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Monday, February 28, 2011

Funny girls

After a morning walk, the dogs eat breakfast and then settle in for a nap. Spike's under the weather, eating grass on our walk, and for the first time I can remember, refusing food. He lies in his crate for an hour, goes out for another few grass blades, then settles on my lap. Bella settles in for a sleep beside Misty, the Havanese who's here for the week. We have no more snarling from Bella. Misty will go to a teen gal (they met last night) who is looking forward to girl doggie company.

Bella is having a blast. One of Missy's toys is a ladybug. I couldn't figure out the big deal about it. It was cute, but had a hard core. Hmmm. Bella surprised me by finding a pull cord under the ladybug tail. She tugs it with her teeth and watches it hiss its way back into the toy. When she finally lets it go, Spike shakes it, tries to find a squeaker, and does a manly toss and chase. They're different personalities.

Bella has become quite the destroyer of Beanie Babies. She patiently pulls out the eyes and nose, then starts on the stuffing. We have plastic pellets and soft fluff throughout the house until I pick it up. She loves to pull out the squeaker and bite it to bits. Other than that, she doesn't chew on other things.

Missy is calm, friendly to all, and relaxed. She loves to come over for hugs and pats and stopped jumping on us after we put out our knee a few times. She's SO smart and quick to learn! A few tugs on the leash, and no more pulling. She will make Alexis a good companion. I planned to keep her for a week-long evaluation, but if I don't hand her off, she might end up staying... not a possibility, according to my husband.

Good doggies, one and all.

Friday, February 25, 2011

War zone

(Left: imagine the photo is of black dogs) You'd think we were in a war zone. Today I watch carefully how the dogs get to growling and rolling around the floor.

1. Spike walks over to Bella. Really close. Brushes against her. Lies back down about 1 foot away, chews on his foot, and growls.
2. Bella walks over to Spike, leans on his head. Rolls over and opens her jaws on his face, growling fiercely.
3. Spike bounces his face in Bella's mouth, growls, paws at her.
4. She rolls over, continues the game, chews his front feet while he chews her ears and head.

It sounds very mean and intimidating. If a dog came toward me, sounding like that, I'd freeze!

But they are having such a blast. Breakfast has been consumed, they've had a nap in the crate, and they're ready to play. Good doggies!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Slippery slope

Both dogs are on the treadmill for a 20 minute walk on a sloped track. It's been a long Saturday for them. We did our usual jaunt in the this morning, maybe 2.5 miles. They were frisky, and I felt energized by the sun and crisp air.

Bella is quite the tracker! When they are allowed ahead on the walk (on my "Okay!" off they go,) she trots off in a straight line. Poor Spike, who likes to stop to lift a leg at every second post. He'll often only get a quick sniff before she's off, irresistibly dragging him with her.

On the treadmill, Spike has the longer lead. He's heavier so when he gets in front he pushes Bella off to the side. If I'm anywhere nearby, he turns his head to look back.

These boots are made for walkin'

Like the photo's varied colors (not our dogs), Spike and Bella have different personalities. They play, complement each other, and keep each other company. Today dawns sunny and bright. The trees are swaying in the wind as God does his branch housekeeping.

When the dogs and I head out the door, the driveway is strewn with a few tenacious leaves, needles, twigs, and branches. Energy is high. We walk briskly until

Slam!!! I'm on my back, slain by black ice that has drifted across the sidewack. Gingerly, I get up, brush off the wet, and call the dogs back. They come right away, stopping a few feet away as the Flexi-leash grates across the cement.

My tailbone is still bruised, but we had a great morning in the light, bright air. The dogs are begging to eat, and I've put food in their crates after the walk as usual. Time for breakfast! Good doggies.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rain city

 It's rainy and sandy on the roads again. Ugh. At least there's more light, earlier and later. By 6.30, there was a lightening of the sky, something I haven't noticed since last fall.

We tried the yellow raincoat on Bella a few weeks ago, and she kept looking down and stepping on the front skirt. She still sniffs around at the beginning of the walk, and we're working on "heads up."

Spike on the other hand is less aware of his indignities and jogged with it on, even though his legs are shorter. He doesn't play around until about halfway through the walk when he gets permission. We put an Outward Hound raincoat on him most mornings, with a few pebbles in each side pocket. He got a reprieve to yellow slicker and trotted along without a problem. He looks a bit like a seal or otter, smooth head sticking out of the plastic opening.

For Bella, we decided on a red girly coat, which she seems to like. Someone gave it to us with some dog sweaters. It hugs her better, and is a bit shorter so less protective. So, she's dirtier, but happier. At least her back isn't soaked and soiled when we get back to the house.

Upon coming inside after the walk, I "wipe your feet," taking their paws and cleaning them on the rug. Bella has mastered the "wipe, wipe!" on one blanket of the entry bench. I wish she'd stay on the entry rug like Spike does, scooting around until he's clean and dry. But nope, it's every dog for itself... she swipes her sides back and forth to tidy up or scratch after we take the coats or sweaters off. Good doggies!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

So that's how it's done!

We bought a steel comb for Bella, and each time she came in the door today, I combed through another limb or part of her curly body hair. What a huge difference in taking out the tangles!

The groomer took photos of Bella "after" her session Sunday, and I thought it was a nice thing of her to do. Barkers, Edmonds.

It would be nice to keep Bella matt-free. It's quite a feat with poodles. They are inclined to snarl their hair when it gets wet, scratched by a paw, or tucked into a coat. One or the other happens nearly every day, let's face it.

The groomer mentioned Bella's dry skin and suggested oil or fat in her food daily, and washing no more than once a month. Hence the comb. It took the groomer 45 extra minutes to free the knots, and I use the slicker brush regularly. I can't imagine if I just leave Bella for a month... our slicker is too fine to untangle her without scratching her skin.

She didn't seem to mind the comb-outs. A true girl. I used the same comb to pet Spike, and he just reveled in the light all-over scratch. Good doggies!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Red ribbon day

The dogs went to the groomer yesterday and came back with red bows for Valentine's Day. Bella's is almost hidden on her collar by her fluffy haircut. She has tiny poodle feet again, which I love. "Leave the head and tail big, please," I ask the groomer.

The groomer is an experienced hand who used to trim a lot of poodles. "75% of our clients in the shop in Hollywood were poodles," she says. "They are the only civilized dogs left on the planet. Now we have 75% shih-tzus." And she sighs heavily. "I do so love poodles! C'mere, Beauty!" as she lifts Bella up to the table.

My daughter-in-law immediately liberated Spike from his red bow, "You're a boy, you don't need ribbons!" That made me laugh. He snuggled up with her and didn't miss his decor one bit.

This morning, since Bella's hair was blown out beautifully, she is only "half-curled" from trips outside in the rain to do her business. 
I thought we'd try the dogs inside on the treadmill instead of hiking in the rain. After my 1.5 hour exercise class, I am barely able to chug up the hill with the dogs, and they'd be soaked and dirty afterward.

Spike finishes his second round of a slow jog. He usually takes 2-3 miles to move his gut, and he's probably done more than that. He keeps turning his head when I'm in view, wondering when he's done, so I sit where he can't see me. Bella poses for a few pics in the conservatory where there's enough light to capture her face. Inside, she's a blur of dark hair that absorbs light rather than reflecting it to the camera. She's up to a healthy, happy 8.5 lbs when I weigh her this morning. Spike seems to be holding his own at 12 lbs.

No luck on moving Spike's digestion, so he goes into the crate to eat breakfast while Bella starts on the treadmill. She's not happy to be exercising after smelling Spike's food, but walks along without too much fuss. Good doggies!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Grooming looming - votes needed

This weekend, I'm taking the dogs to a new groomer. Spike's rubbing his ears and scooting on his hiney (anal glands?) and Bella needs a beauty treatment. So, I've been looking at poodle pictures for Bella. I found a pattern in the cuts I like, poofy head (not narrow) and long ears. If the groomer will do her head the way I like, I'm sold.

Vote on your favorite, please!
love this one #3

 best one, and would suit little Bella! = #5

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dogs in coats

We were out in the conservatory most of the day: the dogs cuddled up near the heater while I studied. It was sunny but freezing on our walk this morning: all of us were happy to be back in the house.

We've got a plethora of dogs wandering the neighborhood, peeing in everyone else's yards. The neighbor's terrier was all alone across the street, no owner in sight. It's dangerous and irritating, because Spike now scoots up the driveway to sniff around. I have to put him on the long leash, something I didn't do for months because he stayed close to home. Bella would do whatever he does. With him on the leash, she stays near the front door like she always has.

Our other neighbor's dog starts a ruckus if our dogs go out the door. He's a mean-looking medium sized mutt with a vicious bark. The teen owner and his friends built a fence around their yard so the dog at least is not loose.

Bella and Spike were not happy that I put them on the coffee table for a photo shoot the other day. It took 2 minutes, and they patiently hung in there. (See the photos? Not happy.)

Spike is getting more and more pug-like in shape. Squarish back legs, and his chest is filling out. Don't know if he's eating too much (weighs nearly 13 lbs) or if he's putting on heavy muscle from all the exercise. Bella's sturdier than she used to be, but still looks oh-so-skinny at bath time. I've let her hair grow out for winter, and she's usually warm with or without the coats. Today at 30oF was definitely a coat day. Good doggies!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Dog days of winter

Over a week has gone by since the last update, but it's not because we've been sitting around. We walk or bike 2-4 miles a day, plus what the dogs do on the treadmill in late afternoon (usually 20 minutes of a slow trot or quick walk.) So they're fit, eating well, and sleeping the long night through.

Someone gave us matching dog sweaters. Spike doesn't know that black leather collars with spikes are hardly usual accessories for pink and navy plaid. I put them on the dogs a few times last week, when they'd have to play in the cool conservatory. I prefer that they have room to romp and play with their toys rather than crating them, and it seemed every second day I had a few hours away.

About the third time I pulled the sweaters out, Spike refused to come when I called. He knew what was up. I bribed him to come with food and he reluctantly walked over. I tossed some garlic liver bits in, and once he was in the conservatory, he raced Bella for them. She's not hesitant to bound into the space, so she wiped most of them up before he had a chance!

We've met more and more neighborhood dogs, and Bella is better socialized and usually happy to see them after a minute or two.

Bella still throws a fit occasionally when people come to the door. Yesterday, a friend came for tea and Bella yipped as though there was danger arriving. She finally subsided: Tirza had done just the right thing, standing in place and waiting for the hysteria to subside.

After Tirza and I finished tea in the conservatory, we wrapped warm blankets around us, put our feet up on the chaises, and chatted. The dogs hopped onto Tirza's lap for hugs and strokes. Good doggies.

They must hear the car when I come up the driveway. Even if I walk to the conservatory door from the outside, they are waiting at the kitchen slider. We'll be wiping little fingerprints off the glass next year (our first grandchild is due this summer), but for now we are cleaning dog nose prints from the doors.