One Month In

Royal has now been here for a month and it’s like he has been with us forever. He is completely ensconced in our home and lives. He and Orso get along almost like they had been litter mates. Both are consummate couch potatoes with short bursts of energy, running side by side full steam nipping at each other, then dropping on the grass rolling around on their backs settling on their stomachs to watch what I’m doing. There are no fights or tension, it is so pleasant, just two dogs that have the same temperament. A real breath of fresh air.

Not to pretend Royal is perfect, he is not. He has no sense of personal space, getting right in my face wanting to lick me all over (yuck). I’ve seen what they put in their mouths. Try putting your shoes on and playing dodge ball with your head in an attempt to avoid dog kisses. I can bob and weave like a pro boxer now. He walks crooked, partly because of his hip dysplasia, which is quite annoying on our walks. He must walk on my right, won’t walk on the left, so I’m left to walking in the middle of these two buffoons and Royal walks into my right leg pushing me into Orso. Then he crosses in front of me to go sniff and pee. After he is done sniffing and peeing, he crosses back to my right, but this time he crosses behind me. So I’m constantly circling the leash around my head like a lasso. I am pretty sure the neighbors think I’m nuts. What else is new?

We were told Royal gets along well with cats, but I’m not so sure about that. He has gone ballistic barking and growling at the neighbor’s cat walking across the back fence. He chased that cat the length of the yard along the fence line and I don’t think it was to introduce himself to the neighborhood. He also has no fondness for squirrels. He wants one badly and I fear the day he and Orso outsmart one. Not that I love squirrels, I just don’t want to watch the bloodletting and subsequent visit to the vet.

Bedtime means all of us in our bed. We lost that battle three dogs ago. Now we just accept the cramped sleeping space and constant dog hair. I keep the bed and pillows swathed in sheets to keep our faces free of dog hair and other dog parts. The top of the bed is no-man’s land, but under the comforter the sheets are dog free. Of course the added bodies make the bed hotter, so I keep a fan blowing on me year round. Poor Mitch has to sleep in his shorts, sweatpants, t-shirt and sweatshirt, plus in the winter he has two comforters on him, even with the dog body heat.

I’m glad we took the chance and brought him home, he is the perfect match for Orso. And I do get a kick out of walking two dogs that weigh right at a hundred pounds. You should see the faces of the people I walk by with their five pound dogs barking up a storm and mine are actually behaving. (Of course when they don’t I look like a boat anchor dragging behind them).

Just to show you I am not making it up, I have a picture of the two laying in the yard.

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Taking the Leap

Well call us crazy or not, we took the leap and jumped off the cliff. After we received the reprieve from the woman asking for two weeks to try and work something out with her landlord, we breathed a sigh of relief. We told each other that it was for a reason that we didn’t get the dog. That maybe later on in the future, we would start looking for a dog. Guess what? Two weeks to the day, we received an email, asking if we were still interested in meeting Royal. We said yes, but now due to prior commitments, we couldn’t take him for another two weeks. We also said we would understand if they couldn’t wait for us.

Oh no, was the response, they would be more than happy to keep him for another 2 weeks. They just wanted to make sure he had a good home. I wasn’t sure how she “knew” we would be a good home, since we had only traded emails to date. We agreed to meet Royal the following Sunday, and see how he would get along with Orso. All week, I kept going back and forth, are we doing the right thing for Orso? If we take Royal, would that be the right thing for him? Talk about making myself crazy, I must have waffled back forth enough to have worn a groove in my brain.

Sunday morning, we loaded Orso up and headed out to meet Royal. We got there early and wandered around the school grounds that we had agreed to introduce the two on. Neutral territory, that way no one felt threatened or possessive of the space. A car pulled into the far side of the parking lot and watched as a man got out with a large dark brown dog. Nope, not Royal, we thought, because it was a Doberman and we were expecting a lab/mastiff mix. The man and the dog headed off in the opposite direction so we were pretty sure, they were just out for a stroll in the drizzle.

Another car pulled in and parked. A woman and a teenage girl got out of the car and the woman turned and opened the back door of the car. Out hopped a fawn colored dog with blackish brown ears. Royal came trotting over to us, quite unafraid and eager to meet us and Orso. He was as tall as Orso and a little bigger in the chest than Orso, maybe about five to ten pounds overweight. He was super friendly and just wanted to be petted. He was also a leaner.

After introductions, we watched the two get to know each other, sniffing butts, peeing on top of the other’s pee spot and running around the grass. Orso tried to jump on his back a couple of times and each time Royal would turn and give a warning bark growl, but never showed teeth. I was quite impressed with the dog, and ready to jump over the ledge. Mitch asked a few questions, did he have any ailments, eating issues, were his shots up to date, etc. All of our questions were answered quite positively, and I couldn’t help but wonder about his owner. It would take dire circumstances for me to even consider having to find a home for Orso and not keep him.

We asked if any others had responded to the ad and the woman said yes, she had gotten eight offers but only took one other offer seriously. After meeting the couple, she told them no they couldn’t have Royal. It seems the couple had a pair of pit bulls with them that were quite beat up and kept asking her what the mastiff side was capable of. She told us that she felt uneasy and worried about Royal’s safety.

I took the first leap, looked at Mitch and said that we would love to take him, but because family was coming into town, we couldn’t take him until the following Saturday. That seemed to be quite workable, so we said good-bye, loaded up Orso and headed home. Saturday morning, we picked up Royal and brought him home. We left Orso home for the pick up so that there was no tension in cramped spaces. As soon as we pulled into the driveway, I jumped out and leashed up Orso and the four of us went for a nice long walk.

We are now a week into back being a two-dog family and so far, so good. Maybe it’s because both dogs are older, Orso will be eleven and Royal is almost six, both are very calm sedate dogs, pretty much couch potatoes most of the time.

So for now, life is good, just a little more cramped on the couch, but quite relaxed. I’m sure once Royal gets comfortable and realizes the once he crossed the threshold, he was here to stay, things will get back to my normal chaotic life.

Going Down the Rabbit Hole (Almost)

We almost brought another dog into our lives, almost. We were so close. Mitch saw an ad in the Saturday paper, “A lab/mastiff mix, 6 years old” and then the magic words, “FREE TO A GOOD HOME”. Mitch was hooked. Even though he knows, there is no such thing as free. Nothing is ever free. More importantly, Mitch has been the hold out, saying over and over, “Not another dog, yet.” But there it was, Mitch urging me to send an email, asking about the dog. I reminded him of our last experience with a “lab mix”. As much as I loved Charlie, he was always a bit off. We were “on guard” with him always, because he was animal aggressive and sometimes very explosive.

So, I called his bluff, I sent an email, asking how big he was, did he get along with other dogs, etc. The ad said he was good with cats and children, but didn’t mention dogs. I got a response, that yes, he was good with other dogs, they had three other dogs, four cats and four children. A very full house. He also weighed a hundred pounds, so a good size match for Orso. Now I was curious as to why if they had three other dogs, four cats and four children, why was this dog singled out to be kicked to the curb. Why not get rid of the cats? Four cats to one dog, seemed like a fair trade.

I sent the question back, “why are you trying to find a home for this dog?” I phrased it very diplomatically, instead of saying, “why are you getting rid of this one, as opposed to one of the others?” I wanted to know the real reason for the ad. What was wrong with him? Was he a biter, a fighter, what? Why was this one getting the boot? Because the answers would determine our next step. I was still very gun shy about getting back into a situation where Orso would be victimized ever again.

We were straddling the fence, not sure which side to fall on, dog or no dog. I almost called our best friends to ask what we should do, but I already knew their answer, “Get the dog.” They have three medium to large size dogs, and are not unbiased. By the time we went to bed, we had decided that no we would pass on the dog. No dog yet.

Her email response came in the morning. The answer was not what I expected at all. The owner had gotten the dog as a puppy and now after six years had to give him up because she had to move to an apartment wouldn’t take dogs, especially large dogs, so she took him to her friend, who promised to look for a great home for him. The friend had placed the ad, with three other dogs, four cats and four children already had a full house. After reading her email, I was ready to get in the car, drive to wherever he was and bring him home on the spot. Sanity returned and I waited for Mitch to wake up.

We talked some more, pros and cons, talking ourselves out of the dog, then back into the dog. I finally sent an email back asking if we could meet with Orso to see how they might interact. I got a response saying that was a great idea and when could we get there. I asked if noon would work and waited for her response. The reply came back letting us off the hook – sort-of. The owner was not handling the separation well and asked her friend if they would keep him for two weeks, until she either found another place or could win over her landlord. But could they keep our email, “just in case.”

My heart went out to the woman and her dog, because I know how I would feel if I were forced with the same decision. I answered back that of course, they could keep our email address, and that I understood completely. I even offered to “foster the dog” for the woman if she wanted to on a short or long term basis, if the need arose.

We almost fell down the rabbit hole, not quite, but we’re teetering.

Dog for Rent

“One very large dog for rent. Extra-large dog weighing one hundred two pounds wants playmate of equal size and temperament. Dog needs to be willing to play tag and wrestle. Has to like being chewed on. I will even supply the yard if necessary. If interested, please call.”

That is how my ad will read. I’ve decided that in order to keep Orso happy and content, I am going to rent him out as a playmate to other dogs. I’m not strong enough to really play with him. He does not have the “soft mouth” labs are famous for, he bites down hard and one of these days, I’m pretty sure he’s going to break my arm. He’s faster than I am and has learned how to whip around on me and grab whatever is closest to him, whether it’s my leg or arm.

This morning he was in a playful mood and as I reached down to push him, he turned much faster than I expected and grabbed my right forearm and bit down. At first I thought he broke it, but after I pushed back my sweatshirt, I saw the hole and blood. How he can bite through fabric and break the skin, but not the fabric always surprises me. So now I’m sporting two bruises on one side of my arm and a large puncture wound on the other.

So in order to keep me in one piece and Orso tired and happy, I need to find him a playmate. I am not ready to get another dog, so renting him out is the next best option. So what do you think, any takers?

Sunday Snaps

It snowed overnight, about one to two inches, not much but it is wet heavy snowball snow. Orso was so excited that he ran around with his head down scooping up snow like a steam shovel. Goofy dog. But we had enough to grad my camera and take a few pictures.

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Orso hunting for frozen goose poop, gross

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Charlie hunting for field mice under the snow covered Johnson Grass

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He kept going farther and farther down the rabbit hole

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He backed out without anything. I’m not so sure that was a bad thing.

My New Camera

For Christmas Mitch gave me a camera body to go with my other cameras and lens. He explained that this way I would always a camera ready if I wanted to use a different lens. That to me was a wonderful loving gift, one that I am not worthy of, but will spend a long time trying to live up to the ability of the camera and his love and thoughtfulness. The day after Christmas we took my new camera and the dogs out for a hike to practice with. The day was chilly, cloudy about 45 degrees and thoroughly enjoyable. We put colored bandannas on them just in case there were any deer hunters out and about and not mistake them for a wayward buck.

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Dead cattails in the small pond

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Orso up high trying to play mountain goat

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Orso playing in the bog

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Charlie and Orso checking out the local scents

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Charlie in his blue bandanna

The Jerk and the Doofus

This morning we woke up to the first snowfall of the season. Let me correct the term morning, morning was 1:15am. Mitch ever the dedicated wanted to get up an hour earlier than normal so he could get to work extra early in order to get all of the equipment they use at work up and ready for a day of deicing one airplane after the other. Anyway at 1:15 this morning we had about two inches of snow on the ground and it was still snowing fairly heavily.

After I fed the dogs and Mitch in that order, got him to work then it was time for our morning stroll. The dogs started off down the road with Orso the Doofus head down eating snow as he was loping along. He kept lurching ahead wanting to race around and play in the snow. Charlie the Jerk walked along at his usual pace head down sniffing the ground always hunting and because Mitch lets him get away with murder, Charlie has a really irritating tendency to race back and forth from one side of the road to the other, yanking my arm around. It is nearly impossible to be on both sides of the street at the same time, but Charlie gives it his best shot.

We had reached our turn around point on the walk and started back when Orso forgot he was eight years old and suddenly became a two year old again. He lunged forward yanking the leash causing me to lose my balance on the slick road. I went down in what had to be a very graceful plop in the road landing on my butt hard. I lost my grip on the leash and Orso took off with his butt down racing around in circles slipping and sliding in the snow. It was a good thing I let go of the leash because otherwise I would have literally been dragged down the road. On one of the laps around Charlie and me, Orso decided that both of us should join in the winter fun. He ran over me stepping on me and bashing into Charlie. Charlie didn’t forget he is ten years old and snapped at Orso growling and trying fruitlessly to get in a good bite or two, also stepping on me in the process.

Orso undaunted raced off to find a weapon to battle the Jerk with. He came across a stick snatched it up and waved it around whacking Charlie and me in the head. Charlie went after Orso with a deadly purpose, causing Orso to race away barking back at Charlie. Now I have one dog barking and one dog with murder in his eye at 3:30 in the morning. My neighbors just love us.

I was finally able to get back up on my feet and grabbed both leashes got the dogs under control and finished the walk with all of us covered in snow. It’s going to be a long winter.

Exercising With Your Dogs

You hear it all the time; get more exercise in by walking your dog. It’s supposed to be a win-win situation. The dog benefits by getting needed exercise, stays slimmer and burns off energy. You are moving more working your muscles and getting your heart rate up also staying slimmer and wears you out. Of course we all know how well my walks with dogs go in the morning. My heart rate definitely raises and I work lots of muscles, upper body and locked legs doing the “no, no, no” extensions when confronted with wildlife.

Yesterday in a further attempt to get back in shape after three surgeries in a twelve month period, I decided to start doing Yoga at home. I loaded the Yoga DVD in the DVD player, pushed the coffee table out of the way, unrolled my yoga mat and sat down for the opening breathing exercises. I was immediately face to face with Charlie who wanted to help me by sticking his nose right in my face to make sure I was breathing correctly. I pushed him away but he pushed right back and got even closer. He was determined to help me breathe. I tried to ignore him and stood up to move to the next series of moves. I dropped to plank and Charlie dropped down right next to me too. I sank into cobra pose and Charlie scooted closer. I moved into downward dog and Charlie rolled over onto his back right underneath me and whacked my face with his paw in an attempt to get me to pet him.

This was turning into more effort to avoid him than in doing the yoga moves. Cat/cow was equally a challenge because now Orso had decided that watching Charlie annoy me to distraction looked like lots of fun and jumped off the bed to come and join in helping me exercise. As I arched my back for cow and looked up I got a great big wet slobbery kiss from Orso right in the face. Yuck! That almost caused me to drop on the floor and squish Charlie who was still underneath me being a huge pain in my backside. I pushed Orso aside, tried to move into child’s pose and ended up putting my knees on Charlie’s tail. It did not make him happy. He jumped up causing me to jerk and lose my balance falling over into the coffee table, cracking my elbow on the table’s edge.

That definitely got my heart rate up.

Another Play Day and Everyone Survived

We had another play day with Eddie and bonus everyone survived.

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Eddie waiting as patiently as a puppy can

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See how handsome I am

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Eddie encouraging Orso to play

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Eddie and Orso

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I have the drop

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Orso giving Eddie the look

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I’m a tired puppy

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This is the best tasting water ever

Photo Shoot

Here are some photos from a play day with a new friend, Eddy, and because I’m not feeling very creative.

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Eddy and Orso face to face

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Orso

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Eddy checking out Orso’s pearly whites

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Charlie looking happy

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Who wants to play stick – come on let’s play stick

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Eddy and Orso winding down

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Two tired puppies

Photos taken with my Canon Rebel