Orso and Petco

Orso finally got to go inside Petco this morning. We don’t take our dogs to Petco, because there are usually other dogs around, small dogs and big dogs and not all are well behaved. Plus Charlie doesn’t play nice with too many other dogs, so he never gets to go inside. The last time I took any dog inside with me was Buddy, our yellow lab. Buddy was a very large yellow lab that weighed in at one hundred twenty pounds and loved to go everywhere with me. Buddy loved other dogs and people, but because of his size people with small dogs took one look at him and literally would turn and walk the other way.

On the last time that I took Buddy inside with me to Petco, I bought a fifty pound bag of dog food and had it in a cart with Buddy walking along side me attached to my wrist with his leash. As we walked out of the building Buddy spotted a little tiny dog walking toward us with an older man on the other end of the leash before I saw them. Buddy jerked and ran toward the little dog with me attached. I let go of the cart with the dog food inside in order to retain my wrist. The cart went sailing off in one direction and the two of us went catapulting in the opposite direction toward a man that was trying his best to get the little dog off the ground and in his arms before this giant carnivore gobbled him up.

A woman walking in the store from a different direction started yelling, “Run away cart,” like I could stop that while still attached to a very large dog going in the opposite direction. By the time we got to the man with the little dog, the dog owner was able to get the little guy up in his arms and out of the way of Buddy. Buddy stood there trying really hard to sniff the dog and say hello while I stood there apologizing profusely. I think we cost both the man and his dog a few years of life. The woman yelling about my cart, was nice enough to catch it before it hit a parked car. To say the least, Buddy never got to go back to Petco again.

This morning we needed to buy dog food and Orso needed a smaller collar, plus Mitch was going with me, so we decided to take a chance and take Orso in with us. Poor Charlie had to stay in the car and he wasn’t happy about that. The one thing I forgot was that today was pet adoption day and there were lots of dogs and cats there in crates hoping to be adopted. Orso thought that this was doggy heaven with all of the new dogs and people to greet and smell and bark at. Thank goodness for linoleum floors. Orso was like a kid in a candy store, so many new sights, smells and things to taste. I quickly remembered why I don’t take the dogs in Petco again.

At the check-out Orso stood up on the counter and greeted the clerk, who fell for that pitiful face and gave him a cookie. She was lucky she still had fingers. We were lucky to get out of there alive.

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I’m Going Solo Again

It’s just like old times. It’s just the dogs and me, facing life all alone in the wee hours of the morning. It has been eleven weeks since my foot surgery and one week bootless. This morning was the first morning that it was just me holding both leashes wandering around in the predawn hours. It was a nice quiet morning all by ourselves, no critters or other vermin about. It was a slow walk much to dogs dismay, my foot is still stiff and a bit tender, but I’m walking, and that is a wonderful feeling.

Charlie kept an eye on the road ahead as usual always on the hunt. Orso snatched as much tall grass to munch on along the way as always. The world is his “All You Can Eat Buffet”. I’ve never had a dog that will eat just about everything he comes across. Tall grass, mulberries and wild blackberries in the summer, acorns in the fall and hackberries in the winter are all on the menu, plus the undesirables, goose poop and deer droppings are quite the delicacy. Yuck.

This morning was quite uneventful and for that I am very grateful, because I know in the not too distant future, something will be out waiting for us. Waiting to run in front of us or make a noise in the dark and the dogs will lunge and drag me around like a boat anchor, and hopefully my foot will be able to take it, not to mention the rest of my body.

But there is hope, our wonderful friends that walked the dogs for me while I recovered also worked with them daily, training them to heel, do stupid pet tricks and not lunge at other dogs on the walk. I intend to carry on and continue the training; otherwise we’ll have dog stew for dinner. Just kidding, we don’t eat stew in the summer.

It felt good though, almost as though life is almost in balance again.

My Hooligans

What is up with these two?  Orso and Charlie are at it again.  Once again they lulled me into a false sense of security thinking that they could be trusted to have the run of the house while home alone.  I was sure that since AJ was gone that these two hooligans would behave without AJ to instigate raiding the pantry.  And once again I was wrong.  I should be used to being wrong.

I know that with my foot surgery things have been thrown off.  Their routine has changed drastically.  But it’s not like they are getting no exercise.  We have our best friend coming over every day and walking the dogs, giving them lots of work and exercise.  So what happened?

I came home from work and was greeted by Mitch telling me to go check the kitchen and see the gift that the two had left for us.  Knowing that was not a good omen, I hobbled into the kitchen to find a mangled jar of my favorite local honey on the counter.  Evidently someone, my guess, Orso jumped up on the table and snatched the bottle of honey off the table and chewed the top off to enjoy my honey.  There was more than half gone.  I hope he gets sick, but not in the house.  But he won’t, he’s a Labrador retriever.

At dinner though we discovered another surprise.  Mitch went to butter his baked potato and looked at me and asked where the butter was.  Not on the table.  We went on a butter tub hunt throughout the house, kind of like an Easter egg hunt.  We searched under tables and dressers, under the bed and in the corners.  No luck.  The tub of butter has disappeared.  No slimy smears, no bits of plastic about.  Nothing, no clue, just no butter.  It was as though a master cat burglar had come into the house stole the butter and disappeared without a trace.

Now comes the fun part, watching the dogs closely to make sure they don’t get sick.  Poop watch, checking for bits of plastic, is so much fun and something I thought we were beyond now that AJ is not here.  Wrong again.

It’s Time to Start Writing Again

I realized the other day that I hadn’t been writing since AJ died.  I had nothing to say.  Nothing funny or witty came to mind; I just felt this empty loss.  I guess I needed the time to get past his death.  I still miss him, but now I know that it was for the best for him.  No more pain.  I’m just sorry that I didn’t clue into his pain sooner.  That makes me sad that I didn’t see the signs, the growing rib cage, the slowing down and most of all not picking up on his refusal to eat with the usual gusto he had exhibited in the past.  Does that make me a bad pet owner?  I hope not.  But I hope that I will be a more aware pet owner for Charlie and Orso.

When a member of the family dies all you feel at first is the sorrow and pain of the loss of a dear loved one.  All of their faults are forgotten.  I could only think of how much I loved him, what a devoted dog he was and that I would never get to see or pet him again.  AJ wasn’t perfect, far from it in reality. 

He had severe separation anxiety issues that we could never overcome, even after ten years in a stable loving environment.  AJ was a consummate counter surfer, stealing and consuming multiple loaves of bread and many coffee cakes that were still in the baking dish.  How that glass pan survived multiple crashes to the floor is a testament to the strength of Pyrex.  He even broke into the pantry and ate his way through two loaves of bread, chocolate cake mix, taco shells, dry pasta and a bottle of Magic Shell in one scavenger attack.  He survived without getting sick, even though I would have felt some sense of justice if he had.

I can look back now and remember the carnage and mess and smile, but not then.  Mitch and I went through a period of trying everything we could think of to contain the dogs, with AJ as the ring leader, and keep the kitchen contents safe from theft and destruction.  The pantry doors will have to be replaced because of the scratches from AJ working to pull the doors open.  I can’t remember how many times AJ knocked over the trash can and dragged the bag out into the room and searched for something that might be tasty, leaving a nasty mess for us to clean up. 

AJ chewed his way through a pair of Mitch’s boots, a pair of my gloves, a pair of 360 ear muffs (my favorite ones of course) and a couple of my cookbooks over the years.  I don’t know if it was out of boredom or fear, but it was so frustrating on my part, looking at the destruction and the cost to repair or replace what was torn up.  We even tried kenneling him when we were gone.  There wasn’t a crate made that could hold him for long.  AJ had an uncanny ability for escape.  His nickname should have been Houdini.  First we tried a wire crate.  It took him maybe four hours to force the welds at the corners to pop and collapse the crate.  I’m only guessing at the four hours because that was how long I was gone.  After the failure of the wire crate we tried an airline crate, formed plastic with wire windows and door.  The door lasted three days before AJ had pushed against the hinge pins long and hard enough to bend the catches so the door would swing open.  Mitch tried to get creative and cut a door out of clear Lexan, drilled vent holes and hung it in place of the bent wire door.  That solution lasted one week.  Long enough for AJ to chew through the formed plastic base all the way across under the door, causing the door to just fall out.  Done, we were out of ideas on ways to lock up Houdini. 

What can you do with a dog that is that determined to be untethered with a myriad of phobias and bad habits?  The only option we had, love him and deal with the phobias and bad behavior on a day by day basis.  For all of the destruction and mayhem, I wouldn’t have missed one moment with AJ.

The Call Of The Wild…Sorta

Camping in the wild lends to unique sounds from the calls of the local inhabitants claiming their territory or seeking a mate.  Hearing wolves howl late at night is both an exhilarating and unnerving sound, knowing you’re not alone and wild animals are nearby, protected only by the wall of a camper or the thin material of a tent.  Camping out in the wild you expect and hope to hear the noises, that’s one of the reasons you’re out there in the first place.  Since I don’t go camping, my idea of roughing it is that the ice machine is at the other end of the hall, I usually only get to hear the late night sounds of wolves howling on National Geographic.  So imagine how unnerving it was to wake up to the sound of howling at midnight in our bedroom. 

I bolted straight up out of a semi-sound sleep looking around trying to find the source of the soulful howl.  The howling came from across the room, inside the bedroom.  Living in the Midwest, we don’t have wolves, a few coyotes, but no wolves, so you can imagine how being roused out of my sleep to the eerie howl would be a bit strange to say the least.  The sound didn’t come from outside, because the dogs were still asleep and if there was an interloper outside our window, the dogs would have jumped up barking and throwing a fit.  AJ was asleep in the round bed next to my side of the bed so he didn’t howl.  Charlie was asleep at the foot of our bed, so he didn’t howl either.  No, the howling came from the dog bed next to Mitch’s side of the bed.  Orso was dreaming and for some reason he howled in his sleep.  The weirdest part was the neither of the other dogs stirred a bit.

Why I have no idea, because when they’re awake, they don’t howl.  I know, I’ve tried to get them to howl, but they won’t cooperate.  So I’m usually standing around howling all be myself, looking pretty silly.  Most dogs run in their sleep or make small woofing sounds, but I’ve never heard them howl.  So now I have a dog that dreams he’s a wolf.  Next he’ll start sleep walking, raiding the fridge.  I see lots of sleep interrupted nights ahead.

One Week and No Shopping

It’s been a week now and no more shopping in the kitchen while we’re not home.  Fresh batteries make all the difference in the world.  That and moving the transmitter closer to the entryway hall.  Evidently  someone or some ones got shocked and got the hint.  Stay out!   Now Orso and AJ wait to be invited into the kitchen.  Maybe I should feel guilty, but I don’t.  It’s not that I enjoy their pain, in fact I can’t stand see any of them get shocked, but lord I am so tired of cleaning up after the mayhem and destruction or re-purchasing things that have been broken when they get bored. 

Does that make me a bad pet owner?  Maybe, but I like to think that this was the best decision we could make under the circumstances.  We can’t afford to take them to doggie daycare four to five days a week.  Crating didn’t work for AJ, he just destroyed crates, both the metal and the plastic airline crates.  A dog isn’t much of a watch dog in a crate anyway.  He can bark, but little else.  I don’t think Cesar Milan would come to our home.  Our problem isn’t television viewing worthy.  How would he even correct the problem?  We could set up webcams to see who the culprit(s) might be.  Then what, hide in the bathroom off the kitchen to wait for the culprit to come shopping, then jump out and issue a correction?  My luck Cesar would jump out to catch the dog or dogs in the act, startle them so badly they attack him and we get sued.  Now that would be television viewing worthy, us in court.

It is really maddening  because when we’re home everything is wonderful.  It’s like having three large rugs that occasionally change location on the floor.  I keep the television on when I leave so they hear human voices and don’t feel alone.  Maybe that’s the problem, I have the wrong channel on.  We just don’t know what gets them going and when.  Is it right after I leave, sometime in the middle or right before I get home?  I guess we really should set up a webcam, if for nothing else than the entertainment value.  I could upload the antics on You Tube then everyone could feel my pain.

Rule Number One – Change the Batteries

Rule number one – when you buy batteries to replace the dead ones in the indoor shock collars for the dogs, it’s always a good idea to actually change them.  I bought the batteries for the collars the very next morning and as is always the case, I got busy multitasking and totally forgot to change out the dead for the freshly charged batteries.  We had dinner plans that night with my best friend and her significant other, who were in town only for the weekend, so I was busy trying to get everything done for the day and prod Mitch along. 

Mitch is busy working on our latest renovation project since the bathroom finally was finished.  The latest project is totally gutting the dining room and sheet rocking the room ceiling and walls and covering the hard wood floors with bamboo.  Mitch is not a social butterfly, hermit fits the description better, so getting him to stop the rehab and get cleaned up in a timely fashion, is like prodding a giant tortoise to walk faster.  Not going to happen.  So while I’m prodding, nagging and giving him the Look, I completely forgot to change out the batteries.  We go to dinner and have a great time, because once I finally get Mitch out of the cave and into the light, he opens up and enjoys himself.  He’ll even grudgingly admit it later, maybe.   

We get home to barking dogs waiting for me to open the door and once inside, I’m overwhelmed with the wave of destruction the dogs have waged on the kitchen.  In the living room an empty butter container that had housed an unopened pound of whipped butter that one or more dogs had taken from the kitchen table and consumed.  Yummy, eating a pound of butter.  I can’t wait to see which dog ate that.  Farther in the living was a plastic jar of honey or what was left of it.  The lid had been chewed off and the top of the jar had been chewed with about one quarter of the honey eaten.  I picked up the empty butter container, lid and the honey jar and walked into the kitchen to survey the damage waiting for me.  The recycle bin had been opened and contents strewn about.  Why, it’s not like anything in there was edible.

The trash can was knocked over again with trash all over the floor.  Orso also left a wonderful gift in the guest bathroom off the kitchen, he peed on the tile floor.  Lovely.  Surprisingly no one looked at all remorseful.  Imagine that.

The trashcan will now be removed and a smaller one will go under the sink.  God help me if they figure out how to open cabinet doors.  The butter and honey get put up higher, just like living with toddlers and the recycle container will be emptied more often and left outside when I’m gone. 

Oh yes and I am going to change the batteries in the collars right now.

Dead Batteries

The batteries died in the indoor shock collars the dogs wear when left alone in the house.  Why do the dogs wear shock collars in the house and how did we find out that the batteries were dead you ask?  Well let me tell you.  First off we discovered the indoor shock collars when AJ and Charlie discovered the pantry while being left to their own devices during the work week.  After eating their way through the well stocked pantry, we had to find something to keep them out of the kitchen.  Kennels didn’t work, AJ would either destroy the metal ones or chew through the plastic airline crates.  Quite by accident I found these really nifty indoor collars that emit a high pitched squeal then a mild shock if the dog gets too close to the transmitter you place wherever you don’t want the dog(s) to be.  Works like a champ with good batteries, not so much with dead batteries, as we discovered today.

Today we came home from work for lunch as usual, but there was no barking dogs waiting for me to open the door.  That should have been my first clue.  I opened the door and two of the dogs, AJ and Orso came running.  Charlie was a little bit further behind.  That should have been my second clue.  After the dogs rushed out the door toward Mitch to go pee, I walked inside.  As I rounded the corner from the entry hall to the living room two things caught my eye.  A can of whole cashews standing upright with the lid pulled off  and the empty meat tray I had washed this morning and had placed in the recycle bin.  The lid to the can of cashews sporting chew marks was lying on the rug next to the can of cashews sans cashews.  Somehow one or more dogs had stuck his muzzle into the can and scooped out all of the cashews.  They didn’t knock the can over just sucked out all of the cashews.  My dogs have true talent.  The can had been on the counter in the kitchen and was almost full.  The plastic meat tray had housed the boneless beef ribs that I was cooking in the crockpot.  I had washed the tray to remove all meaty traces before putting it in the recycle bin.  Obviously someone was paying attention this morning and watched me put it in the bin. 

I almost picked up the evidence but decided to leave the crime scene intact so Mitch could experience the scene as I had.  I walked into the kitchen expecting the worst.  Luckily the crockpot was still cooking away on the counter unmolested.  I couldn’t say the same for the recycle bin.  It had been pulled out to the middle of the kitchen with the lid pulled off.  For dogs without thumbs, these three are extremely adept at getting container lids off.

Thinking this wasn’t as bad as I imagined it could be, I turned around and saw the trash can lying on its side with the contents strewn all around.  Oh joy, what a way to spend my lunch hour, cleaning up after heathens had gone shopping.  I see a trip to the store for more batteries in my future.