Monday, November 24, 2014

The Patter of Paws

Just having walked in the door, I was sitting down momentarily at the computer catching up on what was happening in the word.  It was a nicer day and I opened the patio door to let some fresh air in and two dogs out. 

Quite content reading the news, out of my direct vision I could see a blurr of bodies of fur running around the back yard.  The patter of paws, it's a soothing sound to me.  I stopped in my tracks.  The sound of dogs playing?  For a moment I thought of Elle, I hadn't heard this noise since she died.  Wait, Elle is gone and Ryker doesn't play.  Yet, it was indeed Ryker and Chance playing chase.  Chance tired out and just barked at Ryker as he ran by him.  Ryker had gone wild running race tracks all over the back yard. 

I couldn't happier. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Hugging

Ryker has been living with us three weeks.  Just when I begin to wonder how far along  he really was going to progress he goes and shows me that he is doing better than I give him credit.  I have wondered if he would ever feel safe outside the area of his dog bed.  He clings to that bed as if it is the only thing holding him together.  This week I caught him laying in other rooms. 

Herding him outside and inside has become such a breeze.  He still has the occasional potty accident, always at night.  I figure he might be his most relaxed at night when all the scary people are asleep.  Ryker has decided that eating food in a bowl is not such a bad idea and he has expressed a real preference for having his dry food lightly coated in canned pumpkin.  In fact, if I don't stir the pumpkin into the dry food, he will eat the all of the pumpkin, ignore the dry food, and wait until I realized he needs more pumpkin in order to consume the dry stuff.    

Tonight we had our first training session.   I was standing in the kitchen and Ryker kept walking through sometimes stopping and watching me.  If I looked at him he would run away.  So I grabbed a box of treats and sat in the kitchen floor intentionally not looking at him.  He came up to me and stopped.  It was the first time I had been able to pet him while he was standing up.

He sat down, Chance came in and we all had a training session.  Chance would "shake" for a treat, Ryker would follow the treat to my eyes and make eye contact or "look" for a treat.  Chance would lay "down", treat, Ryker would "look", treat.   Chance would "shake", Ryker let me touch his paw for "shake".  Ryker seems to inherently know "leave it".  He's one smart dog. 

Both dogs are now snoring on the kitchen floor.  I tip toed into the kitchen and Ryker stood up. I had anticipated him bolting; for the first time he did not.  He stood up, let me approach him and give him a giant hug with lots of fur scratching. Silly me forgetting that he is healing on the inside and I won't always see the progress on the outside.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Reeling Ryker In

There is an old trick used when reeling in a substantial sized fish so that you don't break off your line.  It's called playing the fish.  When the fish takes off like a bullet you give it line and let it run.  When the fish swims towards you, you take up all of the slack as fast as possible.  This fish eventually tires making it easier to get to shore without snapping off your line.  This last week with Ryker (his new name) is much akin to playing a fish.

 It may be that I do an amazing imitation of a herding dog and have Ryker heading in and out the patio door with the greatest of ease, although I suspect Ryker is pretty observant and maybe catching on to the pattern.   Having somewhat established a routine is easing our communication.  I pretty much can figure out that when we get up in the morning he is going to need to go out and potty.  He has pretty much figured out that after I have a cup of coffee I am going to feed him.   Then it's back outside to go potty.  If you open the sliding door and herd him the right direction, he now heads that direction and strolls through the patio door.   It works for herding him back inside as well.

Gone are the days of cornering him (which requires two people), and leading  him where you need him to go.  I won't miss those days although I do have flashbacks when I try to gather him up to put the leash on him.  The trick is to catch him lying down, slowly approach without words or eye contact and pet him nicely behind the ears.  Then you go for the collar.  being a smart dog he has already learned the sound of the leash coming off the coat rack so you cannot touch the coat rack.  You cannot put on your coat or your sunglasses either or he goes into alert.  There is no catching him when he switches to alert. 

Tonight Bruce, Chance and I were in the kitchen talking after dinner  (Chance was not talking yet he was doing the arf arf arf thing).  Ryker peered around the corner.  We were all smart enough to ignore him.  No eye contact, nothing.  We just kept talking.  After several attempts he settled right in the kitchen floor.  We all joined him on the floor and broke out the dog treats.  It was a good family moment. 

Whether Ryker realizes it or not, we are playing him like a fish.  He darts away and we let him have all the distance he wants.  When he comes in close, we take up the slack with treats and ear scratches.  Back and forth we go, day after day all the time unaware that he is slowly tiring.  He doesn't bolt as often or as far and we are reeling him in.



Saturday, November 8, 2014

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

Wednesday brought some nice weather and huge amounts of success with Rhett.  I was sitting outside sipping coffee and the two dogs were outside with me.  Rhett was running around the back yard and for the very first time I saw a white tip on his tail; his tail wasn't completely tucked.  Chance serenaded with the bark of happiness.  Both offered play bow to each other yet before they could really play Chance tripped on the long line attached to Rhett which ended the play.  Rhett had even played a little with a stuffed bear we have.



I have been considering what to name Rhett.  As more of his personality comes I keep changing his name.  Then Thursday came along.  No longer does Rhett cower on his bed when I approach with a leash, he now bolts off the bed and darts around the house. "Bolt" or "Dart"  have now become name options.  He bolts into the the house, he darts past me like lighting.  I took his harness and the long line off of him after it tripped up Chance but now I've got a sketchy dog to chase around and catch.  I am beginning to feel like a herding dog rounding up livestock and am impressed by my own creativity.  Did you know a open refrigerator door can act as a dog block?  Ever used a step ladder to block off access to the maze of options a sketchy dog might try to run? 


Yesterday I was a bit discouraged.  Rhett has done a lot of pacing and very little settling.  I think the less he shuts completely down the more the nervousness appears.  Eventually I believe it too will run its course.  There has been no more play bow.  The two dogs basically ignore each other completely. The poor guy still hates the leash with a passion; it's obvious punishment in his mind.  I do remember Elle hating it as well.  I keep telling myself that it has only been a week.  One week to undo 4 years. 

For now Rhett has set up camp in the living room on one of the dog beds.  Chance and I sometimes visit Rhett on the dog bed.  He doesn't cower, likes to be pet and doesn't bolt away.  At this moment I'm working on gathering the stamina for a round up so I can take both dogs on a walk.


 

Monday, November 3, 2014

24 Hours



It was this little squeaky sound that I was hearing from the kitchen last night that I couldn't place.  Suddenly, I knew what it was, Rhett's little squeaker toy.  This is my first real clue that he is probably in the right place for him.

Rhett set up camp in the kitchen floor so I moved a dog bed in there for him and covered it with the blanket his Foster Family had sent.  I can guess the approximate size of the pen in which he was kept as when he is nervous he circles the same distance and the same direction.  During this morning's walk I learned he only circles when we stop walking.  Solution (to keep from becoming wrapped up by the leash like a mummy), keep on walking.

Rhett comes from a hoarding situation in Texas where 150 dogs were seized.  They were underfed, overcrowded, never socialized with people and many had health issues.  He is learning to live with people inside a house and this is a huge adjustment for him.

When I let him into the back yard I attach a long lead to him.  I haven't taught him to come when called yet (it's only been a day) and I do realize he may never be able to bring himself to "come" to people.  The back up plan is to get him to stop, or stay, or sit, something which negates me chasing him all around the back yard just to bring him inside.

When I arrived home today, (I had kept Rhett inside and Chance outside), the inside of house was fine (lucky for me). I attached a long lead and out we went.  This afternoon I swear he almost smiled.  He trotted around the back yard, back and forth, back and forth coming closer and closer to me with each passing yet speeding up at the same time he was getting closer; it almost appeared as if it was a kind of game to him.  It's getting colder earlier now so I came in leaving the back door open and went into the back of the house.  Much to my shock, as I returned to the kitchen, Rhett was there having entered the house without me shooing him inside.

Baby steps.  Small, tiny, precious baby steps.  He just squeaked his toy again. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Pre-Adoption Butterflies

It's a blustery day. November 1st and the weather has just turned.  Tonight Bruce, Chance and I will be staying in Tonopah, NV on our way to Beatty, NV where a volunteer  committed to dog rescue, Loretta, having driven two days in a row, will meet us with the newest member of the family.  Recently  I've been looking for another member since I lost Elle in January.  She was so young and her death was sudden.  Losing Elle was shattering.

I was inspired by one the graduate students  who had two rescue Shelties.  She encouraged me to contact the local Collie Rescue Representative.  DeAnne was informative and knowledgeable.  She encouraged me to send my application into Southwest Collie Rescue which covers Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Texas.  There had been a recent hoarding situation in Tomball, Texas and this organization was to care for and place 11 collies.

It seems odd to have to go so far to find a collie and remain dedicated to rescue.  Collies are as rare as hen's teeth in this part of the US and for the life of me I have no idea why.  They are the most amazing dogs yet seem to be in greater numbers on the East Coast and the South.  The California Collie Rescue organizations refuse to adopt to Nevada (not a clue on this one) citing there must be a home check.  DeAnne performed the home check for Southwest Collie Rescue without issue.


rhett
Rhett's picture on the Southwest Collie Rescue Website.
In summary, I have been granted the privilege of having Rhett come to live with me.  Cindy, Rhett's foster Mom, is an amazing woman.  She lives in Arizona and has been introducing Rhett to the world of people.  She has five dogs in her home currently, Rhett made number six which is a lot of dog.   Rhett is dog socialized but not people socialized.  He just hasn't had much contact with people so he is shy.  He had never been in a house, was undernourished and had worms.  My understanding is that most of the Tomball Collies were not in great shape.  Cindy has Rhett learning to trust people.  He may have a ways to go, yet she laid the foundation of trust.

Tomorrow Loretta, having driven from Las Vegas, not quite to Phoenix, then back and housing Rhett at her home overnight, will drive from Las Vegas to Beatty to deliver Rhett.  Many people have given a great deal to make this happen for which I am grateful. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Busy



I have been so busy lately.  I started a new job and am always behind.  I figure I won't get caught up until the semester ends.  I haven't been this flustered since I was hired the day before school started at my first teaching job.

Elle and Chance only get walks every other day right now.  I work too many hours and walk a whole lot during the day.  I will say Elle is a quick learner.  My cherry tomato finally started producing ripe fruit and I picked a few and popped them in my mouth.  Warm from the sun, sweet as can be.  Elle watched me do it.

"You want to try a tomato?" I asked her.  I bit one in half and gave it to her.  She loved it.  She observed and studied me picking and eating.  Then she tried it all by herself.  She picked her own little tomato.  I couldn't stop laughing.  Silly dog.  Except now, a few days later, it isn't quite as funny.  There are never any ripe tomatoes.  Elle picks them before I can get to them.  Grrrrrrr.  Damned smart dog.  Soon I'll have to start spelling in front of her.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Changes

I haven't blogged in a while.  Maybe that's the beauty of blogging, you do it only when you want.  There have been so many changes this summer.  I applied for a new position at the university and got it, something that historically I only do every 12 years.  I miss seeing some of the people I worked with every single day.  Yet I am on stable money now, not at the mercy of grant funding.  The new job, well it's perfect for me.  It's going to be a rough semester, but the first time through always is.  I now coordinate the undergraduate biology labs at the university.  I'm going to love it.  The position comes with a real office with a real window and  my own phone number in a beautiful new building.   

To complicate matters, one week into the job I pulled jury duty.  Luckily I drew the new short trial format. After a 10 hour day, my duty and the trial were both done.  Whew.  

The poor dogs though.  The funky hours trying to learn the new job before the incumbent retires in two weeks has taken its toll.  Some 6am days, the super hot weather and smoke from forest fires has messed with our morning walks.  I think the dogs feel neglected and I'm all out of whack. I get my best thinking done on those walks.

The dry spring has had an unusual effect on my plum tree.  Without the dampness that fosters aphids or the late blossom killing frost, the plum tree, for the first time in its life, is having plums.  They are beautiful and bountiful.  It seems the dogs have found a new past time: eating all of the fallen plums.  It took me an entire week to figure out the massive diarrhea belonging to otherwise happy dogs.  The pits laying all over the back yard gave them away.  The little piglets ate and ate without restraint.  I spent two nights this week picking all of the plums off of the tree.  Diarrhea, gone.  

My little fur family and I are laying low until the heat breaks.  There isn't a one of us that isn't looking forward to that first chill in the air signalling fall.  Elle and Chance often sleep outside together on the cool grass guarding the veggie garden from rabbits  and listening for the sound plums make as they hit the ground.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fourth of July

The 4th of July this year was a day to relax.  The night before I had gone over to a neighbor's house for dinner.  It was just a couple of us girls and Elle, Chance and Chopper the boxer.  Chopper is two years old and extremely friendly and playful.  The three dogs played with each other until exhausted.  Elle is unused to seeing anyone sit down to eat at a table, which is the perfect height for her to rest her head,  as I typically eat standing up at over the kitchen seat.  The smell of pizza right at snout level was intoxicating to the poor girl.  We were all eating outside on the patio, yet the pizza was inside the house on the dining room table.  Finally we closed the slider to keep the temptation at a minimum. 

Much to our amusement, Elle, the giant wolfhound dog, crazed by the smell of pizza, wrangled herself through a medium sized doggy door; she was heading straight for the pizza on the inside table.  We were doubled over with laughter.  Her mouth full of pizza, I went after her causing her to panic, her pizza hit the ground.  Right on cue, Chopper targeted the pizza, swooping in and bounding back through the dog door.  Chance was on him, yet Chopper managed to get down almost half of the piece of pizza before it again dropped and Chance finished the deed.

The dogs ended up playing for a couple of hours.  I have no idea how Chopper fared on the 4th of July.  My two animals slept all day.  I bet those silly dogs had sore muscles from too much play.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Puddle of Toys

Elle has been extra chipper the last two days.  She has been silly, smiling and playful compared to the weekend.  Elle and Chance had a busy Sunday.  We took our 3 mile walk and went down the street and played a few hours with the neighbor's boxer.  Josh came over to cut the grass and brought his pup Ripley.  Usually Chance and Elle run Ripley's legs off.  Not this Sunday though.  Elle wasn't up to par and both dogs were annoyed by the pup.  I think they were just over tired; no dog napping happens when we have a busy day.

Come to think of it Elle was particularly impatient with the pup.  I think her stomach may have been upset.  Early that day during the walk I had found an injured bird that likely had been hit by a car.  Poor thing was hardly moving and I was going to have to come back and put it out of its misery after I got the dogs home.  Then it moved a whole wing.  Elle saw the movement.  In one giant leap she pounced on that bird and kept walking like nothing was in her mouth.  "Drop!" I  cried several times, then "Leave it!" I called, still she held her mouth shut tight and pretended nothing was inside that didn't belong there.  I tried parting her jaws with my hands and she clamped them tighter.  "Elle!"  She ignored me, turned her head out of my vision range and began chewing.  Crunch, crunch, crunch.  All I could tell myself was that she was now on the "raw" diet and that she would be alright.  Then, as I saw long feathers sticking out from her mouth, much to my surprise, she spewed it out.

"Thank you, Elle."  I told her, first for spitting and second for doing the job of killing the injured bird for me.    I do think the bird juice upset her stomach a bit though and I'm glad she is feeling better.

Today I brought home two very large dog beds.  I intended to sew each dog one and decided that since I hadn't done it yet that I should just purchase some and reclaim the two comforters the dogs have been using as bed substitutes.   Both dogs were down right elated.  They danced around on  their beds, Elle being more playful with me than she has ever been before.  My glasses are now fogged with dog slobber and as I type this  Elle is happily chewing away on an elk antler having surrounded herself in a puddle of dog toys, herself lying on a dog bed looking like a princess.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Separation Anxiety

Tomorrow I am heading out a couple of days of fly fishing.  I have conflicting emotions ripping a whole in my stomach.  I have never left these dogs before.  Not just these dogs, I seldom left the dogs before this pair.  Like a nervous parent I've set out the Beano for bloat, Neosporin for injuries, cortisone for hot spots.  I've got the emergency instructions and vet numbers taped to the refrigerator door as well as those of neighbors.  Benadryl, baby aspirin, Milkbones, leashes, brushes;  you would think I was leaving newborn children.  

My friend Gena is going to be staying at the house with Elle and Chance.  They know her and she has owned big dogs; it's a good fit.  I have tried to think of everything, every scenario, every problem that might come up.  It's a good thing I will only be two hours away.  I can be back in town quickly if there were an emergency.  

In two weeks I am flying out to Chicago for four days. The dogs, they are fine.  Me, I am having a giant bout of separation anxiety just thinking about it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Growing

Growing, my how Elle is growing.  Finally she has found her voice.  A single bark here, double bark there.  It grew into Elle barking at Chance to come outside and play with her.  Elle barks at the new, very poorly mannered puppy next door.  She also speaks in a series of broken whines when she is hungry, impatient, wanting attention, wanting me out of bed.  There are endless bouts of running a race track in the back yard and in the house.  Neither dogs stop playing now when they catch me watching.  Today I witnessed their first game of tug-o-war.   Elle won't play directly with me, yet. I think that's coming though.

We didn't walk today and I've noticed that they two are extremely playful when they haven't been walked.  Too much excess energy makes for feisty dogs.  Speaking of feisty, Elle is  pushing her boundaries and trying to tell me "no".  It's pretty funny.  If I wait long enough she usually decided to give in with the exception of getting in the bath tub.  Chance even jumped in with the special "Old Roy" treats.  Elle, poor Elle ended up in the back yard with a hose.  She just down right refused to get in.  I'm now on the prowl for one of those dog wash places although I haven't given up the idea of training her with some dry runs and see if that won't help.  


Overall, my Elle is growing comfortable.  I think that is a good thing.












Sunday, May 6, 2012

Yoga with Elle

In a solid effort to get into some sort of shape, I have been attempting yoga.  It isn't really full on yoga, it is more like pre-yoga, something that you would to before actually taking a beginning yoga class.  

Elle and Chance were sleeping.  We had been on our three mile walk and they had been fed.  It was a good time to slip in the yoga DVD without being bothered.  The DVD started off slowly, a stretch here, a pose there.  The next thing I knew Elle had come up behind me, her head filling a window my bent elbow had made doing some pose and she was making noises.  I stopped, pet her, told her she was a good girl and to go lie down.  I began to stretch the other side making the same window with the opposite elbow.  In stealth mode  Elle came in from the front, stuck her head in the window my elbow was making, then did her famous flip onto her back, belly exposed and four legs in the air.  She had landed, or rather most of her had landed, squarely in my lap.  I swear if a dog could giggle, she would have been.  We stayed there a while,  Elle contently curled up in my lap.  

Monday, April 30, 2012

Playing in a Cool Breeze

As quick as the heat came on the last few weeks, it has let up an been a nice couple of days.  Elle and Chance are blowing out their undercoats; there is fur absolutely everywhere.  Today was my attempt to get a grip on the fur with lots and lots of brushing.  I swear the two of them basked in the attention. 

Both dogs are so itchy.  No fleas, no mange.  Chance has a "hot spot", something with which I have no experience.  I did the natural thing, cutting all the hair away, applying Neosporin, and watching it.  The internet confirms I did alright.  His poor paws are red as well.  I cut down some of his fur, yet not too far, I want him to have a barrier just in case this is all grass related.

Elle is itchy too but hasn't any hot spots.  I have only been giving her Benadryl at night which really seems to help.  Both dogs may be on Benadryl until this spring has passed.  Turning on the water system has kept the dead grass down and the green is beginning to show through.  

They now get an egg every morning over their food.  It's something Elle's foster Mom did for her as she had chickens.  I figure Elle didn't itch when she came to me so  I started including an egg a day.  Flax seed oil, they both get flax seed oil on their food too.  I'm due to buy food soon and I may be taking that up a grade this time just in case the food is bothering them.

Elle is a great dog.  She is less, uhm, spasmodic;  I think she is getting used to human petting and hugging.  While she has always let me hug her, she often would spaz out after a few seconds, lift her head forcefully, and knock me under my chin.  Not only has my brain been rattled by this action, but my cheek and tongue are missing sizable chucks.

In the coolness of twilight those two dogs play chase.  They eat right when I get home and typically it is too hot to play outside.  Hours later as the cool air settles in, the chase game begins.  A lot of noises, a lot of  running, some barking, and a lot of smiling. Happy.  That's what I want for them, as well as myself, simply to be happy.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Quick Walk

It's been a hectic two weeks.  Too much working leaving me too tired to blog.  This week I am making a concerted effort to stop doing three things at one time.  So far that is working much better for me. 

The wind is back in force today which altered the dog walking schedule.  The unseasonable heat had forced us all to walk in the morning.  Today it had to be quick before the wind kicked in.  I popped out of bed tossed on clothes and away we went. 

Typically we walk through the fields first and the dogs do their "business".  Yet today we were rushed. Chance decided to do his business on someone's lawn and I was not prepared with a bag for poop duty.  My attitude is, oh well. Things happen.  It is only a poop, not a big deal. 

To the neighbor of the offended lawn it was the straw that broke the camel's back.  He pulled in his driveway as we were leaving the scene of the poop. 

He screamed at the top of his lungs, "Hey!  You aren't going to just leave that there are you?"

"I don't have a bag today", was my reply.

"You are a horrible person for leaving that.  It's horrible people like you who ruin it for the rest of us!"

He was screaming even louder.  We were already three houses down.  Two minutes later he drove up to us in his car, window down, still screaming at the top of his lungs.  It was obscene.  He threatened to bring his dog over to poop on my yard. That made me laugh as his poor dog never gets a walk so I knew that would never happen.  I smiled, mentioned that he might be over reacting as he was still following us in his car; he was driving on the wrong side of the road. 

He was beginning to scare me as he was demanding to know where I lived (I had already walked past my house there was no way I wanted this bulbous nosed man with a ginormous anger management problem to know where I lived.   I asked if he had been drinking and he turned the car around.  He had been so loud that neighbors from all around were coming out of their houses asking him what was wrong.  Of course he told them, still screaming.  I, the offender waived at them and kept walking.

It was a relief that the people had come out of their homes to see what the commotion was about because I felt safer with them there were to witnesses to his insane behavior.  That's when I let down my guard and tears began to roll down my cheeks.  Eventually he drove home and I walked back to mine. 

I'm not proud of being a poop polluter, maybe pooper for short.  It is not my finest moment.  Had he offered me a bag I would have gladly picked the thing up.  Had he asked politely I would have driven back with a bag after I dropped the dogs off at home.  My initial reaction was to bag the thing and drop it off at his doorstep.  Vindictive, I know.  Frankly, what was a grown man doing home at 7:00 in the morning, un-showered, drinking and driving and obsessing about a poop on his neighbor's lawn?
 
I figure this man's  life must be awful and I shouldn't intentionally add to it.  I resigned the following: I will never walk the dogs without my cell,  I'll start to carry mace again, and I may, or may not remember a poop bag.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Week Four: Family

It has been a week of visitors.   My friend Gena, Don the handyman, my sister Denise, all came by the house this week.  Chance, who loves and adores all people, constantly barks with happiness as new people enter.  Elle is more reserved.  She sniffs the person while weighted on her back legs so she can put herself into an instant reverse.  Eventually she gives the lick of approval and rolls onto her back for a belly rub.   I noticed by the time my sister came by, the third new person to come into the house, Elle was more curious than timid and was quick to give the tongue slap of approval.  It is good to see her growing.

Today we will take our longest walk yet as the weather is mild and there is no time line.  Elle and Chance have come to work things out on the walk.  Elle no longer walks in an "s" shaped pattern pushing either Chance or I off of the sidewalk.  She seems more in tune with us; when I call her name during the walk she makes eye contact now and when we meet the neighborhood children she doesn't shy from them. 

You never do know just what you are getting yourself into when you invite an animal to be part of your life.   It makes no difference if it is a puppy or a dog; all animals come with their own personalities and quirks much of which is not ours to choose. While we can anticipate that certain breeds will likely come with particular behaviors, there is no "rule" about these things.  

Chance, my Rough Collie, is a quiet dog with the exception that he barks.  I know Collies are alarm dogs and that they have a tendency to bark.  I get that it is his way of communicating, but he is really talkative. Lucky for me he had been previously debarked.  While I'm not sure debarking is an option with which I agree as I would prefer to train the dog to bark more selectively,  I am confident the neighbors are relieved Chance was debarked. 

Elle is my noisy dog.  I know where she is and what she is doing by the sounds.  Chomp, chomp, chomp.  Elle chewing an elk antler.  Lap, lap, lap.  Elle gulping water.  The alarm clock has become obsolete as the sound from Elle's giant yawn each morning has taken it's place.  Back to the water issue, I have never seen any dog lap up so much water and swallow so little.  It doesn't just drip from her beard, it pours from her mouth.  I have resigned that  I will never have dry socks again. 

It is also the first spring I have had with this crew.  Both dogs love to roll upside down in the grass and it is quite cute until they pop through the dog door, fur laden with dead grass, and shake it off inside the house.  Today is Easter Sunday, a time when many families gather together.  As I sip my second cup of coffee this morning with two dogs sleeping happily at my feet, I realized that we are a family.  We play, eat, and sleep together.  We have disagreements.  We accept each others quirky behaviors.  We genuinely care for and about each other.  We are family. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Week Three: Spring

A bit of nice weather has come our way.  The air smells green as little shoots unfold from plants shaking off their dormancy.   As always around this time of year, rabbits too come out of hiding and can be seen everywhere.  While many are hopping,  many are scattered on the roadside having met cars. 

I arrived home to find Chance and Elle basking in the sun.  As they greeted me I saw Elle had dirt on her nose.  I wondered where she had been digging.  I grabbed their leashes for our walk. All the rabbits I had seen lately had me a bit gun shy about the first episode of Elle meeting a rabbit on our walks.  She's a 115 pound sight hound.  We tested those waters today with a cat.  Cat, rabbit, both are small fuzzy mammals.  

Elle and Chance both were entirely too interested in the cat when we came across her.  Yet my arm remains in my socket and they did keep walking, albeit slowly, and with their necks twisted backward so they could view the cat.  Personally, I thought it was a success. After today I realized that the rabbit encounter may go better than I think. 

When we returned home I began tackling the chore of picking up the poops.  The first poop I came across looked odd.  I put on my glasses.  Was it a dead bird?  I couldn't find a beak.  I poked around with a stick flipping it over.  Was that fur? The fur had been carefully licked so that it was sticky and standing straight up. Four legs and a tail, a baby, headless, bunny. Not all rabbits will lose their hop due to cars this spring.  If I had to guess, I believe the head is likely buried in one of the two freshly dug holes in the garden area.  I asked the dogs and they aren't talking.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

About Two Weeks: Lessons from Elle

This past weekend I came down with a bad case of new parent syndrome.  Elle and I had gone to the vet Saturday and picked up heartworm preventative for her.  We had Elle's most recent medical history but none of her history prior to being rescued and the vet wanted her covered for Parvo so she had a vaccination.

Sunday morning was particularly quiet.  I hadn't been woken by Elle's tail thumping on the wall or her loud yawning.  She didn't have her head in my face reminding me that it was morning and she needed food.  In fact, where was Elle?  I popped out of bed and she was still sleeping, curled in a ball.  As I woke her up she made a whimpering sound that wrapped itself around my heartstrings and yanked.  I panicked. 

I reasoned that if she ate food she might be alright and survive whatever ailed her.  She passed the food test.  Still, no tail wagging, no following me around the house.  Only yesterday she was in perfect health.  How could she suddenly be so ill she whined?  I felt her nose.  Hot and dry.  She had a temperature.  More panic.  Why was I panicking?  I have had dogs my entire life?  Why couldn't I remember what to do?

I checked her entire body for signs of injury.  No swelling, no redness, all the limbs bent at the right places. Lord how could I have managed to kill off this giant dog in a week? Was this going to be my first trip to the emergency vet?  Finally it came to me: aspirin.  I Googled it.  Yep.  You can give dogs aspirin; I had Shasta and Aiden both on baby aspirin at one time.  I opened her giant mouth, popped in some baby aspirin, gave her a Milk Bone chaser and waited.  An hour later the old Elle was coming back and I began breathing again.   It had probably been a reaction to the vaccine from the day before. 

In two weeks I've learned a great deal.  Elle is a good communicator.  She is going to tell you when she needs or wants something.  My job is to figure out what she is saying.  She is a bit leery of new sights and sounds, yet her curiosity frequently gets the better of her and she investigates despite her misgivings.  She didn't love going on walks at first but she tolerated them.  Now she happily holds her head up so I can attach the lead.  She truly struggled with the concept of the dog door being more than a window.  No longer.  It is now both a window and a door.  Elle has let go of her past and embraces today.  I think I will be learning a great deal from Elle.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Over A Week:

It has been over a week since the Irish Wolfhound Ellie (aka Elle) entered my life.  Right now I would summarize her as the largest puppy I've ever had.  While she is definitely adult in size, on the inside she is still a pup.  Everything is new to her and she is curious about absolutely everything.  She is quite content following me from room to room.  Often she gets herself into spaces too small to turn around so she has had to learn to go backwards.  I just realized I should capitalize on that and teach her the command "back". 

She no longer views our walks as punishment and when I rattle the leashes she starts to get excited.  I admit we all could use more walking.  This wind has been problematic.  Yesterday it was blowing down trash cans as we were walking which was spooking Elle.  Then it tossed sand in my face.  We turned tail and went back home.

The dog door is a work in progress.  It took Chance a while to really master the dog door in the wall.  Elle should catch on soon.  It has only been a week.  She is very proud herself that she can can "sit" which I find adorable.  She is so willing to try new and strange things. I should have that attitude.

 We have a vet appointment tomorrow to establish her as a patient.  It will be her first car ride since the long trip from California.  She is still holding back "playing", maybe just waiting to see if the other shoe is going to drop.  When I came home for lunch the two dogs were sleeping peacefully together in the shade on the patio with the wind rustling through their fur.   

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day Seven: Settling

I was greeted by two dogs inside the house at lunch today.  Chance definitely taught Elle how to get through the dog door.  Sadly she only thinks it goes one direction, inside.   My job now is to get her to go out of the thing.  
  
Elle is showing me just how much of the wolfhound personality Aiden had in her.  (My Aiden was part Irish Wolfhound and part terrier which made her possibly both a sight and a scent oriented dog.)  Aiden had the strongest jaws I have ever seen.  Before I knew better, I used to give my dogs beef rib bones.  It had never been a problem as I had never had a dog make even a dent in the bone.  Aiden literally pulverized rib bones into bone meal.  I figured that was the wolfhound part of her as they were bred to fight bears and wolves.  Now I meet Elle.  She too is a "heavy" chewer.  I bought her a heavy duty Nylabone on the way home.  I also was sent a web site for elk antlers via her foster Mom's friends who own some of Elle's relatives.  Now  I've just got to get her one of those!  I wish I had known about these for Aiden. 

Today Elle's Break Away collar arrived and I expect her name tag any day.   It's been a week and we are all beginning to settle.