My life as a dog entertainer

Does this dog look crazy or what?

I’m starting to think that my purpose in life is to entertain Sammy. He certainly thinks so! When we get up in the morning, he immediately grabs whatever toy is laying close by and rushes up to me with it, sometimes throwing it at me while he wags his tail and looks expectant (or crazy – see photo). He follows me around the house just in case I suddenly do something fun. When I sit down to put my shoes on he and Molly go crazy. Molly just rushes up and bowls me over while I’m sitting on the stairs lacing my shoes. Sammy runs around throwing his toy or mock-killing it.

I’ve been taking the dogs out in the garden with me while I work and letting them roam free in the big garden complex. Sammy tried to escape a few times but he has settled down now and behaves pretty well. I’ve had to shoo him and Molly out of the beds a few times, and the other day Sammy snuck into the big veggie bed and stole a huge chunk of petrified cow poo compost. Good news is that kept him entertained with vigorous chewing for about an hour, while Molly looked on mournfully. Needless to say, kisses were out that day! Yesterday, after some random stick chewing and tug-of-war with Molly, he suddenly became crazed and ran around the garden like a maniac. Luckily I’ve trained him to stay out of the beds (mostly) so no damage was done.

A couple of times a day I take them out into the backyard for a vigorous came of fetch. Sammy may or may not play along, and Molly could usually not be bothered. She gets excited for a few minutes but quickly settles down to chew on a stick. They’ve been finding all sorts of interesting things to chew on since our roof has been under construction because our builders will throw things off the roof and clean up at the end of the day. I’m sure Sammy has had his fill of foam insulation.

I don’t really mind being a dog wrangler because I also get to be a dog cuddler. Molly will cuddle anywhere, anytime, probably because she’s knows what it’s like to be in dog prison (the shelter). Sammy takes a little more convincing. I’ll call him over to me and he walks over with his head hanging down like I’m going to beat him. I’ll never understand this since he’s been pampered by us since he was 3-1/2 months old. Sometimes he voluntarily comes over and put his paw up on my lap and lets me pick him up for a good cuddle. He just doesn’t like admitting he has a soft, gooey center!

The other funny thing that happened recently is that I found Sammy’s old leg bone Kong toy (the new one is pictured above) sitting on the other side of our road, across from our driveway. This thing has been MIA for months, and suddenly one day there it is, sitting there like he dropped it the day before. Too weird! It’s now a garden toy…




The Great Chicken Caper

I’m pretty sure they were planning it from the moment they saw me take the chicken breasts out of the freezer. I usually put meat in the oven to thaw because so far none of the animals in the house have learned how to open the oven door. Yet. When I checked the chicken it wasn’t quite ready for cooking so I set it in a pan of warm water in the sink. Usually I cover it with a cast iron pan lid which is heavy enough to deter the rodents, but this time I neglected that step. Big mistake.

I went outside to do a bit of gardening and came back in about 45 minutes later. I had the dogs outside with me, and I let them go in the house while I took some flower pictures in the garden. I came inside and looked in the sink…the pan of water was there, but no chicken. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach as I asked my husband if he had moved the chicken. The answer was no. Uh oh.

That’s when I noticed the plastic bits on the floor. Uh oh again. Not surprisingly, all the animals were in hiding, except for Boots. [Why should I hide? I didn’t do anything wrong. Mother is being hysterical about the stupid chicken. – Boots]  I checked around for the rest of the chicken package and when I didn’t see it I went out to the back yard, the final resting place of many liberated food items.

Sure enough, Sammy was out there on the lawn and he looked up at me, looking VERY guilty. When I called his name he wagged his tail and came running up to me with his guilty, sideways crab run. I looked over the deck railing and there was the chicken package, minus the chicken. At least this time he didn’t eat all the plastic.

I figure what happened is that Boots dragged the chicken out of the sink. I don’t know how she did it because the package weighed more than she does! [It was easy – Mother is so clueless. – Boots] She probably ate her fill while we were out in the garden and when I let the dogs in the house Sammy grabbed what was left and ran.

This is not the first time these two have conspired to steal dinner. A few weeks ago I cooked two steaks for my husband, one for dinner and one for the next day (our steaks from the butcher some two to a package and I didn’t want mine). I mistakenly left one on the counter. Boots grabbed the steak off the counter and tried to make off with it. Sammy ran up to her, she growled at him with a mouthful of steak (hilarious!) and he snatched it away and ran outside to eat it. [I am going to get back at that stupid dog, just you wait. – Boots]

I’m pretty sure Molly and Little Miss were innocent in the Chicken Caper. Sammy and Boots are the real delinquents in the family. [Says you. – Boots]


Oh those kids….I mean dogs

We’ve had some challenges with Molly lately, the first being that she had a sudden flare-up of an ear infection that required emergency care. Once we got that under control, she injured one of her legs jumping into the back of the truck. Luckily, one of our friends is a vet who does chiropractic, cranio-sacral work, acupuncture and homeopathy. Molly got an appointment with her yesterday, which helped a lot, and she’ll be getting a homeopathic work-up soon to deal with a deep-seated systemic infection that anti-biotics haven’t touched, and that she’s probably had since before we got her.

I think the hard part for me when an animal gets sick is they can’t actually tell you how they feel. It would be the same for a baby or toddler who can’t talk yet – how do you know what to do? I guess the key is to get the right kind of help and stay positive and never give up. My sister is my hero because she’s gone through some serious illnesses with two of her kids. They are doing great now and she never stopped projecting a positive attitude, no matter how scary it got. I’m in the minor leagues when it comes to that because I’ve only had pets, not kids.

With all the attention being on Molly lately, Sammy’s been a bit jealous and acting out. I took the dogs out in the pasture with me the other day while gardening and I had Sammy secured to a tree on a tie-out line. This was after he had already snapped his leather lead chasing the neighbor’s dogs. Once I got him tied up again I started doing my work, and my husband drove up in our big pickup after going to get a load of compost. Well, Molly took off to greet him and Sammy took off right after her, forgetting (or not caring) that he was still tied up. I saw it all happen from a distance and couldn’t stop it – Sammy reached the end of his line and jerked himself off his feet. He flipped in the air and slipped right out of his harness and ran up to greet his papa. I think this guy is going to need a chirpractic tune-up with the vet!



I have bent Mother to my will

I get to lick Father’s dessert bowl, as is my right.

It took longer than I would have liked, but Mother has finally submitted to my wishes. I was tired of going through the little door into the laundry room to do my business. That little door is so undignified. Those stupid dogs wait by the door for me to come back into the house and sometimes that stripey cat is there and I have to boss her around for a while. It’s such a bother.

Well, I had enough of that. I started doing my business in the room where Mother types her lies about me into the computer. She finally realized that I was not going to give up, so the other day she got me my own little catbox and put it in the guest bathroom so I do not have to go back to that cold, dark laundry room. I knew if I stuck to my guns she would cave in. She is so weak. I disliked going outside my box but this situation called for drastic measures.

Just a few minutes ago I also bent Father to my will. I made him share his dessert with me. Another triumph. Of course I had no doubt I would prevail. As soon as Mother turns her back I will take over her dessert bowl as well.

~ Boots


Sammy Patrol

Sammy keeping an eye on the backyard.

Sammy’s big brother Charlie taught him a lot in the six months they were together. One of the things he taught Sammy was how to conduct a security patrol.

When we first moved here, Charlie was our only dog and we didn’t have a fenced backyard. We weren’t too worried about it because Charlie never roamed very far and always came back. When we would go out in the hot tub, Charlie used to sit at the corner of the house, on alert, at a spot where he could see the driveway approach and the whole back of the property, protecting us while we were tubbing. He was such a great dog….

Well, after we got Cowboy Joe the Great Escape Artist, we had to fence part of the back. Joe used to dig under the fence, find holes to go through and one “last straw” day he actually sailed over the top. From then on, my goal was to contain at least one dog (Charlie) so they wouldn’t run off together for hours. In any case, Charlie started to perimeter patrol every night, running around the whole fenced area before coming in for the night.

I think Charlie saw it as his job to teach Sammy the basics, as Sammy now does the same thing.  Charlie also used to sit just where Sammy is sitting in the picture above, on the top step of the back deck, with his front legs on the step below. For me, having Sammy takes a little bit of the hurt out of losing Charlie.

Our big, beautiful Charlie on watch.


The Roll of Joy

You’ve probably seen your dog do this…The Roll of Joy. I wish I had a picture or video to post but it’s an elusive moment that I haven’t been able to capture on camera yet. Usually it’s done on the grass, that wonderful, twisty dance on the back that dogs like to do. Charlie used to do it with a stick in his mouth, which we called The Roll of Joy With Stick. Sammy doesn’t do the roll very often for some reason. Maybe because his hair is really short and he doesn’t shed much. Molly, however, is a master at this.

In the winter, she’ll run outside (not on leash since she’s a good girl), grab a mouthful of snow and crunch it up, then roll on her back. Snow, ice, it doesn’t matter. In fact, I think she prefers ice. She’ll find an icy slope of snow that has built up around the house, roll on her back and slide down the slope head first! Someday I will get a video of this. Last year we got two feet of snow in one day, so we had a huge pile of snow in the front yard from all the snow that we shoveled off the walk and that came off the roof. For a few months, until it melted, Molly had the perfect icy slide for her unique Slide of Joy. It was about a five-foot long icy slope and when she landed at the bottom she’d squirm around for a few minutes looking very happy.

Horses also do the Roll of Joy, and the most amazing thing I ever saw was a giant Belgian draft horse doing it in our pasture. We had a logger guy here to take care of about 50 trees that blew down in a windstorm shortly after we moved in. Instead of letting a logging operation go in and tear up the forest, we hired this guy who used two draft horses to pull the logs through the woods to our driveway, where we had them milled. He left the horses in our pasture overnight so he wouldn’t have to keep carting them back and forth, and one day I looked out and saw this huge horse doing exactly what the dogs do. It was incredible!

Maybe when it thaws I’ll try the Roll of Joy for myself….



The not-so-indestructible Kong

I love Kong dog toys. They’re red, so they’re easy to spot in the woods and in the snow. They’re rubber so they are fairly durable and you don’t have to keep buying them every week. But, they’re not indestructible. Case in point is the ball at right, which used to be round. Sammy has been working on it over the past two and a half years, taking it apart one chunk at a time. Most of the time I’m able to pick up the little chunks and throw them away so he doesn’t swallow them. Other times, I’m sure he’s had interesting-looking poops!

When we first got Sammy, I bought all kinds of toys that were supposed to be tough and indestructible. He tore all of them apart within hours. The Kong is the only thing that has given him pause. He used to have a bone-shaped Kong, but he ate the ends off of it and then it disappeared in the woods. There are actually 4 of the round Kong balls in the woods surrounding our house. Sammy and Charlie ran off with them and then dropped them out there. Someday maybe we’ll get them back. For the record, the woods in our neighborhood are also hiding: one frisbee, one dog vest, and one dog bootie.

Charlie was famous for losing his Kong balls. Once we took him to California and were playing on the beach. We had just bought him two new round Kong balls. He took one and dropped it at the water’s edge. The ocean came and took it. Stupid me, I threw him the other one. He dropped it at the water’s edge and the ocean came and took it. Oh well.

The only Kong that Sammy hasn’t been able to tear up is the large, bulbous one (I don’t know what that shape is called). It’s his favorite because it’s oddly shaped, and when you throw it it bounces in terribly interesting ways. Molly is only interested in the Kong when Sammy has it in his mouth, because then she can play tug-of-war with him. It’s pretty hilarious to see them lip-to-lip, their snouts mashed together while they try to get the other one to drop the ball!



Uh oh! Cuddle angst….

You gotta love these faces!

After the first day of the two-dog cuddle, Sammy and Molly decided it should be like that every day. Gulp! After the second day, I had to nip that in the bud right away, and did I ever get the look from Molly! When I told her she couldn’t come up with Sammy, she looked at me like I hadn’t fed her in a week.

Speaking of which, these crazy dogs get really worried if they don’t get their breakfast on time. I try not to feed them at the same time each day just for that very reason, but if I go much past 11am, they start to follow me around looking mournful. Today, Sammy literally followed me everywhere and stood right next to me until the meat I was thawing for them was soft enough to feed to them. Have I ever not fed them? Sheesh!

The cats just sit in the kitchen and meow, because they know I can’t stand the noise, so they usually get their way. [Of course we get our way! I am the boss of you! ~ Boots] If I don’t feed Little Miss quickly enough, though, she just goes out and hunts. She’s pretty self-sufficient.



Cuddle Time

Morning cuddles with Mama

Most every morning it’s cuddle time on our couch. Sammy usually starts by putting a paw up on my leg and mostly he just wants to chew on me. But I make him come up for a full cuddle and he reluctantly submits. As an independent kind of guy, he likes for the full cuddle to be his idea. And he doesn’t really want to be fully on my lap. He wants to be on the couch with maybe just his head in my lap. When he was a puppy I used to cuddle him on my chest, and as he got bigger his body covered my chest and legs. I still like the full-body cuddle but Sammy thinks he’s too old for that.  When he turned three years old he decided that he was a big boy and should just do the head cuddle. Some days cuddle time is a bit of a struggle. :-)  It used to be Secret Cuddling with Sammy, but after my sister published a picture of him on my lap on Facebook, his secret was out!

This morning, Molly wasn’t in the mood to wait for her turn, and after I got Sammy up she barreled right over and hoisted herself up next to me. She was quite frustrated that Sammy was already in my lap so I had to console her for a while with ear rubbies. Molly is happiest when she has me to herself. She generally puts her front paws up and then waits for me to hoist the back end up onto the couch. Then she squirms and wiggles for a while, finally settling down and rolling on her back so I can rub her tummy. If I keep her up there long enough she’ll eventually fall asleep.

Of course, the whole time she’s up there Sammy is terribly jealous, even if I’ve just cuddled him for half an hour. He puts his front paws on the couch and chews on Molly’s neck and paws and generally tries to piss her off so she’ll get down and play with him. His other favorite thing to do is come over with a slimy Kong in his mouth and drop it next to me. I always make him take it back….ewww!

I always wished I had cuddled my other dogs on the couch. We used to cuddle on the floor a lot but couch cuddling is more fun. I’m getting less picky as I get older, I guess.



Travel dogs

We recently took a car trip to see my family for my brother’s birthday – so fun! This entailed packing up the car with all our stuff and the dogs. We’ve done this a lot over the years so we’re pretty good at fitting all our stuff into the car while still leaving room in the back for the dogs to be comfy. Sammy spent the night before the trip sleeping in the bedroom instead of on the couch. I think he wanted to make sure we didn’t forget him!

The dogs always get really excited when they see us packing the car, and once we carry their dog beds out they know they are in for an adventure. They go crazy when we let them out the front door and they immediately run to the car and jump in any open door. Once we get them corralled in the back, they don’t calm down until we actually get on the road.

Sammy used to be a challenge to travel with, as we would have to stop for him to pee about every hour. He’s gotten better now, and we can go up to three hours without stopping for a pee break. I don’t mind stopping, though, since it gives me a chance to get out of the car and stretch. The very back area of the car has enough room for the dogs to sleep and stretch out a bit, which helps on those 10-hour travel days.

We stopped overnight in Salt Lake City in a downtown Hilton that was pet-friendly. It was kind of a posh hotel but no one minded when we brought the dogs through the lobby. They got a lot of smiles and pets and comments on how beautiful they are. We’re lucky that our dogs are pretty well-behaved. The only mishap was when Sammy figured out that there’s a huge gap between the floor of the lobby and the floor of the elevator.

The first few times we went on the elevator he was fine. Once he discovered the gap he refused to board and I had to pick him up and carry him onto the elevator from then on. It was bit embarrassing, but once I explained it to our fellow passengers they were very sympathetic. It wasn’t too much fun when the dogs woke us up at 2:30am needing to go out. It was bitterly cold in Salt Lake City, so the middle-of-the-night pee run was a challenge.

Once we got to my sister’s house, the dogs were able to run around in the backyard and use the dog door at will, which makes life easier. I think her dog Clyde was happy for the company. She said he got depressed when we left. :-)

On our trip home we stopped at the same hotel in Salt Lake City and Sammy still wouldn’t voluntarily get on the elevator. And, strangely enough, the front desk told me there were no stairs up to the guest floors. Is it just me or is that really weird?

The dogs were as happy to get home as we were, and they immediately ran outside to the backyard through their new Extreme Weather dog door!