Archive for August, 2013

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.”




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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.

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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

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