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Posts Tagged ‘Humor’

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.

 

 

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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…

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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…

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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?”

 

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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

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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

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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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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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

 

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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?

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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!

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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.

 

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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?

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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.

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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”.

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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.**

 

 

 

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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!!

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How do we come up with the title of our blogs?  Some of us use our own names, more use a phrase or conglomerate of words that catch the interest of a reader.  Others, like me, use puns…but that is not the only reason this blog is called Grimm’s Furry Tail.

 

 

Obviously, I have a dog named Grimm.  And yes, he has a furry tail (although not nearly as furry as some other tails).  It is because of this tail, however, that I ended up becoming Grimm’s guardian.  You may wonder what his tail has to do with anything.  Well, let me explain:

Before I was his owner, when Grimm was originally brought into the veterinary clinic (my place of employment), he was placed in a cage in my inpatient area of the hospital while waiting for the results of his parvo test.  You really would not have even known he was there.  He was small at the time and the large kennel swallowed his black little self in its embrace.  He didn’t whine or bark and wasn’t unruly. The cage was just a place for him to wait.

I kept hearing loud thunks coming from the kennel he was in.  If you glanced at the pup, he seemed still…except for his tail.  Bang, bang, bang.  It whipped back and forth against the walls of the cage and the sounds would speed up when anyone walked by.  It never stopped moving the entire 10 minutes it took for the test to run.  When I overheard that his current owners at the time were planning on euthanizing him because he ended up testing positive for parvo, I glanced at the pup and his still wiggling tail.  How could they not even try to save him, I thought.  Someone needed to–any pup who could still whip his tail that enthusiastically in the face of a possible death sentence deserved a chance.  I assumed ownership of the black pup and his banging appendage–Grimm and his furry tail–and saved him from death.

The old proverb “For want of a nail, the kingdom was lost” has been used to illustrate the idea that some small item can cause much greater consequences–in this case, because a horse lost the nail on his shoe his rider was thrown. The rider was then unable to convey an important message which was key in winning a battle.  Because the battle was lost, the kingdom fell and all was destroyed.

I propose a new proverb with a much more positive connotation:  “Because of a tail, a dog was saved.”  Grimm’s furry tail heralded his enthusiasm and proclaimed his will to live.  His rear end was the start to our beginning and, to give credit where credit is due, became the title of this blog.

 

This is actually the more dangerous end of my dogs–their thin little tails become weapons of mass destruction when they are happy or excited. Coffee tables lose their decoration, walls and door frames get pounded into submission and lower legs sting when the pit tails are near.

 

To this day, Grimm’s tail continues to proclaim his enthusiasm for life.  As he has gotten bigger (and his tail longer), the beating his furry appendage dishes out really has gotten painful.  His tail whips back and forth and wags the whole rear end assemblage.  He can never stay completely still–as soon as a person makes eye contact, his tail starts moving.  If someone starts to talk to him, the tail moves faster.  If someone touches him, well, the tail moves fast enough to create a rather large current.   He ends up folding himself in half and whacking himself in the head with his own rudder.  Sometimes I think his tail even annoys him–when it gets going too fast, sometimes he’ll grab it in his mouth to keep it from banging into his noggin.

People have commented on the brute strength Grimm’s tail possesses and some have even dared to suggest I have it shortened.  Obviously those people don’t realize the importance of his hindmost part.  Even though it can be deadly at times, his tail was part of his saving grace and is as much a part of Grimm as the rest.  Grimm’s furry tail made Grimm’s fairy tale come true–it granted his wish for life and I mean to make it the best I can.

 

 

A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences–whether good or bad–of even the least of them are far-reaching.
                                                                                      -Sivananda

 

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I think I have the nosiest dogs in existence.  I’m glad that they have enough confidence to stick their snouts in random bags and boxes, but it gets a little embarrassing when they start to investigate other people’s private purses. With the way they want to sniff and explore inside bags and satchels, you would think they worked as detection dogs.  I can guarantee, however, that my canines have never earned a dime moonlighting as sniffer dogs (unless you count the time Grimm almost ate the coin that he found while rooting under the driver’s seat of my car).

Whenever I come back from shopping or if a package arrives, all three of them immediately start sniffing and nosing at the bag or box.  They don’t steal anything from the bag, even if groceries are present; they just seem to want to check out the wares.

 

These three dogs may be some of the biggest busy-bodies you ever did see.

 

Me:  Hey, guys, haven’t you ever heard the saying, “Curiosity killed the cat?” Leave the bags and boxes alone.  Nothing in there is for you.

Zella, Charley & Grimm:  What do you mean, curiosity killed the cat?

Me:  You know–it’s a warning.  Something you might not expect may cause you harm if you poke around in something that is not your business.

Grimm:  Are you saying that someone is trying to kill us?  Well now we’ve really got to sniff and inspect all the packages–maybe there’s something dangerous in there…or even a dead kitty.

Me:  I give up.

 

All my canines act like little kids when I come back from the store.  What’s in the bag?  Whatcha got there?  Is anything for us?  They do, however, seem to know when a certain box of food or treats or a toy is for them.  I don’t know how they figure this out, but they do.  They’ll pay more attention to the canine item in the bag than they would to a human one even if it is something they have never seen (or smelled) before.  How do they know ?  It’s almost spooky at times.

 

Grimm can be a nosy little bugger.

 

A dog’s nose is truly a remarkable organ.  Their sense of smell is said to be more  than 10,000 times more sensitive than ours.  We have utilized this ability from the day the first human partnered up with the first canine.  A dog’s nose has helped our species in so many ways over the centuries.  It allows us to procure food by tracking prey or finding and retrieving game; helps us to avoid danger by sniffing out explosives and contraband; provides us with a way to search for our missing, wounded and dead; and more recently assists us in detecting cancer, mold, termites, bedbugs and other natural dangers.  Dogs have allowed us to make the world safer and more accessible because of their awesome scent detection.

As impressive as a canine’s nose may be, when it is shoved in areas it doesn’t belong it can become a nuisance, like when a pooch pokes his or her sniffer into someones crotch.  My dogs don’t do that (thank goodness) but I have had to apologize when my canine’s cranium has been buried neck deep into some friends purse or backpack.  I have no idea what my dog was looking for, but their busy-body, nosy self just had to take a peek.  Curiosity may have killed the cat, but nosiness seems to have distinguished the dog.  Seems dogs also have a talent for spinning deterrents into assets.

 

 

 

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Lately I’ve been hearing from everyone who runs into Grimm, “Wow!  He’s got a big head!”.  Even people who see him on a daily basis comment on how much bigger it seems.  I tell them two things:  he’s a pit bull, so he’s going to have a fat head and he is still only a teenager in dog years and still has some filling out to do.  Sometimes, because of his size, people forget he still really is just a big puppy…although now he’s a big puppy going through the teenage stage.

 

“Did someone say I have a big head?”

 

The teenage years in dogdom can be aggravating.  Think we humans have a monopoly on juvenile delinquents?  Think again.  All of my dogs have gone through a teenage rebellious age–interestingly enough, the girls of the species have always been the worst.  In my case, it isn’t because my dogs are reaching sexual maturity (as all have been spayed or neutered at or before reaching six months of age), but because they are becoming socially mature. They are still learning the ins and outs of the world and, like us humans, tend to get into more trouble as they learn from their mistakes.  They have their own wonder years–the transition from pup to adult–and during this time, they are putting out feelers to see what they can (and can’t) get away with, both with people and other dogs.

Case in point:  Grimm couldn’t seem to be serious today about taking some photos.  All I wanted was a nice portrait to commemorate his growing up.  This is what I got:

 

“You like this look? This is my gangsta’ face. Peace, yo.”

 

See what I mean?  Delinquent, for sure.  I’m pretty sure if he were able, he actually would have thrown some popular hand signal into the mix–peace sign, not the other.  He wouldn’t dare to be vulgar, I hope.

The pictures didn’t get any better as the day went on.  I thought making him pose with Zella would make him take things a little more seriously.  Nope.  See for yourself below:

 

“Is this a pretty face? I’m a boy–why do I have to look pretty?”

 

Because Grimm ruined the picture by sticking out his tongue, I had to take one of Zella by herself so she would at least have a decent portrait.

 

Zella is much happier when she doesn’t have to have her photograph taken with rambunctious Grimm. Like a typical little brother, he always tries to annoy her.

 

After several more failed attempts to take a nice portrait of Grimm, I resorted to bribery.  “If you sit still and smile nicely like the handsome young dog I know you to be, I will play frisbee with you.  Please.  Do this one thing for me.” Finally, he did:

 

See? Was that so hard?

 

Grimm mostly is a good boy.  Sure, he drives me crazy at times like most teenagers do.  All I can say is thank goodness I don’t have to worry about teaching him how to drive or underage drinking or teenage pregnancy.  Now if we can only solidify the fact that flip flops are not in fact food, we’ll be doing okay.

I always thought the reference to the wonder years as a rite of passage had to do more with the youth wondering about how the world works.  Really, now I think it has more to do with wondering if the youth will survive long enough to reach adulthood.  It’s not about the wonders of the world, but the questioning of, “Are they going to make it?”.  Sometimes I wonder about Grimm:  will the crazy decisions he makes and the crazy antics he performs allow him to reach maturity?  Only time will tell.  It’s not that I let him play in the street or run rampant–he just does perplexing things (as I’m sure you’ve read about on this blog).   Between his obsession with eating plastic frisbees (and then vomiting bloody foam and frisbee pieces days later) and not watching where he’s going (he runs into things constantly with his large cranium), well, all I can say is we’ll see.  I wonder how many times my parents thought the same about me.

 

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Grimm has been operating in only two modes lately:  dead to the world and go speed racer.  He is either passed out cold or running full blast.  I bet you can guess which rate of motion drives me crazy.  Why can’t he have a happy medium? To make things even more interesting, he somehow enlisted Zella in on the action, so now it is double the anarchy, double the fuss.

Charley tries to help me keep the younger ones in line. He referees their play and corrects them when they get too rowdy. When they are especially bad, Charley bores them to tears with stories of life when he was younger. “Back in my day, we didn’t have them fancy frisbees you young ‘uns love to chase. We had to chase old tin pie pans…or rocks…or if you were really lucky, you got to chase a stick.”

Grimm never just walks anywhere anymore.  He sprints…and makes himself an obstacle course, too.  For example, if he and I are leaving the bedroom to, say, go to the kitchen, he sprints out the bedroom door, jumps completely over the two steps that lead into the living room, jumps onto the couch, runs it’s length two or three times, jumps off the couch and runs a lap or two around it, scoots under the kitchen table, commando crawls under a dining room chair, then speed slides into the kitchen where he comes to an immediate halt and sits pretty, waiting for a possible treat.  Makes me tired just typing it.  At this point, I seriously wouldn’t be surprised if my Evel Knievel canine decided to add a circle of fire to his route.   Why he can’t just walk straight from the bedroom to the kitchen is beyond me.  My room is only about 25 feet from the kitchen–Grimm’s circuitous route has to at least triple the distance.  Seems to me the shorter route would get him to the treat faster.

*Boing*! Gotta keep moving! Come on, Zella, no time to waste!

My wild dog does the same thing outside.  I expect him to run around when he’s out there, but there’s run around and then there is run A round.  Grimm literally runs three full, perfect circles of the yard before he commences exploration of his terrain.  He makes up obstacle courses outside, too–over the bush, through the culvert, backflip off the deck and weave through the bamboo. I get dizzy just watching him.

Now I know what you are going to say:  you must not be exercizing him enough.  Unless I can find an Olympic marathon runner who wants to have a tag-a-long canine training partner, there is not much more I can do.  I run him. I work him.  I let him play with his canine buddies for hours (three hours today). At this point, I feel like I am just helping him increase his stamina and am shooting myself in the foot.  Don’t get me wrong–I tire him out and he sleeps like the dead, but once he’s refreshed, well, life in the fast lane commences–again.

I brought back my frisbee AND Zella at the same time!

Lately, he can’t even seem to just sit still.  He’s constantly shuffling his feet and his butt keeps bopping from side to side.  I frequently find myself telling him, “Calm your body!”  When he’s in a down, he slithers side to side like he needs to itch his back.  Really, he’s just inch-worming his way slowly across the floor. Technically, he’s doing what was asked–he’s still down–he’s just not staying put.  I have to make everything extremely clear with him.  It’s like making a deal with the devil–gotta read the fine print or else he’ll walk on a technicality.

Grimm’s crazy energy seems to correspond with the cooler weather we’ve been having.  If it actually gets really cold, maybe he’ll hibernate and I won’t have to worry about wearing him out.  This life in the fast lane is tiring business.  I’m ready for a slow ride–it’s time to take it easy.

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Since Grimm has been extra mischievous and impish lately, full of the devil as they say, I thought it was only fitting for him to become one for a day.  What better time than Halloween for him to live out his devilish fantasies?

I placed the horns on his head and tied his cape and collar around his neck.  I thought for sure he would then proceed to buck and writhe in an elaborate attempt to rid himself of his constricting garments.  Instead, something strange happened.  The little hellion actually just sat there…and watched me…and then proceeded to parade around the house like a proud peacock.

Can a dog get into character?  Because I swear this one did.  If he had been given a pitchfork, I’m fairly sure he would have started poking and prodding Charley and Zella with it.  I had to look closely–was his tail developing a swelling at the end resembling a pointed spade?  Were those horns really part of the costume or part of Grimm?  I think I saw him looking for the matches and I’m pretty sure I heard him asking Zella what brimstone was.

Grimm:  Come, my minions.  We must venture forth and tempt the righteous and collect the wicked.

Me:  Um, Grimm?  Where are you taking Zella and Charley?  You guys aren’t allowed to leave by yourselves.

Grimm:  Begone, foolish human.  I am the Prince of Darkness, el diablo malo.  I am off to bargain for souls and I need my underlings to help keep track of my converts and to bring the hellfire and brimstone.  Zella, you’re in charge of fire. Charley, you get the brimstone.

Me:  Wait…what?  You are taking this devil business a little too far.  You are not really the devil.  Well, sometimes you act like one…but that’s beside the point. You are only wearing a costume–it’s pretend.   As in NOT REAL.  And when did you start speaking Spanish?

Grimm:  Oh.  So I don’t have to really gather souls and live underground with fire?  Whew.  That’s a relief.  Fire kinda scares me.  I do like having horns, though.  Can I keep the horns?  Oh, and my friend Chico the chihuahua has been teaching me a few words in Spanish.  Did you know that caca means…..

Me:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Lose the cape and horns, Lucifer.  I want my Grimm back.

So things have pretty much returned to normal.  Grimm’s happy-go-lucky, devil-may-care attitude has returned.  He even redeemed himself of his wicked ways yesterday when he very graciously donated half a liter of blood to a very sweet, but very sick golden retriever.  I think I may have even seen the hint of a halo around his head when he ran through the sunlight this afternoon.  Angelic Grimm has made an appearance–we’ll see how long it takes for the devil to return.  In the meantime, have a safe, fun and happy Halloween!

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Halloween is almost here and it is time to answer the all important question–which costumes should the dogs wear this year?  This is more difficult to answer than one might think.  First of all, do I buy off the rack or attempt to put something together?  There are a few (okay, quite a few) problems with me making costumes.  I really can’t sew well–or at all, really–and trying to be creative and come up with something new just isn’t happening.  So, off the rack it will be.

Now, since I have medium to large dogs, finding already made costumes to fit them is rather difficult.  Most of the cute or more original stuff is made for the smallish tykes.  Most times I have to look at children’s costumes to see what is available.  The other option, I guess, is to put girdles on all of them and tell them to suck in.

Zella looked pretty darn cute as a squirrel, although she thought her head piece made a better toy than a hat. She would take it off every 5 minutes and I would find her carrying it around like it was one of her stuffed babies.

Lastly, I have to consider the complexity of the costume.  Charley, my old boy, isn’t fazed by much and I could dress him in the most complex of style without any problems.  Zella is a little fussy about too much head ornamentation so I have to limit her costume to more simple styles.

Charley makes a mighty fine cowboy. Over the years, he has also been dressed as an angel, a convict, a shark, a pig, a devil and a lobster.
I have way too many dog costumes.

Grimm has never dressed up for Halloween before–this will be our first together.  I already know his costume will need to be fairly simple.  Anything around his legs or feet will be eaten in less than two seconds.  I’m pretty sure anything tied around his head will have him rolling around on the ground like a spastic inchworm trying to get it off.  Plus, I have a sinking suspicion he may try to eat the other dogs costumes off of them, too.  Hmmm…I need to incorporate a muzzle into his costume, I think, and all I can think of at the moment that may work is Hannibal Lecter.

Grimm scared Zella senseless when he pretended to be a demon ghost.

Grimm is no help when I ask him what he wants to be for Halloween.  First he wanted to be a frisbee, then he wanted to be a flip-flop.  I explained to him that frisbees and flip-flops aren’t really scary, so he needed to think of something else.

Grimm:  So, I need to dress up as something scary?  Is that the idea?

Me:  Yes, exactly.  The scarier the better.  Think of what is scariest to you to help you decide.

Grimm:  [thinking hard, smoke is coming out of his ears]  Okay, I know what I’m going to be.

Me:  Okay, what?

Grimm:  A vacuum cleaner.

Okay, so maybe I should have clarified a few things for him before we had this conversation.  He is still trying to grasp the trick-or-treat thing.  I can understand his confusion.  For him, it has always been trick-then-treat because I use a lot of food and treats in training.  The possibility of getting a treat without a trick baffles him.  I’m afraid this holiday may turn him into a real monster.  Treats for free from lots of awesome people?  Well, Halloween just may become his favorite holiday.  I may never get this dog out of a costume ever again.

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I was nominated this week by two separate bloggers for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.  Thank you very much for the nomination, Geeky Book Snob and Tuesday Night Boyfriend.  I share this honor with Grimm and my other pooches, for without them, I wouldn’t have very much to blog about.

When I received the notifications from both of the above mentioned, very talented bloggers, I was pleasantly surprised.  Knowing that others find my stories and exasperations somewhat inspirational definitely lifted my spirits and brightened my day.  When I told Grimm, you would have thought he had won an Academy Award.  He insisted I take his picture with one of my old trophies to commemorate the event.  What with being Freshly Pressed and now receiving two nominations for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award all within the same month, I’m afraid Grimm’s already big head is getting even bigger.

I would like to thank the academy, GBS, TNB and all those on the Grimm’s Furry Tail team–my good friend and supporting actor Zella, my manager and financial adviser Charley and, lastly, my human and her opposable thumbs, whom without none of this could be possible. So thank you for ….wait….don’t cue the music…I’m not done!

This award comes with a few rules to follow:

  •  Link to and thank those who nominated you.  So thanks again, Geeky Book Snob and Tuesday Night Boyfriend.  I am still exploring both your blogs and am enjoying my reads.
  • Post the award on you page.  Here is my (and Grimm’s) unexpected award:

  • Share seven facts about yourself.  Since this award is as much Grimm’s as mine, I will also list seven facts about him:

1)  I am a vegetarian and have been for the past seven years.  Grimm wishes he could be a flip-flopetarian and only eat flip flops.  However, when I explained that his diet would be horribly unbalanced (and would anger flip-flop rights activists), he agreed to only eat them on special occasions, like when I’m not looking.

2)  I enjoy reading tremendously and read one to three novels a week.  Grimm enjoys eating novels and tries to devour one to three novels a week.

3)  My house is a never ending home improvement project.  Grimm enjoys helping in these projects, but only if performing demolition work (that’s his specialty).

4)  Autumn is my favorite time of year.  Grimm likes all seasons, but especially the rainy part of spring (when we have rain) because he can make mud angels.

5)  Halloween and Thanksgiving are my favorite holidays (which also take place during my favorite time of year).  Grimm’s favorite holiday is Pit Bull Awareness Day, which also occurs in the fall (October 27th, to be exact).

6)  I really like listening to live music and being that I live in Austin, the live music capital of the world, I never lack venues to visit.  Grimm’s favorite band is Journey (he can belt out Don’t Stop Believing like no one’s business).

7)  I blog to entertain myself and share my little piece of the world with others. Grimm lets me air all his deep, dark secrets because, well, he is an attention whore.  He would tell you, however, that he has lessons to teach and you, dear reader, are one of his beloved pupils.  Did I mention Grimm is also very charming?

  • Lastly, but most importantly, nominate other inspiring bloggers and post a comment on their blog informing them they have been nominated.  I picked 7 blogs to go with my seven facts, but others have nominated up to 15.  So, in no particular order, here are some of the blogs I find inspiring and also deserving of this award:

1)  http://conorcullen.com/:  I enjoy perusing his very beautiful pictures and reading his musings.

2)  http://confessionsofapitbulladdict.wordpress.com/:  A terrific read told from both the dog’s and owner’s point of view regarding dogs, rescue and pit bulls in general.

3)   http://godblessimerica.com/:  The adventures of Kitty DrunkDrunk (KDD to her fans) never cease to make me laugh.  Don’t let your cats read about her, though;  she may inspire them to do naughty things.

4)  http://ranchrunamuck.wordpress.com/:  Stories of rescue and life with dogs by another crazy dog lady.

5)  http://breezyk.wordpress.com/:  Funny stuff that never fails to make me laugh–and if you are a female who wants to become a stalker, well, maybe you can relate.

6)  http://themuddykitchen.com/:  Cooking, gardening, country life…what more could you ask for?

7)  http://tryingtopray.wordpress.com/:  This is an inspirational blog that reminds me to be thankful for each day.  You don’t have to be religious to appreciate her message and the grace she conveys.

All of the above blogs inspire me to live life to the fullest, give thanks when able, take care of those who need a little help and laugh along the way.  Grimm and I will do our best to stay deserving of this honor–here’s to inspiration!

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Photographing dogs can be aggravating, as I’ve mentioned before on this blog. They don’t like to sit still, don’t take direction very well and frequently like to eat the props.  Out of every hundred or so photos I take of them (yes, I take lots of pictures of my dogs–thank goodness for digital), only about ten make it to the keeper pile.  Even with the help of image editing programs, there is only so much cropping, sharpening and enhancing you can do to salvage a shot. You have to at least have a decent enough composition to work with.  You can adjust contrast and saturation, cut out distracting background objects, whiten teeth and fill in or delete spots, but you can’t turn an awkward capture into a work of art–some things just aren’t fixable.

I thought I’d post some of my more humorous, bungled pictures of the dogs, along with my original intentions, here for your enjoyment.  If the dogs knew I was posting these less than stellar captures of them here, well, I might never get to photograph them ever again–they’re a little sensitive about some things.

 

THE INAPPROPRIATE YAWN

I’m soooo tired of having to stand here and look pretty.

 

Grimm was clearly getting bored with having to stand still for me to take his picture.   I was actually trying to get a candid shot of him standing and looking into the distance.  In the blink of an eye (or press of a button), he went from having his head turned three-quarters to facing me directly, yawning the biggest yawn ever.  I’m pretty sure that if his head had been lifted slightly higher, we would have been able to see his tonsils, adenoids and epiglottis.  So much for my vision.

 

CENTERING A SUBJECT–EPIC FAIL

Ran too fast for you, didn’t I?

 

I’m surprised I even captured this much of Zella in this frame.  She runs extremely fast and I wanted to catch her zooming through the field. Unfortunately, my zoom and framing were way off (not to mention my slow trigger finger), so the moment was missed.  Although, I must say, this picture still makes me laugh–sort of unexpected to see plain green grass and brush and then–BOOM!–a crazy smiling pit bull jumps out at you in the lower corner.

 

AWKWARD EATING MOMENTS

Nom nom nom. This watermelon is sooo good.

 

Yeah, there’s just so much wrong with this picture.  I don’t know what that plastic thing is under Charley’s cheek.  Furthermore, Charley’s not even completely in the picture, the flash (which I thought had been turned off) fired and made his eye look a bit crazy and his nose shiny and, well, nobody looks pretty with a mouth full of food.  ‘Nuff said.

 

HEADLESS CAPTURES

Look ma! No head!

 

I’m pretty sure cutting off your subject’s head in a picture is a sure sign of ineptitude.  I sure wasn’t trying to capture the elegance of his neck and collar, fine though they be.  Again, when your subject has the attention span of a fly and can move just as quick, you end up with a picture like this–blurry, with key components missing.  Grimm had been lying still, head turned slightly (again with the three-quarters pose) to his left.  By the time I depressed the capture button, everything had changed.  Grimm defies physics–he moves faster than the speed of light (and the speed of shutters everywhere).

So there they are for you all to see–some of my (better) photographic disappointments.  Oh, well, what can I say?  Even though these pictures did not live up to my expectations, these sub par shots remind me to love the imperfections life brings.  After all, life itself is full of surprises.

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There’s an equation that most dog owners are familiar with:

Boredom + Dog = Destruction

If a dog gets bored, he or she will look for something to do or eat to pass the time.  Older, more mature dogs may just sleep or find an appropriate chew toy to help relieve the monotony, but younger dogs with an excess of energy tend to create their own excitement.  Any rules you may have regarding appropriate chew items go right out the window.

For instance, in my house, Rule #5, subsection C, states:

“Paper products, which include but are not limited to:  toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, magazines, books and mail, shall remain in the area the human places them and under no circumstances should ever enter a canine’s mouth.  The only caveat to this rule is if your human expressly asks you to bring him or her the paper, unmarred by tooth.”

Now, before you begin to think I’m some sort of severe dictator, you should know that, for one, my dogs have more toys, chew bones, comfy sleeping areas and treats than should be allowed and, two, each dog gets his or her own copy of Rules and Regulations in Regards to Living in the Human World when he or she moves in and therefore should know what is and what is not allowed.  No excuses–after all, they get free room and board, free meals, free entertainment, live-in friends, exercise privileges, internet access, unlimited television, etc.

Therefore, you can understand my confusion when I found Grimm today, in the bathroom, eating a roll of toilet paper.

Oh, hey, didn’t see you standing there.

Me:  “Ahem…don’t mean to interrupt, but WHY ARE YOU EATING THAT?  Drop the tp, step away from the toilet, and come with me.  You have blatantly violated Rule #5, subsection C, from  Rules and Regulations in Regards to Living in the Human World.”

Grimm:  “What?  I have no idea what you’re talking about.  What rules and regulations?”

Me:  “Don’t tell me you never read the handbook I gave you when you moved in.  It was the only thing I asked of you–respect the boundaries outlined in this book.”

Grimm:  “Oh, yeah….that book.  Um, I never got to Rule #5.”

Me:  “Well, go get your handbook right now and I’ll go over it with you.  We’re going to make this  a-s  c-l-e-a-r  a-s  p-o-s-s-i-b-l-e.”

Grimm:  “Um, I can’t.  I ate that.  Months ago.”

I was just lying here, minding my own business, when this roll of toilet paper jumped out of the cabinet. It started to attack me! I was only defending myself.

Rainy days like today make me ever vigilant in regard to what Grimm is doing. We can’t get outside to drain his energy and Zella can only play tug and wrestle for so long.  There is another equation I use to determine the amount of mischief Grimm is in:

If Noise = Zero, Then Grimm = Big Trouble

The quieter he gets, the more chaos is brewing.  I don’t know how a dog his size can make such a big mess at times and be so silent about it.  Apparently, he creates his own sound vacuum.  I guess it’s time to get him a new copy of Rules and Regulations in Regards to Living in the Human World.  We’ll start at the beginning:

Rule #1:  A dog may not injure a human or, through inaction, allow a human to come to harm.

Rule #2:  A dog must obey the orders given to it by humans, except where such orders would conflict with the First Rule.

Rule #3:  A dog must protect his or her own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Rules.

Oh, wait.  My bad.  Those are the Three Laws of Robotics and a dog is not a robot.  Like us, dogs are not perfect.  They have wants, needs, desires, same as us.  What they desire, however, and why they want it, may drive us crazy at times, but really, if dogs were perfect, then we’d be bored.  And then we’d be the ones eating toilet paper.

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There’s a term people use for dogs that stay constantly by their owners:  velcro dogs.  These canines are akin to the famous fabric hook-and-loop fastener in that they cling strongly to their person and it can be difficult to separate them. Some velcro dogs will also display separation anxiety and become destructive to property or themselves when unable to be with their favorite human.  I should also point out that some people have separation anxiety from their dogs and actually seek out or encourage velcro behavior.

I, for one, like being able to go to the bathroom without being dogged or hounded by four-legged critters.   Even the terms “to dog” and “hounding” came about from the fact that canines can be hard to get away from.  That being said, I do have a velcro dog.  Yep, that’s right, Grimm is as sticky as glue–Gorilla glue, not the puny Elmer’s variety.  And, alas, if I forget to close the bathroom door completely, private time becomes doggy social hour.  Nothing is more annoying than having a live dog rug underfoot when you are trying to urinate or move your bowels.  No amount of threats or shoving mean anything to a dog when your pants are down around your ankles.  They know a compromising situation when they see it.

Wait…are you going to the bathroom? I’ll come with you. Oh, you’re just throwing away a piece of trash? I better follow you, just in case. I know it’s only twelve feet away from where we are now, but you may need my help. You just never know.

Now don’t get me wrong–I like having a loyal dog.  Loyal as in, “I will warn you of possible intruders” or “I won’t run away with the first person to offer me a tasty treat” or “I will protect you from bodily harm.”  Not loyal as in “I will help you flush the toilet” or “I will trip you when you are cooking hot things because I lay behind you when you are at the stove.”  I like to think Grimm would perform well in all of the first scenarios and I know for a fact  that he can do all of the second ones.  This dog is never more than ten feet from me at all times unless we are outside.  Even then, he will keep me in his sight.

Charley, in his old age, has developed some velcro dog tendencies, but only when indoors.   Really, he is only attached to me when I am sitting down, like when I’m writing or watching something on television.  At times like those, he likes to lay at my feet.  I can deal with that sort of attachment.

Are you fixin’ [Charley is a Texas dog through and through] to sit down? If so, I’m gonna lay on your feet. Hope ya don’t mind, but if you do, too bad. I’m gonna do it anyway.

Zella, on the other hand, is more independent.  She likes to sleep on the couch, away from me and the other dogs, when we are relaxing inside.  She’ll watch me to see what’s up, but won’t follow me room to room like Grimm does.  When outside, she doesn’t run away or try to escape and comes when called, but she doesn’t have to keep me in her sight.

If you need me, let me know. I’ll just be over here lounging on the couch.

George Eliot (who was actually Mary Anne Evans– but I digress) once said:

We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults.  Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment.

While I agree that we, as humans, seek affection from those who would love us despite our short-comings, attachment and affection are not the same thing. Attachment can become co-dependence, co-dependence can become obsession and obsession can become neuroses.  A neurotic dog is not something I want to encourage.  I don’t want to find Grimm turning into the canine version of Single White Female.

For now, Grimm is working on his stays and learning some independence.  To teach independence, I start by increasing his confidence.  To do this, I work him in scenarios that he is not entirely sure of (like walking through ladders, climbing on unstable (but not dangerous) objects, jumping over obstacles, etc.) so that he learns he can do things by himself.  When I leave rooms, I make him stay on his dog bed and reward him with low-key praise when I return (as long as he stays on his bed and doesn’t come to me–I go to him).  So far, he’s doing well.  He shows great aptitude in learning new behaviors.

I owe it to Grimm to help him foster some independence.  I love the relationship we as humans can have with our dogs.  I don’t, however, need an entourage wherever I go.  We don’t have to be attached at the hip.  As Alex Clare sings, “I don’t want to hurt you, but I need to breathe.  At the end of it all, you’re still my best friend.”
“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him
to be worthy of such devotion.”
                                                                                                    — Unknown

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Fall seemed to blast into central Texas today.  It was actually cold (only a high of 75 degrees) and raining off and on.  I dread taking the dogs out on days like today because of the mud factor.  The drought has killed off most of the Augustine grass that used to carpet the front part of my back yard, which means that the sparse native grass doesn’t completely cover the clay that is exposed.  With the rain, the clay has turned into the consistency of thick peanut butter, which is awfully fun to clean from dog paws–and by awfully fun, I mean just awful.  I figured, if we’re gonna get dirty, might as well go all out.  So I let all three of them sniff and explore to their little hearts content in the land surrounding my house.

I live in a neighborhood that was developed over old farm and ranch land, so occasionally I find some interesting things when digging in the dirt or when the rain washes some of it away.  Today, Grimm found himself an awesome old bone sticking out of the dirt–the humerus of a cow.  He pried it loose from the dirt and mud and proceeded to parade it in front of Zella and Charley.  Never mind that the bone was old, brittle and dirty.  Grimm had it and they wanted it.  So, the game of bones began.

Zella tried brute strength–she tackled Grimm and grabbed the end of the bone sticking out of his mouth.  They toiled back and forth, but no matter how hard Zella tried, she could not get a firm enough grip on the condyle portion jutting from Grimm’s mouth.  In frustration, she gave up.  Grimm taunted her some more–come on, come get this from me…if you dare!

Since brute force wasn’t in her favor, she tried a new tactic more in character with her sex–intimacy.   She ran up to Grimm, mounted him and thrust so hard against him that she knocked him down to the ground.  Now, I know in dogs this is more about dominance and, in Zella’s case, frustration.  Her assault, however, caused Grimm to drop his bone.  Grimm jumped up, momentarily forgetting the bone, and proceeded to wrestle with Zella.

While this skirmish was playing out, Charley watched from the fringes.  As soon as the bone fell from Grimm’s mouth, Charley watched for the perfect moment to dart in for the steal.  As soon as Grimm went chasing after Zella, sans bone, Charley skulked in and started gnawing on the bone.  Grimm heard the scrape of tooth on his prize and ran back to liberate his haul.  Grimm ran up and wrenched the bone from Charley’s grasp.  The bounty was his!  The game of bones was won!

Watching them struggle to gain the bone was exactly like the canine version of Game of Thrones.   There was deceit, sexual overtures and dirty, grueling battles.  The only thing missing was a dwarf–maybe next time we’ll invite the neighbor’s chihuahua to the game.  I finally stepped in and took the bone for myself and hosed all the dogs down.  I cleaned off the bone and let Grimm have a few moments of kingly glory.  After all, winter is coming–the bleak days ahead will not be favorable for playing the game of bones.

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A cad is defined as a man (or in this case, dog) who acts with deliberate disregard to another’s feeling or rights.  This type of person (or dog) usually knows what is morally acceptable and, most times, acts like a decent enough sort.  However, when presented with temptation or exposed to stress, the ruffian returns.

Lately, this is how Grimm has been behaving.  And really, I think it’s because he has been watching too many episodes of  Breaking Bad.  I overheard him telling Charley that he was going to make him his bitch.  When he takes his daily dose of ivermectin/liquid vitamin supplement via syringe each day [he’s being treated for demodex], he slurps it down, then he rolls his eyes back in his head and exclaims, “That’s some sweet, pure-ass shit, yo!”.  I then tell him to watch his doggy mouth.

Grimm apparently now thinks the life of a methamphetamine cook and dealer “is the bomb”.  I told him that those labs frequently turn into bombs and that although I, too, enjoy watching Breaking Bad, I’m not about to let him turn to a life of crime.   I don’t think he really paid attention to what we discussed because this is how I found him today:

I asked him what the heck he was doing with my old chemistry book.

“Learning to cook meth, yo.  Like Jesse Pinkman and Walter White.”

I don’t think so, my friend.  Now I understood why the kitchen cabinets had been raided and the Sudafed was on the counter. He had all the pyrex dishware out and the latex gloves were thrown on the floor.   He has been up to no good.

Seriously, though, he has been acting like a big jerk lately–eating mail that he steals off the counter, pestering Charley, bolting out the door when I tell him to stay.  He is going through his rebellious stage and has forgotten (temporarily, I hope) all of his good manners.  Don’t get me wrong–he can still turn on the charm when he needs or wants something that he is unable to get himself.  He has just been…more calculating lately.  I told him if he didn’t shape up, I was sending him to boot camp.

For now, he gets no television privileges.  He gets crated (i.e., sent to jail) when he acts out and he has to earn every piece of kibble.  I’ve been trying to drain some of his excess energy by running him ragged.  He’s slowly coming around.  He better, if he knows what’s good for him.  Charley is getting tired of putting up with his juvenile-delinquent antics.  Grimm better watch out–I saw Charley wearing a pork pie hat the other day.   Heisenberg may be coming.

I AM the danger! A guy opens his door and gets shot and you think that of me? No. I am the one who knocks!

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Dogs can be deceptive.  For instance, if you believed the picture above, you would think Grimm had killed and eaten a chicken and was feeling quite smug about the whole ordeal.  He would like you to believe that.  After all, he’s a big tough pit bull, meanest dog ever.

If Grimm were telling this story, he would tell you that the biggest, gamest cock came over and was strutting around in his yard, flinging dirt and gravel far and wide in an obvious challenge for territory.  This same rooster would have razor blade talons, a beak sharp as a boning knife and eyes like the devil himself. Grimm would go on to say that after a long and arduous battle, the cocky fowl finally met death and was thoroughly vanquished.  Grimm would continue his tale of triumph and describe how he devoured his foe, as any true great warrior would, leaving naught but a few feathers behind.  The spirit of the combatant bird would fortify him and all would fear the great and powerful cock slayer, the pit bull named Grimm.

Lies.  All lies.  As Chuck Palahniuk once said, “Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken”; furthermore, spreading feathers around yourself while looking devious does not make you a chicken killer.  It’s not that he slayed a chicken, more like he is a chicken.

In truth, a fowl did enter our yard and did fling dirt and gravel.  However, this was no cock, only a puny hen.  She was walking about, minding her own chicken business, when Grimm heard her soft clucks.  He tried to act brave and was even polite, and he went over to say hello.   What Grimm didn’t know was that this chicken was a momma hen, and momma hens don’t take kindly to goofy dogs running up on them, especially when her babies were hiding nearby in the grass.

If Grimm had asked Zella or Charley about chickens before he went to investigate, they would have enlightened him to the true nature of evil hens, as both are quite scared of these fowl.  My neighbors, to whom this chicken belongs, raise game birds and these chickens are mean.  They have chased Zella all around the yard and she now hides behind me when she sees one. Another time one jumped out from beneath my giant cactus when Charley walked by, wings beating the wind chaotically like a hurricane in the gulf, and proceeded to jump up and down on Charley’s head.  The whole time the hen pummeled Charley with her wings and Charley ducked and ran and looked like the birds of hell were chasing him.  Well, at least one bird was.

When Grimm went to investigate the momma hen, she immediately started throwing chicken gang signs at him.  She flapped her wings at him, which is a chicken’s way of giving the bird, then she scraped the dirt viciously with her claws.  She then bobbed her head up and down, all the while making guttural clucks, which is chickenese for “Bring it, mother****er!!”.  Grimm doesn’t speak chicken, but I do, and I told him to back off and leave her alone.  He didn’t listen.

Like a feathered velociraptor ninja, this hen flew straight at Grimm’s face, aiming to peck out his eyes.  I swear Grimm said, “Yipes!” and took off running.  He ran all over the yard, the hen hot on his heels.  No matter where he went, she was right behind him, screaming chicken curses.  Finally Grimm ran to the front door and was cornered.  Not knowing what else to do, he laid down and cringed. The chicken ran up to him and beat her wings about his head, cursing Grimm and all his kind.  I think the chicken became confused after a bit, because this big black dog just cowered there and let her beat him.  She finally stopped her onslaught of terror and left Grimm alone, leaving a few of her feathers behind.

The picture below tells the truth of the ordeal.  Grimm seems to be suffering from a bit of post traumatic stress.  Now, when he goes outside, he stops and listens for any clucking noises;  any hint of a chicken and he’s back inside.  Oh, my sweet, giant black pit bull dog–I always knew he was a big chicken.  Although, after seeing the antics of the warrior hen, he should be proud to be called “chicken”. That hen was one tough bird.

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Grimm has been acting a little weird lately.  He constantly scans the perimeter when we’re outside, he refuses to sleep by himself, and he wants to know where we keep the shotgun.  Today, I found out why:

Grimm prepares for the zombie apocalypse.

Turns out, he has been reading about zombies…and worrying about zombies…and secretly preparing for the zombie apocalypse.  He reluctantly showed me his secret horde of things he cannot live without in the midst of a zombie pandemic (and yes, one of the items was one of my flip flops).  Silly dog.  I told him he had more realistic things to worry about, like rabies.

Grimm is not alone in his fear of zombie hordes taking over the world.  Even the Center for Disease Control (CDC)  advises, “Be prepared!”.  With all the hype this year about the end of the world, I guess it never hurts to have a backup plan.

Realistically, though, rabies is still a very valid concern (and this virus does have some similarities to the zombie causing agent…whatever that may be).  Rabies attacks the central nervous system of mammals, causing disease in the brain and eventually, death.  Early symptoms include fever, headache, general malaise and discomfort.  As the disease progresses, hallucinations begin, along with partial paralysis, insomnia, confusion, hypersalivation and hydrophobia.

This sure sounds an awful lot like zombie symptoms–shuffling walk (partial paralysis), constant vigilance (insomnia), drooling (hypersalivation), eating your own family (confusion)–and I have never seen anyone portray a swimming zombie, or, for that matter, one even drinking water (hydrophobia).

Charley laughs at Grimm’s phobia of invading zombie hordes. Charley fears nothing…he is the Chuck Norris of the dog world (even if he is
almost 15 years old–this old dog has skills).

In Texas, and specifically Travis county, rabies continues to be found in both domestic and wild animals.  In 2011 (2012 stats were not yet available), Travis county had 68 confirmed rabid animals and neighboring Williamson county had 136 cases.  Most of these are bats and skunks, but even dogs, cats, horses and cattle test positive in Texas.  Rabies is found in every state except for Hawaii, and people in the U.S. still get rabies.  Vaccinating domestic animals and staying away from ill-acting wildlife remains the best preventative.

Zombie hordes, rabid pets…we humans will have no chance when the apocalypse comes.  Grimm, however, will be prepared.  He’s read Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies by Matt Mogk and The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks;  he practices stealthily moving from place to place;  and he’s been honing his paw-eye coordination with the role playing games on the PlayStation.  Plus, he’s been vaccinated against rabies.  Don’t say you haven’t been warned–what you don’t know CAN eat you.

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Today Zella and Grimm wanted to act out a scene from their favorite movie franchise, The Twilight Saga.  I know…dogs these days.  No taste.  Used to be, dogs were watching Lassie and Old Yeller and cheering on Rin Tin Tin. Nowadays, all they want to do is eat shoes and lounge on the couch and watch horrible vampire/werewolf/zombie movies.  They could at least read the books.

Apparently, they really like the sexual tension between Bella and Edward.  Oh, and the werewolves.  They really like the werewolves in the movie.  Every time I let them watch any of the movies, they make Charley play the part of a vampire and then they start to run around the house like crazy.  Out of nowhere…fling!!…there goes their collars and all of a sudden, they aren’t dogs anymore, but werewolves.  Who said dogs don’t have imaginations?  Clearly those people haven’t almost lost an eye to a speeding, flung rabies tag.

Anyway, they hope you enjoy their effort.  I did advise them to not quit their day jobs.  Oh, wait…they don’t have any.  Freeloaders.

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Today was supposed to be yard work day.  Instead, it turned into take pictures of the pooches day.  In my defense, it was almost a hundred degrees today…and I ran out of gas for the mower…and there were bunches of yellow jacket wasps eyeing me hungrily when I got close to their nests.  It became much easier to just roll out the camera and drag in the mower.

Taking pictures of the dogs  is, at times, like herding cats, especially when I want all three to be in a picture.  They all promptly forget any of the schooling they ever had and become easily distracted.  They are like kids with ADHD who ate an entire bag of Skittles, drank four cups of coffee and then smoked methamphetamines.  Here is how getting all three of mine into a frame goes:

Me:  Here, everybody!  Sit, stay, watch me!

The Dogs:  [Grimm lays down and starts to eat grass, Zella tries to catch a fly that is buzzing around her backside, and Charley starts to lick his penis.]

Me:  Hey!  Stop eating grass…stop licking your penis, Charley!  No, don’t lick Grimm’s penis, either!  Zella!  Pay attention!

The Dogs:  [All sit back up and are looking at me again.]

Me:  Gooooooooooood.  Staaaaaaaay.  [I press the button on the camera to take the picture, but the “battery low” light blinks and the camera shuts off.]

Me:  &%!$#*&$^!!! [I go inside, find new batteries and start over.]

Me:  Ok, let’s try again.  Everyone….staaaaaay.

The Dogs:  [Zella sprints off to chase a bunny, Grimm races after her, and Charley starts to lick his penis…again.]

Me:  I quit!

I have started to just take individual portraits of the pooches in order to make my life easier and to save face with my neighbors.  Yes, they really have heard me yelling at my dog for licking his penis.  They grabbed their children, covered their ears, and scurried inside.  They already think I’m the crazy dog lady; why exacerbate matters?

Grimm worked hard today–can’t you tell?

Seriously, though, I’ve either got to mow or make hay.  The pygmy tribes are going to move into my jungle soon.  Maybe I should just invest in a few goats–they’d probably be easier to photograph, too, being as they like to stay in a herd (and they probably don’t lick their penises).

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In a few weeks, Grimm will be one year old.  The puppy stage will (hopefully) soon be over.  I know, however, that pit bulls can be slow to mature (and Grimm, bless his little heart, is a little slow in everything).  I fear, though, that his constant destruction mode will never wane.  He is a mouth with legs attached.

I should have known he would be a one-dog-wrecking-crew…even when he was sick with parvo, he still ran amok seeking items to ingest.  Apparently, he never received the memo that parvo pups don’t like to eat.  He was akin to a baleen whale–he just ran around with his mouth open and whatever filtered in was fair game.  Even now, he is finally getting over a bought of gastritis secondary to eating frisbees.  He puked up yellow, green, red, blue and purple pieces for days (I haven’t even had a green frisbee around for months, so who knows how long that piece of plastic was floating around in his stomach).  What didn’t come out the front end came out the back (and 2-3 inch long pieces of plastic scraping through your intestinal tract can NOT feel good).  One ultrasound later, and no obstruction…yet.  It is never good news when your veterinary radiologist tells you, “I’m sure we’ll be scanning him again fairly soon.  He’s the type to get frequent flyer miles.”

This all got me thinking:  how many things HAS Grimm eaten since I rescued him?  Let’s make a list along with cost of damage:

1)  Seatbelt in car [approx. $250 to replace]

2)  Floormats in car [$50]

3)  All of Zella’s stuffed toys are now destuffed and mangled, no longer even resembling their original forms (and most are now long gone to the landfill) [$45, Zella had a LOT of stuffed babies]

4)  Multiple frisbees (see above) [$15]

5)  Two leashes [$20]

6)  Vacuum cleaner cord [old vacuum=$85 + new vacuum=$150 for grand total of $235]

7)  One metal crate, which led to me purchasing the most heavy duty crate available without special ordering [destoyed metal crate=$150 + new heavy duty ProSelect crate=$350 for grand total of $500]

8)  Shoes, shoes and more shoes [at least $225, Brooks running shoes ain’t cheap]

9) One dog bed [$25]

10) Multiple blankets and towels [$50]

11) Door frame [$50]

12) Two books [$15]

Dear God!  Why did I make a list?  This dog now owes me almost $1500 in damages.  This doesn’t even take into consideration the veterinary costs needed to diagnose and treat him, and we’re not even through year one yet.  This dog needs a job–anyone need their car or house turned shabby chic? How about an organic paper shredder?  Demolition job openings, anyone?

**Sigh**  We still have a few weeks to go yet.  Cross your fingers that this list doesn’t get any bigger.  New puppy owners, consider yourselves warned.  I know others of you out there must have similar bad pups–what were your first year damages?

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If you have ever played Alchemy, you’ll understand when I say I am proposing a new combination of elements.  Seriously.  Dog plus Vacuum really does equal Death, or very nearly death.  Let me explain:

I have an eleven month old pit bull named Grimm.  Grimm likes to chew on things (see The Shoes That Were Eaten To Pieces).  A few months ago, he chewed the vacuum cleaner’s cord in two.  All I can say is he was very lucky the cord wasn’t plugged in, although I will admit a little part of me kinda wished it was.  One big shock may have taught the big jerk a lesson.  After much cursing, and I’ll admit, a few threats to make a trip to the local animal shelter, I decided that I could probably wire it back together.  After all, I’d seen my dad splice wires together and it didn’t look too hard.

To do this, I needed a few things:  a pair of pliers and some electrical tape.  I stripped down the outer cord and it’s insulation until just the copper wire was exposed on both pieces.  I then twisted the two ends of copper together until they were snug and wouldn’t budge when tugged on.  Next, I covered the whole exposed part of the cord with electrical tape and made sure no wires were poking out.  I then crossed my fingers, plugged the cord in, and turned on the vacuum.  Eureka!!  It started fine, no smoke or fire broke out, I didn’t electrocute anybody and I congratulated myself for a job well done and for not having to spend another hundred bucks on a new vacuum cleaner.  Fast forward to today…

So, I was doing some cleaning, and it was time to vacuum the floor.  I have a tile floor, but vacuuming is much easier than sweeping.  Anyways, I started vacuuming and then, nothing.  The vacuum stopped working.  There was some tension on the line and I thought maybe it had come unplugged, but nope. Grimm was standing on the cord and my forward motion, along with his heavy self planted firmly on the cord, caused my beautifully spliced wires to come apart, leaving the tape on the part of the cord that was still plugged in.  Of course, I started cursing–not this again!  And caused by the same dog!  Grrrr…..definitely going to the shelter.

In my anger, I grabbed the part of the cord with the tape on it and angrily pulled the tape off, exposing the copper wires (most of you can see where this is going).  I then inadvertently touched the live wire to my forearm on the way to unplug it.  Wowzer!  I jumped about three feet in the air and dropped the wire and it started making zapping noises and sparks.  With a lovely metallic taste in my mouth, I unplugged the cord.  More cursing ensued.  I looked at Grimm–he was just calmly sitting, watching me as I ranted.  I swear he looked a little disappointed that, say, my hair hadn’t caught on fire or my arm wasn’t blackened.  His beady little eyes looked calculating.  Maybe I should rename him Grim Reaper.

Or maybe I should change my equation to read:

Me + Electricity = Stupid

Needless to say, I’m getting a new vacuum cleaner.

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I’m beginning to suspect Zella may be a superhero.  How would I know, you ask?  Well, honestly, I don’t.  But she’s definitely up to something, and a few puzzling bits are starting to make sense.

The Origin Story

All good superheroes have great origin stories–either they were traumatized by witnessing or being struck by violence and are now hell-bent on fixing the world, were given powers by something/someone that they really didn’t want or ask for and are hell-bent on using them for good, or they created something that changed/enhanced them and now are hell-bent on proving their value to mankind.  Zella’s origins fall mostly in the first category, but she could be slightly influenced by the second as well.   As far as I know, she hasn’t created or invented anything that is self-enhancing…yet.  Here’s her story, told through her point of view:

I really don’t remember much of my mother, or my siblings for that matter.  My first memories really are of dirt and cold.  I was taken from my mother when I was only four and a half weeks old.  My other siblings and I were tossed into a cardboard box and driven to the local Wal-Mart where we sat and waited.  Apparently, you really can get anything at Wal-Mart, even a puppy.  A “For Sale” sign was placed on the box and lots of people stopped to look at us, pet us, talk to us, pick us up by our scruff, drop us back in the box.  I remember my stomach grumbled and I felt bloated.

 “What kind of dogs?”, people would ask.  “American Pit Bull Terriers”, was the reply, “the blue nose kind.”  What the hell does my nose have to do with anything?  All I knew was that it was cold–was that why it was blue?

“Aren’t those dogs used for fighting?”

“Some are.  You buy this dog, you can use it for whatever you want.  They come from good lines.”

Whatever that means.  This guy was selling them a line, a line of bullshit.  How would he know?  He just threw a couple of bullish dogs together and nine weeks later got us.  He only used us to line his pockets.

After a while of being poked at and almost dropped by a couple of kids, a young girl came by.  She was unsure, but I wiggled anyways, like we all had been doing.  We were trying anything at that point to get out of the cardboard and into warm arms.  She was totally mesmerized by my blue eyes.  At that age, most puppies have blue eyes anyways, but mine were especially bright and that’s what saved me.

She wasn’t ready, though.  Not for a puppy and especially not a pit bull puppy.  I didn’t know at that time about the stigma associated with my breed.  I didn’t know I was supposed to be a monster, driven by uncontrolled genes to seek and destroy any living thing.  She didn’t believe this, either, but she just wasn’t ready to take on the challenge of a puppy.  She had me all of twenty four hours before she freaked and asked her parents, “What do I do–I’ve made a mistake.”

Lucky for me, her dad was a veterinarian.  He had her drive me up to his clinic so he could look at me and see what to do next.  I arrived in a laundry basket wearing the new purple cat collar she bought me–I was too little for a proper dog one.  I was poked with a sharp needle–“to protect me from diseases”, I heard.  I was washed and probed rectally–more torture for a young dog, but these were done to help, not hurt.  The reason for my bellyaches was determined from that probing–I was a sac of parasites.  A lady fed me some watered down wet food and gave me some horrible yellow liquid and I was left in a kennel overnight.  That night, in the darkness, I howled and cried for my family.  My belly rumbled and I had explosive diarrhea, diarrhea with horrors in it–worms as long as me were dying and there I was, rolling with them in my own diarrhea, wishing I was dying, too.

The next day, the lady who fed me and washed me the day before washed me again.  She looked a little angry, but I could tell it wasn’t at me.  It was at the injustice I had been served in my short life.  She vowed then and there to protect me, to teach me, to turn my life around.  She told the veterinarian that I was now hers, and he secretly was happy I was no longer his problem.  She took me to her house where a new, real family greeted me.  I was home.

I know what I am, where I come from, but I am not destined to go down that line.  I will use my daring, my tenacity, my strong-will that was bred into me by humans to show the world what I can do…I am not a blood thirsty monster.  I am a fighter, but I fight against stereotypes and preconceived notions.  I will change your perspective of me, even if it takes all my life.

Proof of Extraordinary Powers–Flight

The next thing on the superhero list:  superpowers.  Zella has a few, but I know you won’t believe me if I just tell you about them, so I’ll show them to you.  Above is proof that she can fly, but she has other abilities, too.

Zella demonstrates another of her super-abilities: hiding in plain sight.

Zella demonstrates psychometry, the ability to communicate with inanimate objects.

It is also very important for a superhero to have two things:

1) sidekicks and/or good familial support and…

Sidekicks–check!

Her doggy brothers are always there for her.

Family knows how to get rid of your sorrows.

2) …a secret identity.

Squirreldog to the rescue! Ok, well, looks like she’s still working on that. Maybe she could just wear a pair of glasses?

The last thing one needs to be a superhero is an arch nemesis.  This really is the only piece of the puzzle that is missing.  You see, Zella doesn’t even have an ordinary, run-of-the-mill enemy.  Maybe the vacuum cleaner counts…no, not really.  She just sort of looks at it funny.  The lawn mower–that’s her arch enemy.  Whenever I go to start it, she barks at it like crazy until the engine turns over.  Then she looks at me smugly, and I swear she smiles, and her eyes say, “I told it, didn’t I?”.

Zella’s only real enemy is ignorance.  Yes, she’s a pit bull; no, she’s not going to eat your child and wreak havoc on the town.  Even for all her bad starts in life, she has proven to be a remarkable dog.  I have trained and socialized her from day one, and each day is another day for her to hone her skills.  I do not let her roam or place her in any compromising situations.  I know that training can only get you so far and that genetics do play a role.  Too many pit bull owners feel they can love aggression out of their dogs, and that is just not true.  We need to respect both nature and nurture.  Zella may not be a true superhero, but I need to be hers–together we can help to change perceptions.

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Occasionally I take all three dogs with me to work, although most days I only bring two out of the three.  The other day, however, I brought all of them.   Charley was happy as a clam, but Grimm and Zella were bored and clearly not amused.

Charley, Grimm and Zella kenneled in a dog run while at work with me.

Somehow, when I took the picture, Charley’s white hairs on his head formed an almost perfect halo.  Zella’s little reddish-pink ears seemed to resemble horns.  Now when I look at the picture, all I can think about is Grimm being pulled in two directions (a canine Doctor Faustus, if you will):  Charley, on his right, imploring him to be righteous and behave;  Zella, on his left, tempting him to join her in impish delights.  What’s a dog to do?

I will say, all three are actually fairly well behaved when at work, although Zella sometimes gets a little antsy and starts making duck/monkey noises.  This day they were lucky as none of them were required to do any work.  In the past, both Zella and Grimm have been called upon to donate blood to less fortunate pooches and Charley has been summoned to help with training in simple procedures.  They are paid handsomely for their efforts, so don’t think I’m taking advantage of them.  It’s only a matter of time, I fear, until they unionize.

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