Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ray has a Scary Day

I was working in my office when I heard a loud noise. I couldn't tell what it was or where it came from. Then I heard the back door screen fwoop closed (the entire screen is weighted with marbles on the bottom and acts as a giant doggie door.)
I ran downstairs yelling "Ray? Ray?" Ray was in the front hallway; he was facing the back door and all of the hair on his back was standing up in a ridge.
"What's wrong Ray?" I asked him, not really expecting a response.
Ray stood still except for his legs which were trembling slightly, still facing the door, his necked stretched out, his ears deployed in Dumbo mode.
I went to the back door and looked outside. Ray followed me to the middle of the kitchen then stopped, hair still up, legs still atremble, neck still stretched, ears still deployed. I was getting a bit creeped out but stepped through the screen and into the backyard. Ray came up to the screen door but would venture no further.
I started down a short path that leads to the treed area of the backyard, looking around me as I went. I didn't see anything. I looked back and saw Ray's head poked out the screen "looking" in my direction. "Come on Ray, it's OK. I got your back," I said.
 Ray stayed put. I walked a bit further and saw an ENORMOUS branch, fully leafed out, lying in the yard (it was a windy day). It was the size of a small tree. I walked over to it and tried to drag it out of position but it was too big. I kind of rolled it out of the shrub that it had landed on, and over a few feet to the edge of the yard. I walked back to the house and called Ray to come out. Ray slooowwwly stepped through the screen and crept around the yard. I showed him the branch and talked to him soothingly, then headed back to the house. Ray stood for a moment, thinking, then charged after me, running ahead of me into the house. He wasn't taking any chances.
A little later, after stripping the bed and washing sheets, I was swiffering the hardwood floors in the bedroom. Ray was curled up on the scratchy blanket that I had tossed on the area rug. Usually, Ray's scratchy blankie covers the foot of the bed and is there for him to lay on. (Ray knows it's his, so if it was going to be on the floor, so was he.) I picked up the remote control inflator for the Sleep Number bed (God's gift to people with back problems) and held the button down to inflate it to 100. I do this every once-in-awhile just because I can. The inflator made a low hummmm while it cranked in the air, then a pshhhhhh while it let out a bit, then a hummmmm while it put a little air back in, then a pshhhhh while it let out a tiny bit then a loud CLICK CLICK when it got the inflation just right. Ray had picked up his head at the beginning of this cycle and by the time it got to the end he was on his feet, ears deployed in Dumbo mode.
I held the button down on the inflator to do the same thing to Gregg's side of the bed. Hummmmm, pshhhhhhh, hummmmmm. By the time it got to the second pshhhhhhh all the hair was up on Ray's back. And at the CLICK CLICK he let out a yell that raised the roof off of the house. Then he stood in the hallway, looking into the bedroom, growling. I told him it was nothing. His nose was sniffing furiously, the hair still straight up. I explained about the sleep numbers. He growled and crept forward, nose plastered to the ground. He yelled again. Sniffffff, sniffffff, sniffff. He couldn't figure it out. He reached under the bed with his paws, stretching as far as he could, trying to feel what kind of weird, odorless animal was hanging out in our bedroom but he couldn't find anything. I kept talking to him trying to convince him that it was nothing. Ray listened and sniffed around while I went back to swiffering. All of a sudden he realized that I was SWIFFERING and the game was on. The strange monster forgotten in the joy of the hunt.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ray Rides Shotgun

I put Ray in the car to take him to the dog park then went to make sure I had locked the back door of the house (I had). By the time I got back to the car, Ray was in the same precarious position that he was in in the blog Ray in a Pickle. I settled myself in the drivers seat and told Ray if he wanted to ride shotgun he had better hurry up and get seated. Trembling, Ray made his way to the passenger seat and sat looking uncomfortable but ready to go.
OK, I'm ready. 
I put the car in gear and Ray leaned briefly against the door with his head hanging out the window then tried to curl his lanky frame into a ball small enough to fit in the bucket seat.
I watched him out of the corner of my eye as we drove to the park. He grabbed the handles of a brown paper bag that I had folded and shoved down next to the seat. He nibbled on it briefly then left it and sniffed
Maybe we could do some shopping after the park.
around the dashboard closest to him but found nothing to interest him there. 
Ray then reached over and started to gnaw on the stickshift. I discouraged that by putting my hand on the stick. Ray rested his chin on my hand but the knuckles weren't very comfortable as a pillow. 
Ray then tried to curl up into a tighter ball and when he did, he found the thing that you clip the seat belt into and started to chew on it.

I reached over and told him to "leave it," a command that usually has the same effectiveness as the command "heel." But, being a good passenger, Ray curled as tight as he could and went to sleep.
When we got to the park, Ray awoke and happily unfolded himself from the seat.

I didn't think I'd have to worry about him trying to get in the front seat again. The tall dog didn't look like he enjoyed his cramped experience much.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ray and the Quacking Skunk-Tailed Heart

Ray has been at daycare the last couple of days while I've been at work. So today before I picked him up, I stopped at Tuesday Morning, which is in the same strip mall, to see if they had any dog toys. Ray tends to go through dog toys pretty quickly and Tuesday Morning is a good place to buy weird dog toys (although it's hit-or-miss if they have anything for big dogs). I bought a leopard-print-fake-fur-covered tennis ball with a striped rope running through it, and also a hardish-rubber heart with a skunk tail attached that, when you squeeze the heart, makes a sound like a duck (told you they were weird).
I then headed over to Just Fur Pets to get Ray. Chance and Kristen were working. Chance said "Ray had a good time with a Pug today. He was playing with it but he looked like he wanted to eat it. Actually, I think he was eating it but the Pug didn't seem to mind. I think he liked it." "Ray," I said to my dog, "I told you not to eat Pugs, they make you fat." Kristen and Chance laughed. Kristen said, "The Pug's name is Mango. The owner has one named Kiwi and got this one and named him Mango." I figured Ray must have been confused by the name. He probably thought he was eating fruit.
I took my dog and headed home. When we exited the car, I was carrying the bag with the new dog toys. Ray excitedly grabbed the skunk tail that was hanging out of the bag and started to tug (how did he know it was there? it's not like it actually smelled like skunk). I held on to the bag and tried to make it to the front door. Ray pulled the skunk-tailed heart out of the bag and lay down on the grass to try to remove the heart part of the toy from its packaging, picking at it with his teeth. I pulled at his leash but he didn't move so I grabbed the skunk-tail and led him to the door while he held on to the heart. By the time I got the front door open, Ray had lost interest in the toy and was standing at his food cabinet waiting to be fed.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bess and Beverly

Well, here are the new additions to the family of Cheryl and Kris.

Bess and Beverly

Cheryl sent me this message along with the photo of her new dogs.

"I have to say, that after following Ray’s blog I was reassured that a vision impaired dog wasn’t a problem. I did have to encourage my husband, Kris, some. I got him to agree to one dog and then went to get it (Bess) and discovered that she had a sister, Beverly, who was also sight impaired. Even only after a day Kris says he’s glad that we got both of them!"

"They were puppy mill moms bred because of their unique coloring. They were rescued from Kansas City, MO in November and brought to the Cocker Rescue here in Colorado. They’ve been with their foster mom since then. I saw Bess on TV on Saturday, April 10th. I started looking into the rescue and warming Kris up on the idea of adopting a dog. I found out that the rescue was going to be at a Petco near my dad’s house last Saturday and we decided to go and look. Long story short, we ended up getting both dogs and have been having a wonderful time with them!"

Ray is thrilled to have been the inspiration for the adoption of Bev and Bessy (as he likes to think of them). He sends them a quick lick and a wag.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Congratulations Cheryl!

Today I received an email from my sister, Kathy. She told me that Cheryl, a co-worker of hers, adopted two sight-impaired Cocker Spaniels that had been at a rescue since November. Nobody wanted them because of their "impairment" but Cheryl was undeterred because she had been reading about Ray. (It's probably a good thing she didn't see the video about Ray when he is bored before she adopted her new dogs.)

So let's hear it for Cheryl and her husband! WOOOHOOOO!!!!!! WAY TO GO CHERYL AND HUSBAND!!!!! Congratulations on the new additions to your family!
Jean and Gregg

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ray and the Wonderful World of Color

Do dogs smell color? I've really started to wonder if they do. I've read that dogs are color blind. And after watching Ray at the dog park for months now I've really started to wonder if they smell color. How else can I explain Ray's preference for blonds?
Ray has three kinds of dogs that he loves:
  1. Little dogs
  2. Old lady dogs
  3. Blonds
If little dogs are blond it's a double whammy for them (Ray will NOT leave them alone) and if it's an old lady dog (any dog older than five) that's blond, Ray goes bonkers. So how can I explain that? Ray smells in technicolor. He lives in the Wonderful World of Color through his sniffer. At least, I like to think so.

VIDEO ALERT! - Ray the Blind Dog is BORED

Every day Ray goes to either daycare or the dog park. If it's daycare, he comes home exhausted, eats and goes to bed. If it's the dog park, he runs for an hour and is good until about 3 or 4 o'clock when his internal alarm goes off and he is ready to go again. I try to delay walking him until 4:00 so that I can walk him, then come home and feed him. If he is ready to go at 3:00 though, this is what happens until he is walked....

...by the way the Vodka boxes in Gregg's office aren't there because he's taken to drinking. They are there because I'm packing up his office (and mine) so that I can paint.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Worry, Worry, Worry

This morning Ray and I went to the dog park and then to get some dog food at Just Fur Pets, his daycare place. When we arrived at Just Fur Pets, one of the local rescue groups was there having a dog adoption day. Usually when there are lots of dogs and people around, Ray is SO happy, but this time he was oddly subdued.
"Wow," said Mirella, the owner of the daycare, "Ray is really behaving himself today. Good BOY Ray." Ray was standing with his leash slack, his brow furrowed. Usually he's straining at the end of the leash trying to get some shopping done, or if there are dogs and people around, trying to meet and greet.
I stood talking to the rescue folks for a bit. They were exclaiming how Ray looked exactly like a dog that they had adopted out the week before, except "Larry" was a tricolor (they thought maybe a Treeing Walker Hound). Everybody loved Larry and his foster mother really missed him. Ray stood still, looking concerned.
We went to the back of the store to pick up a bag of food and then to the check out, Ray continued to be a good boy. Then it dawned on me that maybe Ray had spent many Saturdays at adoption days like this one when he was at SQ Rescue and living with his foster mom. Maybe he thought I was going to give him away. We left the store, Ray trailing me a bit. "Don't worry Ray," I said, "I'm not going to give you away." I kissed him on the top of the head. Ray jumped up in to the car and we headed home.
When we got there, we did some gardening. Ray helped me dig up a rhododendron that had been mostly uprooted in one of the snowstorms (well, technically, Ray dug it up again after I moved it to a new spot, then went back to the place that I had removed it from and enlarged the hole enough so that he could lay in it.) Every time I moved to work in a different part of the yard, Ray got up from wherever he was, and moved with me, lying down within ten feet of where I was working. I thought maybe he was still worried about being "let go", so I went over to where he was flopped over on his side. Ray rolled, exposing his underside for a belly rub. I stroked his belly and whispered to him "Don't worry Ray, I'll keep you 'till the day I die or the day you die, whichever comes first." I don't know if I imagined it, but I swear I could see the tension leave my blind hound. I'm sure he believed me.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Spring Ray

So can a blind dog read minds? I was on the phone with Ray's foster mother, Amber. I was walking around the backyard and checking out the new growth and flowers, (seeing if I had any plants remaining after the piles of snow this winter and a blind dog peeing on everything in sight since last summer.) As I was talking, I noticed that two Trillium that I had planted the summer before were coming up. They were only about three inches tall but I was excited. I didn't think that they would be affected by snow but I really didn't think they would make it through Ray tromping all over them. As this thought went through my head, Ray walked over and laid down on them. Then, finding that spot not as comfortable as it could be, he got up, dug a shallow depression, and laid back down, the fragile plants scraped aside with a small mound of dirt.

Ray gets Good Advice

Yesterday my friend Laura and I were taking Ray for a walk around the lake. A little girl on a bike was coming down the trail towards us. When she got close enough, she said, "Can I pet your dog?" "Of course!" I replied, "It would make his day if you pet him!" The little girl got off her bike and came up to Ray who, as usual, was beside himself with joy. "I have a dog," she said "He's an Airedale Terrier mix." She pointed down the trail. "Is he following you?" I asked. "My mom has him on a leash," she replied. By this time we could see her mom and her dog.
Ray was flopped over getting a belly rub when her mom came up with the dog. Ray, all excited that there was a little girl AND a dog, got up to sniff but missed the dog by about a foot. "Ray's blind," I told the little girl. Ray had decided the dog wasn't as interesting as his new friend and was getting more pets. The little girl (maybe 9 or 10 years old), looked Ray square in the face and said. "You're no different than anyone else. You can do anything you want." "She would know," said her mom. "She was born with only two chambers to her heart. There are supposed to be four. She's already had three open heart surgeries so that they can make her heart do the job of one with four chambers."
Ray could tell that his new friend was no different than anyone else and that she was doing what she wanted. She was giving him a great belly rub and rubbing his ears.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ray has a Boyfriend

I don't know if I've mentioned Ike. A big, unaltered yellow lab that lives down the street and around the corner. Ike is a sweet, sweet dog that carries a torch for Ray. Every time Ike gets loose (at least once a week), he heads down to see his boyfriend. And Ray loves him back, just not in the way that Ike has in mind. When Ike gets to our house, (I put him in the backyard until his owner gets here) Ray is always beside himself with joy.  They race around the yard until Ike starts to get ideas. Then his owner clips a leash on him and leads him away. Ray follows him sadly to the gate. Ike's owner tells us that Ike doesn't to other dogs what he tries to do to Ray. Ray is the love of his life (at least until Ike gets snipped.) Like I said, a sweet, sweet dog.
I'm thinking of getting a Ray a button to clip to his collar that says "I LIKE IKE."

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Dog Park Etiquette

I know I've mentioned before how Ray loves to prove what a liar I am. So this morning at the dog park he did it again.
We got to the dog park at about our usual time. And, as usual, it was crowded because it was the weekend. Ray trotted in and headed to the far side of the park to meet and greet a couple of dogs that I hadn't seen before. I followed in his wake because I saw a group of people that I knew not far from where Ray and dogs were sniffing each other. When I reached the group, the woman who's dogs Ray was sniffing called out and said, "Could you get your dog away from my dogs." "Excuse me?" I replied politely. "Could you get your dog away from my dogs before he attacks them," she said coldly. I walked over to where Ray was still sniffing the dogs and grabbed his collar to drag him away. "My dogs are rescues," the woman said, "And I don't want them to be attacked." "My dog is a rescue too," I replied, deeply offended, "And he would NEVER attack another dog. He's blind." I led Ray over to the group of people and let him loose. "Go," I said to Ray who immediately turned and headed back to the woman's dogs. I followed him over and grabbed his collar again and led him away. "Go," I said to Ray who, again, immediately turned and headed back to the woman's dogs. The woman, convinced that Ray had evil intensions, clipped leashes on her dogs and left the park.
Ray ran around and played with his favorite dog, Nikki, for about an hour. Nikki, whose favorite thing is to pick up a toy that another dog wants (or steal another dog's toy) and keep it away from them, had found something good and was playing tug of war and keep away with Ray and Cherry. I don't know what happened next, but Ray and she were in a rip roaring fight. I dragged Ray off and put on his leash. Nikki retreated to a safe distance and sat down to chew on the prized toy.
I thanked my lucky stars that the unpleasant woman hadn't been there to see the fight, and that Nikki's mom, Fran, is totally reasonable when it comes to dog behavior. "Nikki," I called, "Are you all right?" "She doesn't look too concerned," said Fran. She called Nikki over and clipped on her leash. We left the park together, the dogs walking next to each other, tails wagging. They touched noses, all was forgiven.

Which brings me to my TOP TEN LIST of DOG PARK RULES (arrived at after hours and hours of in-depth dog park research.)
  1. If you don't want your dog to be around other dogs DON'T TAKE IT TO THE DOG PARK. (Some people just want their dog to chase balls or play with toys. But dogs have their own ideas about what they want to do. So if you want your dog to only play with you or toys, stay home.)
  2. If your dog has to wear a muzzle, DON'T TAKE IT TO THE DOG PARK. (I don't know why I should have to include this rule. Seems like it should be common sense. But last week a guy brought his muzzled dog to the park and turned him off-leash just as Ray was walking by. The dog immediately attacked Ray. We went home. As we were walking out the gate, the dog was attacking another dog.)
  3. If your dog attacks two dogs in a row, TAKE IT HOME. (We were at the park one morning when there were only 4 dogs in the park. A woman brought her dog in, who immediately went after Ray, then each of the other three dogs, two of them at once. Only then did she take it home.)
  4. Don't expect that there will never be dog fights and try not to overreact when there are. Dog's are like kids, sometimes things just spin out of control (like today) and sometimes there are two dogs that, for whatever reason, don't get along.
  5. Don't overreact when your dog is getting humped or is humping another dog. (There was a woman who's dog was randomly humping dogs. Every time he started, the woman threw a fit. She was attracting quite a bit of attention. Her husband stood around looking uncomfortable and miserable).
  6. Don't wear nice clothes to the dog park and don't get mad when a dog jumps up on you. Not all dogs are well-trained. So expect to get dirty.
  7. If you notice someone's dog taking a dump, and they are involved in a conversation with someone, point it out to them. It's easy to become distracted and most people are grateful that you let them know.
  8. Expect to get peed on. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. Try to figure out who the serial pee-ers are and keep an eye on them.
  9. If your park doesn't have running water, bring water with you. It's amazing how quickly the bowls empty out. Especially if you have a blind dog running around kicking them over and stepping in them
  10. Try to enjoy yourself. Walk around and talk to people. You always have a conversation starter ("What kind of dog is that?" and "You have a beautiful dog." are two good openers).
If you have a dog park rule that you want people to know about, post them in the comments. I know I'm interested.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Photos of Ray at his Sleepover

Well, Chance from Just Fur Pets (for a photo of Chance see http://www.raytheblinddog.com/2009/08/random-ray-photos.html ) finally came through with the photos of Ray while he was on his sleepover.

Ray Playing with a German Shepherd Puppy
Ray and the German Shepherd being Refereed by a Boxer

Passed out by the Water Bowl
Too Much to Drink?

I wonder...

I remember reading a study about how  cow flatulence was a real concern because it produced so much of the greenhouse gas, methane. I wonder if scientists have studied hound dogs. I think they can give cows a run for their money.