Monday, September 29, 2014

Dinner Guests

"When will you be back?" asked Gregg just before I walked out the door at a bright and early 7:30.
"I don't know," I replied, "Probably at the end of the day. The Fiber Fest ends at 5:00; assume I will be home after that."
"I was just asking because of dinner," said Gregg.
"Throw something in the crockpot," I suggested, "That way it doesn't really matter when we eat."
"Good idea," replied the chef as I headed off.
When I got home, the house smelled wonderful.
"Wow, it sure smells good in here," I said as I stashed my purchases, "What's for dinner?"
"Choucroute," said my lovely husband.
"Hm," I responded cautiously, "What is it?"
"It's an Alsatian dish," said Gregg, "with cabbage and sauerkraut and sausage and a pork tenderloin. I've been wanting to try this recipe for awhile."
As soon as I was ready, Gregg was plating our meal. I stood in the doorway to the kitchen watching Ray. The hound was standing close behind Gregg, a large pool of drool on the floor beneath his doggy head.
"Ray's drooling a little," said Gregg in a bit of an understatement, obviously not having looked at the copious amounts of drool on the floor behind him.
Juno was on the other side of Gregg making porpoise noises.
"Go away," said Gregg to his fans.
Ray moved to the other side of Gregg taking Juno's spot, a slime trail of drool followed him. Juno moved to the end of the counter and continued her porpoising.
I laughed.
"Ray's still drooling," I said to Gregg who was busy with the plates. I was grinning as I said it which made Gregg turn to look at the large drool deposits completely hemming him to the counter.
"Gross," he exclaimed, disgust writ large across his face.
He put down the plates and retrieved a length of paper towels suitable for mopping dog drool, and laid them on the floor behind him.
"You might want to give them some of the pork so they'll leave you alone," I said.
"I got it covered," said Gregg as he dropped a few pieces of the tenderloin into Ray's dish and put a small plate in front of Juno.
Excitedly, the animals tucked in, their snacks evaporating into thin air.
Gregg and I retired to our table; our dinners evaporated in a similar manner.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

VIDEO ALERT - Ray the Blind Dog at the Dog Swim

Finally! The one you've all been waiting for; a video of Ray at the end-of-season dog swim.
(Look for Ray's friend, Ernie, the Springer Spaniel launching himself off of the side of the pool).
Note:  I reduced the volume on Ray's noise to about 75%.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Nose Knows what it Knows

"Dog," said my sister, Kathy.

I looked over my shoulder. A youngish woman with a dog about the size of Ray was jogging up behind us.

"Are your dogs friendly?" asked the smiling woman when she was close enough for us to hear.

"Sometimes," I replied thinking of Ray's adverse reaction to Boxers and most of the other bully breeds (except Pit Bulls - Ray seems to like them quite a bit).
"Not really," replied Yuko, referencing Flower Power's feisty reaction to most other dogs.

I watched as Ray approached the newcomer for a sniff. Immediately, he went into his "OMG it's a Greyhound!" reaction; bobbing and weaving, bowing, squirming, wagging, and spinning. All of a sudden he stopped and bellowed in the dog's face, his classic reaction to bullys, then backed up and stood a few feet away, a look of consternation on his face. His eyebrows were doing the forehead Flatley.

"What kind of dog is that?" I asked the woman, knowing it had to be some kind of mix but not being able to tell by the assemblage of parts; a short, smooth coat, tucked-up waist, squarish head, and smile wrinkles.

"It's part Whippet," she replied (aha, said my brain, the Greyhound connection), "And some people think he looks part boxer. We know there's also some Husky in him."

I couldn't see the Husky but could understand why people thought there must be some Boxer, the smile wrinkles and head shape indicated such.

I looked at Ray. He was still standing apart, head down, eyebrows burning a path across his forehead, trying to figure this one out.

I shook my head in amazement thinking that Ray could work for the dog DNA people. He could at least winnow out the Greyhounds and related breeds and the Boxers and other bullys. Oh, and the blonds. Ray can still tell when a dog is blond, and he still wants to get extra-friendly with them.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Cleaning Power of Flower

"You can give that to her," Yuko said to me gesturing towards her dog.

My brother, John, had made an amazing vegetarian lasagna for dinner and I was holding the empty pan. Flower Power was attentively escorting me around the kitchen.

"Really?" I said, totally surprised.
"Yes," said Yuko, nodding, "She will clean it. There won't be anything left. Of course, you have to wash afterwards."
"Really?" I said again.
Yuko nodded.

I put the pan on the floor and stood back. Having a dog who despises vegetables and has a delicate constitution made this show much more interesting to watch than anything on T.V. Flower Power, who was a street dog in the South, can, and will, eat anything without consequence to her digestive tract.

Flower Power attacked the dish with relish. Yuko sat down to help, holding the dish so that it didn't travel. When the little dog was done, I had very little washing to do. I wondered if I could just let her onto the table after dinner the next day to clean all the dishes. What a time saver that would be.





Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Snack Attack

"I woke up in the middle of the night," said my dad, "And I heard a noise in the living room. I thought to myself, 'there's someone trying to get in the window!'"
"So I took my cane like this," he said, demonstrating the classic baseball bat pose, "And I went into the living room real quiet."
He tottered a bit as he said this because he was still holding his cane up over his shoulder.
"And there was Ray, shoving around his toy," added dad, laughing so hard that he could hardly stay on his feet.
"His treat ball?" I asked incredulous.
"Yes," replied dad, laughing harder, "I guess he was hungry and just wanted a midnight snack."

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hey! That's MINE!

We were walkin' 'round the block. Not our block, but the one in South Carolina. Ray was out front with his cousins, Hannah (human) and Flower Power (dog). Kathy (sister), Yuko (sister-in-law) and I were along as well. Not wanting to leave something as important as his bone behind, where someone or somedog could steal it, Ray had decided to bring it along.

We hadn't gone far before Kathy said, "Here comes a dog."

A black Lab puppy, probably not more than 10 weeks old, galumphed up to us. Kathy grabbed the happy little dog's collar. There was a rabies tag but no identification hanging from it. Both Ray and Flower Power were interested in the new arrival; Ray in an indifferent kind of way, Flower Power in a slightly more aggressive way.

"I've always wanted a Lab puppy," said my troublemaking sister, "Let's take it with us."

Holding onto the dog's collar while Kathy held onto Ray, I said to my fast-as-a-cheetah niece, "Hannah, can you run home and get Ray's extra leash?"

I knew Kathy was kidding but I didn't see what else we could do with the little dog. We couldn't let a puppy run loose around the neighborhood unsupervised.

Hannah ran.

I held the squirmy dog's collar while we waited for Hannah to get back. Ray, not knowing quite what was going on, sniffed at the puppy. The puppy, more interested in the bone hanging from the big dog's lips than the dog holding it, grabbed the end of the bone and chewed it briefly while Ray held it for her. Then, good-natured Ray dropped the bone and stepped back. The puppy settled down with the rawhide for a nice chew. Hannah arrived with the extra leash and Ray's slip-collar.

"Good thinking," I said to her as I adjusted it to fit the puppy. Not knowing if the dog was leash- trained, the slip-collar gave us an extra advantage.

"Hurry up," said Troublemaker, "Let's go before somebody comes looking for it."

Just then we heard a voice calling from across the street. Each time the voice called it sounded a bit more frantic.

The puppy picked up Ray's bone and we crossed the street. As soon as she saw her person, she struggled against the end of the leash. The man crouched down and called one last time. I slipped the collar over the little dog's head and still with Ray's bone, she galloped away.

"Sorry about that," said the man as he walked away with his puppy. He made no move to return Ray's  bone.

I rejoined the block-walking group, happy that I had had the foresight to bring two rawhides for the big dog's vacation.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ray's Favorite Day of the Year

We were headed to the pool. Finally. 

Ray had spent the entire summer trying to convince me to walk in that direction. But after the first two times of falling for it and spending at least fifteen minutes trying to convince the passively resistant Gandhi-dog that he couldn't go swimming with all the kids, I had found alternate walking routes. Even so, sometimes when we would walk around the block, Ray would get to the corner closest to the pool, stop, and leeeean into his harness sideways with a backward look over his shoulder that said louder-than-a-kid's plea "pleeeeeze can we go?"

But today was the day of the dog swim. Gregg, Ray, and I stopped by to get Deborah, (photo in this blog, here), Halle's* grandma, who had agreed to video the event for us. Ray thought nothing of Deborah joining us, she often will drop everything for an impromptu walk around the block. But when we got to the corner and all of us crossed the street instead of turning towards home, Ray knew something was up.

I'm goin' swimmin'.
People and dogs were streaming towards the pool. Ray, who is usually pretty well-behaved on his retractable leash, spent the last half block rushing to the end of his restraint and lunging, then waiting for us to take a few steps, then rushing and lunging. He was crazy excited.

It was the perfect day for a dog swim, into the 90s (32°C) and humid, so there were more participants than usual. Ray was greeting his friends and weaving back and forth in sensory overload. He let loose with a couple of preliminary yells but was mostly quiet, saving his voice for the coming attraction.

The gate to the pool opened. People and dogs streamed in. Ray made it as far as the pool deck before excitement got the better of him and he started yelling. We walked to the far end of the pool. Bert and Ernie, Ray's Springer Spaniel friends, were already springing, and Maddie, our Cocker Spaniel neighbor, was genteelly paddling about.

Ray with his friends (from left) Burt, Mirella, and Ernie
Twenty minutes of yelling and swimming ensued. (a video is in the works - this is a tough one to edit, I enjoy watching the whole thing so much)

We kept Ray on a leash the entire time to keep him from swimming into people, dogs, and the side of the pool and also to steer him away from the deep end. I found out pretty quickly that I couldn't haul a 75 pound (34kg) dog out of the pool without a firm surface to stand on or without the assistance of my lovely husband.

 *I was reading old postings about Ray's Greyhound girlfriend, Halle. We really miss her.

All photos courtesy of Maddie's dad.

Ok everybody, let's SWIM!
I'm goin' in.

Maddie and her personal trainer, Sandra

Dominating her lane

I'm pretty sure I won that heat.
I like the races, but I LOVE the after-race spa treatment