Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Out In The Cold

Texas weather has a reputation for being bipolar. The sun shines and all seems perfect, but by the time you get dressed and open the door to go outside, hail plummets from the black sky and a tornado comes roaring down on you. Okay, so maybe not that extreme, but this past week illustrates the fluctuation of Texas weather perfectly.

Early last week, the weather was pleasantly mild. The dogs even had a blast chasing bunnies and playing outside while I caught up on some yard work. By late Thursday, however, the weather people predicted that we would have snow. Snow! Yeah! We haven’t had proper snow in years…2010 to be exact. The neighborhood kids would get a snow day, traffic would be light on my way to work and Grimm and Rufus could experience the cold, pure flakes of frost for the first time.

The weather forecasters were correct in saying we would get frozen precipitation, but wrong in leading us to believe it would be snow. Instead of white, fluffy flakes we got hard, crunchy ice. Yes, technically it was still frozen precipitation, but ice and snow are not the same thing. For one, you don’t usually slip and bust your bottom while walking on snow covered ground. Ice covered ground, however, leads to lots of slipping and cursing and muscle pulls and cursing and falling and cursing and then bruises…in that order. Even though hard pellets of sleet and ice were falling from the sky, I was determined to make allow Grimm and Rufus to experience the joys of frozen precipitation for the first time.

"I thought you said this would be fun! This is not fun...this cold stuff stings my eyes and is, well, cold!"

“I thought you said this would be fun! This is not fun…this cold stuff stings my eyes and is, well, cold!”

 

Both dogs were tremendously excited at first when their jackets came out. They suited up, I opened the back door onto the porch, they bolted out and promptly slid and crashed into the rear portion of the deck. Both dogs started trying to stand and continued to slip. They looked a little bit bewildered and confused, but no way were they running back indoors. I was determined they would have their moment of icy fun.

 

"What in the world is this cold stuff? I can't sit down properly on my wooden bench without my butt slipping and getting cold!"

“What in the world is this cold stuff? I can’t sit down properly on my wooden bench without my butt slipping and getting cold!”

 

Grimm gingerly walked around the deck, sniffing at the ice. He kept lifting up his feet and frankly looked miserable. The ice pellets were blasting down and hitting him in the eyes and he begged to go back indoors. Rufus kept running in circles and slipping and falling, only to try again. I did not realize that he had to really go to the bathroom. I thought his frantic circling was due to the cold ice touching his feet and the frozen precipitation hitting his head. Finally, he found the one spot on the deck where there was an actual patch of what might have passed for snow and urinated on it.

 

The only small patch of snow around and Rufus pees on it. So much for my tiny baby snowman.

The only small patch of snow around and Rufus pees on it. So much for my tiny baby snowman.

 

Where was Zella while the boys and I were having so much fun slipping and sliding and trying not to fall in yellow snow, you ask? She was curled up on the couch, refusing to step one hair over the threshold into the cold. She much preferred the warmth of the indoors to the stinging pellets of ice. I don’t know why. Ice pellets in your eye and slipping and sliding on ice seems like awesome fun to me.

 

"Outside, you say? Um, no. I decline your invitation. But have fun and watch for falling icicles."

“Outside, you say? Um, no. I decline your invitation. But have fun and watch for falling icicles.”

 

Zella is not generally a fan of frozen precipitation, snow or ice. She’s seen and experienced both before and was in no hurry to repeat the experience. There was a reason she lived in Texas, she told me, and the current weather we were experiencing was not the reason why. She never expounded on why she lived here but it must be because of her excellent owner. I feel so blessed.

 

This was the last time Zella experienced snow and other aspects of frozen precipitation. She was not amused then, either.

This was the last time Zella experienced snow and other aspects of frozen precipitation. She was not amused then, either.

 

 

After drying paws, the boy woofers and I came inside to thaw out. They were never going outside again if they could help it. I don’t think they are fans of cold, frozen precipitation, at least of the variety we have here in Texas.

The whole city of Austin pretty much shut down and we made national news for being the dumbest drivers in the world. I was not one of the 150 plus people who got into accidents of some kind or another driving on ice, but I did experience the fun of slipping and sliding while trying to stay on a road and not run into other vehicles or trees or houses. I must say, though, it was pretty amusing to watch a few terrified drivers pull off the road, hazard lights fluttering as quickly as their pulses, and then wait in their cars in cold panic, determined not to drive any further until the ice melted. Since it was 6:00 in the morning and temperatures were not to get above freezing until early afternoon, it looked like they had a long wait ahead. They were probably wishing they had stayed inside, curled up on the couch. Being out in the cold was not fun. Zella had the right idea.

 

 

I must have been out of my mind the day I wished Rufus wasn’t so lazy. You’re probably saying, “Well, you know they say to be careful what you wish for…you just might get it.”  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Like I said, outta my ever-loving mind.

The only reason I wished for Rufus to not be so lazy (mind you, I didn’t wish for him to be active, just to not be so lazy) was because I was getting tired of dragging him off the couch…and out of the car…and out of his kennel…and off of my bed.  My arms and back were threatening to mutiny if I kept using them to haul fat-boy Rufus around.

The one time I took him hiking with the other dogs, I had to help him climb up some of the boulders on the hike out. Before this, I had never had to help a dog climb up a moderately steep incline–usually they were the ones pulling me. Let me tell you…it was quite awkward, trying not to slip while pushing Rufus’ derriere in front of me. He basically would just put his front legs up on the boulders and look back at me, waiting for his push. I tried to see if he could do it on his own, but he just rested his head on the rock and looked at me like I was the cruellest person in the world for not helping him. Finally I gave in (because if I hadn’t, I would have been there all week) and hoisted him up the rest of the trail until the area levelled out and he could make it on his own. Needless to say, since all the attempts I have made to get Rufus to really exercise seemed to end up with my arms falling out of their sockets, I gave up.

Rufus Before...

Over the last few months, Rufus has battled ongoing skin issues.  It started as soon as I rescued him.  He had road rash from being run over and was on antibiotics to help his skin heal.  Even after his skin healed, though, he never seemed to grow new hair and was losing what he did have left and right.

I scraped him several times looking for mange mites.  I never found any under the microscope, but because he was a pit bull type dog (they are notorious for getting demodex mites) and because he was itchy (pruritic) and because sometimes you don’t find the mites, I treated him empirically with Ivermectin for three months.  The missing hair around his eyes (an area you can’t really scrape without sedation) grew back, but the rest of him stayed as bald as ever.

I changed his food to grain free and only fed him a fish based diet. I added fatty acid supplements to his food, antihistamines to his medication routine and bathed him with oatmeal-based shampoo. His pruritus continued to worsen and he started to stink really bad. He had horrible seborrhea (oiliness to his skin), developed comedones (fancy term for blackheads) and continued to lose hair. I performed skin cytologies and more antibiotics and anti-seborrhea/antipruritic/antimicrobial/antifungal shampoo were tried. He became less itchy, but the comedones were so bad that he looked like he was growing mold. Through it all, he continued to lose hair. I could either have his skin biopsied and/or start allergy testing or see the veterinary dermatologist.

Instead of putting him under anesthesia for the biopsy, I decided that I would see the dermatologist first. In preparation for that visit, I decided to go ahead and perform a complete blood profile on him. I remember joking with one of the veterinarians at work:

“Wouldn’t it be funny if he just had a low thyroid?”

“Well, it would be an easy fix, but juvenile hypothyroidism is just so rare. One can always hope,” she replied.

Then I really started to think about it. Maybe he DID have a low thyroid. Other than the fact that it is very rare for a dog to have juvenile hypothyroidism, he did fit the other criteria:

  • Poor hair coat with lack of growth and general alopecia–Yep.  With his patchy baldness, he was starting to look like a chupacabra mixed with a hippo.
  • Lethargy–Check. It he was any lazier, people were going to start assuming he was just a weird dog-shaped pillow.
  • Mental dullness–Uh oh. I was pretty sure his IQ was well below normal for a canine…or a rock.
  • Heat seeker–Yep!  Rufus hated the cold weather and I had to give him Charley’s old jacket to wear else he trembled uncontrollably, even in 68 degree weather.
  • Gain in body weight–This was the whole reason I was trying to get his lazy behind off the couch to begin with. He was definitely becoming more rotund.
  • Neuromuscular signs–Hmmm. Rufus had been observed to do some weird head bobbles and tremors at times. I thought maybe it was just because his head was too heavy.
  • Myxedema of the face–Also known as thickened or swollen skin, this leads to the tragic expression seen in dogs with severe hypothyroidism. Rufus definitely looked tragic, with thick eyebrow folds and drooping skin.  I thought he just looked sad because I made him get off the couch every once in a while.

Rufus’ bloodwork came back with a few discrepancies:  he was slightly anemic, his cholesterol was elevated and his free T4 and total T4 were both very, very low;  all of these tests displayed biochemical trends that are usually seen in true hypothyroid dogs. In fact, his free T4 value was so very low, it was reported as “less than” the lowest number they record. I had my solution to his skin issue (and his other issues, as well). All I had to do was supplement him with thyroid hormone, no need to see the dermatologist just yet.

Rufus After

Fast forward one month. Holy mother of dog! Rufus is a new canine.  His hair coat has almost completely grown back in, his oiliness has disappeared, he lost eight pounds without any change to his diet, his tragic expression has almost gone away completely and, in answer to my wish, he has become turbo-charged. Whereas before he would only play for a few minutes, now he wants to play ALL DAY LONG. Grimm is worn out, Zella is worn out, I’m worn out. And guess what? Rufus can actually run and gallop and jump up into the car on his own. He drags me out the door by his leash rather than the other way around. AND he can go outside in 60 degree weather (like today) and not shiver at all. Now, he still likes the couch, but these days he uses it more as a springboard to jump off of rather than a bed. At times I’ve almost been tempted to stop his supplementation, just to have lazy Rufus back for a bit. But…then his hair will fall out and he’ll stink again.

The only symptom that hasn’t gone away is the mental dullness. Thyroid hormones did not make him a genius overnight. He will probably always be a little slow mentally. Puppies who don’t have enough thyroid hormone during development can have impeded mental function and retardation of growth (they call this “cretinism”). They  can  still grow once supplementation is started, but they can not catch up mentally.

So there you have it. I got exactly what I wished for (a less lazy dog with better skin) but found out I was not yet prepared for all that entailed. Now I guess I need to wish for a magical way to exercise and entertain Rufus so Grimm and Zella don’t become worn out. Then again, if I wish that, there is no telling what cruel joke fate would play on me. I just might get it.

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.

~Charles Dickens

 

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.

  ~Norman Vincent Peale

 

 

Merry Christmas 2013

 

 

 

 

 

XMas 2013 Pup Pic

 

 

I hope everyone has a festive, fun and furry holiday season!  Here, the woofers are eagerly awaiting their visit from Santa and his elves, vigilantly watching the fireplace for the appearance of the fat man.  Or maybe they are waiting for the rats to come back…who really knows?

Can you find Grimm in the above picture?  If you’re having a hard time, just look for the pair of floating eyeballs.   Grimm is so dark, he blended almost seamlessly into the dark furniture.  Plus, his collar and white streak on his chest combined in some magical way to give Zella horns.  Maybe she’s trying to become a reindeer…

 

 

Rufus' First Christmas

 

 

This is Rufus’ first Christmas with me and the gang.  This is also the first time in more than three years that I’ve actually had a Christmas tree.  My tree, however, is not the traditional type.  I figured Pig Pen…I mean Rufus…needed a Charlie Brown-type Christmas tree to fit his style, hence the use of the giant pencil cactus.  Between Rufus’ curious nose and Grimm’s happy, waggy tail, I’ve lost a few ornaments. Thankfully, however, none have ended up in any doggy bellies…yet.  The holiday season still has a ways to go, though.  Anyone care to guess how many ornaments will survive?

 

 

To Catch A Rat

Now that wintertime seems to have officially announced its presence here in central Texas, all the outdoor creatures want in…to my house.  Evidently, one day while I was away at work, some critter placed a big, fat “Vacancy” sign over my door.  That’s all it took.  A family of squirrels moved in, a few lizards snuck inside and a small army of rats turned into squatters, all happily nesting together in my attic.

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.  And if you are a rodent, bring all your friends, too!

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. And if you are a rodent, bring all your friends, too!

It wasn’t such a huge deal at first.  I figured, once it warmed up, I’d see about fixing the hole in the soffit filters on the house, trim away the branches that touch or reach the roof and somehow shoo the critters away.  My traitorous house, however, decided to fall apart in exactly the wrong area:  a section of tile around the fireplace came unglued and fell off the wall, leaving a very tiny crack.  This tiny, 1/2 inch space somehow connected to the nether regions of the house and, ultimately, to the attic and outdoors as I could feel a draft coming through the crack.  I didn’t get around to fixing the tile immediately, which was exactly the same amount of time it took for three rats to move in.  Three.  Rats.  In.  My.  House.  Not wanting to become a wildlife landlord, I decided to take action.

You would think the presence of three dogs would deter the rodents or, at the very least, the canines would alert me to the rats presence.  If we were talking about normal pooches, the above would probably be true, but because we are talking about my dogs, none of it is.  I’m beginning to suspect that maybe the “Vacancy” sign was hung by my woofers in an attempt to make new friends.

The first time my dogs saw a rat scuttle by in the wee morning hours, they all looked at me like, “What the heck is that?”  Grimm literally stood still and watched as the rat ran underneath the couch, through his legs and then disappeared into the space under the fireplace.  I’m yelling at them, “Get the rat!  Get the rat!”  Zella finally started sniffing tentatively at the spot where the rodent was last spotted, Grimm followed her lead, and Rufus went and waited by his food bowl in hopes of scoring a second breakfast.

My dogs can coordinate perfectly in order to bite branches off of trees, so how come they can't team up to catch one measly rat?

My dogs can coordinate perfectly in order to bite branches off of trees, so how come they can’t team up to catch one measly rat?

With the second rat sighting, the dogs conducted themselves in a slightly more intimidating manner.  Well, okay…a slightly less embarrassing one.  It was like watching the three stooges–all of them were trying to figure out where the rat went, sniffing like crazy, but they kept bumping into each other in their exuberance.  The rat must have been laughing his little rat ass off at their shenanigans.  Even though all three watched as this rat ran under the refrigerator, instead of guarding the fridge, waiting for the rat’s appearance, they all ran back to the fireplace to see if any new rats would emerge.  Worthless dogs.  I told them I was trading them all in for cats.

Rufus became a little worried about being traded in for a feline model.  So, to up his rat catching game, he started researching how to become an intimidating kitty.

Rufus became a little worried about being traded in for a feline model. So, to improve his rat catching game, he started researching how to become an intimidating kitty.

Because my canines were clearly failing at catching rats, I had to take things into my own hands.  I refused to use chemical warfare for a few reasons: having rats bleed to death or go into convulsions before dying seemed barbaric and cruel; the rats would probably pay back my cruelty if I used such methods by dying in between my walls and causing all kinds of calamity; and my dogs would probably find and ingest the rat bait regardless of how well I hid it, leaving me with high vet bills and/or dead dogs.  On to my next option.

I decided against rat traps because, even though they are more humane than the poison option, waking up to a rodent with a broken back or a crushed face with little proptosed rat eyeballs seemed like the basis of nightmares.  The little rodent bastards were eating my food and generally causing messes, but I couldn’t kill them for it.  I decided to dust off my old Havahart trap, baited it with dog biscuits and peanut butter, and waited.

The first rat was caught the first night I set the trap.  My sister and I drove a mile down the street to a nice wooded area and let him go.  Rat number two was caught a few days later and released into the same area as rat number one.  Rat number three was proving to be the brains of the trio and not falling for the baited trap routine.  I tried bananas (because he sure liked them when they were on the kitchen counter), tortilla chips (again, because the rat tore into the new bag I purchased, probably to eat with his rat salsa) and bread (this little rat had an insatiable appetite)…but no luck.

One rat down, two to go...

One rat down, two to go…

There was one day when I almost caught the rat–he had gone into the trap, but the trap door didn’t close all the way.  I picked the trap up to examine it more closely in order to determine the malfunction.  I did not realize that the rat was still in the trap, hiding under the trigger plate.  As I peered into the front of the trap, this gray blur sped out and launched itself off the front of the trapdoor, right into the midst of three pit bull dogs.  This was probably the safest place for the rat to be as my three knucklehead dogs again became the three stooges, twirling around in circles trying to determine where the rat went.  

While my dogs were dancing around the rat, I was doing a heebee jeebee dance of my own, squealing like a six year old girl.  “Eeeeeeeeh!!!!!  Get the rat…get that bastard!”  By this point, the rat had escaped into parts unknown, leaving bewildered canines and a frazzled human in its wake.  Well played, rat, well played.

Days went by before the last rat finally let down his guard and became my captive.  Again I made the trip to my secret rat dumping ground and released the bugger.  As I drove away, he probably hitched a ride on my car’s rear bumper and is now outside, plotting how to get back inside and commence Operation Rat Revenge.  Good luck with that, rat.  I now have a secret weapon:

"Meow!  I'm a scary kitty cat, and I'm going to eat me some mousies!"

“Meow! I’m a scary kitty cat, and I’m going to eat me some mousies!”

Okay, so my secret weapon isn’t really that threatening, but maybe the rat will at least die from laughing.  Just in case, though, maybe we’ll see how the lizards and squirrels react first.  Then again, maybe not.  They might invite all their friends over for the show, making my house some new vermin version of a nightclub with Rufus as the star attraction.  I think I may need to invest in more Havahart traps…

Rat in a trap

Even captured in a trap, rat number three still looks smug. Probably has a shank hidden in his cheek pouch…

Call it whatever you like:  slobber, drool, drivel, slaver.  No matter the name, it all boils down to one thing–wet, drippy slime.  Watching juicy tentacles slither out of your dog’s mouth causes two things to happen:  a mad dash for the nearest absorbent material and a quick prayer that those tentacles stay attached to your dog long enough for your return.  If they disconnect, there is a very high probability they will land somewhere you really don’t want them, like in your other dog’s eye or on your naked feet or in your hair (and yes, I speak from unfortunate experience).

Can I catch the slobber strings before they detach and land on Zella?

Can I catch the slobber strings before they detach and land on Zella?

Of all my canines, Rufus has been the only one with a drool problem.  He hypersalivates anytime anyone mentions food and, if you happen to discuss peanut butter for any reason, prepare yourself for foot long slime tentacles to appear.  Because of his saggy jowls and undershot bite, he has more space for his saliva to collect.  Eventually, the excess saliva either drips or slithers out, leaving a surplus of disgustedness in its wake.

Swing your drool to the left...

Swing your drool to the left…

can always tell when Rufus has been to the water bowl.  He could be the canine version of Jackson Pollock, if only Mr. Pollock used water instead of paint…and his mouth instead of a paint brush.  Spatters of liquid surround the bowl after Rufus takes a few licks of water.  When he walks away, more dribbles follow him, leaking from the sides and front of his mouth.  I am left with Rorschach water blots all over the tile:  one looks like a canine mocking his owner, while another uncannily resembles a frustrated person and the third, I swear, looks just like an owner strangling her dog for drooling all over the floor.  

...and now to the right.  Look at those drool strings go!

…and now to the right. Look at those drool strings go!

The waterworks really start flowing at breakfast and dinner times.  Rufus’ mouth mimics a leaky faucet–drip, drip, drip.  The area where he sits waiting for his morsels soon turns into a moat surrounding Castle Rufus.  If I’m slower than normal getting his food together, the drips thicken into a proper slaver, turning into long strings of spittle.  As long as I move slowly and calmly towards his face with my paper towel or baby wipe, I can catch the entire length of drool and save my rug.  However, if I move too quickly, Rufus will shift his head and **FLING!!** slobber all over the cabinets, floor, rug and me.   It’s like a scene out of Ghostbusters but instead of ectoplasm, it’s Rufusplasm.

slimed

Too bad bibs don’t work on dogs.  I’ve come up with other ways, though, to reduce the slobber problem.  I’ve strategically placed dog drool towels around the house, become much quicker (and sneakier) when preparing the dogs’ meals and eliminated the words “peanut butter”, “treats”, “cookies” and “hungry” from my vocabulary.  So far, the saliva worms have been mostly manageable and I’m proud to report 32 days without incident.  I know others of you out there also suffer the slaver dilemma.  So, may I ask, dear readers, how do you react when your dog’s slobber is showing?

The drool keeps going and going and going and going...

The drool keeps going and going and going and going…

Autumn Days

Autumn days mean deep blue skies, frolicking squirrels, trees shedding leaves and temperatures dropping.  This leads to more outdoor time, with a 66.6% approval rating by my dogs for the change in season.  The remaining 33.3% would rather hibernate.

 

Zella watches the leaves fall, Grimm searches for squirrels.  Rufus just stares at me accusingly for making him get off the couch and enjoy the outdoors.

Zella watches the leaves fall, Grimm searches for squirrels. Rufus glares at me for making him get off the couch and enjoy the outdoors.

 

 

Rufus seemed truly baffled by the large flurry of leaves that kept dropping on his head.  The wind had picked up and the hackberry tree was losing leaves left and right.  What was Rufus’ solution to the problem?  Why, try to catch and eat the leaves, of course!

 

Leaf Catch Try #1

 

 

Leaf Catch Try #2

 

 

Leaf Catch Try#3

 

 

Obviously the boy lacks hand, err, mouth-eye coordination.  I thought try #2 was to be a success, but no.  By this point, even the squirrels had come down from the tops of the trees to watch the show.  I think a couple of them actually even tried pelting him with a few acorns, making bets on whether or not they could hit his huge noggin.  Finally Rufus gave up and started eating leaves that had accumulated in my flower pots.  Rooting around in the dirt, he looked like a little piggy…with a vest.

 

Eating Dirt

 

 

Zella was completely embarrassed by her housemate’s lack of proper dog abilities.  All the work she had put into making the squirrels fear her wrath…out the window.  She was going to have to work double time to regain their respect.  Didn’t Rufus know anything?

 

"Why?  Just...why?  Can I bury him in leaves?"

“Why? Just…why? Can I bury him in leaves?”

 

 

Grimm was so fixated on triangulating the squirrels, he just ignored the antics of Rufus.  Grimm really wanted to race around in the yard, but because of the recent rain and the amount of mud present, he satisfied himself by giving squirrels death glares from the deck.

 

Grimm:  "I'm so gonna get you, squirrels!" Rufus:  "Ooohhh...funny looking baby kitties in trees!  Love you, baby kitties!" Zella:  "Dear God, please turn me into a squirrel so I can scamper far, far away from here."

Grimm: “I’m so gonna get you, squirrels!”
Rufus: “Ooohhh…funny looking baby kitties in trees! Love you, baby kitties!”
Zella: “Dear God, please turn me into a squirrel so I can scamper far, far away from here.”

 

Between all the dirt eating and almost leaf catching, Rufus was worn out.  It was time for his sixteenth nap of the day.  Back inside we went to rest up for our evening walk.  The cool day should lead to a crisp night, perfect for a stroll around the neighborhood…if we can pry Rufus off the couch.

 

"Grimm told me to pretend to be a squirrel.  Is this a face a squirrel makes?"

Rufus:  “Grimm told me to make a scary face to frighten the squirrels.  Is this scary?” Grimm:  “See what I have to work with?”

 

Pay It Forward

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” 
-Winston Churchill  

 

Meet Waylon.  He’s the boxer puppy in the below picture with Grimm and Rufus, although he is much bigger now.  And no, he’s not mine.  At one point, he almost became part of my household but, because another was smitten by his cuteness, I was let off the hook.  Waylon is now 9 months old, crazy as only a boxer puppy can be, and is Rufus’ blood brother.

 

"I'm the baby.  I said, I'M THE BABY!"

“I may be the littlest, BUT I’M THE LOUDEST!”

 

 

Back in June, Waylon presented to my veterinary clinic on an emergency basis for vomiting, lethargy, inappetence and basically a failure to thrive.  He was skin and bones, white as a sheet and completely depressed.  Originally from a breeder in Missouri, his owner at the time brought him to Texas and assumed that everything was normal.  He trusted that the breeder had dewormed and vaccinated the puppy as stated and couldn’t believe the reason his young dog looked the way he did was because of hookworms.

Hookworms can be devastating to young pups, frequently causing severe anemia if left untreated.  Hookworms feed on their host’s blood by attaching to the mucosa of the small intestine.  Enough of these parasites were present in Waylon to reduce the amount of red blood cells in his body to 8%, a dramatically low number when a growing pup should have a hematocrit of at least 30%.  A blood transfusion was needed but the owner at the time could not afford treatment and wanted to go ahead and euthanize the little pup.  I offered the owner another option:  turn him over to my hospital, we would cover treatment and, if he survived, adopt him out.  The man readily gave his consent.  Now all Waylon needed was blood.

My personal dogs, with the exception of Charley, have always been blood donors.  (Charley could not be a donor because of his chronic ehrlichia infection.)  My dogs have been lucky enough (or unlucky, I guess, if you ask them) to be universal donors.  Grimm, because of his size, his high hematocrit level, universal donor status and easy-going nature, has been the go-to dog at the clinic for blood when we have no packed red cells in hospital or when whole blood is needed.  He has saved the lives of numerous parvo pups, IMHA dogs and other anemic puppies.  However, I did not have Grimm with me the day Waylon came in.  I did, however, have a nine month old red head named Rufus with me who was ready to step up to the plate.

 

Rufus Lounges in the Grass

 

 

I have warned clients in the past that I am not responsible for any changes in their dog’s behavior after receiving some of my dog’s blood.  I am joking, of course, as the new blood will not change their personality in any way (although they will feel better) and will only remain in their dog’s system for a short time.  After receiving Rufus’ blood, though, I swear Waylon became a mini-Rufus for a while, at least until the blood was replaced by his own.

Just two hours after receiving the blood, Waylon’s color and attitude improved immensely.  He started barking and jumping around, his appetite returned and he wolfed down his puppy food.  His barking turned into ogre noises like those Rufus’ makes.  He was now Rufus’ blood brother.

Waylon was adopted by one of the technicians at the hospital.  Curiously enough, the technician who adopted Waylon was the same technician who originally brought Grimm into the treatment area where I first met him.  Because of her, I have Grimm.  Because of me, she has Waylon.  Circle of life…sort of.  Anyways, I digress.  Waylon’s parasites were treated, he continued to thrive and has been my dogs buddy ever since.  Fast forward now to the end of October.

A rescue group came in with a litter of six, seven-week old Australian shepherd mix pups, all of which were suffering from hookworm anemia.  One was too sick to be saved.  The remaining five pups needed blood fast.  The only available dog at the hospital able to donate was Waylon.  Because each pup was so little, they only needed a small amount of blood and, because Waylon is now so big, he was able to donate a bit to each of them.  All of the remaining pups survived and are now in foster homes, waiting to be adopted.  See?  Even a dog can pay it forward.

There are so many things given to us each day:  a small kindness, a helping hand, the gift of life.  How many times can we say we really do pay it forward?  I would like to think I do my part, but I know at times I have fallen short.  I challenge each of you to pay one positive act forward each day.  You don’t have to give blood to save a life…sometimes a smile may make all the difference.

 

 

Here is your smile to pay forward as you see fit.

Here is your smile to pay forward as you see fit.

 

 

“You may be only one person in this world, but to one person at one time, you are the world.”

-Anonymous

 

I think I have the laziest dog on the planet.  How do I know, you ask?  Well, I’m pretty sure the following criteria qualify him as the most sluggish around:

  • His favorite walk is from my bed to the couch.
  • He refuses to catch a ball and, instead, lets it bounce off his forehead.
  • The above also applies with a frisbee.
  • He only goes the minimal distance required in the yard to do his business.
  • All the bunnies and squirrels laugh when he is around.
  • He is slowly becoming part of the sofa (see previous posts).

Rufus has seriously let himself go.  His lack of movement has caused his waist to expand a bit and I fear his limbs will deteriorate.  I gave him some slack earlier in the year, thinking his laziness was due mostly to the extremely hot weather we had earlier in the summer.  Now that it is cooling off a bit, I expected to see his frisky side come out.  Nope.  He just asked for a blanket to keep him warm in his slumber.  The time had come to force the issue and get him off his behind.

 

"Okay, fine.  Let's get this show on the road.  I'm ready to sweat!"

“Okay, fine. Let’s get this show on the road. I’m ready to sweat!”

 

I thought it might be fun to try Rufus out as a jogging partner.  I figured since he just sort of shambles anyway, I could go really slow (which is my prefered pace) and enjoy the scenery.  Rufus could get his blood flowing, I could slowly get back into running and we could bond over the experience.  Imagine my surprise, then, when I had my arm almost pulled out of my socket.  It’s not what you think, though.  Rufus did almost dislocate my shoulder, but not because he took off like a rocket.

We started slowly, Rufus trotting beautifully by my side.  “This is great,” I thought.  “Rufus makes an excellent poster boy for jogging with your dog!”

The joke, however, was on me.  Here I was, jogging happily down the road, stupid smile on my face, enjoying the cool brisk evening air, hand in Rufus’ leash, when all of a sudden Rufus decided he didn’t want to run anymore (and run is being generous…he was barely trotting).  Instead of slowing down first like any normal dog (or any other being with any type of motor skill), he just stopped and flopped immediately onto his side, perfectly imitating a beached whale caught on the asphalt.  I, in my jogging enthusiasm, did not realize he had crumpled himself onto the road and I kept going until whiplash and an almost dislocated shoulder from the sudden dog anchor stopped me in my tracks.

“Rufus!  What the heck, buddy?  Come on, let’s go!”

I tugged at the leash.  Dull, glazed over eyes stared out at me from Rufus’ skull.  Dear God!  Had I killed my dog?  Did he have a heart attack?  I bent down and checked him out.  He proceeded to roll on his back and solicit belly rubs.   Big faker.  I prodded him with my foot.

“Get up.  Let’s go, doofus.”

He rolled back onto his side and just laid there.  I tugged again at the leash.  Nothing.  I started to drag him, thinking he would get up and start walking.  Nope.  I dragged him two feet with his harness before I gave up.  He still wouldn’t budge.  Since we were only fifty feet from the house at this point, I thought I would call his bluff and just leave him.  I turned around and jogged towards home.  This finally got him to sit up and acknowledge me, but he wasn’t moving anywhere.

“Come on, Rufus.  Come here!  Ok, fine.  I promise I won’t make you run anymore.”  He still looked doubtful.  Time for the ultimate bribe.

“Rufus!  Come here!”  Blank dog stare.

“If you come now, I’ll let you snooze the rest of the evening away on the couch…and I’ll throw in some peanut butter!”

**Boing!!**  That dog actually galloped back home and beat me to the front door.  As soon as I let him in, he jumped on the couch.  Even though Grimm was in his favorite spot, he didn’t care.  He just climbed on top of Grimm and commenced his snooze fest.

"I never want to leave the couch ever again...or you, Grimm."

“I never want to leave the couch ever again…or you, Grimm.”

 

Obviously Rufus will have to stick to sleeping and wrestling as his sports of choice.  I guess he really isn’t built to be a runner.  He has more of a couch potato weightlifter physique.  Really, though, is being lazy all that bad?  If sleeping on soft surfaces makes him happier than frantically chasing frisbees, that’s fine.  Grimm and Zella are more than happy to be my running buddies.  Rufus can come if he wants and we’ll slow our pace to make him happy when the time comes.  I will enjoy the dog he is rather than try to turn him into something he isn’t.  I’ll take him any way, shape or form, even when he’s out of shape and his form looks more like a sofa pillow and less like a dog.  As long as he’s happy, I’m happy.  At least I know I’ll have company when I, too, want to be a couch potato.

 

"dkkj"

“Okay, no more pictures…and no more running!  Take off these sweatbands!”

 

“You gotta know when to be lazy. Done correctly, it’s an art form that benefits everyone.” 
― Nicholas Sparks, The Choice

Birthday Wishes

One year ago today (or thereabouts), a warthog and a dog became proud parents.  You know, now that I think about it, maybe it was actually a hippo…or possibly a rhinoceros…an ogre?…and a dog.  Either way, some type of forbidden union produced Rufus.  Only the most powerful love could have made such a canine.

Who's his daddy (or momma), you ask?  I have no freaking clue.

Who’s his daddy (or momma), you ask? I have no freaking clue.  Surely one of these combinations is the correct recipe for a Rufus.  **Note:  If you are one of the creatures pictured above, please do not infer from this posting that Rufus is asking for any proof of parentage.  Your secret is, and always will be, safe.  However, if you feel the need to come forward to claim your offspring, you are too late.

I have no information on his beginnings.  Did he have other siblings?  Are there other Rufi (that’s the plural form of Rufus) out there?  Possibly.  If you follow this blog, you know that Rufus was a rescue so I only know his history from the time he was about four months old.  Today may not even really be his true birthday, but based on his comparative age when I obtained him, it is a very close approximation. Why September 1st, you ask?  Well, it just so happens that today is also Grimm’s birthday and, even though Grimm is a rescue too, I do know that this is the day he was actually born.  Apparently, I wanted two Virgo canines in the house because one just wasn’t enough.  The Virgo dog horoscope states:

The Virgo Dog is a genuine domestic creature, more resigned than any other Sign of the Zodiac to play the role of pet. In fact, he or she will feel totally comfortable in this position and accept it without a single murmur. This canine will be in his or her element as a friend and companion living with humans, and will strive to be the perfect pet. The Virgo Dog considers being told what to do as a pleasure…it also saves him or her the trouble of having to think up something. There will be no unpleasant surprises for an owner who returns home to the Virgo Dog since this canine is the cleanest and most hygienic of the Zodiac.

This sounds great!  Who doesn’t want the perfect pet?  Rufus had to be a Virgo for sure!  Plus, since Rufus loves Grimm so very much, Rufus wanted to share his birth date with his older brother, too.  I thought, they share everything else, why not save my brain from having to remember another date and let them party it up together?  The woofers thought it was a good idea, I thought it was a good idea and my maid thought it was a good idea because she would only have to clean up the post-party shambles once instead of twice.   Just kidding.  There are no post party shambles (yet) plus I don’t have a maid.  [Dear Santa, please bring me a maid this Christmas, okay?  Thanks.]  I should have read the horoscope further before assigning Rufus the same date of birth.  I never read this part until today:

The Virgo puppy will be easy to handle in the beginning, but as he or she gets older, trouble is bound to start. This canine is determined that his or her life be filled with beauty and nothing but the best will suffice…the most comfortable chair, the most delicious of food, the most luxurious of surroundings. The Virgo Dog will never be found sleeping on a hard floor and is sensitive to discomfort in much the same way as the fairytale Princess was to the irritating pea. The Virgo Dog tends to spend a great deal of time in the garden, communing with nature as he or she weeds, digs and generally makes a mess.  The Virgo Dog is never happier than when he or she is doing something for the owner. This canine will take over some of the many chores which pile up during the day…bringing in the laundry, counting the socks, clearing the table, for example. However, this truly helpful dog does not always get it right.

My couch and yard were pretty much doomed from the beginning.  I knew there was a reason Grimm and Rufus were so vain!  Having to look pretty and be comfortable was destined by the stars, not to mention their exuberance in performing yard work (and by yard work, I mean tree destruction).  So, to my two puppy boys:  Happy Birthday!  Here’s a picture to demonstrate exactly how far they have come: Then and Now Whoa!  Rufus blew up a bit, didn’t he?  Grimm just looks like a bigger version of his puppy self, only he grew into his ears.  Rufus, however, looks like he’s been hitting the ‘roids.  He hasn’t, just so you know.  Those are the hippo…or rhino…or warthog…or ogre genes coming out.  He will probably fill out even more over the next year.  Does the Incredible Hulk need a canine sidekick?  Rufus is available for hero work two nights a week. Grimm has pretty much done all the growing he’s going to do, unless you count getting a fatter belly “growing”.  [If that’s the case, well, I’ve been steadily growing for a while now, too.]  He still acts like a puppy, though, so I’m still waiting for him to mentally mature.  With Rufus only a year younger than him, I’m afraid I’m going to have a couple of wild boys for a while yet. For their birthday, they got to do all their favorite doggy things:  chase a bunny, watch the squirrels outside, eat awesome grub and catch some zzz’s on the couch.  Rufus really wanted a kitty for his birthday, but I told him no.  Grimm just wanted a pair of flip flops to eat.  I told him no, too.  Instead, they got fluffy squeaky toys in the shape of veggies to play with and a special dinner treat of canned tripe mixed with tuna juice added to their normal kibble.  Stinky like you would not believe, but they adored it (Zella got some, too).  I told Rufus he needed to make a birthday wish but that he couldn’t tell me what it was, else it wouldn’t come true.  However, I think I figured out his wish because it appears to have come to fruition:  to really and truly become part of the couch.  See?  Sometimes birthday wishes do come true and sometimes (okay, most times) a homely pup grows up to become a good friend…and part of your sofa.

Rufus' transformation into Rufa is complete!  Birthday dreams do come true!

Rufus’ transformation into Rufa is complete! Birthday dreams do come true!

“You were born, and with you endless possibilities―very few ever to be realized.  It’s okay.  Life was never about what you could do, but what you would do. ” 

—Richelle E. Goodrich

You may wonder why I have so many pictures of my dogs on the couch: lounging, playing, sleeping.  The truth of the matter is my dogs are comfort hounds and they refuse to rest their weary heads on anything but the softest pillows and their derrieres on the plushest cushions.  Even though I have four dog beds strategically placed throughout the house for them to use at their leisure, I might as well sleep on them myself.  I may have to, seeing as how my sofa has been pirated by the woofers.

 

 

Super Comfy

 

 

The worst couch potato of the bunch is Rufus.  He hardly ever gets off the couch except to eat and to go outside.  If something catches his attention somewhere else in the house, he goes to the end of the sofa closest to the action to see what’s up.  He does not, however, leave the couch.  Oh, no.  You see, Rufus is morphing into being part of the couch.  No kidding.  Even his hair color is changing to match the sofa.  His fur now has the texture of microsuede and he roughly resembles the shape of one of the cushions.  I’ve even accidentally sat on him when I thought I finally had the couch to myself.  The only giveaway was that he moved, barely, and the couch usually doesn’t.

 

 

Rufus wedges himself between the cushions in an effort to more seamlessly blend into the sofa contours.

Rufus wedges himself between the cushions in an effort to more seamlessly blend into the sofa contours.

 

 

One day I expect to just come home and see a dog face ingrained into the sofa.  His body will compress into a cushion and I’ll be the only person in town (or the world) to have a couch that barks.  Maybe it’ll have a tail, too.  Wouldn’t that be something?  No more worries about crumbs falling into the sofa seat.  Rufa (that’s Rufus + sofa) will take care of that for me.

 

 

Rufus slides further into the cushions.  This is his idea of paradise.

Rufus slides further into the cushions. The wrinkles on the pillow matches the wrinkling on his face.  To be smooshed by pillow cushions–this is his idea of paradise.

 

 

l have seriously never seen such a lazy dog.  He would spend all day wallowing on the couch if I let him.  When I take him to work with me, the first thing he does when we get home is jump on the couch, roll all over it and moan in pleasure.  He then proceeds to tell the couch about how horrible it was to stay in a hard kennel all day with only a threadbare blanket for comfort.  He leaves out the part about getting to play with doggy friends and such.  He only remembers that sleepy time did not involve a couch.  I told him he was starting to resemble a couch what with his lack of exercise and all.  He promptly snuggled into the pillows and commenced his snoring workout.

 

 

Sofa Love

Rufus loves the sofa so much that he actually smiles when he sleeps on it. The couch fairy must grant him sweet dreams.

 

 

For most creatures, comfort is a luxury.  For Rufus, comfort is a priority.  He gets very dramatic if I don’t let him on the couch.  Giant tears form in his eyes, his lip quivers and he starts channelling Oliver Twist.  If still denied couch access, he attempts to use his one brain cell to sneakily gain admittance.  By sneakily, I mean he tries to climb over the back of the couch.  Because he’s short, he ends up just being able to rest his head and forelimbs on the back cushions.  He’ll stand all day on his rear legs if it means part of his body gets to rest on the couch.  For Rufus, some comfort is better than no comfort.  After all, he who sleeps comfortably sleeps best and Rufus has to be the best at something.

 

 

 

Rufus and Grimm unite in their couch claim.

“Back off, lady.  This couch is taken.”

 

 

 

Tough As Snails

 

 

 

This weekend I had the grand idea of extending one of my flowerbeds.  I thought to myself, what better way to celebrate the weekend than by not being able to move the next day?  Nothing quite says weekend warrior like a pulled back and fire ant bitten feet.  My dogs, God bless them, were outside with me every curse of the way.  They suffered through heat, witnessed abuse to rocks and watched in amazement as I tamed the earth to my will.

 

 

Eating Trees

 

 
Grimm, who must have been a landscaper in a previous life, helped me out by pruning a few branches.  While I was busy digging and planting, Grimm kept watch over the whole scene.  Even though it may look like he was goofing off and just eating plants, he assured me he was actually testing them to ensure they were safe to have in the environment.  Good old Grimm, looking out for the other pooches.

Suddenly, without warning, Grimm gave the “ALERT!  ALERT!” bark.  Something had crept into our perimeter that posed a huge threat.  We were at DEFCON 2, according to Grimm, and all on alert.  I made my way to safety while Grimm corralled the trespasser.  Using his own body to block any possible escape routes, Grimm made sure the interloper did not move any closer (as seen below).  All that military training was starting to pay off.

 

 

Grimm With Snail

 

 

Wait, you don’t believe me?  Where is the huge threat, you ask?  Here, let me show you more closely the seriousness of the situation:

 

Itty Bitty Snail

 

 

This is obviously a very scary, enormously dangerous creature.  Thank goodness I had my big, tough pit bull outside to protect me and watch every movement this gastropod made.  What with a snail’s lightning quick reflexes and all, I’m surprised I lived to tell the tale.  How could I, a puny human, ever hope to survive combat with a snail on my own, especially one so microscopically tiny?  Surely my squinting to see the darn thing would hinder my movements and hasten my demise…or so Grimm would believe.  We humans are so fragile.

 

Grimm On Porch

 

 

 

Grimm takes his job as protector very seriously.  No microbug or itty bitty crawly thing will escape his notice.  Spiders everywhere cower at the mere mention of his name.  In one fell slurp, it all could be over.  Grimm did not eat the snail since the snail decided to retreat back into his home.  If he hadn’t, escargot would have been on the menu.  Smart move, snail…smart move.

Grimm saved the day once again.  Nothing scares him, as long as it is smaller than, say, a chicken.  My dog is tough as nails or, at least, snails.  His motto is, “The smaller they are, the softer they fall”  and Grimm likes soft things.

Cone of Fame

It goes by many names:  Elizabethan collar, doggy lamp shade, satellite dish, cone of shame.  Most dogs, at some point in their life, are buckled (and possibly wrestled) into one by their loving owners.  Contrary to what the dog may think, we do this for his or her own good—to protect them, to reduce the chance of further injury and maybe, just a little, to laugh at them.

Rufus, apparently, never read the “Caution:  Beware of…” section in the addendum to Rules and Regulations in Regards to Living in the Human World. Otherwise, he would have known about the hazards of the cone and the laughter that may befall him.  Frankly, though, he could care less.  He wears his cone with pride.

Rufus shows of his cone of shame...er, fame.  Not only is it a fabulous fashion accessory, but it also acts as a bib when he drools as shown above.

Rufus shows off his cone of shame…er, fame. Not only is it a fabulous fashion accessory, but it also acts as a bib when he drools, as shown above.

Unfortunately for Rufus (and for me…the cone becomes a weapon of mass destruction at times), he has had to wear the lampshade many times in his short life.  With his ongoing skin issues, he has to keep the cone on to prevent self-inflicted trauma.  At first, he was a little frustrated.  Now he practically shoves his head into the cone when it comes out.  He uses it to bulldoze the other dogs out of his way and to earn sympathy treats from unsuspecting humans.  When outside, it becomes a plow and is handy for making furrows in the ground.  Plus, nothing amuses other drivers on the road more than seeing a goofy pit bull sitting in the front seat of a vehicle wearing a plastic cone on his head.  Road rage goes right out the window.  City of Austin, you can thank Rufus for the calmer demeanor of the drivers on the road.  He can’t be held liable, though, for the accidents that may occur from the rubbernecking and hysterical laughter.

Accepting life as it comes is what Rufus and, generally, most dogs do.   And I’m not talking about learned helplessness, where they put up with something because they believe that their particular situation is hopeless and no matter what they do, their condition will not change.  Although this does happen (to people and animals alike), I am referring to their ability to adapt to novel situations, not them feeling helpless because they have nowhere else to turn. When Rufus wears his cone, he does so with pride.  This is why he has three of them—one for day wear, one for evening and one for formals.  Rufus is able to transform a difficult situation into an opportunity.  He turns frowns upside down, lemons into lemonade and a cone of shame into a cone of fame.

And truly, this is what makes dogs Real.  Not real, lower case (because we know they are not a figment of our imagination), but Real with a capital R.  They accept their people as they are and their life as it comes, cones and all.  This, unfortunately, is why we can abuse their trust but also why we can build such tremendous relationships with them.  They trust us to help them, take care of them, love them.  And this, in turn, makes us Real, too.  This is better explained through a passage from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams:

Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit. 

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’ 

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’ 

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

When you are Real, you wear the cone because you trust that your person has your best interests at heart.  You put up with the jokes and the teasing because you sense the love underneath.  The cone may not make you beautiful, but that doesn’t matter because your beauty shines regardless of the piece of plastic on your head or the patchy baldness in your fur.  This is when your cone of shame becomes your cone of fame, and you wear it with pride because you are Real and nothing can take that away.  And if someone gets a chuckle at  your expense, well, that’s okay because you know that you are REALLY loved and no piece of plastic can take that away.

Cone of Fame

Over the past few months, I have been presented with a few awards by my fellow bloggers.  To those who have bestowed these gifts, do not think I have forgotten.  I owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude and am truly honored that you all have taken an interest in the life and adventures of us here at Grimm’s Furry Tail.  As the newest addition to the canine crew, I will let Rufus speak for all of us:

Thank You

Now it is my turn to pass along these terrific little gems.  Giving an award to a fellow blogger remains one of the best forms of encouragement; it is a way to tell someone that you enjoy their work, appreciate their effort and seek to read (or see) more of their talent.  Being on the receiving end, for me at least, lets me know that others have been entertained or somehow affected by my work.  Those words strung together, those photographs perfected, made their way into the life of another person and caused some sort of effect in their life.  Did I inspire them, compel them to ponder a deeper question, alter their perception or just make their day a little brighter?  Hopefully, if I did my job, I did all of the above and maybe more.

Awards

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Back in May, Kat from Travel. Garden. Eat. was kind enough to pass along the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  Her blog addresses most of my favorite things in life and she inspires me to get out and explore, even if it is just in my own backyard.  Her pictures, too, are truly beautiful but you shouldn’t just take my word for it.  Go check her blog out for yourself.  Go on.  I’ll wait.

There are a few rules to be followed when accepting this award:  thank and link back to the person presenting the award, post the award on your blog, pass the award along to fifteen other bloggers (I’m going to cheat and only pass the award along to three inspiring bloggers) and share seven facts or thoughts about yourself.  Because this blog is more about my dogs than me, I’ll share seven facts about them instead.

  1. Grimm has recently become obsessed with squirrels.  Even when inside, if you say the word “squirrel”, he looks up at the ceiling in anticipation of a fat, furry rodent dropping from the heavens.  I worry about him getting a crick in his neck from all the head twisting he performs in his search for these delicacies…I mean critters.
  2. If Zella gets really excited, she starts to vibrate.  Playing frisbee and running with me while biking tend to bring on this condition.  If the excitement continues, she starts to make duck and monkey noises, too.  One day, I expect her head to actually explode from her fervor.
  3. When Rufus waits for his food, he drools…and drools…and drools.  A small lake forms around his front feet.  Saliva bubbles erupt from his mouth.  Strings of slime drip from his chops.  The boy needs a bib.
  4. All three of my pit bull dogs have donated blood to other canines in need.  I warn the owners of the receiving dogs that if their canine suddenly develops an urge to eat flip flops or destroy any plastic disc shaped items after the transfusion, I am not to blame.
  5. Whenever we go outside, Grimm has to run about three laps around the yard just to warm up.  Then the real shenanigans can begin.
  6. Zella excels at reading my body language.  At times, she seems to know what I’m going to do before I do.
  7. Rufus is secretly a princess trapped inside an ogre’s body.  He has to sleep on soft, fluffy surfaces, can not walk or potty on damp or wet ground and must be assisted in getting in and out of his carriage (my car).

Now for my nominees for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award:

  • fishofgold.net–This blogger was recently Freshly Pressed for her post titled, “How To Make A Goldfish”.  After reading this, you understand just how incredible this lady is.  She touches on subjects some of us would rather pretend didn’t exist, but that is the reason why I respect her writing so very much.  Plus, she has a super cute dog!
  • bebeinside.wordpress.com–This blog actually belongs to my sister who inspires me every day.  She currently is staying with me and the crazy dog clan and is preparing for a new little one; I am going to be an aunt for the first time in 5 months and Grimm, Zella and Rufus are going to have a new human cousin!
  • queenofzoom.com–With five kids and five dogs, she really is zooming!  Her pooches make me smile and Mr. B is just a doll.  If you haven’t already, stop by for a visit!

Zella loves awards

The Liebster Award

At the end of May, Ena from Trying To Pray presented me and the gang with The Liebster Award.  A month later, another Liebster Award came our way, this time from The Crossover.  Thank you both for this honor and I am truly grateful to have gotten to know a little about both of you through blogging.

The rules for this award are as follows:  thank and link back to the nominating blogger, state eleven random facts about yourself, answer the eleven questions presented to you at the time of the award, pass the award onto eleven other bloggers and leave them with eleven questions to answer, too.  Lots of elevens in there!  So, without further ado, here are eleven facts about me (and the pooches):

  1. I have only had a cell phone for a little over a year.  Before then, I used a landline and smoke signals to contact people.
  2. When I was little, I wanted a horse so very much, but I only had a faithful dog.  I used to make a halter out of a leash for her to wear and I would make her jump over bricks and other obstacles while I pretended to be a great equestrian hunter/jumper.  Only later, as an adult, did I learn that our playtime and make-believe was actually agility and I had been using (quite successfully) a prototype of the canine head halter.
  3. The only food I really hate is jelly.  Yuck.  Don’t hide it in doughnuts or cookies, either–I’ll find it…and spit it out.
  4. Grimm is the biggest dog I have ever owned.
  5. I really wish I had a pool right now.
  6. Every time I go to the store, I buy a little something for the pooches.
  7. Rufus loves watermelon.  Anytime anyone eats any, he immediately starts drooling.
  8. I find myself browsing the back to school aisles even though I am not going back to school nor do I have any children who are.  Buying school supplies was one of my favorite tasks and perusing the school supply section is completely nostalgic for me, even if the trapper keepers have been replaced by iPad cases.
  9. I have been vaccinated for Rabies.
  10. Zella loves to bark at the lawn mower when I attempt to start it.  Once it starts running, she stops and runs away to chase bunnies.  It has become our lawn care ritual.
  11. I have always loved to read.  When I was a kid, I would actually get in trouble for reading too much and not completing my chores.  I would lock myself in the bathroom or read outside while hiding in the woods.

Here are the answers to the questions asked by Trying to Pray:

  1.  Are you a cat, dog or other person? I’m definitely a dog person although I do love cats, horses and goats. 
  2. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?  I love coffee and vanilla bean.
  3. Best childhood memory?  Exploring the woods around my house with my siblings.
  4. What is your favorite place to sit back and ponder life?  Anywhere outdoors.
  5. If you could go back in time and place, where would you go and why?  If time travel were possible, I would be the first in line to go back to the Jurassic period.  Dinosaurs have always amazed me and seeing a live Tyrannosaurus Rex would be truly awesome.
  6. What writers have inspired you?  L.M. Montgomery, Jack London, J.R.R. Tolkien, Shel Silverstein, John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Chris Wooding, Jane Austen, Jim Butcher…I could go on and on and on.
  7. If you couldn’t do what you are currently doing, what would you like to do or be?  I would love to have a little bookstore or run a plant nursery or have a hobby farm.  One day, maybe.
  8. What tastes better with ketchup on it?  I’m not a huge fan of ketchup, so I would say nothing!  Mustard is more my taste.
  9. What is your favorite color?  I love earth tones and all shades of blue, but I have been very partial lately to the color of slate.
  10. Where is the best vacation spot?  Anywhere away from the beaten path.
  11. Who fills your life with joy?  My family and friends and, of course, my dogs.

And from The Crossover:

  1. What is your all-time favorite book?  I have a lot of favorite books, but I think my all-time favorite must be The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  I think I first read it when I was about seven years old and I immediately gained a new respect for trees.  The unconditional love shown by the tree has meaning for both children and adults.  Reading it again as an adult who has experienced life and self-sacrifice makes the book relevant no matter your age. 
  2. What is your current favorite song?  Keep Your Head Up by Ben Howard.
  3. What was your favorite subject in school?  Biology and Studio Art.
  4. What is your favorite season?  I love the fall, especially when cold fronts bring blustery winds to Central Texas.  Spring comes in as a close second.
  5. If you could have any job, what would it be and why?  I would love to be trained as an architect, both structural and landscape.
  6. If you could interview any living person, who would it be and why?  Actually, this would probably be my maternal grandmother.  She is the last of my grandparents and her life experiences are always fascinating to me.  I always want to know more, but she is not the kind of person to really talk about herself.  Time is passing too fast, though, and I really need to find out all her secrets and desires, fears and feats.   
  7. What is the last movie you saw?  Pacific Rim.
  8. What is your greatest fear?  Death.  Or rather, I fear that I will die before I can accomplish all that I want or need to before I go.  I guess it is not so much the death part I fear, but rather dying with regrets.
  9. Are you a cat or dog person?  I am definitely a dog person.  I like cats, but mostly the ones who act like dogs.
  10. When are you the most productive?  Generally, I am most productive mid-morning after my coffee has kicked in and my brain has awakened.  I’m worthless after 10 pm.  My brain goes into standby mode then.
  11. Who is your hero?  Anyone who puts the needs of others before their own and who works to make the world a better place–the list is endless.  Anyone who makes the effort to make another’s life better is my hero.

And now onto my nominees for The Liebster Award (in no particular order):

For all of you listed above, these are the questions I would like to know the answers to:

  1. What made you start blogging?
  2. If you had to give up one cherished pastime or hobby, what would it be?
  3. Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
  4. Where did you grow up?
  5. What is your favorite food or beverage in the whole wide world?
  6. What are you least skilled at?
  7. And most?
  8. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
  9. Do you prefer coffee, tea or neither?
  10. What type of landscape relaxes you the most?
  11. What television show or book series are you currently addicted to?

The WordPress Family Award

Lastly, two excellent bloggers presented us here at Grimm’s Furry Tail with the WordPress Family Award.  Thank you, Thoughts Of A Lesser Canine and Tails Of A Foster Mom for being part of our WordPress family!  Since all of you, dear readers, journey into the world of Grimm and friends, you are all a part of my WordPress Family.  Therefore, I pass this award along to all of my readers and thank you, with the deepest sincerity, for being a part of my blogging family.  I hope you will explore some of the blogs listed above and make your blogging family even bigger.

The Best

How boring would life be if all the dogs in the world had the exact same personality?  Even within a breed of dog, drives and intelligence can vary greatly.  As much as many of us might wish, if they were perfect little robots all the time, life would be quite dull.  Always doing exactly the right thing, all the time, never getting into trouble or seeking out attention–might as well get a pet rock.

Zella shows off her perfect "Miss Manners" side while lounging on the couch.

Zella shows off her perfect “Miss Manners” side while lounging on the couch.

If they were all geniuses we might find roles reversed and dog owners worldwide would be in for loads of trouble.  Dogs are manipulative enough as it is–they are pros at giving the sad, dejected look in order to gain pity and force us humans to give in to their wills.  What if they had us doing their bidding all the time?  Can you imagine the hordes of canine-loving humans worn weary from endless frisbee tossing or how bank accounts worldwide would be drained from the massive purchases of treats and peanut butter?

To the untrained eye, Grimm may appear to be just lazily napping.  In reality, he is plotting out his next course of mischief.  The blanket over his head only serves to hide the evil mastermind gleam in his eyes.

To the untrained eye, Grimm may appear to be just lazily napping. In reality, he is plotting out his next course of mischief. The blanket over his head only serves to hide the evil mastermind gleam in his eyes.

What about the intellectually challenged?  It would get very monotonous indeed to constantly throw a ball for a dog only to watch it bounce, over and over again, off the top of his big, hard head.  Constantly tripping over a dog without enough sense to get out of the way would drive a lot of us crazy.  However, with a mixture of all the above personalities plus the countless, special quirks mixed in, life with canines becomes something altogether satisfying, joyous, baffling, comical, inspiring and exciting.

They can't all be perfect geniuses now,  can they?  Someone has to be the goofy simpleton.

They can’t all be perfect geniuses now, can they? Someone has to be the goofy simpleton.

Now, as someone who has an intellectually challenged dog, I can say there is something to be said about a “dumb but sweet” nature.  Rufus is not the sharpest canine around, but what he lacks in brains he makes up for in brawn.  I knew he had to be given that huge, hard head for something;  there is only a very tiny brain in there that doesn’t require much protection.  However, that tough skull comes in handy when plowing your way through brush and bramble even though a handy, cleared trail is only feet away.

His intellectual shortcomings, however, can be quite endearing.  He still hasn’t figured out that he can easily jump onto the back seat of the car.  He waits patiently (and would probably wait all day) for me to pick up his heavy self and place him onto the back seat.  No amount of bribing, threatening or other tactics can get him onto the seat by his own power.  He’ll put his front legs up on the back seat, but just stand there and wait, tail wagging, for me to hoist the rest of him.  By his way of reasoning, I’ve always picked him up (yeah, much easier to do 40 pounds ago) and placed him in the car, so that is how it is always to be.  Sweet as sugar, this rock of a dog, but slow as molasses.

Recently, thanks to Emily over at Adventures of a Dog Mom, the pooches all got to sample a canine version of ice cream–“Frosty Paws”.  Naturally, it was a hit, but poor ol’, simple Rufus was having a hard time eating it from the container (and keeping his face clean).  Because I suspected he might have trouble, I had to help him out a bit.  Some of you may think he is truly a super genius who just has me trained to do his bidding while acting helpless, but no.  Helping him out just speeds things along, pure and simple.

"This ice cream is soooo yummy!  Ummmm....lick, lick, lick.."

“This ice cream is soooo yummy! Ummmm….lick, lick, lick..”

"I think I'll just eat the whole container, thank you very much.  Nom...nom...nom..."

“I think I’ll just eat the whole container, thank you very much. Nom…nom…nom…”

"That was really good, but it made my mouth really cold.  Can I ask you a question?"

“That was really good, but it made my mouth really cold. Can I ask you a question?”

"Is my tongue blue?  Cause I think it's frozen.  Are you sure it's not bitten by frost?"

“Is my tongue blue? Cause I think it’s frozen. Are you sure it’s not bitten by frost?”

"Can I have some more?  That was SO GOOD!  I think I might be a little sticky..."

“Can I have some more? That was SO GOOD! I think I might be a little sticky…”

How could I not love this special boy?  What he lacks in brains he more than makes up for in comic relief and innocent sweetness.  He will never be a mastermind, but that’s okay.  He never fails to bring a smile to my face–his snaggletooth grin, pig-like waddle and complete trust can melt any heart. That’s my dog, pure and simple.

Happy 4th of July 2013

 

 

Today America celebrates Independence Day–a day to relax with family and friends, drink a few beers, eat comfort food and ooh and aah over the spectacular fireworks that will be on display when twilight descends.  But how many of us really consider the words that started this day in motion on July 4, 1776?  I must admit…I hadn’t read The Declaration of Independence since my US government course in college.

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

 

The second sentence of The Declaration of Independence has been said to be the heart and soul of America.  All men [and I would add, “women”; Grimm would add “canines” to that sentence if he was asked his opinion] are created equal with certain unalienable rights.  Are we, in America’s society today, living up to this credence?  Would our founding fathers be proud of what we have become…or would they shake their heads in shame, disappointed in the welfare of our nation?  I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer.  After all, today’s society, and our world in general, has changed much in the past 237 years.  But no matter the changes, the above sentence has to remain true else we turn into the exact force we were trying to escape to begin with.

So today, as we celebrate our independence, think for just a moment about your own life, your own liberties, your own pursuit of happiness.  As a nation, we still have many hurdles to clear, but that is true of any large society, especially one comprised of so many different nationalities, religions and beliefs.  We have a choice, something so many others do not get.  Our founding fathers believed in it enough to make the following pledge:

 

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

 

How many of us, today, would make the same promise?  Standing up to tyranny and speaking out for those who can’t is a very hard thing.  People the world over have suffered at the hands of oppression and not all (or even a majority) have been successful in their efforts to achieve personal freedoms.  We are not a perfect country, but we are given choices–free will–to do what we need to within our laws to pursue our own happiness.  We have the choice to drink beer, eat barbeque and gather by the hundreds or more to watch exploding fireworks.  We have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

 

 

Life Liberty Pursuit of Happiness

 

 

World War D

How many of you have read or seen “World War Z”?  Quite a few, I would imagine.  We seem to be obsessed with zombies, with impending apocalypse, with the end of the world.  But what if, instead of us becoming zombies, our dogs became the walking dead?  How would World War D change our lives?

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

World War D

It started with Grimm.  I originally thought the heat had finally gotten to him. He came inside, limping a bit on his front left leg, looking around wildly.  He settled onto the couch, ignoring my calls.  I went over to him to see what I could do to make him more comfortable.  He looked up but didn’t appear to see me.  It was as if I didn’t even exist.  He shuddered once, closed his eyes, and went to sleep.

A few minutes later, Grimm started up from the couch as if struck with electricity.  He was agitated, looking around for something that he couldn’t seem to find.  I went over to him to see if I could soothe his anxiety.  And that’s when I noticed that something was extremely wrong.

His eyes were filmy, watery, a greyish color.  He continued to ignore me, instead walking aimlessly around me on his quest for…something.  I felt for his pulse to see how much his agitation had raised his heart rate and found he had absolutely no pulse at all.  What was happening?  How could my dog have no pulse and still walk around?  I examined him closer.  No respirations.  No palpable heart beat.  His mucous membranes were grey.  He was dead…and yet not.  My dog was essentially a zombie.

Devourer of Faces

At that moment, Rufus walked into the room.  Grimm immediately turned towards him, groaning in a low tone.  Rufus walked up to Grimm, preparing to commence play.  Instead, Grimm grabbed Rufus by the face and started to eat him.

Rufus yelped in surprise and tried to get away, but the grip Grimm had on him was too strong.  I looked on in horror.  What was happening?  Grimm had never hurt a fly ever in his life and here he was, eating his best friend.  I ran over and pried Rufus from his jaws.  In less than one minute, Rufus died.  A minute later, he was back but not exactly alive.  Another undead dog walked my halls.

What was happening?  Once Rufus became the walking dead, Grimm let him be.  Now two zombie dogs shuffled through the house, looking for something. To my extreme relief, they completely ignored me.  I did not relish the idea of having to fight off zombie canines.  But then I realized something.  If human zombies seek out new humans, my zombie dogs were seeking out other dogs.  Where was Zella?  She was in danger.

The Flesh Eater

I was too late.  Zella ran into the room, plowing into Rufus.  Rufus latched on, gripped her by the neck and bit into her flesh, cementing her fate.  A few minutes later, a third zombie dog shambled through my house.

I started to corral all the dogs into one room while I figured out my next move.  Was there a cure?  Were they really the walking dead?  Had anyone else had similar events happen? The dogs turned towards me, started to come my way. Was I now a target?  I did not wait around to find out if I was next on the zombie menu.  I closed off the door to the room, effectively isolating myself from them.  I had to try to find out more.  Was this the first case?  Was Grimm patient zero?  Would headlines tomorrow read “Pit Bull Starts Canine Zombie Apocalypse”?  Did my dogs really just die?  What was going on?

The Mindless Wanderer

I quickly turned on the television, scanning for news.  Nothing on national news but a local station was reporting on a disturbing incidence at the city shelter.  All the dogs had escaped their runs and cages and were attacking each other.  Animal control was trying to assess the situation.  In the background, an animal control officer was trying to slip a lead over a dog’s head.  Something was wrong with the dog, something not natural.  In fact, the dog looked a lot like how my dogs now looked.  I knew then that the man was trying to catch a zombified dog.

On screen, the man screamed.  The dog had bitten him!  Others rushed towards him, trying to help.  Suddenly, zombie dogs were coming towards them.  They all ran, barely outrunning the dogs chasing them.

This was bad.  Would the man turn into a zombie?  Were zombified dogs coming after humans next?  It appeared that the infected dogs were teaming up and, after biting unaffected dogs, were trying to come after the people around them.  Local police were on scene and opened fire on many of the canines.  Unless they were head shots, the dogs kept coming.

From my closed off room, I heard a crash and the tinkle of broken glass.  I looked out my living room window.  My dogs had escaped and were shambling away.  Other zombie dogs were coming towards them, forming a giant pack of undead canines.  Where were they headed?  Everything was happening too fast.  I didn’t dare try to stop them.

Over the next several days, all the world over, humans began the war against the dog zombies–World War D had started.  Where it originally started, no one knows.  When it will end is anyone’s guess.  Thankfully, the people who have survived an attack have not turned into zombies, too.  The disease process appears to only affect canines, domesticated and wild.  There has been no success in finding a cure for our dogs.  Man’s best friend is now man’s number one enemy.  From the biggest mastiff to the smallest chihuahua, coyotes and wolves in between, they are all out to get us.  Nowhere is safe, no one is immune from their wrath.  I will never understand why I wasn’t immediately bitten and attacked.  All I know is that somewhere out there are my dogs, the walking dead, at war with the rest of humanity.  God help us all.

Lazy Days

Ahhh…summer in Texas.  The sun is sweltering, the humidity is high, the mosquitoes are as big as mockingbirds and all the dogs want to laze around inside during the daylight hours.  I can’t say that I blame them.  It’s too hot to run around outside unless it’s early morning or late evening, but that’s when the giant mosquitoes swarm around and make life miserable.  What to do?  Do we risk heat stroke or exsanguination?  Both sound like bad ideas.  Maybe we’ll just stay inside.

My lazy dogs have taken over the couch this summer.

My lazy dogs have taken over the couch this summer.

Even the bunnies are too hot to run.  When the dogs are outside and rustle up a rabbit, the rabbit runs a few yards then stops and hunkers down.  My very brilliant dogs stop the chase and turn around, twirling in circles, looking every which way.  “Whaaat??  Where did the bunny go?  Bunny?  Oh, buuunnnnyyy…”.

Very slowly, rabbit ears come up over the grass.  The bunny peers at the dogs, as if to ask, “Really?  Are we really going to do this?  I’m hot, you’re hot; can’t we just pretend you got me, I’ll play dead, and we can both go on about our day?”.

The dogs exchange looks, shrug their shoulders and say, “Yeah, okay.  Good point.  But we sooooo got you, bunny.  You better play dead for a long time.”

Grimm dreams of colder days when chasing bunnies and frisbees doesn't tire him out so much.

Grimm dreams of colder days when chasing bunnies and frisbees doesn’t tire him out so much.

How do you entertain three lively dogs when it is hot enough outside to fry your brain?  Walks during the day are out of the question.  The concrete and asphalt would burn their little footsies.  Running around outside in the heat of the day leads to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, even with a giant water trough outside to jump in periodically.  Roughhousing inside causes too much chaos.  So what do we do?  We wait until dusk and then we all pile into the car and head to the nearest lake–Lake Pflugerville.

Zella can't wait until evening comes.  Her dramatic sighs from the couch illustrate her frustration with being inside during the day.

Zella can’t wait until evening comes. Her dramatic sighs from the couch illustrate her frustration with being inside during the day.

Lake Pflugerville really isn’t a true Texas lake…more of a giant Texas pond.  It does, however, have a 3.2 mile dirt and gravel track around it, a large expanse of water, and enough constant wind and rough breezes to blow even the most determined mosquito off course.  Not having many artificial lights around it makes for great star watching and moon gazing.  The croaks of the frogs, the quacks of the ducks, the splashes of the fish and all the smells in between delight the dogs.  Plus, if they want, they can go for a moonlit swim.  This biweekly excursion has become a favorite trip for the woofers and me.

Rufus daydreams about chasing Grimm through the lush prairie grass.  In a minute, his daydream will turn into reality, but instead of chasing Grimm through the grass, he will chase him around the couch...and over the rug...and under the table.

Rufus daydreams about chasing Grimm through the lush prairie grass. In a minute, his daydream will turn into reality, but instead of chasing Grimm through the grass, he will chase him around the couch…and over the rug…and under the table.

The lazy days of summer are aptly named.  The heat and humidity seem to soak up everyone’s energy.  Here at my house we seem to have become seasonal vampires, only out during the hours between twilight and early dawn.  On the days when I’m not working, we save the rest of the day for napping and lazing around, working on indoor projects or doggy behavior training while indoors.  Even though it gets hard to work their bodies during the hottest parts of summer, I can still engage their brains.  I can’t have complete lazy bums around here.  Plus, the waggle of their tails while indoors makes for a nice breeze.  If only they could aim them better, we could turn those tails in mosquito swatters.  Maybe we’ll work on that during these lazy days.

The boys wake up when the sun goes down.

The boys wake up when the sun goes down.

Carpe Diem

Do you ever envy your dogs?  The innocence they possess allows them to openly abandon all caution and just barrel through life.  They know nothing of guilt, don’t dwell on the past and live in the moment.  If a dog ever chose his or her life motto, it would be “carpe diem”–seize the day.  Although if you were to ask my dogs, they would say their motto really should read “carpe omnia”–seize everything:  my socks, my shoes, my plants, each other.

 

 

Rufus pre

Rufus prepares to seize the day with a goofy grin on his face.

 

We humans spend a good amount of our childhood wishing we could hurry and grow up already.  As adults, we look back and wonder where the time went. Today’s pace of life seems to have sped up tenfold in the last couple of decades.  Is this because we, as adults, have so many more responsibilities and less free time or has the instant gratification we have become accustomed to forced us to go into overdrive?  I suspect it is a combination of both.  Life happens and we sometimes forget to stop and just enjoy the little things happening at that moment.

 

 

Grimm wallows in the grass, enjoying the crisp coolness on his skin.

Grimm wallows in the grass, making his version of a grass angel.

 

 

Pablo Picasso, the Spanish artist, once said, “It takes a very long time to become young.”  I’m fairly certain he wasn’t referring to senility causing child-like innocence, but rather our curious nature of wanting to return to the past, to relive our childhood days.  The older we get, the more nostalgia seems to grip us.  As I’ve become older, I find myself wanting to do childish things again:   pick wildflowers, roll around in the grass, soar in a swing, putter around on a scooter, look for frogs.  I’m thirty-six going on six.  How the heck does that happen?

 

 

While wrestling, Rufus gets a mouthful of Grimm skin.

While wrestling, Rufus gets a mouthful of Grimm skin.

 

 

Watching my dogs wrestle and play, I am reminded of my own childhood.  While I never pretended to eat my siblings, we did roughhouse and wrestle quite a lot and totally enjoyed every minute of it.  We pretended to be surrounded by lava, jumping from couch to chair and back again, much to my mother’s irritation.   We had our own secret society meetings in our little wooded area, using old cut up tree logs as benches.  We fished for crawfish using strings with bacon tied on the ends.  Life was simpler, we didn’t worry about the future, our imaginations ran wild.

 

 

Rufus tackles Grimm in a quest to restart their roughhousing.

Rufus tackles Grimm in a quest to restart their roughhousing.

 

Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself to give myself a break.  Yes, I have about 1,001 projects I need to start (or finish), people I need to call back, chores that need doing.  I feel guilty when I take a few moments for myself, knowing these other things need to be done.  But when I stop and watch my dogs explore their environment and play with each other, I see how much happier they are, so much more fulfilled, getting to just be dogs and not having to be perfect little housemates, quietly watching the world go by around them. I don’t have to be perfect, either.  Life is so much better when you enjoy the little things.

 

 

My herd of dogs, pretending to be cows munching on fresh green grass.

My herd of dogs, pretending to be cows munching on fresh green grass.

 

 

If there is one lesson I have learned about life from my canines, this is it:  seize the day.  No one ever died regretting doing more fun things in life.  Take the time to play with friends, taste the grass (okay, well, feel it’s softness under your bare feet) and explore your environment.  Apologize to no one when you feel the urge to act like a kid again.  Don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t beat yourself up when you procrastinate and choose to pursue fun endeavors instead.  Go.  Carpe your diem.

 

 

Zella smiles after running around outside and playing with the other woofers.

Zella smiles after running around outside and playing with the other woofers.

 

 

“No matter what happens, always keep your childhood innocence. It’s the most important thing.” 

-Federico Fellini   

 

 

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  If so, Grimm has been given the best compliment of all by his buddy Rufus.  If Grimm chases a bunny, Rufus chases after Grimm and the bunny;  if Grimm starts to munch on a stick, Rufus munches on the same stick with him;  if Grimm decides to commence a raid to steal a shoe, guess who has appointed himself his sidekick?  Yep, mini-Grimm…err…Rufus.

Grimm decided to survey the yard from the safety of the sunflowers.  Rufus decided to join him, but since his legs are so much shorter than Grimm's, he gave himself a boost.

Grimm decided to survey the yard from the safety of the sunflowers. Rufus decided to join him, but since his legs are so much shorter than Grimm’s, he gave himself a boost.

The attraction between these two isn’t just one-sided, either.   Grimm now expects his minion to follow his lead.  If I let Grimm out alone, he waits at the bottom of the deck until I let Rufus out with him and then the two of them race off around the yard to find their next adventure.  Sometimes, though, Grimm loses Rufus in the tall grass and brush in the empty field.  Grimm comes tearing back, but Rufus, with his stumpier legs and clumsier movement, can’t keep up (it’s like watching a rhinoceros chase a cheetah).  Because he is too short to see over the grass, he stops and turns in a circle, looking for Grimm.  If he sees him, he comes running.  If he doesn’t, he waits where he is, confident that his friend will come find him.  Grimm then sighs, looks at me as if to say,”Why can’t he find me?”, then turns around and goes to collect him.

Rufus sticks by Grimm, even when foraging for tasty edible plants.

Rufus sticks by Grimm, even when foraging for tasty edible plants.

Even Zella is confused by their love affair.  Sure, they both still play with her and she plays with them, but it is a rarity for her to have one-on-one playtime with one of the boys.  Lately, she has taken on old Charley’s role as referee and lets them know when they are too rowdy or rough.  Sometimes, she even leads the whole gang in their outside adventures, but after a while, the boys get bored (and a little jealous) of her finding all the bunnies and go about doing their own thing.  Zella very rarely follows them–she likes to forge her own way and is more independent.

Snacking On Leaves

Rufus mimics Grimm’s movements and eats the exact same leaves he does.

I should just start calling my wonderdog duo Grufus.  Why use both names when they are always together?  I should just save myself the trouble.  The real trouble, though, is that when these two are deep in their Grufus universe, I don’t exist.  Sure, they both still seek out my affection and are enthusiastic upon my return home from an absence, but their obedience goes out the window.  If I tell one to come, but the other is allowed to stay outside, then the one who was supposed to come back to see me just pretends he didn’t hear me. I have no reward readily available to trump their joy of  just getting to be together.

Grimm tastes a leaf, finding the juiciest tidbit...

Grimm tastes a leaf, finding the juiciest tidbit…

...and Rufus joins in, performing a perfect synchronized taste test.

…and Rufus joins in, performing a perfect synchronized taste test.

To prevent my two young hellions from combining to form one monstrous demon, I need to work on increasing their independence from one another.  Sure, it’s great they have a true brotherly friendship, but the co-dependence isn’t really that healthy.  Grimm already has some remnants of separation anxiety when he is away from me and I don’t need Rufus to have the same when away from Grimm.  Time to work on increasing Rufus’ self-reliance.  He can do things on his own, but he does prefer to have Grimm by his side as his role model.  Grimm, I know, just likes having a minion around.

Rufus poses by himself in front of the sunflowers.  Independence in a dog can be a good thing.

Rufus poses by himself in front of the sunflowers. Independence in a dog can be a good thing.

Grimm makes a good role model, but I don’t want Rufus to become an exact copy.  Plus, some of Grimm’s habits are not ones I necessarily want Rufus to have.  I don’t want to shatter the bond they have, but I do want to give them individual opportunities.  They each have so much to offer and I need to allow their own personalities to shine.  They are canines, not clones.  Time for Grufus to become Grimm and Rufus again.  No more monkey see, monkey do.  Independence training, here we come!

We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love.  It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.

-W. Somerset Maugham

 

How fast a year flies!  It seems like only yesterday that I tentatively wrote the first post on this (or any) blog.  I remember feeling a little nervous, not knowing if what I had posted had really been sent off into the world wide web.  Would people read what I had written?  Would they think me silly, starting a blog about a dog?  Honestly, I decided that it didn’t really matter–I started writing for myself but, I must say, I am incredibly honored to find that others enjoy my ramblings.  Thank you, dear readers, for your encouragement and support.  Without it, I probably would not have made it to this blog’s first anniversary.

 

Three Pitties

 

Frankly, with my technically-challenged self, I’m surprised I got this far and that somehow, someway, I did not crash the whole Word Press universe.  Seriously.  I’ve been known to do that around technology.  Setting up this blog took some time and planning (and struggling and fighting with my computer…it’s possible a few curse words were muttered).  Once I got the hang of everything, publishing a new post became something I looked forward to.  Sharing my adventures, frustrations, musings and foolishness in regards to living with dogs allowed me to view my canine relationships in a whole other manner.  Trying to see through my readers’ eyes, I realized just how big a role my woofers play in my life.

 

Grimm's Big Tongue

 

 

Three weeks after my first posting, I finally got my very first follower:  Texana’s Kitchen.  Slowly, as time went by, new followers came and then, in October of 2012, something strange but miraculous happened–I got Freshly Pressed.  I was astonished because the post picked was not, in my opinion, my best work.  It was written because Grimm was starting to show more and more signs of separation anxiety and I needed an outlet for my frustration.  But after ending up on Word Press’ pick list, my little blog took off.  I was truly humbled to be placed among such terrific writers and bloggers.  More awards from fellow bloggers were received and I could not have felt more honored.  Thank you.

 

 

Grinning Rufus

 

 

 

The past year has been one of hope and heartbreak, of laughter and tears.  I welcomed a new dog into my household and said a final farewell to another.  I witnessed a wild, young dog mature into a gracious teacher, observed another become more patient and self-confident and learned more about life and myself along the way.   I hope, in some small way, that my words have allowed a measure of laughter or introspection to enter others’ lives, even if only for a minute.  Knowing that we are not alone in our struggles, even those not related to our pets, helps each of us in our journey through life.  I can’t promise to teach you anything new or even to always entertain you, but stick around and we’ll see where things take us; I’m pretty sure my crafty canines have many more adventures planned for the future.

 

 

Best Buds

With these two woofers around, trouble is always just around the corner. What new adventures await?

 

 

Don’t be dismayed by good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.

–Richard Bach

My Charley

Today I said goodbye to my oldest friend…my dog Charley.  I stood by him, face buried in his graying fur, tears dripping onto his nose, and gave him the last gift humans can give to a suffering pet–the gift of release, the gift of peace, the gift of no more pain.

Charley Wallows In The Leaves

Fifteen years ago, almost to the day, Charley came into my life.  It was Friday before Memorial Day when I first laid eyes on the emaciated, tick-ridden, partially bald pup.  He was my first rescue and showed me how truly amazing a dog can be if only given the chance.  For the next fifteen years, we journeyed through life together, learning about ourselves and each other along the way.  It was today, the Monday before Memorial Day, that he left my side and took a part of my heart with him.

Charley With Bow

Charley graciously accepted all of life’s trials and tribulations even when he seemed to have been unfairly singled out to endure more hardships than most. It would take a lot, I always thought, to finally end this old dog of mine.  After all, he had survived being run over, made it through surgery to repair a diaphragmatic hernia, recovered from liver shunts and, later in life, almost full liver failure, beat ehrlichia once only to have it come back later in life and then beat it again, regained function of his right half of his body after being paralyzed on that side for eight weeks, and finally pulled off a Lazarus-worthy stunt when it seemed myesthenia gravis (a neuromuscular disorder leading to paralysis) would surely cause him to give up the ghost.  Because he kept beating the odds, I sorta thought him invincible…like the Jack Palance of dogs.

Charley On The Couch

Up until yesterday evening, he had been doing okay.  Moving a little slower, sure, but he was still getting into canine capers with all the other woofers.  This morning, when I let all the dogs out to do their business, he didn’t come to the door as usual.  I kept hearing scrabbling sounds–he was trying to stand on his own, but didn’t have the strength.  I thought his myesthenia gravis was returning with a vengeance, but then I saw how tilted his head was…and he had nystagmus.  His eyes were darting back and forth like a metronome and I knew what was happening–vestibular disease.

Charley and Zella

Vestibular disease in dogs can be caused by several factors:  inner ear infections, nerve damage or brain tumors, but in most cases the cause is not actually known.  There are two kinds of vestibular disease:  peripheral and central.  Most dogs recover from the peripheral form, but the central form is most often caused by a tumor in the brain.  Charley’s nystagmus was not characteristic of the peripheral form:  one of his eyes moved left to right over and over again, back and forth, while his other eye moved up and down in the same manner.  He couldn’t stand, couldn’t see and refused food. He was panicking (heck, I was panicking) and I knew the prognosis was very poor–he likely had a brain tumor and there was nothing I could do to help him.

Charley Smiles

Charley has always been an active dog, even into his geriatric years.  Not being able to walk or see straight would not give him any quality of life.  This is a dog who faced just about every kind of vermin a dog could encounter in Texas. He was bitten by a copperhead snake when he was a juvenile, sprayed by a skunk, fooled by a possum, gnawed by a rat, stung by multiple yellow jackets, bitten by fire ants, almost kicked by an unruly cow, outrun by bunnies, heckled by coyotes, shared feed with a horse, and looked at sideways by a goat when he was supposed to herd him. Charley was only ever reluctant about the goat.

Charley Looking Intense

I could not let my old buddy struggle while he tried to comprehend what was happening to him.  He was miserable and was only going to get worse. I had to give him the only gift I had left for him, knowing that by doing so I would break my own heart.  I had to let him go.  My heart, eventually, would mend…Charley’s old, worn out body would not.  His sweet spirit needed to be set free.

Charley on his 15th Birthday.  If he were human, he would be somewhere around 90 years old.

Dearest Charley, you will never truly know how much I loved you.  I know you have many furry friends up in doggy heaven to keep you company until we can meet again.  Your buddies here will miss you, too, but I know that part of you lives on in Zella, Grimm and Rufus.  Your guiding wisdom helped shape them as much (or probably more, if I’m being honest) as I did.  You did your job well.  You were the greatest friend anyone could ask for–you just always knew what I needed even when I had no idea.  Oh, the wisdom of dogs!  The memories we made together will be forever cherished.  Until we meet again, my friend, those memories will have to do.  Thank you for finding me.

Charley's Tail

If you own dogs, or any pets for that matter, you have to have a healthy sense of humor.  Dogs either have the best timing in the world or just know instinctively how to embarrass us humans.  I think, really, they are just trying to keep us humble.

No one likes to speak of the dark side to owning pets.  They are, after all, animals who never apologize for their bodily functions, follow their instinctual drives and go where their nose takes them.  If that happens to be your boyfriend’s crotch, well, tell him not to make any sudden moves.

Oh, please don't bring up all the embarrassing things we do!

Oh, please don’t bring up all the embarrassing things we do!

Over the years, I have definitely been annoyed, embarrassed and angered by (and apologetic for) my dogs behavior and actions.  I wonder, though, how many times my dogs may have thought the same about me?  Even though we live on the same planet, our worlds are entirely different and I am constantly amazed that we have made it thus far together.

Take, for instance, poop.  Humans don’t like to talk about it (generally—I have a few friends who always have to bring up some aspect of their bowels during a conversation).  Dogs, on the other hand, use it as a calling card, a treat or as a way to make our lives just plain miserable.  One day, I even woke up from a very pleasant slumber to roll over and find poop on my pillow.  Poop…on my pillow…looking at me with it’s little poop face.  Charley, my old geriatric dog, had unknowingly dropped a solid turd during his sleep, and since he has a bad habit of resting his derriere on my pillows, said turd had a very comfy resting place.

It’s not enough that I’m constantly toting little green bags around whenever we go for a walk—from my dog’s perspective, since I immediately bag the waste, they must think I am fascinated by their excretions.  Really, I’m not. But if I don’t scoop the poop, then either:  1)  I step in it or 2) the dogs step in it and drag their poop-foot all over the house or 3) the dogs step in it and then jump on someone who is over for a visit and smear poop on them (try explaining to a hysterical friend that the mud they were angry about my dog getting on them is actually feces).  I won’t even go into the whole eating-of-cat-poop nightmare.  Poop breath is, well, poopy.

Those wild young 'uns can keep their rough, hard sticks.  I prefer comfy, soft beds.  And yep, you ain't seeing things.  I do have my rump on my owner's pillow.  I make my own rules--ain't nobody gonna tell me I have to use a pillow only for my noggin.  [Needless to say, guess who's changing their sheets today?  Thanks, Charley, for putting your dog butt on my pillow.]

There is a very good reason why I don’t let Charley sleep on my bed anymore.  He has his own bed now.

Related to the poop issue is the butt and genital licking issue.  I know canines don’t use toilet paper, but dear God, the licking is out of control.  I have three male dogs in my house and the penis licking never stops.  If they are not licking their own, they are licking each others.  I know…too much information. But while I’m sharing all their deep, dark secrets, I might as well bare all.  And, speaking of baring all, Zella, my female dog, has no shame.  She lets it all hang out all the time.

Zella likes to let it all hang out.  Even Rufus is a little embarrassed by her lack of modesty.

Zella likes to let it all hang out. Even Rufus is a little embarrassed by her lack of modesty.

Another instance where my dogs and I have differing opinion is in the olfactory department.  They just can’t seem to grasp the concept that dead things are not perfume.  Grimm especially likes to generously apply his cologne—eau de putrid—after I have spent considerable time either giving him a bath or right before I have to be somewhere and really don’t have time to bathe him.  Having to smell and then clean the death slime off my dogs is slowly driving me insane.  I don’t even understand how one dog can find so many dead things.  He must have them stockpiled somewhere where only he knows. My neighbor has even been a witness to the downfall of my sanity caused by the smell of decay.

One day, after Grimm coated himself in a particularly slimy dead thing, I drug him to the hose to commence the decontamination process.  I happened to start a conversation with Grimm while I bathed him.

“Why would you do this? Why do you roll in dead things?  This is just disgusting.  I mean, what is this?  Not only do you stink to high heaven , but you are coated with yellowish grease!  You are driving me crazy!”

My neighbor, who happened to be walking by, stopped to witness the spectacle before him without my being aware of the fact.  Here I was, berating my dog and talking to myself, while the stench of a rendering plant wafted through the air.  I’m pretty sure my disheveled appearance left no doubt in his mind to the depths of crazy I had fallen.

I heard a chuckle and my neighbor said to me, “When that dog of yours tells you why he does the things he does, I want to know, too.  He does look pretty proud of himself, though.”

“How long have you been standing there?”, I asked.

“Long enough.”

“Long enough to decide I am a completely crazy person, you mean.”

“Pretty much, but also long enough to see how much you love that damn dog.”

He left, chuckling to himself and I couldn’t help but start chuckling, too.  The absurdity of the situation made me laugh out loud and Grimm, in response to my laughter, wagged and wiggled, causing death-slime water to sling all over me.  I laughed louder.  I probably even got some death juice in my mouth and eyes.  I completed my chore, dried Grimm off and went inside.  I was tired after all the scrubbing and was ready for a nap.  I told myself, the only thing that would make my day complete would be to find a piece of feces on my bed. It would have been the icing on the cake…or, in my case, the poop on the pillow.  I giggled to myself.  What else can you do?  It’s either laugh or cry, and I chose laughter.

Grimm sniffs the air, triangulating the location of his next source of death cologne.

Even fresh after a bath, Grimm sniffs the air, triangulating the location of his next source of death cologne.

My heart found its home long ago in the beauty, mystery, order and disorder of the flowering earth.
–Lady Bird Johnson

If you grew up in Texas, at some point you probably found yourself being photographed while sitting or lying in a patch of bluebonnets.  It is a rite of passage for most children growing up in this state.  Every spring, once the bright blue spires dot the roadsides, parents load up their children (and possibly the family dog) and go in search for the perfect spot.  It is not unusual for that perfect spot to literally be on the side of a busy highway.  For those of you who didn’t grow up here but have witnessed this roadside pilgrimage and wondered just what the heck was going on,  I’ll let you in on a great Texas secret:  we’re plumb crazy about our wildflowers, but especially the bluebonnets.

Grimm shows off his Texas sized tongue while lounging in the bluebonnets.

Grimm shows off his Texas sized tongue while lounging in the bluebonnets.

When I was a kid, every spring the family would load up in the minivan and drive west towards the Hill Country–prime bluebonnet territory.  My folks could disguise the trip as a mini vacation and, by my parents reckoning, my siblings and I could frolic through the fields on some back country road without as much worry about us becoming human roadkill.  Plus, in the hill country, there was always the possibility of getting longhorn cattle in the background of the photograph.  True, there might have been a greater probability of having one of us kids being bitten by a rattlesnake, but there were four of us and I’m pretty sure my parents thought the risk of losing a child perfectly acceptable in return for the perfect picture.  Seriously.  That’s how hard-core Texans are about their bluebonnet photo-ops.  You may get bitten by ants, stung by bees, bitten by a snake or gored by a longhorn, but by-golly your parents captured the glory of spring and the essence of youth by pairing you with those blue flowers.  I won’t mention the rashes incurred, though, from commando crawling through the flowers so that mom and dad could get that perfect “flower + face” close up.  No sirree.  Some things are too horrible to relive.

Charley smiles pretty and puts up with my photographing nonsense.

Charley smiles pretty and puts up with my photographing nonsense.

Since I have no children, my dogs now get to suffer as I did as a child.  They now get to endure the biting insects and deal with the sun being in their eyes.  Cruelly, they also have to pose with any number of my flowering plants to commemorate the event.  Like the bluebonnets, some of these plants only flower once a year and photographing the flower in question lets me enjoy it’s beauty year-round.  On the plus side, I usually don’t make them stand next to the giant prickly pear cactus when it is in bloom but that is only because I am not terribly fond of plucking cacti needles out of doggy legs.

Rufus acts serious when posing in front of the lavender plant.

Rufus acts serious when posing in front of the lavender plant.

Zella humors me and stays in place for her photograph with the oleander bush.  She is really just dying to go chase more bunnies.

Zella humors me and stays in place for her photograph with the oleander bush. She is really just dying to go chase more bunnies.

I thought this snail was really cute but none of the dogs would pose with him.  Oh, well.

I thought this snail was really cute but none of the dogs would pose with him. Oh, well.

All of the new growth, the bloom of the flowers and the emergence of tiny crawly things reminds us of the miracle of our earth.  Everything has it’s own niche and balances perfectly in sync with everything else.  We humans sometimes forget how delicate nature can be and days like today, Earth Day, remind us of the importance of doing our part to keep Mother Earth healthy and hale.  Sustainable living through reducing, recycling and reusing has become an everyday mantra.  Urban farming and composting have become commonplace which, in my view, helps us to get back to the literal roots of it all–the interconnection of nature and the natural world.  To enjoy it, we must protect it and each do our own small part to make the world a greener and healthy place.  After all, future generations of Texas kids need to be able to live through their own great bluebonnet photo trek and without bluebonnets, they will never be able to appreciate the soothing relief provided by Calamine lotion.  See?  Circle of life.

Grimm has decided he has had enough posing with the posies and races towards me through the young sunflowers.

Grimm has decided he has had enough posing with the posies and races towards me through the young sunflowers.

Over the past few months, my fellow bloggers have been kind enough to bestow several awards to me and my wily canines.  I appreciate the time and thought they put into nominating my little blog and wanted to say, “Thank you.”  So, while Grimm prattles on in the background saying, “You like me!  You really like me!”, I’ll tell you a little bit about those gracious writers and offer my nominations in turn.

Whew!  All these award speeches have worn me out!  Gotta rest for the after party!

Whew! All these award speeches have worn me out! Gotta rest for the after party!

In January, Kirby’s Dawg Blog presented me with the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  Thank you, Leah and Kirby, and please accept my apology for waiting so long to accept it.  Kirby is just about the cutest little munchkin you can find and  his “dawg blog” has everything from information on the ancient beginnings of our modern dog breeds to cuteness overload and more.

February brought another Very Inspiring Blogger award, this time presented by Double Moon Pie.  This blog, like mine, also gets it’s name from an inspiring animal–in this case, a horse named Double Moon Pie, or Pie for short.  Marie Anne, the author of this blog, comes from a very animal-friendly family and her love of horses (and dogs) comes across beautifully in her posts.  Thank you, Marie Anne, for the kind nomination and again, please accept my apology for the delay in acceptance.

Very Inspiring Blog Award

Finally, earlier this month, Human Rescues Dog, an informative, witty, introspective blog mostly about my favorite subject (dogs), presented me with The Versatile Blogger Award.  Thank you for this honor.  All of the above mentioned blogs contribute their own individuality to our blogosphere and are each inspiring and versatile in their own ways.

versatileblogger111

With these awards come a few rules:  thank and link back to the nominating blogs, display the awards on your page, list seven facts about yourself that may not previously have been known, and pass the awards along to other bloggers who deserve the nomination.  Since I wouldn’t have a blog without the antics of my canine pack, I will include some facts about them, too, because, after all, it’s only fair to know some of their dark secrets.

  1. My current guilty pleasure involves watching multiple episodes of Downton Abbey for hours on end when it is raining outside.  I think, however, that I have been watching it too much lately as my dogs are starting to bark with British accents…except Rufus.  He picked up the Irish accent instead.
  2. When I was younger, I once got lost hiking in the Colorado wilds.  When Charley was younger, he once got lost when he wandered to the house next door.  When I went to collect him, he looked at me suspiciously, like he had no idea who I was.  It was only when we were back in my driveway that he expressed his gratitude to me for rescuing him.
  3. I enjoy going on road trips with no exact destination in mind but instead, stopping at interesting locations along the way.  Zella also loves zooming around in the car and, if I don’t keep the window controls locked, she will roll the windows down herself.  Many a time I’ve been driving along when all of a sudden the noise of an open window drowns out the radio.  Looking into my side mirror, all I see are Zella’s tan ears and pink tongue flapping in the wind.
  4. I’ve always had an issue about swimming in natural bodies of water.  Something about the slimy rocks, the nibble of a fish and the flapping of aquatic plants against my legs sorta freaks me out.  Grimm, on the other hand, loves to swim and the murkier the water, the better.  I can’t count the times I’ve had to wash pond scum off his face after a dunk in the local lakes and creeks.  I swear he pretends to be a baleen whale, skimming the plankton with his teeth as he submerges his head underwater.  I think one time he even tried to sing like a humpback whale, but of course he forgot to breathe out, not in, when he was underwater and came up sputtering.
  5.  One of my favorite desserts is tiramisu.  Rufus’ favorite after dinner treat is one of my socks.  He doesn’t just munch on them, but swallows them whole.  He tried to hide his obsession for socks from me, but I found out about it after he vomited up two of them in the last week.
  6. Whenever I eat a meal, I find that I save my favorite morsel for last.  My dogs, however, all eat their favorite part of their meal first and save the most boring parts for last.
  7. Call me old-fashioned, but I still like to read an actual newspaper and not read the news off of the internet.  Grimm also prefers an actual newspaper because he can still eat that…a computer, not so much (but he has tried).
Rufus was floored to learn he and the other pooches had won awards.  Charley, on the other hand, smiled happily.

Rufus was floored to learn he and the other pooches had won awards. Charley, on the other hand, chuckled at his response.

As for my nominations, I have decided to pick three terrific recipients and give them both awards.  Although the actual rules call for fifteen, I feel quality over quantity serves as a valid excuse for my short list.  All of my nominated blogs offer enough substance and style to more than make up for my brevity.

So, in no particular order, my nominees for the Very Inspiring Blog and The Versatile Blogger Awards are:

  • mauriceabarry.wordpress.com–This blog inspires me to think and he can be both funny, wise and poignant all in one post–truly versatile!  If all you read is his about page, you will be hooked.
  • ourlovingpack.com–With each photograph posted, a mini-story unfolds.  Her children and pooches show how innocence makes for a splendid friendship.  Be sure to read the story of Chance–it is truly a remarkable one.
  • jbranchohio.wordpress.com–This is a newer blog but timeless in it’s humor and message.  Plus, Brittany and her husband make all organic pet products, too!

I hope you enjoy exploring these blogs as much as I have.  One of the joys I find in blogging is how we all serve to inspire each other because of our versatility.  From all of us at Grimm’s Furry Tail, thank you!

Awww, shucks!  Thanks for the awards!

Awww, shucks!  Are those awards for little old me?

What is it about sunshine that makes us feel so vibrant…so renewed?  Sure, it helps that sunshine can stimulate the production of serotonin (the “feel good” hormone) and help regulate our pineal gland, which produces melatonin (the “body clock” hormone).  Of course, it allows us to make Vitamin D and the UV radiation in sunlight causes an increase in endorphins (the “natural opiate”).  If you are like me, though, the warmth of sunshine on your face triggers memories of youth, of being carefree and relaxed, of getting to be almost one with nature.

 

Grimm basks in the spring sunshine.

Grimm basks in the spring sunshine.

 

The dogs love the spring sunshine just as much, or maybe more, than I do. Some of the above biochemical processes may occur in them, too, but with their fur coat, the benefits have to be less.  So why do they love the sunshine as much as me?  Well, for one, it means they get to run around outside and chase the spring bunnies, munch on fresh spring grass and wallow in the mud and wildflowers.  The increase in sunlight causes things that were once dormant to awake and drives the rhythms of life around us.  The canines are mesmerized by the songs and mating antics of the birds and, at times, dive-bombed by the mockingbirds when they get too close to their nests.  The best for them, though, is the proliferation of smells that have invaded their world.

 

 

Zella sits in the wildflowers as she rests in her pursuit of bunnies.

Zella sits in the wildflowers as she rests in her pursuit of bunnies.

 

Spring rains seem to wash the winter drudgery away while the sunshine dries the landscape to perfection.  Textures change daily as growth happens literally overnight.  The buzzing of the bees, the trills of the birds, and the whispering of the wind act in harmony to create a perfect symphony.

 

Charley watches the other dogs as he prepares to saunter into the greenery.

Charley watches the other dogs as he prepares to saunter into the greenery.

 

 

Watching the dogs romp and play in the new spring landscape delights me.  They are as curious about the outside world as we are.  Grimm chases butterflies, Zella rousts rabbits and Charley finds the most delectable blades of grass to nibble on.  Rufus acts like a kid who has entered a magical world–for him, this is his first spring ever.  He had never smelled wildflowers, never tasted the earthiness in a sprig of grass, never before been entranced by a buzzing bee before now.  He has learned the joys of spring and sunshine and mimics his older housemates.

 

 

Rufus and Grimm frolic through the grass, kicking up their heels in almost perfect synchronicity.

Rufus and Grimm frolic through the grass, kicking up their heels in almost perfect synchronicity.

 

The sunshine and beauty of spring has brought a renewal of spirit to all of us at my house, human and canine alike.  The power of the sun has enlivened our world and called forth life.  Now is the time to get out and live it.  Time to act like a kid again and race with the dogs through the wildflowers.  All of you should do the same.  Go outside, enjoy the sun and frolic with your beasts!

 

Grimm leads Rufus in finding more spring-time adventures.

Grimm leads Rufus in finding more spring-time adventures.

 

This morning, around 7:32 am central standard time, I awoke to find a gruesome spectacle:  dismembered bodies on my couch.  A double-homicide happened overnight in my house and I never even heard a thing.  What you are about to see is not pretty and is for mature audiences only.

This is all that remains of the victims of a double homicide.  The whereabouts of their missing parts are unknown at this time.

This is all that remains of the victims of a double homicide. The whereabouts of their missing parts are unknown at this time.

My screams of horror awoke the pooches in the house.  What sort of monster could have perpetrated such an act?  How could anyone murder two little, helpless white bears in such a violent way?  And where, pray tell, were their missing parts?  All these questions and more circled in my head.  I needed to investigate.

The first victim was dismembered and two of the limbs were missing.  Where were they?

The first victim was dismembered and two of the limbs were missing.  Why did the killer leave one leg attached?  Why did the killer leave a severed arm next to the body?  These were the questions that begged an answer.

As I peered closer at the crime scene, I noticed there seemed to be an abundance of black hairs around the victims.  Were these left by the killer on accident or were they left to throw me off the trail of the true killer by framing another?  It was time to interrogate the suspects.

Rufus seemed perplexed by the whole ordeal

Rufus seemed perplexed by the whole ordeal.

Rufus seemed a little confused on what was actually happening.  He couldn’t believe there could be a murderer in our midst.  I didn’t think this simpleton could have actually performed this horrendous act by himself, but I had to ask the questions to be sure.

Me:  Rufus, where were you between the hours of midnight and 7:30 this morning?

Rufus:  In my kennel.

Me:  Are you sure?  No one let you out and you didn’t escape?

Rufus:  Nope.  You let me out this morning.  If someone had let me out earlier, I probably would have peed on the floor.  Did you see any urine?

Me:  Well, no.  Good point.  Okay, I have to ask:  Did you murder and dismember the two white bears on the couch or do you have any idea of who might have?

Rufus:  No, I didn’t.  I don’t want to be a snitch, but in the past Grimm has been sort of rough when he plays with those bears.  Please, though, don’t tell him I said anything!

Zella was in a state of shock over the loss of two of her stuffed babies.

Zella was in a state of shock over the loss of two of her stuffed babies.

Rufus’ alibi seemed airtight, so I questioned Zella next.  She adores all her babies and seemed to be in a state of shock over losing her two white bears in such a violent fashion.  The fact that one was missing it’s head really seemed to disturb her.

Me:  Zella, where were you between midnight and 7:30 this morning?

Zella:  Oh, gosh, I’m just so distraught right now!  I was sleeping next to you, remember?  You really don’t think I had anything to do with this, do you?  You know how much I love my babies.  They are my life!  Who could do such a thing?  Why are you wasting time talking to me when you could be out finding the true monster who did this?!?

Me:  Now, calm down.  This is all routine.  Plus, you have a history–remember the time you ate the face off your stuffed dog toy?  The similarities are there, even if you don’t want to admit it.

Zella:  That was a one-time thing and I was under the influence.  Take my blood–I’m clean!  I didn’t do this!  If you won’t find this murderer, I will!

I left Zella to calm down while I went to find my last suspect.  He was found contaminating the scene of the crime and my suspicions were up.

Grimm told me he was just helping to investigate.  Was he..or was he covering up evidence against him?

Grimm told me he was just helping to investigate. Was he..or was he covering up evidence against himself?

Me:  Grimm, where were you between the hours of midnight and 7:30 this morning?

Grimm:  Why, sleeping next to you and Zella.  Don’t you remember me snoring?

Me:  No, not really, but I do remember you jumping off the bed at some point during the night.

Grimm:  I went to get a drink of water.  Am I a suspect in this crime?

Me:  Right now, you are a canine of interest.  I am still gathering evidence and statements.  I must say, though, it is a little bit suspicious that I found you tampering with the crime scene.  Hiding something, hmm?

Grimm:  No, I just was helping you investigate.  Where do you think the missing parts are?  Why aren’t you interviewing Charley?  I smell a conspiracy and I think someone’s trying to frame me.

Me:  I doubt that.  Frankly, I think the missing parts are in your belly, but I can’t prove that until you either vomit them up or poop them out.  Secondly, Charley would never do anything like this.  He sleeps like the dead and doesn’t move from his bed.  I have found some black hairs around the corpses, but I can’t prove anything…yet.  Open up.  Let me see your teeth.  Any fiberfill stuck in there?

Grimm:  I think I need a lawyer.

Grimm acts innocent, but is he really a serial stuffed animal killer?  Only time will tell.

Grimm acts innocent, but is he really a serial stuffed animal killer? Only time will tell.

Proving that Grimm perpetrated this crime is proving to be a fool’s errand.  He’s a slick one, for sure.  All my evidence is circumstantial, so no real charges will stick.  For now, he acts as sad and distraught over the loss of the stuffed bears as the others.  Crocodile tears, I’m sure of it.  Anyway, if you have any tips, please let me know.  I would like to bring this murderer to justice.

The two stuffed bears are survived by the pink stuffed bunny, the faceless baby dog and the fluffy blue weenie dog toy.  A memorial will be held next week.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Save-A-Stuffy, an organization dedicated to refilling and restitching stuffed toys in need.

There is an epidemic going around, folks, and I’m pretty sure no one realizes the severity of the problem.   I’m not sure anyone even knows that it is a problem.  Believe you me, though–it’s a disaster waiting to happen.  Protect your children, stow your valuables.  But above all else…HIDE YOUR SHOES.

 

"Grimm has lured me to the dark side."

“Grimm has lured me to the dark side.”

 

Why the panic, you ask?  Do you live in a household with two footwear frenzied canines running amok?  No?  Well, if you did, you would understand.  No sneaker, slipper, pump or loafer is immune to the attention of a dog affected with the footwear fetish.  You can try to run and hide, but you should just leave your shoes behind.  If you don’t, the dogs will find them anyways.  They ALWAYS find them.

 

"You see this shoe? It thought it was safe, tucked away in it's basket hidden on a shelf. Look who has it now. There is nowhere to hide. None of your shoe friends can save you."

“You see this shoe? It thought it was safe, tucked away in it’s basket hidden on a shelf. Look who has it now. There is nowhere to hide. None of your shoe friends can save you.”

 

Grimm has always been fascinated by footwear.  Flip flops, of course, are the ultimate delicacy for this shoe gourmand.  The more expensive a shoe, the better they taste.  I have tried to keep my footwear safe, but I am only human. Occasionally a closet door gets left open or a running shoe is carelessly tossed in a dark corner.  Now that Rufus seems to be following in Grimm’s footsteps, my diligence has to improve.  The fate of my soles depends on me.

Grimm's Shoe Fetish

“I think I will start at the top. That little tab sticking off the back of you, shoe, looks delicious. Let the destruction begin!”

 

Now that Rufus has joined the family, my serial shoe killer finally has an accomplice.  Nikes can’t run fast enough to escape them, stilettos aren’t sharp enough to injure them, and even Dr. Scholl’s inserts are not immune to the footwear fiends destruction.  If they can’t respect a doctor, you can bet your Doc Martens will have no chance whatsoever.  With shoelaces hanging from their fangs, they race to catch the next pair of unsuspecting victims.

Shoe Eater

“Another shoe lost to Rufus the Ripper. MuWaHaHaHaHa!!”

 

You have been warned, my friends.  A destroyed shoe is a gruesome sight to behold.  It can take less than ten seconds for your flip to flop or your pump to deflate in the mouth of a skilled destroyer.  Keep your shoes hidden and be very wary of curious canines.  The fate of your soles depends upon it.

 

Into The Fold

Being the new kid on the block can bring challenges.  You have to make new friends, avoid new enemies, prove yourself worthy in a lot of ways.  Making that transition can be hard and finding new buddies to share life’s experiences can be that much harder.  So, when you are finally accepted into the fold, life feels complete.  What could be better?

 

Battle Over The Stick

 

Rufus was accepted as one of the gang right off the bat…even before I officially decided to keep him.  I thought Grimm might be a little jealous of the new guy since his position of youngest was being usurped by a new hellion.  I had visions of gang initiations and hazing going through my head.  I could just imagine Grimm, Zella and Charley making Rufus dress like a cat and meow all day or forcing him to give them his ration of treats and food as tribute.  But did they?  Nope.  They took him in and immediately made him feel welcome–sharing their toys, their food, their beds, their love.  He became their newest little buddy.

 

Grimm vs. Zella & Rufus

 

Maybe, I thought to myself, the dogs knew at that time that he wasn’t supposed to be a permanent resident.  They were just being polite.  Now that I’ve officially adopted him (and by officially, I mean I just said, “Okay, I guess you can stay”), I thought maybe the jealousy would start.  Dogs can sense so much–surely they can determine through their canine superpowers when something is temporary versus permanent.  Surely they would gauge the subtle shift in the environment when Rufus was given tenure.  Surely the petty squabbles would commence.

 

Three Pups Carry A Stick

 

Unless playing tug of war with a stick counts, then I was completely mistaken. You see, that is what is remarkable about dogs.  They have an innate sense of goodwill (well, most dogs, anyway) about taking things at face value.  The newbie didn’t have to prove his worth to them or remake himself to fit their ideals.  He could be himself, and they theirs, with no apologies for their quirks, no expectations to become something more or less…no hidden agendas, no subterfuge, no scheming or gossip.  How refreshing it would be to live in a world such as this!  To be able to just say what you mean and mean what you say…well, why can’t we?

 

Teamwork

 

 

Rufus couldn’t be happier about being accepted into the fold.  To belong to something…to be part of something…isn’t that what most of us desire?  Don’t we, too, understand the feeling of wanting to fit in and the joy of finding true friendship?  As long as we can be ourselves and be true to our spirit, then finding our niche should bring us joy.  Love your friends and accept them for who they are.  And if your friends also love to tug on sticks as much as you, well that is a huge bonus!  Tug away, my friends…tug away.

For Keeps

Rufus

 

 

Now, before I began, I just want to say one thing:  no one is allowed to say, “I told you so.”  I realize now that  I was probably doomed from day one but I will say, “Thank you.”  Thank you for humoring me when I said that I would be able to adopt Rufus out one day, for pretending to not see when I was so obviously smitten and for understanding when I say that I cannot give this munchkin up.

Fostering is hard.  Caring for a life–feeding him, teaching him, training him, loving him–takes a big commitment.  However, one knows that the joy of finding that perfect home makes it all worth it.  Some fosters stay with you for a long time (I had a cat I fostered for 14 months before she found her perfect home and a pit bull mix who stayed with me for 11 months before he moved on) and some only for a short while (I only had a border collie mix for 3 days before he was claimed by his new family).  No matter how hard you try not to get attached, you sometimes do.

I’ve fostered many dogs and cats over the years and I have become a foster failure a few times, too.  I ended up keeping or adopting the ones I couldn’t bear to see leave or who I felt would truly be best served by staying with me–Thomas, a ginger and white cat who I just adored, Elliott, a black and white cat who was so attached to Thomas I couldn’t separate them and Zella, whose story can be read here.

There’s a line in Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery, where Marilla is talking to Matthew about returning the orphan girl who was mistakenly sent to them in lieu of a boy.  They had requested a boy from the orphanage in order to help with labor around the farm.  Matthew has been smitten by the precocious redhead and does not want to send her back.  Marilla says:

 

“What good would she be to us?”

“We might be some good to her,” said Matthew suddenly and unexpectedly.

“Matthew Cuthbert, I believe that child has bewitched you!  I can see as plain as day that you want to keep her.”

 

And keep her they did.  Best decision they ever made, too.  The decision was made not because of what she could give them (even though she enriched their lives), but because they could make all the difference in her life by giving her a home and love.

I, too, have been bewitched by a redhead…only a male canine, not a human girl.  I feel that my dogs and I might be some good for him.  In his short life-time (six months) he has been through four homes.  That, my friends, breaks my heart. Why should he have to go on to another home when mine is able to provide him all his needs?, I ask myself.

To make matters worse (or better, depending on your point of view), Rufus is completely enamored with Grimm.  He loves him more than anything in the world.  He mimics him, he cuddles with him and he wants to play with him all the time.  Sure, Rufus likes Charley and Zella, too, but I have never seen a dog with such an intense affection for another.  At work, my coworkers joke that he is Grimm’s pet.  Grimm, patient as ever, takes it all in stride.

 

Rufus mimics his older brother, Grimm.  If he grows up to be just like him, I can't complain...unless he also develops a shoe fetish.

Rufus mimics his older brother, Grimm. If he grows up to be just like him, I can’t complain…unless he also develops a shoe fetish.

 

 

 

Even when resting outside, Rufus likes to be near Grimm.  Holding paws is best.

Even when resting outside, Rufus likes to be near Grimm. Holding paws is best.

 

How can I, in good faith, uproot this pup once again when the time comes?  Oh, sure, he’s young and malleable and would probably be fine…but what if he isn’t?  It’s not like I have a horde of potential adopters knocking down my door, anyways.  I have none…that I feel are worthy of him.  Plus, now that he is dealing with demodex mange, he looks a bit homely and moth eaten.  What adopter wants to take on a medical challenge right off the bat?

See what I mean?  These are the excuses I keep coming up with to not find him a suitable home.  I realized yesterday that truly, the only reason that I couldn’t find him a home was because I wanted to keep him.  Selfish, selfish, selfish.  The thing is, though…why shouldn’t I?  The other dogs like him, I have room in my house and yard, I can afford him and he seems to love it here.  Why do I feel the need to justify keeping him?  Is it because I hate being labelled a “failure” again?  Probably.  I just need to redefine Rufus:  he is not a “foster failure” but a “foster for keeps”…mine to keep, to teach, to care for, to love.

I should have known this would happen when it took me forever to name him.  That was probably my first clue he was staying.  What did his name really matter if he was to be adopted and it changed anyway?  It mattered because it was really to be his permanent name all along.  Second clue?  I got him an expensive collar and personalized name tag with my contact information on it.  I told myself his new owner could get a new tag when the time came and I needed to have my information on him “just in case”…”just in case” he became mine, permanently.  Lastly, I had him microchipped and linked all my information to his chip number.  He already had a name tag–did he really need  a microchip at this point?  Sure, I could transfer the microchip over to the new owner, but couldn’t I have waited to chip him after he was adopted?  Apparently, no…I needed to chip him asap in case he got lost or removed his tag and collar so that he could be returned to me and his rightful home.  Subconsciously, I was thinking waaayyy ahead.  It took the conscious part of my brain a while to catch up.

 

 

Snaggletooth

 

Please don’t judge me too harshly.  I am weak and not nearly as tough as I think I am, especially where knucklehead dogs are concerned.  So, here it is:  Rufus is officially mine, for keeps.  May this home bless him with all he could ever want or need.  And it’s really okay…you can say it.  I TOLD YOU SO.

If you live in North America and you just so happen to look outside and see a mushroom cloud, well, that’s my house.  Now, before you call in the ATF or other government agencies to report possible terrorist activities, you should know that this noxious cloud was not caused by plutonium or uranium or any other radioactive substance.  It was caused by something much more serious:  canine flatulence.

Rufus is starting to catch up with Charley in his gas production.

Rufus is starting to catch up with Charley in his gas production.

With four dogs in the house, the amount of methane produced is astronomical. My household may be solely responsible for the greenhouse effect (sorry, Greenland–my dog’s gas is melting your glaciers).  I don’t feed them beans, they get a probiotic with their food, but lately the increased amount of gas can be attributed to the woofer’s goat impressions.  They like the spring grass, but it doesn’t like them so much.

Last night was the worst.  Between their musical backsides loudly proclaiming their expulsions and the odor permeating the air, I’m surprised I didn’t asphyxiate in my sleep.  I was going to light a scented candle to help mask the stench, but I was afraid of an explosion.  Instead, I sprayed air freshener until my index finger was permanently bent.  I sure hope they don’t use fluorocarbons in those cans anymore (if they do, sorry ozone layer).

Brain Damage

I’m pretty sure too much exposure to noxious gas causes drain bamage bain dramage your brain not to work.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, too much methane gas displaces oxygen and, without oxygen, well, our brains start to go south.  Maybe this explains a few things, like the picture above.  The dogs are contributing to their own demise.

Charley has always been gassy, but even more so in his old age.  I always know when he’s about to commence an air raid.  He usually gets up, very quietly and quickly, and leaves the vicinity.  That’s my cue to follow.  There is no helping those left behind.

Rufus, the new kid on the block, has begun to give the old man a run for his money.  He is a stinker, in more than one way.  Rufus, though, unlike Charley, likes to wallow in his own stench.  I swear he smiles when he passes gas.  I should have named him “Pig Pen” what with his own personal gas cloud hovering overhead.  He has no shame.

Grimm always seems perplexed whenever his derriere starts squeaking.  He does quick turns to see what the heck is happening in his nether regions.  Once he has figured out that the smell of death and decay is coming from his butt, he tucks his tail and hides his head in shame.  I almost feel bad for the kid, except I too have to smell his stench.

Zella, God bless her, is not ladylike at all in her flatulence.  She is the worst about snuggling up to you with her backside near your head.  Does she have the grace to move before breaking wind?  No.  She just breaks your nose with her odor.  Between the four of them, I’m surprised I have any sense of smell left.

Can I get a gas mask over here, please?

Can I get a gas mask over here, please?

How have the noxious fumes not killed me?  I have no idea.  All I know is that I need to invest in a military spec gas mask.  Anyone know of a good wholesaler? I’m gonna need more than one, I think.

How can two very lovely dogs go from this

 

What Big Teeth You Have!

 

 

to this

 

 

Dumb and Dumber

 

in a matter of three seconds?  If you answered “brain damage”, I suspect you might be right.  I think my dogs have been eating lead paint…or drinking…again.

King Knucklehead (that would be Grimm), however, chose not to participate in the day’s shenanigans.  (Shocking, I know.  I checked his brow for a fever.) However, just because one does not willingly join in with the antics of others does not mean that one is immune to being pulled into their affairs.  See what I mean?

 

 

You Eat Grimm's Leg, I'll Eat Yours

 

Zella the Zany and Rufus the Dufus (or Doofus, however you want to spell it is fine) were determined to drag Grimm the Grump into their canine capers. Grimm, however, just wanted to bask in the warmth of the sun.  The wild woofers, however, just kept gnawing at his leg until he said, “ENOUGH!”

 

 

Don't Bite My Leg!

 

 

Rufus couldn’t help but give a little sass back, but he and Zella decided to leave Grimm the Grumpy Pants alone.  With a huge, dramatic sigh, Grimm went inside to lie down next to Charley.  Even though Zella and Rufus were leaving him alone, being next to Charley would guarantee that they wouldn’t try any funny business.  No dog dares to wake Charley without a very good reason.  Charley may be old, but he’s fierce and doesn’t take kindly to being roused from his beauty sleep by the likes of barbarian canines.

So, for now, Grimm is safe from the doofuses (or is that doofi?).  I fear, however, that it will not be long before Grimm reclaims his role as their witless leader.  If he doesn’t, Rufus may take the role…if so, God help us all.

 

 

Rufus the Dufus

 

The Hangover

Today being Zella’s fifth bithday, I got up early to wish her a happy one and see what she wanted to do today.  Apparently, the woofers decided to celebrate her birthday a little bit early.  I don’t know what the heck happened last night, but I awoke to find four passed out canines, all in some state of disarray–Grimm was naked, Charley was covered in rope toys, Rufus was buried under Grimm and Zella was missing teeth.  When I woke them all up, no one could tell me what had happened.  They all had conveniently developed a case of amnesia.

What the heck?  Where did your teeth go?

What the heck? Where did your teeth go?

I happened to see my camera lying on the couch, definitely not where I had left it.  Maybe some clue to the canine exploits was hidden in its memory.  I scrolled through the pictures and…OH MY WORD!  I have some very bad dogs. Seeing the pictures, though, helped to trigger the dogs memories of the events leading up to this morning.  Be warned…what you are about to see and read is not pretty.

The woofers decided it would be great fun to take a road trip for Zella's birthday (without me, it seems).

The woofers decided it would be great fun to take a road trip for Zella’s birthday (without me, it seems).

The first of their many crimes involved the attempted theft of my car.  They all thought it would be awesome fun to take a road trip for Zella’s birthday. Somehow Rufus decided he was driving while Zella rode in the back like she was Miss Daisy or something.  However, being unable to reach the pedals and appropriately work the gear shift, they gave up the road trip idea.

Rufus is clearly drunk in this picture.  He can't even sit straight.

Rufus is clearly drunk in this picture. He can’t even sit straight.

Since the road trip was a bust, they all decided to get drunk instead.  Zella had the bright idea of using her favorite retrieving toy as a beer bong, thus making the chugging of the alcohol that much easier.  Even though all the dogs are technically minors, they again violated the law and drank until they were completely sloshed.

Zella thought her toy would make an excellent beer bong with just a few modifications.

Zella thought her toy would make an excellent beer bong with just a few modifications.  You can tell by her eyes that she is already fairly under the influence already.

After being totally and completely inebriated, Zella wanted to tell all her stuffed toys how much she loved them.  She started to get a little paranoid and then worried they would leave her for some other dog.  Then she got mad at her toys, saying they never loved her…ever…and that she saw them eyeing the other dogs in the house.  How could they treat her this way, when she gave them so much of herself, sacrificed so much for them?  She then proceeded to eat the face off her (former) stuffed puppy dog.  Grimm had to intervene before it got too ugly and the police were called out for a domestic disturbance.

Zella was feeling a little paranoid that all her stuffed toys were going to leave her.

Zella was feeling a little paranoid that all her stuffed toys were going to leave her.

Grimm, who at this point was also completely inebriated, decided that he would take Zella’s ex-toy under his wing.   Since Rufus was passed out on the couch, Grimm didn’t have his wingman anymore, so the little faceless stuffed dog would have to do.

Grimm decided he would befriend Zella's ex-toy.

“It’s okay, little faceless dog.  I’ll be your buddy.  Girls are stupid anyways.  Who needs ’em?  **Hiccup**  It’s just you and me now.  We have each other.  Shhh…don’t cry, little stuffed dog.  Hey, where did your face go?”

Charley, who I thought had more sense than to be suckered into this cesspool of delinquent canine behavior, paraded around modelling the assorted canine rope toys as a new version of a boa.  Apparently, he also started singing show tunes as loud as he could and almost broke a hip trying to dance a drunken Charleston.  Eventually, he passed out still wearing all the different ropes–why just wear one when you can wear all three?

Apparently Charley thought the rope toys made better fashion accessories.

Apparently Charley thought the rope toys made better fashion accessories.

I never did find out, though, what happened to Zella’s teeth.  I swear they were there yesterday.  I haven’t found any yet, no blood and there is no photo evidence to help me solve the mystery.  I did, however, figure out why Grimm was naked this morning and not wearing his collar.  He apparently decided to give it to his new buddy.

Grimm, in his drunken generosity, gave his collar to his new friend.

Grimm, in his drunken generosity, gave his collar to his new friend.

What a crazy bunch of dogs I have!  They are, however, all very ashamed of their delinquent behavior and promise not to get drunk ever again.  Here’s to a happy fifth birthday, Zella.  Hope you have a fun day sleeping off your hangover and that you and your wolfpack stay out of any more trouble.  Now I know what to get you for Christmas…two front teeth.

If you have ever owned a dog, at one point or another you have probably found yourself in this scenario:  you are sleeping soundly, dreaming a rather pleasant dream, when all of a sudden the dream changes.  You find yourself encased in a wet, moist, moldy cavern with stinky, vaporous sulfur pits surrounding you.  A hideous panting/blowing sound smothers you from all sides.  Ack!  Just as you are starting to panic, you wake up to find seventy pounds of dog breathing in your face.  No?  Never happened to you?  Guess it’s just me, then.

 

 

Nothing like waking up to this big mug in the morning, especially when his warm breath blows right in your face.

Nothing like waking up to this big mug in the morning, especially when his warm breath blows right in your face.

 

Grimm and the other younger dogs at my house don’t really have bad breath, per se.  Mostly it is just the wet, moist panting in my face that drives me bonkers.  Charley, on the other had, has some monstrous foul breath in the morning.  I guess if I only brushed my teeth maybe fifty times in fifteen years I’d have some monstrous breath, too.  Because of his health issues, having him under anesthesia for a full dental cleaning is not really recommended.  And because he doesn’t chew nearly as much as when he was younger, relying on him to maintain his oral hygiene isn’t happening.  Time to up the tooth brushing, I guess.

 

Don't Breathe On Me

“Ugh, Charley, don’t breathe on me, dude!”

 

 

Rufus, the now five month old foster pup, is finally overcoming the puppy breath stage.  I’ve never really been a big fan of puppy breath.  Some people love it, I don’t.  With new teeth coming in, too, the metallic smell of blood lingers at times in his mouth.  Because of this, his panting breath makes me want to run outside for a breath of fresh air.

 

Zella vs. Rufus

“I will make you retreat, Zella, by breathing my horrid metallic puppy breath in your face! Have a whiff!”

 

Maintaining good oral hygiene is important and is no less so in our canine buddies.  The gold standard for optimum dental care in our dogs is daily brushing.  I know this, I preach this daily at my veterinary hospital.  Do I follow my own advice?  No, not really.  Occasionally I bust out the toothbrush, the paste, the rinse and the breath spray and go to town on the dogs teeth.  They actually like getting their teeth brushed.  Problem is finding time to do it each and every day.  After spending all day taking care of other peoples critters, I must admit I’m too worn out to give mine the gold standard.

I just wish the dogs could brush their own teeth.  Lack of opposable thumbs and all makes that a little hard, I guess.  Plus, my dogs have an unhealthy obsession with eating the entire tube of paste (even the vanilla mint variety), so leaving it up to them is probably not a good idea.  I guess it’s time to practice what I preach.  Better grab that breath of fresh air while I can, because I’m going in—into the dark, sulfurous cavern known as Charley’s mouth.  If you don’t hear from me in the near future, call the professionals.  The fumes will have finally gotten me.

 

 

Okay, time to scrub this old dog's mouth.

Okay, time to scrub this old dog’s mouth.

 

 

The Frisbee King

My dogs love frisbees.  LOVE them.  The problem, though, is that these plastic discs last about two seconds around my house.  They can only hold up so long against the catching, chomping, chewing, crunching and tugging done to them by my canines.  Until I go shopping again, they are an endangered commodity.

 

Rufus With Blue Frisbee

 

Somehow, Rufus found an almost completely intact specimen today.  This is like finding the Holy Grail–it’s rumored to exist, but no one knows where to find it. Where it was discovered, I’ll never know.  Perhaps it was one of Grimm’s secretly hidden discs.  He has a few caches of favorite things around the yard; problem is, he forgets where he places these items.  My guess is that Rufus just happened to stumble upon one of these treasures.

 

Chewing on the Frisbee

 

 

Rufus started to munch on the frisbee, savoring the subtle flavors of the plastic and further mangling its rim.  Of course, his crunching sounds of contentment soon attracted the attention of the current frisbee king at my house–Grimm.

 

 

The Theft

 

 

Grimm:  What’s this?  What you got there, Rufus?

Rufus:  Nothing, I don’t have anything.  Just chewing on a stick.

Grimm:  Oh, no.  I know what chewing on a stick sounds like.  You’ve got a frisbee, don’t you?  Is that one of MY frisbees?

Rufus:  It’s mine!  I found it all by myself.  Just go away and leave me alone.

Of course, now that a frisbee was involved, Grimm had no intention of just walking away.  Where frisbees are concerned, Grimm is like a crack addict.  He would definitely end up as a destitute frisbee whore turning tricks on a corner if I didn’t keep him regularly supplied.  Since stock was running low, Grimm was getting a little edgy about his next fix.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, so Grimm decided to just steal the disc from Rufus.

 

 

Going, Going, Gone

 

Grimm took the frisbee and ran.  The adrenaline sparked by his theft coursed through his veins, providing extra speed.  Rufus’ short legs would never be able to catch him and both dogs knew it.

 

 

Bring My Frisbee Back

 

Rufus was devastated.  He was so mad at Grimm–Grimm was the one who introduced him to the awesomeness of frisbees to begin with!  He felt betrayed, humiliated, and downright angry.

 

 

Zella Consoles Rufus

 

 

Zella tried her best to console Rufus.  After all, she knew what he was going through.  Many a beloved disc had been run into the ground, sometimes very savagely, by Grimm.  She comforted Rufus as best as she could.

 

 

Frisbee King

 

 

They both looked over to where Grimm stood, smugly crunching on the stolen frisbee.  Enough was enough.  They decided then and there it was time to de-throne the self-proclaimed Frisbee King.  Rufus started work on a plan to win back his disc.

 

 

Stakeout

 

 

Hiding behind some sticks (not his best camouflage, I know, but Grimm was paying more attention to his contraband anyways), Rufus observed his opponent in order to find an area of weakness.  Unable to find any, he proceeded to his backup strategy:  act like a crazy, rabid dog and just flat out attack Grimm.

 

 

Kung Fu Moves

 

 

His daring move caused Grimm to momentarily drop the stolen disc.  Rufus jumped and growled and brought forth his best impersonation of an ogre in order to try and gain possession of the frisbee.  Grimm, though, was up for the challenge.

 

 

Epic Battle For The Frisbee

 

 

 

Both dogs proceeded to try to overcome the other.  The epic battle for the frisbee began.  Seriously, folks, dogs the world over will be woofing about this battle for decades to come.  Grimm eventually got too hot to continue warring with Rufus.  No way was Rufus calling a time-out for Grimm to cool off–it was either stay and fight and get heat stroke, or just give up the frisbee already. Grimm decided to go take a swim in the water trough instead.

 

 

Got My Frisbee Back

 

 

Rufus claimed his prize–the shabby, worn piece of plastic.  He went back to his chewing spot and commenced the whittling of the disc.  Grimm, impressed by the littler dog’s courage and fortitude, let him be.  Rufus became the Frisbee King, for today at least.  I better stock up on more discs, and soon, before more havoc strikes my canine kingdom (or Grimm starts showing up on street corners jonesing for a frisbee fix). Maybe it’s time for an intervention.  Anyone know of any good canine frisbee rehabs?

 

 

 

 

Everybody knows that puppies like–need–to chew, but did you know there was a particular art involved in this skill?  Me neither, until I caught Grimm today tutoring Rufus, the foster puppy, on the ins and outs of gnawing, munching, grinding and chewing.  Apparently, Grimm has some super advanced, PhD degree in this oh-so-subtle canine art form.  Abbreviated “CMM”, it means “Canine Master of Mastication”.  After all the things Grimm has chewed up and destroyed in his young age, why am I not surprised?

 

"Rufus, there are several body positions used when munching an object.  I'm demonstrating the standing technique, while Zella illustrates the prone technique."

“Rufus, there are several body positions used when munching an object. I’m demonstrating the standing technique, while Zella illustrates the prone technique.  Observe closely.”

 

 

First, Grimm had Rufus watch while he demonstrated appropriate chewing techniques.  He discussed textures, shapes, appropriate tongue and jaw placement, body positioning, using paws for object stability and even chewing hazards, including owner anger over inappropriately munched items.  I had no idea Grimm even thought about the possibility of broken teeth or wooden shards embedded in his mouth when he chewed, much less my feelings on the matter.  I guess he really does have a CMM degree.

 

 

"Here, Rufus, we'll start with this frisbee."

“Here, Rufus, we’ll start with this frisbee.”

 

Grimm started Rufus’ lesson on chewing with an already broken-in frisbee.  After the frisbee gnawing was mastered, he moved Rufus on to sticks (both twigs and larger limbs) and then to bones and, finally, pupil’s choice.  Rufus was a very dedicated student and listened intently to his master’s suggestions in order to achieve optimal item destruction.  I’m sort of getting worried–having two dogs with advanced CMM degrees in my house may lead to complete home wrecking.

 

 

"How am I doing, Grimm?  Is my technique okay?"

“How am I doing, Grimm? Is my technique okay?”

 

 

"Grrrr...this twig is chewy and it tickles my nose.  No fear, though, right Grimm?"

“Grrrr…this twig is chewy and it tickles my nose. No fear, though, right Grimm?”

 

 

"What do I do if I get a splinter in my eye? 'Cause I think I got a splinter in my eye.  Do I need safety glasses?"

“What do I do if I get a splinter in my eye? ‘Cause I think I got a splinter in my eye. Do I need safety glasses?”

 

 

"How long should I gnaw on this bone before I just give up?  It's really hard."

“How long should I gnaw on this bone before I just give up? It’s really hard.”

 

 

"For my pupil's choice item, I found this weird papery thing to chew on.  Tastes like wasps."

“For my pupil’s choice item, I found this weird papery thing to chew on. Tastes like wasps.”

 

Finally, after all the munching, Rufus’ jaws were mostly worn out.  Grimm told him he was a quick study and gave him an A+ for the day’s work.  If they keep this pace up each day, I won’t have anything left in the yard to chew, much less dogs with teeth.

 

"Show me your play-bite-and-hold form, Rufus.  I'll be your sparring partner."

“Show me your play-bite-and-hold form, Rufus. I’ll be your sparring partner.”

 

They decided to move on to a different area of schooling–canine play and tackling techniques.  Don’t tell me Grimm has a PhD in canine kinesiology, too (although nothing about Grimm should astonish me at this point)!  I guess I should just be happy Rufus has such an excellent teacher, as I know without a doubt that Grimm is a master at giving affection.  Hopefully, that will be Grimm’s next lesson for his young student (even if his pupil is already well on his way to conquering that skill without Grimm’s help).   I’m optimistic this A+ puppy will continue to thrive–with Grimm as his teacher, he can’t fail.

Ripe Old Age

When a cowboy’s too old to set a bad example, he hands out good advice.

~Old West Proverb

 

Charley on his 15th Birthday.  If he were human, he would be somewhere around 90 years old.

Charley today, on his 15th Birthday. If he were human, he would be somewhere around 90 years old.

 

Fifteen years ago, or thereabouts, a young male, merle colored dog entered the world.  I don’t know how many siblings he had, what his momma and daddy were like or what type of people brought him into our realm.  I only know that somehow, someway, he found himself in a big heap of trouble when he was around four months old–lost (or abandoned) in the scrubby forest of central Texas, covered in ticks and a host to a myriad of other parasites, starving and accidentally run over.  How he ended up where he was found, I’ll never know. All I know is that he ended up being plopped on the counter at my veterinary clinic at the time, needing a home and a friend.  He became my first rescue and my second dog, but he has been so much more than that.

Charley is the epitome of an old cow dog.  He’s loyal, faithful, patient, keeps the younger canines in line and can still rustle up a bunny when the mood takes him.  Being a mix of cattle working breeds (Catahoula Leopard Dog and Australian Cattle Dog), Charley has always been a quick learner and eager to please.  Even now, being mostly deaf, arthritic, having cloudy vision and dealing with myesthenia gravis (an autoimmune, neuromuscular disorder causing severe muscle weakness), he still enjoys tagging along and participating in the day’s activities.

With today being his birthday, and his fifteenth no less, I decided to let the old man make the itinerary for the day.  Today was to be his day to do as he pleased, which, I’ll admit, isn’t much different from Charley’s other days.  He has more than earned a comfortable retirement from his years of dedicated loyalty and friendship.

 

Me:  What would you like to do for your fifteenth birthday, Charley?

Grimm:  I know!  He wants to have a Quinceañera!  My friend Chico the chihuahua told me all about them…we can invite all his friends and he will get lots of presents and he can even wear a tiara!

Rufus, Zella, Grimm:  Quinceañera!  Quinceañera!  Quinceañera!

Charley:  Boy, you want to put a tiara on me?  You got another think coming. Ain’t no way I’m having a big shindig.  I just want to do what I always do–relax with my family and eat good grub and maybe I’ll tell you young whippersnappers some stories from the olden days.  How’s that sound?

Me:  We can do that, no problem.  Why don’t you tell them about the time you jumped off the cliff and I had to go rescue you?

Rufus:  Oh, yes, please!  That sounds scary!

Charley:  I don’t remember that.  How ’bout I tell y’all the story of the giant, rabid skunk that tried to fumigate me and Roxie out of existence?

Me:  Well, I don’t know about rabid and I’m pretty sure it was just a baby based on it’s size, but boy did you two stink for weeks!  I had to bathe them with dish washing detergent mixed with baking soda and peroxide and both of them had red highlights where their black spots were!

Charley:  Are you telling the story or am I?  ‘Cause I’m the one who got skunk juice in my eye.

Me:  Sorry.  Tell your story.  Grimm, stop trying to sneak up on him with that tiara!

Grimm:  But he’d be so pretty!  **Sigh.**  Okay, Charley, tell us about the stinky skunk.

Charley:  Well, this would of been back in ’04…or was it ’05?  Anyways…

 

I left them all to listen to Charley’s old stories while I made “pupcakes” for later. After story time, Charley and the gang started the day out with some nice, tasty, meaty bones.  Then the birthday pooch proceeded to take the first of many naps, interspersed with some outdoor time.  He even went on a short car trip with me to return some movies, during which he got to enjoy the fresh, crisp air blowing in his ears.  Not a bad day for a geriatric canine!

 

Charley loved his steak and meaty bone for breakfast, as did the other pooches.  This is a rare (pun intended) treat for them!

Charley loved his steak and meaty bone for breakfast, as did the other pooches. This is a rare (pun intended) treat for them!

 

This was the first nap of the day.

This was the first nap of the day.

 

Grimm finally succeeded in getting Charley to wear a tiara.  Grimm kept telling Charley it was "a birthday crown", but it's really a tiara.  I have a suspicion that Charley just decided to humor the boy.  Besides, not many dogs get to celebrate a quinceanera and Charley does like to look pretty.

Grimm finally succeeded in getting Charley to wear a headpiece. Grimm kept telling Charley it was “a birthday crown”, but it’s really a tiara. I have a suspicion that Charley just decided to humor the boy. Besides, not many dogs get to celebrate a quinceanera (and Charley does like to look pretty, even if he will never admit it).

 

Some things get better with age–fine wine, artisan cheeses, a well-played musical instrument.  But the one thing I’ve found that gets best with age is a loyal canine friend.  Charley and I have grown older together and learned much from our experiences.  He has been my furry rock, my strong support, my constant through many changes.  Watching him gracefully come to a ripe old age both fills me with joy and sadness–joy that I’ve gotten to have him in my life for this long, but sadness knowing that his time with me is quickly fading. Fifteen is a long life span for a medium sized dog, especially one who has endured so many hardships brought on by his rough start in life.  For now, though, he’s mine.

Happy Fifteenth Birthday, my oldest friend.

A Good Name

A good name is rather to be chosen than riches.

~King Solomon

 

Imagine, if you will, a world without proper names.  For our species, confusion would ensue.  How would we get someone’s attention?  How would someone know we were talking specifically to them?  I can guarantee that miscommunication would hinder our daily lives and the amount of description needed to single one person out would wear us down.  A name cements our individuality.

A certain power exists behind a name.  The first real display of this power is usually presented to one as a child.  The child is not paying attention, danger may be lurking and he or she seems lost in a private world.   A worried parent cannot find the child so in a loud, forceful way, shouts THE CHILD’S NAME. The power associated with the name gets the youth’s attention more so than just the shout.

A name is not just letters strung together (although it may start that way), but a representation of meanings, a collection of memories, a legacy given to us by our past.  When we leave this world, our name remains:  in writings, in memories, in our descendants.  Humans need names and, because they live in our world, so do our pets.

 

Pup on Porch

With all of the above being said, imagine my frustration in not being able to name the new little red pit bull pup I rescued earlier this year.  He came with a name:  “Crash”–a sensible name at the time because he would crash out when sleeping.  When I met the pup, he had just been run over (twice, if you’re keeping count) and for me, “Crash” came to be linked irreparably with his trauma.  I could not continue to call the pup “Crash” as I would constantly be reminded of his hard start in my life.  What, then, to name the little guy?

I went through a lot of suggestions:  Conan, Ronan, Titus, Zeus, Quigley, Wyatt, Woody, Lewis, Merle.  I tried Owen for a while.  None fit.  Most names I really liked were already taken in my circle, either for my friends own pets or their children.  What to do?  I decided to give myself some time and figure out what his personality was really like.

If I had named him immediately after only knowing him for four days, this would have been his name:

 

 

ogre pup

 

He made noises like a demon from hell when he played, he was cumbersome when he walked, he had an underbite and was earth-tone in color.  What else could he be but an Ogre?  I thought about the repercussions that would ensue with having a pit bull named Ogre.  Potential adopters would assume he was a people eater because, unless you are Shrek, that is what ogres do (and I wasn’t naming him Shrek).  I did not need to add any more burden to this poor pup by associating more bad stigma to him.  Not naming him Ogre.

Okay, now what?  Time went on.  He settled in.  He learned from his canine buds around him how to properly behave.  I still could not think of a name. What about names for red?  I tried Rogin, Flynn, Rusty and Roux.  Closer, I thought, but none still seemed to fit.  How about names meaning four? Quade/Quaid, Haidar, Quatro…those would only work if he became my fourth dog, and I’m not ready to make that commitment yet.

Yesterday I just gave up.  The next name I saw would be his, I didn’t care anymore.  Nothing was right and the pup wasn’t giving me any help.  I decided to quit thinking of names and read poetry instead.  And then I stumbled upon a poem called “The Little Great Ones” by a Slovak writer (which was translated to English by Allen Stevo).  I read this verse again and again:

 

Mind your kids
you bigguns.
They are gathering your pollen
those little bees from God.
They will seal it into their little bodies.
They imitate you.
They are the most exact living
little mirrors of you.

Their shape is from your anvils.
They live from your bread.

One day they will be exactly like you.
So be humane to each other.

 

I really liked the message he conveyed.  This not only applies to our own offspring, but all of those in our care.  Our example does much to shape young bodies and minds into the adults they will become.  And who just so happens to have a young one around to shape?  Yep, me (even if he is a canine).  This is a sign, I thought.  Who is the author, you ask?  Milan Rúfus, a multiple nominee for the Nobel Prize in literature.

Rufus…hmmm…this could work, I thought.  I know no other person or canine in my circle with this name.  It has a “good ol’ boy” quality to it, and guess what it means?  Yep, “red” or “red-haired”.  One last test:  “Rufus!”   The little pup woke up, looked at me and wagged his tail.  World, meet Rufus.

 

Rufus the red pit bull.

Rufus the red pit bull.

 

A name pronounced is the recognition of the individual to whom it belongs. He who can pronounce my name aright, he can call me, and is entitled to my love and service.

~Henry David Thoreau

 

It Takes A Pack

Take two days of rain, add in one old dog and three young ones, mix in some outdoor play time and what do you get? If you answered mud puppies, you are correct.  Other answers that would be considered acceptable would include:   dirty floors, happy dogs and an owner wishing for a maid and/or personal assistant.

Soulful Pup

The red pup with no name (yet…I’m working on it) is still here with all the other pooches.  I have to stop and remind myself that he has only been here for nine days and that it can take considerable time for a foster to find a new home.  It’s not that I don’t like the boy (because I do), it’s just that I feel like he is growing up too fast and he is bonding fiercely to me and my critters.  If he finds a permanent home, I think I will feel a bit guilty taking him away from his buddies.

He has become Grimm’s little minion.  They will wrestle and play for a good bit but eventually Grimm gets exhausted.  At this point, I usually find the pup imitating a land shark by hanging off of Grimm’s rear legs by his puppy teeth. Grimm, who is now too tired to care, just drags him around and eventually just sits on him.  The pup never gives up trying to get his big, black foster brother to re-engage in puppy battle.  I never thought I’d see the day, folks, but Grimm seems a bit worn out by crazy puppy antics.

Grimm and the pup race round and round the tree.

Grimm and the pup race ’round and ’round the tree.  If the pup catches up to him, Grimm’s legs become chew sticks. 

 

Zella has set fairly strict boundaries with the new arrival.  When he starts acting the fool around her, she quickly lets him know he is not being amusing.  The pup calmly accepts his rebuttal and goes to find Grimm.  Usually by this point Grimm is already worn out and looks at me for help.  This is when the red pup gets to practice crate training and gets to munch on a tasty kong toy filled with peanut butter and other fun edibles.

 

Zella attempts to hypnotize the pup into submission.  If you look closely, you will see that she already succeeded in subduing a ladybug.

Zella attempts to hypnotize the pup into submission. If you look closely, you will see that she already succeeded in subduing a ladybug.

 

 

Charley pretty much just does the same thing he always does:  sleep, eat, referee when he feels it’s needed, and sleep some more.  The pup definitely respects his much older elder.  He only tried to jump on Charley once and all Charley did was look at him, as if saying, “Really? I am too old and tired to mess with the likes of you, boy.”  The pup seemed to understand and hasn’t tried it since.  He is always on his best puppy behavior when old Charley is awake and around.  Charley is like the godfather in the woofers world.  No one messes with him.

 

The pup can feel Charley watching him and knows not to try any shenanigans when the old patriarch is around.

The pup can feel Charley watching him and knows not to try any shenanigans when the old patriarch is around.

 

Each of my dogs has a slightly different relationship with the new arrival and he is learning much from all of them.  Grimm instructs him on the joys of friendship, Zella teaches him the importance of boundaries and self-control and Charley shows him how to show proper respect.  They say it takes a village to raise a child.  I guess it takes a pack to raise a pup.

 

 

On The Mend

What a difference three days make!  The little rescue pup is doing much better…his cough has almost completely gone away, his limp has improved, and his personality is really starting to shine.

He is a sweet little munchkin and definitely a comfort hound.  Every little pillow, couch, bed or other soft item has been christened by his little behind laying on it.  Food is his number one motivator and he is already fattening up.  He loves his kennel,  his companions and his grub.  What else could a pup want?

Well, he still needs two things, the most important things of all:  a permanent home and a name.  I’ve already started putting out feelers to remedy the first dilemma and I’ve been racking my brain to come up with a suitable moniker for the little bugger.  He doesn’t respond at all to his original name, plus part of me feels it’s a little bit cruel to continue to call a pup who has been run over by a car, “Crash”.  Something more uplifting is needed, I think, but what that is yet, I don’t know.

In the meantime, I took some pictures today to show how truly amazing he is. He ended his day with a bath to help scrub off some of the old injured skin that is starting to slough off.  He took it like a champ.  Fear not, as Grimm and Charley were with him, offering moral support through the whole ordeal.  Zella, on the other hand, hightailed it to the other room.  It’s not that she doesn’t like the little fella, it’s that she fears baths more.  It’s okay.  He can snuggle up with her later…probably on the couch, with all the other comfort hounds.

Pup Outside

 

Stoic Pit Pup

 

The Little Tail of the Bunch

 

Little Muzzle

 

 

Little Bulldog

 

Being A Puppy

 

Golden Eyes

 

Bath Time

 

 

Better You Than Me

 

There is something beautiful about all scars of whatever nature.  A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with.

~Harry Crews

the new rescue pu

 

 

It has happened again, folks.  Another little needy pup has come into my life and stolen my heart.  I can’t really say that I will be keeping this one–my goal is to foster him until he is well and then adopt him out to a permanent, loving home.  If no suitable adopter is found, well, I’ve got room for one more, I guess.

On the second day of the new year, this little guy was brought into my veterinary clinic on an emergency basis.  He was rushed to the treatment area for triage because he had been run over, not once, but twice by his owners in their driveway.  He wasn’t walking, was shocky, had blood in his mouth and, as visible in the picture above, road rash and irritation to his skin.  His lungs were harsh and he looked miserable.  Of course, because of the trauma, he immediately received an injection of morphine to keep him comfortable until other diagnostics could be performed.

His owners felt horrible.  The family had three young boys who always left toys in the driveway, so they assumed that was what they had run over.  They literally had no financial means to even pay for the visit, much less any further diagnostics and treatments.  To alleviate his suffering, euthanasia was decided upon.

I was involved with his triage, but not with the conversation with his owners. One of my co-workers asked me to go ahead and place an IV catheter in him as we were going to perform a mercy euthanasia.  I, like everyone else, knew this was probably the kindest thing as this pup had to have serious internal trauma or, at the least, broken bones.  I asked my coworker to give me a minute to just talk with the pup and then I would put the catheter in.

You know what the little guy did?  He wiggled his tail.  Morphine is a great narcotic and all, but it doesn’t inject gratitude into a dog.  He whacked his tail back and forth, faster and faster as I spoke quietly to him.  Well, if his tail works, I thought, maybe more of him does, too.  I opened his kennel door all the way, stepped back, squatted down and said to him, “Here, little puppy. Come see me.”  He heaved himself up and did.

If you follow some of the stories here about Grimm, you know that his tail was his saving grace.  It appeared that this pup’s tail would also be his savior.  At that point, I had made up my mind.  I would tell the family about his extraordinary will and, if they couldn’t treat him, I would ask them to sign ownership over to me.

My coworker came back and said the family was ready to say goodbye to him whenever the catheter was in.  I told her that I needed to talk to them first.  I went into the exam room to find the mom of the family and her oldest son, who was probably about ten years old.  The father and the other young boys were too distraught to be in the clinic, much less the exam room.  The child in the room was crying but he had pulled his hoodie over his face to hide the fact and was trying, but not succeeding, to be tough.  I explained to them that we still didn’t know the extent of the damages, but that he could walk (with a limp) and was more bright and alert and less shocky.  She told me they absolutely could not afford to do anything for the pup.  I gave her the option of transferring ownership and she readily agreed.  I was very frank with her and told her that if he was too damaged and seemed to be suffering, I would euthanize him.  If he lived, I would either place him with a new owner or keep him.

Having that sort of conversation in front of a young kid is hard.  I knew her boy loved the pup and was angry at the situation.  To see your parents struggle day by day to make ends meet is one thing, but to have it drug out in front of you when a life is on the line has to be excruciating.  I sat next to him and talked, really talked, to him.  We spoke about the pup and what he meant to him and I told him all about me and my life with dogs.  You could see the anger drain from him.  All I wanted was for the boy to know that I understood his love for his pup and that I would give the pooch nothing less.  After our conversation, he sincerely thanked me for taking care of his dog.  Maybe there is hope for the human race, after all.

After I became the four month old pup’s official owner, multiple x-rays were taken and, miraculously, nothing was broken.  His lungs were severely bruised, but his diaphragm was intact and his internal organs did not appear crushed or ruptured.  I swear this puppy must be made of rubber.  Pit bulls are tough, though.

The little pup whose name was “Crash” is now here at my house with me.  He coughs some and is still limping on his front leg, but his tail wags faster even than Grimm’s.  He is now on oral pain medication and antibiotics for the skin injuries.  He was fairly thin and covered in fleas, so I treated him for internal and external parasites, bathed the tire tread marks off him, upped his food intake and confined him to strict crate rest.  Zella has already decided he’s her baby and Grimm thinks he makes an awesome little buddy.  Charley just sniffed him all over, looked at me as if to say, “Another one?” and went back to sleep.  Because Charley was originally run over when I first took him on almost 15 years ago, he and the pup (who needs a new name, by the way) can commiserate together later.

Oh, new year!  You didn’t even give me a whole 48 hours before bombarding me with new dilemmas.  If I can give a dog a new lease on life, then I won’t complain.  Just saying.  Hopefully in a few weeks this little guy will be better than new and on his way to a new home…or here with the rest of the crew, devising strategies to make life more entertaining.  Either way works for me.

 

First Day Here

 

 

Time Marches On

Happy New Year!

As 2012 draws to an end and 2013 takes over, we resolve to change things about ourselves.  With a new year comes new opportunities, new beginnings.   A fresh year washes away the stains of the old and we are given a new start. Why a new year is needed, I can’t say…one of our human weaknesses, I guess.

Canines need no such delineation of time.  They take each day as it comes with no lingering thoughts on the past.  Something not working for them?  They alter their approach immediately.  They make no excuses or apologies for their behavior or actions and they never resolve to change anything…they just change.  We wish they would stop eating the cat poop, getting on the counters, digging in the garden, munching flip flops…and we can change these behaviors by training and conditioning a dog.  Canines, however, don’t consciously make an effort to change for anyone other than themselves.  If something works, why try to fix it?  Something not working?  Try another tactic.

That’s what we humans do with a new year.  It is a chance to try new tactics and fix what isn’t working…or so we resolve.  Sometimes we are successful, sometimes we fail and try again the next year.  For me, I have resolved to break the rules a bit and follow the canines example and heed the lessons I have learned from them.

Against the Grain

Be yourself.  Don’t be afraid to go against the grain, even when it may not be popular to do so.  Celebrate your individuality and take a stand for your own beliefs.  Do what feels right and because you believe in the outcome.

Playing on the Couch

Share what you have with others.  Even if it is only your time or experience, giving away a part of yourself may make a tremendous difference to someone else.  More often than not, you will gain something in return.

Stand Up For The Little Guys

Stand up for the little guys.  Don’t allow the weak to be bullied by the strong.  Speak out when you see an injustice.  Help those that need a hand. One day you may be the one who requires assistance.

Big Nose

Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Don’t beat yourself up when you fail.  Learn to laugh at yourself and your mistakes.  We are only human after all.

These are the lessons I’ve resolved to incorporate into my life.  Time marches on and I’m not getting any younger.  Life is too short to worry about the little things.  I resolve this year to make no more yearly resolutions.  If I follow the advice of the woofers, I shouldn’t have to.  Here’s to another year of life, lessons and laughter…let’s make it a happy one!

Merry Christmas 2012

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring…oh, who am I kidding?  Something’s always stirring around here.  I’ve got two out of three dogs running around my house like rabid reindeer on crack and the third is passed out beneath my feet, passing gas with a silent stink so foul, it is like a solid being.  Is it too late to ask Santa for a gas mask?

The pooches are super excited over Santa coming to visit.  They have been insisting that I leave out some of their favorite dog biscuits for him to snack on. I told them that although Santa appreciates the thought, he would prefer human treats.  They were crestfallen.  To spare their feelings, I said maybe we could leave him a few of their doggy ones and maybe he would give them to his elves…or something.  Hey, I don’t know what elves eat, do you?  And I’m pretty sure reindeer are vegetarians.

Upside Down Zella

After I told the woofers that Santa would give their biscuits to his elves, Zella decided she wanted to become an elf.  She practiced looking like an elf most of the day until she learned that the elves have to work year-round to make toys.

Grimm With Jingle Bells

Grimm was just excited that he got to wear his Christmas collar with the jingle bells on it.  At one point, however, he got his collar off and decided that maybe he should eat the bells instead.  He thought it would be cool if he jingled even without the collar on.  I told him that if he actually dared to eat one of the bells, Santa would be enraged.  Not a lie since I’m the one playing the part of Santa, even if Grimm is not aware of the fact.  I would be enraged.

Charley at Christmas

Even old Charley seemed more excited than usual today about the coming of Christmas.  He even ran around outside with the other dogs and caused some mischief himself.  One thing I noticed is that everyone seemed uplifted and happy to be together.  The magic of the holiday appears to have enchanted everyone.  If I can get peace in my house, then peace on earth should be manageable, too.

Three Dogs

Christmas comes but once a year, but the goodwill and generosity the season brings should infect us all year-round.  Material items shouldn’t be the highlight of the season.  The excitement of getting to be with family and friends and the remembrance of what the holiday truly means should hold that honor.  Make a point to give something of yourself to others each day and the thanks you receive in return will be priceless.   Thank you all for the encouragement and support given to me this year and, from my family to yours, Merry Christmas!

Today I found out that Grimm and I were nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by Goosey Anne.  Thank you so very much, Goosey Anne, for this honor. Goosey Anne’s blog is one you should definitely explore as there are many treasures to be found.  One of the many gems is her artwork–you can see more of her work here:  www.annesmart.weebly.com.  She is a truly versatile lady.

One of the many meanings of versatile is the ability to do many things competently or to turn with ease from one thing to another. Sometimes, like a lot of other bloggers out there, I feel like I get stuck in a rut and you, dear readers, are subjected to hearing or seeing the same things over and over again.  Receiving this award is like a vote of confidence–if others feel that I am versatile, well, maybe I’m not as boring of a writer as I sometimes feel I am.

When Grimm heard about the award, he was ecstatic!  He felt I needed to show everyone just how versatile he can be, so he forced me to create a collage to show his talents.  And yes, I know he is the dog and I am the human, but the boy can really grate on your nerves if you don’t give him a few concessions. The things I do to make this dog happy.

 

The Versatility of Grimm

Grimm is definitely quite versatile, but he would only allow me to showcase his more desirable talents. I wanted to add: the goofball, the sneak and the destroyer but he became the pouter so I didn’t.

There are a few rules attached to this award to make things official:

  • Display the award certificate on your website.  

VersatileBloggerNominations

  • Announce your win with a post and link to whoever presented your award.  
  • Post 7 interesting things about yourself.
  • Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers.  (I’m going to cheat a little and only nominate 7.)
  • Drop them a comment to tip them off after you’ve linked to them in the post.

 

Since this award belongs to both Grimm and I (since he is mostly the subject of this blog and it’s named after him), it is only fitting that I also include some facts about him, too.

1)  I have worked in the veterinary field for over 15 years now.  I’ve taken care of a lot of sick dogs, cats, squirrels, bunnies and birds over the years and I’ve learned something valuable from each and every one of them.  Grimm has been going to work with me since I rescued him and in the past year he has donated blood to three pooches and helped to save their lives.  His motto, like mine, is pay it forward.

2)  Heights and small spaces freak me out.  I start to panic if I feel too confined or if I am any higher up than six feet.  Grimm panics sometimes when he is left alone without any human around.  That is his biggest fear:  that no one will be there for him.  His anxiety is getting better, though, as he matures.

3)  One of my favorite smells (besides food) is freshly mowed grass.  To me, it is the smell of summer.  Grimm’s favorite smell (besides food) is dead thing, so much so that he likes to wear the odor as his cologne.  He and I have very different ideas on what makes a pleasant olfactory stimulant.

4)  I obtained a BS in biochemistry from the University of Texas at Austin many years ago.  Grimm is currently working on obtaining his CGC (Canine Good Citizenship) Certificate so he can start more advanced training as a therapy dog.

5)  I prefer my coffee hot and my tea iced, although I will drink them both ways. I sweeten my tea but only add cream to my coffee.  Grimm prefers his water room temperature or colder but will drink it even if it is tepid.  He also doesn’t really care if his water comes from a stagnant pond or an Evian bottle–he is humble like that.

6)  My favorite songs at the moment are by The Lumineers and Imagine Dragons.  Grimm really likes the song “Demons” by Imagine Dragons.  What can I say except he has good taste?

7)  To me, there is nothing better than snuggling in a warm bed on a cold night with a good book and a ridiculous amount of pillows.  Grimm is an excellent organic bed warmer but he also likes to steal the pillows.  His big head needs a lot of cushioning, I guess.

 

Now for the other nominees.  These are all blogs and bloggers who are very versatile in their own ways.  They are presented in no particular order:

1)  http://loveandalittlereddog.wordpress.com:  Terrific blog about life with a little red dog named Cayman.

2)  http://louisianefille.wordpress.com:  Musings and stories by a talented writer who happens to be a southern girl like me.

3)  http://throbbingsofnoontide.wordpress.com:  Beautiful photography and interesting stories grace these pages.

4)  http://40isthenew13.wordpress.com:  Stories of life and family fill these pages.  Through it all runs an undercurrent of humor and the frustrations of getting older.

5)  http://adventuresofadogmom.wordpress.com:  Versatile is this dog mom’s middle name!

6)  http://jennifervaughn.wordpress.com:  This blogger strives to make us all examine the writer within and lets us know we are not alone in some of our struggles.

7)  http://temporaryhomepermanentlove.com/:  Peek inside the life of a foster of bully breeds and the new beginnings given to these beautiful rescued dogs.

 

There you go.  I hope you get the chance to explore at least some of the blogs listed above.  It’s time for me and Grimm to hit the sack and for him to steal my pillows.  In some things, like his expectations of comfort, he is not versatile at all.

 

Since today was supposed to be the end of the world and all, I figured I better get as much use out of the new camera as possible.  So, what did the pooches and I do?  Yep, we played around outside.  Take that, pending apocalypse!

It was a beautiful day–started out cold, but then warmed up.  Nothing like starting the day at freezing temperatures and then having to put on a t-shirt by the afternoon.  Oh, Texas!  What bizarre weather you have!  Maybe this really is the beginning of the end.

I promise not to bore you too much more with pictures of the dogs.  I just couldn’t help myself.  Plus, if today really is the end, you won’t see anymore photographs of my dogs anyway and no one should leave this world without experiencing a little bit of doggy cuteness, even if my canines are super paranoid about the end of civilization.

 

Grimm in the Bamboo

 

Grimm thought the bamboo would be a good place to hide in case the alien hordes came screaming down from the heavens.  He said he would pretend to be a panda bear and maybe they would leave him alone.  I told him to get out the white paint.

 

Brotherly Love

 

Charley, who is usually the tough dog of the bunch, really worried all day about the world ending.  Here, in the above picture, he kept asking Grimm to protect him.  Really, Charley?  You’re supposed to be the tough guy.  Grimm’s the big wimp.  Just goes to show you that sometimes those with the biggest talk are also those with the biggest, girliest screams when the real poop hits the fan. Just saying…

 

Turning on a Dime

 

Zella and Grimm practiced evasive maneuvers, in case the zombie horde came shambling out of the bramble.  In this instance, Grimm pretended to be a zombie while Zella ran to get a weapon–her big stick.  Notice the vacant look in Grimm’s eyes and the slobber running down his chin.  He does zombie a little too well.

 

Charley

 

Charley still couldn’t seem to relax, even as the day went on.  He kept muttering about natural disasters and asteroid impacts.   He told me he wanted to drink some whiskey, for “liquid courage”.  I told him he could drink whiskey in 6 years, when he turned 21.  He was not amused, as you can see in the picture above.

 

Zella Looks for Squirrels

 

Zella kept watch on the skies for any other-worldly invaders.  I told her she was going to hurt her eyes, staring at the sun and all.  She didn’t care. All of a sudden, she started jumping around, babbling about how she saw them up in the trees–the aliens had arrived!  Um, no, Zella.  Those were just squirrels.  See what happens when you have sunspots in your eyes?  Can’t even tell a grey alien from a grey squirrel.  Boy, was she embarrassed (but not as much as Charley, because when she started shrieking, he high tailed it under the deck, screeching along with her).

Only a few more hours to go, folks, until we get past the 21st of December, 2012. Then all my chickens…I mean canines…can stop worrying.  Once we make it past midnight, we’ll be okay and maybe Charley will finally put the shotgun away.  At least he’s not cowering under the covers.  Maybe I’ll give him that whiskey after all.   Wait a minute…paranoid dogs…isn’t that a sign of the apocalypse?

Photo Opportunity

Guess who got a new camera for Christmas?  It’s actually my one present to myself, mostly as a reward for surviving this past year and also because my old camera has just about croaked.  The old FinePix camera had to “think” for about 2 minutes in between shots and really, one can only expect the canines to stay still for a fraction of that time.

This new Canon PowerShot does just about everything…I think it even made me a cup of coffee a minute ago, but I can’t be sure.  That may have been my smart phone.  Gadgets these days…what can’t they do?  This camera even has a GPS function built in, so I guess when I start becoming senile I’ll be able to determine if I’m still in my back yard.

Of course, trying to figure out all the features gave me a terrific excuse to snap some photos of my favorite subjects…my pooches.  I think they all groaned collectively when I opened the package with the new camera inside.  Too bad, woofers!  Better practice saying, “Cheese!”

Grimm 12-20-12

Grimm's Big Lips

IMG_0116

Grimm's Tired of Pictures

Charley's Nose

IMG_0105

Tuckered Out

Grimm Waits

 

 

Grimm has seemed very pensive lately and I’m not sure why.  Is it a sign of maturation?  Of innocence lost?  He’s not sad or depressed as he still plays with wild abandon, but I feel like I should get the boy a journal or something.  What deep canine thoughts flow through his brain?

I think my pup is growing up.  He seems more serious at times and is more apt to pay attention in his lessons and training.   He has also decided to start alerting me to outside noises and what he considers to be possible threats.  His watchdog bark starts deep enough, but when he thinks he hears something that really needs my attention, he goes into a “WOO-WOO-WOO”  yodel which, frankly, isn’t really scary and is more humorous than anything.  His “sister”, who is about 25 pounds lighter than he is, has a much fiercer bark.  Grimm does, however, have a much more intimidating appearance–until he starts wiggling. If someone actually ever broke in, I’m sure he would give everything away for a few chest scratches.  The other dogs?  Charley would sleep through the whole ordeal and Zella would probably bring them a rope to play tug.  Tough dogs I’ve got, huh?

Grimm still frolics and chews like crazy, but he actually chews on his own toys nowadays which, even up until a couple of weeks ago, was unheard of.  He is starting to actually stay seated for attention and doesn’t knock me down nearly as often when he tries to sprint out the back door.  Is his training finally paying off or have my wishes been granted?  Maybe it’s a combination of both.  Or maybe I’ve just forgotten that he has always had a contemplative aspect to his personality, as the picture above, which was taken recently, has a lot in common with the picture below that was taken almost a year ago.  Maybe my canine is just a deep thinker at times…okay, rare times, but still at times.   As long as he doesn’t take on the weight of the world and become too serious, I think I can manage.

 

Baby Grimm Thinking

“Wash the weight of the world from your shoulders.”

~Unknown

“We are shaped by out thoughts; we become what we think.  When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” 

~Buddha

 

Work Like A Dog

Something amazing has happened, folks.  It’s an honest-to-goodness Christmas miracle.  The dogs have finally decided to start helping out with the household chores.  This might have something to do with the fact that I told the dogs that Santa only brings gifts to good pups and since I took Grimm to see Santa last week, he thinks I have a direct line to the jolly old elf.  Grimm probably told the other pooches about my “in” with Santa, hence the good behavior.  Okay, so maybe I overstated my relationship with Santa a bit, but is it my fault Grimm blabbed to the other dogs?  That boy can’t keep a secret. Now they all think I will put in a good word for them, as long as they continue with the stellar behavior.  What they don’t know can’t hurt them, right?  And you’re not telling, right?

That's right, boy.  Ya gotta really get your head in there and lick them dishes spotless.  Keep at 'em, boy.  Gotta get 'em sparklin'.

That’s right, boy. Ya gotta really get your head in there and lick them dishes spotless. Keep at ’em, boy. Gotta get ’em sparklin’.

Since Charley is the old man of the crew, he took on a supervisory role.  I heard him explaining to Grimm the proper technique used to pre-wash the dishes, so I snuck into the kitchen to see what was going on.  Sure enough, Grimm had the old licker going at full speed while Charley taught him how to clean a serrated edge spotless without shredding his tongue.  As soon as Grimm got the hang of things, Charley left him to finish the job on his own.

Ok, I think I've made the silverware shine.  Come check my work, Charley!

Ok, I think I’ve made the silverware shine. Come check my work, Charley!

While the dishes were getting a good overhaul, I heard the washing machine start to fill with water.  What’s broken now?, I thought.  I headed into the laundry room to see what was going on and ran into Zella.

Zella Mans the Washer

Oh, hey, I was just starting a load of laundry. Where do we keep the bleach?

I was starting to get a little bit concerned about Zella doing laundry.  First of all, how the heck did she reach the knob and open the lid and secondly, I don’t think she sorted the clothes at all, this being her first time doing laundry and all. Once she started asking about the bleach, I decided I better check on things a little better.

What?  No, I didn't put your  new red shirt in with the white towels...I think.

What? No, I didn’t put your new red shirt in with the white towels…I think.  What would happen if I did?

About this time, I heard the dishwasher close and decided to check on the boys. Good thing I did, too, because they put the wrong soap in the machine.  I ran back to the laundry room to stop Zella from pouring bleach onto the colored clothes.  I know they meant well, but this was turning into a disaster!

Me:  Okay, everyone…just stop!  I appreciate the help, but from now on, only I get to load the machines.  Just…pick up your toys and I’ll be happy.

Grimm:  But Santa won’t visit us if we don’t help you around the house!  What else can we do?  I know–Zella can take out the trash, Charley can dust and I’ll vacuum.

Me:  I thought you were scared of the vacuum.  Plus, remember the last time you were near the vacuum?  I almost died.  No, I forbid you to touch the vacuum cleaner.  You know, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure you guys have met all of Santa’s requirements.  Just…go lie down or play or something.

Grimm:  Are you sure?  Santa seems pretty strict.  We better clean the toilets, just to be safe.  Come on, guys!  To the bathroom!

Me:  Oh, no, you are NOT putting your doggy mouths anywhere near the toilet! Come back!  Did you hear me?  No more doggy lips on the dishes, either!

I’m afraid my well-intended deception has bit me in the you-know-what.  Now I know why dogs don’t do chores more often.  There’s a reason they don’t have opposable thumbs.  Can you imagine the chaos they would cause if they did? Santa would leave this realm all together.  Time to go rescue the dogs from themselves.  Wish me luck.

Grimm got to go see Santa Claus today (or as we call him in our house, Santa Paws).  Grimm was a little too big to properly sit in Santa’s lap, so he had to convey all his doggy desires to him from the ground.  Plus, he got to pretend he was one of Santa’s reindeer for the picture (that is, if Santa has reindeer who prefer to bedazzle their horns and paint them green–times are a-changing, my friends, so maybe Santa’s deer have embraced Lady Gaga’s fashion sense).

 

Grimm With Santa

 

 

Santa:  So, Grimm, have you been a good boy this year?

Grimm:  Oh, yes!

Me:  Maybe you need to define “good” for him, Santa.

Santa:  [Looks at me like I’m a little crazy…that’s okay, I get that a lot.]  Tell me, Grimm, what would you like me to bring you for Christmas?

Grimm:  [Giant sparkle in his eyes, totally excited about getting gifts…]  Well, I would like the new Frisbee 3000 that tastes like peanut butter…ummmm, at least four pairs of new flip flops I can chew on…two new bones to crunch…a new rope so Zella and I can play tug in the house…a new dog jacket for when it is cold and a bag of awesome sticks!

Santa:  That sounds good, but sticks are usually only given to bad kids and dogs and you said you have been good.

Grimm:  So you aren’t going to bring me any sticks?

Me:  Don’t be too hasty, Santa.  You really should keep the sticks on your list.

Santa:  Well, I guess I can make an exception.

Grimm:  I love you, Santa!  [Grimm licks Santa’s face and beard, Santa looks a bit sheepish (although kind of hard to tell with all that facial hair.)]

Me:  Come on, reindeer boy.  Time to go.  You’re holding up the line.

Santa was posing with the pooches and the kiddos at the local Harley Davidson Motorcycle Shop.  We had to weave our way through dozens of shiny bikes to leave and I thought there might be a small catastrophe or two as we left. Grimm kept wanting to go see all the patrons and, well, let me tell you–I had to keep a short leash on the boy to prevent any mishaps.  In my head, I kept seeing him knock over one motorcycle, which would then knock over the one next to it, so on and so forth, until the entire stock of Harley Davidson’s were on the ground and a bunch of Hell’s Angels were threatening me with death. Didn’t happen, of course, but it could have–just saying.

After pictures with Saint Nick, we headed over to the local giant pet store to see what was available.  Grimm made lots of friends there (as per usual) and received lots of praise and pets for his good behavior and sweet demeanor.  I think we even changed one older lady’s perception of pit bulls.  She kept looking at Grimm from afar and when it was time for us to check out, she was standing near us by the checkout line, waiting on her family.

I noticed she kept staring at Grimm and would timidly reach out to him.  Finally I asked her, “Would you like to pet him?  He would love to meet you.”  She smiled sheepishly and said she would, but she wanted to know, “Is he a pit bull?  I haven’t ever met one in person.”

I replied, “Well, here’s your chance.  He’s just about the sweetest knucklehead you’ll ever meet.”

She reached over and lightly petted Grimm.  Grimm leaned into her and looked up at her, tongue hanging out.  She commented, “But he’s so friendly!  He can’t be a pit bull.”

At this point, Grimm had an audience.  Other people were now petting him, too. One man replied to the lady, “This is how this breed is supposed to be with people.”  Since he and the lady were now deep in discussion regarding dog breeds, I reeled Grimm in and we left with our wares.

All in all, Grimm and I had a good day.  The other pooches were waiting for us at home and got to test out the new treats Grimm picked.  Apparently, he has good taste because they were well received.  Maybe Santa will bring Grimm sticks for Christmas after all, but it will be for good behavior, not bad.  The boy sure pulled out the charm and good manners today and I had a glimpse of the awesome dog he one day will be.  All I want for Christmas is a continuation of this good behavior.  How about it, Santa?

 

Hey, Santa...how 'bout we take your bike for a spin after our photo shoot?  I can exchange these antlers for doggles.

Hey, Santa…how ’bout we take your bike for a spin after our photo shoot? I can exchange these antlers for “doggles”.

Carry A Big Stick

What is it about a stick that attracts a dog?  Sure, they are fun to chew on and chase and even carry around at times, but when the stick is as big as the dog, you would think things would get a little awkward.  Obviously, Zella doesn’t care:

 

Yippee!! I found a stick that is as long as me!

 

**Prance, prance, prance**
Sure, this may look awkward as this heavy branch pulls my head sideways, but boy am I having fun!

 

I present to you…my stick. Please oh please oh please throw it for me! Pretty please?

 

Grimm, like any younger sibling, coveted the big stick that Zella had found.  He tried to steal it from her a few times and even offered her a chewed up frisbee in exchange.  But really–who in their right mind would exchange such an awesome piece of wood for a ragtag piece of plastic?

Not to be outdone, Grimm found his own stick–the mightiest stick of all (at least that could be found in my backyard at the moment):

 

Ha! My stick is bigger than your stick, Zella! Who’s more awesome now, huh?

 

Grimm’s stick was so long and bulky, he had trouble carrying it around.  He kept tripping over it and finally he settled for just chewing on it.  When he got tired of munching on his tree branch, he just sat and stared at it and laid by it and babysat the stick for a while.

Zella saw the monstrous stick and of course she wanted what Grimm had found.  No way was little brother going to have the more mighty length of wood.  She didn’t try to bargain for it or perform some covert operation to steal the stick–she just flat out took it from him.

 

I’ll take this, thank you very much.

 

You would have thought that the stick was big enough for them to share–Grimm could gnaw on one end while Zella pulverized the other.  Oh, no…Zella wanted to drag the giant stick around the yard–without Grimm’s help.  She got stuck a few times trying to bring her prize with her, and even tried to bring it indoors at one point, but no way was she giving Grimm back his stick.  It was hers now. Grimm had to settle for her cast-off branch.

 

This giant stick sure is tasty! It may take me a while to turn it into sawdust.

 

What was Charley doing, you may ask, while the younger ones battled over stick supremacy?  Well, Charley doesn’t really care about sticks.  He only would ever fetch sticks when swimming was involved, and since he doesn’t do much of that anymore, he proceeded to perform the one skill he has absolutely mastered over the years:  steal my bed.

 

Those wild young ‘uns can keep their rough, hard sticks. I prefer comfy, soft beds. And yep, you ain’t seeing things. I do have my rump on my owner’s pillow. I make my own rules–ain’t nobody gonna tell me I have to use a pillow only for my noggin.

 

Well, guess who’s changing their sheets today?  Thanks, Charley, for putting your dog butt on my pillow.  Just glad you are comfortable.

**Sigh.**

 

 

 

In Full Swing

Apparently Grimm thinks he is some sort of Tarzan.  See for yourself:

“AaaaaaahhhhUhUhAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUhUhAaaaaaahhhh!!!”

Earlier this week, he and Zella decided that it would be awesome to mimic beavers and gnaw one of the climbing arms of my Lady Banks rose off of its base.  This old rose has climbed all over the hackberry tree it neighbors and thus this vine was very well anchored in and around the tree.  Once separated from its base, the vine then became a free-floating, dangling stem for the dogs to grip onto and hang from.  Zella quickly tired of the swinging-from-the-vine game and decided to go munch on a frisbee instead.  Grimm, however, thinks he is some gravity defying Cirque du Soleil protege and refuses to leave the vine alone.

When he grabs the vine with his mouth, his front legs can no longer reach the ground.  At times, his whole body is dangling from the rose vine as he slowly twirls in a circle.  He tugs and wrestles with the organic climber but no matter how hard he tries, he cannot pull the vine down.  He has, however, caused the vine to knock against some of the dead limbs of the hackberry tree which support it, so at least he has managed to prune the tree for me.

Zella also pretends she is Tarzan at times, although she likes to swing from a proper rope and not a vine.  Here she is doing her impersonation of soap on a rope.

Some dogs really enjoy tugging on a rope or other such toy.  Certain breeds, especially pit bulls, American bulldogs and other “bully breeds”, have a deep, ingrained desire to grasp, hold and tug.  This was originally what these types of dogs where bred for and this genetic trait can be seen in our dogs today.  With their big ol’ heads and strong necks and jaws, these dogs can literally dangle from a rope or other such instrument.  However, this sort of grasping and grappling isn’t so easy on their teeth, especially when you have a dog like Grimm who now thinks any tree branch within mouth’s reach would be fun to try to hang from.

See any splinters in there? Take a good look–this may be the last time Grimm has pretty teeth. Because he likes to hang from woody vines and tree limbs, he may soon start looking like a hillbilly.

Tarzan…I mean Grimm…hopefully will become tired of swinging from his vine.  It looks like this vine may very soon become too high for him to reach.  All of his chomping and tugging has slowly whittled away it’s end.  Time to get out more ropes so I can save my trees.  Apparently my dog has a chainsaw for a mouth.

“AaaaaaaahhhhUHUHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUHUHAaaaaaaahhhhh!!