Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Compliment

This evening my lovely husband and I were having cocktails with the couple across the street. That would be Sandra (who owns Maddie, the Cocker Spaniel) and her hubbie, Dick. We were on their screened-in porch drinking Margaritas and chatting. Ray was passed out on the deck. Maddie was trying to cadge food from Dick. We were all having a good time.
When we got ready to leave, Dick called Ray over for a goodbye. As usual, Ray went up to give Dick a kiss on the ear. And as usual, Dick said to me "You've done a good job with him."
Makes me glow every time.

Why Deaf Dogs and Blind Dogs do not Make Good Playmates

Boxers are hands-y (paws-y?), high energy, spastic dogs (if you disagree, that's ok, I'm sure there are exceptions). Where other dogs play by biting each other on the neck or wrestling. Boxers smack their playmates with their paws - hence the name.
Today, just as we were finishing up our walk around the lake, Ray met a 10 month old, deaf, white Boxer named Bella. Bella, being a bouncy, young dog wanted to play with my blind hound. Ray, being an agreeable sort, seemed fine with the idea until he was at the receiving end of a couple of quick jabs to the torso and a right hook to the head.
Ray growled to let the young lass know that she was out of bounds. Bella not hearing a thing delivered a jab to Ray's snozz. Ray, feeling like he was under attack, let loose with a warning AWOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, AWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. The deaf dog must have felt the vibrations in her innards (I know I did) and flattened herself on the ground. She recovered quickly and tried to deliver a couple more quick punches but by this time, both her owner and I thought maybe separation was a better idea.
Obviously, the blind dog couldn't tell that the deaf dog was only playing and the deaf dog couldn't tell that the blind dog was delivering a warning.
Not a good match.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Scam Artist

I was at daycare waiting for Ray. A young man at the counter was talking to Kristen, the Just Fur Pets manager. At his feet was a plastic bin filled with unidentified, dried cow-parts in plastic bags. He was pedaling his wares.
"Dogs love these," he said, holding out a bag of long, thin, tubular thingies.
Kristin took the bag and examined the contents. He bent over the bin and rooted through it a bit and brought out another bag of thingies.
"These are another favorite," he said. "I've never met a dog that didn't like these."
Just then Ray was led out by one of the guys that works at the daycare. Ray immediately headed to the bin and stuck his head in, sniffing interestedly.
"Now there's a dog with perfect timing," said the dried-cow-part salesman.
He zipped open the bag with the long, thin, tubular thingies, extracted one and held it out in Ray's general direction. Ray, being a blind dog, didn't see anything and so didn't try to take it from the young man's hand. The young man looked a bit confused. I put my hands on either side of Ray's face and turned it so that the cow-part was right under his nose.
"Ray doesn't see," said Kristen to the cow-part salesman who looked even more confused.
Ray gingerly took the long, thin thingy, turned his head a fraction and dropped it on the floor, disdain writ large on his face. I started laughing
The dried-cow-part salesman looked slightly stunned and a bit nonplussed. He turned back to Kristen. "Of course I can't guarantee that 100 percent of dogs will like them," he said with a grin. "But nine out of 10 dogs do."
He bent over his plastic bin and came out with another plastic bag. He zipped the bag open and this time extracted a dried part that looked like beef jerky.
"Dogs love these," he said holding the jerky in Ray's direction, "Try this."
I again took Ray's head and turned it in the direction of the jerky. Ray took it in his teeth, turned a fraction of an inch and dropped it on the floor. I couldn't stop laughing. Kristen was laughing too. She's seen Ray do the exact same thing just about every time I buy him something from the store.
The salesman was opening another bag. This time he withdrew a small dog treat. He handed me the treat and said, "Here, this is lamb, try giving him this."
I took the treat and held it under Ray's nose. He sniffed at it for a second then turned away and started his usual shopping along the closest store shelf.
The cow-part salesman threw in the towel and turned back to Kristen to make his sales pitch. I gathered the unwanted (and now unusable from a sales perspective) chews from the floor, pocketed the lamb treat and dragged Ray away and out the door. I was still laughing.
When we got home, I dropped the chews and the lamb treat on the rug in the front hallway. Ray immediately picked up the long, thin, tubular thingy in his mouth. He joyfully threw it in the air a couple of times then settled in for a good chew.
Do you believe I got this for FREE?

Ray and his booty

I fed Ray and retreated upstairs to change out of my work clothes. A couple of minutes later, Ray showed up, this time the jerky chew was grasped firmly between his teeth. He flung the chew around a bit, trying to tempt me with a game of keepaway, then carried his new chew into the hall, settled in on his favorite rug, and ate it. I noticed later that the lamb treat was also gone.
Heh, heh, heh. Cow-part salesmen are so gullible.
(notice the chew hanging out of the corner of Ray's mouth)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

But I don't want a lobster. I want RAY.

Today, Rachel came over without Murphy. Ray met her at the door, excited. But when Rachel walked in, Ray stayed at the door, ears deployed in Dumbo mode, head cocked to one side, tail wagging, listening for his old friend to follow. Slowly his tail stopped wagging.
"She's not with me, Ray," said Rachel with distress in her voice. "She's not here. She didn't come with me."
Ray still stood at the door looking out. His tail would wag a bit, like he knew Murphy was coming, he just couldn't hear her yet, then stop, then wag a bit, then stop.
Rachel went up behind him and started scrubbing his back with her hands to distract him.
"She's not here, Ray. You'll just have to come and visit her." Rachel kept talking and scrubbing until Ray reluctantly left the front door. We could both tell that it was hard for Ray to get over the fact that Rachel had come without his friend.
Later in the day, Rachel posted on Facebook a picture of Murphy wearing a distinct "How COULD You??????" look on her face. It was obvious to the meanest intelligence that she was NOT a happy dog. It was also obvious that the stuffed lobster bribe that Rachel had given Murphy just wasn't going to cut it.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Repurposed Halti

It's been hotter than Hades here but Ray still needs his exercise, not so much for any physical reason (well, there is the lymph node thing), but because he drives me crazy with the whining and shoe-eating if he doesn't get enough. So before the day gets totally scorching, I take Ray for a walk around the lake. I don't feel comfortable taking him that far without an available water source so I came up with an easy way of toting it along.

When I first brought Ray home, I knew nothing about dogs so I hired a trainer so that Ray could become all that he could be. (Little did I know that Ray already WAS all that he could be.) The trainer advised me to get a Halti to teach Ray to behave on the end of a leash (if you don't remember the Halti experience, click on the underlined word to see how that worked out). Since then, I have never used the thing except as described below.

One of my hobbies is repurposing/recycling things. I found that, with the addition of a couple of carabiners, the useless Halti can be repurposed into a perfect tote for a reusable water bottle and a transportable cloth dog bowl.

If you want to make your own tote, clip one carabiner through the hole on the screw-top of a Sigg water bottle (some other types of water bottles also have holes in their tops) and then onto the Halti part that goes around the back of the dog's head (as modeled by Ray below).

Ray Modeling the Useless Halti

The cloth bowl can clip straight onto the part of the Halti that clips to the dog's collar but I use a carabiner because it's easier to remove the bowl.

Here the water bottle is clipped to the part of the Halti that fits around the back of the dogs head.
The cloth bowl is dangling out of the picture on the end that clips to the dog's collar.

With the bowl and water bottle thus secure, slip your hand through the part that fits across the dog's muzzle and grab the part that fits under the dog's chin. Although it may look odd, it's a very comfortable and functional tote (and doesn't make me feel like I wasted any money on something that just didn't work out as a dog training device.)

The Halti, repurposed as a water/bowl carrier

So for those of you who need a handy dandy water/dog bowl tote as you hike around the lake, and have an unused Halti lying around the house, (arguably a very small segment of the population), this is the thing for you.

No need to thank me. I'm happy to help.

And for those of you who don't need any such thing, here's picture of Ray basking in the heat and humidity of northern Virginia. (He only lasted about 10 minutes.)

Ray Enjoying the 100 Degree Day

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Another Poop Post

I know I said I'd never write about dog poop again, but I have one thing that keeps nagging at the corners of mind now that summer is here. Have you ever noticed how dog poop turns white after it has baked in the sun for a few days or weeks? Isn't it strange how it's the only thing that turns white after baking. Everything else on the planet (at least, everything that I can think of) turns brown from baking (or black if it's in the oven too long). I've even seen fox poop on the sidewalk for days and days and it doesn't ever seem to turn white. But dog poop does.
I find this phenomenon very interesting and I find myself wondering if the poop would turn dark again if I rehydrated it.
Can anyone tell me? Or should I just stay out of the sun.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Personification of Animate and Inanimate Objects

Yesterday, at an estate sale, I bought a noddy-dog. I haven't seen a noddy-dog in years and years and years (not since I was a kid). Yesterday the opportunity presented itself and I took it. I bought an honest-to-God, genuine, made in Japan, noddy-dog.
I think part of the reason I bought it was because it was a noddy-hound dog with a (very) remote similarity to Ray. Gregg kept silent as I showed it to him. He tried valiantly not to roll his eyes as I placed it gently on the dashboard of my car and proudly drove us home. Noddy, appropriately enough, nodded all the way.
I had a vague idea that I would relocate Noddy to the house once we got home, but he seemed perfectly happy on the dash so I left him there.
Later in the day when I drove out, Noddy smiled and nodded as we went hither and yon. When I accelerated, his neck would stretch waaaay up, kind of like Ray's does whenever I mention Izzy's name. When I stopped, his neck would go down and retract kind of like Ray when he is standing at the front door. I realized that he also had a kind of worried look on his face, the same one Ray gets whenever we leave the house and I tell him every time, "Ray stay. Take care of the cats and keep an eye on the house. OK?"
His resemblance to Ray seemed to grow as the day progressed. Whenever I would turn a corner, Noddy would look at me with his glassy stare and tilt his head just so - just like Ray does when I talk to him.
Then I noticed that Rabbit (who has been sitting on the corner of my dash for a couple of years) was giving Noddy a LOOK. It had a bit of disdain in it. A kind of evil rabbity-ness (rabbity evil-ness?).

I felt kind of bad for Noddy knowing that he couldn't move his neck far enough to even know that Rabbit was there sneering at him. Noddy could just nod agreeably and stare blindly ahead.
Then I realized that that was another Ray trait, a blithe disregard for his blindness; a soldiering on without bothering about what others might think.
Noddy and Ray are kindred spirits. Happy in their obliviousness and existing only to do what they do best. In Noddy's case, it's nod and ride around town on the dash of a car. In Ray's case, it's flop on his back and lure people into giving him belly rubs.
Ray doing what he does best

Saturday, July 16, 2011

But it's so HOT out...

Ray has a very low tolerance for temperature fluctuations. Ten degrees either way of 70 is his maximum and minimum comfort zone. So, even though we had some ceiling fans installed on the front porch during our 'large undisclosed amount of money dog door project,' they don't do much to dispel the intense heat and humidity of Washington, DC-area summers. Although Gregg and I are comfortable enough sitting on the front porch enjoying a cocktail in the evening, Ray has other ideas of what is comfortable.
I only bring this up because lately I've realized how cat-like Ray is when he wants something. Hugo (and pretty much every other cat I've ever had) is notorious for sitting at the front door looking in, and when I go to open the door to let him in, he walks away. It's just his way of telling me that he wants me to come out and enjoy the fresh air.
Ray, on the other hand, stands just inside the door, head down, nose pressed against the glass like so...

Every so often, he will hit the glass door with his paw, like he wants to come out and join us. When I get up to open the door and let him out onto the porch, he does this....
He grabs a rawhide bone and tries to lure me into the house with a game of keepaway. When that doesn't work, he does this....
He tries to convince me that I can have first dibs on the bone (notice the tail wagging madly).
If that doesn't work, he tries to look cuter...
And if that doesn't work, he just looks disappointed.
It's not that Ray really wants to play keepaway, he just wants me to come into the house where it's nice and cool and air conditioned so that he has someone to curl up next to on the couch while he sleeps.

Nine times out of ten, it works.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Non-Story

The Supermodel was lying in Ray's bed gnawing on a bone. Deborah and I were in the living room having a glass of wine. Gregg was on the front porch reading a book. And Ray was standing in the middle of the front hall, head low, looking confused.

I got just so far in the blog above and realized there was really no ending to this story. Halle was visiting and had dug through Ray's toybox until she found a rib bone that I had bought Ray a few months ago. Ray wasn't really interested in it, for some reason, and it had sat in his box, ignored, until Halle found it. She quickly latched on to it and retreated to Ray's bed. Ray, who was more interested in protecting his three rawhides, was standing in the middle of the hallway wondering what it was that Halle was gnawing on (he knew it wasn't one of his hides) and if he should do something about it. He didn't do anything. I think he is just too smitten with the leggy, slim girl to deny her anything (except his rawhides).
Deborah and I finished our wine, and she and Halle left. (Actually, in the interest of full disclosure, Ray and I walked them home, then continued on 'round the block. Halle dilly-dallied the whole way, thinking of the rib bone that she had left behind, and Ray got as far as Halle's house and didn't want to go any farther because he wanted to stay with her).

So, like I said, there was really no ending to the story above. But some intro lines are just too good not to use.

Monday, July 11, 2011

You did NOT just do that...

I realize that my dog is spoiled and probably gets away with waaaaay too much but, REALLY (she says with outrage in her voice). I don't know what makes him think I will tolerate him chewing my shoes while I am WEARING them. (My poor unfortunate favorite sandals again.) Having said that, if I had my camera/phone handy, I would have taken a picture....

Saturday, July 9, 2011

New Toy for Blind Dogs

Want to keep your blind dog entertained for hours? Introduce a fly into the house. The other day, Ray spent at least half a day trying to catch a rather large housefly buzzing around. I've never seen him so focused and determined.
I don't know if you can see them in these photos, but there are nose prints all over the glass doors. All the windows too.
I'm thinking of letting another fly in the house today just to keep Ray busy and away from my shoes.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

They're SHOES not CHEWS

My shoes have really been taking a hit lately. So far this summer 1 pair of flipflops and 2 pair of sandals have been bitten by the big one.
Unfortunately, the shoe chewer has been getting cagier as he ages. I rarely catch him with the shoes in his mouth anymore, just find the chewed shoe in the front hall or the hallway upstairs. I always shrug it off and tell myself, "Eh, they're just shoes," but the problem is, I don't have that many shoes to begin with and my choices are getting scantier.
I guess I wouldn't mind so much but the other day he chewed my favorite, most comfortable sandals EVER. They aren't totally destroyed, I just can't wear them to work again, the big teeth marks and ripped stitching are a bit too obvious for that. Then yesterday he chewed my only other pair of comfy sandals that were suitable for work, cute Italian things that were made of fabric and are now unwearable. That leaves only the hot-pink, patent leather ones - but those aren't terribly comfortable and they really don't go with a lot.
Notice I haven't mentioned anyone by name here. Without DNA testing I can't say for sure who has been chewing my shoes, I mean, really, it could be Gregg or Moonie or Hugo. Even though it's shoes that have been chewed, the MO is not really the same as previous shoe-chewings; none of these shoes had tassels.
I just can't shake the feeling though, that somehow this is the work of a certain blind hound with a newfound penchant for strappy footwear.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

But Mom, they NEED me

Ray was yelling again. I left the front porch for the fifth time and went 'round the back to drag him away from the air conditioner.
I'd been doing this off and on for most of the day. He was again digging furiously at the base of the air conditioner, first one side, then the other.
Then around the back of it. He would stop to listen a minute, ears deployed in Dumbo mode, his tail would wag briefly, he'd yell a few times, then dig furiously. The air conditioner wasn't running.
When Ray stopped digging and yelling, I once again got down on my hands and knees to see if I could see or hear anything. This time I heard a very faint hiss which sounded vaguely cat-like. I went to check on my cats to make sure they were all accounted for. I was fairly certain that Hugo was waaaaaay to fat to fit under the platform that the air conditioner was on, but Moonie was thin enough.
I grabbed Ray's collar and brought him inside, closed the dog door, and checked on the cats. All present. I went to join Gregg for a sit on the front porch. Our neighbor, Sandra, came up.
"Did Ray's yelling bother you?" I asked.
Sandra replied in the negative.
"I don't know what's under our air conditioner," I said, "But he's been after it all day. I thought I heard a hiss and figured it could be a cat but there's no reason it would be there all day. I even took Ray for a walk around the lake so it had plenty of time to leave but when we got back, he went right back to it."
"Bill (our neighbor two houses down) said one of the strays had kittens," replied Sandra. "He said he saw the cat's teats so he knows there are kittens but he doesn't know where the kittens are."
"Oh, great," I said. "I'll bet that's what it is. I'm guessing she'll move them overnight now that she's figured out that maybe this yard isn't as friendly as she thought."
That night every time we let Ray out, it was on the end of a leash.
The next morning, judging by Ray's total lack of reaction when he got to the air conditioner, they were all gone.

The Opposite of Fun

My lovely husband has cancer.

It's a week ago Wednesday that we found out. The man that is never sick, doesn't smoke, and runs 3 to 5 miles just about every single day has cancer. We are still reeling.

Our amazing Doctor (the same one that operated on my deviated septum) performed surgery on Monday and removed a cancerous tonsil and a bunch of malignant lymph nodes in Gregg's neck. This past week has been hell for my lovely husband. Excruciating throat pain and the inability to eat cheese, his favorite food group. As soon as he heals up, he'll start weeks of radiation and chemo.

Usually at the beginning of summer, I will declare, "This will be a Summer of Fun," and we will try to do at least one fun thing a weekend and maybe even go out during the week. This summer Gregg has declared "This will be the summer of the Opposite of Fun." The man has a way with words.

But this is not going to turn into a cancer blog. This is the one and only blog you will see about Gregg (if you want to know how he's doing, ask in the comments). There are tons of support groups and personal logs and everything else cancer out there. This will remain Ray the Blind Dog's blog. But I wanted Ray's fans to know because they are such a supportive, caring group.

My lovely husband has cancer.

Gregg and his Support Group