A place where I can share interesting ideas and maybe get a few things off my chest

Posts tagged ‘dogs’

Hungry Dog

As we packed to leave for our monthly weekend camping trip, I worried, as I always do, about how Mother would fare while were gone. She’s got lunch fixings and TV dinners and ice cream bars, her walker, her pillow, and the western channel, and the emergency button necklace that is essentially a cell phone with one giant button that only dials the emergency service we pay for on a monthly basis. She is at home by herself on the weekdays she doesn’t go to the Senior Center, and does just fine, but I still worry, even though the PT who worked with her last year said she has clients less “with it” than Mom who still manage to live on their own.

This time, since we had an event planned with friends for early Saturday, we decided to leave on Friday evening, and also decided to leave the dogs so they wouldn’t be cooped up in their kennels while we were gone a good portion of the day on Saturday. They could also to keep Mother company, as her biggest complaint when we take our camping weekends is how much she misses us and how lonely it is without anyone at home with her. We did something similar in May, when we went to Disney, and it worked out well with one of our friends checking in on her and also making sure the dogs were being fed.

In May, Steve made up little bags with the dogs’ names on them for their breakfast and dinner, but Mom didn’t feed them breakfast. She doesn’t normally see them being fed breakfast, and I wasn’t sure she had been able to read the baggies Steve had fixed up. This time, I made sure he used labels, and then showed Mom the bags and explained how the dogs ate twice per day and how each dog had separate breakfast and dinner baggies for each day.

She didn’t call all weekend and since we were so busy, I didn’t think to call until after she would have gone to sleep. I told myself everything was fine, but I was still worried a little, and all kinds of outrageous scenarios played through my mind. We’d get home and find her fallen, with the dogs sitting beside her, keeping watch. Or we’d get home to find the dogs locked in the garage, having barked themselves hoarse because she couldn’t hear them. Or she would have become incapacitated and missed feeding the dogs and they would decide she would make a fine meal substitute.

Fortunately, none of those uglier things came to pass, but little Sophie, who really doesn’t need to miss a meal, didn’t get to eat all weekend. While I thought  I had been very clear on how to feed the dogs, and Mother made yes-I-understand noises, she really didn’t get it.

Dog food bags 2014-08-17 17.53.52

Gracie gets dog food from the supermarket, which comes in good-sized crunchy bites. Sophie, with her little, tiny mouth and delicate tiny dog teeth, gets food from the pet store that resembles cat food, because it is the only food she can chew. Instead of feeding each dog from the marked packets, Mom split Gracie’s food bag between the two dog’s bowls (the only reason one of Sophie’s bags above is empty is because I used it to feed her right after we got home – she was really hungry!). When we got home, she told us that The Little Dog (she has a hard time remembering Sophie’s name) hadn’t eaten hardly anything while we were gone. I tried to explain to her that Sophie couldn’t eat the big pieces of dog food and how we had specifically marked the bags. Mom kept nodding and agreeing with me as if we were saying the same thing and  just kept saying how she tried to feed The Little Dog but she wouldn’t eat anything.

How often do you think dog-sitters are hired to come in and feed dogs when someone is still at home?

Gracie Has Lost Her Mind

Gracie's mess 1.23.14

Gracie’s mess


We’ve had Gracie since mid-June, when we drove to a Weekie-Wachee dog rescue in search of a border collie. It turned out that the only thing Gracie’s rat terrier self had in common with a border collie was her black and white coloring. But she was cute and energetic and charming and we brought her home. She’s been a very good dog, staying in the house during the day, not having any accidents, only chewing on the occasional should-not-have-been-in-her-reach plastic object and generally being a very good dog.

12.19.13 camera download 088

Gracie behaving at Thanksgiving

Then we got Sophie, and Gracie began acting out and tearing things up. First, she got into the bag I had taken to work with Sophie, chewing through and totally destroying a Rubbermaid bowl that had held some dog food, and just tearing up the other stuff in the bag in general. A few days later, she got into another bag that had plastic water bottles in various levels of emptiness and all kinds of papers and random stuff and tore it all up all over the living room, biting through the plastic bottles so they dripped out and got all the papers wet.

We thought most of her acting out was because she was being left home alone while Sophie was going with me, but yesterday morning, I left them both home while taking Mother to a doctor’s appointment. I placed the wire kennel across the end of the hallway so they’d have access to the doggie door to go outside, but be confined to the back of the house. This was an experiment that failed miserably. Not only did they both meet me at the front door when we got home, having gotten past the wire kennel with it still in place, but before getting out of the den, Gracie managed to tear up one of the new doggie beds, a multi-CD case, one of Steve’s crocs, plastic sleeves out of a 3-ring binder and some of the papers that had been in the sleeves, a box containing a silver-polishing cloth, and a cloth book bag, and also to  knock the door of the wire kennel off its hinges so it fell fully inside onto its floor. Oh, and one of the dog toys was outside, having been drug through the dirt several times, along with pieces of a large plastic cup from Cuban Breezes we had been using to fill their water bowls.

Unfortunately for Sophie, who is just getting used to living here and really getting the whole idea of the doggie door, Gracie has sentenced them both to several hours locked in their kennels on the days Mom goes to the Senior Center.


Sophie 1.10.13


We recently added a new family member to our household. She is 5 years old, retiring from a breeder after having her requisite (for this breeder) three litters. She has never been anywhere but the breeder’s house and yard, so she’s taking a little while to get used to us, to her doggie-sibling, Gracie, and to the entire concept of harnesses and leashes.

Before we went to pick her up, I told Mother about her, and that her name was Fiona. Since Mother mostly reads lips, and she evidently has never heard this name before, she looked at me funny and said “Veeoga?” After I wrote it down, she said it correctly, but still looked quite puzzled. By the time we had had Fiona a couple of days, Mother had asked her name several times and mispronounced it in several unique ways. At one point, I looked down at the little dog, and the name “Sophie” popped in my head. Doggie telepathy, maybe? Anyway, it seemed closed enough to “Fiona” to not be too confusing for her, and perhaps a name Mother could better remember. When I told Mom the dog’s name was now going to be Sophie, she said, “Well, that’s better than Fie-ona.” And so it is. A couple of days later, Steve was scanning our bill of sale and noticed that the breeder spelled “Fiona” as “Phonia”. She said her daughters named the dogs after Disney princesses. I guess Mom wasn’t the only one to have never encountered that name in real life.

So, now, Sophie has been fixed (the breeder refunded us almost half her cost upon proof of spaying), had her teeth cleaned, got a few bad teeth pulled, got her jingle jewelry (county registration/rabies tag), and is almost fully recuperated. After being pushed in and out through the doggie door several times, she has managed to let herself into the house through it, but hasn’t felt a strong enough desire to use it to go out, so I’m still trying to monitor her closely enough to save myself from having to clean up tiny doggie messes.

Gracie has gotten over her severe jealousy and now is only playing the normal version of “don’t pet her, pet me”, rather than the spastic, shed-all-my-hair-and-drool-on-you version. She has also tried to get Sophie to play a few times, but Sophie is still very skittish with all of us. She follows me around, but won’t come to me. The best she’ll do is stop a few feet away, and then not immediately run away as I approach her. And that’s not consistent. The breeder said she was a cuddler, so I’m hoping it won’t take her too much longer to get used to us and actually try to get us to hold and pet her. I’m ready for my new lap dog to actually want to sit in my lap.


Mousie & Me

Mousie & Me

I know it’s been at least 10 years, but the actual date is lost in the Big-Pool-of-Before that is my memory. I was looking to add a small dog to our household and stopped in at the Dallas Animal Shelter. Entering the door ahead of me was what appeared to be a college student with a small, shivering, obviously scared to death little dog clinging to her shoulder. If I had thought quickly enough, I could have saved myself the $100-ish adoption fee, but I waited in line behind her until she had surrendered the pitiful little thing – “I just don’t have time for her” -, stepped up, and said, “I want that one!”.

The clerk said they had to do all the routine check-in stuff for/to her, but I would be able to come back for her that evening. After my teenagers were home from school, we all went back over there to retrieve our new family member. While we were finalizing the paperwork, my daughter held the dog in her lap – until the dog jumped and landed on her head on the floor. Somehow, she blamed Janette for this painful event. When the shelter employee removed the paper collar, some of the sticky side pulled the dog’s hair. She yelped, and since Janette was still holding her, also blamed that pain and suffering on my innocent daughter. It took about three days for Janette to be forgiven those initial insults.

I decided on the name “Mouse” because this tiny dog was very small and gray. My then-husband and son teased me by calling her “Rat”, but they ended up falling in love with her, too. We had recently acquired a rather large guinea pig (Bob – named sort-of for the new Taco Bueno BOB – Big Ol’ Burrito, because Bob was a “Big Ol’ Boy”) and Mouse and Bob were neck-and-neck with weight gain, both starting at about 3.5 pounds. Mouse eventually won, topping out a pound over Bob’s four pound maximum.

On the way home, we stopped for fast food, and as we were working on that evening’s chapter of our read-aloud book, I lay on my stomach, Mouse sat on my butt, and my kids proceeded to feed her as many french fries as she could hold. Until she threw up on my back. We learned right away that Mousie had no self-control when it came to tasty food, something that almost killed her a couple of years later when she stole a sub sandwich off the coffee table and ate all the salami out if it.

Mouse was very bossy right from the start. Her first week at home, I was reading in my bedroom when she came in, “erf”ed at me, and set off down the hallway to the front of the house. “What is it, Mouse? Timmy in the well?” I followed her into the living room where she had sat herself down in the middle of the floor. Perplexed, I sat down on the couch, whereupon she immediately jumped up and settled herself into my lap, mission accomplished. And she eventually orchestrated the movements of the other dogs in the household, reigning from the back of the couch, the prime spot for watching out the window for cars and pedestrians. Although she rarely ran outside herself, she would bark to let the other dogs know they needed to rush out the doggie door to confront perceived trespassers. And so they did.

Mousie has been gone several years, eventually succumbing to kidney failure, even over the valiant efforts of my ex, who took her to the vet for near-daily subcutaneous fluid treatments. She wasn’t very old, but the vet said that as small as she was, her kidneys might never have formed properly to begin with. Or who knows. I still miss her.

And, I’ve said all that to say this: Tonight, I will be going to meet Fiona, a 5-year-old yorkie who has weaned her third litter and is now ready for doggie retirement. There’s going to be a yorkie at our house!

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