Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Lessening the Halloween headache

A few years ago, trying madly to contain four dogs who all wanted to lick tiny little trick-or-treaters to pieces, I came up with a great idea. And for no cost whatsoever - I'll share it with everybody. Those of us with dogs will use it about once a year - every Halloween.
It's not exactly a dog-friendly holiday. The doorbell rings constantly for four hours. And the dogs weren't allowed to see any of our visitors, for fear they'd dash out into the night.
I solved our problem by taking out the top window of our self-storing storm door. I lock the storm so it can't open, even when four furry bodies go dashing at it.
Even the tiniest trick-or-treaters can hold up their loot-sacks for me to toss in some goodies.
The dogs get to see the kids. The kids get to see the dogs. It's a win-win situation for everybody. Including the people over at Bayer. Whose fine analgesic pain relievers we rely on tonight.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

You Left Me!!!

Yesterday was a long day for the pups - all of 7 1/2 hours! I had to be downtown (Chicago) pretty early for my first volunteer shift at the World Boxing Championships - more about that later - so I left the house very early. And Hope left later, but I didn't get home until about 4:30 in the afternoon. (The reason that this is exceptional is that we leave the kids almost every day but the longest is usually five or six hours. We're really lucky!) The greeting when I got home was unparalleled! You would have thought I'd been gone for days! Even Ceilidh, who usually makes a beeline for her toys, was jumping all over me! Maybe I should be gone for longer periods more often, to get a welcome home like that!

About the Boxing Championships - it's an Olympic qualifying event for the 2008 Games in Beijing for some countries, so it's a big deal. I was assigned to Guest Services in the home hotel, where all the athletes and their support staff are staying. The first thing I saw when I got to my assignment was a bunch of half-naked guys, getting ready for their weigh-in. Not bad, huh? Women were not allowed in the Weigh-in area itself, but Guest Services room is near the dining room, the Internet Cafe, and the Weigh-in room. Lucky me. I was able to help sort out some problems, using my very rusty Spanish. I have two more days of volunteering there next week, so I'll have more stories then!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Behold the Golly Force!

Whenever we get new inventory in our store we torture our own dogs by making them model. We shoot a lot of pictures, hoping to get a couple of good ones that show off the product. When we do these photo sessions we really don't look at our dogs, just the products. We think they're always cute. Sometimes they're more photogenic.

This shot really isn't all that wonderful of the coat - but Golly just looks so darn cute with the head tilt that I had to show off the darling girl. The picture was taken on Sunday, her 12th birthday. The Golly Force in action!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Small dogs, rescue, Iggy and Ellen

I had to write about this - having been there, done that. There probably aren't going to be any winners in this situation. We're hoping that Iggy, the Brussels Griffon mix at the center of the controversy, will find a good home, well away from the spotlight.
Rescue organizations have rules for reasons. Most that focus on small dogs have very specific rules about households with children. Dogs that wind up in rescue often have issues. If the dog has been hungry it will often protect its food bowl. And if small hands reach for the dog while it's eating, it's the dog who will be blamed when the hand is bitten.
We fostered a rescue Brussels Griffon several years ago. Spike hadn't really been abused, just neglected. He was underweight, not particularly socialized, had no idea what toys were for and little, if any, housebreaking. Brussels Griffon Rescue, generally speaking, will not place dogs in homes with small children - for everyone's safety. Our job, aside from taking care of Spike, was to interview the people who were interested in adopting him, checking out their circumstances, and making recommendations to our national coordinator. Several homes were rejected, one most notably, because the little girls had clear intentions of treating Spike as if he were a doll, not a dog.
As it happens, Spike's forever home was with a young couple expecting their first child when they adopted him. It was the perfect fit for Spike - their other small dog was well-treated and well-mannered. And the national coordinator was willing to assess each case individually and make the best choice for each rescue dog. I'm very happy to say that Spike and his sisters, both four- and two-legged, are thriving five years later. It was the right home for him.
If, however, things hadn't worked out, Spike's family signed a contract that I'm sure was very similar to the one Ellen DeGeneres signed for Iggy. Spike was to be returned to us if, for any reason, they were unable to keep him. When Spike became part of the Rescue organization, we committed to him and his care throughout his life. He was no longer an unwanted victim of circumstance.
Ellen signed a contract. It wasn't just a "piece of paper," any more than her contract with whatever network she works for is just a "piece of paper." Crying children on national television wailing they "want their dog back" isn't enough. If the family had gone to the rescue organization, filled out the paperwork, agreed to a "home check" and been approved to adopt Iggy, he would have been their dog.
Rules exist for reasons. In the case of most rescue organizations, they're for everyone's protection. Perhaps the good that will come from this is more people realizing that dogs of every size, shape and temperament are available in shelters and rescues. And Iggy will find the perfect forever home.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Walking all weekend

All this weekend we were at a huge trade show for the pet industry. We found some wonderful new stuff for small dogs - it'll be rolling in here over the next few weeks. Just a few quick impressions:
  • Small dogs are still huge (so to speak)
  • We don't care what anybody says - other than Halloween & costume parties, dogs do not need their fur dyed, or wigs
  • Paper is heavy and carrying a thousand catalogs around in a tote bag results in sore shoulders
  • We're very glad we cheated and brown-bagged it - $13 is too much to spend on a turkey sandwich
  • Just because you're not at work doesn't mean you're not working
  • Good shoes are crucial for conventions

On a mixed positive/negative note - we saw at least a dozen French Bulldogs at the convention. That's a pretty clear indication that the breed is getting very, very popular. And while we think everyone who meets one will fall in love, we all know it's not the healthiest thing for any breed to get too popular. Unscrupulous people will always jump on bandwagons to turn quick profits - not a good way to produce healthy puppies.

We also saw lots of Chihuahuas, Shih-Tzus, Poodles and Schnauzers, some Dachshunds, a Great Dane and one Doberman Pinscher. I saw the Dobe as we were going down the escalator to the first floor of the show and I thought to myself "What a good-looking dog!" Then Fran asked if I was planning to walk right by our friend Geri and her Dobe, Ryder. How awful is it that I paid no attention, whatsoever, to who was at the other end of the Dobe's leash? Not to mention that I didn't recognize Ryder!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A treasure to be prized

There is only one good chew bone in our house. This is it. Today. Ask anyone who has more than one dog - regardless of how many actual bones are in the house, there is only one good one. And the other dog has it.
As long as there's no battling over it, we try to ignore it. One dog has the "good" bone - last evening it was Ceilidh. The others sat and watched her chew it. And drooled. When she was distracted, Dax moved in and grabbed it. And then Ceilidh sat, watched, and drooled.
Dax has a habit of rolling onto her back while she chews, so she loses control of the "good" bone. It falls to the floor and Ceilidh takes it back. So Dax sits, and watches, and drools.
Roc is a clever little beast. He waited until both girls were distracted and moved in for the "good" bone. Then he trotted it over to his favorite bed to chew on it. While Ceilidh and Dax sat, watched, and drooled.
You'd think it was unique, this bone. Prized above all others. There are six more just like it in the dogs' toybox. Each will have a turn - "Bone of the Day!"

Monday, October 08, 2007

Golly was blessed

The synagogue nearest our house had a short service yesterday to bless the animals, and invited people and their animals for the service. (The Torah reading for the week was Genesis 9:10-11, Noah, his family and all the animals emerging from the Ark after the Flood.) We had planned to take all the dogs, but it was about 85 degrees, so just brought Golly. Amazingly, she's the most heat-resistant of them all and we felt that she could spread the blessing around the best (Golly being the Princess). And, true to form, the Golly Force was strong, drawing all to her presence.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

I definitely felt a pang

A local organization, the Recyclery, that "rehomes" bicycles after refurbishing them was having a donation day today. So, this morning, Fran helped me brush the spiders and their webs off my old 10-speed stored in the garage and load it into my car. I planned to drive over to the donation site after work.
Just loading it into the car inspired some nostalgia - the unmistakeable "tk tk tk tk tk" of walking a 10-speed. I loved that bike. It was my birthday present when I was 15. Other kids were looking at getting cars - I knew we'd never be able to afford that. But I could get a brand, spanking new 10-speed bike. I researched for months - the best bikes, the best brakes, the highest consumer ratings. And I found my perfect bike.
Today, I gave it away. I hope it makes another short girl as happy as it made me. To her, whoever she is - I hope you enjoy your 19 inch, Grass Green, Nishiki Olympic 10 speed. It was painstakingly chosen - just for you!

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Princess and the rest of us

Golly's fine - the vet didn't say anything about the growth, so we're taking that as no news is good news. If there was anything, she would have called us. And Golly's healing nicely, too. She's a little concerned about the areas that were shaved - will her fur be as lush in those spots? Golly would not allow me to take a picture of her bald spots. She feels that only photos of the Princess looking her best can be published. Golly's princess-ness is growing, too. Golly demands that she be let in the house first. Golly demands that she get the first treat. And Golly demands that her subjects (Ceilidh, Roc and Dax) leave any bed that she wants for herself. She actually barks as if there was something interesting in the other room, and when the bed's occupant vacates the premises, Golly lies down in the bed. Like I said, a Princess.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Big night

Tonight's a big night for us - a new training hall for our obedience club and the start of the baseball playoffs.
As a lifelong Cubs fan, I can't believe I'm not even going to be home for the start of the game - but real life goes on. If Roc is ever going to get his CDX, we have to keep training. I've pretty much decided that if we hit 15 and 0 for qualifying legs, we're going to give up. (Our dismal record is now 0 for 13.) I can't keep beating my head against a wall. Roc knows all the exercises, does them beautifully in training, but can't seem to qualify to save our souls.
And the most important thing for us to remember - we play obedience to have fun. When it's not fun, it's time to move on.

Foggy, foggy night

Night before last it was so foggy we couldn't even see to the end of our block.