Canine Sociology 101

So you all know that I love my dog.  I especially love watching her deal with new dogs, because it amazes me how she’s able to handle pretty much any dog that comes her way.  Case in point:

We’re at a dog park playing fetch.  Enter stage right: new dog, about her size, kinda brown/fawn colored, with owner.  Looks like a big jack russell with maybe some german shepherd thrown in for spice, and colored like a pit bull.  Jessie ignores new arrivals like she usually does for the most part, her motto is “See the ball, be the ball, ignore everything but the ball”.  She’s in the middle of running back with said ball when new arrivals reach the edge of the field, and owner removes leash from new dog.  Jessie arrives at my position, and after her usual 10-15 seconds of chomping on the ball to transfer the maximum amount of droooly happy dog slobber, drops it and prepares for the next volley.  New arrivals are pretty far away at one end of the field to the right, while we’re in the middle, so I launch the ball with my trusty super Chuckit across the field, in the same direction as new arrivals but to the left corner.  And now the fun starts.

New arrival takes off after Jessie like a rocket.  I’m not sure if it’s the ball or the running dog, but it’s making a beeline straight for her.  Jessie doesn’t notice until she reaches the ball, picks it up, and starts heading back.  She sees new arrival tearing for her and stops dead, ball in her mouth.  New arrival stops dead as well, about 15 feet away.  The eyeballing begins.

Jessie stands just looking at new arrival, occasionally chomping her ball.  New arrival stands looking at Jessie, with a kind of possibly aggressive/possibly playful but certainly jumpy stance.  Jessie’s stance seems pretty neutral.  After about 20 seconds of staring (no kidding!) Jessie makes a move to continue to bring the ball back slowly.  New arrival shoots forward, and Jessie stops dead again.  New arrival then walks over to her, and starts sniffing at the ball.  Jessie stays completely still, and after about 2 seconds drops her ball in order to lick at new arrival’s muzzle – a clear calming signal.  New arrival seems to relax a bit, and jessie takes a shot at a friendly butt-sniff.  New arrival is pretty jumpy still, and twitches.  Jessie just stands there, not looking at the dog, while it checks her out.  Apparently satisfied that she poses no threat, but understanding that there’s no interest in playing, new arrival trots off towards owner (who was not paying any attention to this whole exchange).  Jessie watches new arrival until he/she is obviously not interested in her anymore, goes back and picks up her ball (she almost never forgets her ball!), and proceeds to run back to me, slowly at first, but picking up speed. 

And that is how my dog deals with all dogs she’s unsure of.  It’s amazing how she completely smothers any aggressive interest any dog has ever exhibited towards her, without being a total “lay on her back and show her tummy” submissive dog.

Another thing I’ve learned about dog communication is that everything that a dog would do to say “Hey I wanna be friends, maybe you could chill out and then we can play huh?” are nearly exactly what a cat does to say “GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!!!”.  Which causes some fairly major communication breakdowns in my house, and generally makes my house pretty lively on occasion.

Aren’t pets great?

It’s been one helluva week (or so)

I’ve been sick all week. No really! I admit that I took off sick a week ago Friday to go to the beach, but my instant karma has dealt me my comeuppance. Be that as it may, the past week hasn’t been all that bad:

  1. I got to take my puppy to the beach for the first time with her new best friend Bella, a golden retriever puppy who’s a couple weeks younger.
  2. I went for a great first ride of the season with some nice folk, including my most favorite little Italian chick. Bikers rock!
  3. I have actually stepped into the office for half a day since a week ago Thursday, and I don’t plan on it for a few days yet because…
  4. I got pneumonia!

So let’s start with the puppy fun. We took our puppy Jessie to the beach with our friends Jen and Alix, their daughter Rylie and their new puppy Bella. I had a pretty good time, mostly because it was great to see Jessie’s first encounter with beach smells, beach sand, nasty beach …stuff… (which she and Bella tried to injest in great quantities, ugh), and all the wonderful beach puppy games, which look quite a bit like the at home puppy games, but are better because they’re at the beach. The only downside was I busted my new kite which I’ve only been able to fly the day I bought it last year, and now is …well, busted. Note to self – help is required when assembling kites that large; so if you get ditched while preparing to assemble, you’re just gonna have to wait or risk nasty string burns and an extremely foul temper.

The bike ride. I knew I’d been feeling really crappy all of last week, just a lot of chest pressure and stuff, coughing and the like. But at least my eye swelling had gone down, whatever that was all about. I knew this ride was coming up, and it was to be the first of the season so I was pretty excited, so I rested up and rested up and by the time Sunday rolled around I felt like I was on the downhill side on the road to recovery. So I hopped on the bike, gassed it up a bit (3 bucks doesn’t fill up my tank anymore? Wha??) and headed to my friend Hope’s house, the Starting Destination. Once everyone who was gonna be there got there, we started out towards Multnomah Falls. Except that was waaaay crowded. So we decided to continue on to Cascade Locks for burgers and a great view at CharBurger. By that time, I was having a little trouble breathing, so I ordered up a big tall styrofoam cup of tea to warm my chest up. We decided to head home the fast way, but about 5 miles away from Troutdale my gas light lit up. Did you know some bikes have a gas light? I didn’t! Anyway, I debated for a mile or two whether or not I should try to make it, since I knew we were about 20 miles out at this point, but I decided not to take a chance and told the group I needed a pit stop. Fortunately there was one right nearby, so we all pulled in and I gassed up. Nearly 8 bucks!!!! later, with a full tank, we all headed out. Two miles later, Hope pulls us over; her bike died and wouldn’t start. The cause? She ran outta gas! So she hops on our friend Tom’s bike and the three of us (the others had left along the way) headed back to the gas station to buy a container and some gas. By this time I’m feeling a little worse. We get back to hopes house and I make up some more tea and hang out for a bit, but I really needed to get home.

Later that night I ended up in the emergency center and I came out with pneumonia. I’m just that hardkore!

Puppy 101

Welcome to new puppy life!

Jessie has been pretty much the all-consuming event in our daily life since we got her. Between hourly potty walks when we’re home, playing fetch and tug-of-war until she’s tired out (no easy feat there), puppy play dates at friends houses, puppy kindergarten, and 3am potty walks, it’s been a bit tiring to say the least. But she is the stinkin cutest puppy you’ve ever seen! Yes yes, I know I’m biased…but I don’t care!

There are so many things that she just naturally does, or has learned to do with virtually no instruction. Things like taking food gently, fetching (at least the go get it and bring it within 10 feet of you part), sleeping (gasp!!) when the car is moving, and sit on command where all easy as pie. Liver and cheese pie! But the real treasure is that finally we have a dog that doesn’t bite people, who understands the basics of doggy communication, and who we can let maul an 18 month old for at least a few moments and have them come away just very slobbery. Not that Jasper wasn’t a good dog, he was. But only if we managed his environment very carefully.

So to date, we’ve learned or are learning the following (excuse me being the proud mom):
Get your [insert toy name here]
Drop it
Having legs, ears, mouth, etc handled with no stress
Take treats gently; don’t lunge at treats when offered
Pays attention (or even comes) when you say her name just once
Come NOW (emergency recall, we just started on this one – requires lots of lunch meat)
Recognize other dogs’ “calming signals” (i.e. chill out you’re getting too rowdy on me!)
No biting (that’s a bit of a rough one, she mouths EVERYTHING, but that’s what puppies do)
No stress over her food dish being messed with, taken away, hands in it when she’s eating

At just barely 14 weeks old, that’s just…amazing!!

New Puppy!!!!!!

Category: Family_
You know your house was meant to have a dog in it at all times when you and your partner are standing in the kitchen chatting while eating chips, and a piece of chip falls on the floor, and you’re suddenly all sad because there’s no one there to barkcuum it up!~

So we got a new puppy! We got her from a family who decided to breed their Blue Heeler female to an Australian Shepherd male (apparently a quite popular “Aussie Mix”) so her family could witness the miracle of birth in their very own backyard. It was a big backyard with a horse in it – lots of room for young puppies to get into all sorts of mischief!

We had read up on how to pick a dog, which included some info on picking a good puppy out of a litter. According to our little book, the best puppies are usually the ones in the middle of the pack…not the most dominant, or the most shy; confident, curious and unafraid when picked up, and continues to be so as you walk away from the litter. It also mentioned that if you were looking for a good fetcher, look for the one that always has some toy in its mouth. So we spent an hour watching the litter play. It was a tough choice, there were lots of great little dogs-in-training to be had there, but we finally settled on a little girl with a naturally short tail (good for not wiping things off tables), who was only outdone in her toy aptitude by her mom. She endured play attacks by her littermates with grace, and was happy to deal it out as well, however stopped short when the attackee made it clear it wasn’t fun anymore, and went in pursuit of a dastardly stick instead. So say hello to our newest addition, Jessie!

Goodbye Jasper

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Nothing like a week in Mexico enjoying sun and surf to put things in perspective for you! We of course had a wonderful time, despite having to put Jasper down the night before we left.

That was really hard, even more so considering that day he was doing pretty well all things considered. But we’d been noticing that he was taking two steps back, one step forward for the past few months, and overall his condition had worsened quite a bit at that point. We could either keep him doped up on codeine as a cough suppressant, which completely wiped away his appetite; or keep him off the codeine, and instead of watching him lose weight quickly, we could have him cough up blood and have awful hacking fits that lasted longer and longer. And towards the end, the codeine was becoming less and less effective. So we fed him lots of mac and cheese, and cooked him up a couple steaks, gave him everything he even thought he wanted for two months. Here’s to you Jasper!

Jack in the Box

Wednesday was really nice. It had rained all morning, but now the sun was shining. I had finished up with my last meeting of the day kinda early, so I decided to go home for a bit. I was meeting some friends for our usual Wednesday after-work drinks, but I had about an hour to kill, so I cruise home, sunroof open, enjoying the day. I pull into the driveway, and waiting as usual is Jack.


So I hop outta my car, toss him on the hood and give him a good petting. He’s purring like a semi truck as usual. I leave him and go inside to poke around the house and check my email. The hour goes by quick, and before I know it I gotta jet out to meet up with my friends. I run downstairs, hop in my car, back out the driveway and up the street.

Next thing I know, I hear this god-awful sound coming from the back seat! It sounded sort of like “Meeeyaaaaaaooooooooowwwwowooowwooooowwww!” I look in the rear mirror and there’s Jack, sitting up by the rear window with a look of sheer terror in his face. I bust out laughing while he continues yowling for his life. I briefly entertain the idea that I’ll just take him with me for a ride, but he obviously wouldn’t enjoy that as much as I would, and I wouldn’t enjoy cleaning up my car after him. So I turn around, pull into my driveway, open the door, and toss the cat out. I imagine it was pretty damn funny lookin since the neighbor across the street starting busting out laughing too. That darn cat!

Category: Stories_