Thursday, March 31, 2011

Did Someone Turn Up the Heat?

Rachel, Josh, Marva, and Murphy came over for dinner last weekend. Before they left, Rachel went to see Ray who was curled up in his bed. She tucked his blankets around him, gave him a pat, and said goodnight.
After they left I went over to take a look and snap a photo. Ray lasted about 15 minutes then got out of bed and stretched out on the floor, panting.
You can just see one ear, an eye, and a little bit of his neck


"Hey Gregg, will you take my picture?" I asked my lovely husband.
"Don't you have enough pictures of that dog sitting on your lap?" was Gregg's reply.
I laughed and answered. "No. Never."

Not a good clear shot but it makes me laugh just to think about it.
Half dog, half human?


I was washing Ray's collar collection the other day and was struck by the variety in his wardrobe. This doesn't include the three collars that he has eaten (broken the clips on), the two slip collars that I have attached to his leashes, or the collar that he is wearing. He is a very well-dressed dog.

From left to right:
The Redneck Coonhound collar (Pabst Blue Ribbon - a gag Christmas gift from Gregg)
Winter Fleece-wear
Summer Party-wear
Christmas Ducks

Random Photos

Saturday, March 26, 2011

And then she said GO

It has come to my attention that dogs do not understand the concept of 'and then.' I cannot, for example, say, "Ray, just let me finish my cup of coffee AND THEN we'll go for a walk," or "Ray, let me finish reading the paper AND THEN we'll go to the park," unless I want to listen to whining for the next 20 minutes. Dogs hear the word 'go' and they are mentally out the door and dragging you down the walk on the end of their leash. It's like giving them a shot of adreniline right in their brain. They are the original minute men, ready to hit the road at the drop of a word. The words 'and then,' don't even register.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Just a quick nap...

I was cleaning the bathroom. I needed paper towels so, followed closely by my trusty hound, I went into the cat room to retrieve some (tip of the day: always have paper towels in the cat room). Moonie was sleeping in her cube so I gave some attention to Hugo then turned to rip some towels off of the roll. Ray, who had been nosing around, did something unusual, he launched himself onto the bed.
I quickly removed the cat food that we leave there for Moonie and moved one of the (many) cat beds out of the way. Then I went into the next room to grab my camera and stood by to see what would happen.
Ray sniffed around interestedly. Moonie, wide awake now, remained hunkered down in her cube.
I tried to coax Ray off of the bed but he wasn't finished with what he was doing. He laid down to take a nap.
I know he was just trying to lull me into leaving him alone with the cats and, more importantly, the cat food, but I wasn't buying it. Neither was Hugo. He positioned himself next to his food dish and eyed the dog balefully. The glare was lost on the blind dog.

Together but Apart

This morning it was cool and cloudy so Ray slept in. That is, after breakfast and a game of keepaway, he curled up on the couch next to me and went back to sleep. I took the opportunity to do some internet searching and have a second cup of coffee. Because it was quiet, Moonie came down to visit.
I could tell that she knew where the dog was and was a bit nervous, but Moonie wanted a bellyrub and she wanted it now. So she kept a wary eye on the dog and settled herself next to me. I put the Mac on the coffeetable and snapped a few photos of them together.
Moonie stayed until Ray sat up and yawned then took off. She came back a little while later to sniff one of Ray's paws that was hanging off the side of the couch. It must have been stinky because she didn't stick around long after that.
Good. I think he's sleeping.

Ok, hurry up, just one quick belly rub .

Uh-oh, I think he's awake..
I'm outta here!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Smell of Fear

I've often heard it said "Dogs can tell when you're afraid of them," but I never really thought much about it. That is until we got Ray. I have found it very interesting observing his interaction with other animals and now I know exactly how dogs can tell when your afraid. They smell fear.
I know for a fact now that hounddogs track their prey, not just by smelling the animal's scent, but by smelling the animals fear.
I have seen on numerous occasions, Ray walk right by Moonie (and walk right into Moonie) when she is sitting placidly on the back of the couch or on the floor nearby. But if Moonie walks into the room, sees the blind dog, and then aprehensively slinks off, Ray's head will go up and his nose will start twitching. When Hugo, our scaredey-cat is twitching nervously anywhere nearby, Ray instantly goes into hunt mode.
When we are at the dogpark, Ray only hounds those dogs that are obviously nervous. Ususally it's the little dogs or young dogs but sometimes it's just a newbie that's never been to a dogpark before (and probably will never come again after having Ray blast away in it's face). If no nervous dogs are around, Ray will settle on dogs that are chasing balls or frisbees.
But the reason I am absolutley convinced that Ray smells fear and not just a generic animal smell is this. The other evening, Ray was asleep in his bed in front of the fireplace. I was giving Moonie a pill (a particularly foul-tasting thing if Moonie's reaction is anything to judge by) in another room. The second Moonie realized what I going to do, Ray got up off his bed, and headed our way, his nose twitching like crazy. Moonie hadn't made a sound and I wasn't holding a steak. It's the smell of fear that drives this blind hounddog.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Forgotten Photos

I was going through some of my old photos today and found these that I took in October. I took them when I was moving the cat tree into the cat room in anticipation of the renovation.
Ray, who had never paid any attention to it previously, was fascinated.

HELLOOOOO. Is anybody home???



Hmmm. Guess no one is there.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I went to the cat room to feed the cats. Hugo came over to get petted. I heard the jingle of dog tags and turned to see Ray enter the room behind me. Hugo nervously retreated a few feet. I made Ray sit and told him to stay. I reached to pet Hugo, telling him what a good, brave boy he was, then reached to pet Ray and told him he was a good boy also. Ray sat very upright, ears deployed in Dumbo mode, looking ultra alert. I sat and petted one, then the other. My attention wandered for a brief moment and Ray stood and made a quick movement in Hugo's direction. I grabbed him and made him sit, then layed him out on his side, pressing his head to the floor. His head was resting on Moonie's "birdie" on a stick, I could see him relax. I continued to talk to Ray and Hugo trying to keep an assertive, positive, calm frame of mind (yes, I've been watching the dog whisperer again).
I grabbed Hugo and pulled him over to me to try to get him a bit closer to Ray. My nervous Nellie struggled briefly, I told him to sit and stay, then realized I was talking to a cat and laughed at myself. I was hanging around the hound dog waaaaaay too much.
While I was struggling to control my cat, I glanced briefly at Ray to make sure he wasn't ready to pounce again. Ray had lifted his head from the floor and was 'looking' in our direction. Grasped in his mouth was Moonie's "birdie." He had a look on his face like "Here kitty, kitty, kitty. Come and get your birdie." I wasn't sure if he was trying to tempt Hugo to come and play or tempt him to come and get eaten.
I laughed out loud, wishing I had my camera, and let Hugo go. He beat feet to under the bed where he flopped over and pretended to not care that there was a dog in his room. I tried to coax him out, but Hugo was convinced I was firmly in the enemy camp and trying to kill him and stayed put. I gave up, got my hound to his feet, and exited the cat room hooking the hook firmly in the eye as we left the room.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ray Meets One of His Own

Ray and I were walking around the lake. We stopped to talk to a woman with a newly-rescued black Lab. She had had him for only a month and a half. "He's a great dog," she said. "So good in the house. Really well trained. I can't imagine why someone wouldn't want him." The woman told me that the Lab was on death row at an animal shelter when she adopted him.
(I can't imagine why people pay for dogs when there are so many great dogs to be had for free. (Ray being a PRIME example, blindness and lack of lymph nodes notwithstanding.) And not just mixed breeds are available but purebreds of every kind. It just boggles my mind.)
A couple was walking up the path towards us. They had a dog on a leash and a baby in a backpack.
"Is that a Redtick Coonhound?" I asked. "It is," they replied.
"I've never seen one with so much white before," I said, then added, "And that's the first one I've seen around here," (well, except for the "Beagle Pointer Mix" that Ray and I met at the dogpark). "We've never seen one with so much red," the man started to say in reference to Ray, then quickly amended his statement to "We've never seen another one at all."
I asked the dog's name. "Her name is Bama. Alabama," the couple informed me.
Ray was sniffing his relative, then became aware of the baby in the backpack. I held him up on his hind legs so that he could sniff the baby's foot. Ray tried to get in a couple of good licks before I set him back down. The baby was smiling delightedly.
Ray went back to his doggy relation and briefly tried to get her to play. She didn't look to be particularly interested in playing with her cousin.
"Can I take a picture of them together?" I asked. "I want to post it on Ray's blog." They agreed. And here it is. Judging by the photo, I'd say their bloodlines cross right at the ears.
Ray and Bama.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I contend...

...that, no matter how careful you are, it is virtually impossible to stain and varnish a threshold without getting dog and/or cat hair in the mix.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

No Pictures Please

Yesterday, as per usual when I'm not working and it's not too muddy, Ray and I went to the dogpark. Julie (Ray's portraitist) was there. When we entered the gate, Julie called out, "Ray! Ray!"
Ray headed in her general direction, then, without stopping, passed her by.
"He didn't stop to see me!" exclaimed Julie, surprised and a little offended by Ray's rudeness which appeared even more rude because he had been so thrilled to see her when she came to the house to take his picture.
"That's because he's a SUPERSTAR, and you are just the paparazza," I replied, "And because he has to poop." Ray is more than a little singleminded when it comes to finding the perfect place to poop.

If anyone is interested in reading about Julie Hart's work benefitting homeless animals, here is a link to a short article that appeared in The Virginia Dog magazine.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bad News

Murphy is moving at the end of the month.
Ray is going to be devastated.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Beep Beep

Gregg and I had been to a party. The light on the front porch brightened as we approached the front door. We had left a light on inside as well. Both of us looked in the front door sidelights, a habit we retained from the days when we never knew what we were going to find, when Ray was still new and rather, uh, energetic.
Moonie was sitting at the base of the stairs, looking our way, distracted by the sounds we were making. We watched aghast as Ray started to descend the stairs, coming down to greet us at the door. Moonie wasn't moving.
Ray reached the foot of the stairs. Moonie was directly between his front feet. When she realized exactly where she was, Moonie turned and ran out from under Ray, straight through his back feet. In the blink of an eye, she disappeared up the stairs. Ray's head went down, ears deployed in dumbo mode. He 'looked' back between his front feet, then turned and gave chase. I started to laugh. I knew that Moonie was safe in the cat room before Ray even had time to turn around. The whole scene was eerily reminiscent of a roadrunner cartoon.
We entered the house and I headed upstairs to get Ray away from the cat room door. Moonie was sitting calmly on the bed looking like she'd been there all night.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I'm Ready for my Closeup Mr. DeMille

Ray's photo shoot went splendidly. In preparation, I had taken him for a quick walk around the lake where we were able to watch the geese practice their log rolling.I had thought of taking Ray to the dogpark, but it had rained all day yesterday and the dogpark mud tends to turn Ray from a Redtick Coonhound into a Red Coonhound. The color of the mud is the exact color of his coat (minus the white).
Ray got ready by applying a bit of makeup to his nose. Despite my best efforts to keep Ray out of the mud, he decided that one of his bones needed to be buried ASAP. While the rest of him remained unscathed, the nose knows.

Ray, as always, was thrilled to have a guest. We retired to the back yard where Julie talked to Ray and started snapping pictures. Ray, suffering under the delusion that she was taking photos for a beefcake calendar, kept flopping over to expose himself, looking coyly over his shoulder at his photographer.

It took some coaxing, but Ray finally sat for a few good shots.
I tried to convince Julie that Ray at the front door with his nose mashed against the glass would make a great painting, but she wasn't buying it.
Instead, she sent along the following five photos. I'm not sure which one she is going to use for his portrait, but I'm really glad I'm not the one that has to make the decision. Ray is too cute in all of them.

If anyone wants to see Julie's demo she will be at A Show of Hands on Mt Vernon Ave in Del Ray, Alexandria, on March 19th from 11-2.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Tomorrow, weather and scheduling permitting, an ARTIST is coming to take pictures of Ray so that she can paint his portrait.
I met Julie at the dogpark. She is active in fostering dogs (she has had at least four or five since I've known her) and is drawn to hounds. She is owned by a German Shepherd/Bloodhound named Annie that she adopted from a rescue, and a Black and Tan Coonhound named Coaltrain, one of her fosters that she kept. (Coal was one of about 30 dogs confiscated from a property and one of 10 that survived.)
Anyway, Julie had told me before that she was interested in painting Ray, and being the agreeable person that I am, I said "Sure! Anytime!"
So earlier this week, I saw Julie at the dogpark again. She told me that she was going to be doing a demo (I guess she is demo-ing how to paint pet portraits) and needed a subject. "I'd like to paint Ray," she said, "He's got such a great face (I might be making that part up) and such a great story. Can I come to your house and take some photos?"
I played it very cool even though I was doing an excited happy dance in my head. "Sure," I replied, "When do you want to come?" We decided to aim for Friday.
Tomorrow is the big day. If all goes well, Ray may become immortalized on canvas as well as in his blog. Not too shabby for a blind, lymph-node impaired hound dog from South Carolina.

If you are interested in seeing the pet portraits that Julie has painted of her pets, the dogs she has fostered, and others that have been commissioned click here: juliehartdesigns . If you click on each photo, you will see a larger picture and a brief write-up by the artist.
I think my favorites are of Coaltrain (the first photo on the page) and the grey cat. I see that look on Hugo's face every time Ray tries to steal Hugo's food.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lesson for the Day

Today, Ray learned that when he bites the nozzle of the Windex, it tastes bad. And it only took him 4 or 5 times of biting the Windex to learn his lesson. (Still not sure he's got this one down. We'll see what happens the next time I get out the Windex.)