Saturday, August 27, 2011

Braving the Storm

Ray was bored. It had been raining for awhile and he was bored. Luckily, the day before, I had finished work on Ray's latest raincoat. It had occurred to me in the spring that he needed one without a lining for downpours when it's warm. So I cut the bottom off of an old australian duster and turned it into the perfect thing for braving Hurricane Irene.
We went for a walk around the block. By the time we got home, the only thing wet on Ray were his feet and head.
Now, I just need to figure out how to make him a hat...
Please, can I take it off now?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Preparing for the Storm

Hurricane Irene was on her way. I headed out back followed by my trusty hound. I thought it might be a good idea, before the storm hit, to fill in the graves along the foundation that extend almost the entire length of the house.
I went to the shed and grabbed a shovel, a tamper, a hoe, and some pruners. I pruned some of the vegetation out of the way, loosened up some of the compacted dirt with the hoe and shoveled it into the first grave with the shovel. I tamped it down as good as I could, then took my shovel, hoe, and pruners and moved on to the next grave. When that was filled, I went back to the first grave to retrieve my tamper and found a hound dog rapidly re-excavating his hole. I yelled, "HEY, GET OUT OF THERE," and grabbed the bad dog's collar and dragged him away.
I picked up my tamper, re-tamped the dirt in the first hole and returned to the second, where I found Ray re-excavating his grave.
With a serious case of deja vu, I yelled, "HEY, GET OUT OF THERE," grabbed the bad dog's collar and dragged him away. I tamped the dirt down and moved on to the third grave.
I kept a wary eye on Ray while working on the third grave. Until I forgot. The sound of dirt clods flying reminded me that there was a gravedigger on the loose. I grabbed his collar, led him to the kitchen and turned my helpful dog over to Gregg. "Could you close the dog door," I asked. I heard it thunk shut as I returned to finish my task.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Save me

I had just reassembled Ray's bed after wash day. I walked back through the front hall where Ray was sprawled out doing his best imitation of a dead dog.
"Oh no," I cried facetiously, "I think my dog is dead."
I bent over Ray, put my hand on his side and said "Are you OK Ray?"
Ray weakly raised his front paw an inch or two to expose a little bit of his belly.
Only a belly rub could save him now.
I scrubbed him up a bit and continued on my way. Ray's front leg slowly repositioned itself and he returned to dead dog mode.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Did I hear Dinner?

For all his being able to trip me up on a walk (tip - do not use a very short leash when walking a blind hound), Ray is not one to get underfoot when he is being fed. Although, in the interests of full disclosure, when I first brought him home Ray would be right by my side when his food would come out of the cupboard. Now, when he hears his food container, Ray goes to a spot in the living room and waits, head cocked, listening.
He starts out a few paces away and listens while I put the crunchies in his bowl. Then he when he hears the top of the can come off, he moves a little closer. I never actually see him move, he is just all of a sudden there. And when his bowl hits the floor, Ray is ready, in place, patiently waiting for his dinner.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Never admit defeat? Why ever not?

I needed to get to work but first I needed to take Ray for a quick walk around the block.
I grabbed his leash off of the hook where it hangs. Usually the noise of the leash being picked off its hook is enough to get Ray moving, but he knew that today he was going to daycare (he can tell the difference between getting ready for work and getting ready to walk around the lake) and was comfily curled up on his favorite chair.
"C'mon Ray let's go for a walk," I said to my hound.
Ray didn't move although those tell-tale eyebrows were doing the dance showing that he had heard me.
"C'mon Ray, don't you want to go for a walk?" I asked.
Ray pretended not to hear.
"Let's go Ray," I said sternly.
Ray buried his nose further into his tail to show me that he was perfectly fine right where he was, thank-you-very-much.
"Ray, come," I said commandingly.
Ray didn't move a muscle.
I gracefully accepted defeat (for the moment) and sat back down with a cup of coffee.
To paraphrase Malcolm Forbes, "Coffee is sweetest when you've known defeat." (Ok, so he was talking about victory, but coffee works very well in this context).

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Guess What?

Monkey Butt.
That's what the vet called it when she had to shave a hotspot on Ray's rear end.
I've never seen a dog with such single-minded determination to lick himself raw. The vet said that hotspots in dogs are very common this time of year. So she gave him a shot and sent him home with some ointment. Seems to be working a bit already although he is still one miserable dog.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hmmmm. What did she mean by that?

It was hot and steamy. A typical Northern Virginia day. Ray and I were dragging around the lake. A 20 something girl was approaching. As she neared, she got a smile on her face.
"Nice..," she said.
I started to swell with pride as I usually do when someone is complimenting my dog.
"...shorts," she finished.
I deflated a bit but then realized I, myself, had just received a compliment from a YOUNG person.
I spent the rest of the walk wondering if she was being sarcastic.

I really don't want to be seen with her but she's holding the leash.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What's that NOISE?

It was Sunday night. I had spent the last two days (off and on) under Greggie's sink and had finally (I think) managed to get it working without any leaks (after replacing every single part but one). I came downstairs. When I entered the kitchen, Greggie humorously started singing "You will alwwways be my heeero" and gave me a hug for fixing his bathroom.
All of a sudden, Ray rushed down the stairs, right through my legs, out the dog door, and into the back yard, howling.
We both started laughing at Ray's extreme reaction to Gregg's rendition of Wind Beneath My Wings (although, truthfully, Gregg's singing does tend to make my ears bleed just a bit and just for the record he was absolutely appalled when he found out that he was singing Wind Beneath my Wings). I opened the back door and yelled "Oh, come on, it wasn't that bad!"
Ray was at the fence, dancing back and forth, yelling. I was laughing. Gregg was laughing. I walked out into the back yard, "C'mon Ray, don't you like your dad's singing?" I asked.
I heard a thump. The guy next door was closing his shed door. Ray was at the fence yelling and yelling (the neighbors are new and Ray is not too sure about them). I had told the man to just talk to Ray to stop him from yelling at him.
"It's just me, Ray," he said helpfully. Ray's tail wagged a bit uncertainly, then he started yelling again.
Gregg came outside, too. "C'mon in Raylin," he said, " 'Top Shot' is on and we can watch it together. You can see all kinds of ways to kill a coon."
Ray snorted in disgust as the coward next door went into his house. He stood at the fence a minute more to make sure the guy wasn't coming back out, then, job done, came inside and headed for his bed.
Gregg and I laughed again. "I'm going to blog," I said. "Make sure that people know I listen to the Cure and the Clash and not Bette Midler," said Gregg.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Apprentice

It turns out that Ray is as good at plumbing as he is at odd-jobs. Today, Gregg's sink was stopped up so he decided that, before he becomes a complete mess, he would try to fix it. This turned out to be a really bad idea as plumbing and feeding tubes do not mix.
While Gregg was able to take the pipes under the sink apart (and clean them out), by the time he ready to put them back together, he couldn't. So while Greggie recuperated from his plumbing, Ray and I took on the sink.
I have to say that plumbing is one of those things that I hate to do. Not so much because it's difficult (even though it is) but because it never goes smoothly, is always in a cramped uncomfortable place, and always takes two or more trips to the hardware store. This time was no exception. But having Ray around made thing so much better.
Every time I came out from under the sink, Ray was right there (with his head in the trash) to support me. When I needed the teflon tape, Ray was ready with it in his mouth (headed down the hall). When I was at my wits end and ready to throw in the towel, Ray was there (inches from my face) with his favorite toy ready to distract me. Ray is such a natural at plumbing that, after today, I was seriously thinking of apprenticing him out.
There's only one problem with that.
Ray doesn't have a butt crack.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Take it. Please. I insist.

Yesterday, Deborah came by with Ray's supermodel girlfriend, Halle. Gregg was sitting on the front porch and I was standing at the front door holding it open. As Halle got even with our house, her ears pricked straight up and she did a little skip. Deborah let go of Halle's leash and Halle scampered up to the door and into the house. Ray, who had been standing at the front door with a bone in his mouth trying to entice me in, turned an excited circle on the floor. His girlfriend had come to see HIM.
Still holding the bone in his mouth, Ray excitedly tried to get Halle to play. He did a little bow and a little jump. Halle ignored him (she doesn't know how to play). Ray bowed again, staying in position with his tail wagging madly. Halle, acting bored, found Ray's food bowl and helped herself to a snack. Ray pranced around in the background with his bone. Halle ignored him.
She went to his toybox where she had found a magical rib bone the last time she had visited, then spied Ray's long, tubular, dried cow-part laying on the rug nearby. She happily picked it up and settled down for a chew.
Ray stood nervously by with his bone in his mouth, listening. Once he was sure that Halle wasn't planning a sneak attack on him, Ray left the supermodel to her Twiggy-sized bone and settled down next to her with his more manly-sized rawhide.
They chewed in companionable silence (except for typical gnawing noises), their tails crossed romantically, while Deborah and I chatted.
It didn't take Halle long to chew the dried cow-part down to a nub. Deborah clipped the leggy greyhound to her leash and got ready to leave.
"You might as well take that with you," I said, pointing to the remaining 3 or 4 inches of the soggy, icky thing.
Deborah gingerly picked up the cow-part and dangled it between thumb and forefinger.
"I'm pretty sure Ray won't miss it," I said, knowing that he would want his special girlfriend to have the rest of it as a parting gift.
And, really, what girl wouldn't be impressed at the selfless act of a hound dog giving up a long, thin, tubular, dried cow-part.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


One thing that I have noticed that Ray and Hugo have in common is the simple pleasure they get out tiny little acts of total autonomy. With Hugo, it's getting to stick his paw in the bag of cat treats and help himself to one (or two). With Ray, it's when we return home from a walk, are only separated from the house by the front yard, and I turn him loose so that he can gallop up to the front door alone. (Granted, Ray does sometimes end up in the shrubbery to the left of the front door, but he self corrects and finds his way.)
Both Hugo and Ray LOVE being able to do these things by themselves without any help from humans. Such small things, and such a fleeting moment of happiness. Something that we wouldn't give a second thought to.
I think it's the complete autonomy of the act that makes them so happy. Of course, in Hugo's case it may be just the fact that he gets to help himself to more food. But in Ray's case? Is it being trusted enough to be turned off-leash for a moment? Is it having a home that he likes going to? Or is it just knowing where the front door is that makes him so happy?