Happy Birthday Charlie

Charlie turns seven on Halloween. His date of birth sort of says it all when you describe him. He is the sweetest most lovable psycho dog anyone would ever want to own. One minute he’s sitting beside you looking up at you with the softest expression then a split second later his face changes and no one is sure who’s inside there looking out. It’s pretty unsettling to anyone who comes over.

 Charlie is animal aggressive thanks to a dog attacking him as a puppy owned by a woman that lives around here once in our yard and another time on an encounter while walking him. That pretty much set the tone for all other dogs in Charlie’s mind. We have to be very vigilant around other dogs. It has taken months of hard work to get him to play with our friends’ two dogs. When their two dogs and our three get together, we are all on guard for any change in the force.

We have our first pheasant hunting trip coming up shortly and now that he’ll be seven, we’re hoping that some of his exuberance at being out in the field doing what all of his instincts are screaming his brain to do (better known as running around in the field totally out of control, flushing birds a mile away) will be diminished. Not likely! But we’re holding on to hope. What can I say, I am a Pollyanna.

This year we’re going hunting with middle aged to senior citizen dogs. AJ is eleven, Charlie will be seven and Orso (non-hunting Lab) is five. Mitch is still optimistic about Orso. I don’t hold out much hope though. Maybe we’ll get to work the fields at a more sedate speed instead of the 4mph walks I’ve done in the past.

A Bored Dog Wears Me Out!

Dogs do all kinds of things when they’re bored.  They can be terribly destructive, chew on furniture, shoes and tear up stuff.  Dogs will start snooping around, checking out something that smells interesting then go after it with a vengeance.  Where some people eat when bored, Orso drinks when he’s bored.  He finds the one pastime that he really likes.  Orso drinks water.  Not just come into the kitchen and drink water when he’s thirsty. Oh no.  Orso will stand and lap at the water in one of the water buckets in the kitchen, not really drinking, but sort of flicking his tongue into the water, just killing time waiting for something to fall off of the countertop.  He tries to be so nonchalant about it.  If we’re not paying attention to him, he will stand there for five or ten minutes playing in the water.  The next thing we notice is that he has drained the bucket.  That dog has drunk a gallon of water just being bored killing time. 

It doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world, drinking too much water.  It’s not fattening, calorie free and keeps your skin hydrated, all silky and smooth.  Sounds great, until 12:45 in the middle of the night, when a giant dog head starts banging the side of the bed to wake you up because his bladder is about to explode.  Whenever any of the dogs gets up in the middle of the night, they only come to my side of the bed.  Mitch always gets to stay in Z land mainly because someone could drive a car through the house and he’d sleep through it.  Not me, I’m a light sleeper so whenever anything stirs I’m awake.  Raising two boys and staying one step ahead them creates light sleepers and it just stuck, even after they grew up, moved out and started their own families.

So at 12:43 to be exact, Orso started banging his head on my side of the bed.  I turned on the light and tried to coax him onto the foot of the bed and go back to sleep, but he was having none of that.  He had to go out RIGHT NOW!  I dragged myself out of bed and of course the other two got up also, because when mom gets up, we all get up.  Mitch can get up go to the bathroom or wander around the house, nobody else stirs, lucky me. I took them outside and Orso stood out there and peed in one spot for 8 minutes, I know because I timed him. 

Now we have something new to watch out for, because I do not like getting up in the middle of the night for anything or anybody, especially not a dog.

They’re Just Like Kids

I had to do the “hidden objects in the mouth” check again this morning after our walk.  This year has produced a bumper crop of large acorns.  These giant acorns are the ones with the fuzzy caps still attached when they drop off the trees.  It sounds like a hail storm when the acorns start falling down.  As big as they are, the acorns gain velocity the farther they have to drop before hitting an unsuspecting object below.  I had a car that looked like it had been through a really bad hail storm after being pummeled from falling acorns.  Anyway I digress.

All of the dogs love these large acorns and will stop dead in their tracks on our walks to crack and eat them.  Orso only likes the fuzzy cap, (go figure) and after chewing off the cap will drop the acorn to the ground, which Charlie or AJ will then snatch up and crack with their jaws, eat the nut meat and spit out the shells.  On our morning walks, I don’t have the luxury of standing around shelling acorns for the dogs.  Mornings I’m on a schedule and acorn shelling is not on it.  As the dogs try to stop and eat acorns, I have to yank on the leash or leashes of the offending dogs to drag them along.  I constantly remind them that this walk is not a brunch walk, but a business walk and they need to get to it, just like kids. 

So now all of them are getting cagey.  They will walk along, dip their heads down and snatch up acorns without missing a step.  Yesterday, I noticed that Charlie was walking rather sedately, staying close to me and not wandering around sniffing and peeing on everything.  He would turn his head to glance up at me then turn back quickly so I couldn’t really see his mouth.  I stopped and bent down to get a closer look, and sure enough there was a large acorn hanging out of his mouth.  I let him take it home but made him spit it out before going inside; I wanted to avoid the truly unpleasant sensation of stepping barefoot on broken acorn shells left as a mine field on the dark brown rug.

This morning, both Charlie and Orso had hidden acorns in their mouths to savor later this morning after I left for work.  As I did the “Drop it!” command, I heard multiple acorns hitting the steps.  Charlie being the smaller of the two only had hidden one, but Orso, having the jowls of a Mastiff, had squirreled away FOUR in his mouth. 

Dogs are so much like children, and I had thought that now I could relax and enjoy life with both sons grown, married and with children of their own.  But no, now I have to revert to my parenting days when I raised my sons and had to stay three steps ahead of each of them, just to maintain my sanity.

Munchies for Each Season

My dogs are the Euell Gibbons of the canine world.  For those of us old enough to remember seeing Euell Gibbons on television in the 1960’s extolling the virtues of eating natural foods, like pine needles, yum, you can relate.  My dogs are living proof that they can pick up and eat just about anything that drops from trees or grows out of the ground. 

In the spring when berries are growing, we can’t walk under a Mulberry tree without stopping and eating mulberries off the ground.  Mitch and I will stop and pick ripe mulberries off of the lower branches and feed the dogs.  Charlie who is way too smart for his own good will jump up and grab at the branches to pull down to his level and jerk leaves and berries off to scarf down.  The same thing goes with blackberries.  There is a wild blackberry bush growing along side the road on our and we have to stop and dine on blackberries.  AJ who has watched Charlie with his snatch and grab routine has started to reach up and grab at the ripe blackberries still on the bush, both AJ and Charlie are unmindful of the thorns.  We’re just not fast enough picking the berries and doling out to each dog fairly.  Of course they don’t care about fair, we’re talking stomachs here and stomachs always come first.

Summertime brings grasses.  Not everyday lawn grass, oh no, they prefer ornamental grasses.  The big bladed pampas type grasses.  Orso even ate one of my plants to the ground and killed, a hardy grass that the co-worker who gave it to me said can’t be killed.  Surprise!  All three will stand and graze on ornamental grasses just like a herd of goats if we would let them.  One of the neighbors dug up all of their pampas grass plants, seven of them, and replanted them across the road from their house in front of the ravine, I guess to block the view.  Anyway, Orso believes this to be his personal salad buffet line.  As we walk by everyday, he will do a quick dine and dash, grabbing some of the long coarse blades and chew them as he walks with us.  Quite the multi-tasker. 

With the fall comes acorns, and they can’t get enough acorns.  Mitch can stand and shell acorns all day long for both AJ and Charlie.  Orso loves crunching the acorns, but only likes the shells and if fuzzy caps are on the acorns, that’s a bonus.  We have both tried to give him acorn meat and he just spits it out. And goes after the shells we’ve discarded on the ground.  There is nothing more frustrating walking the dogs than being jerked backwards as they stop and grab acorns off the road.  I see rotator cuff surgery in my future.  Orso now will grab three or four acorns in his mouth at a time, crunch on one and stuff the extra ones in his jowls to bring home for a later snack.  Do you have any idea how much fun it is to step barefoot on a piece of acorn shell?

Winter means hackberries.  After all of the trees are dormant and no grass is left to graze on, the dogs have resorted to eating the berries that have fallen off of the multitude of hackberry trees on our property.  The hackberry trees have these small hard dark berries that fall in the winter, for the birds and squirrels to eat when food is scarce I suppose, and the dogs have decided that these little berries are awesome.  They stop and eat them and won’t come when called, not that they really need an excuse to ignore me anyway.  I’ve considered cutting down every hackberry tree we own.

It’s nice to know that with each season, our dogs can find sustenance even without their Science Diet.