Friday, May 31, 2013

Practical Joke

Watch this...

Hey Hugo,

Dinner is Served

The old woman was howling for some food. Since she is deaf, talking to her doesn't help, the howling doesn't stop until the food magically appears.

I popped the top on a can of "Chicken and Duck," looked at the gloopy mess of 'gravy' with largish tater-tot shaped nuggets of 'chicken and duck,' and sighed. I could tell by looking at it that she wasn't going to like this one. But, she had fooled me before, and just in case I was wrong, I crushed her meds into the bowl, added a spoonful of food, mashed the globettes into a paste, and set the bowl in front of her.

Moonie stopped howling long enough to approach the bowl, and with neck outstretched, give the food a tentative sniff. As predicted, she turned away, totally uninterested in the feast placed before her and resumed her howling.

I looked at the ingredients on the can. Everything looked good, lots of meat and vegetables, no grains, fillers, or weird stuff. I emptied the med-contaminated food down the sink and went to the cupboard to get the finicky old broad something else to eat. I pulled out a can of cheap stuff full of fillers, grains, and weird stuff, crushed another pill into it and set it on the floor in front of her. Moonie tucked into the food with unaccustomed gusto.

I shook my head at the notion that we had raised a cat with such pedestrian taste in food and returned to the can of 'chicken and duck.' Reluctant to waste the half-can that remained, I once again scanned the contents. There did not appear to be anything in it that would harm a blind dog, so I added the gloopy food to Ray's supper.

Ray approached the dish, and just like his sister, Moonie, with neck outstretched, sniffed tentatively at the food. I watched, satisfied, as he started in on it, then turned to the sink to wash the utensils.
Seconds later the dog walked away from the dish. I went to retrieve it for washing and saw that although he had licked away every bit of the 'gravy,' the naked nuggets of 'chicken and duck' remained.

Which brings me to the question, if both Moonie and Ray love chicken and both of the them like duck (Ray will eat dried duck strips and Moonie likes a nice can of duck on occasion), what the hell were those nuggets made of that neither on of them would eat them?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Long Walk Home

I rolled the car into the "Leave Car Here" space at the garage, got out, clipped Ray to his leash, and walked into the reception area. Gene, the check-in guy, was standing in front of the check-in desk.
"Hi, Jean," he said to me as I handed him the keys to my car.
"Hi, Gene," I said back.
This was the third time in six weeks that I'd been in with my car. I was on such good terms with Gene that I was thinking of friending him on Facebook.
Tail swinging, Ray went to greet Gene. They had never met before but I could tell that Gene was a new favorite by the way Ray grabbed Gene's wrist and enthusiastically mouthed it a few times before letting it go. Unfazed by this scary display of affection, Gene made gnawing noises as Ray chomped on his arm. Obviously, this guy with such a great name also has a good sense of humor and knows a good dog when he meets one.
It was a three mile walk home and Ray and I had done it the previous two times, so I thought nothing of doing it again. It was supposed to be 80 (27℃) later in the day but as Ray and I set out it was a comfortable 62 (17).
Our usual MO when Ray is on the retractable leash involves Ray stopping to sniff things while I keep walking. When I reach the end of the leash, I either stop and wait and let Ray check his p-mail or I give a tug on the leash and encourage Ray to hurry up.
We made it about two blocks before Ray stopped. I turned to look at him. He wasn't sniffing, he was just standing at the end of his leash, leaning back the way we had come. I gave a tug.
"C'mon, Ray," I said.
Ray did't move.
I tugged again.
"C'mon, Ray," I said again.
Ray pulled back, taking a step in the opposite direction.
I mentally scratched my head. I wasn't sure what he wanted.
"Do you want to go back and visit Gene?" I asked.
At that, Ray planted his back feet to get a good launch and took off running back the way we had come, pulling me with him. I followed at a trot until I could get him to stop, then turned him around and continued on home. For about half a block. Then Ray stopped, turned, and tried to pull me back towards the garage.
I stopped him, turned him towards home, and walked, talking to him, encouraging him to keep moving. This time we made it about a block before Ray stopped and did a half-lie on the sidewalk. His front end up, his back end reclining, his nose pointed back the way we had come, his ears in Dumbo mode "looking" alertly up the street.
What the hell? I thought to myself looking at my dog. He wasn't breathing particularly hard. It wasn't particularly hot. I didn't know what was going on. He was looking way too alert for anything to be wrong with him.
After about five minutes of watching Mr. Alert to make sure he was ok, I started to get the uneasy feeling that maybe I had missed something. Maybe he could hear the faint, plaintive cries of Timmy down a well while I could stood obliviously by. I tentatively took a step back the way we had come. Ray leapt to his feet and ran ahead, pulling me along. I trotted behind him for a block, looking this way and that for someone in distress before I realized that Ray wasn't slowing, he was going to run me all the way back to the garage. I stopped him, turned him, and once again tried to get him to go home. We made it back past the initial place de resistance and onward another block before Ray did a total flop. I used my usual 'let's go' techniques. I nudged him with my foot. He didn't move. I bent over and tried to lift him a bit. He didn't budge.
I sighed.
I stood looking at my lazy, good-for-nothing, stubborn, recalcitrant dog, wishing for salvation. It came in the form of a grinning man in a car who slowed down to yell out his window.
"Guess he's too tired to go on, huh?"
Knowing that the voice was talking to him, (Ray thinks every voice is talking to him) the hound jumped up and tried to drag me to the car. The man laughed, gave a little wave, and drove off.
I pulled my dog back to the sidewalk and trotted him homeward, trying to cover as much distance as possible before the next flop. We made it to the cemetery, almost three-quarters of a mile from the start of our journey. Leading Ray away from the noise of cars whizzing by, I walked off of the sidewalk onto the open grass, the nearest headstones at least 50 feet away from us.
As soon as he reached the open area, Ray went into spastic cannonball mode. I laughed and dodged the 70-pounder, thinking how disrespectful Ray was being to the eternally resting residents within eyeshot. Ray spazzed for at least half a block before being overcome with remorse and flopping again.
I sighed.
Since Ray had chosen a nice shady spot to flop, I sat on the sidewalk and pulled out my phone looking for someone to call that could come rescue me. I settled on my neighbor, Sandra.
She was busy.
Having no one else to call, I sighed again. The sun came out, it started to heat up a bit. I was doomed. Heat = hot immobile dog. I thought that, with my car in the shop, I couldn't do anything important  anyway so I decided to embrace the flop. That lasted about five minutes until my butt started to hurt from sitting on the concrete.
This is fun, isn't it?
"Hey Ray," I said.
Ray's eyebrows showed me that he was listening.
"Let's go home," I said enthusiastically, "Let's go see Moonie."
Ray's head lifted from the grass. I was making progress.
"Let's go see Hugo," I said.
Ray's eyebrows thought about it for a minute, but he didn't get up.
"Hey Ray," I said pulling out the big guns, "Let's go find Izzy."
At the word 'Izzy,' the hound jumped to his feet, put his nose to the ground, and started off down the sidewalk at a high rate of speed looking for his old friend (I haven't told him that Iz has passed away). I kept up as best I could.
We were nearing a busy intersection with a traffic light. Ray had caught on that Izzy was nowhere to be found and was slowing. To keep his momentum going, I steered him away from the intersection, taking a shortcut through the cemetery parking lot. We were half way through before Ray flopped on the tarmac in a sunny spot. I tried to move him to a grassy median but the immovable object objected. I looked around to see if he was in any danger of being run over but it was pretty quiet, only one small graveside ceremony taking place some distance away. I walked the length of the leash to a shady spot and sat down, waiting.
Ray rested, then for no particular reason, got up and jogged on. I followed at a brisk trot until he flopped again. The scenario repeated.
I was starting to wonder if I would be able to get the lazy dog across the busy four lane road without him flopping in the middle of traffic when, in a burst of energy, Ray got up and tore down the sidewalk. I looked for a significant gap in the cars, saw our chance, and took it. We jogged crossed the street then on for another tenth of a mile before Ray flopped again. This time it was a lovely, quiet spot under a dogwood tree. Specifically, immediately under a nest being built by a robin.
While Ray rested on the grass, I sat on the sidewalk and watched the robin approach the nest with a tuft of fluff in her beak. Upon seeing the dog, the robin nervously hopped from branch to branch, avoiding the nest but not leaving the area. I could see her thinking that perhaps the neighborhood was not as nice as it had originally seemed. That maybe she should rethink building her home next to such a LARGE neighbor even if he did appear to be an inert mass of fur. I watched the robin fly off, then reappear still with the fluffy stuff in her beak. She eyed the comatose dog and flew off again, only to reappear a moment later, still with the house-building materials at the ready.
I got to my feet.
The final flop
"C'mon Ray, let's leave her to it," I said to the dog.
Surprisingly, Ray got to his feet and took off down the street at a good clip. I trotted along behind thinking we would easily make it home this time.
Instead, we made it as far as Roxie's house. Roxie's house is one that we pass as we walk around the block and is almost directly behind ours. As Ray once again collapsed in the shady spot under a tree, I sat myself on the sidewalk, waiting.
Roxie's mom, Brenda, came out of the house and started across the yard.
"What's wrong?" she asked concerned, and, her view of the dog blocked by the big tree, "Where's Ray?"
As she passed the tree and saw the dog, she smiled.
"Oh, I thought maybe he had gotten away," Brenda said, "I didn't see him with you. Hi, Ray."
Ray didn't twitch a muscle.
I explained about our walk and that I was having trouble motivating the dog.
"I'll go get Roxie," said Brenda.
At that she entered the house and came out with the little dog on a leash. Roxie crept up to the big dog, tail wagging. Ray immediately got to his feet.
I gave a pet to the teeny tiny dog and thanked her for her help. I gave a wave to Brenda and Ray and I set off on the final leg of our long, long journey.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Where is he?

Hey Hugo, have you seen the dog?

I guess it's safe to drink my milk, then.

Friday, May 24, 2013

SO over him

It's over.
As quickly as it arose, the hyper-obsession between Ray and Jasper ended. At least, it did for Ray.

Yesterday, instead of standing passively (but not mutely) by and letting Jasper jump down his throat, Ray growled and snapped as the frenzied pup leapt at his mouth. But, being a cattle dog, Jasper was not deterred in the least by Ray's animosity.

Quickly sensing that Ray was in no mood for Jasper's frantic antics, Darlene and I entered the fray, restraining Jasper's zealous frontal assault and pulling Ray away from the rambunctious little assailant.
Jasper was caged while Ray composed himself. Tucker breezed in to give Ray a quick lick or two then made himself scarce.

After a short incarceration, Jasper was released on parole. Darlene and I took turns keeping a tight hand on Jasper's collar while Ray stood with his head down around his knees looking morose. Every time Jasper was released, he returned to his old friend only to be discouraged by his vigilant jailers. Being a whip-smart cattle dog, Jasper soon caught on that this was no longer a sanctioned activity and went off to play with his Uncle Tucker. Ray picked his way over to a sunny spot next to the shed and stretched out in an uncomfortable-looking half curl; his front-half alert, his back-half resting.

Who knows why these things happen. Ray may understand that Jasper is due to leave in a few weeks and is now distancing himself from the pup. Or, perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Jasper was neutered last week. Maybe Ray feels that Jasper needs to leave his puppyhood behind and act his age. Or, maybe, just maybe, like any other white-hot passion, Ray's obsession just naturally burned itself out.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Demonstration 101

I was carrying a package of frozen chicken thighs from the freezer in the garage to the kitchen. They were a solid block of ice and I needed to thaw them for the next night's dinner.
Ray was sleeping soundly on his chair in the living room when all of a sudden his nose went in the air. The next minute, he was at my side, sniffing around the counter.
That same morning I had watched an Animal Planet video on youtube called "Dogs 101: Bluetick Coonhound." Blueticks, like Redticks, are known as English Coonhounds and I had wanted to see what they said about them on the instructional video.
Turns out that Blueticks are prized by hunters because of their ability to follow a cold scent.
I couldn't help but be impressed by HOW cold the scent could be and by Ray's ability to once again demonstrate why he is known far and wide as "The Perfect Example."

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Chosen One

I made a hole in the landscape fabric, dropped in a small lavender plant, then looked around to see where Ray was. Whenever I work in the front yard, to keep Ray from scratching down the door, I let him out and clip him to a long wire cord picketed in the groundcover. Lately, he's been so good about staying around that I haven't bothered with the picket, mainly because, most of the time, he's in a total flop and rarely moves. But when he does move, the cord gets tangled around things and Ray gets stuck. I figured I wasn't going to be out in the front yard for long, so it wouldn't be a problem if Ray was loose. Besides I wanted to film Ray greeting Caleb without the hinderance of a tether.

Caleb, our former neighbor and the genius that designed my blogpage, was coming over to dig out some plants for his new house. Caleb moved away the year before I brought Ray home, so they have only met a few times. But since the very first, Ray's reaction to Caleb has always been the same: complete and total gaga-ness. It's touching and inexplicable, really, but Ray is absolutely bonkers for Caleb. I think they must have been college roommates and/or drinking buddies in a previous life.

I didn't see the dog in the spot in which he had been flopped so I looked a bit further. Ray was tiptoeing up the street toward the house next door. I watched as he went up on the porch and heard the front door open. I put down my trowel.

"Ray! What are you doing here?" I heard the daughter of the house exclaim.
I jogged over just as Ray was flopping on the porch for a bellyrub from William's mom.
"Sorry," I said, "He's looking for William."
William's mom was giving Ray a good scrubbing.
"I thought maybe he'd gotten loose," she replied, standing.
"C'mon, Ray," I said to the blissful dog.
Ray didn't move. William's mom laughed.
"C'mon, Ray, let's go home," I urged the dog.
Ray didn't move.
"Ray, Caleb's coming," I said to the flop-hound.

At that, Ray stood and headed for the steps. I grabbed his collar and guided him down the stoop steps, then turned him loose again. Ray jogged across the lawn, alertly 'looking' from side to side for his friend, then when he hit the sidewalk, loped back towards our house, his head up. I trotted after him, hoping that he was going to stop when he got there.

As he reached the sidewalk in front of our house Ray stopped, his legs slightly splayed, not knowing which way to run to meet his friend.
"Caleb's not here yet," I said to Ray, "He's coming."
Ray tossed around a bit, trying to find his old pal. I snagged his collar and attached him to the picket before he could get away.
"He'll be here soon, Ray, you're just going to have to wait," I said to the excited dog.

Ray stood at attention, straining against the picket, not wanting to miss the arrival of his boon companion. I saw Caleb's pickup turn up the cul-de-sac, ran to get my camera, and unclipped Ray from his restraint just as Caleb pulled up in front of the house. I filmed the relatively subdued, but joyful, reunion.

Greetings over, the three of us decamped to the backyard to dig plants just as it started to rain.

Undeterred by the gentle shower, Caleb and I went to work. Ray, who usually dislikes the rain, wouldn't leave his buddy and stuck around to help. While Caleb and I pointedly targeted and dug out specific leafy specimens, Ray assisted by performing random excavations of his own. Sensing that the holes we were making were perhaps better than his, Ray retrieved his rawhide chip, dropped it into the cavity from which we had just extracted a large bunch of bulbs, and observed incredulously by his friend, used his snout to cover it with dirt.
"I've never seen a dog do that before," said Caleb, "I had no idea they used their nose to cover it over. I  figured they'd use their feet." 
"I know," I replied, "Until I got Ray, I always thought dogs burying bones was one of those things that was just a myth. Or something out of a cartoon..."
We watched as Ray sniffed the ground over the rawhide to make sure it was hidden to his satisfaction, then since all of us had finished our respective jobs, we went inside to dry off.
Leaving Ray to a nice nap, Caleb, Gregg, and I took off to enjoy a nice lunch. Upon our return, we loaded the pickup with the plants. I let Ray out of the house to say goodbye to his amigo. Ray trotted across the lawn to the truck.
"Ray, do you want to go home with Caleb?" I asked the dog.
"Do you wanna come with me, Ray?" Caleb asked the hound laughingly as he opened the back door of his truck.
 Ray immediately went to the truck and jumped his front feet onto the backseat. Ray's back feet were on the curb, his body was straddling the gutter, and he was trembling a bit. The truck was higher than he was used to.
"I usually pick his back legs up and put him in," I said to Caleb (I only do this when I reconfigure the car for a long trip - otherwise Ray knows how high the seat is and can get in himself.)
Caleb obligingly grabbed Ray's hind legs and hoisted the blind dog into the back seat. Still trembling but determined, Ray picked his way gingerly across the gym clothes strewn across the seat and settled himself uncomfortably on a pair of boxing gloves.
"Here let me move those for you," I said to the hound as I pried the gloves out from under him.
Pleased, Ray curled himself up in the same spot on the passenger side that he uses in my car whenever we go anywhere. Nonplussed, Caleb stared at the dog.
"We're never going to get him out of there now," said Gregg shaking his head as he watched from the sidelines the joke-that-had-gone-too-far.
Ok, I'm ready. Let's go.
What do you mean you were just joking????
Caleb walked around the car to the passenger side and said, "C'mon Ray, get down."
Ray didn't budge.
Caleb took hold of Ray's collar, Ray sat up.
(Caleb to Ray)
Y'know you can't come with me, right?
"C'mon Ray," said Caleb giving Ray a gentle tug.
Ray sat back on his haunches, strenuously resisting being moved. Caleb laughed and gave Ray an ear flapping, then grabbed his collar again. I moved around to the passenger side of the truck as well.
"Don't pull his collar," I said to Caleb, "Just hold it so that he doesn't slam into the ground when he jumps."
Caleb kept his hand on Ray's collar.
"C'mon, Ray, let's go," I said to Caleb's dog.
Reluctantly, Ray moved to the edge of the seat and jumped out of the truck.
Looking a bit relieved, Caleb closed the door behind the dog.
"He was ready to go with me," he said shaking his head in disbelief as Ray wandered off toward the house.
"Yeah," I agreed.
I wasn't surprised. I wasn't even offended that Ray was ready to move out. I've always known that Ray wanted his own boy and Caleb was obviously the one he wanted.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Shades of Black (Cat)

The jumpy but brave black cat quietly sniffed the snoozing hound's extended paw.* I'm not entirely sure, but I think this was the closest that Hugo had ever been to Ray.
It has taken four long years, but the dynamic between the cat and the dog has recently been changing. Hugo now knows that if Ray enters a room by one door, Hugo can calmly exit by the other and the dog is no wiser. If Ray is at his dish eating, Hugo can creep out of the kitchen behind him and not be chased. If Ray blocks Hugo's exit from a room, the cat can stand his ground and hiss and the dog will respect the hiss. Ray's tail will wag and his ears will go into Ultra Dumbo Mode but he will not chase the cat up the stairs (most of the time).

When Hugo first started to come out of cat Siberia, to lure him farther into the living or family room, I would slide the window shade up enough so that the cat would be tempted by the windowsill or the back of the couch. While Ray slept at the opposite end of the couch, Hugo would sit on the back and look out of the window. This worked very well for a week or two until Ray caught on that every time the shade went up, the cat appeared. After that, no matter how soundly the blind dog was sleeping, the raising of the shade would get a Pavlovian reaction. Ray would instantly awaken and leap from the couch with his tail curled high over his back, ready for the hunt. The big cat would evaporate into thin air.

After this happened a time or two, Hugo could no longer be lured by the rising of the shade.
So, to try and get Hugo back among his peeps, I have been working on desensitizing Ray to the sound of the shade, keeping a hand on him while opening it and calmly telling him to stay. We've been through the stage of Ray staying, but raising his head, and quivering with alertness, "looking" around the room when the shade opened, and have graduated to the stage of Ray staying and remaining in a sleeping position. However, even though Ray is pretending to be asleep, his eyes are open and his eyebrows are doing the Flatley on his forehead. Along with the eyebrow action, Ray emits an otherworldly, high-pitched hhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeeemmm.
Hugo, however, is not fooled. The big black cat remains elusive.

*You can use this sentence to practice your typing. It contains all letters of the alphabet.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Test Results and News from Murphy's Family

Well, the test results from the vet came back somewhat inconclusive. The nodule on Ray's leg could be a result of some trauma and will eventually go away, or it could be a cyst and should be monitored for any changes. So we will keep an eye on it.

In other news, Murphy, Ray's best friend, got a new brother over the weekend. Ray has mixed feelings about it. He is so happy that Rachel and Josh have adopted a new dog, but he feels as if his status as BFF is in jeopardy. Ray is also very worried about the future of his sleepover parties with Murphy. Older dogs don't adapt as well to Ray's yelling and his habit of canonballing into them unexpectedly; younger ones just accept it as part of the whole Ray package.
So here are a few photos of Murphy's new brother. He is currently named Coke and has had that name for four years.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Doctor Doctor

We were at the vet waiting for Ray's checkup and annual vaccinations when a vet tech called us in.
"Who are you?" I asked not recognizing the guy.
"I'm the vet tech," he replied with a pronounced East European accent.
"Uh, I know that," I said, "But who are you? What's your name?"
"Olek," he said.
"Olek?" I inquired.
"Yes," he said looking at Ray's file. "He's blind?"
"Umhmm," I nodded.
Olek ran through the shots that Ray needed and set the little vials out on the counter. Ray was nosing around next to him looking unconcerned, as usual.
"I'm going to take him out and draw some blood for his heartworm test," said Olek.
I handed over Ray's leash. Olek opened the door and let Ray walk out in front of him.
"Don't let him run into anything!" I called after them at the last minute.
I heard a faint OK in reply.
I waited patiently, reading the pamphlets and other extraneous things lying around the examination room.
The door opened. I heard a bonk.
"Did you just run Ray into the door?" I asked Olek in mock outrage as he followed Ray into the room, "You are a terrible seeing-eye human."
The vet tech smiled at my tone but looked a bit embarrassed.
"I'm sorry," he said abashedly.
"Well, it's not like it's never happened before," I said grinning, thinking of all the times I've accidentally run my blind dog into things.
"This is the sweetest dog," said Olek looking totally smitten, "I took his blood and he just stood there like nothing was happening."
The vet tech bent over to give Ray a pet; Ray moved away slightly.
"He thinks you're going to bonk him into something else," I ribbed the newbie.
Olek gave a smile at the wisecrack but didn't rise to the bait. He got down on Ray's level and gave him a good rub.
"Dr. Kim will be right in," he said as he left.
As always, Ray was happy to see the Doc. He immediately flopped for a bellyrub. Dr. Kim obliged then ran her hands over his bum back leg. Her hands stopped at the joint, manipulating something just above the hock.
"What's this?" she asked to no one in particular.
Her hands probed a malleable, fluidy nodule about the size of a peeled lychee.
She looked at me.
"Has this always been here?" she asked.
I'm dying aren't I? You can tell me. I can take it.
"I've never noticed it," I answered, "That leg is always slightly swollen because of the lymph node thing."
Dr. Kim put his leg back on the ground, when she did, the lump disappeared into Ray's anatomy. She felt around, found the lump again and manipulated it some more. Ray, who had been stressing out in a total flop, raised himself a bit and tried to lick her face. Dr. Kim grinned and told him what a good dog he was. Finding the half-upright position difficult to maintain, Ray flopped back down.
"I'm going to draw some fluid from it and send it in to see what it is," she said.
"OK," I accepted.
After giving Ray his vaccines, Dr. Kim drew a vial of clear fluid from Ray's leg. His royal prone-ness never moved.
"Do you think it could be lymph?" I asked.
"Could be," she replied, "I'll call you next week and let you know the results. Has he ever seen anyone for this?"
"He saw the Internist once when we first brought him home, just to see what was what. She said to keep an eye on the leg and if anything changed to bring him back," I told Dr. Kim, "But it always looks the same, so we've never been back."
"Well, we'll see what the tests say. You can take Ray to her if he needs to go," said the vet matter-of-factly.
I got Ray to his feet. We paid our bill and left.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Good Trip

Ray had a very good time while visiting his family.

He helped Grandpa in the garden.

He slept on Nannie's couch.

 He went running with Aunt Yuko.

He gave a foot massage to his favorite cousin, Hannah.

He helped his Uncle John cook shrimp.

He got kisses...


...and a head massage from Hannah...

He got bellyrubs from Grandpa.

 He enjoyed dinner with the family...

...spent some quality time with his mom...

...and had a little alone time in the back of the car.

He was fussed-over by two of his favorite people.

All in all, Ray had a wonderful trip.

And after we left, he was missed very much by Grandpa and Nannie.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bedtime Story

It was bedtime. Learning from my previous visits to the folks, and in anticipation of a rough night of trying to get comfortable with a large dog in my bed, I had already pushed the twin beds together. Because, Ray doesn't want his own twin bed, he wants mine. It doesn't matter if I get up in the middle of the night and move to the other bed on the other side of the room to avoid the dog, he will follow. And sleeping with a 70-pound dog in a twin bed is not something that is actually accomplishable. So this time, I was ready for him. The beds were together and I had a plan.
Oddly, Ray is afraid of twin beds. I would say it was from his previous experience of falling into the crack and being trapped between two beds, but really, his fear predates that. While Ray will launch himself onto any other bed with abandon, when he wants to get into a twin bed, I actually have to get out of bed and lift him into it.
"Jean, why would you do that when you know you won't be able to sleep with a gigantic dog in your bed?" I can hear you asking.
Because if I don't, (I reply) Ray stands at the side of the bed and whines. Then he paces back and forth along the side of the bed, whining and trying to figure out how to get onto the twin bed (I don't know why this is different than any other bed, but it obviously is). Then he jumps his front feet up on the twin bed and snuffles the covers and whines some more. Then he jumps his front feet down, sticks his face in my face and whines louder. Then he repeats the process over and over until I get out of bed, haul his ass up onto the bed, and watch as he curls into my already-warmed spot.
But this time I was ready for him. I lifted Ray onto the bed and dragged his protesting carcass across it to the bed that was against the wall. I then quickly jumped into the other bed and moved as far across it as I could so that I was spanning the crack between the two beds, blocking his access to my bed. Ray doesn't like to stand up on the twin beds, it scares him, so I was pretty sure that I could keep the bed to myself if I could get him onto his own side.
The tactic worked well. For two nights.
On the third night, just as I was congratulating myself on being brilliant, Ray had figured out the plan and was on to me. When I tried to drag him onto the bed against the wall, he resisted. With legs splayed out, Ray had become the immovable object.
I sighed.
I crawled into the bed against the wall, curled up and went to sleep. When I awoke at one in the a.m., my fears were realized. I was jammed up against the wall, a hot dog laying alongside me.
It had happened. I was once again stuck between a dog and a hard place.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Quick Bite

It was hour seven of the eight hour trip to South Carolina. Ray, who had been sleeping peacefully in the reconfigured back seat with his head on a pillow that was resting atop a plastic bag containing two boxed pies and two pink sugar cookies, stood up and blocked my vision in the rear-view mirror. I waited patiently for him to do as he had been doing every couple of hours, turn a few circles and then lie back down in a more comfortable position. Instead, my vision remained blocked.
"What's Ray doing?" I asked my sister.
Kathy turned to look over her shoulder.
"I don't know," she replied, and then "Ray! Ray!
In my rear view I could see that Ray was intent on something in front of him.
"He's in the pie" said Kathy rather calmly for someone that had paid a large amount of money for them.
"What?!" I cried, "Get him out of there!"
Kathy tried grabbing Ray's collar and pulling him away from the bag but couldn't get a good grip on him. I could hear the bag rustling as Ray continued to forage.
I reached my hand back and poked the dog.
"Leave it!" I commanded the hound in my best stern, dog-commanding voice.
As always, Ray ignored me.
Kathy unbuckled her seat belt, turned in her seat, and pulled Ray away from the bag long enough to grab it by the handles and haul it over the seat-back and onto her lap.
"Did he get the pies?" I asked anxiously as Kathy examined the contents of the bag.
"No,"she replied holding up one of the pink-sprinkled cookies, "He just chewed on one of Hannah's cookies."
There was a definite nibble gone from the edge of the pink butterfly cookie that we had bought for my eight-year-old niece. Teeth marks edged the half moon shape and a bit of dog-spit glistened in the sunlight.
"What time is it?" I asked my sister.
"Four" she replied.
"Well, it is his dinner time," I said as explanation for my dog's bad behavior, "He always eats at four."
Kathy broke off a small piece of the cookie and gave it to Ray.
"That's all you get," she said, then asked "What should we do with the rest of it?"
"Give it to Hannah," I replied, "Just tell her that Ray was hungry and needed a bit."
"Ok," said Kathy, "There's nothing wrong with a bit of dog slobber on your food anyways."
She replaced the cookie in the bag with the pies and held it on her lap for the remainder of the trip. Thwarted, Ray turned a circle, got comfortable, and went back to sleep.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


I was on my way to pick up my sister, Kathy, at the hotel. Since the guest room is full of cats, cat boxes,  cat beds, cat food, and Moonie's medical supplies, I figured it was easier to just put my sister up  at a hotel than try to figure out what to do with the senile old cat and all her accoutrement.
So I was on my way to the hotel. Kathy and I, as usual, were headed down to South Carolina to visit the folks; a very last minute trip. I had called her Sunday.
"Hey Kath, I'm thinking of going to visit mom and dad this week, wanna go?" I asked her.
"I'll check and see if I can get off of work and send you an email tomorrow." she replied.
The email came the next day with instructions to get her a plane ticket. I had managed to find her a flight for the next day, Tuesday. Since the trip from Colorado took the entire day, we were driving down on Wednesday, hence the hotel.
As I drove to the hotel, I was running through my mind the things I had packed. I had a niggling feeling that I had forgotten something and I was hoping it wasn't anything crucial. I knew I had Ray's eyedrops, dry food, canned food, toys, treats, treat ball, rawhide, bed, water and a dish to put it in. I even congratulated myself on remembering his heartworm medicine, which I needed to give him while we were away. But still, I had the feeling there was something...
It didn't hit me until we were half way through North Carolina. It wasn't anything for Ray that I had forgotten to pack. It was my underwear.