Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Lure of Fame

"C'mon Ray." I said to the sleeping dog.
It was noon-thirty. Ray was asleep on his travel bed in the upstairs hallway (ever since I threw it out of my studio - where it has been residing since our last trip - Ray has been using it as a day-bed. He still sleeps on the futon at night but during the day, he likes to lounge on the travel bed). We had an appointment at 1:00 with a photographer at the doggy daycare. They were holding a 'phodography' contest (photos taken by a professional) and I wanted to get Ray into it this year. The contest had run the previous year, but Ray had just had his portrait painted and I thought, maybe, just maybe, a professionally-taken photo was a bit redundant. Last year the categories were Funniest, Best Overall, Judges Pick, and Cutest. This year they were adding Best Friends, Mighty Dogs, Puppies, and People's Choice.  I thought Ray had potential in the People's Choice category if I could get him to look suitably pathetic so that he could get the pity vote. The competition last year was INTENSE.
"Come on, Ray," I said again to my sleeping dog.
Ray didn't move.
"Ray, come." I commanded.
No response.
I checked to make sure he was still breathing. (I do this routinely throughout the day. Ray has GOT to be the most relaxed dog in the world. It's really hard to tell if he's still alive and breathing or if he has expired in place).  He was (still breathing, that is. Not expired in place.)
"Come on, Ray. Let's go." I urged again. The clock was ticking. We needed to hit the road.
Ray raised his head and looked at me with a big, giant WHY on his face.
"C'mon, Ray we have to go get your photo taken."
Ray was unmoved. He put his head back down on the bed and gave a deep contented sigh. Usually the word Go is enough to eject him from his bed but he was comfy and saw no reason to move.
"Ray, don't you want to be famous?" I asked my comfy dog.
At the word famous, Ray stood up and headed to the stairs. Apparently, his international fame was still fresh in his mind. He knew fame meant bellyrubs galore. And free cookies. Ray was ready for more.
We headed out to the photo shoot.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Just One Picture

I was going through some photos from a few months ago and found this nice one of Ray, so I thought I'd post it.
Some photos don't need captions.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Size Matters

We were getting ready for a walk around the block so I went to get Maddy to take her with us. After the walk, I brought her back to the house and turned her loose with Ray. As usual, Ray tried to tempt her with a toy but Maddie would have none of it.
"Do you want to help me with Moonie?" Gregg asked me.
I was agreeable, so followed by the two dogs, we trooped upstairs to give Moonie her fluids. Gregg hooked her up to the needle while I helped by (closing my eyes and) holding her. Both the dogs were at the door with their heads stuck through the crack; Ray above and Maddie below.
Ray got bored and went to lay on his travel bed that I had randomly left in the hallway. Maddie stayed at the door. Gregg finished up and left. I stayed behind to brush Moonie and talk soothingly to her. Maddie, feeling left out, squeeeeezed herself through the crack in the door, and wagging all over, jumped up on the bed to join the cats and me.

Moonie, who had her back to the dog, obliviously stayed put. Hugo glared at the interloper and hissed, but didn't move. Maddie ignored the cats and made herself at home. All of a sudden, Moonie became aware of the dog. She gave Maddie a startled "where the hell did you come from" look, hesitated for a moment, then jumped down off of the bed and disappeared under it. Knowing he's about the same size as Maddie (if not bigger) Hugo continued to give the dog an "I dare you" glare. 
I ran for the camera. 

(Maddie) doo di doo doo, doo di doo 

(Maddie) hmmmm, nice

(Maddie) zzzzzzzzzzz


Thursday, July 26, 2012

the blahs

Ray is unwell.
It started the night before last. He had been feeling fine and had been a busy dog all day, poking his head into bags, boxes, and closets whenever my head was turned. Then, roundabout 9:30, Ray got up off of his favorite pillow and ran outside to yell at the back fence. He does this sometimes when something is passing through the yard. He was out there yelling slightly longer than usual but we didn't think anything of it.
When he came in and followed me upstairs to bed, he couldn't settle down. He stood outside the bedroom door and whined a bit (he's only allowed in during the day, not at night while we're sleeping - the cats can come and go through the door held ajar by the hook-and-eye). Ray never whines at the bedroom door. He knows the protocol. (Lately, though, he has enjoyed chasing the cats as they come and go through the crack in the door.) I heard him get up on his futon, then moments later, get off of his futon. He started making a gacking noise kind of like a cat does when it has a hairball. He headed down to the stair landing and gacked a few times, then went all the way down the stairs. I told Gregg what was happening. He sat on the bottom stair and talked to the dog, patting him a bit while Ray stood miserably next to him. We watched Ray for a minute or two, then I headed back upstairs followed by the hound.
I put the hook and eye on the bedroom door. Once again, Ray stood outside it with his head at the crack, whining. I went out and squatted next to the dog. He pushed his head into my chest. I could feel his misery but didn't know it's source.
I went and retrieved Ray's dog bed, the one he uses when we travel, and put it right outside the bedroom door. I threw his scratchy blanket on top of it and Ray immediately curled up. I went to bed.
The next morning when I got up, Ray was sleeping on his futon. Gregg greeted me with the news that Ray had thrown up on the stair landing sometime in the night.
"It was a lot," he said.
(For people used to cleaning up cat barf, the quantity of barf disgorged by a big dog is an amazing thing.)
Ray stayed in bed until 9:00. I thought maybe he should get some fresh air and exercise before the day became hotter, so I urged him to get up, packed him into the back of the car, and headed to the lake. It's only a mile to the lake, but by the time we got there, Ray had thrown up again.
Ray started down the path trotting, which I thought was a good sign, but after only a short distance was stopped dead in his tracks by the trots, which I thought was a bad sign. We turned and headed back to the car.
I called the vet, got an appointment for the afternoon and went about my business, which it turns out, is worrying about my dog.

When we met with the vet. I told her the sequence of events as she examined Ray.
"Well," she said, "He has gastroenteritis and pancreatitis."
"What causes that?" I asked.
"He probably got into something he shouldn't," she replied, "But it's hard to say what. You should go home and check out your backyard and see if you can find anything dead that he might have eaten."
The vet gave Ray a couple of shots for nausea and upset stomach, gave me some pills to give to him the next day, told me to feed him a bland diet - just a little bit at a time throughout the day, and to call me if he wasn't feeling better in a day or two.
I took my dog, paid my bill, and we left.
As Ray slept the day away, I scoured the backyard for dead things but did not find a one.

This morning Ray's appetite is good. We made it around the block without any attacks from Montezuma and now he is sleeping in Gregg's chair.  We are hoping for a complete recovery by the end of the day.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Caption Contest

Yesterday, while Murphy and Josh and Rachel were here (see previous blog), I took a bunch of photos of Ray and Rachel. The lighting was unfortunate but Rachel's facial expressions were hilarious when paired with Ray's poker facer.
So if any of Ray's three fans wants to try their hand at captioning, here are some photos to practice on. You can caption any or all of them.
Please put your captions in the comments section. The winner will get a big bag of bubkis.

No. 1

No. 2

No. 3

No. 4

No. 5 

No. 6

No. 7

No. 8

No. 9

There Will Be Mud

Yesterday, Murphy came over to play. Appropriately, Murphy's law was in effect because the previous night, and most of the day, it rained.

I think life is too short to worry about the consequences of two dogs playing in a muddy yard. Even if one of the dogs has a ginormous hula skirt. I figure, I have mud colored tile, dirt colored carpets, brown couches and chairs, bedspreads and tablecloths thrown over everything, and a stack of dog towels. If I can't wipe the mud off with the towels then I can depend on the throws and the furnishings to hide the dirt.

So Ray and Murphy had a marvelous time chasing around the yard. Josh and Rachel were able to take Marvelous Marva to lunch, and Gregg and I got pretty adept at catching the dogs to wipe them down before they reached the carpeting. Although, truthfully, Ray didn't need much wiping. Murphy, however, was another matter entirely.
Hey Ray, does this skirt make my butt look big?
Uh, no.


Friday, July 20, 2012


The wind was picking up.
"I'm going to take Ray out to pee before the storm hits," I said to Gregg as I got up off of the couch. "C'mon, Ray, let's go," I called to my dog.
Ray stretched and climbed down off of the couch where he had been cozily curled. Gregg got out of his chair to join us in our before-bed perambulation around the back yard.
I grabbed the flashlight as I passed through the kitchen, then opened the backdoor, and followed by Ray and Gregg exited onto the patio. I felt a huge thing shoot past my head and through the open door into the house behind me.
"It's in the house! It's in the house!" I yelled.
"What's in the house? What's in the house?" yelled Gregg turning to look back over his shoulder into the kitchen
"I don't know! I think it's a bug!" (I was still yelling.)
Gregg turned and went back into the kitchen closing the door behind him. Against my better judgement, I followed.
A giant cicada was zooming crazily around the kitchen, popping and fizzing noisily against the ceiling.
I walked into the middle of the kitchen just as it did a Red Baron dive-bomb. I screamed and scuttled into the hall adjacent. Gregg was still in the kitchen watching the random flight path of the big bug.
"I don't know how we're going to catch it," he said swatting at it ineffectually. "Maybe we should just leave it for Hugo."
"Let me try turning down the lights," I said as I hit the light switch from the safety of the next room.
As soon as the lights dimmed, the popping and fizzing stopped.
"Where did it go?" asked Gregg.
I turned the flashlight on and swept the beam across the kitchen.
"There it is." I said, pointing the light at the bug.
It was flopped on its back in the middle of the kitchen counter. (Did it faint?)
Gregg took a kerchief from one of his pockets and with a magician's flourish, threw it over the cicada and whisked it away. I watched as he carried it outside and let it loose. The ungrateful bug dove at Gregg and then resumed its crazy flight path back towards the kitchen.
"Close the door!" yelled Gregg.
I slammed the door shut and turned off the back porch light. The bug disappeared.
Laughing, and once again followed by Gregg, I went to look for Ray. He was standing in the dark about ten feet from the door, facing the kitchen, immobile, his head down around his knees. I knew that if I could see them, his eyebrows would be doing a dance of uncertainty. He'd heard the commotion and didn't know what to do, so he had waited for instructions.
"It's OK, Ray," I said, "You can go pee."
Ray waited for me to get closer to make sure I wasn't going to abandon him in the dark again. He wandered to the far side of the yard, peed, then returned to the house, and to bed.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cat Update

 For whatever reason, (maybe because, lately, Ray has been SO lazy due to the excessive heat) the cats have been coming out of cat Siberia more often. Moonie has almost totally lost her fear of Ray. He licks her head enthusiastically but briefly (you can tell that the blind dog thinks the cat tastes weird) and she tries to rub her face on his nose but is never entirely successful; Ray usually is so excited to be around Moonie that he can't stay still long enough for her to make good contact. When he trips over her, instead of making a mad-dash for the stairs, Moonie just trots over to a piece of furniture, sits behind it, and watches the dog look for her. (I can tell by the look on her face that she finds it very amusing that he can't find her.) 
Moonie, snoozin' on the couch...


Hugo is getting a bit braver, at least, braver in terms of scaredy-catness. I think Hugo has finally discovered his superpower; when he spits and swipes, the dog swerves away and stays away. So Hugo, too, has been around more. He looks around to see where the dog is sleeping, then plops over in the hall to take a bath, or tiptoes around the dog, stretched out in the front hall, to get to the door to be let out. I'll find Hugo sleeping on our bed in the middle of the afternoon (he hasn't done this since I established the cat room) or on one of the recliners in the family room. While Ray was stretched out on the stair landing, Hugo crept around the dog to go up the stairs. It took a while before the big black cat found the courage - he'd get to the stair just below the landing where Ray was sleeping and nervously look past the dog and up the rest of the staircase. Then Hugo would come back to sit at the foot of the stairs with his neck stretched waaaaayy out to see if the dog was moving. He repeated the process a few more times before finally sneaking around the dog and up the stairs. Ray never even lifted his head. 
It's taken us three years to get to this point, and it may not last past the summer heat, but for now, I'm really enjoying having my cats back. 

Hey, look what I brought ya

I think it's still alive...

I'll just check.

Oh yeah! It's still alive!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I always used to think that cats were the kings of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) until I got Ray. Then I realized that dogs have the same tendencies.
Every time we go to the lake, I let Ray choose which way he wants to go, to the right or to the left. Every single time, Ray chooses right. Until last week when, for no apparent reason, he chose left.
Now, every time we go to the lake, Ray chooses left. Not only does he choose left, but he is absolutely determined that we will go left.
Yesterday morning, I made Ray take the path to the right. For the first quarter-mile, every ten feet or so, Ray would stop and try to pull me back in the opposite direction. But I insisted that we continue to the right. As we got further and further along the path, Ray persevered in trying to get me to go the other way. He would stop every 20 feet, then 50 feet, then every 100 feet. But his resolve never wavered. Even when we were more than half way 'round, Ray would stop short, and try to pull me back the way we had come. Only after much persuasion would Ray continue on the wrong way 'round.  Three-quarters of the way around he was still doing the same thing. Stop. Pullllll. If necessary, sit back on haunches. Then finally, FLOP.
That's taking OCD to a whole new level.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Last week when Ray and I were walking to the lake, he stopped suddenly in front of a house, growled,  and started yelling at the house. I figured that there was a fox or something passing through its backyard.
This morning when Ray and I were walking around the lake, he stopped suddenly on the path, growled, and yelled up toward the back of one of the houses that borders the path.
I looked but didn't see any wild animal. Then I realized that we were in the same area that we were last week when Ray started yelling, only on the backside. I could feel the hair stand up on the back of my neck.
I don't know what's going on around there, but it creeps me out.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Thank you, Deborah!

It was a cooler day than it had been (only in the mid 80s) and Ray and I had just finished our three mile loop. A car slowed on the street in front of us. It was Deborah, Halle's grandma (we miss Halle). We chatted very briefly, then Deborah said "I gotta move. I'll see you at the house."
She drove off, Ray and I turned up the street and headed after her.
When we got to her house, Deborah handed me three little bottles; one a dog shampoo, one a dog cream rinse, and one an 'herbal doggy spritzer.'
"Sam (Halle's mom), didn't want these when she left," said Deborah. "Try the spritzer on Ray's hot spot. It has lavender oil as one of the main ingredients. My friend that runs the Rocky Ridge Refuge says that she uses lavender oil on her animals and has good luck with it."
I took the little bottles and thanked Deborah. I was ready to try anything to get Ray to leave his hot spot alone.
When we got home, I prepared Ray's bathing area - a hose run from the sink in the laundry room to the driveway out front (I've been craving Fritos lately so I know it's time for a bath).  I have found that if the water is warm, Ray tolerates being bathed very well. He actually kind of seems to enjoy it (as long as the water stays off of his face). So Ray was bathed in a delicious-smelling concoction of herbs and then had his hot spot sprayed liberally with the lovely-smelling herbal spritzer.
For the rest of the day, I kept a close eye on Ray. Only twice during the whole day did I see him go for his spot. Each time, I reapplied the spray. Each time, the behavior instantly stopped.
I thought maybe Ray didn't like the smell of the spray (it smells pretty darn good to me), but he sleeps curled up with his nose right next to the spot so I guess that isn't the case. Then I thought maybe he didn't like the taste, but Ray doesn't even lick it to taste it. So my only other theory is, it must feel good.
Today we'll see if Ray decides to engage in his favorite pastime - proving me wrong, but for now I think this stuff is one of the seven wonders of the world.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

HOW does he do that??????

Ray just won't leave his monkey butt alone. He has found, that if he tries really hard, he can still lick his hot spot while wearing his flotation device. So today, I headed to the pet store to purchase an Elizabethan Collar, otherwise known as the cone of shame.
After pricing out a few different models, I decided that maybe I should attempt to make one. I figured the hard plastic ones would just be trouble with a capital "T" for the blind hound and the soft, fabric ones were just really expensive. So I came home and, using stuff that I had on hand, constructed a soft cone with a flexible wire rim to keep the fabric from flopping over his eyes. (I make it sound like I just whipped it up, but with all the trial and error involved, it took me ALL DAY.) Although not perfect, I was pretty pleased with the results.
I threaded Ray's dog collar through the straps on the cone and strapped it onto the dog. I watched Ray climb up on his chair and curl himself into a miserable little ball, then went to take a shower. (There's a lot of sweat involved in thinking hard.)
Sister Mary Ray
After a refreshing respite, I exited the bathroom and entered the bedroom. There was Ray, stretched out on the bed, his cone and collar not on him but tossed casually to one side.  Sigh.


VIDEO ALERT - Ray the Blind Dog - Disgruntled

The video I posted the other day of Ray's 4th of July howl-along was taken from a much longer stream of moaning and groaning and general displeasure. So here is a second video of some of Ray's noises. He is a very vocal dog when displeased.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Friday, July 6, 2012

VIDEO ALERT - Ray the Blind Dog on the 4th of July

Ray doesn't particularly care for fireworks. They interrupt his sleep and make him angry. He makes a lot of funny noises when he's angry so I decided to film some of them. After I was finished filming, I couldn't help but think of this piece of music. Maybe at a later date I will make a video of Ray's funny noises, but for now, it's this...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Definition of a Mexican Standoff

You need to move.
Really, you need to move.
I'm serious dude, you really need to move.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What he doesn't know won't hurt him

Ray was stretched out on the couch next to me. I reached over and scratched him behind the ears.
"Ray you are the best dog I've ever had," I said to him.
Gregg looked over at me with a little smile.
"Now there's a ringing endorsement," he said.
I put my finger to my lips giving him the international signal for 'shhh.'
"Don't tell him," I said, just mouthing the words so that Ray wouldn't hear.
We both know that Ray is our first dog, but I don't think that Ray knows.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hmmmmm, what have we here?

Click on the photo to view addressee.
Lately, with it being off-the-charts-hot around here, Ray hasn't been doing anything but sleep in the front hall. At least that's what I thought until I got this in the mail. Now I'm thinking maybe Ray has been doing some online shopping when I'm not around. When we start receiving packages with bones in them, my suspicions will be confirmed.

A New Neighbor

This weekend, some new people moved in next door. Not in the house occupied by Ray's favorite boy, William, but on the other side of us. The house is a rental while our neighbors are overseas for a couple of years. Not an unusual occurrence in the Greater Washington DC area - there are lots of military and government personnel 'round here that deploy for extended periods of time.
Our new neighbors, who I met only very briefly yesterday, are interesting because they have a dog. A rather largish dog, about Ray's size. A fluffy black mutt by the name of Java that looks to have some Poodle in him. I've seen him out my bedroom window, but we (Ray and I) have yet to meet him.
I think Ray is interested, though. This morning, when he headed outside to retrieve a bone that he'd left outside the day before, Ray stood at the fence, bone in mouth, tail wagging. Java was just on the other side. Neither dog was making a sound.
I have high hopes for this friendship, even though, like Tucker, Java will only be here for a year.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Loss of Power

Around 10 o'clock Friday night, a massive storm blew through the greater Washington, DC area.
I had already gone to bed and Ray had already curled up on his futon, but when I heard the wind start to blow, I got up and went back downstairs. We have enormous trees in the backyard, ones big enough to take out the entire upstairs, and when the wind blows hard, it gets a bit scary. I tried to convince Ray to come back downstairs with me but he wouldn't budge (until he realized I wasn't coming back up, then he wandered down and curled back up on the couch).
The minute I walked downstairs, the power went out. Gregg and I sat in the dark and watched the lightning show. We rarely have power outages, so both of us expected the power to kick back on pretty quickly. It didn't.
As soon as the wind died down, I went back to bed, but as the night wore on and the upstairs got hotter and hotter, I retired to the couch with Ray. It's long enough that I can stretch all the way out and still have enough room for a curled-up dog at my feet.
The next morning, we were up by 5:30. It was hot inside, but not nearly as hot as it was outside.
"I'm going to take Ray for a walk before it gets even hotter, " I said to Gregg.
"I'll join you," replied my lovely husband.
We headed out.
"It looks like there was a parade and everyone threw leaves instead of confetti," I said as we walked down the block.
The streets, sidewalks, and yards were littered with leaves and branches.
By the time we got home, Ray was done in. While I cleared the backyard of blind-dog booby-traps (small branches that trip him up and branches large enough to impale him), Ray took a nap in a cool spot against the foundation of the house.
For the rest of the day and most of the evening, Ray lay splayed out in the front hall, expending just enough energy to lick his hot spot.
That night, we all slept downstairs. Every once-in-awhile I would get up and go outside to see if it had cooled enough to open a window. Even though the air inside was hot and stagnant, it was still cooler than the air outside.  At 3:45 a.m, power returned to the house.
With the return of the A.C., Gregg has been reenergized. Ray and I however still think it's too hot to do anything.
So we're doing what Shel Silverstein talks about in the last stanza of his poem, It's Hot:
"I've tried with 'lectric fans, and pools and ice cream cones. I think I'll take my skin off and sit around in my bones."