Thursday, July 31, 2008


This morning I slept in. Rob got up early and fed the dogs and took everyone out so I could grab a couple extra hours of sleep. When I did get up the dogs were very excited to see me. Each of them came over to say hello, but Tsar brought me a present. He quietly walked over and laid this at my feet. An eyeball.

He had neatly removed it from the stuffed flamingo that Monty carries around. Fortunately, Monty hasn't noticed that his flamingo now has only one eye.

Tonight was our final obedience class. The beagle who usually attends just dropped in to say goodbye, then had to go someplace with her people. Clark, the cute white fluffy dog didn't attend, either. We left Lola home, since she hasn't kept up with the class and is a major distraction, not only to the dogs, but to me.

We had only three dogs take the final exam. Java, a Chocolate Lab, a Black Lab whose name I never learned and Fudge.

We had to do a 'sit-stay', a 'down-stay', a 'recall with front sit', a'heel' pattern and a 'down-stand-down-sit' pattern. Fudge was a bit distracted because Rob was taking pictures, but he settled down pretty well.

Fudge in his 'down-stay'.

Black dog in 'down'.

Fudge in his pattern.

Notice how focused he is.

Java does his 'sit-stay'.

Black dog does 'pattern'.

We start our 'heel'.

Black dog starts 'heel'.

Fudge in 'down'.

Black dog in 'down'.

Black dog sits.

Java gets some help from Dr J.

It's hard to ignore those toys and treats scattered around, especially when Fudge hasn't had dinner.

Dog training is hard work.

Fudge thinks class is exhausting.

So Fudge now joins Samba and Tsar as obedience school graduates. I know he'll miss his classes, but we're going to continue on our own and in October we're going to compete in Rally. His daughter, Gracie, may be competing then, too.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Weekend Wrap

Obedience class was a mixed bag this week. We got there early and Fudge and I practiced some new moves that we'll need if we go on to rally. That's still iffy. We were doing pretty well until another member of the class arrived with her four year old grandson in tow. The kid ran aroun
d, shouting and stomping toward the dogs. The mother and grandmother did nothing to control him. All the dogs were nervous and kept looking at him instead of watching us. Fudge would break his stay and come to climb up on me every time the boy started moving around.

Fudge hasn't been around a lot of children, but the ones he has been near have been quiet and known how to behave around strange dogs. Fudge has been very good with them. This time I totally lost his attention and I finally gave up. He couldn't take his eyes off the boy.

Here's Fudge in a down-stay. Until this week I though he was really doing well and we might go on. Now, I'm not so sure.

Rob returned home Thursday night and Morgan was so happy. This is the longest time she's been apart from him since she started having her strange nervous episodes. She hasn't left his side since he got home. She's brought all her toys to him, too.

Friday was Rob's birthday. I made a chocolate cherry cake while he was gone. I also gave him a sculpture for the yard. When we first met, he had a decal of a dove on his car window. One of the first pieces of art we bought together was a stained glass dove, so when I found this sculpture, I knew it was perfect for him.

I think it'll look good in the rock garden.

Yesterday was so hot that none of the dogs wanted to go out. I had to drag Sky and Noah out the door. As soon as they had watered the weeds, they came racing back to the door to come inside where it was cool. All day we kept going through the same behavior, then last night it rained. They all ran out in the rain and chased each other around the yard. When they went to bed last night they were wet, stinky dogs. When I went to bed I found a nice wet pillow. Samba beat me to bed.

Today doesn't seem quite as hot. So far they're going out willingly. I had good intentions of cleaning the house today and doing laundry, but so far I've been goofing off. I think I'll just take the day off and knit. I need to finish the afghan I've started for my Aunt. My goal for August is to finish a project a week. We'll see.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Week In Review

I tried to get everyone to sit nicely for a picture this morning. The older dogs have been through this a million times, so they more or less cooperate to get it over. The younger dogs, also known as the pups, are much too busy and can't possibly sit still for the time it takes my very slow camera to snap them. I get lots of pics of shoulders and tails as they leave the frame.

Lucy has had a very good week. She's walking and even running easily and insists on joining the other big dogs in the garage for meals. I had been feeding her in the kitchen by herself. She no longer demands to be spoon fed and is polishing off a big bowl of dog food with no help. She takes her pain pill every morning and it seems to be helping.

Monty had a rough morning yesterday. We had a very loud thunderstorm early in the morning. Rob was out of town, he seems to miss all the big storms, so Monty got in bed beside me. I turned on the light and read to him. He seemed very interested in the life of Abigail Adams.

Monday we had a new washer and dryer delivered. Having strangers in the house is rough for Monty. I kept all the dogs but Lucy locked up while the delivery people were here, but they knew and had to check out everywhere the strangers had been. The new washer and dryer are great. My old washer kept stopping during the load and had to be restarted up to eight times per load. If I forgot about it and left it too long, I had to start all over again. It's a relief to have a machine that just does what it's supposed to do.

Morgan has been doing well on her medicine, too. She has been more relaxed and responsive. This week Rob had to be out of town for three days and Morgan misses him terribly. Yesterday she had one of her episodes. She started climbing on his desk. I would lift her down and she would look frantic and start running around blindly trying to jump or climb on counters and tables. I took her outside and walked around with her for a few minutes. That seemed to calm her down and she was ok the rest of the day. I didn't have to give her any more medication.

Tsar ate today. You have no idea how happy it makes me when Tsar eats. It has been a struggle between us for years. I accept it now when he decides not to eat because I know he's healthy and he's getting all the nutrition he needs from his special diet, but I still feel better when he eats.

It has been very hot here this week. Tsar goes out in the morning and again in the evening. During the hot part of the day he prefers to stay in the air conditioning and dream of winter and snow.

It would be nice if Samba didn't always act like she's starving. She remembers those days when she was nursing the pups and was getting 14.5 cups of dog food a day. Every time we saw the Vet, he said "Feed her more". We finally topped out at 14.5 cups. She normally gets 2.5 cups a day.Now she thinks I'm starving her. She eats really fast, then tries to see if anyone else has anything left over. I have to stay close to her so she doesn't push Lucy or Morgan or Tsar out of their bowls.

Fudge has been a good boy. We've been practicing our homework. Last week the instructor was on vacation so we had 'spring break' from obedience class. I took him outside and practiced in the driveway where there are lots of distractions. He did very well. Tonight we go back to class. This is our last regular class. Next week is graduation.

Tess only sits still for seconds. It's hard to get a good picture of her. She's the most high strung of the pups, but she's so sweet. She loves to cuddle and have her tummy rubbed. She adores the water and is a remarkable retriever. I always tire of throwing the ball before she tires of chasing it.

Sky had his tooth repaired on Friday. He has his old smile back again. Dr B said to not let him chew anything for thirty days. What??? This boy is a chewer. I'm doing my best, but there's no way I'll keep him from chewing for that long.

Lola is being a brat today. She won't look at the camera, is sticking her tongue out at it. She is also flunking out of obedience class. She missed the last class because Rob wasn't feeling well. She will miss tonight's class because he's still out of town. She really isn't catching on and I'm going to have to work harder with her. She needs to be separated from all the others and work with no distractions, then build up to more and more distractions. She can do it, it'll just take longer.

Bailey has been more responsive lately. She still goes off by herself to hunt and play alone, but she comes when I call. She is also retrieving the balls. She used to chase them, but not bring them back. Now she brings them to be thrown again. She's even been showing some interest in the water.

Noah is Noah. He's a cuddler and loves attention. He does whatever I tell him to do. His training is coming along so much better than I expected. He holds his sit and does a good down. He's such a happy little fellow, but I wish he'd stop nipping me. Today as we went out the door he nipped my ankle. He doesn't bite down, but it still hurts.

My girl Norma Jean loves to stand on the steps so we're face to face. She was in the water this morning. Before I could get the wading pool filled, I caught her standing in the drinking bowl. None of the dogs want to drink out of the bowl after Norma Jean has washed her feet in it. Her training has been going well, but now we need to get into some harder lessons so we need to get away from the others.

The coneflowers are still blooming though I think they're getting to the end of their season.

The butterfly bush is doing well and attracting a lot of visitors.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


In our house we have a special Christmas tradition that we've observed for several years. I have put together pictures taken over the last four years to illustrate. On the day before Christmas I take the dogs' toy box to the garage and empty it. I fill it with new toys and tennis balls and put the lid on tightly. Then I bring it upstairs and put it near the tree.

I have to remind Samba not to touch it, as she knows how to open it. We leave the full toy box there all day and the dogs know there's something going on. They check it out several times during the day and Monty spends a lot of time guarding it.

They are so interested in the box that all day they will try to get us to open it, but they have to wait.

On Christmas morning we feed the dogs and take them out. Then Rob and I have coffee and something to eat. Finally it's time to open the box. Each gets to choose their own toy.

Monty always has a difficult time choosing. He takes so long to make a decision that all the good toys are taken and he gets left with tennis balls. I usually help him, before he gets left out.

Everyone takes a toy and comes back for another. Then they swap and steal each others.

Monty guards the box.

Monty and Lucy have their toys.

Morgan shows Rob her new toy.

Fudge is really excited and wants to show Rob his new toy, too.

See what Santa Dog brought Fudge.

Lucy takes her toy to the laundry room so none of the others can take it.

Samba makes herself comfortable.

Morgan has a mouthful.

Tsar took two.

Everyone is having a good time with their new toy.

Now it's our turn. We go downstairs to where our new toys are waiting to be opened. Of course all the dogs come with us.

Monty would like to trade his toy for one of those packages.

Everyone is hoping there are more dog toys in this room. There probably are. Our friends and family often include toys or treats with our gifts.

They're starting to wind down now. Monty makes himself comfortable under the tree.

Morgan is tired and climbs onto the sofa under a pile of wrapping paper. She actually fell asleep there.

It's been a great day and all the dogs are fast asleep. I have a trail of toys to pick up and replace in the toybox.

This year the pups will be old enough to take part in our tradition. That should liven things up. Imagine twelve dogs choosing toys. Maybe I should get a second toy box.