Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

So, I was going to go with my better judgement and just let Lucy be a dog for Halloween, but then I found this at the dollar store:

Then my son Nick said, why couldn't she be a bag of cotton balls?

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Ken thought she'd make a perfect BOLT...

I still think she would have been a cute Yoda!

Keep it safe and have a fun night!

Friday, October 29, 2010

To Dress Up or Not to Dress Up: The Halloween Question

What is a former not-a-little-dog-type person to do?  I have always loathed animals dressed up in costumes.  Sure, we have a vest for Lucy, but that's for function.  A Halloween costume, just for the entertainment of humans?  I don't think so.  But there were all those cute outfits at Target... and the pet stores... maybe just a t-shirt?  How about a pair of angel wings(too ironic?), or a frilly tutu?(the girl does look good in pink)  Perhaps we could dye her green and she could go as Yoda.  (technically, that's not a costume...)

Stay tuned & have a happy and safe Halloween weekend!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Jack and his pal, Shadow, out for a romp in the sagebrush.

(Okay, so do captions count as words?)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Post a Silly Joke Day

This is the first "Post a Silly Joke" day here on THD, and it could be the last.  We'll see...

First, the background...

French composer Jacques Offenbach wrote a marvelous operetta called "Orphee aux Enfers", which premiered in 1858.  Its section entitled the "Galop Inferno" was used in the french dance the Can-Can, which ironically debuted twenty years or more before Offenbach's hit.  Nowadays, the song and the dance are fairly synonymous.  If you're interested, there is a great version of it you can see here (ahem, the song - not the dance).  It is the whole overture, but if you want to 'fast forward' to the Galop Inferno portion, it is 7:40 into the clip.

The joke goes like this...

In a french dance hall, the chorus girls are rehearsing for the Can-Can dance.  They have brought their outfits, their shoes, and each girl has brought their poodle, which they have left backstage.  A man walks in to observe the practicing, and is impressed with the show.  The lights, the music, the choreography - it's all very well done.  However, he has noticed a general cacophony that he can't quite pinpoint.  He walks up to one of the girls after the practice and asks her about all the added noise.  She blushes and replies, "Oh, I am sorree Monsieur.  Zat is our petit cheins(dogs), they offenbach during ze show."

(cue the old guys from the Muppets groaning... maybe throwing produce...or cream pies)

Do you have a silly joke you'd like to post?  *Keep it family friendly*, and feel free to write it up in the comment section below, or I will link to your site if you post one there.  Thanks for reading, and remember to enjoy a *laugh* today - it's good for you!


Party Time!

Birthdays are a time for celebrating.  The old year has passed and a new year lies before us.  Potential abounds!  For the dogs' part, I don't think they plan ahead.  They are pretty much live-in-the-moment creatures, which comes with its own advantages I suppose.  For them, birthdays mean two things:  
  1. The extended pack will be gathering together(hooray!) and 
  2. balloons

Now, Indy is what I would call 'normal' around balloons.  He possesses the ability to walk by a balloon and not melt down or wet himself.  Jack, on the other hand, has more difficulty with this seemingly simple exercise.   Here they are, circa 2008...

We had a great party in honor of my dad's birthday last week.  This year, Lucy was in on the fun times to be had with a balloon.

Happy birthday, Dad.  Love you!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Flashback Friday: Indy's Midnight Bath

Actually, I think the bath was closer to 2 am.  I don't know.  I was tired.  But I digress.  This is how it all started...

But I didn't want a little brother!
Indy was a cute puppy.  He was tiny and squishy and snuggly... but it didn't last for very long.  (By 16 weeks of age, he would grow to be a BIG boy weighing about the same as Jack.)  The in-the-sink picture was when he was about 8 weeks old.  We had just brought him home from the breeder a week before, during Thanksgiving break.  Jack wasn't as happy as we thought he'd be with this adorable parcel of squishy goodness. 

Although Jack wasn't sure what to make of the newest member of the family, nature's instincts took over and Jack went to work.  This was before Jack had the, ahem, 'change'.  His testosterone levels were at an all-time high, telling him he must mark everything to show ownership.  Each shrub, stone, and patch of grass belonged to him.  Nothing was sacred or spared. 

Every time Indy went out to the back yard for a break, Jack would follow, wait impatiently behind Indy, and as soon as Indy had moved on, Jack would re-mark that patch as 'his'.  Jack became increasingly impatient as the obsessive compulsion grew. 

We kenneled Jack and Indy separately in those days.  Sometimes Indy, being a baby still, would cry in the night to let us know he had to go out.  It's the same with dogs as it is with humans: if one person mentions needing to use the facilities, oftentimes others realise their own needs as well.  When one dog wakes up, the other does too.  It would seem rather unjust to let only one dog out for relief.

I won't insult your intelligence, you have probably already seen what's coming next.  Jack was finally so impatient and ready to go back to bed, he did not wait for Indy to finish and move out of the way.  Thus leading to a very grumpy, tired woman giving a dripping puppy a late night bath in the sink. 

Hindsight?  I'm grateful for the picture; it wasn't long before Indy had outgrown that adorable fit-in-the-sink stage.  Enjoy every moment... the good ones never seem to last long enough, and with time even some of the grumpy ones can become good ones.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

In Search of the Snooze Button

Our BIG dogs share one very BIG kennel.  It provides a sense of security, a 'den' if you will, that lends itself to natural canine tendencies.  Every night, the dogs doze off in the family room for a while while the humans read or watch television.  We all play intermittently, and then the urge for a late night nap takes over and the dogs sack out on their BIG pillow or on top of someones feet.  Then, when it's time for the people's bedtime, we say, "kennel up", and Jack springs into action(he knows there's a treat involved)and nine times out of ten, beats us to the garage door.  Indy lumbers along, often taking long pauses as if to communicate that if we somehow forgot to kennel him, he'd be fine right where he currently was. 

Most mornings, we have to tiptoe around upstairs so as not to wake the dogs.  When it was just the BIG dogs, we could let them out for a morning break, then back in and we all could go back to sleep or get ready for our day, depending on the time.  But with a puppy in the mix, someone must be watching the dogs pretty much at all times.  Plus, when puppies are up, they're UP.  There's no snooze alarm there.

Indy is always the first to let us know if he's woken up before we have.  For such an enormous dog, he has this really pathetic little squeaky cry.  Often, he'll start out with a few spaced out cries - "anyone there?"   Then he'll move on to a bit louder shouts of, "I'M UP!"   If this hasn't stirred a bi-ped, he'll go into an all out succession of whining cries.  You'd think with all the fuss, he'd really have to go.  Or at least need... something.  Most of the times, no.  He simply wanted to sleep elsewhere.  As if to tell us, "I tried to tell you last night that I'd rather stay here"

Fall is in the air, for sure.  Several nights ago local temperatures dipped into the thirties.  Now, where the dogs are it's not that cold, of course... they are in an alcove right next to the furnace.  With this lovely, crisp, fall weather comes the annual turning on of the furnace.  I usually manage to wait a little while longer in the season, but between the early cold and having just come back from three weeks of ninety degree weather, on it went. 

We are not super early risers.  The furnace timer was pre-set to an hour before we needed to get up, so that the edge would be taken off by the time we eventually rolled out of bed.  Obviously the furnace is not at all mindful of tip-toe-ing around to ensure the dogs - let's face it: Indy - doesn't wake up early.  So for the past week, the furnace has kicked on, and the yipe-ing begins.  We are in a bit of a catch twenty-two.  If I set the furnace to right when we want to get up, what's the point?  We still wake up to a cold house.  If we acquiesce and get up at the early hour Indy vocalizes his unrest, we're still getting up cold. 

My dad would probably sensibly remind me that that's why we have socks and sweaters.  Thanks, Dad.  Love you. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Heat is On

Reader discretion advised.  No, really.  Even I am icked out.

One of my favorite shows from the 90's was Blossom.  It's campy, but smart.  The pilot episode is about a girl, Blossom Russo, who is living with her two brothers and her single parent dad.  She, ahem, starts to go through what most young ladies do around 12 years of age, and has no one to talk to about it.  Blossom finds herself missing her real mother, who has abandoned the family insearch of her own fame and fortune.  In a dream sequence, Phylicia Rashad (Clair Huxtable) guest stars as Blossom's "dream" mom, complete with pink apron and sound motherly advice.  Who better for a quintessential mom, no?  The scene plays out with Phylicia illustrating the facts of the menstrual cycle by piping icing onto a sheet cake.  Icked out?  Yeah.  Still, in context it was fairly humorous.  For those feeling particularly nostalgic, the whole episode is on youtube in three segments(the first one is here).

Lucy has been behaving strangely lately.  For the last week or so, she was super-hyper, even for her.  She was, and not just in hindsight, quite cantankerous.  Then it started.  I guess you aren't supposed to call it a 'period', and thank GOD they don't come every month for dogs(thanks to wikipedia and several online Q&As I found out it's only twice a year)  It's a heat cycle(and for the life of me, the name just conjures giggles and images of laundry settings) and can last three weeks.  Perhaps other foster dog owners know to have your dog spayed before this happens.  Having had our two big boys, this was never an issue for us.  Unfortunately, I also found out that once the heat has begun, it's best to wait one or two months after it's finished to get the dog spayed.  Yay.

Until then, we can keep her comfortable and, according to the vet and every other source on the web, supervised at all times.  Apparently, for those in the dark like myself, male dogs will come from miles around and do anything they can to get into the backyard.  Sue at the vet's said dogs have been known to jump over fences previously impervious to attack.  For some less spry but equally lustful studs, they will dig their way under the fence.  It's like a dog version of some old black and white zombie movie.

Thankfully at the moment, Lucy has mellowed out entirely.  She is once again  receptive to being held and is currently reposing on the rug covered couch. 

Tough Day.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Flashback Friday: Jack and the Spicy Clover

Spring 2008
Jack has always been a little nutty around water.  (Over on The dogs behind the blogs  you can read a little more about the irony of his full given name.)  When it rains, he won't go out.  When there's dew on the grass, he'd rather wait.  But sometimes, when you've got to go, you've got to go.  After finishing his rounds in the backyard, he will return to the slider and tap his paw, or 'knock', very urgently if not desperately on the glass.  Then, he will proceed to roll on the floor and repeatedly wipe his face on the carpet, left side then right, back and forth.  This even when only his paws got wet.  Can pets have OCD?  I don't know.  But I'm pretty sure if he could figure out the pump mechanism on the bottle of Germ-X, he'd be sanitizing his paws every time he came inside.

Not particularly enjoying the smell of dog on our family room carpet, we generally try to discourage the excessive dehumidification.  As we scolded him one spring day over his copious 'cleaning', it occurred to us that it was a beautiful, sunny, & dry day out.  Where had he gotten into water?   Jack is normally a people-pleaser, unless we are competing for his attentions against another animal or something that interests him more at the moment.  So that day it surprised us when he went back to rubbing his face all over the carpet.  It was as if he was pushing his face now - running the length of the room one way, and back again.  Was he itchy?  He appeared to be itchy!  On closer examination, he had a nickle-sized welt on his face.  Poor thing!  We rubbed his face for him and took him outside to play ball as a distraction.  Surely whatever it was would go away soon and he'd forget all about it.

After the game of fetch concluded,  he came back inside and laid down to rest.  A short while later, he was up, obsessively scratching his face on the floor again.  This time, his whole face was lumpy.  I mean, the pictures can't do it justice.  Our beautiful, sleek, golden boy was now anything but.  (It's hard for me, looking at these pictures now, remembering his discomfort!)


With his eyes nearly swollen shut, we frantically called our vet.  One of the things that we *love* in this world is our vet's office.  Never snooty or worried about malpractice suits, they are knowledgeable, laid back, and always willing to dispense advice over the phone.  They said to go ahead and give him a benedryl.  Wow, that's all?  Yup, they said.  As long as he doesn't sound like he's having trouble breathing, give him a benedryl and wait it out.  They said he probably was having an allergic reaction.  I remembered that little welt we had seen earlier.  They asked if he could have been stung by a bee.  I went to check for a stinger, but the welt was gone.  That area was completely smooth now.  Hmm... I checked all over and found no other outside signs of trauma(well, other than the baseball size swelling all over his head!)  They told me that sometimes dogs, labs especially, eat the bee and get stung on the inside of the mouth.  Genius.

This fit with Jack's personality as well.  He had a habit of chasing and devouring anything that flew - moths, flies, dandelion fluffs...  sometimes he'd wait for them to land on a blade of grass or a clover, then BAM!  (They call me, "Sneak Attack Jack").  When he was a puppy and we had had him a little over a week, he ate a slug.  We called the vet, quite worried, because he really had eaten the whole slug!  I don't remember what all the vet said other than, "Most puppies do eat a slug once, but the experience is so gooey and awful they learn from it and don't ever try it again"  Well, perhaps Jack heard this and took it as a personal challenge because we caught him with four other slugs that summer.  I think by fall, he had finally figured out the cause and effect regarding that unpleasant aftertaste. 

The story has a happy ending; the benedryl did its thing, and our beautiful lab returned to his normal self again.  Come to think of it, though, he's not so much in the habit of chasing after floating objects anymore, and stays away from what he must have told himself were the spicy clovers.

Have a great weekend, everyone! 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mom, I'm Bored.

If you are a parent, you probably have an ingrained reaction to this statement.  You may be the peppy 'friend' parent who says, "Okay, honey, what would you like to do?" You may be the busy parent who replies, "Go think of something - I'm not your social director."  Perhaps you're a clever parent who says, "I have a list of things you can do... there's the laundry, the dishes, vacuuming, sweeping... I could go on..."   I tend to mix it up a little - my kids never know who they're going to get. 

Kids, as they get older, begin to find things to do.  They play outside with friends, they read, they zone out in front of electronics.  But remember when they were babies?  Before they even knew they could evoke parental reaction from an over-used utterance.  They just scooted around an explored.  Parents really had to be on their toes. 

Our dogs have had the same sort of evolution.  As puppies, they would just scoot off and get into something.  Then, as adolescents, they would whine, bark, or tap at the slider to go in or out, and look at you as if repeating that grinding phrase.   Now our BIG dogs, at 3 & 4 (21 & mid-30's for them) will go out, if it's nice, and sun themselves on the deck.  We do still get the whining and occasional bark on apparently  what are deemed particularly slow days.

As a homeschooling family, one of the perks is that we can finish school by 1 or 2 in the afternoon most days.  We power through the morning with perhaps a snack during history, then a quick break for lunch, and resume with classics and literature before free time.  All due respect to the dogs, but they are not a large part of our mornings.  We will take turns throwing a few balls for them sporadically, but otherwise they are largely ignored.  The BIG dogs have learned to deal with this.  (That's another perk of getting older, you begin to love daytime naps!)  But Lucy is still very much a puppy.  And very much a digger.  You should see her; she could work for Repsol!

I have mentioned my frustrated landscaper before.  Upon return from our vacation, our yard was really looking spectacular.  The grass was lush and full.  All the freshly dug "Lucy" patches Ken repaired before our departure had germinated while we were away and now blended seamlessly with the rest of the lawn. 

Sadly, but not unexpectedly, our lawn has once again fallen victim to the ignored.  This time Ken has taken to filling the holes with drainage rock.  Although still a bit peeved, he has tried to put a positive spin on the situation and say, "That's okay, they'll be drainage holes."  I don't know how many drainage holes a yard needs, but this morning she was expanding yesterday's venture, hole # 6 . 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Simple Gifts

I love books. I had forgotten quite how much I loved to read them until these past two and a half weeks when my family left all things electronic, and got out of dodge.  Okay, so we didn't go out in the back woods, we went to Florida.  We did the theme parks and exhausted ourselves daily.  However, we didn't spend the time watching our usual plethora of television shows, re-runs of movies, or even hop on the Internet.  (Really, does one ever just 'hop' on the Internet and then actually hop off?  With the best of intentions for brevity, I often look up to realize hours have gone by!)

Our family encountered a nasty cold from the plane ride down, then a bout with the flu, then a resurgence of the cold.  Not exactly what any of us had in mind.  We all trooped along(kudos to the kids especially!) most days, but there were a few absolute down days, and more than a handful of half days resulting from the infirmities.  I had brought a book for the plane, which I never read on the way down, and I bought a book at Universal Studios on the Life of Lucille Ball - extraordinarily savvy business woman, that Lucy!  I had no intention of reading on this vacation.  Why would I??  Here we invest in a once-in-a-lifetime trip to SEE and EXPERIENCE all the Disney *magic*, as well as the impressive Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure.   Books were my back-up, my 'when you're bored on the plane' arsenal. 

My dad, who plans his reading materials for Disney trips like I plan out the accommodations, touring plans, and restaurant reservations, finished a mystery/crime book and offered it to me on one of the first days we had sick kids home in the hotel.  Hmmm.  Not what I had planned, but it was nice to have something interesting to read.  Before I knew it, the book had me hooked and I drug it with me poolside with the prevailing healthy kids du jour.  Within three days, I had finished it.  Something I normally don't have the time(or perhaps take the time) to do.  I then started my Love, Lucy book.  Wonderful!  I read it slowly, enjoying being immersed in the glamorous golden ages of  Hollywood and Broadway.  On the plane ride home, I pulled out my original plane choice, Tuck Everlasting.  Finished that and most of the Lucy book.

Now, I know reading an average of a book a week is not a bragging point from an avid reader's view.  More valuable to me was remembering that if I have the time(or take the time), reading is truly one of life's simple gifts.

'Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be true
'Tis a gift to have a good book
and a puppy with you.

Thanks to my avid reader, Alex, who can zip through stacks of books in no time flat!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What a Difference Two and a Half Weeks Makes

See What I Mean?  Huge.  Okay, I know this is at full stretch, but holy smokes!  Thanks, Alex, for capturing this great photo.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Family Complete

I had the best of intentions to have a great picture of our two and a half dogs once we were ALL home last night, but it simply did not materialize.  We arrived home from Florida quite late Monday night, had the excitement of seeing our two BIG dogs(who made a baying like sound that I had never heard before - I think they were glad to see us?  At least they didn't pee...), and then a very quiet 'catch-up' day on Tuesday.  It was quiet in the sense that older dogs love to visit and then nap.  They are not playing constantly until they drop, you forget about them, and then they stealthily wake up and proceed to find trouble.  It was odd; although somewhat restful, we just didn't feel complete. 

Tuesday night we trekked to my in-laws, who had so kindly offered to deal with the sneaky napper.  Lucy was HUGE!  I may have to re-name the blog 2 and two-thirds dog... or perhaps five-eighths?  I don't know, math never was my strong suit.  Anyway, she was much larger.  I wasn't even around the back of our truck in the driveway when I heard our kids, who had rushed Papa and Gramma's front door like tween girls at a Justin Bieber concert, say "Lucy, Lucy, Lucy!!!" Nick's voice rang above the others, "Lucy!  My Lucy!"  Those two really have a special connection. 

It was different picking Lucy up vs. coming home to claim our BIG dogs.  To the big dogs, we were just 'home'.  Yes, our friends had to go back to their house, but in that case, THEY were the visitors.  With Lucy, she was the visitor, and had become quite attached to her new family.  Gramma and Papa have an enormous amount of love and patience, as well as understanding, with any kind of creature.  But having a single puppy, with no kids or older dogs for relief from the sneak-attack-after-naps can be exhausting.  They claimed she was wonderful, with only a few naughty(although she didn't know it) moments.  I'm sure they overlooked a lot and were overly kind to us as well as her.  Lucy, on the other hand, went from being the baby of two and a half dogs to the only granddog.  That's quite a move up the chain!  She had cooked-on-the-people's-stove food, treats, and ice cream.  Not to mention round-the-clock attention. (this would have been partly G & P's love of animals, and partly necessity!) 

As we pulled out of the driveway, Papa and Gramma looked a little sad.  I can understand that!  It was very difficult for us to let our little foster dog go, even when we knew it was only while we were on vacation.  When I left Lucy with them two and a half weeks ago, I watched as she strained in Gramma's arms to follow us("Um, hello?  I'm with them!").  Now, she strained at the car window for her extended pack members.  Why can't we all just be together?

When we arrived home, all the dogs went a little nuts(this time, someone did pee, but I couldn't see who the responsible party was).  Again, I heard this guttural baying sound from one of the dogs.  All the kids piled onto the family room floor and there the six of them wrestled and licked and danced around.  It was a regular Germ-X commercial!  We were complete at last.  (pictures to come...)

Post-Script...  A HUGE thank you from our pack to our friends and family who cared for our two and a half dogs while we were away.  Honorary pack members for life!