Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ray's Trip - Part 2. A Day with the Grandparents

Hannah and Ray playing tug-of-war
Nannie, can I have some Jello?
Ray woke me at 6:00 because he had to go out. He did this subtly by knocking everything on the bedside table, off of it. Then he poked his way over to my knitting bag, picked it up, and shook it to within an inch of its life. I thought of the unfortunate, doomed ball of yarn zipped inside. I dragged myself out of bed and picked up his collar, palming the dogtags so that they wouldn't make noise and wake up my parents. The night before, I had removed it so that the jingling wouldn't keep me awake.
I opened the door and walked out, Ray trailing. I was halfway down the hall when I heard a "click." I looked back in time to see his wagging tail disappear through the door of my parents' bedroom. I rushed back and grabbed him around the chest just as he made it to my mother's bedside. I wrangled him out of the room and shut the door quietly behind me. Unbelievably, my parents were still asleep.
I put Ray's collar on him and led him outside. It was pitch black. We walked around the yard for a bit, I fed him, put on a pot of coffee, and was rustling up some breakfast when Dad entered the kitchen followed a short time later by my mom. Both managed to remain upright under the onslaught of Ray's enthusiastic 'good morning' although Ray's grab of mom's bony wrist made her cry out before I was able to drag him off of his new favorite chew toy.

After breakfast, I took Ray for a walk around the block and then to John and Yuko's house. We were about half way there when I heard a greeting yelled in our direction. An unfamiliar man and woman were standing outside of a house, chatting, but had stopped to call to us. Ray dragged me towards them to see what they wanted. 
John (not my brother, but another one) approached us with a treat in his hand for Ray. Ray, of course, was thrilled. I managed to get him under some semblance of control and kept him from leaping up to kiss his new-found friends
The woman, Rhonda, went to retrieve another handful of treats.
"Make him sit before you give him anything," I said to Rhonda, "And then tell him to flop."
"Sit," said Rhonda, "Flop." 
Ray sat and then flopped. I was so proud.
John was telling me about his 120 pound Irish Setter, Pete, the unofficial mayor of his part of town. Pete wanders around cadging food and visiting "neighbors" for blocks around (including Rhonda, catty cornered from John). Everyone recognizes him and knows his name. Just as John finished telling me about Pete, a behemoth of a dog came ambling up. He was gorgeous and looked like he was moving in slow motion, his fur flowing around him like liquid fire. Pete came over for a pet. Ray tried to make friends but Pete didn't seem too interested in anything that wasn't going to fork over some food. We said our goodbyes and headed on.
Ray trying to eat Hannah

It was still early when we got to John and Yuko's so everyone was still in bed. I let Ray loose in the backyard and went to dig up a bone that he had buried the evening before. I had given him one when we had arrived thinking maybe a nice chew might calm him down but all he did was bury it. I gave the bone to Ray who played with it a bit, tossing it in the air and catching it (he doesn't toss it too high so rarely misses). His game finished Ray paced the edges of the yard looking for a good place to bury it again. He fell into Yuko's compost pit and instantly decided that a pre-dug hole was a great invention, dropped the bone in, and pushed dirt over it with his snout.
Finished with his chore, Ray trotted over to the spot that he had buried the bone the day before (the one that I had dug out), and checked to make sure it was still safely ensconced. 
Disappointment was writ large on his face when he realized that his bone was gone. He sniffed around a bit to make sure that he hadn't mistook the spot then dejectedly gave up the search. I called him over, clipped on his leash, and we headed back home.
Hey Grandpa, do you need some help with that lunchmeat?
Ray was thrilled to see mom and dad again. We spent the day hanging out, taking walks (to keep him out of trouble), planting plants, and helping in the kitchen. Unfortunately, the kitchen table was exactly the right height for Ray to rest his head. He used his tongue like an anteater's to flick food from the plates of the unsuspecting. Everyone learned fast to keep their eyes riveted on their meal when the dog was in the kitchen.

Are you SURE you don't need help?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ray's Trip - Part 1

Ray and his Grandpa

Well, the trip to South Carolina couldn't have gone smoother. Ray is a great traveler. I was a little worried that maybe the trip up here when I first adopted him had been an anomaly, that maybe Ray was so good in the car back then because he was exhausted from being in the kennel for so long. But Ray is a great traveler. He settles down quickly and sleeps like the dead. At rest areas, I would stop open the back door and say "Ray wake up! Time for a walk!" and he would groan, lift his head like it was an incredible effort, and look at me over his shoulder as if to say "Do I hafta? Really? Do I?" Then he would drag himself upright and jump out of the car. We'd take a quick walk and without any complaint or hesitation he would get back into the car for the next leg of the journey.

Preparing for the trip was a little like preparing for the Normandy invasion. I now have an inkling what it must be like to take kids on vacation. I packed all the random stuff that I usually take, plants and gardening books for my dad and my sister-in-law, Yuko; knitting, suitcase, cooler, gardening paraphernalia, etc. But this time there was Ray's stuff too, dog dishes, leashes, tray for under the water dish, food, bed, pillow (to elevate his bum leg), treats, rawhide bone (to keep him busy), and toys. Ray prepared for the trip by trying to roll in a dead slug that had been cooking on the back patio all day. I caught him in the nick of time and hosed the slug off into the nearby shrubbery to keep him from trying to do it again. 
We had planned on staying at my brother John's house, so we went there first to unload our stuff. I kept Ray on the leash for the first few minutes while he tried to eat my four-year-old niece, Hannah (Ray LOVES Hannah.). I gave Hannah the spritzer bottle and told her to spray Ray whenever he got too close but she would just turn away and scream while Ray tried to eat her hair and lick her face. Eventually, Ray calmed down enough that I could turn him loose. Ray ecstatically ran around the big, open back yard yelling his head off. One of John's neighbors came over to investigate. She wanted to know where the injured dog was. 
Ray and I decided to not stay at John's, because John didn't want a dog in the house. There was an enclosed porch on which Ray could sleep, but all Ray did was whine and scratch on the door to get inside with the rest of the pack, so we moved to mom and dad's. I hadn't wanted to stay there because, although they have a big yard, it's not fenced and Ray had to be leashed whenever he went out.
Ray was thrilled to see his grandparents. He tried to plant a kiss on dad's lips but was soundly discouraged. He also tried to kiss his grandma but was restrained from doing so. However, he did manage a quick wrist-grab and a couple of chews before I could stop him. (My poor mother). 
Once Ray calmed down, I let him off the leash so that he could pace the house and memorize the furniture. It didn't take him long, although the kitchen was tricky; people kept pulling chairs out from the table and leaving them in odd places. Ray took his lumps with his usual stoicism. 
Are you finished with that?
We all retired to the living room for a nice chat. Ray wandered over to dad's chair and decided to give dad an ear-cleaning. The dog climbed up on dad, licking his ears and shredding his arms. Dad was laughing and ineffectively pushing at the hound to get him away. I dragged Ray away from dad's ears, then turned him loose again. 
Ray continued his pacing until he was tired, then he climbed up on the couch, curled into a ball, and let out a long sigh. It had been a long day.
I had planned on leaving Ray closed off in the kitchen with his bed (well, it works at home) but Ray had other ideas. He whined and scratched and whined and scratched. I went into the kitchen and sat down to watch him and talk to him a bit. Now that he had company, Ray was perfectly happy. He roamed around getting into things. As he found new things to mess with, I moved them up and out of reach. It was absolutely amazing how many things Ray considered play-worthy.
By this time, mom and dad were in bed, and I was worried that Ray would disturb them, so I picked up his bed, moved it to the guest room where I was staying, and settled it into a corner of the room. 
Ray, seeing no reason not to enjoy the second empty bed, crawled up on it, curled up, and went to sleep. I retrieved an old afghan, moved Ray off of the bed and onto his own, covered the bedspread with the afghan, and went to bed. When I woke up the next morning, Ray was curled up, looking all comfy on the guest bed. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ray Hits the Road

Ray and I will be on the road for the next few days. We will be going to South Carolina to visit Ray's grandparents, aunt and uncle, cousin, and foster mother.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ray and the New Toy

Are you sure there are no more Triscuits left?
We went for a walk early this morning and met Jilly and her dad. Jilly's dad introduced himself as Tom and we talked about how you always know people's dogs' names but never know the owner's name. That's why Tom introduced himself. Tom had a bag of poop in his hand.
 "Ray has never pooped outside of his own backyard." I bragged. 
We chatted a bit more and then Ray and I continued on.
Just as we passed Jilly's house, Ray wandered into a yard and took a dump. I stood there flabbergasted, watching my dog and wondering what to do. I didn't have a bag to scoop the poops.
As we turned to walk the rest of the way down the street, I saw Tom and Jilly walking up. I was pretty sure he had seen what Ray was doing and I knew that now my neighborhood reputation included big liar as well as a.m.  beer drinking.
 "You know how I just told you that Ray has never pooped outside of his yard?" I said to Tom, "Well he just did and I don't have a bag."
"I can't help you," said Tom, who by this time was carrying two bags of poop.
Ray and I continued down the street, I was eyeing the morning newspapers tossed outside of houses on the sidewalk, wondering if I could get up the nerve to take one out of its bag and leave the paper on the front porch. Instead when I got home, I grabbed a handful of bags, drove back to the yard, and picked up the poop (it was on my way to the grocery anyway). I thought sadly of the end of the poopless era.
In the afternoon (after a couple of hours of gardening - Ray is a natural!), I ran to the fabric store to get some fleece. I wanted to make a new bed for Ray; something smaller than the one he has, with sides like a big cup. I looked around the store and spied exactly what I wanted high up, stashed above the shelves.
 "Do you have any of that fleece somewhere lower?" I asked the woman at the cutting table. The woman walked me over to where the other fleece was displayed. Nope, not there.
"There's more over here," she said.
We walked over to some more bolts.
"Here it is in white," she said.
"No," I said, "I think my dog want's that one."
I pointed to the 'natural' sheep colored one. Being a wool hound, I just knew that Ray would only be interested in 'natural.' The woman obligingly got a ladder, climbed up and handed me down the bolt. She rolled out a piece, picked off some hairs and fuzz, and while she was cutting me a couple yards and said dubiously, "You should know that it's going to pick up hairs. And it says to machine wash delicate and hang to dry."
I snorted inelegantly. (Like that was going to happen.)
"I don't care," I said, "I'm sure my dog will love it."

I drove home and walked in the front door holding the fabric (I had declined to take a bag.) Ray met me at the door, ripped the fabric out of my hand and started to kill it, whapping it madly about his face. I laughed and tried to get the fabric from Ray. I pried it from his jaws, took it upstairs, cut off a strip and five minutes later had it sewn together, with a bit of stuffing in it. I carried it down and threw it to Ray who joyfully tore into it.
He ran outside with it and tore around the yard at full speed.
He was ecstatic over his new toy. I congratulated myself on really knowing what my dog would love, maybe just not in the way that I had envisioned. I had pictured him snuggled up all cozy, not violently shaking the thing to death.
A minute later, Ray had torn a hole in it large enough to pull out the stuffing. I grabbed the toy from him, de-stuffed it, and tossed it back. The fleece, a little worse for wear was collecting leaves and sticks adding to its crunchy goodness. Ray continued to tear into it, killing it good, running around with it in his mouth.

Maybe this wasn't the best choice of fabric for Ray's bed but it was definitely something that he loved. He was having a great time.

The Week in Review

Another week of work with Friday deadlines so Ray spent the week at daycare, making new friends every day. He met an American Foxhound named Marshall that looked amazingly like Ray but was about one and a half times the size of Ray. Marshall had the same coloring and long legs as my hound but no "ticks." He was a huge hound dog.

One morning Ray walked into daycare at the same time as Clover, one of the regulars. In the ensuing melee of greetings, Ray lunged and caught Donny full in the crotch with his snout. The air whooooooshed out of Donny as he doubled over in pain and staggered to the counter.
He pried himself upright and collected himself for a moment then said, "Good morning, VIETNAM."
I apologized for Ray but Donny, just as resilient as the dogs he takes care of, had moved on.

Later that week, I told Kristen, "I need some dog treats."
"We just got some new one's," she said, "Freeze dried liver."
We walked over to look at the liver treats. Ray sniffed the beef liver, then the beef steak, then the chicken liver. He started licking the tub, then picked it up in his mouth and took it off of the shelf. I took the tub from him and looked at the two puncture marks in the lid.
"We'll take these," I said.

I managed to finish up my work on Thursday and took Friday off to clean the house. It was a wreck. I got up early so that I could take Ray for a walk. I wanted to wear him out so that I could clean the house without having him getting into things all day and me having to clean up after that too.
It was a gorgeous, cool morning so we set out for the lake. Even though it wasn't hot, I brought along his "Outward Hound" bowl and a bottle of water. The minute I filled up the bottle, Ray knew where we were going. He was EXCITED. We hadn't been to the lake for at least 3 weeks. He bounded out of the house and cannonballed around the front yard. Then down the block. Then around the corner. I was laughing and "bah"ing and trying not to get hit. He calmed down somewhat and I tried to get him to heel, but he fought me all the way to the lake and half way around.
His energy knew no bounds.
I don't know where we are. I thought you were leading.
We took a path that went off into a townhouse cluster. I hadn't been that way before and didn't know where we were going but I knew Ray needed more exercise.
Which is prettier, me or the flowers?
We fought down that block which ended up on the street that borders the lake, opposite to where we had walked in. We started up that street and stopped for a refreshing drink. At least, Ray was refreshed. My hands hurt and so did my shoulders. I found myself wishing for a little heat and humidity so that Ray would tire just a wee bit. We soldiered on.
I kept turning down streets to take us farther from home. We fought and fought, Ray dragging on the leash, me trying to get him to heel. By the time we were done, we'd gone about four miles. It felt at least twice that. It was 10:00 and we'd been gone two and a half hours (lots of stopping and starting and back-and-forths to try to get him to heel).
I let Ray in the house and he immediately curled up on a chair. I'd been successful in wearing him out but, in the process, had worn myself out. I started cleaning. Ray, who doesn't like the vacuum cleaner, headed out to the backyard. He stretched out in a sunny spot and stayed there. I cleaned, wishing I could go lay in a sunny spot too. All of a sudden, "It's a dog's life" took on new meaning.
At about 5:00, I snapped his leash back on and took him for a walk around the block. He was golden aka 'dog tired.'

The next morning, Gregg got up early and took Ray for a walk. I slept in until 7:00. We had a relaxing morning but I had to be out of the house by 10:00 to get to a baby shower (my first one - I don't know how I've managed to dodge that bullet until now, but I was grateful). I was upstairs getting ready when I heard a clunk clunk clunk clunk clunk clunk....
I yelled out, "Gregg, are you downstairs? Gregg? GREGG?"
This can't be good, I thought. I headed down and found Ray enjoying a cup of coffee in the kitchen. He was standing on his hind legs, one paw leaning on the kitchen counter. Every time he lapped the coffee, the mug tipped and clunked back onto the counter. The cup had been half full, but it must have been good to the last drop because that was all that was left.

This week I got a card from my friend, Joanne.
It's a Hugo look-alike with a Hugo sentiment.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Basket Hound

I'm so glad it's the weekend
Ray and I were tired this weekend. We didn't do much but take walks (both), sleep in the sun (Ray), and chew on a marrow bone (Ray). Frozen marrow bones are worth their weight in gold to a blind dog. Better than a kong, it keeps Ray busy for hours. This morning while we were eating breakfast, I gave Ray a marrow bone, and a couple of hours later, he was still working on it. Gregg and I were undisturbed while we read the paper and relaxed.
Yesterday, Todd came by with Sasha and his nephew, Jake. Ray, as usual, was totally excited to be around a little boy (Jake is four and a half) and was lunging a bit and trying to nibble on Jake's shirt. I gave the spritzer to Jake and told him to use it if Ray tried to jump on him. Jake, who was unafraid of a dog easily as big as he was, willingly took on the task of correcting Ray and managed to keep him under control. Every time he spritzed Ray, Ray would flop and expose his belly and Jake would rub Ray's belly as reward. Worked well for everyone. 
We all took a walk around the block and Jake told me about his "Basket Hound", Polly, a dinosaur bone that they had found, his dog that had died a year earlier (he told me it was very sad), and a whole bunch more. He was very interesting to talk to, had a good sense of humor, (which was unexpected in a four and a half year old). He laughed when I told him that Ray liked to eat little boys. I thought Jake was really smart.
We stopped by Todd's and I met Jake's brother Brody, who is two. Brody also wanted to get in on spritzing Ray. He didn't completely understand the concept of correction but the water bottle was fun. We all had a good time.

I had just finished posting the above when I heard Gregg yell from the front porch, "There's a lost Basket Hound out here!" (Gregg had met Jake the previous day also). Gregg came in and grabbed a leash. I put the computer up and followed him outside.
Gregg was clipping a leash onto a CHUNK of a dog. 
"Where did he come from?" I asked.
Gregg pointed up towards the end of the cul-de-sac and said, "From up there."
"There are two Baskets that live next to Halle," (they will forever be Basket Hounds to us) I said, "I think they live behind the house at the end, I'll take the dog and go see if they are missing one." 
"I'll start dinner," said Gregg. 
"Great," I replied, "Come on Chunky."  
I pulled on the leash. Chunky followed happily.
We made it most of the way to the Basket's house when Chunky pulled a Gandhi.
Chunky, weighing me down

What is it with these hound dogs, I thought to myself. I had stuck my phone in my pocket when I left the house thinking that maybe we could call a number on the dog's tag but there wasn't one. I pulled it out and called Gregg. 
"She (it was a girl dog) won't move," I said, "She's pulling a Gandhi. I'm only about four or five houses away. Can you come and either hold the dog or go to the house and see if it's their dog?"
"I'll turn off the stove and be right there," said Gregg.
Chunky had laid down on my foot. She rolled over so that I could rub her belly. I rubbed her belly and waited a couple minutes for Gregg expecting that he would be walking or riding a bike. He had the foresight to bring his car.
I left him holding Chunky while I walked quickly up the street to the Basket house. When I knocked on the door I heard two dogs start to bark. With a sinking feeling I waited for the owner to answer. 
When the woman came to the door I asked, "You're not missing a dog are you?" 
"What kind of dog?" she asked. 
"A Basset." I replied. 
"No," she said, "But there's a family up that street that has four of them." 
She held up four fingers and made a very expressive face. 
"Ok, thanks," I said. 
I knew the house. The dogs always bark at Ray and me as we walk by. I ran back to where Gregg and Chunky were sitting. Chunky got up to greet me when I got there. I told Gregg I was going up the street and asked for his car keys, it would be a lot quicker.
I drove to the house with the four Baskets. I pulled in the driveway and turned the car around just as an SUV pulled up and into the driveway. A woman got out.
"Are you missing a Basset?" I asked. 
"I don't know," she replied, "I just got home. Let me ask." 
There was a young man in the backyard. 
"Are all the dogs accounted for?" she asked. 
He nodded. 
She turned to me and said, "If you go up there and across, there's a Basset in the house on the corner. I'd go with you but I've been at a ball game for the last five and a half hours and I really gotta pee." 
"No problem," I said, "I'll find it."
Would you mind bringing my limo please? I'll wait here.

I got back in the car and went to get Gregg and Chunky.
I told Gregg what I found out. 
"See if you can get her in the car," I said. 
Gregg lifted Chunky into the back seat and we drove down to where the woman had told us. Gregg went to the front door while I got Chunk out of the car. The dog walked up to the door wagging her tail. 'This is hopeful,' I thought.
A woman answered with a pug at her heels. Wasn't her dog, never seen it before.
I told Gregg I'd seen a Basket on the next street over at the corner of a cul-de-sac. I told him I would walk Chunky up this street, if he would go and see if they were there. He took off in the car. Chunky and I walked to the end of the cul-de-sac we were on. There was a woman with a dog. 
"Have you ever seen a Basset around here," I asked her. 
At this point, Chunky decided she wasn't moving, no matter what. I waited for Gregg. 
"I found a guy on the next street over," he said, "but he didn't know." 
"Let's go home and call animal control," I said, defeated. 
I'd run out of Basket Hounds.
We put Chunky back in the car. She was happy to have a ride and was trying to get in the front seat. 
When we drove up our street, I said, "Pull up to Charlotte's, I'll see if she's seen any Baskets while she walks Casey (the King Charles Spaniel). Go ahead and take her home and put her in the backyard for now." 
Gregg assented and I went to talk to Charlotte. She didn't know any Baskets.
While walking back to our house I thought I'd stop by and see if Sandra had seen any Baskets while walking Maddie. I noticed that the car wasn't parked out front and realized they were out to dinner.
I crossed the street and went through the house to the backyard. Ray was in heaven, yelling at Chunky on the back patio. 
"Charlotte didn't know any," I said. "I went to talk to Sandra, but she wasn't home." 
"Their car just pulled up," said Gregg.
I went across the street as Sandra was getting out of the car. 
"Do you know any Bassets around here?" I asked, and added "A small, fat one." 
"Next door," she said, "They just brought one home today. Dick (her husband) saw it." 
We both looked at the house. No one was home.
I yelled to Gregg, "Next door! It belongs next door!"
I walked to our yard. Gregg hooked Chunky up to a leash, walked her across the street, and let her into the backyard of the house next to Sandra's.
Ray was standing at the front door when I walked into the house. 
"What happened to your toy?" I asked Ray, referring to the 'lost' dog. 
I glanced over at the couch and saw my "knitting." It was just a tangled heap. The same ball of yarn that I had detangled the weekend before. It still had the needle attached with the 2 inches of progress that I had made since then. I had left it on the widow sill behind the couch when I got up this morning thinking that I would have some time to work on it.
I sighed.
Gregg came through the door holding the empty leash. 
"So. What kind of pizza do you want?" he asked.

Do I hear another Dog??????

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ray and The Three Tenors

I dropped Ray at daycare. I kinda hated to do it. It was a nasty, rainy morning. We had gone for a walk and when we got back Ray picked up his bone and looked at me with his tail wagging, a definite sign that he wanted to play keepaway.
"Come on Ray, let's go see Porkchop," I said (code for daycare). I picked up his leash but Ray stayed put, his tail wagging, bone hanging out of his mouth.
"Come on, Ray, one more day," I said. "Then we can play." 
Ray dropped his bone and got ready to go. He's such an amiable dog.
When we got there, Donny put him in the grooming side with a bunch of little dogs- which Ray always prefers. He immediately picked out a fierce little poodle, ironically named Angel, who was determined not to play. She pretended to attack, snarling and nipping without really doing anything. Ray ambled around and found an even smaller dog leaning against the chain link trying to be invisible. He got behind the dog and yelled, the force of which practically lifted the dog off of its feet. Not intimidated, though, the dog stayed put. Ray kept yelling. In concert with his yelling, howling erupted from the daycare side of the facility. I went to look. It was the two Schnauzers, Bear and Ty, and a Beagle named Beagle Bailey. 
"It's the three tenors," said Donny, "Although Beagle Bailey is more of a soprano." (Beagle Bailey had a beautiful voice).
As I was leaving, I noticed a vacancy notice hanging in the window. A couple of the young people had cut back their hours to go back to school. A few weeks previously, I had talked to Chance about his job. 
"There's never a day when I don't want to go to work," he said. 
 I thought wistfully what of what it must be like to enjoy a job that much and briefly toyed with the idea before heading off to my desk.
I called Gregg that evening and asked him if he could pick up Ray. It was going to be a late one. When I got home, Ray was asleep and both the cats were waiting in the front hall for me. I said 'Hi' as I put my purse on a bookshelf and saw Ray get up, stretch, and head over. Hugo heard him coming and took off through the gate. Moonie obliviously watched me put my purse away. Ray, still half asleep, tripped over her. Moonie looked as surprised as a cat can when being tripped over by a large hound, recovered, and rocketed out of the room, trailed by a frantically happy Ray. He knows he has a friend out there somewhere, he just can't seem to pin her down.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Three Month Anniversary - Things We've Learned

It's Ray's three month anniversary and I've been thinking all week about how much things have changed in all of our lives and the things we've learned. What follows is a list, from each of us, of the important things we've learned in the last three months.

  • How to sit.
  • How to stay (for almost a minute! As long as you say "stay" every 10 seconds or so).
  • How to heel (sometimes).
  • Sitting, staying, and heeling are HIGHLY overrated
  • Cat food is delicious.
  • Everything is a toy until it's taken away from you.
  • Stairs are scary until you get used to them.
  • Daycare is the funnest thing on the planet.
  • You can never take too many walks or make too many friends.
  • Cats are interesting but not very much fun and they can be very, very scary.
  • Chairs and couches are more comfortable than a pile of leaf mulch, but not by much.
  • Rawhide bones get flabby when they've been in the ground too long.
  • A cuppa tea in the morning is very refreshing.
  • Coffee is good too, especially with cream and sugar
  • No matter how many times you bump your head you gotta keep on going.

  • One month is not long enough to find out if a new dog is going to work in a household of beings that have never been around a dog. Neither is two months.
  • Never turn your back on a blind dog when he's in a frisky mood.
  • Never, ever, ever leave food on the counter if you ever want to see it again.
  • You can never take too many walks.
  • Meeting people is almost ridiculously easy with Ray around.
  • A tidy household is HIGHLY overrated.
  • Just because someone shares your passion for wool does not mean they should have access to it.
  • Blind dogs can do anything, especially if it involves getting into trouble.
  • Blogs can be fun but they sure do take a lot of time.
  • Dogs make your life a lot more interesting.
  • Rawhide bones and chews are indispensable.
  • I now know the true meaning of "dog tired" and "wolf it down."
  • In general, if it's too quiet in the house, it's not a good thing.
  • Never put anything in the trash that smells like food to a dog.
  • Everything smells like food to a dog.
  • Never trust a sleeping dog.
  • No matter how many times you run into obstacles you gotta keep on going.
  • Never leave paper towels or napkins lying around.
  • In my opinion, the new, customized gate is the greatest invention since the wheel.
  • Lash, lock, and strap down EVERYTHING.
  • A blind dog that goes to sleep when the sun goes down is a good thing
  • Dogs really do things you see in cartoons - - howling, burying bones, etc.
  • Cats do not get enough credit for their adaptability - - it takes time, but they can adjust.
  • Although it seems a paradox, a dog can be both stubborn and lazy.
  • No matter how much you wish it, the dog is not going to explode.
  • If you hiss and/or growl, the dog will go away. Temporarily.
  • Dogs are stupid
  • No matter how much you wish it, the dog is not going away.
  • Dog feet smell bad.
  • There's something not quite right about this dog.

Ray Takes an Eye Test

Well, the saltshaker finally went to that big kitchen in the sky. I found it lying in the front hall yesterday, broken into two. There's no telling how it happened, although Ray was suspiciously thirsty for the rest of the day.
When I dropped Ray at daycare, there was only one other dog in the pen. A Boxer that Donny said was "in timeout" because he was a little over-exuberant in his play with the other dogs. Ray and the Boxer sniffed each other, followed each other around a bit, then both sat facing each other. They were close together.
As I watched, the boxer lifted a paw and patted Ray on the snout. Then lifted his other paw and did the same thing. It was like he was saying "There's no way you're blind, dude. Do you see this? No? How 'bout this?" Ray sat impassively through the bizarre eye test; didn't move, didn't flinch. It was a little strange. 
"I have no idea what that was all about," said Donny.

Jennifer, another of Ray's good friends at daycare

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Comatose Ray

It was 6 p.m. It had been a long day. I called Gregg at home "Can you pick up Ray?" I asked. "I'm just leaving work now." 
"Sure," he replied. "I just got home myself, but I can get him."
Just as I got home and was getting out of the car, Gregg and Ray pulled up. "He had a good time at daycare," said Gregg, "Apparently he played with two huskies all day." 
We all went into the house together. Gregg immediately pulled out the dog food to fill up the dish. I walked out into the backyard with Ray who was announcing our arrival. Gregg and I briefly discussed dinner while Ray ate. We decided on a menu and Gregg prepped while I took Ray for a walk around the block.
By the time dinner was ready, Ray was asleep in my spot on the couch, curled up on an afghan. Gregg and I grabbed opposite corners and picked him up. We airlifted him to his bed while I made helicopter noises with my mouth. Ray never moved, even when we brought our porkchops to the table and ate dinner.
"That's one comatose dog," said Gregg.
"Must have been the huskies," I replied.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Shoe Raid!

Um. I don't know how they got here, 
but I wish you'd move them,
 I keep tripping over them.
I was working in my office and had let Ray upstairs when I heard a commotion coming from the master bedroom. I rolled off of my chair and went to see what was up. 
Ray had been in my closet, rummaging through my shoes. I caught him walking out of the bedroom with BOTH of my winter boots in his mouth (they weigh a ton!), kind of like a person sneaking upstairs carrying shoes in hand so as not to wake anyone. 
By the time I picked up my camera and took a picture he was looking at me like "What? They were just sitting there. Really!"

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ray the Yarn Hound

It was almost 7:00 a.m.. I thought I heard Ray moving around so I dragged myself out of bed to let him out. Maybe I could get some knitting done. I was dying to knit with the yarn I had spent untangling Friday night, a gorgeous silk/merino wool blend that was as soft as a dogs undercoat.
When I got downstairs Ray was still curled up on his bed sleeping (I hate it when that happens). I opened the sliding glass door to let him out, got out his food and filled up his dish, then headed out front to get the paper. I noticed that the potted plants were looking a little wilty so I pulled the hose from the rain barrel to water them. Five minutes. Maybe ten. When I got to the front door, I heard a ripping sound. I yanked it open to see Ray with my yarn in a tangle on the floor. I had left it on the windowsill behind the couch (HOW DOES HE KNOW??? HE'S BLIND!!!).
I saw red. 
"Aggggghhhhhhh!," I yelled, and whacked him with the newspaper. 
Undeterred, Ray barely flinched, the mess of yarn still clenched in his jaws. "BAH!!" I yelled. 
I grabbed his snout and pried the yarn from his mouth. He wasn't giving up easily. (I gotta admire him, he really knows his yarn - if I was going to fight over a yarn, this would probably be the one.) 
"BAD DOG," I said sternly. 
Ray made another grab for it. 
I opened the sliding door in the living room and said "Outside." 
Ray went.
I looked at the yarn in my hands. Because of the silk, it's a bit slippery and doesn't stay balled very well. It was a mess but didn't look nearly as bad as it had on Friday night. 
 "Stupid dog," I muttered under my breath as I sat down to untangle it. 
I am no longer a knitter. I am just an untangler. But, I looked at the bright side, at least I was still working with yarn, just not as productively as before. I wondered if the welder could make me a metal cage for a single ball of yarn. I didn't think wood would be strong enough to keep my yarn hound away.
I watched Ray poke around the patio while I sat and untangled. He grabbed an egg carton from the patio table, it hadn't quite made it to the compost pile the day before, and shredded it then moped around for a bit picking up acorns and chewing them. It's a banner year for acorns, they're coming down in buckets and Ray, apparently, is part squirrel.
I gave him about a 10 minute timeout then let him back in. He made a grab for the ball of yarn in my hands. (Wow! What persistence! If he only had opposable thumbs I would definitely try to teach him how to knit). I "Bah"ed, and Ray, knowing when he was licked (for now) headed to his toy basket to chew on the handle. I went to the emergency rawhide bone stash, which we had replenished the day before, followed excitedly by my dog. He already knows where they are. I gave him a bone which he happily tossed in the air a couple times before settling down in the front hall for a nice chew.
It was 7:30.
We took Ray for a nice long walk. It was already starting to heat up. Ray was lagging by the time we got to the street that intersects ours (four houses away from being home). Ray flopped. I took the spritzer and squirted water into my hand for Ray to lap up. After ingesting a teaspoon of water he revived enough to make it home. He's starting to remind me of a southern Belle. I can see him saying with a strong southern accent "I think I am going to swoon," as he flops over with one paw pressed to his forehead.
When we got home, I took a handful of ice cubes and tossed them in his water dish. Ray went to the dish, stuck his snout underwater, blowing bubbles out his nose, and went bobbing for cubes. Water sloshed over the sides of the dish and all over the tray. I took a towel and stationed myself next to the dish wiping up the water. Again and again he bobbed until he had eaten all of the cubes. The dish was mostly devoid of water. I went to get a dry towel and mopped his face. We were having a good time.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The New Gate

The pet gate that I installed across the stairs to keep Ray away from the cats hadn't been working out so well. It was difficult to open and a pain to use, so Gregg had taken to climbing over it using the railings as leverage. He viewed it as a form of exercise. My legs weren't long enough to use his technique so I just tried to avoid going upstairs. 
Last week, I decided I'd had enough.
Last year at an estate sale, I had purchased a see-through "room divider" (dirt cheap) that was made out of black-painted steel. It was 4 panels wide and I thought it would be good in a garden for vines to climb. Turns out two panels were enough for the vines, so I had two left. I measured the panels and found that they would be a perfect fit across the stairs (what are the odds?). The only problem was they were six feet tall. There was enough room for them height-wise, but six feet was a bit over-the-top, so I started looking on craigslist for a welder that could modify it.
After a couple of looks I found just what I had been looking for. A hobbyist welder who was interested in small jobs. Brian came over on Friday to check out the job, measure, and pick up the two panels. By Monday evening (or maybe Tuesday) Brian was back with the reconfigured gate to install it. He did a great job at a really reasonable price.
All night long, every time Gregg would swing open the gate to go up the stairs he would say, "this gate is great." The next day "this gate changed my life." After almost 3 months of wrestling with a pet gate to get upstairs, I understood how he felt.
(Hugo demonstrating
the cat escape-hatch)

A Busy Morning (revised)

This morning Ray was feeling very refreshed after sleeping for about 12 hours straight. He started outside, playing with his outside rope, a marrow bone, and the watering can which he had hidden in his grave the weekend before; then moved inside to play with:
  • my flip flops
  • a belt
  • a little plastic cat ball with a bell in it (which will never be the same)
  • his inside rope (the one Hannah sent him)
  • the previously-chewed eyeglasses case
  • the toilet bowl brush handle (all that is left of the old toilet bowl brush)
  • the weasel ball
  • a felted bowl
  • a knitted gauge square
  • his tennis ball
  • a cat "wand" with bells on it (one of his favorites)
  • my socks
  • the basket that holds his toys (he is slowly destroying the handle. It's his basket, I'm not going to stop him)
Some of the things that he tried to get but were off limits
  • my coffee
  • Gregg's coffee
  • Gregg's breakfast (eggs and prosciutto)
  • a ball of yarn that I had spent two hours the night before untangling (guess how it got tangled...)
  • a street atlas
Notice that we're not very strict parents. Most of the things that he plays with don't really get damaged. But paper products, food, and balls of yarn are not some of those things.
After about an hour of non-stop movement, I decided that maybe a long walk was in order. So we all went.
No day is complete for Ray if he doesn't get to meet new people and/or dogs. This day was no exception. On his walk, Ray met John with his two dogs Boomer and Zooey. Boomer, a Chow mix, took to Ray just fine. Zooey, a huge Italian Mastiff, not so much. Ray was crushed, as he usually is when his charm fails him.
I think he should have tried the tried-and-true Ray technique of yelling in her ear. Gets 'em (almost) every time. Or makes them deaf, whichever comes first.
Zooey, John, and Boomer

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Just a Quick One

I took Ray for a quick 2 mile walk this morning before checking my email to see if I needed to go to work. When I pulled myself up to my desk, I whacked the crap out of my knee. As I sat rubbing my knee and moaning (are there funny bones in the knee? That's what it felt like), Ray, who was in the office behind my chair, looked very concerned, then flopped over and offered me his belly to rub. I'm sure he was thinking that it makes HIM feel better so it would probably do the same for me. He was right. I rubbed his belly and felt better. Who knew?

I dropped Ray at daycare. I brought along his toy, the big ball that has a rope running through the middle with knots tied at both ends. Ray doesn't play with this at daycare, (Well, he can't see it, and the other dogs won't put it in his mouth like we do when we play tug-o-war) but the other dogs love it, so every once in awhile, when I think of it, I bring it along. A black lab-mix put his paws on the low wall to see me better so I gave him the ball. He gladly grabbed it and ran off, followed closely by a pack of dogs. In no time at all, there were five of them hanging onto a piece of the rope. The rope isn't very long so all the dogs were clustered together. It looked a big, furry starfish spinning across the floor.
"I wonder if they think they're winning," said Donny.