Friday, June 28, 2013

The Remains of the Day

I was de-stinkifying the carpet. Sometimes, it gets a certain funk that is hard to describe. Gregg doesn't smell it, but it bothers the heck out of me.
I was working on the stairs. I sprinkled on the Zorb, a product put out by the genius that created the Dyson vacuum, and was working the sawdust-like particles into the carpet with the specific vacuum attachment created just for that, when I heard the click-click of the dog door magnets. Not thinking too much of it, I glanced up. 
Ray was standing in the front hall holding in his mouth a rawhide bone; a horribly muddy, leaf-encrusted, wet, flaccid bone. It had the look of an aged piece of parchment that had only recently been discovered. 
His eyes bright, his tail swinging in delight, Ray was ready for a game of keepaway. 
I did the only reasonable thing I could. I screamed. 
Startled, the dog dropped the bone, scattering mud and leaf matter over the freshly-Zorbed carpet. Then, sensing that this was part of the game, Ray again picked up the nasty thing. His tail moving in overdrive, Ray stuck his butt in the hair and jawed the bone, weaving his head from side to side in a classic nyah-nyah-nyah-I-got-the-bone-and-you-don't move.
I hastily dropped what I was doing and started down the stairs. Ray took off to do a loop around the coffee table. I noticed as I chased him, that he had already been around the coffee table once; a trail of mud and leaf debris marked his path. 
"Get out!" I yelled at the dog, "Go outside!"
Still convinced that this was a game, Ray happily dashed for his door, in his haste dropping the bone on the living room rug and rapidly recovering it, leaving another pile of mud for me to step over as I followed him into the kitchen. The trail of mud that he had tracked through when he brought in the bone was less obvious on the magic, mud-colored floor. 
Ray shot through his door and into the backyard. Now that the crisis was over, I enjoyed the chase, trailing the hound through the yard until the game was over. Ray was intent on looking for a place to bury the remains.
I returned to my work and left Ray to his.

I didn't do anything.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Return to Freedom

After almost two whole days of being stuck in the house because of the downed tree, Ray was more than ready to get back outside to his digs.
The tree crew arrived late in the afternoon and made quick work of the enormous mess. After they left, Ray was allowed out to investigate and, sensing freedom, made a break for the yard from whence the tree had come. Under protest, he was quickly returned to the safety of the house. Gregg and I spent an hour and a half taking apart the broken section of fence and erecting a temporary fix. Ray was let loose again.
In celebration of his return to freedom, the hound demonstrated his magnificent singing voice, dug up a section of pachysandra, unearthed his bone, and then re-buried it. Later in the evening, he vocally harassed a mousie that he detected gamboling on the opposite side of the fence.
All was once again right with his world.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Act of God

It happened in the middle of the night.
Ray had heard it and sounded the alarm. My sub-concious had heard it too, and I had lain in bed for a brief moment trying to process the thumpthumpthumpthump that I had heard before scrambling out of bed to calm the dog and investigate the noise.
Not knowing where the noise had originated, I went down the stairs and turned on the porch light to look out onto a deserted street, then to the back door to peer out onto a deserted patio. I stood listening for a moment to the quiet around me, then returned to bed. Ray, who had declined to join me in my investigations, was already back on his futon, sound asleep.
The next time I was awakened, it was by Gregg at 6 a.m.
"There's a tree down in our backyard," he said, "It came from the yard behind us and broke through a section of the fence. Looks like it took out some branches on some of our trees on the way down."
I lay in bed trying to get my eyes to work, then after a few minutes, crawled out of bed to throw on some clothes.
I went downstairs and followed Gregg into the backyard; it was a mess.
Act of God
That's what the insurance people call it)
I heard a noise at the backdoor and turned to see Ray standing with his nose pressed up against the glass. I went to retrieve a leash and led the hound outside, guiding him around a pokey branch, and then along the fence so he could pee. We then walked around the branches covering the path, and into the grassy part of the yard. Ray stopped.
I pulled at his leash trying to get Ray to follow me so that I could view the damage through the fence but Ray wouldn't follow. He walked over to the air conditioning unit alongside the house and stood in his usual sad-dog mode, with head down around his knees. I pulled the leash and watched as the collar slid up over one ear of the unmoving dog. I rearranged it back down over his neck and handed the leash to Gregg.
"Could you hold him while I look?" I asked.
Obligingly, Gregg took Ray's leash and, while I poked around the destruction, tried to convince the dog to move away from the house into the yard. Ray resisted.
"Just turn him loose and see what he does," I said to Gregg.
Gregg unclipped the leash and both of us watched as Ray went behind the bushes, and avoiding the yard entirely, walked along the foundation of the house to the patio and then to the kitchen door.
"How does he know?" asked Gregg to no one in particular.
"I dunno," I responded as we both headed back into the house.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Moonie's Happy Face

This is a photo of pure contentment. Moonie at her happiest. I know, she looks demented and slightly outraged, but Moonie is actually displaying that which we refer to as "big Black Rhino lip." When Moonie is lippin' she's purrin'. It just doesn't get any better for Moonie.
It used to be, when I put Moonie on the chair with Ray she would immediately jump down and scurry away (followed at high speed by the dog). Over time, this changed to jump down and walk away quickly, then to jump down and saunter away, then to jump down and stand there and think about it for awhile. Now she stays and purrs, gets nuzzled, and gets her ears cleaned.
It's been a long haul, but we're there.
Happy Big Black Rhino Lip Day.

I like this one better than the one with the air leaking out of him.
 Even if she does look like a Black Rhino.

Moonie's doppelganger.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sofa Wars

After two days of being denied his spot on the couch because it was occupied by The Thing that Hisses and Whacks, Ray took proactive measures. Instead of waiting for everyone to be seated at the coffee table for dinner before wandering over himself, Ray staked out 'his spot' a good half an hour before everyone else arrived. By the time dinner was served, Ray was comfortably ensconced.
Hugo, who, after the first night's confrontation, had become instantly convinced that the spot was once again his, came to jump up on the couch in HIS spot and found it already occupied by his arch-nemesis. The big, black cat turned on his heel in a huff, walked a few feet away, and plopped on his side in outraged silence. There he lay, glaring holes through the oblivious dog's head.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Moore the Murrayer

Today, we are going to start the day on a high note; a shout-out to Niki Moore and Jez Murray, Ray's number one fans from over the pond.
Last week, Niki and Jez took in as a 'foster,' a back-end paralyzed dog from Romania. Niki had been following on Facebook the plight of Rocky, a Dachshund mix that was found in a ditch by a kind soul who was trying to find him a home. Rocky was brought to England because someone had agreed to adopt him. The someone backed out at the last minute, and Niki and Jez stepped forward to take on the challenge of a dog who chases their cats while dragging himself around the house wearing a 'dragbag.' Rocky came with his own Facebook page to which Niki and Jez have been posting photos and updates. Rocky joins the Niki and Jez menagerie of two dogs (one blind), three cats, and a bunch of hens.
As always, Ray and I are impressed with the big-heartedness of his fans. Good for you Niki and Jez. We hope that, if you don't keep the little nipper, you find him the best home ever.
For those of you on Facebook, check out Rocky's Road to Happiness. 
For those of you not on Facebook, here are a few photos lifted from Rocky's page
Am I dreaming? Is this real? Have I died and gone to heaven?

Rocky and 'foster' dad, Jez.

Sacked dog-in-a-sack

Monday, June 17, 2013

Consolation Prize

I had just sat down on the couch with the coffee table in front of me. Gregg had just plopped on his recliner at the end of the table. Hugo was already in place on the end of the couch, Ray's favorite spot when he's not sleeping in his favorite chair.
I had taken one bite of green bean when Ray showed up. Since access to his favorite spot was blocked by my knees, Ray put his head against them and leaned all his weight against me to get me to move. Not wanting to disturb Hugo, I patted the couch next to me on the side opposite.
"Come on, Ray," I said, "Get up here."
Ray declined. The pushing continued. Hugo watched the big dog suspiciously. I patted the couch again.
"Come on, Ray. Get up." I said again.
The dog didn't move.
Moonie showed up. She jumped into the space between me and Hugo, a spot just wide enough for one really thin cat, then stepped onto my lap and sat down facing my plate.
Totally immobilized by the cat and the dog, with my food getting cold in front of me, I pushed the dog head away and lifted Moonie to drop her on the far side of Hugo.
"Everyone is to get off of Jean," I said reaching for my plate.
Before I could quite get it, Moonie was back in my lap and dog head was against my knees, pushing.
Hugo, the good boy, was watching the scene. Gregg was waiting patiently for things to resolve themselves.
"Everyone is to get off of Jean," I said again, as I relocated the cat and dog head.
As soon as she hit the couch cushion, the Terminator cat made a beeline for my lap and the dog head became more insistent on getting his space.
Exasperated and a little distracted, I once again grabbed the MoonPie and dropped her on the other side of Hugo, leaving a slight space between knees and table. Sensing his chance, Ray pushed past my knees to get to his space. Incensed, Hugo hissed and swatted at Ray, missing the big dog by a whisker, and rapping his knuckles on the table in the process. Ray, caught totally by surprise, turned his head to avoid the cat, and whacked it into the table edge.
No longer feeling secure in his spot, Hugo ducked under the table and ran. Ray, respecting the hiss and whack, settled for the secondary spot on the other side of me. Moonie happily laid claim to the large piece of real estate abandoned by her furry brother.
I shook my head, sighed, and looked at Gregg.
"I just console myself with the thought that we don't have to pay college tuition," he said as he tucked into his coolish dinner.
I laughed, shrugged, and decided that it was a pretty good consolation.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Four Years

Yep. Four years. It's been four whole years since we brought home the blind, lymph-node impaired hound. I can't believe how much has changed since that first year and how much has remained the same. And as a perfect illustration of 'changed' and 'the same,' I'm sitting here with Moonie on one side and Ray the other (change). Hugo, meanwhile, is glaring at us from the safety of the front hall (the same).
So, as is my custom on the anniversary of Ray's arrival, I recognize the momentous occasion with a list. Below, on the left, is the list that I made on the event of Ray's first anniversary with us. Next to it is the fourth-year update.

First Year Retrospective
Fourth Year Update
Things that have Changed for the Better

  • I have a great dog that makes me laugh at least once a day and makes me feel good (most of the time).
No change
  • I get more exercise.
No change although we get to start later in the morning now that Ray has calmed down.
  • I have met tons and tons of people and I have a lot more fun than I used to. I love going to the dog park. I like walking dogs with the people that I have met in the neighborhood. I like playing with my dog. I enjoy watching him navigate and get into things and roll around and just have fun.
The only thing that has changed here is, Ray and I no longer go to the dog park. There are two reasons for this: One was the random installation of “agility” equipment (aka blind dog booby-traps). The second was Ray’s run-in with Lefty which turned out to be a forecast of things to come as far as the bully breeds go. As Ray enters his prime, he is a lot less tolerant of other dogs than he used to be. 
There’s a big change here. Ray doesn’t like to go to daycare anymore. I attribute this partly to his being spoiled rotten at home and partly to being randomly aggressed by other dogs that we’ve met. He just can’t see it coming and has learned the hard way to be a bit more cautious around other dogs. 
  • Ray mostly leaves us alone during dinner and breakfast now unless we are having something that he really wants, like fish or sausage or ribs or chicken...
Thank God Ray has learned to leave us alone during dinner and breakfast. I still have dog face in my lap sometimes when I eat lunch but I can live with that
It took the large-undisclosed-amount-of-money-dog-door-project, but we don’t have this problem anymore. No more screen door.  
  • Ray doesn't spend lots of time running around the back yard yelling like he did when we first brought him home. I think now that maybe he was trying to locate his pack. He usually only yells when he is excited that we are out in the backyard with him or when we've come home after being out for awhile, or he smells something that he was bred to hunt. Or sometimes he yells at 4:00 in the morning to tell people that all is well (at least that's my take on it).
Ray still yells. He will get up from a dead sleep to run outside with a growl and raised hackles to yell at things we can’t hear or smell. He also yells for important events such as the rolling in of the trash bins, the scooping of the poops, and the 4th of July. If he yells in the middle of the night it’s usually for the fox going through the neighborhood. We have learned to sleep with the windows closed (mostly). 
Things that are Worse

  • My cats are prisoners in their own room. Well, not really, but kinda. Now that it's summer, Hugo spends a lot of time outdoors. Moonie comes down only at night when Ray is asleep. I still miss my cats and I don't see this changing. Whenever I pull Ray up onto my lap, I feel a twinge of regret that my cats don't sit on my lap anymore. But I guess we all made some sacrifices to give a home to a dog that really, really needed one.
Thank God this one is no longer true. Although the cats like having their own room and spend most of their time there, they come out all the time now. Moonie likes Ray, and quite enjoys getting her ears washed by him. However, she doesn’t care to be tripped over which happens frequently. Hugo still hates the dog with a white hot passion but has learned that just because the dog is staring at him, it doesn’t mean he’s going to be chased up the stairs. I mean, sometimes he’s going to be chased up the stairs, but sometimes he isn’t. Hugo is still figuring it all out but at least he isn’t hiding in his room anymore.
  • We live in a tent city. All the furniture in the living room is covered with bedspreads and tablecloths that I have picked up at estate sales. At this point, I'm thinking maybe slip covers might be a good idea.
I’ve stopped draping the couch (my favored sitting spot) and Gregg’s chair. which is still the favorite of both Gregg and Ray. The other, identical chair, which is only ever occupied by the dog when Gregg is home sitting in his own chair, is still draped, but the cover matches the furniture better than the old tablecloths. Truthfully, I don’t know why I continue with the charade that I’m keeping anything clean. 
  • The kitchen trash permanently resides in the bathroom next to it. It's a pain but this is one problem I haven't been able to solve (yet). I'm fairly confident that Ray could figure out how to get into a trashcan with a foot pedal opener and I don't want to spend the money to find out that I'm right.
Something else that was resolved with the large-undisclosed-amount-of-money dog door project. Now in the kitchen, we have a slide out thingy for the trash. Worth EVERY CENT we spent on the project.
Well, we’re still working on this one. The zoysia that I planted almost two months ago is struggling. Zoysia thrives in the heat and the low water conditions and this has been the coolest, wettest spring that we’ve ever had. Of course. 
Things that are Different but not Good or Bad

  • My garden is different. Some plants have died but if I didn't know that they were there before, I wouldn't really miss them. Honestly, I thought the garden looked great this spring. Maybe it's the extra fertilizer, or that the soil is nicely aerated from all the excavation that goes on, or maybe rawhide bones add some missing nutrient to the soil, but really some of the plants are thriving. Others, not so much.
The garden is still morphing. This year, Ray has decided that the pachysandra has got to go and is busily trying to dig up all of it. And he’s doing a pretty good job. It will be interesting to see what he decides to plant in it’s place.
The gate at the bottom of the stairs has been gone awhile. The gate to the laundry room is a permanent fixture. Not because Ray gets into the cat boxes anymore, although he probably would if he could, but we have to keep the dryer sheets safe.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Birthday Greetings

Today is my mother's 90th birthday. Her birthday is the reason I have Ray. Two momentous occasions wrapped around one day.

So, to the five, die-hard commenters among
Ray's 40.5 die-hard fans, if you get a chance today, please leave a comment in the comment section wishing a happy birthday to Ray's biggest, most loyal, die-hard fan of all. My mom.



Happy Birthday, Nannie!
Would you like a big dog for your birthday present?

Happy Birthday, Nannie!
Did you know that we're almost the same age?
Isn't that FREAKY?

Happy Birthday, Nannie!
I dressed up in my best Sushi pajamas for your big day.

Happy Birthday, Mom!
Can you tell I just rolled out of bed?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Devoted until Dinner

I got up late (it was 7) and went downstairs to make a pot of coffee. As soon as the coffee finished brewing, I knew I wasn't going to drink it. I felt terrible.
Since I knew that Gregg had taken care of the cats before he left for work, I slid open the dog door to let out the dog, gave him some breakfast, put in his eyedrops, sprayed his hotspot, then headed for the stairs.
"Let's go back to bed, Ray," I said.
Ray, who had been flopped in the front hall, immediately got to his feet and rushed to follow me. I made sure to stay in front of him. I wanted to be able to lay claim a sliver of the kingsized bed before Ray took control of it. He has a way of spreading across the entire thing that prohibits anyone else from getting comfortable.
I barely had time to crawl under the covers before Ray had jumped up and made his way across the bed. He turned a few circles and curled up, plopping his 70-pound bony frame half on mine. I groaned and moved away a bit, my sliver of bed becoming even sliverier. I fell instantly asleep.
During my day of misery, Ray stayed curled against me, only getting up once to growl ominously and rush downstairs to yell at the front door.
But then four o'clock rolled around; Ray's dinner time. Ray stood on the bed and started whining. I remained immobile, still wrapped in my cloak of pain.
Ray jumped off the bed and whined some more. I didn't respond. He half-heartedly picked through the trash next to the nightstand. He got no reaction. Ray wandered onto the stair landing and stood, whining. Nothing. No one paid any attention to the poor, blind, hungry hound.
I heard Ray wander down the hall to the cat room and scratch at the cat room door. (I don't know what he expected Hugo to do). He whined some more. Still no food appeared. I heard him head down the stairs and heard a scratch at the front door. No help arrived from the outside.
Ray retreated back up the stairs and stood on the landing whining. I drifted off to sleep to the sound.
By the time Gregg got home from work, Ray was once again asleep on the bed, devotedly curled against me, resigned to his fate of starving to death with me at his side.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013



A tragic tale of one dog's descent into the pain and embarrassment of Monkey Butt.

Watch as a happy-go-lucky hound goes 

from THIS... 



No, I wasn't licking it.


No... no... no. Please don't look at me.

Thrill to the DRAMA -- experience the harrowing 3-hour drive into a storm to purchase a bottle of Herbal Doggy Spritzer.
Ache at the PATHOS -- watch the poor, afflicted, blind dog try to navigate with a flotation device around his neck.
Enjoy the HUMOR -- see the shaving of the hindquarters by a kindly neighbor on the front lawn.

Hear what the critics are saying:
I thought this was going to be good,
 but turns out it was just about a stupid dog licking himself.

I usually like movies about dogs, but this was just gross.

Rated I for itchy.