Wednesday, July 30, 2014

….and giving

Ray was back at it.
Gregg and I were in the kitchen. Ray, who had unearthed his major award yet again, was trying to bring it into the house.  Gregg and I were taking turns grabbing Ray's collar as he came through the dog door and turning him right around and leading him back out through the kitchen door. We were then obliged to chase him into the backyard (just for fun). After many, many, many turnarounds, Ray gave up and left his pancakes next to the fence separating our yard from the pugs'. Yelling ensued.
Gregg stuck his head out the kitchen door.
"Ray, quiet!" he commanded
More yelling.
"Hey Ray! Quiet!" Gregg was a little more forceful this time.
More yelling.
Gregg went outside, to talk to the dog and explain why yelling never solved anything. Ray became quiet.
Gregg came back in.
"I think Dory is trying to steal his pancakes," said Gregg.
More yelling.
We heard Chris, our next door neighbor, calling to Dory.
"Dory, stop teasing Ray!" he said.
More yelling. Ray was just as intent on teasing his neighbor as she was determined to get his pancakes.
Dory was removed from the scene. Ray, not trusting his neighbor in the least, picked up his prize and once again tried to bring it into the house. As he came through the door, Gregg grabbed the earthy little box, tossed it onto the patio, and slid the dog door shut.
Twice during the evening, Ray wanted to go outside. I watched as he checked on his pancakes, turned around, and came right back inside. This morning, he did the same thing. The pancakes had made it through the night safely. Satisfied, Ray retired to the couch.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Gift that Keeps on Giving or...

…Return of the Pancakes

It was 6:30 (a.m.) and I had just let Ray out to pee. The cats were swarming around my feet wanting to go outside with their brother but we have strict rules in this house about when the kitties are allowed out in the morning and it wasn't their time yet. I stayed in the kitchen, putting dishes away and tidying up, so that I could see Ray and let him in when he was ready, but somehow I missed his return. When next I looked, Ray was standing at the door, box of pancakes gripped between his teeth, a pleased look on his face, his tail swinging gently from side to side. 
Oh, come ON.
I opened the door a crack.
"You're not bringing that back in," I said to Ray of his bedraggled prize, "Drop it."
Thinking that I was just kidding and that anyone would be proud to have the major award displayed proudly in their house, Ray took a step closer to the door. 
"DROP IT," I said to the delusional dog.
Ray took another step closer.
I closed the door in his face, cranked open the window adjacent and said, "DROP it," again.
Ray turned with a little jump, tail still swinging, and glanced over his shoulder luring me out.
Totally duped, I laughed and opened the door. Ray quickly turned and tried to muscle his way into the house. 
"DROP IT," I said to the dog, blocking his entry, then added, "I'm going to get your prize!"
That phrase will usually set the dog off on a game of keepaway but Ray was set on bringing his pancakes into the house. I noticed a few ants crawling on the outside of the box. Lord only knows what the inside was like.
"There's no way," I said to the dog, "DROP IT." 
I stepped back into the house and closed the door. Ray stood outside, disconsolate but not defeated. He went to the other backdoor and waited. 
I walked determinedly into to the living room, slid open the sliding glass door and said through the screen, "Drop it, Ray."
Ray went back to the kitchen door and waited. 
I slid open the screen door and stuck my head out.
"Drop it," I said then quickly slid the door shut as the dog wheeled and trotted back towards me.
Ray was again standing at the sliding door to the living room. I walked back into the kitchen thinking, "this could go on all day," when I saw Ray head off into the backyard, prize still held in his jaws. I knew the look. His pancakes were headed back to the burial grounds. 
It took 20 minutes for Ray to find a suitable hiding place for his box. It ended up right back where it started. 
Later, when I finally slid the dog door open for the cats to exit, Ray leapt from his chair and raced back to his prize (which is opposite the sliding glass door). He stood alertly next to the spot, guarding the pancakes from his feline siblings. Because everyone knows, cats love a nice blueberry pancake for breakfast. 
As soon as this door is open, we are SO all over those pancakes
OMG, they're out there getting my pancakes, aren't they?

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Major Award VIDEO

Here's a video to go with the previous blog about Ray's major award. Just an FYI, this not-quite-three minutes of film was cut from a total of 19 minutes. Ray had a great time playing with and burying his prize. Music by Elastica.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Major Award

Ray growled and leapt from his chair. There was a knock on the door. Followed by my curious hound, I went to answer the knock only to see a man in brown drop a package on my front porch. I opened the door, picked up the package, and called a 'Thank you' to the guy's back as he briskly walked across the grass to his truck.

"Oh my gosh, Ray," I said as I looked at the label, "You got a package!"
Hearing this, the hound bolted through the door and sped across the grass towards his new best-friend- who-had-left-him-a-box. The man's pace picked up as he looked over his shoulder and saw the big dog coming after him. But in his excitement, Ray got a bit off course and plowed headlong into a large bush of Russian Sage. The man jumped into his brown truck as I nabbed Ray's collar.

"Thanks," he called to me, relieved.

I smiled and gave the man a wave before I turned and led the happily prancing dog back to the house. I brushed a few sage blossoms from the top of Ray's head, picked up the package, and carried it into the living room with a dog pushing excitedly against me.

My major award!
I knew what was in the box. Ray had entered a contest held by the writer of the dog-blog, Spotty, Spotty, Polkadotty, about the doings of a beautiful cattle-dog mix named Blueberry. In celebration of her dog's adoption, every year Blueberry's owner has a contest wherein she offers a "blueberry pancake" as a prize. This year, Ray had been the lucky winner. (Thank you, Stefanie!)

As soon as I sat down, Ray was at the package. He knocked it to the floor, moved it to where he could comfortably pick it up, then carried it into the front hall where he picked at it with his teeth. Helpfully, I got out a knife and cut the tape so that he could rummage through the contents at will. Excitedly, Ray pulled out the packaging, picked up the gift, danced around the hall, did a couple turns around the coffee table, then headed to the great outdoors to bury his prize.

(video here)

Battered pancakes  
That night, the aroooooo alarm went off. Figuring it was just the fox, I did nothing to investigate. The next morning, Ray's prize was in the middle of the backyard, one corner of the box ripped open but the contents intact. Horrified at the near-theft, Ray carried his prize back into the house and laid Sphinx-style with it between his paws right up until it was time to go for a walk.

On the return trip, Ray jogged the entire way home. As soon as I opened the front door, he ran to his major award, excitedly picked it up, tossed it around a few times, then headed out back to find a better hiding place for it. Obviously, its mauling had been weighing heavily on the poor, blind dog's psyche.

I don't know where Ray buried his prize the second time. But since the box of pancakes hasn't resurfaced, the fox doesn't know either.

Where is he?

I know he's out there somewhere...
What to do, what to do.

That does it, this is coming back into the house with me.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


The onset of hot, hot, HUMID weather always creates a problem: one bored, blind dog. So I went to my friend, Mirella, who used to own the doggy daycare, and asked her if she could recommend some brain-games for Ray. He loves his treat-ball and uses it everyday, but I wanted something else to stimulate his mind during the summer doldrums. The fact of the matter is, doggy brain-games tend to be expensive and it's hard to know if Ray could do them, and if he would use them more than once.

"I have one I could lend you," said Mirella when I asked her about it, "You could try it with Ray and see if he likes it."
I thankfully accepted, and this week Mirella dropped by with Dog Domino, a board game for the bored dog.

As with the treat-ball, it took Ray a while to figure out what to do. With the treat-ball, Ray's initial inclination was to just stand next to it and try to get his teeth around it. As he interacted with the ball, every time he accidentally pushed it, I said "Good boy!" It didn't take long before Ray was shoving it all over the house and reaping the rewards.

With this game, it was the same. Ray's tendency to get his teeth on it was not encouraged but every time Ray used a paw he received verbal approval.

I think he had fun but it's hard to tell. He has such a poker face.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Photo Friday

I think I need another cup of coffee
Hey Juno! C'mon up! Mom's making somethin!
Oh yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about.
Comfy. Very comfy.

I'm so boooooored.
 (Harvey) Where's MY portrait?
(Juno) Really? You think this looks like ME?
(picture found at an estate sale)

Oh, puh-leeeze
Your knitting exhausts me

I love the hot towel service

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Comprehension 101

"Ray, today I'm going to wash the dog throws," I said to the tall dog standing next to me.
I was looking at the fleece throw covering Ray's spot on the couch. The massive amounts of dog hair on it made it look more white than brown, its original color.

Every time I walked past the couch, I thought of washing the dog throw, but despite my good intentions, by late afternoon, the dog wash remained undone. Without thinking too hard about it, I decided that it could wait until the following day.

Ray, however, had a different perspective. Having been promised a clean bed, he was absolutely outraged when I failed to deliver on my promise. I found him curled up on the recliner that Harvey has claimed as one of his (many) spots.

Ray has not been on the recliner in almost three years, and I find it totally unbelievable that his occupation of it was just a coincidence. Which brings me to this conclusion. Now that Ray has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he comprehends EVERY SINGLE WORD that comes out of my mouth, I'm going to have to be much more careful about what I say around him. And, more to the point, I'm going to expect him to come when I call him instead of just looking at me like I'm an alien species speaking intergalactic gibberish.

You're imagining things. I always sleep here.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dory and Exploring

I was in the laundry room when Juno came rocketing through the cat door. She was puffed up from head to toe. 
"What's up Juno?" I said to the cat as she trotted into the next room then stopped to nonchalantly lick her shoulder. 
I opened the door to the garage and looked out. Our next door neighbor, Dory the Pug, was there grinning from ear to ear. 
"Dory, did you chase my cat?" I asked the happy little dog as I walked through the garage to see where her owners were.
Dory's dad, Chris, was mowing the lawn. Dory followed me out of the garage and headed home. 
"Hey Chris!" I yelled, "Dory's over here. She chased Juno into the house. Is it okay if she comes over and plays with Ray?"
"Sure," said Chris, redirecting the pug to my backyard.
Ray has never played with Dory before but he likes to tease her through the fence, and unlike their first encounter, their meetings lately have been cordial. I was no longer worried about him hurting her. 
Also, Ray has been so bored lately that I figured any distraction, however minor, would be a good one. 
Dory sauntered into the backyard and started exploring. After a brief moment of excitement at the presence of that-thing-that-kinda-smells-like-a-dog-but-couldn't-possibly-be-one, Ray stood still, his eyebrows working his forehead like two small children on a teeter totter.
I let Dory poke around the yard a bit, then realized that Ray was not engaging his brain in any way. I went to yell to my neighbor again.
"Hey Chris! Is it okay if Ray and Dory play in your backyard?"
"Sure," said Chris agreeably. 
I called to Ray and Dory. Ray ambled over and I shunted him towards Chris who led him to his backyard. Dory followed.
I went to retrieve my camera, climbed up on a stump and watched the dogs over the fence. While Ray explored, Dory kindly escorted her visitor.
Ray, it's good to stop and smell the flowers every once in awhile.
Actually I think maybe Archie peed here so this is not a good example.
I don't know what that was. Do you?
…and this is where I pee
If you want to go home, this is where the gate is ...
...but you don't have to leave just yet.
If you come this way, I'll show you where we keep our dishes.
Uh, just a little farther, and to your left. That's just grass.
Huh, this grass does smell like a dog dish. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Music to Soothe the Savage Beast

The 4th of July is not Ray's favorite holiday. Despite the fact that fireworks really do showcase Ray's vocal abilities, most of the noise he makes shows how displeased he is at all the racket being created outside. Of course, Ray doesn't seem to realize that running out into the backyard and yelling his head off actually adds to the din in the neighborhood.

This year, I did five minutes of research on dogs and fireworks to come up with ways to keep our dog comfortable (and quiet). I had remembered that when Ray and I used to go to the dogpark, before they added the blind dog obstacles, I often talked to people who swore by the use of the "Thundershirt" on their dogs during storms and other stressing events. The shirt uses "gentle pressure" to keep a dog calm. (If you've ever seen the movie Temple Grandin, it's the same idea as her squeeze box). I decided to try the concept of the Thundershirt on Ray, and then, if that didn't work, to try the other recommendation, using background noise to mask the commotion going on outside.

Now, how is this supposed to work?
So, when the fireworks started in earnest, I piled some pillows on top of Ray, who was curled up in his usual spot on the couch, and reclined on as much of him as I could without killing him with my weight. Although it squeezed a couple of farts out of one end of him, it did nothing to stop the emissions from the other. Since the TV was on and Plan B, the background noise, didn't seem to be working either, I switched to plan C. I went to bed.

"Let Ray come upstairs if he wants to," I said to my lovely husband who was now acting as the makeshift Thundershirt, "He can sleep with us tonight."
Gregg, understanding the need, agreed.

Five minutes later, Ray, who had heard and understood every single word, was stretched out full-length on the bed yelling at every boom. Thinking that maybe our downstairs background noise hadn't been backgroundy enough, I turned on the TV and tried to find something more suited to the occasion. After a quick search, I settled on the last fifteen minutes of Stomp the Yard 2: Homecoming. It turned out to be just the thing. Ray quickly became fascinated by the plot and his yelling dwindled to an intermittent declaration of independence. I drifted off to sleep.

As soon as the movie was over, Ray started up again. I roused myself enough to find a channel with some nice rap music and Ray and I were lulled back to sleep by the soothing tones of Pitbull.