Monday, February 28, 2011

Band of Brothers

It was raining. I'd had to go to work in the middle of the day, so the day was shot. There was no point in starting anything, like cleaning, I reasoned, not enough time to really get into it. Instead, I decided to do a little spinning. I settled myself in Gregg's chair and positioned the wheel in front of me. Ray settled himself on the couch opposite me and positioned his head on one of the pillows. I'd already fed him and it was starting to get dark because of the rainclouds so he was ready to go to bed anyway.
It was quiet as I spun. I heard a dog bark in the distance. Ray raised his head and gave a low growl. The dog continued to bark. Another dog joined in. Ray turned his head so that he could hear better then growled again. He got up off the couch and trotted to the front door to 'look' out. The hair was up on his back, the dogs were still barking in the distance. Obviously a warning was going out.
I got up to join Ray at the front door. I looked out to see if I could see anything. Nothing. Ray was standing still, 'looking', and growling. He turned and headed to his dog door. I followed. When he got to his door, he paused, looked over his shoulder, and waited for me. I reached for the doorknob and said, "Don't worry Ray, I got your back"
Ray went through his door, trotted out about 10 feet, paused and looked back again. "I'm right here," I said. Ray growled one last time, gave one long yell, then turned and came back in. He paused for me to wipe his feet. Ray headed back to the couch and curled into his usual tiny little ball, his job done.
I found myself thinking how terrifying it must be for Ray to hear the warning coming down the pike and not be able to see what kind of danger is out there. But, to his credit, he's ready to protect hearth and home to the best of his ability. And it's good to know that Ray was doing his part along with his brethren - - his dogs-in-arms as it were - - in alerting the neighborhood to the dangers that lurk within the suburbs. Even if no one is quite sure what those dangers are.


It was a beautiful day. Gregg and I took the opportunity to prune the large shade tree out in the front yard. Ray was feeling left out so I propped the babygates across the opening on the front porch and dragged out his bed so that he could lay in the sun. He sacked out. We worked.
After a couple of hours, our next door neighbor, Kirsten, stopped by to say goodbye. She was moving out. I knew Ray was going to miss her. She is one of his faves.
We exchanged mournful goodbyes. She is one of our faves also.
"Should I say goodbye to Ray?" asked Kirsten. "Absolutely." I replied, "He's on the porch."
Kirsten approached the porch. Ray stayed lying down but lifted his head and "looked" over his shoulder at her approach. "Aw," said Kirsten, "What a perfect place for a hound dog."
When he realized it was her, Ray lifted his front leg to expose his belly. "She's not going to rub your belly, Ray. She's come to say goodbye." I told him.
Ray stood up to get petted and say his goodbyes (even though he didn't know that's what he was doing). Kirsten left. I returned to work. Ray stood at the babygate, looking dejected.
Two minutes later I turned to see Ray headed up the cul-de-sac. It was a jail-break. I dropped my saw and started running. Gregg dropped his saw and headed for the house to fetch the leash.
"Ray! Ray! Come here Ray!" I yelled as I ran. Ray was headed to William's front door. He was high-stepping it up the walkway leading to the house when our neighbor, Bill (next door to William's) started calling Ray as well. "Ray! Ray!" he called and clapped his hands.
Ray diverted his course and headed for Bill who kept clapping and calling so that Ray could find him. I reached them just as Ray was flopping for a belly rub. Bill bent down to oblige, and Ray, obviously tickled pink that he had escaped doggy jail, rolled on his back, stretched all the way out and kicked his back legs in sheer glee. He was smiling.
Gregg arrived with the leash. Ray was led back to detention but there was a spring in his step. He was still high on the adrenelin rush of his escape attempt. I was amazed at the sheer audacity of the blind hound.

Friday, February 25, 2011


I know this has nothing to do with Ray the Blind Dog but how hard core do you have to be to go jogging in the snow barefoot?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Magic Mud Colored Floor

I picked the dogs up from daycare and, without a second thought about how it's been a bit damp lately, turned them loose in the backyard. I then opened the dishwasher to unload the clean dishes. The phone rang. I left the dishwasher to answer the phone. The woman on the end of the line wanted me to schedule an appointment. We were discussing dates when I heard the dogdoor flap fffffwwwwppppp open, then a horrendous crash.
I turned to look. Ray had come charging through the dogdoor into the open door of the dishwasher which opens a cabinet length away. I yelled into the receiver, "Oh my gosh, Ray! Are you alright? Hold on, I'll be right back!"
I slammed the phone down on the counter and went to check on my stunned hound. The dogdoor ffffwwwwpppppped again and Murphy came in. I paid no attention to her as I checked Ray over for injuries. He seemed fine. I went back to the phone when I noticed the muddy pawprints. Everywhere. Murphy hadn't left the kitchen (thank God), she'd just been trotting around in circles checking on the status of her friend. When she saw that he was OK she started for the living room. "SIT, STAY" I yelled. Both dogs sat.
I picked up the phone and quickly made my appointment (the woman never asked, I didn't explain). The dogs waited paitently. I hung up the phone and went to get some towels. I gave Ray a cursory paw wipe ( I don't know how he manages to stay so clean) then started on Pigpen. Mud sticks to her like glue. I spent some time trying to wipe it off with a dry towel, then dampened one to give her a spongebath. She flopped over on her side to expose her muddy belly. I wiped and wiped and wiped, then tossed in the towel (ha!) and walked her home to Marva's.
By the time I returned to our kitchen, the heated floor tiles had dried the muddy pawprints. They were invisible. If I hadn't seen them for myself, I wouldn't have believed they were there. I went to get a bucket and mop. I sprayed the floor with some vinegar and water and watched as the muddy prints magically reappeared. It was like watching CSI when they spray stuff at a crimescene and blood stains magically appear. I swabbed down the kitchen and thought, once again, how the large-undisclosed-amount-of-money-dog-door-project was worth every penny.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cat and Dog Dynamics

I know it has been quite a while since I have said anything about Moonie and Hugo. That's because nothing has changed. Both of the cats are still afraid of Ray. Mainly because he still tries to catch them whenever he can.
Since I haven't been working for the last month, (Well, I haven't been doing PAID work, I've been busy demolishing and rebuilding the interiors of our tiny closets so that we have a little more usable space), I've spent a little time every day trying to desensitize Ray to the cats. It doesn't work. Ray can smell those fuzzy, scurrying things and he wants to play with them.
Moonie, the less nervous of our two cats, is not as afraid of Ray as Hugo is. When I let Ray into the cat room, Moonie knows that if she stays still, Ray ignores her for some reason. So still she stays. Ray will sniff and sniff, getting closer and closer to a crouching Moonie and she will not move. Last week, she was crouching on the bedside table. Ray's head was inches from her and she never moved. I put my hand on his collar and spoke soothingly, Ray stayed still, sniffing, just a few short inches from Moonie, until he just couldn't stand it anymore. He opened his mouth to see what the smell would feel like. I quickly and energetically discouraged him. Moonie never moved.
Hugo the Nervous, on the other hand, growls and hisses the minute Ray enters the room, and if Ray gets too near, becomes a whirling dervish of swiping claws. He moves so fast that I only see a black blur as he tries to hit Ray and then retreats. I've only ever heard him connect once, a glancing blow that didn't do much to deter Ray.
Moonie still comes down at night to watch TV with us. Hugo will nervously come down during dinner, if he smells something that he's interested in eating, but will usually go back upstairs after the meal depending on where Ray is sleeping. If Ray is sleeping upstairs, Hugo will pace a bit, settle down for bit, but the minute he hears the faint jingle of dogtags, he's off like a shot.

But I persist in trying to bring the animals together. I miss my cats.

On a side note, Hugo has learned the commands 'sit' and 'stay.' When he wants to come downstairs and go out the front door, I will lead Ray a couple of feet away, tell him to 'sit' and 'stay,' then hold the door open for Hugo. Depending on how brave he is feeling on any particular day, Hugo will either nervously dash down the stairs and out the door, or casually saunter by Ray, pausing for a brief sit-down to thumb his nose at the dog, before continuing on to the door. Undoubtedly, Hugo knows that when I say the magic words he is safe to do as he pleases.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Winter Ray vs Summer Ray

With the onset of warmer temperatures and longer days, Winter Ray is beginning to disappear and Summer Ray is emerging. The difference between Winter Ray and Summer Ray (or maybe more accurately, Spring Ray), is energy level. Winter Ray is a bit more sluggish. He wakens gradually, goes out to pee, comes in for a little nap, then wakes up to start his day around nine or sometimes even 10 or 11. I can drink two full cups of coffee in the morning without bother when Winter Ray is in residence.
Summer Ray is up with the birds. He circles the coffee table with his bone trying to entice me into a game of keepaway. He puts his front feet up in my lap and tries to move me with the power of his mind (or maybe just the power of his mobile eyebrows). He whines, he paces, he gets into things until I cave in and take him for his morning perambulation around the block or the lake, or take him to the dogpark to play with his friends. We're usually out of the house by 8 or 9 when Summer Ray is here. I can't even finish one cup of coffee in peace.
I've been catching glimpses of Summer Ray with every passing day. I see his work in the mesh bag of cherry tomatoes abandoned in the front hall. I hear him rummaging through clothes closets. I see him out of the corner of my eye as he steals an onion from the kitchen cabinet for a quick tour around the coffee table on his way to the front hall. I find him savaging an unlucky skein of yarn and chewing on my knitting basket. But most of all, I hear Summer Ray whining because he's bored with winter and can't wait for his season to arrive.