Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cold hands, warm dog

I've often wondered why projects always take me so long to finish. And now I think I have the answer.
It was 6:30 Saturday morning. I quietly extricated myself from the bed so as not to wake Gregg, tip-toed past Ray snoozing on the futon, and then crept down the stairs. Hugo followed.
I wanted to finish knitting a pair of mittens that I'd been working on and I wanted to cast on the thumb, a tricky bit for me. I needed solitude.
I got the coffee brewing, put a little half-and-half in a Wedgewood creamer so that it could come to room temperature on the counter, and sat down with my project. I spread my knitting paraphernalia out on the couch next to me; Hugo jumped up to perch on the end table. As soon as my butt hit the couch, I heard the jingle of dog tags. Hugo nervously watched the doorway for the dog, then jumped down, slunk behind the couch, and back up the stairs. I sighed.
Ray ambled over and indicated his desire to go out. I got up, put on some shoes, put Ray on his leash and took him outside for a quick pee, then returned to my couch and the knitting. Ray followed me over and jumped his legs up on the couch next to me.
"No, Ray," I said, "Go sit on dad's chair."
Ray was persistent. I pushed his legs down. "Go on. Go sit somewhere else," I said.
Ray jumped his legs back up and loomed.
I picked up my knitting and moved to Gregg's chair. Ray followed. I sighed. I gave him a rubdown. He tried to crawl up on the chair with me. I took my knitting and moved to the family room, Ray jumped up onto the newly-warmed chair and curled himself into a ball. I sat down in the recliner in the other room, picked up the thumb stitches I needed, and started to knit. I was three stitches into the first row when Ray, realizing that he'd been had, got down out of his chair and followed me into the family room. I briefly rubbed his ears while he thought about trying to get up in the chair with me, then decided the couch would be more comfortable and curled up there. I picked up my knitting and knit a quick two rows before I realized I was doing it the wrong way round (sigh) and unpicked what I had just done.
I decided maybe it was a good time for breakfast so I left the knitting and went to make some bacon and eggs. Just as I finished making them, Gregg appeared in the kitchen, then Hugo, and then as if by magic, Ray. Hugo darted back up the stairs. Ray knowing that he'd missed his friend once again, trotted to the foot of the stairs and 'looked' interestedly up. Hugo was sitting on the landing watching the oblivious dog.
I took my plate and headed for the living room to eat. Ray followed with a rawhide in his mouth, tail wagging. He stationed himself in front of me with the 'come chase me' look on his face. I picked up my plate and followed him around the coffee table taking a bite of breakfast here and there, before sitting down to eat the rest of my egg sandwich. I puttered around the kitchen cleaning up my mess while Gregg ate his breakfast. He took off for the grocery store. Just as I sat down to try and get my knitting squared away, Ray appeared once again with his rawhide to re-start the game of keepaway. Hugo was watching from the landing so every time we did a loop around the coffee table, I would make a detour to the foot of the stairs to toss a fabric tape measure up the stairs for Hugo to chase. Around the table, to the stairs. Around the table, to the stairs.
Finally, Ray headed outside with his rawhide. I knew he would be busy burying it for a while so I immediately headed back to my knitting to see what I could accomplish. I got a quick few rows done before Ray was back with muddy feet. I got up to wipe away the mud then sat back down with my knitting. Ray started to whine. I got back up to feed him, then sat back down with my knitting. Ray finished eating but didn't leave the kitchen. I heard an odd noise and got up to investigate. Ray's front feet were on the kitchen counter. He was delicately lapping the half-and-half from the Wedgewood creamer. I gave a howl of outrage, dumped the remainder, and removed the creamer to the sink. I sat back down with my knitting. Ray went to the front door and started to scratch; he wanted a walk. I called the dog over and pulled him up on the couch next to me, Moonie arrived and jumped up on the other side. I sat, petting both my animals, reveling in having both of them together for a change. The knitting lay on the table next to me, forgotten for the moment.
Gregg returned from the grocery; Moonie left. I picked up the knitting, finished the last stitch, looked at the finished mitten with pride and realized that I had knit the entire thumb with the wrong size needles (sigh). I went and got dressed and grabbed the dog leash.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Do I Smell Dinner?

I was picking up Ray from 'school.'
"I don't know what was up with him today,' said Chance, the doggy daycare attendant. "Ray was really whiny this afternoon."
Chance handed me Ray's leash and as Chance and I stood there chatting, Ray started dragging me to the back of the store.
"Don't you want to go home Ray?" I asked my dog.
Ray's feet were slipping and sliding on the linoleum as he pulled me to the office door which was cracked open an inch. Ray's nose was twitching like crazy as he jammed it into the crack and pushed the door open another inch or two. I was laughing and holding on tight, Ray's feet were going a mile a minute but the floor was too slippery for him to gain any purchase.
"What's going on?" I asked no one in particular.
I could see a lightbulb go off over Chance's head. "It must be the rabbit," he said, "It's one of the dogs' best friend. We have a Cairn Terrier here today and his rabbit is in the back in a cage. Ray must smell him."
Ray was 'looking' through the crack in the door, his ears deployed in ultra dumbo mode, his body tense in super-interested mode. I dragged him away from the office door and out the front. He fell asleep the minute he hit the back seat.

Bonus Photos of Ray taken by my 7-year old niece, Hannah, while we were in South Carolina

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Can I help you?

I was feeding the cats. As usual, Ray followed me into the cat room to visit his favorite cat, Moonie, and see if he could sneak some cat food.I was watching him peripherally, just paying enough attention so that he couldn't eat the food.
Moonie was in her faux-leopard-fur tent, (a Christmas present from Santa this year) just like in the photo, her head poking out the door, keeping an eye on the dog. I turned my back for a second and opened the dresser drawer where we keep the cat food. When I turned back around Ray's front legs were on the (human) bed, he was towering over Moonie in her cat tent but his tail was wagging and Moonie did not seem alarmed, she was just keeping an eye on him.
I bent over to put food in Hugo's dish and when I straightened up, Ray was entirely on the (human) bed, his head stuck inside the door of Moonie's tent. (I hadn't heard a sound, Ray moves like a ninja sometimes). I looked to see Moonie still inside, not cowering in fear as I would have supposed, just crowded because of the huge head that now shared her tent. Ray was curiously sniffing the little cat. She gave a meow of protest, but otherwise made no move to scratch or bite the giant head crowding her space. I took ahold of Ray's collar and removed the dog's head from Moonie's bed. Moonie made no move to exit or hide just watched me as I told Ray to leave.
Ray left. Moonie looked curiously on.
Another step in the right direction.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Let Sleeping Dogs Snore

Well, Ray and I are back at it. I'm at work, so he is at 'school.' Now that he's older and wiser, Ray doesn't like school as much as he used to. He'd much rather be home on his nice, comfy couch than in a pen with a bunch of noisy dogs that keep him awake. So I've decided that maybe, now that he has slowed down a bit and isn't quite as, ummmm, inquisitive with his mouth (I hate to say 'destructive' because I think Ray is using his own kind of braille to figure things out. It's just that his braille involves teeth), that we will downgrade to every other day. I figure one day to wear him out; one day to recover. We'll see if that works.
This week I only worked three days so Ray went to school on Wednesday, stayed home Thursday (when Sandra, my favorite across-the-street neighbor, came over to walk him and decided that maybe he needed a run around the dog park and took him (!) - bless her soul), and then went to school on Friday.
When we got home Friday afternoon, Ray showed how happy he was in his usual fashion, he picked up his rawhide and took it for a ride around the coffee table a couple of times. I fed him and the cats and sat down on the couch to check my email. My blind hound curled up next to me and went instantly to sleep. Here's a 30 second video of Ray after being home for approximately 30 minutes. Make sure you turn the volume on your computer all the way up so you can hear him sleeping.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Hide and Seek

I was working on a project that involved a frame attached to legs with a blanket stretched across it. Moonie came in to visit and decided, as cats do, that right in the middle of the blanket was the most comfortable, convenient place for her to be. Ray soon followed.
He knew she was there somewhere, he could smell her nice and strong, but darned if he could find her. Moonie watched safely from her hammock as his tail passed to and fro. You can tell from the blurriness of the tail that it was wagging.

Lip Service

Gregg and I were sitting in living room enjoying a cup of coffee. I heard a noise that sounded suspiciously like a dog chewing wood and looked over to see a dog butt and tail in the general vicinity of the front hall table. The rest of the dog body was blocked by a wall. I stood and took the two steps needed to see the dog head.
Ray was standing with his mouth on the little table, his top lip covering the corner. When he heard me come up behind him, he stood very still, his lip still resting peacefully on the wood as if he always used that spot as a lip-rest. I stood behind him for a minute, watching. Ray stood stock- still, only his oh-so-mobile eyebrows doing a nervous jig on his forehead and giving him away.
After the minute, just to show me that he might, in fact, use this exact spot as a lip-rest again, since he obviously found it completely comfortable, Ray removed his lip and sauntered away.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Big Brother is out there

So, I was poking around the blog site, as I sometimes do, and found that the statistics page is much more extensive than I had originally thought. I find statistics fascinating. And, in this case, truly baffling.

Ray's blog has been viewed 24,379 times. (I'm sure that most of these views were inadvertent, like when you google 'cat food' and Ray's blog surfaces because of his fascination with that item. But still, 24,000 is a pretty big number. It kind of boggles the mind.) But that isn't the baffling part. The baffling thing is that Ray's Number One blog, which has been viewed 508 times, roughly 400 more times than it's nearest competitor, is The Pullet Has a Limp (click the title to view). The second most viewed (130) is Another Poop Post, whose popularity can probably be explained by young boys googling 'Poop' and the third (103) is The Magic of Yogurt, which is probably viewed by people researching yogurt or magic or both.
SO, how do you explain the popularity of The Pullet Has a Limp? Are there really that many people out there with gimpy chickens? If so I think there needs to be some major research into why chickens go lame all of a sudden. And if that isn't the case, what is the explanation? Is it an Orwellian thing? (the original reference came from his diary).
If you have ANY ideas as to why this posting is number one, please tell me. I'm really, really curious.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012

You know you have a good dog when.... pay a surprise visit to your relatives and the first words out of their mouths isn't "Hey! Jean's here!" but instead "RAY! HI RAY! OH BOY, IT'S RAY!"
Only somewhat unexpected when it's your favorite sister-in-law and niece. But when it's your own mother.....

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Just a little chilly....

Today was the first really cold day of winter; in the 30s with a strong wind making it feel much colder. Despite the cold, Ray and I decided to chance it and see if anyone was at the dog park. After donning two pairs of socks, a pair of long underwear, a pair of pants, an undershirt, a long sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt, a neck gaiter, a wool hat, boots, a Carhartt coat (they weigh about 10 pounds), and a pair of dog-walking mittens (my own design - two strands of thick wool knitted together), I was ready to go. Ray whined through the whole dressing process and all the way to the park. He dragged me to the gate and excitedly entered the park only to find that all his friends were wusses and that he was the only one there.
The blind hound despondently poked around for while, sniffing here and there and dejectedly peeing on this and that, until I took pity on him.
"Do you wanna go for a walk, Ray?" I asked my lonely dog.
Ray looked at me from the middle of the park, his head cocked to one side.
"C'mon Ray, let's go," I said as I walked toward him.
Ray turned and idly walked away.
I picked up my pace a bit.
"C'mon Ray, let's go for a walk," I repeated.
Ray picked up his pace, putting a bit more distance between us.
Two could play at that game. I jogged toward him (at least, as much as I could while weighed down with 50 pounds of clothing).
"I'm going to get you," I said to my dog.
Ray jogged away, trying to stall until one of his friends arrived. I followed after him, calling and whistling (neither of which ever works - I don't know why I bother) then turned and headed for the gate. Ray heard the latch open and stopped his evasive maneuvers. I stepped through the gate and let the latch fall into place.
"Bye, Ray," I called.
Ray paused briefly then worriedly made a beeline towards me, fooled by the oldest trick in the book.
I let him through the gate, slipped his collar over his ears, and took him for a nice brisk walk.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


We were doing our usual a.m. perambulation around the lake. A woman was approaching, walking a largish mixed-breed. She stopped to admire Ray and bent down to tell him what a handsome boy he was. Ray, liking her tone, jumped up and gave her a kiss on the lips. The woman laughed and continued on, Gregg turned to look at her as she walked away.
"What are you doing kissing a Phillies fan, Ray?" he said as he read the logo on the back of her sweatshirt.
"It's not like he knew she was a Phillies fan," I said in defense of my dog. "It's not like he can read. He is blind y'know."
"That's true," said Gregg somewhat contritely. "And it could be worse. She coulda been a Yankees fan."

A New Year's Welcome

Gregg was asleep upstairs. Ray was sleeping on his futon outside the bedroom door. I was downstairs, knitting. Midnight struck.
Outside, firecrackers started popping. I heard Ray give a brief 'AROO,' then pause, and then start in on a longer bout of determined yelling. I heard his feet hit the floor, and then heard him as he barreled down the stairs, harrumphing and grumbling at the noise that had wakened him.
I was in the mood to celebrate the new year so I clipped Ray's leash on his collar and we headed out back. The firecrackers were booming in earnest now.
I stood, grinning like an idiot while Ray welcomed in the New Year. His hound dog yell is much safer than firecrackers but every bit as noisy.
Amazingly, Gregg slept through it all.