Friday, August 31, 2012

Mirror Image


Every morning and every evening after his breakfast and dinner, Ray likes to engage in a postprandial game of keepaway. I never quite realized it until recently, but Ray uses his rawhide as a digestif, and the game is part of the post-meal entertainment. If Ray's bone isn't handy, he goes in search of it and returns to the living room for few spins around the coffee table to troll for a competitor. After the ceremonial passing of the bone between contestants, OCD-dog settles in for a quick five-minute chew. Only when the bone is sufficiently chewed will Ray curl up for an after-dinner nap or whine for a walk around the block.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Checkup

Yesterday was Ray's appointment with the eye doctor. He calmly walked through the door and calmly went over to greet a fat, old, blind dog of indeterminate breeding. Then he gave a quick lick to the dog's owner and came back to where I was standing. I couldn't help but think of the first visit to that doctor's office which is still so fresh in my mind. Although, whenever I think of it, Lucille Ball is always the one holding the dog leash.
While we waited to be called, Ray edged over to stand near the front door, just in case I changed my mind and decided to leave.
We were called in fairly quickly. The doctor did her usual tests, checking Ray's eye pressure and looking for any other changes. Ray's left eye, the one with the detached retina, glaucoma, and cataract is the one I always worry about.
"Well," said the doctor, "His eye pressure is still within normal limits but it has gone up. We can give him another eyedrop or you can monitor him, bring him in again in four months, and we'll see how he is then."
"What's normal?" I asked.
"The top level of normal is 22; he's at 21. Last time he was at 15," she replied.
I  thought about it for a second. While I was visiting my folks the week before, I had forgotten to give Ray his drops a couple of mornings. Maybe that had affected his eye pressure.
"I think I'll monitor him a bit and bring him back," I said.
"Look for tearing and/or redness," replied the doctor.
We paid the bill and left.
That night I told Gregg about the visit and how I've been second-guessing my decision ever since I made it.
"Why don't you just monitor him and bring him back in two months instead of four," suggested Gregg rationally.
So that's what we'll do. We'll keep a close eye on Ray's eye for a couple of months then run him back to the vet for a checkup.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Good Morning

I was sitting in Gregg's chair reading the morning paper. Ray was sprawled out on the couch looking like a bum on park bench, a piece of newspaper covering his body, his legs, tail, and head sticking out in all directions. I had just vacated the spot next to him when I had gotten up to get a cup of coffee. He had been curled in a ball next to me, the newspaper effectively hiding his body and head. Earlier, Hugo had been in the room and I was using the birdcage technique to disguise the dog so that Hugo could relax. But Hugo wasn't fooled; he had nervously jumped up on the couch half a foot from the dog and was peering under the paper to get a closeup view of his sworn enemy. I knew he was studying Ray for weaknesses to be used later. But being a little too close to the monster-dog for comfort, Hugo decamped.
The old woman entered. Moonie, walked stiffly to my chair and tried to jump onto the back of it. Although the chair-back was only a couple of feet from the ground, Moonie missed by about six inches. Her claws scrabbled on the fabric surface as she struggled to get a good grip to haul up her bony carcass.
The dog sprang off the couch, instantly alert and ready to pursue, his tail curled high over his back, his head cocked to one side listening intently for the next clue as to the whereabouts of his prey. His newspaper blanket was slowly drifting to the ground after being tossed in the air from the force of his movement.
 I drew the frail cat to my lap and pulled up my knees so that she was well protected. Moonie relaxed into the warmth and started purring, never taking her eyes off the still-coiled dog.
"Ray," I said, "It's just Moonie."
At the word 'Moonie,' Ray's tail wagged a bit but his body stayed on high alert, not convinced that I was telling him the truth.
"Come here, Ray. Come and see Moonie," I said to the dog.
Ray walked slowly over to where we were sitting, still alert but his tail slowly wagging. Moonie was purring loudly now, still watching the dog. Ray stretched out his neck, found his cat, and nuzzled her head. He licked her face a few times, searched around her mouth for potential bits of stray catfood, licked her a few more times, found an ear and gave it a good cleaning, then gave the other ear the same treatment. Moonie purred through the entire procedure, getting wet from dog-spit, until she decided she'd had enough. I took hold of Ray's collar. Moonie jumped creakily to the ground and walked to the stairs. Ray, ears deployed in Dumbo mode, tracked her movements, then when I released him, jogged to the stairs to 'chase' her up. He peered blindly up the staircase for a moment, Moonie was long gone, then returned to the room, climbed into his chair, turned a few circles, then relaxed into the cushion one paw dangling casually over the edge of the seat.
All was right with the world.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


I decided it was time to re-cover the cat-tree. I assembled my tools and carpet scrap and retreated to the cat room. 

I removed the old cover and draped the new piece of carpet over the top of the tree. At this point, Moonie got involved in the renovation. She jumped to the top platform and sat, trying out the feel of the new carpet on her butt.
Hmmm, I like it. Exactly the right amount of scratchiness.

Then Hugo jumped from the bed to the floor and decided that he'd never seen the hole in the front before. He ducked inside to check it out.

Hey, what's this????? Moonie! Did you know this was here?

Suddenly, Moonie noticed, for the first time ever, that there was a ceiling fan and that, now that I had conveniently moved the cat tree close enough, there was a possibility that she could jump up and sit on one of the fan blades.

OMG. Hugo! Have you ever seen this thing before?! 
What is this????

Hugo came out of the hole to check out the tools to make sure I was doing it right.
Let's see, tacks and a hammer. Yep, looks like you got everything.
Oh, wait, what about the carpet cutter?

Obviously feeling left out, Ray appeared at the door. Being as helpful as all the other animals in the house, he plopped down on the remaining carpet scrap.
Hey Moonie! Did you try out this carpet?
It's pretty comfortable. A really nice scratchiness.

Hugo got bored and went to take a nap in the tent;

Moonie retired to the perch on the windowsill. Ray stayed put until the hammering got to be too much, then he left.
Pssssst Ray, 
I don't think she's doing it right, do you?

With the remaining piece of carpet freed-up, and all the animals otherwise occupied, I was able to finish the project.

Not bad. I kinda like it, but can you do it in blue?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Christmas Revisited

This morning I was doing one of my favorite things; watching old videos of Ray. Of course, I use the term 'old' rather loosely since, in fact, we have only had him for three years. When I do this, I find myself trying to decide which is my favorite Ray-vid; the one that, if I could only have one on a desert island (or even better, a dessert island), which one I would take with me. I always come back to this.

So I am posting it here again for your enjoyment. A moment of Christmas in August, as it were. I think this video captures the very essence of Ray. His love of presents, bone-burying, a game of keep-away around the coffee table, and his sheer joie-de-vivre.

I would be very interested, if anyone would like to leave a comment, as to which Ray-vid is your favorite. The comment box awaits.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Good News!

Because of the fantastic response by Ray's friends, he won the People's Choice award for the Pho'dog'raphy contest.  Apparently, there was an actual prize attached to this contest (I just wanted Ray to win because he's so, well, because he's so winning.)
Betty Morales, the photographer, called Gregg while Ray and I were on the road and informed him that we won a $50 gift certificate to Just Fur Pets (Ray's daycare place), and a 5x7 print of the winning photo.
Ray wants me to find out if the Just Fur Pets owner will donate his prize to the local dogpark fund. A new dogpark is in the works. A bond is going up for a vote in November and if the bond passes, a dogpark will be installed about a mile from our house. The catch is, $15,000 needs to be raised before the park can be built. Pledges are being accepted.
SO, Ray sends a kiss on the lips to all of his friends!

Back Again

Ray woke me up at 1:00 a.m. He snuck into the bedroom, snuffled along the bed to my head, then turned and left. He did the same thing again at 4:40 a.m. except that this time he whined. I got out of bed, groggily struggled into sweatpants, and crept down the hall of my parents house to the backdoor. About half way along, I realized that the roaring noise I was hearing was rain on the roof. I cringed at letting the dog out into the pouring rain to pee, but Ray didn't stop at the backdoor. He tiptoed down the hall, past the door, through the kitchen, and into the living room where he climbed up on the couch and curled into a little ball. I realized, then, that he had just been checking on me. He wanted to make sure that I hadn't snuck out of the house and returned home without him. 
I went back to bed for half an hour, then got up, finished the packing that I had started the night before (hence the suspicious dog), made some coffee, packed up most of the car, then went to wake my sister, Kathy. My dad was already awake, helping me with the loading. Ray stood at the door to the garage, making sure he was underfoot the whole time (else I might forget and leave him). By 6:15 we were on the road. 

Ray was excited to be home. He almost immediately went upstairs to visit his cats but I didn't let him in the cat room until after I had unpacked and Gregg and I had dropped Kathy at the airport hotel. When he finally gained access, he rushed to the bed. Moonie, happy to see her dog again, met him head on, literally. His head smacked into hers; she rubbed and rubbed and rubbed her face on his snout. Ray looked a bit surprised at the enthusiastic reception but took it well, giving her a few quick licks. Hugo, as usual, sat at his food dish watching the dog warily. When Ray finally got around to making his way to the dish, Hugo didn't swat or hiss. I wondered if he had missed the blind hound, too.

Apparently, the trip south was a success for Ray who became a business owner. I didn't have the heart to tell him that a record shop was probably not the most lucrative thing he could have chosen. 
Ray's Inc., Florence, South Carolina
Sunset at the Auto Parts Store
(car trouble while on vacation)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Snapshots of Vacation

I haven't taken any photos of Ray while on this trip to South Carolina, but I do have some mental images:

  • My 91 year old dad talking babytalk to the big, blind hound.
  • My sister-in-law, Yuko, playing with Ray by walking around the backyard with a trowel, "burying" the first inch of his rawhide bone, and leaving the remaining 11 inches of it sticking straight up out of the ground so that he could find it easily.
  • Ray playing with my 7-year old niece, Hannah, the same way he plays with Murphy. Chasing her around the backyard and yelling constantly at her when she steals his bone. 
  • Everyone sitting in the living room watching Ray chase Hannah through the room, into the hall, through the kitchen and back again, yelling the whole while, and no one doing anything to stop the fun (or the noise).
  • Yuko doing "origami" with Ray's ears, rolling them up on either side of his head so that he looked just like Princess Leia in Star Wars.
  • Hannah sitting on the floor watching TV with Ray sprawled out beside her, his head resting on her leg, her fingers idly twirling his ear, like a girl would twirl her own hair. 
  • Ray 'protecting' from Hannah the spot that he buried his bone (and, in fact, giving it away) by standing five feet from it and 'staring' straight at it. 
  • My 6-foot-something brother, John, walking to the library with Hannah and Ray. Hannah trotting along, happily holding the leash and guiding the 70 pound dog. 
  • My sister, Kathy, sitting on the couch reading a book with Ray snuggled up next to her. 
  • Ray singing to the girls next door; the big Rottweiler and her visiting friend, an emphysemic-sounding English Bulldog

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hotel Hunting

It was just a short, sharp sound, but Ray's rebel yell in the confines of a hotel room sounded as loud as a gunshot. He had been growling on-and-off since about four o'clock when people had started trickling out of the hotel. Our room was on the first floor, directly across from one of the hotel's secondary doors, and although it hadn't bothered him the night before when people were coming and going, this early-morning stuff was disturbing his sleep. The final straw had come at six when one of the hotel staff had pushed the bill under the door, launching it into the middle of the room. The secure perimeter had been breached. The hound was incensed. He gave every evidence of continuing his complaint to the management.
The effect was immediate. I put my hand on the dog to quieten him, slipped out of bed, slapped on some clothes, shoved my feet in shoes, and grabbed the dog leash. My sister Kathy, sleeping on the other queen-sized bed in the room, didn't budge. She had flown in late the afternoon before and we were driving to South Carolina to visit the parents.
"Hey, Kath," I said to the darkness, "I'm taking the dog out for a walk."
No response.
I shook my head in disbelief. Amazingly she was still asleep.
I fumbled around for my card-key and turned from the bureau to the bed on which Ray was standing, trying to figure out how far it was to the ground.
"C'mon, Ray," I said to the dog who was eye-to-eye with me; I curled my fingers around his collar.
Having some guidance, Ray bent his front legs to get lower, hung his paws over the edge, then slid off the side of the bed to the floor.
"Good boy." I said gently to my brave dog.
I opened the door to our room at exactly the same time as our neighbor opened his. I looked at the man, chagrined.
"I hope my dog didn't wake you up," I said to the man who was exiting his room carrying a cup of coffee.
"Oh, no ma'am," he said politely with a strong southern twang. "We was up."
Ray and I headed out into the morning. It was the typical southern summer steam bath. We were staying at the same hotel as on our last journey south; a nice place with a designated area for dogs. We trotted over to the large field with a pond and a gazebo. The evening before, something had splashed in the water while we were walking and it had set off Ray's arrrrooooo-meter. On this morning, however, the water was quiet and so was the dog.
We poked around the field for a bit, then jogged through the parking lot to the road adjacent to the hotel. It led to vacant lots with signs that announced their availability for building and the zoning restrictions. As I walked in the road, Ray sniffed along the broad, grassy verge. I noticed a pile of fox droppings smack in the middle of the street. Twenty feet or so down the street, another pile. Twenty feet after that, another. And twenty feet after that, another. Either the fox had way too much fiber in his diet or there was a fox den nearby.
All of a sudden, Ray's hackles went up, his tail curled up over his back, his nose pointed to the air, and he let loose with a couple of good strong yells.
His nose went to the ground, and Ray took off down the street. I hung on to the leash and ran alongside him, we were on the scent of something good.
Ray was in full voice. We were far enough from the hotel that I didn't try to stop his yelling. After all, he was on vacation too. I let the hound follow the scent for another block or so.
"Hey Ray, we should probably head back," I said to my dog.
Ray stopped and 'looked' at me, then looked down the street, then back at me. His tail uncurled a bit. He looked down the street one more time, then turned back to the direction we had come, a triumphant spring to his step. He knew he had those foxes on the run and it was enough for him.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Visit from the Murph

It rained last night. So, of course, according to Murphy's law, Murphy is here today. We get her for the whole weekend (one of the side benefits of having young friends that still go places on the weekends).
After a nice walk around the lake, the dogs played all day.
Hey Ray! Let's herd geese!
You're no fun.
Well, truthfully, Murphy spent most of her day watching out the sliding glass door for squirrels, then charging through the dog door to chase them. And Ray spent most of his time moving from place to place and napping. But in between the squirrel-chasing and the napping, it was wrestle-in-the-front-hall-chase-around-the-coffee-table-tug-of-war time. Murphy brought her own own toy which, apparently, is Ray's favorite in the whole world.
It is SO nice to have them back together.
We like sleepovers.

I just can't keep my eyes openzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My Cat, the Dog

Ray was headed down the block. I had let him out of the house to lounge on the front porch while Gregg was reading. But while I was showing Gregg the Cicada Killer nest in the crack in the driveway, Ray had decided to check out the house next door, the one on the other side of us, away from his friend William's house.
I slowly headed after the dog, calling.
"C'mere, Ray," I said gently not wanting to encourage Ray into a full-on jail-break.
Ray picked up his pace a bit, but not in my direction.
I walked along the sidewalk in front of the house next door.
"Come, Ray. Ray. Ray, come," I called. "Ray, COME."
Ray ignored me. He poked along the shrubbery then made a beeline for the front door (How does he know the house has a front door? He's never been there before.)
Before he had a chance to knock on the door, I ran across the front lawn and snagged his collar. I dragged the errant dog home, let him in the front door and turned to look across the lawn. Hugo was sitting on the sidewalk.
"Come on, Hugo," I said to my cat.
Hugo turned and trotted across the grass to my side. I sighed.


Well, the pho"dog"raphy contest, the one for which Ray had his portrait taken, starts today at noon. The phodographer, Betty Morales, posted a "sneak peak" of all the dogs photos on her website, the actual contest will take place on her facebook page. If you want to take a look, Ray occupies the unlucky number 13 position.
Last weekend, I went to look at all the photos that she took of Ray, and despite the fact that I have thousands of great photos of Ray, and a painted portrait, I bought one. I just couldn't help myself.
The photo entered into the contest (chosen by Betty) is a bit different than the one I purchased (I will post a copy when I get it), her choice is of a smiling, inquisitive Ray, my choice is of a goofy Ray in mid-guffaw.
The competition is INTENSE. I'm glad I don't have to be the one to choose the "Judge's Pick." If I did, I'm not entirely sure Ray would win.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My Dog, the Bird

It was Sunday morning. I was sitting on the couch reading the paper with Ray curled up next to me; Hugo was in the front hall glaring at him.
"C'mon, Hugo. Come in here," I said to the cat patting the couch next to me.
Hugo looked at me, then nervously walked a little closer. He put his front feet on the floor of the living room and sat his butt down on the rug in the front hall.
"C'mon, Hugo," I urged again, patting the couch. "C'mon, brave boy."
Hugo didn't  budge.
I looked at Ray. His eyes were open and his eyebrows were alertly doing the dance on his forehead. He was biding his time, waiting for the cat to come closer. Hugo could see Ray's open eyes and knew he was being watched. He wasn't going to move.
I took one page of the newspaper and gently placed it over Ray's head to hide his eyes. The crease of the page fit perfectly along the ridge of his bony skull.
As soon as Ray couldn't 'see' him, Hugo bravely entered the living room and came over for a pet. Like a parrot in a draped cage, Ray stayed immobile.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hugo Strikes Again

Hey, d'ya need anyone tied up?
Uh....Hugo gave it to me.
Ok.  I promise not to do it again.

Heh, heh, heh