Friday, November 30, 2012

Riley Revealed

One of the things I like best about bringing a new dog into the house, whether it be a foster dog, a friend's dog, or an addition to my family, is the process of getting to know them.  It is like watching a sunrise - first there is just a hint of what is to come, then each moment (or, in this case, each day) reveals more and more to make me smile, and eventually they just become a part of my world - never taken for granted, always full of surprises, but with a certain rhythm that is comfortable and fairly predictable.

Getting to know a new dog
is like watching the sun come up. 

When I have knowledge of the dog's customary schedule, as I do with friends' dogs, I initially keep to that schedule as much as possible - walks of the same length and same time of day, meals at the same time, etc. - and any changes which need to be made to accommodate either my preferences or the other dogs in the household are done gradually over a period of several days.  For example, if a dog is used to being fed the evening meal at 7 pm, but my other animals have tummy clocks that go off at 5 pm, we gradually shift the time for each animal by fifteen minute increments until we are all on the same schedule.

Leaving the dog alone is also done gradually - five times for five minutes the first day, working up to a half hour, an hour, two hours, four hours (which is about the longest my dogs are ever left alone).

Dogs are as varied as people in the way they react to new experiences, in how they feel about being in strange places among strange people and critters.  Some jump right in, confident and happy.  Most take a few days to orient themselves and figure things out, and then settle into the routine and begin to show they are enjoying themselves.  Some, like my Sadie who first had her home burn down, then lived in a car, then ended up in a shelter, are so traumatized by the absence of the only family they've known that they take months to really show their happy inner pup.

Riley is in the middle group.  The first day she was anxious, pacing back and forth, looking at the door or the garden gate for Deb to return.  The next day she settled down a bit, but still was on alert.  By day three she had chosen her favourite spots and by day four she'd taken over the couch and the futon and knew exactly where her food was kept - the sound of the pantry door being opened brought her trotting down the hallway even if I was just getting out the fixings for coffee.

Today, day five, she made me laugh.  After their morning walk, I left the dogs at home while I ran into town to do a bunch of errands.   I was gone almost three hours - the longest Riley's been left here so far.  When I arrived home, she didn't just mosey into the mudroom to say hello like she usually does - she came prancing in, hips wiggling, tail wagging and a smile on her face.  "Hiya, Auntie Jean, you're home!".

After letting the dogs out for a pee, and giving them a treat, I sat at the computer to check my email.  Suddenly, I heard "thump thump thump" - something bashing about in the hallway.  I turned around to see Riley, mouth firmly planted on a cardboard box, plodding into the office to show me her treasure.

Hey Auntie Jean, look what I found!

Riley is not customarily a dog who plays with toys.  The box, which once contained foil packages of Ritz crackers I handed out at Hallowe'en (marginally better for kids than sugar loaded chocolate bars, I reasoned) had been sitting on my bedroom floor for weeks, a repository for some audiobooks I was passing on to a friend. I doubt it smelled of food.  Riley just seemed to be having fun tossing it around.

You didn't want this for anything, did you?

I went to the dog toy box in the mudroom - I keep it for visiting dogs, since none of the dogs who have been part of my family in recent years have been the least bit interested in toys.  I pulled out a few favourites and showed them to Riley.  Riley checked them out but they weren't as much fun as the cardboard box, which she proceeds to shred.

Hmmm...boring....not a treat ball. 

I went back to the computer.  Half an hour later, a pointy-nosed collie bashes my leg with the I-Cube, a cloth puzzle toy with holes in the sides through which one can stuff balls or other objects which the dog has to figure out how to get out.

Ha!  This is easy!  I can solve the I-Cube! 

I showed her how it worked, she popped all three balls out in no time at all, tossed the toy around for a while, and then took it back to the mudroom before returning to flop down on the office futon.

I think she was saying "Okay, this will do as my home away from home".

Good job, Riley.  So nice to see the real Riley revealed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Riley Report

What am I doin' here?

Riley is settling in nicely.  The first evening, she paced a lot, wasn't sure where to settle, and once bedded down on her big puffy bed next to mine, woke me up with a cold pointy nose against my face four times - just checkin' I was there, I guess.

Yesterday, she relaxed a bit more, took to the big dog bed next to my chair during the day, stuck her nose in the cat's face (for which she got swatted and hissed at - by Allie, not me!), and only woke me up twice at night.

How come she sleeps next to your bed and
I'm in my crate?

Today she took over the living room couch and slept on the futon in my office while I worked.

Help! Mom! She's stuck me in jail!

Fooled ya! It's just the arm of the futon!

Riley also told me in no uncertain terms when it was time for her afternoon walk.  We walk morning and late afternoon - sometimes with Eddie, sometimes without.  So far we have just been walking around town, checking out backlanes and small parks and paths, familiarizing Riley with the various routes to our home.  We haven't gone to the seawalk yet as it has been very cold and the boards are slick with frost and black ice, but as soon as it warms up a bit we'll head to the beach.

And up here on the right is where Auntie Else lives.....

Frost on the vines

Lots of leaves on the trees still

Riley quickly  caught on to the fact that Eddie gets click/treats from my treat pouch for various things during our walks (sitting at corners, walking past other dogs without fussing, walking nicely by my side) - and so Riley proceeded to nudge my hand with her nose every few minutes enroute and look  very pointedly at the pouch -"c'mon lady, I'm walking nicely too!"

Ah like havin' Riley here, mom!

And now she has taken herself off to bed in the bedroom - starting the day at 6:00 AM is too much for a Princess.

I'd say she's settling in just fine.

She does, however, object to the fact that I always put the lid of the toilet down.  She wants to drink from the well - I guess the three water dishes here aren't to her taste.  I tried to explain that Allie uses the lid to launch herself up to the bathroom windowsill, from which she can keep an eye on the neighbourhood comings and goings, and wouldn't appreciate landing kersplash in the toilet bowl, but I swear Riley snickered at that!

Sorry Riley, drinking from a plain old dog water dish is something you'll have to get used to.  I'll change it often and keep it cold, and I'll tell the cat not to spit in it.

Ha! Like that's gonna stop me!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

We hazza visitor!

By Eddie.

We hazza visitor, and my Mama sez she's gonna be wiv us fer quite a while.

You've met her before - she visited us in June wiv her human and some other friends.  And last year too (but I didn't live here then, I wasn't adopted by Mama Jean until eleben months ago).  And peoples who haz been reading this blog for a looooong time met her when Mama still lived in the Fraser Valley and had herding dog garden parties wiv Charley and Sadie and Belle and Oliver and a bunch of other pointy-nosed dogs.
Have you guessed yet?


She's come to live wiv us until early February while her hoomans are working in another country.

I think I'm going to like having a collie sister for a while.

Welcome, Riley!  I can't wait to show you mah favorite park again!

Love, Eddie. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

"It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood.."

I arose to brilliant sunshine, blue skies, and a skiff of frost on the ground.  As Eddie and I took our morning walk, I found myself humming the theme from the old TV show, Mr Roger's Neighborhood.  It was indeed a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

We wandered along the beach, chatting with others enjoying the day, slipping and sliding our way across the seawalk  which was covered in black ice (Eddie and I did not like that part much!).  We said hello to the gulls and crows and ducks, checked out the almost-finished sea walk extension, paused to watch the ferry come in, and breathed in the crisp morning air.

Then off to doggy school.  Eddie still has four weeks to go, but has now successfully passed 27 of 29 tasks.  The two remaining ones are both distance commands - 'down' at a distance, and 'settle' (go to your mat and lie down) at a distance.  He's a velcro dog who prefers to lie down right next to me, but he is getting the idea.  And he did some awesome 'stays' and 'heels' (off leash) today.  He is such a good boy!  For a dog like Eddie, mental exercise is as important as physical exercise, and I swear he puffs his chest out with pride when he finally figures something out.  He loves school - starts twirling and barking the minute I get out his training backpack and has a big happy face when we arrive at the training facility. Good job, Eddie!

I'm such a smartie-dog! 

Backtracking to  Thursday, Gail and I took Sadie B and Eddie to Chemainus Lake park, an offleash park with a trail that encircles the lake.  It was an overcast, almost drizzly sort of day but I took my sister's camera along - this was a place I know she would have enjoyed, and it seemed appropriate to lug the bigger camera on the anniversary of her death.

I took several pictures of the lake and on the trail, but it wasn't until I got home and downloaded them to the computer that I noticed something really strange. Three photos in a row, smack in the middle of all the photos I shot,  contained something I could not identify.  There was no fog or anything in the way,  and nothing in the shots immediately before or after these:  Yet look:

In this one, Sadie B looks like a spirit dog - there is something white and ethereal between the camera lens and Sadie B.

Now I might dismiss it as a fogged up lens (though I didn't wipe the lens between this shot and the next ones), or an unnoticed wisp of fog, except for the next two shots:

What the heck is the white blur and the two bright orbs, like eyes, on the right of the photo?????   Eddie was just behind me doing his business when I shot these, so it wasn't him - I was snapping shots of Sadie B while I waited.  And Sadie Be is VERY in tune with any critters like squirrels or bunnies on our hikes, so it wasn't likely another animal. I have zoomed in and zoomed out and stared at it until my eyes crossed.

I do believe there was a spirit in those woods, and she is messin' with my mind!  Just the sort of thing my very mischievous sister would have done!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

One Year Ago Today

It was one year ago today that I awoke in the middle of the night to the ringing of the phone.  Groaning, I blearily stared at the call display and saw my sister’s number.  Oh no, I thought, it’s about mom….

But it wasn’t.  It was my sister-in-law Bev, my sister’s partner of 36 years, calling to tell me my sister had suddenly passed away. 

I thought nothing could ever be so painful, could ever make me grieve so deeply,  than my dad's death thirty-five years ago this December. 

I was wrong.

Miss you, sis, more than words can ever express.   Love you always.

Tell your siblings you love them today.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Major Bo goes Fishing

This is the last of the series I took on an outing with Major Bo Jangles, one of  my previous foster dog Lucy's pups, now two years old. Can't wait to go out with him and his humans again!

Hmmm.....wonder what's in here?

I smell FISH!

Here, fishy, fishy!
I want to play with you!

Any fish here?
No, can't see any.

Maybe over here?

Where are those fishies?

I'm sure I smell them.
Must be getting close.

Major:  What?  I'm busy fishing!
Humans:  Look behind you, silly boy!

Oh, there you are!
Wanna play with me, fishy?

Oh, yuck, it's dead!

I'm outta here!

I think I'll find me some dogs to play with. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

More Doggy Pictures

I can't seem to motivate myself to sit at the computer these days - my apologies to those waiting for the rest of the photos from last Sunday's walk with Major Bo.  My flu is pretty much over except for a lingering cough that goes on and on and on..... So, finally, I got back to editing pics.  This is an assortment of the dogs at the park last Sunday;  I'm still working on a series of Major Bo in the river. Hopefully, I'll have that up tomorrow.

So, here's more of Lucy's itty bitty pup, Major Bo Jangles at two years old:

Major Bo Jangles

Such a handsome boy!

And full of energy.....

and curiosity that sometimes gets him in
sticky situations.

While he's trying to work his way out of that one, let's check on.........

Digger, the cutest chocolate lab pup ever....

....who knows just how to make 'puppy eyes'
in order to coerce treats from camera lady.

He's more a 'sniffer' than a 'digger'!

Eddie quite liked this little girlie

Another one joins the fun

Along with sweet sheltie Piper

Oops, Major's back - with stick in tow

A few more friends join in

Of course, every dog is a good dog where treats
are involved!
Line forms of the right, boys!

A bag of treats in the pocket will keep a dog close!

Time to head home