Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I'm not naming names but...

...I think it's pretty sad when a cat will greet me at the door when I come home, but a dog won't leave his comfy chair.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Breed Confusion

Redtick Coonhounds are not a common breed in Northern Virginia. I can count on one hand the number of times someone has looked at Ray and exclaimed "Oh, a Redtick Coonhound!" Only one person has ever said, "Where I come from, we call them English Coonhounds." But, like me when I meet a new dog, people like to take a stab at guessing what kind of dog Ray is.
I've noticed that, depending on their depth of knowledge of dogs, most people will zero in one of the following characteristics:
  1. spots
  2. long legs
  3. svelte appearance
  4. ears
Which brings me to the top guesses for Ray's breed based on the above criteria:
  1. German Shorthair Pointer, Dalmatian, Bluetick Coonhound, Spaniel mix
  2. Great Dane (I can actually see the resemblance here - click on the link to see why)
  3. Greyhound (at least the coloring is right on this one)
  4. Some kind of hound (usually this is as close as people can get, although Redbone Coonhound has been named on more than one occasion. Apparently people know about Redbones because of their appearance in the book Where the Red Fern Grows. And, if the linked photo is fairly representative, at least the Redbone has Ray's head-tilt, forehead wrinkles, and mobile eyebrows.)
People who know NOTHING about dogs think that Ray is a mixed breed. They don't realize that he is the PERFECT EXAMPLE of a Redtick Coonhound. 
And then there was the woman who thought Ray was a Redneck Coonhound. But that was just a miscommunication.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Another Visit to the Eye Doctor

We were in the waiting room. Ray, who had been calmly greeting the other doggy patients, came to stand next to me. The door to the clinic opened. My prejudice dog growled menacingly at the new arrival, an English Bulldog similar in color to himself. I gave his leash a tug and reprimanded him, but as always, I was secretly proud that my blind dog could tell the bully breed without actually seeing the subject of his animosity.
"Sorry," I said to the dog's person, a young woman with a friendly smile, "Ray doesn't like bulldogs."
"That's OK," she replied "A lot of dogs don't like bulldogs. Because of their pushed-in noses they can't smell very good, so they get up in dogs faces and dogs don't like it."
She took her dog to the other side of the small clinic and sat. Mr. Juice, the two-year-old bulldog with an amazing resemblance to Winston Churchill, was looking at Ray and straining at his leash. His nub of a tail was wagging furiously and I could tell he wanted to make friends with the tall, aloof stranger staring off into the distance.
Thwarted in his attempts at friend-making, Juice started producing noises. The grunts, groans, wheezes, harrumphs, squeals and other strange emanations from the dog sounded more like something heard in a barnyard full of animals. He did everything short of moo. I started laughing.
"Does he always make noises like that?" I asked.
"Yes," said the girl, "He just does it to get attention."
Juice spotted the coffeepot on top of a small table in the waiting room and made a sound like someone hacking up a piece of sandpaper.
"Was that a bark?" I asked the girl.
She laughed at the blutterbunged look on my face and nodded. Juice was still hacking at the coffeepot. Apparently his eyesight wasn't all it should be.
Ray, not knowing that he wasn't the object of Juice's ire, retreated to the far side of the waiting room and curled into a little ball on the floor against the wall.
He hadn't been there long when the doctor's assistant called us in.
"So, what's going on?" asked the eye specialist.
I told her that Ray had been smacked in the eye a few days previously when he was playing with a friend and had let loose with a bellow of pain that I'd never heard before. All weekend his eye had been tearing, one of the warning signs that I was supposed to keep watch for.
The doctor checked his eye pressure.
"It's up to 44," she said, "Increase the drops to three times a day. Come back in two weeks and we'll check it again to see if it's down. We already talked about 'the procedure,' right?"
I nodded my head as she quickly went over the three options again. She gave Ray a smile, a pat, and a treat, then went to attend her next patient, the vocal Mr. Juice. Ray crunched up his treat and, his discriminating taste unaffected by his current situation, spat it out on the floor.
We settled up our bill and left.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Valentines from Ray's Friends

I just hated to let Valentine's day go by without photos of Ray's best friend, Murphy, and Ray's best girlfriend, Halle. So even though they are a little late, here are some Valentine's wishes from two VIDs (Very Important Dogs). 
Hey Baby, Happy Valentine's Day. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day...

...from Ray the Blind Dog

...from Ike and Ray

...from Ray and Maddie

...from Jasper, Tucker and Ray
...from Moonie

and from Hugo

Friday, February 8, 2013

Mind Control

 Just one more thing Ray and Moonie have in common. Both, apparently, like ravioli lasagna.

You will give us some. You will give us some. You will give us some.
Think HARDER, Moonie!
You will give us some...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

New Kid on the Block: Tucker's Nephew

There's a new dog in the 'hood.
Darlene's son decided that he needed an Australian Cattle Dog stat and this week the puppy arrived. While the son works, Puppy stays with Darlene and Tucker. Ray and I get to visit.

Hey Ernie! Take a look at the new kid. 
Hey there. My name is Ray. What's yours?
You see that thing there? That's a leash. You get used to it.
Mmmmm. I love that new-puppy smell.
Yeah, she takes a lot of pictures. I'm famous you know.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The English Influence

This morning I made scones. Not because I love scones (I've never actually eaten a scone before) but because I was influenced by Ray's British fan, Niki Moore. Niki had posted a picture of some scones that she had made and they looked beautiful. I just happened to have the same recipe that she had used and decided to give it a shot. So this morning when I got up, I whipped up a batch of scones. They came together fairly easily and baked up beautifully.

When I took them out of the oven, Ray was right there with his nose inches from the hot baking sheet. I shooed him away, removed the scones to a rack to cool and left the kitchen to go sit on the couch. Ray followed me into the living room for awhile then got up to meander back into the kitchen. By this time I was occupied with petting the creaky old cat.

"Could you check on the dog?" I asked Gregg.
My lovely husband went to cast a hairy eyeball on the hound.
"What's he up to?"I asked curiously.
"Nothing," said Gregg, "He just sniffed the scones and snorted."

Gregg retreated upstairs to prepare for Moonie's juicing, then came to get the old girl. Followed by my trusty hound, I went to the kitchen to try one of the biscuity-looking baked goods. As soon as I broke it in half to behold its flaky interior, Ray jumped up to put his front feet on my chest. He has only does this three or four times in the entire time that I've had him, mainly when I have something that he is verrrrry interested in having himself. It's very gently done, with no pushing or shoving involved; I'm just there for balance.
Ray's nose was twitching maniacally, his feet still on my chest. I held my scone under his nose for second and almost lost it to his tongue. I broke off a small crumb and gave it to him.

Usually, Ray will take whatever is offered, mouth it a bit, and then spit it out on the floor. Given his interested reaction to the scones, I was only slightly surprised when he ate the bit I gave him and asked for more. I gave him one more tiny little piece. He ate it with relish (figuratively).

Anti-Ray-theft protection system.
Thinking ahead, I moved the cooling-rack to the top of the toaster and shoved it as far back on the counter as I could get. Then, followed by my not-so-trustworthy hound, I went to eat my scone in the living room.

As soon as I sat on the couch, Ray's head was in my lap sniffing for scones. I held my plate in the air, shoved his head aside, took a bite of scone, then quickly moved my plate back in the air as the dog head reappeared in my lap.

Gregg came downstairs and prepared himself a scone-breakfast, then went to the garage to fetch some fizzy apple juice from the reserve fridge. Ray wandered off to the kitchen. My Ray-dar went on high alert. I heard a plate move on the counter.

Since no humans were currently in the kitchen, and I was pretty sure we didn't have poltergeist, I jumped from the couch and raced in to catch the English Coonhound (aka Redtick Coonhound) red-pawed. His front feet were on the counter and his neck was stretched to maximum stretchiness trying to lick the scone from Gregg's plate.

 I know he can't help himself. It's the English influence.

Dreaming of tea and scones.

VIDEO ALERT: Ray the Blind Dog goes Hiking

A couple of weeks ago, Gregg and I took Ray to one of our favorite winter hiking trails. It's the same spot where I walked Ray off of a cliff. This time, I remembered to bring the video camera. Although it probably would have been a more exciting movie if Ray had gone over a cliff, Gregg was doing the driving so that didn't happen.
I like this video because it shows how well Ray manages to navigate when he has a good seeing-eye human with him.

Friday, February 1, 2013


"Do you remember the sweater that you measured me for?" asked my neighbor Sandra, referencing a tape-measuring favor that I had done for her awhile back. "Well, Kappy finished knitting it and I got it in the mail today. She wants me to show it to you."
I invited Sandra over to show me the sweater that her daughter, Kappy, had knitted, then hung up the phone and returned to vacuuming up masses of dog hair. Despite the 25 degree weather, Ray has been shedding like a big dog.

I was on the stair landing when the knock came at the door. As I headed down, I called to Ray who was snoozing on our bed, "Hey, Ray! Sandra is here!"

There was no immediate reaction, but as Sandra and I started talking, we heard the THUMP-THUMP of Ray's feet landing on hardwood as he jumped down off of the bed.

"Try it on," exclaimed Sandra as I was admiring the happy-colored pullover. It looked like Kappy had produced a hot, fun summer party with her knitting needles. I slipped the sweater on over my head just as Ray padded down the last two stairs.

As soon as he reached the bottom, Ray went bonkers. Tail wagging wildly, he launched himself at my face, spun circles, tried to grab the sweater in his teeth, spun more circles, launched himself again.
Realizing immediately what was happening, I ripped off the sweater and threw it at Sandra, "Ray, it's ME!" I yelled at the dog.

Following the scent of his girlfriend, Ray launched himself at Sandra. She took the sweater and in a flash folded it, and held it tightly against her body. Ray was tossing around trying to find his girl.
"Kappy's not here, Ray." I said to the dog. "She's in California."

Ray wasn't convinced, his tail was still going a mile-a-minute, he was still tossing all over the place "looking" for his friend.
"She's not here, Ray," I repeated over and over.

Knowing a surefire way to lure his friend to his side, Ray flopped, exposing his belly for a bellyrub. Kappy always falls for the belly.

Both Sandra and I dropped to our knees to fuss over the confused, blind hound. As we gave him a good rubdown, I looked at Sandra over the prostrate dog and said "Well, at least if Kappy ever gets lost, we'll know how to find her."