Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Daycare Encounter

Today when I picked up Ray at daycare, a woman I had never seen before walked in, looked at Ray, looked me in the eye and said, "I love that dog." She was very serious and it was obvious that she had met Ray before. "He's a good dog," I replied, but I was really thinking, "Yeah. Me too."

Monday, June 28, 2010

Attention Ray's Columbia Fans


There's a bit of a dog emergency today. Ray's foster mother, Amber, in Columbia, contacted me yesterday to ask if I would post a blog that might be read by dog lovers in S.C. For the past few months she has been fostering a Jack Russell Terrier (ironically named Jack), that she absolutely looovvves. Unfortunately, Amber has three other dogs, two that live with her permanently and a third, Josie, that had been residing with Amber's ex husband while he hunted with the dog. Josie is being retired and has returned home to be with Amber permanently. Even more unfortunately, Jack has taken a severe dislike to the returning hunter. The rescue is full of dogs and can't take Jack back right now but is planning on sending him to Martha's Vineyard along with several other dogs in an attempt to find him a home. Amber has made temporary arrangements for her dog while she is desperately trying to find a foster home or a permanent home for Jack in Columbia. She would love to keep him but as she told me "Jean, I just can't have four dogs," especially since she can't trust two of them home alone together.
SO, if anyone in Columbia can take a Jack Russell Terrier that Amber says is cute as a button, full of personality, and loving as heck, (and, as she told me "a fine example of the breed") let me know. We have a week to find Jack a home.
Here are some photos of Jack and Amber's email address for anyone thats wants more information. I also have her phone number, so if you want to call her, just leave a comment for me and I can send it to you.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ray Amazes Me Again

Maddie's dad (photos of Maddie at ) asked me to feed her while he was at a ball game. I told him that I would also take her for a walk with Ray. So when the time came, I hooked Ray to his leash and said "OK, let's go get Maddie." Ray looked at me and tilted his head like he usually does when he knows what I'm saying to him (walk, hungry, dinner, and treat usually get the same reaction). I grabbed the keys to Maddie's house and walked him out the front door. Ray took off down the driveway and dragged me across the street to Maddie's front door. Darned if he didn't know exactly what I had said to him and where we were going.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

First Year Retrospective - Part II

Well, I added a few things to Part I, Things that are Better, then started to think about all the stuff that we've all learned in the past year. So here is Part II - Things We've Learned.

Things We've Learned:
  • Don't leave food on the counter, or anywhere else that Ray can reach it, unless you WANT it to disappear into thin air.
  • Don't leave kitchen cabinets open.
  • Don't leave things in the back yard in places that they weren't before.
  • Don't leave shoes with tassels lying around (so far the count is 2 pair of Gregg's shoes de-tasseled, 2 pair of my shoes de-tasseled).
  • Always let Ray out to pee before you go anywhere.
  • Never, ever, ever leave the door to the cat room open. Ray hears the hook come out of the eye and sneaks in Ninja style every time.
  • Never leave a cup of coffee anywhere. Even if you think Ray can't reach it, he can.
  • Ray's neck is long enough to stretch to the bottom of the sink.
  • Ray is always taller than you think. I think he may have two pair of high heels hidden somewhere that he can slip on at a moments notice.
  • Ray can smell a baby a mile away.
  • As far as dogs go, Ray is as stubborn as they come but sweet, sweet, sweet.
  • When going out to the backyard to cut asparagus, never carry a knife in your back pocket and ALWAYS keep an eye on the spastic cannonball.
  • You can't trust a blind dog with yarn or wool of any kind.
  • You cannot force a friendship between a dog and a cat.
Things Ray has Learned:
  • How to walk without tripping over curbs.
  • How to jump into and out of cars (it's harder to get him out once he gets comfortable in the back seat).
  • How to climb stairs.
  • How to open the gate to the stairs.
  • How to sit.
  • How to stay (temporarily).
  • How to flop (he is pretty good at doing this when kids are around - but only after he realizes he is not allowed to jump on them).
  • How to shake hands.
  • How to Go (leave the room - - and come in a different door).
  • That there really is no chance that he will be allowed to help cook or be offered food that is being cooked.
  • Cat food tastes better than dog food.
  • There is nothing more fun than the dog park.
  • If you just bide your time, the humans will slip up eventually and you can get what you want.
Things Moonie has Learned
  • Ray can be avoided pretty easily but you can't trust him to not sneak up on you.
  • Dehydrated chicken livers taste pretty good.
  • Once the dog is asleep you can sniff his feet and he doesn't know.
  • If you wait until after dinner, the dog doesn't bother you.
  • Things will never be the same.
Things Hugo has Learned
  • Dehydrated chicken livers taste pretty good.
  • Dog food isn't too bad either.
  • If you sit on the stair landing, you are invisible.
  • If you wait until after dinner, the dog doesn't bother you but he steals your seat next to mom.
  • Things will never be the same.

Dog Park Tales

Yesterday, Annie's mom, one of the regulars (Annie is a policeman's dream dog, a Bloodhound/German shepherd mix) brought her dad to the dog park with her. We were all standing around chatting when her dad said, "Let me get your opinion of something. Last night my daughter was going to make us ice cream cones, so she reaches into the dish washer, grabs the ice cream scoop, rinses it off, scoops out our ice cream, gives the scoop to the dog to lick clean, then puts it back in the dishwasher." He was kind of smiling as he said this and was ruefully shaking his head. I laughed and looked at Annie's mom, "No," I said incredulously, "You didn't!" "It was clean," she replied with a Mona Lisa smile on her face.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

First Year Retrospective - Part I

We've had Ray a year now, and I've been thinking for awhile of writing a year-in-review kind of thing but have had no clear idea of how to proceed or what I wanted to cover. Since things haven't gotten any clearer to me, I thought I'd just start writing and see where it goes.

Things that have Changed for the Better
  • I have a great dog that makes me laugh at least once a day and makes me feel good (most of the time).
  • I get more exercise.
  • I have met tons and tons of people and I have a lot more fun than I used to. I love going to the dog park. I like walking dogs with the people that I have met in the neighborhood. I like playing with my dog. I enjoy watching him navigate and get into things and roll around and just have fun.
  • Ray actually likes to come home from daycare and seems happy to see me. Much better than having people think that I beat my dog on a regular basis because he was so loathe to leave his friends at daycare.
  • Ray mostly leaves us alone during dinner and breakfast now unless we are having something that he really wants, like fish or sausage or ribs or chicken...
  • Ray doesn't regularly rip the screen off of the door anymore or try to tunnel through doors.
  • Ray doesn't spend lots of time running around the back yard yelling like he did when we first brought him home. I think now that maybe he was trying to locate his pack. He usually only yells when he is excited that we are out in the backyard with him or when we've come home after being out for awhile, or he smells something that he was bred to hunt. Or sometimes he yells at 4:00 in the morning to tell people that all is well (at least that's my take on it).
Things that have Changed for the Worse
  • My cats are prisoners in their own room. Well, not really, but kinda. Now that it's summer, Hugo spends a lot of time outdoors. Moonie comes down only at night when Ray is asleep. I still miss my cats and I don't see this changing. Whenever I pull Ray up onto my lap, I feel a twinge of regret that my cats don't sit on my lap anymore. But I guess we all made some sacrifices to give a home to a dog that really, really needed one.
  • We live in a tent city. All the furniture in the living room is covered with bedspreads and tablecloths that I have picked up at estate sales. At this point, I'm thinking maybe slip covers might be a good idea.
  • The kitchen trash permanently resides in the bathroom next to it. It's a pain but this is one problem I haven't been able to solve (yet). I'm fairly confident that Ray could figure out how to get into a trashcan with a foot pedal opener and I don't want to spend the money to find out that I'm right.
  • The grass is not greener on our side of the fence.
Things that are Different but not Good or Bad
  • My garden is different. Some plants have died but if I didn't know that they were there before, I wouldn't really miss them. Honestly, I thought the garden looked great this spring. Maybe it's the extra fertilizer, or that the soil is nicely aerated from all the excavation that goes on, or maybe rawhide bones add some missing nutrient to the soil, but really some of the plants are thriving. Others, not so much.
  • We still live in a gated community. We have a gate across the bottom of the stairs that is attractive but useless. It only took Ray about a month to figure out how to open it and I never took it down because it is pretty. And we have a gate across the door to the laundry room where the cat boxes reside. It's not really a problem, it's easy to use, and it keeps the dog out.
This is it for now. I think there will be a Part II and maybe a Part III. I'm not sure yet.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ray's New Friend

Ray stuck pretty close to me all weekend. Whenever I would sit still for more than a minute, he'd be there to sit next to me. I was flattered. After his greeting, I wondered if he missed me at all.
We quickly settled back into his routine of dog park in the morning and walk in the afternoon. On Saturday the "beagle pointer mix," Kinsey, was back (as seen in the video, Ray at the Dogpark Now that Kinsey is older, he looks even more like Ray than he did before. His owner said that they had run into another Redtick Coonhound at another dog park and had accepted the conclusion that Kinsey was, indeed, a Redtick. I grabbed a quick shot of them together (because they were just too cute).
Now on to Ray's new friend. As an introduction, I need to mention that Ray is an extremely good guard dog. Whenever someone walks by with a dog that he doesn't know, Ray goes into guard dog mode. Growls, deep menacing barks, hair up on his back. We are well protected from any marauding dogs in the neighborhood. Ray's new friend, Murphy, an Australian Shepherd, moved in across the street a few weeks ago. Every time her owner walked by with Murphy, Ray would scare the crap out of us by bounding off of whatever piece of furniture he happened to be lounging on and letting out on of his barks (totally different from his yell). We never hear the dogs coming, but Ray with his bat ears, hears them coming a few houses away.
So after a week or so of this, I finally grabbed Ray and his leash and chased down Murphy's owner so that Ray could meet this dog and stop barking at her. It worked like a charm. Murphy's owner, Rachel, wanted to know if there were dog parks in the area because she was used to bringing Murphy to one at their previous address. Just before I left for Vegas, we all went to the dog park together and I invited them over for a play date.
Today when Ray was bored I walked him down the street to see if Murphy could come out and play. She could, and they did.
It's a match made in heaven. Murphy is one year old (today) and full of energy. Ray is almost two and full of energy. They had a great time in the back yard. Murphy is a master at finding Ray's bones. She found a marrow bone in the yard and spent some time trying to keep it away from Ray. Then she found one of his rawhide chews in the house and another game of tease the blind dog ensued. They had a great time.

Hey, is that my bone?
Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's my bone.

Yep, that's my bone alright.

Here, I'll just take that bone.

Hey, Is that my Rawhide?

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's my Rawhide.
Yep, that's my Rawhide alright.
Here, I'll just take that Rawhide.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Welcome Home

Ray spent the week with Gregg while I was in Vegas for the reunion. I wondered what kind of welcome I would get. It's been a year, after all, that Ray has been with us. Would he wag his tail? Jump up and greet me?
I entered the house and heard a 'thump' upstairs as Ray jumped off the bed and hit the floor. He ambled down the stairs and approached me tentatively. "Hi, Ray," I said, "Did you miss me?" Ray stopped when his nose touched my thigh. He snuffled my leg down to my knee while I pet him. I walked over and sat on the couch. Ray followed, touched his nose to my shoulder and snuffled down my arm. As I rubbed his ears, Ray put his nose up to my mouth almost touching it. I sat still. Ray stood sniffing my breath (it couldn't have been good) for what seemed like a long time. Then, apparently satisfied that I hadn't been drinking, Ray jumped up on the couch next to me, curled into a ball and went to sleep.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Message from Mom

Hello to all who left messages for Mom. She tried leaving a comment but it didn't take, so she sent this to me to send to y'all.

Thank Ray's friends for the good wishes they offered to me. People are so nice. A few days of intensive care taught me that being addressed as "Sweetcakes" by a hospital employee is the ultimate compliment. And that seeing Las Vegas is good, seeing family is better and seeing a today is best. Thank you all. KJ

Thanks from me as well. Ray's sure has some wonderful friends.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Keep them Doggies Rolling

Yesterday, Ray dug up a rawhide bone. Not just any rawhide bone, but a huge rawhide bone that I had given him months ago. He had been saving it in his toy box, just dragging it out to play a random game of keepaway every once-in-awhile until one day it disappeared. Yesterday it reappeared.
When I first saw it, I thought maybe Ray had killed something and dragged it into the house. It was long and dangly and Ray was slapping his face with it.

When I got closer, I realized that it was an unraveled rawhide that had turned pink and green and blue from the different kinds of mold growing on it (the pictures don't do it justice). I really didn't want him to eat the thing which, apparently, he had every intention of doing, so I took a long stick, picked it up, and carried it to the trash to throw away.

Ray was very much against this plan of action and every time I got as far as the patio where the garbage-can resides, he would grab the dangly rawhide and run back into the yard with it. On the third try I was successful. I dumped the hide in the trash and slapped the lid down on the bin.
Ray spent the next hour scouring the patio trying to find his rawhide. I felt really bad that I had disposed of his prize but I was pretty much convinced that eating that hide would have made our hound extremely ill. At a minimum it probably would have had Ray producing enough toxic gas that the chemical weapons experts would have been called in to neutralize the noxious emanations.

Today, Ray went to daycare. When I went to pick him up, he came out of the play area and headed straight to a new display at the far side of the store. I followed him over and watched as Ray stuck his head in one bin after another, grabbing at the new merchandise; organic, free range buffalo bully sticks and other chewy buffalo things.
Kristen came over and we watched Ray as he started trying to wipe his head on the chewy things in the bins. As his knees buckled, he would swipe his head against the buffalo jerky, the twisted and braided things, and the other unrecognizable buffalo parts.
"He's trying to roll in that stuff!" I exclaimed, "Those must be some really stinky dog chews,"
"Oh they are!" replied Kristen, "Here, smell one!" She held a thing up to my nose and I pretended to sniff at it while I held my breath. Ray was still exhibiting his bizarre semi-roll-swipe. 
I felt bad about his rawhide bone from the day before so I bought him a braided buffalo chew.
 "This should last him awhile," said Kristen, "Do you want me to unwrap it for you?"
"Absolutely!" I replied.
It wasn't as nasty as the rawhide from the day before but I didn't want to touch dried, stinky animal parts if I didn't have to.
Kristen took some scissors and cut the shrink-wrapped plastic off the braided chew and handed it to Ray who was "watching" interestedly with his front feet propped up on the counter. Ray took the chew, happily carried it to the car, and jumped up into the back seat with it still in his mouth.
It takes about 15 minutes to get home from the daycare. The buffalo chew didn't last the ride home.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ready for the Dog Park...Almost

Treats - Check
Jug of water - Check
Driver's License - Check
Cell Phone - Check
Baseball Hat - Check
Leash - Check
Car Keys - Check

Nagging feeling that I'm forgetting something. Turn to lock the door. Ray standing in the middle of the hallway, head cocked, a quizzical look on his face.
Oh yeah. I forgot the dog.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Ray, Creature of Habit

Ray has developed a tried-and-true method of eating his dog food:
  • Stand directly outside of kitchen door with head cocked and ears deployed in Dumbo mode while mom dispenses kibble into bowl.
  • Stand with head jammed between mom and kitchen counter while food is dispensed into bowl
  • Sit next to eating area after food is dispensed into bowl; wait patiently for bowl to be placed on floor
  • Begin to eat kibble
  • Hear cat food dishes hit the counter
  • Abandon dog food and dribble kibble across the floor to check out cat food dishes
  • Lick fork after mom puts prescription food in Hugo's dish VARIATION lick empty can until every last micron of food is gone
  • Return to kibble
  • Hear pop top being pulled on Moonie's food
  • Abandon dog food and dribble kibble across the floor to lick cat food can lid for Moonie's food
  • Lick fork after mom puts food in Moonie's dish
  • Return to kibble
  • Eat dribbled kibble off of floor when mom taps floor with finger at all the bits and pieces scattered hither and yon
  • Return to kibble
  • Finish kibble and try to sneak food out of cat food dishes before mom carries them away to feed Moonie and Hugo
Ray has found this to be a fairly effective method of eating his breakfast and dinner so he doesn't vary the methodology.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hi Mom

My Mom, who's birthday is next week, had a heart attack this week. (Mom, notice how I discretely failed to mention the fact that you will be turning 87.) The doctors in Hartsville stabilized her then sent her to Providence Hospital in Columbia where she spent a couple of days having a great time with the wonderful staff in the CCU. Mom's only concern (besides surviving, of course) was that she would still be able to go to our family reunion in Las Vegas in two weeks (affirmative).
Mom is home now, and I know it won't be long before she is back on the computer checking to see what Ray has been up to. So, since Mom is Ray's biggest fan (she always asks to talk to him on the phone - I hold up one of his ears and put the phone to it, he listens while his eyebrows do the eyebrow dance on his forehead), I thought I would see if Ray's other fans would like to wish Mom well. Please post any good wishes you have for mom in the comments box. Thanks.


Mom - if you want to see what people have to say to you, scroll to the end of this post to where it says "

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Just Another Day...

...of mayhem.
I was getting ready to paint my studio/office. I was walking through the dining room on my way to the laundry room then on to the garage to gather supplies when I spotted Hugo under the dining room table. He had a chipmunk hanging out of his mouth. I quickly closed the dining room door behind me and grabbed Hugo to take him out through the garage. We didn't get far before Hugo squirmed out of my grasp while at the same time the chipmunk stopped playing dead, dropped out of the cat's mouth and made a mad dash for the laundry room. I once again grabbed Hugo, threw him out of the dining room and closed the door behind him so that he couldn't "help" me re-catch the catch of the day. I quickly turned so that I didn't lose track of the chipmunk but I was too late. No munk.

I closed the door to the laundry room so that the chipmunk couldn't get back into the house and went to get a flashlight. Hugo was lounging in the front hallway looking pleased with himself. I returned to the laundry room to begin the Great Chipmunk Hunt. Forty-five minutes later (it's a really small room with lots of nooks and crannies) I admitted defeat. I opened the laundry room door to the garage and opened the garage door to the outside, hoping that the chipmunk would see the light and head for the great outdoors. By this time, Ray had wandered in and wanted to know what I was doing. I had the bright idea that maybe Ray could track down the critter so I went to get his leash and led him to the last spot that I had seen the little varmint. I tapped the rug with my finger indicating where Ray should start. He sniffed interestedly for a second then led me through the dog gate into the laundry room, sniffing first at the furnace, then at the covered litterboxes. I looked inside (just in case) but there was nothing. Ray had lost interest in tracking the munk with the heady scent of cat crunchies (litter covered... you know...) hanging in the air. I led him out of the laundry room and turned him loose. I went to get my painting stuff and left the doors ajar for the chipmunk to escape.

Two hours later, I headed downstairs to fetch more painting supplies. Hugo was in the dining room staking out the tiny wine refrigerator (not, as my friend Joanne suggested, picking out a nice merlot that goes with chipmunk). I once again threw Hugo out of the room and went to fetch my munk herding supplies (I have years of experience as a munk herder):
  1. a cardboard map tube
  2. a yardstick
  3. the flashlight
I looked under the fridge with the flashlight and saw the chipmunk wedged between the wall and the fridge. I removed the end of the map tube, positioned the tube next to the fridge and, using the yardstick, herded the chipmunk towards the opening. He obligingly ran into the tube whereupon I slapped on the end and lifted it upright to slide him to the bottom while I transported him outside. At this point, Supermunk, as he will be known forevermore, defied gravity and ejected himself from the top of the tube in a daring leap to the floor. A sprightly game of chase ensued.

By this time, Ray had realized something was going on behind that closed door and he desperately needed to be in on it. He just KNEW he was missing all the fun, so he started yelling. When that didn't work he switched to vigorous digging, trying to tunnel his way into the dining room. I was sweating and swearing profusely and tried not to think of the wet edge drying on the walls upstairs.

Supermunk jumped up onto one of the dining room chairs that was against the wall under a window. It had all of the chair pads stacked on top of it. Supermunk scrambled up the stack of pads and sat looking at the light streaming in. A lightbulb went off over my head. I opened the window, Supermunk jumped up on the windowsill and popped outside. I opened the door to let Ray into the room. He snuffled around for a minute or two then disappointedly left the room. I went back upstairs. Hugo was lounging at the top of the stairs, laughing. I thought evilly of sacks, rocks, and rivers and returned to work.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Baby Blues

"Uh oh," I thought to myself. I was watching as a woman entered the dog park with a dog and a little, tiny baby nestled in a carrier on her chest. There was a blanket draped over the baby's head to protect it from the morning sun. There is a dog park rule that kids have to be over 9 years old to enter the park but it doesn't say anything about babies (do they qualify as kids?) and people do take their kids in when necessary. I always try to keep a close eye on Ray when there are kids in the park, he has knocked them over by jumping on them on more than one occasion. He can't help himself, he is extremely attracted to small children.
I was rather far from the gate where she had come in and was watching Ray to see if he would "notice." He started to make a beeline for her (HOW does he know???????). I hotfooted it in the same direction to try to intercept him but my hound covers ground much faster than I. He reached her and tried to jump up enticed by the intoxicating scent of a newborn. She fended him off and I watched horrified, as first one, then the other, tiny, dangling, baby foot disappeared into Ray's mouth. I arrived at the scene and grabbed Ray's collar to keep him from eating the rest of the infant.
"I'm really sorry," I said to the woman, "Ray loves kids and gets hyper-excited around them, I'm not sure if it's because he's blind or what," (always play the blind card when there is a possibility that Ray is in trouble - it almost always works.) "Awwwww," replied the woman, "It's okay, Cameron (her dog) does the same thing. He loves her feet." She lifted the blanket to reveal a tiny girl with a head full of curly, soft, black hair. The baby was still asleep. "She's still sleeping!" I exclaimed. "I told you," said the woman, "She's used to it, her feet get licked all the time."
Ray had calmed down a bit so I let him go. He returned to the baby feet. I grabbed his collar and dragged him away a bit then turned him around and pushed him away from us and into the park. I stood by the woman chatting (and as protection) as Ray ambled off in search of fun.