Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dog Life List

Do all dog lovers have them?

I know there are folks who stick with their breed. Greyhounds, pit bulls, wieners, what have you. There are some that stick with a group. For example, I wouldn't mind collecting just about every sight hound there is.

Most of my friends know I love lists and charts, so it might not be a surprise to learn I have an actual list of "Dog Breeds I Want to Rescue." (Without starting a debate, I do not buy dogs, unless paying a rescue fee counts.)

What is on this list? I'm glad I pretended you asked!

Obviously, this is a tiny fraction of the list and it's all in addition to the greyhounds I can't imagine being without. What are your favorite breeds? What do you love about them?

1. Borzoi
I met this guy and learned two things I hadn't known. First, Borzoi are ginormous. They are like springy, prancy little ponies.

Secondly, and this is where I may have squealed at a perfect stranger while patting her dog, they can have soft fuzzy silky baby curls.

I do think I'd need to dress fancier if I were going to walk a Borzoi, though. Like a Russian Czarina or something. 

2. Pit bull
I dream of someday rescuing my own. The first pibble I ever loved was named Geordie, and my stepfather rescued him via the "take him directly from the scumbag who bragged about the fight Geordie'd won that day."

Geordie -- this isn't him, sorry -- was the sweetest, most loving old man I ever met. He sat on laps, he kissed my infant daughter, he played gently with children. He was brilliant. I'll miss my "brother" for the rest of my life.

3. Corgi
Astute readers may notice this is a picture of a cartoon dog. True, but Ein (from the anime "Cowboy Bebop") is the first Corgi I fell in love with. My usual affection is for big dogs, but come on. Look at him widdle face.
Trivia: I told my mom I wanted a Corgi someday. "Ugh, those little things that look like sawed-off Collies?" So that's how I think of them. ;)

4. German Shepherd Dog (or a Malinois or a Tervuren)

I'll be honest, I have some apprehension about these breeds, having owned a mostly-GSD mutt growing up. They're beautiful and strong and smart. I worry about the ramifications of having a dog that will solve problems faster than I do.

I have been vicariously enjoying the adventures of my friends Mr. and Mrs. Taleteller over at Tales and Tails, not only with beautiful GSD Morgan but with their new baby, Kuster. I have also been reminded that puppies are not for everyone and they're way, way braver than I am.

5. The One That Needs Me

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Canine Body Language

A short story in five frames. Can you tell what happened?



We’re participating in this Saturday’s Pet Blog Hop, hosted by Life With DogsTwo Little Cavaliers and Confessions of the Plume.  If you’d like to participate, please follow the rules and follow your three hosts, add your blog to the Linky and copy and paste the html code into your html editor. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Coming Along Nicely

Adore me!
Monsoon is a special, special boy.

Of course I want to update you on his progress as he learns how to be a member of our family. Of course I do! So let me update: he's whining.

He's whining under his breath, watching me to make sure I know he's sad. I'm on the couch and he's in the hallway, crying quietly to himself. Between us, there is a living room and a coffee table and, worst of all, the four-year-old. The four-year-old, I add, is playing quietly with stuffed animals. I've checked to make sure that Monsoon can get to his open crate and to the water dish without having to traverse anything too frightening, and he's been thoroughly walked.

He just needs to be brave and go for it.

This coming Saturday will mark four weeks since Monsoon came home. Our family has experienced some life turbulence issues over the past couple of weeks but things are settling and I think our new little man is coming out of his shell. He's still skittish, but not fearful. I haven't heard a growl or nervous bark from him in weeks. He plays with his toys and he sleeps happily through the night.

Our smart little pup, who is already referred to in our house as "the baby," has the basics down. He walks well on the leash without pulling, for the most part. I'm relieved that didn't take him long. He pulled so strongly for the first week he strained my left shoulder. He's very responsive to quiet vocal reminders when something catches his attention.

Most of the time.

See, everything catches his attention. This morning he saw a squirrel. He heard angels singing; I heard my trapezius muscle scream as he lunged. Because he notices everything, I have to notice everything too. If possible, I have to notice it first so that I can shorten the leash, tighten my grip, brace myself, approach "it" cautiously-- whatever the situation requires.

Sorry, I'm probably not going to get any good at spotting the squirrels lurking in the trees before he does, not at six in the damn morning. And honestly how was I supposed to know our green trash bag out by the side of the road for pickup is a terrible dangerous monster?

Anyway, Monsoon is also house-trained already, with little effort from me other than watching his signals and making a billion trips outside at terrible, inconvenient hours. He has had precisely three accidents in the house. Once, I left the room for a while and my husband missed Monsoon's signals. Fittingly, it was his jacket draped over a chair that the baby decided to christen.

Nice photobomb, Lanie.
The other two accidents are hilarious stories involving liquid diarrhea. I have this sort of poop-humor aversion, so I don't know if I'll ever work up to telling my funny story of how Monsoon squirted the foulest substance ever imagined into the least, LEAST convenient place ever. Just... trust me. I actually cried.

It's a game of patience now. He has a bed in the back of the house where he can run and hide whenever he feels stressed, but he already loves being with people. As long as the people are calm and quiet and nobody makes any sudden moves. While I have been reminding people not to shout unduly, for the most part we're living our lives as normal (or as close as we can get, lately) and letting him adjust. Monsoon can hide, or he can choose his crate in the living room. He's happy in his crate with the preschooler playing on the floor nearby, but now the door can be wide open. (Oh, stop. I know. I'm closer to the crate than the child is and the child knows he'll get corrected if he gets too close to the dog.)

So all in all, I think he's doing spectacular, given how freaked out and sore the poor baby was when he arrived. Our next big project is training him to have free range of the house when no one is home. We've also realized that this is the year we need to fence in some of our property because this guy needs a yard to play in. Now. He and Lanie decided to have a full-on jumping-spinning-bowing-smacking play session -- while I was holding a leash in each hand. I'm just going to let you imagine the balletic poses and rapid spins I had to perform myself to keep an eye on them and keep everything from getting tangled. I didn't want to stop them.

So let me know if you want to buy us a fence. ;)

(Also: Don't forget, I made a page on FaceBook and added the widget over there ---->  for the one-sentence updates and the not-perfect-but-still-cute pictures I post slightly more frequently.)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Status Report

When my little brother turned five years old, my mom brought home a puppy. It was a GSD mix, maybe some Doberman in there, maybe something bigger. She was one of the last puppies left in the cardboard box at the end of the day, so she ended up being my brother's birthday present. He named her Nibbles.

Nibbles went on to grow very large and somewhat vicious, ridiculously overprotective of "her" kids and "her" house and "her" yard. That's not the point. The point is, my last experience with the special mindset of a puppy was about three decades ago.

I realize that Monsoon is two and a half, so it's not as challenging as it could otherwise could be, but this dog is a baby. You know how I know? Because I was up at 3:30 this morning trying to get him to stop playing with his squeaky toys. See, when someone gets up in the middle of the night to use the washroom, Monsoon will dart out of the bedroom, down the hall to his toys, grab one and return to bed. He's so small and quick and hard to see at night that sometimes we aren't aware he's done this until we are drifting off again and it starts.


Squeak. Squeak.

Squeak squeak squeaksqueaksqueaksqueaksqueak!!

We had an urgent family situation arise this week that shunted aside all my plans to start working with Monsoon more in depth. He ended up having an extra week to get used to the house and I think it's served him well. He still has some anxieties and some idiosyncrasies that need a little help. For example, he loves his dad in the house and will walk with him happily, if dad leashes him and takes him out. If I leash him and take him out and dad walks up later, Monsoon acts as if he has no flipping clue who this man could be and hides behind my legs.

He hides behind my legs a lot.

He's picked up leash manners beautifully and will trot along on my left side with a slack leash. He responds to minor correction most of the time, although seeing squirrels or people or other dogs makes him forget everything. This week, as we resume normal operations around here, I hope to start working with a clicker. The first job is to find a treat sufficiently enticing, especially as Monsoon is shy about taking treats from the hand.

He is calming and settling, and his goofy baby antics lifted my heart more than once during this long strange week. I had hoped for time to write a longer update and share some of the ridiculous things Monsoon does that make me smile, but this was not the week for it. Next week promises to be a big slice of normal and I cannot wait.

As an aside, I did make a FaceBook page for this blog so that I'll have a place to stash some of my second-rate photos and inane one-line observations. ;) Feel free to join us there! And we're also joining the Blog Hop this weekend. If that's how you found us, welcome!

We’re participating in this Saturday’s Pet Blog Hop, hosted by Life With DogsTwo Little Cavaliers and Confessions of the Plume.  If you’d like to participate, please follow the rules and follow your three hosts, add your blog to the Linky and copy and paste the html code into your html editor.  Thanks again to our hosts for putting on the hop!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Settling In

I think he's going to be fine. Pardon the shaky camera work and the laughter we couldn't stifle. He was even bold enough to try to entice the teenager to play!

I promise to update at length soon. There's so much to say about my wonderful new boy. I hope you're having a great weekend!

Welcome to The Saturday Pet Blogger Hop, sponsored by Life With Dogs, Two Little Cavaliers, and Confessions of the Plume.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012