Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Very Good Mix

Today while we were at the dogpark, I saw an interesting looking dog that looked vaguely familiar. She was about the size and shape of Ray but she was finer boned and her nose was more pointed. She also had the same kind of pattern; white fur with ticks and patches of color, except where he has orange patches, this dog had brindle patches. She definitely had Ray's houndy face and ears. She came up to me and looked me in the eye. Her eyes were calm and reserved. 
I watched her for awhile before I was able to identify her parents. I walked up to them and asked "What kind of dog do you have?" "They told us at the shelter that she was a Greyhound Pointer mix," they said. "But we think she looks like your dog and she has a bark like your dog but it's not as deep. Is your dog a pointer?" "No," I replied, "Ray's a Redtick Coonhound. They must not have many of them up here and can't recognize one when they see it because I've met a lot of 'Pointer mixes' that look a lot like Ray."
As I watched their dog, a lightbulb went off over my head. This is exactly what Ray and Halle's lovechild would look like. An excellent mix, if I do say so myself.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dedicated to the Dog Whisperer

I watched "The Dog Whisperer" today and became re-inspired to try to teach Ray to heel. I was ready to project nothing but positive, calm energy to get him to do everything that I wanted.
I had dropped him at daycare in the morning while I went to try to find a new pair of jeans (it's amazing how quickly jeans wear out when you have to wash the dog park out of them constantly). So when I picked up Ray, I was full of new confidence. I exuded positive, calm energy at the daycare. I exuded positive, calm energy while driving home. I exuded positive, calm energy when I told Ray to come to get him to jump out of the back seat of the car. I exuded positive, calm energy as we walked down the block and around the corner.
As we turned the corner, Ray went into full-on Spastic Cannonball mode. It is VERY difficult to exude positive, calm energy when you have a 60-some pound blind dog running circles around you and hurling himself in your general direction. All I could do was laugh hysterically and hang on for dear life.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

VIDEO ALERT! Ray vs. the Babble Ball

I think I may have mentioned the Babble Ball that Ray got for Christmas. It disappeared soon after Christmas Day and miraculously re-appeared this week. (I have a sneaking suspicion that the cats were involved but I don't want to jump to any conclusions). 
When the Babble Ball moves, it talks or sings. Also, when the Babbble Ball moves, Ray talks or sings. Whereas Ray was the victor in his encounter with Remote Control Cat, the victory in this match has to go to the Babble Ball... 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What a Day

Wow, yesterday was something. It's my own fault. I told someone at the party Saturday night that Ray had really calmed down and settled in in the past two months. And Ray, who loves to prove me a liar, immediately did.
He started by chasing Hugo and yelling in the house (not allowed) then moved on to the shoes in the front hall. One by one he picked them up and settled down for a nice chew. I ate my breakfast between shoe removals then took him to the park to wear him out. But after an hour and a half he was still going strong and didn't want to leave. Usually, he drags his feet but will give in and follow me out but yesterday there was active resistance. When we got home it started to rain, hard, so Ray was stuck inside. I went into my office to check my email and could hear Ray rummaging through a closet. I thought of Gregg's newly-retasseled loafers and hightailed it into the bedroom to drag him out of Gregg's closet before new damage could be done. I returned to my office but could hear unidentified noises coming from the bedroom again. I ran back to see a skein of yarn on the ground some shredded paper next to a trashcan. No Ray. I followed the noises into the bathroom where he was rummaging through the bathroom trash. I dragged him out and went downstairs trailed by my troublemaker. Ray peeled off for the family room while I went into the kitchen. It only took me a second to realize that he was up to something. I found him finishing off a basket of bread that we had forgotten to remove from the coffee table the night before.
The rain had stopped for the moment so I opened the back door to let Ray out. After about 10 minutes, Ray returned with a prance in his step and slap, slap, slapping something against his face. It was a muddy, moldy rawhide chew that he had just dug up. I grabbed the chew, opened the bathroom door, threw the thing in the kitchen trashcan (where it currently resides) and closed the door - all in the blink of an eye. I returned to the kitchen got a new rawhide strip and gave it to Ray. Ray took it in his mouth and without moving his head dropped it on the rug, his message loud and clear. I went back in the kitchen and saw Ray out of the corner of my eye headed for the bathroom. He stood with his nose smashed against the door for a full minute then reared up on his hind legs and with his mud-clogged claws tried to dig through the door to recover his prize. I went into the bathroom, grabbed the icky thing, threw it out the back door and closed it after Ray. I cleaned the mud off of the bathroom door and watched as Ray took his strip and went to rebury it before I could steal it from him again.
At 1:00 I took Ray for a walk. At 4:00 I took him for another one. Between 1:00 and 4:00, Ray spent some time renovating his grave (for information on Ray's grave go to, digging some new holes against the foundation, and digging a very nice hole next to the patio. Mud was flying high and far. It landed on top of the cafe table and lodged in the backs of the cafe chairs. I spent all of my time between 1:00 and 4:00 keeping an eye on my dog, sweeping the patio, refilling holes, and wiping off muddy paws every time he entered the house.
This morning I took Ray to the dogpark and let him run himself into the ground. After an hour and a half he walked up to me and leaned against me while I petted him. Then I clipped on his leash and he dragged me to the gate to go home. When he got home, he climbed up on his futon, went to sleep and hasn't budged since.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dog Park Pictures etal

Ray with his friend Nikki at the watering hole

Ray with Cherry and Nikki after a serious bout of wrestling

Did you hear something? I thought I heard something.

The afterbath... Ray in the tub at Just Fur Pets.

Ray, Party Animal

Ray slept too much yesterday. Saturday night we had a party. The weather has been gorgeous (up until today) and so we had a party outdoors. Ray was terribly excited to meet everyone and was more than a little interested in the table of food but as soon as I gave him a frozen marrow bone, nothing else existed. There was even another dog there but Ray was in the zone working that bone. He was good for at least 2 hours. As soon as that bone was finished Ray headed for the food. That's when I had to put him in the house. Ray scratched at the sliding glass door for a good long time trying to dig his way back to the food table but to no avail. Every time someone would enter the house to use the facilities, Ray was beside himself with excitement thinking maybe there was an escape route back to the food (there wasn't).
On Sunday Ray woke us up at 7:30 raring to go. We dragged ourselves out of bed, ate breakfast and took him to the dog park to wear him out. I couldn't understand where his energy was coming from. Usually when Ray's schedule is messed with, he's tired the next day, but Ray was into everything for the hour before we took him to the park. But by the time we got home, Ray was out and slept all day.
Today, I'm paying for it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

William and Ray

This evening, William (see his photos at came over to play with Ray and stayed to help me cook dinner. Ray curled up in the comfy chair that is right next to the kitchen door. Every five minutes or so William would walk into the living room, kiss Ray on the head, and say "I love you Ray."
I am 1000% convinced that the feeling is entirely mutual.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ahhhhhh, Spring!

When a young dog's thoughts turn to digging up and burying bones.....

And his mother's thoughts turn to ......
Arrrghhhhh, MUD!

I wonder....

Sometimes when I'm walking Ray, he stops to sniff a patch of grass and his tail starts to wag. I always wonder which of his girlfriends we just missed. Was it Halle or Sasha?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

After the Sleepover

After his sleepover Wednesday and Thursday, Ray was tired. When he got home Friday night, I fed him, he went outside, dug up a bone and we played keepaway for five minutes. Then Ray hit the hay. He woke Gregg up at 5:30 the next morning by banging on the kitchen door. By the time Gregg got downstairs, Ray was back in bed, sleeping. Gregg came back to bed. Ray pounded on the door again at 6:30. I went downstairs to let him out. By the time I got there, Ray was back in bed. I rousted him out and MADE him go outside to pee, then fed him. Ray was back in bed by 7:00 and didn't get up again until 11:30. After a short walk, he slept most of the day away.
Sunday, Ray was feeling more the thing. We went for a long walk around the lake and he slept until the afternoon when he was ready for his afternoon walk (sometime around 3:30 or 4:00 is when he starts whining). Sandra, my neighbor across the street, (for a photo see didn't realize that Ray had settled on such a strict schedule for himself and chose this time to come over for help with some knitting. Ray loves Sandra (yes, I know, he loves everybody, but he really loves Sandra). He jumped his front feet up on her lap and snuffled at her neck and face. Sandra, being a good dog mom, pushed his feet off of her lap and talked soothingly to him to try to calm him down. Ray jumped his front feet up on her lap again. Sandra pushed him back down. Ray the Relentless did it again with similar results then paced and whined while we sat on the couch working out some knitting instructions. He grabbed some bamboo knitting needles off the coffee table and tried to chew them, I grabbed them and put them back. He put his head in Sandra's knitting bag and came out with a ball of yarn, I grabbed it and put it back. He grabbed the sheet of instructions that I was reading and flapped them up and down, I took them back. He walked around the coffee table and tore up an anniversary card we had received a few days before (from Sandra- I didn't actually notice him doing this, I just found the pieces). All the while he was whining.
I showed Sandra what to do and while she worked, Ray jumped his front feet up on my lap and gave me the evil eye. I was really, really trying to ignore the attention-seeking behavior but gave in and got up to get my running shoes. I sat down and tied on my shoes then explained the next row to Sandra. Ray untied one of my shoes. I retied it and got up to get his leash. I sat down on the couch again, slipped the collar over Ray's ears, and explained the next row to Sandra while Ray whined and paced dragging his leash behind him. It was very distracting but Sandra handled it well and knit on until she was comfortable enough to continue on her own. We left the house together. Sandra went home to knit. I took Ray for his walk.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Jean and Gregg Go to Paris. Ray goes to a Sleepover.

For our 20th anniversary, we spent two days in Paris....Virginia. It's a lovely little hamlet (with emphasis on little - population 53) consisting of a block and a half of houses and a four star inn (as rated by happy customers).

The Inn where we stayed in Paris

Two days to unwind without animals or worries.
We had a lovely time avoiding people and driving around the countryside. Virginia is beautiful in the springtime. We missed that by a couple of weeks. Instead we enjoyed the slightly austere and quite beautiful view of straw-colored rolling hills dotted with little patches of snow remaining from the Big Dump.(see photos from the Big Dump

Gregg looking unworried.

The view from the end of the street in Paris.
During our travels, we met a lovely man who, along with his wife, spends his time (when he is not working as a lawyer) rescuing exotic animals. He and his wife have 24 animals including emus, a llama, alpacas, goats (Nubian and LaMancha), a spotted ass, a miniature horse, and a goose. Every day after work, Animal Rescue Guy drives from the D.C. area of Virginia to his farm to feed the animals. I love meeting people like this. They reinforce my belief that people are fundamentally good. Although his stories of the conditions of the animals when he and his wife adopt them make me believe the opposite. A conundrum.

Animal Rescue Guy
Ray spent two days at Just Fur Pets with his friends at a sleepover. I dropped him off with food, treats, and his pillow and jammies. I had two ways of thinking when I dropped Ray at the daycare/kennel. He spent so much time in a kennel as a lad that, I figured, either he would be totally at home and think nothing of it, or he would be stressed out at thinking he was returning to life as a homeless dog. But Ray loves daycare at Just Fur Pets. He knows all of the people that work there, they all love him and take good care of him, so really I had no qualms when I dropped him off. A few pangs at parting but no qualms. As usual he was happy to go, strained at the leash to get in the door, and didn't look back when I handed him over. What a good dog.
I found that, even on vacation, the pets crept into my thoughts. There was a kennel just down the road from the inn. I thought how great it would have been to be able to leave Ray there then fetch him up in the morning to take him for a walk. We made a stop at the State Arboretum of Virginia
Gregg at the State Arboretum of Virginia
where they allowed leashed dogs and had riding trails and places to park horse trailers. I thought how much Ray would love THAT and wondered what he would do if he ever met a horse.
The inn had a fenced garden out back where I kept seeing cats stalking little critters. I thought how much Hugo would love it out in that huge back yard full of rustling little animals. Our room had a long, bench-like, padded window seat where I spent most of my room-time knitting. I thought how much Moonie and Hugo would love to have a window seat (now I think on it, Ray would love a window seat too). So even though I was away from home, I wasn't really.
After two glorious days of puttering around the countryside, Gregg and I returned to our life in the mayhem that is the greater D.C. area. We stopped at home where we unloaded the car. Gregg stayed behind to feed and fuss over the cats, who were thrilled to see us, while I went to retrieve the dog. Ray gave me quick lick on the face when he realized I had come to take him home, then greeted the woman entering the store behind me like he hadn't seen her in decades. Everything was normal.
I received a status update from Chance. (He has promised me photos of Ray's sleepover and I will post them as soon as I get them.) Chance said that on the first night when Ray realized he wasn't going home at his usual time, he was a bit puzzled. Then he accepted life as it was, and he was fine. Chance said, "I took him for a walk before I left. The four restaurants were cooking so there were a lot of food smells. Ray stood still with his nose in the air for about 15 minutes just sniffing then I took him inside and he settled down for the night."
As I said before, a good dog.

The grass IS always greener...

The LaMancha goat (apparently no ears are a tipoff to this kind)

The alpacas Cinderella (white) and Cappuccino

Larry the Llama with friends in background

Big Boy (goat), Larry, Cinderella, Cappuccino (behind her) and Coco (at far left)

The Spotted Ass and Sheila the Emu (below)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

VIDEO ALERT - Ray at the Dog Park

I've made up a song that I sing whenever Ray and I go to the dog park. Ray hums along (he whines) when I sing it. I can't tell if it's because I'm making his ears bleed because my singing is so bad or because he knows we're going to the park and can't wait to get there. I sing it to the tune of "Going to the Chapel of Love". It has a few stanzas that I sing over and over.
"Going to the dog park and we're
gonna play with Nikki, and we're
gonna yell at Pepper, and we're
gonna see Che- er- er- ry.
Oooohhhh we really love it and we
Go there everyday and we're
going to the dog park to play.
Oh oh oh oh
Going to the dogpark and we're
gonna have a good time and we're
gonna yell our heads off and we're
gonna run arou-ou-ou-ound.
Ooooooh we really love it and we
go there everyday and we're
going to the dog park with Ray.

I'm not going to quit my day job.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Not Dead, Just Sleeping

Ray is always a bit worn out after the dogpark. He likes to go outside and take a nap in the sun even though it's only 45 degrees. I check on him constantly to make sure he's still breathing. Sometimes it's really hard to tell.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ray the Stalker

This weekend was somewhat nice. At least, the sun was out. So Ray and I took off for a quick trip to the dog park. Ray did his usual; made a quick scan of all the dogs, picked out the one he liked, and hounded the CRAP out of the dog for the entire time we were there. Usually, if it's a big dog, he follows it around, yells at it, and if he can get close enough, tries to get his mouth on it. If it's a little dog, he yells at it, tries to hit it with his paws, and tries to get his mouth on it. He doesn't want to hurt it, he just REALLY wants to play with it.
This weekend was Simon's turn. Simon, a Jack Russell Terrier was too smart for Ray, though. Usually the little dogs head for their owners and hide between their feet (Ray is not fooled). Simon would scamper away, lose Ray, then come back to his owner while Ray tossed around trying to find his potential friend. When Ray would pick up the scent, Simon would do the same thing again. He would watch Ray get closer and closer then take off just as Ray would find him, lead him off then come back again. Usually I stick around and make sure Ray doesn't bother the dogs too much but I figured Simon could take care of himself so I wandered off.
I made the rounds of people I know then started to head back towards Simon's owner. When I got close, I heard someone ask her, "What's up with that dog?" "Oh that's Simon's stalker," she replied.
Simon's owner heard me laugh and said to me. "I think Ray is looking for a Mini-Me." I looked at Simon and realized that she was probably right. Ray had found his Mini-Me.
Ray and Mini-Me