the step-stool, and hustle around the room.

BUT - our other fun thing from Craigslist - a WalkyDog - got screwed onto my Brompton folding bike this afternoon. Because the wheels of the Brompton are so little, the seat stem is long and the device works perfectly on its "small dog" setting. I won't need a rear wheel adapter like I'd use for our big bikes. We had tried to go for a bike ride with Spike earlier in the week, and it was just too dangerous for him. He got close to the pedals a few times, giving W and me a good scare. We ended up putting him in the basket and cycling home that way. The WalkyDog however prevents Spike from getting anywhere near wheels, pedals, or feet. We had a blast before supper, a 2 mile slow cruise with Spike pulling most of the way. He'd be a terror (not a terrier) at a big dog size.

He met his nemesis, the white cat, again today. He had barked at it from the kennel yesterday, but today it was sitting on the aviary on the porch. I had the long leash on Spike (40') and he tore up the driveway after the cat. Good thing it is securely fastened!

He leapt into the crate for his bedtime snack and has settled down for the night. I'm about to do the same.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lamb bones

Spike played with a new beanie baby (Grad 1999 owl) and I sewed up a sock, stuffed with down and feathers, and surrounded by fine camo netting, with a ribbon hanging out. As a bonus, I put a tiny bit peanut butter under the "wings." What a toy. He was getting a bit bored with his old squeaky soft toys, but went crazy for these new ones. Played fetch and toss-the-poor-thing-to-play-catch for a long while. Made me laugh.

We just finished up our evening walk, sun shining, kids playing on the school grounds where Spike loves to run circles around us. He snapped his retractable leash in the park, but came right to us when we called him. Whew. Quick repair, no disaster (park is fenced). We'll get a better retractable leash! This morning, he walked perfectly beside us most of the way (about 4 km) on the red "Go for a walk" leash, so he may be getting the hang of that command.

Tonight we passed a Shih Tzu (Sophie) who was 5 lbs heavier than Spike - her master and mistress kept petting Spike, saying how cute he was, and that he looks like their dog. The haircut helps "cute" him up, but he is friendly and outgoing that people like him. Spike looks like a darling pup while being a laid-back adult most of the time. He's learning good manners. From photos online, I'm wondering if he isn't Yorkie/Maltese or Shih Tzu/Yorkie.

We had lamb for supper tonight. I put a little piece in Spike's crate just before our walk. Talk about a rocket launch into the crate after the walk. HA HA. Jono said Spike eagerly jumps into the crate on command for him too. Yes, Jono also had put a little piece of chicken in there the other day. "Go to bed" is a GOOD thing. Tonight, I told Spike not to yip, and he quieted down immediately.

I saved the big lamb bone after supper. Spike can gnaw it tomorrow in the kennel. I watched him eat one last week, and he's not able to crack it, just sucks out the marrow and chews on it. The leftover bone stayed in the kennel overnight: I needed to see if raccoons or other animals can get in and out when the door is shut.

Yup. Since it has a solid wire roof, the scavenger must have lifted the sides with their sharp points and reached under. Means it's not a safe place to leave Spike on his own. It's still a great a place for him to relax off-leash if I'm gardening or reading nearby (4X8'). Someone gave us a plastic dog house yesterday, a generous medium size that the free second dog bed fits. I put a piece of memory foam under the dog bed, so it will be comfy if Spike wants to nap out of sun or rain while I'm working.

It's fun spoiling Spike when he doesn't even know it. Like God, giving his children eyes that see in color and noses that smell 1001 options. We don't even know how good we have it!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Window seat

Spike has a favorite resting place - the desktop in front of our south window. When the sun comes through, he lies in the heat and has a nap.  He hops up and down on the old piano bench that is the perfect mid-height.

He's starting to own the house. He feels free to roam and explore and has torn up a kleenex from the garbage a few times. He loves to chase his tail, too. Makes me laugh.

How relaxing and energizing to have a little dog in the house. When I wake up and it feels "too early" but it's time to take Spike for a walk (7am), he gets me out the door and into the fresh air. One day after another, he's getting the hang of our routines: going outside for walks on the leash where he can forge ahead or the one where we "go for a walk" and brook no argument; jumping into the crate because there are always goodies in there when we say, "Go to bed!"; hopping on my lap when I call him over.

How did we manage without him? Thank you God for little Spike.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Spike and I walked 2 miles this morning, and this afternoon he had his first taste of frappichino - a few drops of Starbucks' 1/2 off special - after a 2 mile walk to meet W at the local Starbucks. Of course, we had to walk home after that, so his little legs are churning out the miles. His legs AND mine.

Picked up a carrier bag for airline and long trips (SturdiBag) and an agility kit (for fun - he's so lively and easily bored that we might try some agility). Balancing out purchases with sales on Craigslist over the past days - got rid of the PuppyPotty and some Wee Pads since he refused them. He has his mind made up of where to "go". Funny boy.

Jennifer, an old friend I haven't seen for 10 years, dropped by at noon. She's a single gal, an architect, and she fell in love with Spike on the spot. If she's in the area this summer, she'll watch him while we're on vacation. Her family had dogs while she was growing up. Spike hopped onto her lap and lounged while she stroked him and talked for a half hour. "What a fabulous, perfect dog!" she kept saying as he snuggled on her lap.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Green Lake

After a 2 mile walk this morning, Spike was ready to rumble. He fetched, ran around the house, and insisted I pay attention to him. I had to crate him to leave for a lunch meeting, and didn't get back until 4. BUT

lucky dog, we walked 3 miles around Green Lake after he got a few pieces of chicken from W's chicken taco (best Taco van is on 45th!) So many firsts to experience. He could hardly stand all the dogs and people going by. It took a while to settle him into a walk on the leash. I thought he'd rip his neck off with all the pulling, but after about a mile he was walking with a nice slack leash and paying attention to everything. Doggie heaven? So much to see and smell.

He was weary when we arrived home and hopped into the crate without a fuss for a last piece of chicken and water water water. Poor thing was thirsty. Good fun, good day. We're all ready for a good night's sleep.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday monday

Two waves of company came by the house today. After Spike and I took a 2 mile walk and got home at 8, it was time to check email. He was restless. Playful. Demanding. So we played fetch until he got tired of it.

The first company, due for lunch at noon, had eaten by the time she arrived at 2. I set up the kennel (6X3X3') and let Spike run around on the deck in it. He was not impressed. In fact, he yipped his annoyance louder than I've ever heard him. When he quietened down, I opened the door and brought him back into the house.

The second batch came for supper 6-9pm. Spike was frantic over the chicken leftovers and actually bolted into the crate for the night, smelling the piece of meat I'd put into the dish. Funny dog. Fun companion.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

First run

It's no secret that most 50-somethings don't run like they did in their 20s. I'm no exception, so Spike has had mostly trots.

Today he got in a good gallop. We went for a ride on our folding Bromptons. Spike ran alongside W for most of the way. We put him into my bike basket for the ride home. So, we bought the basket for the Brompton, and bought the dog to fit the basket?

It's a perfect fit: a third-generation willow maker wove the custom basket for us while we lived in Cambridge, England. Sadly, I didn't have my phone or camera along to snap Spike's moment of riding in style. He is so good-natured that he didn't even fuss when we snapped the caribeener on his red harness. At QFC, W ran in for groceries while Spike collected compliments from passersby. Willow basket, red harness on black dog... does it get any cuter than that?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Where did the week go?

We were at the small-dog off-leash park for the first time yesterday. Spike has good manners, although he barks at men when they don't feel safe to him. Not a bad trait. He chased around a bunch of other little dogs and let me know he was ready to go home after about 20 minutes. He went and stood by the gate until I clipped the leash on and headed us to the car.

After a 1.5 mile walk this morning, Spike was ready for some real action. He fetched for a while, worked on his stair skills (jumping up to a chair then the desk and back down the chair to the rug), and had a long snooze while I studied. We had overnight company, and Jay remarked what a good dog Spike is. He's so polite! and hasn't had any accidents since the first day. He comes around to be petted and then heads off to another space to chase a ball or kill a toy.

He had to wait in the crate while I cycled into Kirkland for lunch and a college event, but we went for a few short outings up the driveway to "go outside" and get the mail. Then we crated him while we had dinner in Edmonds. Afterwards, we went for a couple of laps around Rhododendron Park at the bottom of the hill. He was very fierce in letting the other dogs know he wanted to play.

I put him back in his dog pack almost as soon as we came home: a lady had called that she had dog food we could have for free. Spike can see out the car windows and see me, but he can't get out of the backpack. Perfect. He's well-mannered though not enthusiastic about sitting down to have the collar put on. The restraint is better than getting flung around a car, any day.

I can't believe it's the end of another week. It feels like Spike has lived here forever.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Feels like home

Home sweet home. After a long morning walk, Spike's curled up in a ball on his bed in the office. It feels like he's always been here, though we still call him "Katy" sometimes. And then we wonder why he's not paying attention. HA

We're using two different leashes, one that whirs out to 15' for running ahead and potty breaks, and the other for walking beside us. I love clipping on the red leash from Spike's foster mom Teri.

God blesses some of us with an extraordinary care for animals and love for his creatures. That's a gift we can celebrate and be grateful for. Scripture talks about the gift of service (helping) and the gift of mercy (having compassion). To all the people who foster children and animals, care for the sick, and provide for the needy, thank you! I applauded you this morning as I clipped off Spike's leash and heard the ID tags clinking around his neck as he followed me up the stairs.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Waiting and learning

Poor Spike. I'm trying to train him to go potty on astro-turf so we can have a quick 'go' anywhere, like the show dogs do. Somewhere in his past he KNOWS it's bad to pee on carpet. He must view the artificial turf as carpet. Sigh. We stood outside for 1 1/2 hours this morning without success.

Finally we walked up and down the driveway a few times to loosen him up enough to go at all. And that was after a 1 mile walk, after coming out of the crate in the morning. The turf now has the smell on it, at least. Don't know if that will help, but we'll try again in an hour or so.

He's eating in his crate. I bought two dishes to hang on the door - it makes the "go to bed" more rewarding. He does hate to be cooped up and resists entry. He rarely complains though. It's not for long, Spikey. Hang in there!

Photo: Sunday, getting his strokes on Jono's lap.

Monday, May 3, 2010

All's well on a Monday

Photos: before (left), and after (below)

Spike's sitting beside me. The pedometer reads 6340 steps - translate that by 4X? for Spike. We had a good walk together. He's so spunky when he comes back from a walk - I'm relaxed and ready to rest: he ready to fetch and play. He's begun to explore garbage cans, but drops everything at "No!" to come running back. We haven't had a disaster yet. A few times of marking the first day, and so far, so good since then. He's supposed to stop marking with neuter, but I'm hoping we're not too late for that - he'd like to stop at every post along the walk.

The vet checked him over Saturday, gave him a rabies and bordetella shot (kennel cough), and expressed his anal glands. Said all joints are sound, his ears have totally cleared up, and Spike's a good - as well as healthy - dog. He yelped once at the rabies shot, but not at anything else. Vet guessed Spike is probably 2-3 years old, should live a long time, and may have been well socialized as a pup.

I put Spike in the shower afterward with no resistance! and gave him a once-over with baby shampoo and a good toweling. Then it was time for a puppy clip. I cut the droop off his mustache and eyes, trimmed his feet, and clipped the long ear hairs so his ears dry quickly after walks in the rain. We might grow the ears long once they have been yeast-free for a while. He looks like a cute little black puppy, but is too well-behaved for any pup. W snapped a photo of Jono with Spike, and I'll post that presently.

Melissa and I took him for a walk yesterday after lunch and church - she said she'll come by for her dog-fix since Timo won't let them get a dog. (A man after his father's heart - but I expect he'll come around, like W did. She's warned him that if their kids want a dog, they'll get a dog. She's always wanted one, and her siblings had allergies so they couldn't have one.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Small and blurry though the photo is, it shows what Spike and I are doing. Walking. And walking, morning and evening. He rarely pulls and only gets distracted from our walk by other animals. He loves birds and cats, but moans when a dog walks by. "Please! Play with me!"

Yesterday at the park, three pre-adolescent boys stopped to help with socialization - they petted him and fussed over him. He was great. Whoever had him before probably didn't mistreat him (except for neglect!!!) He's happy and friendly to all. We were a bit worried that he wouldn't like men, but he's equally cheerful with Jono, W, and me.

He had fun biting his tail and chasing it around in circles in the office. I was waiting for him to fall down in a dizzy fit, but he paused just long enough, looked in the mirror to steady his balance, and off he went again, growling fiercely. He tried nipping me this morning when I took his toy, so I cuffed him (reflex) and that was that. The Roomba vacuum provided him with a half hour of barking and growling opportunities. It zooms around the room cleaning, paying no attention to his fierce objections.

We're off to the neighborhood vet this morning to get a once-over. Freebee, as a courtesy to rescued dogs. We're trying the carseat/ backpack (Dog-Gone).