Thursday, August 30, 2007

Yesterday, I cried

One of the most heartbreaking aspects of breeding dogs was brought home to me yesterday. FrogDogBlogger Carol lost one of the two puppies her beautiful bitch Sailor had about two weeks ago.
I avidly followed every antic of Sailor and her babies - couldn't wait for Carol's next post. And then the little boy, always smaller than his sister, began to fail. Just from reading her entries, we knew that Carol was putting her heart and soul into trying to save that little boy, even as she tried not to fall in love too soon.
We don't often hear about the wonderful, responsible dog breeders out there - the ones who work to better their dogs, both in health and temperament. The ones who actually lose money on every puppy, but are committed to their dogs and their hobby. The ones who get up every hour or two to tube-feed the puppy, making sure he has every chance in the world.
I don't have what it takes to be a good breeder. I know that about myself. And I admire tremendously the people who do it right and do it well. And, if and when the time comes that my life requires another French Bulldog, I'm going to call Carol and harass her until one of her babies does come to live with me.
Because even though she swore she never names a puppy until four weeks, this little guy got a name. Posthumously. I'm not quite sure I believe there is a "Rainbow Bridge," but if there is, this little guy knows who he's waiting for.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dogs are evil. Our neighbor said so.

After work yesterday evening we needed to take some pictures of a dog in the Active Dog Harness. Ceilidh is usually our model of choice - her very short fur shows off products beautifully, she's a solid mass of muscle, and the fact that she's obsessive/compulsive/ADHD/nuts means that as long as you hold her toy, she'll look where you want her to.
So we were in the front yard, because it was shadier and better for taking pictures.
I should mention at this point that we live in a community that prides itself on diversity. Over 30 languages are spoken in the homes of the students at a local junior high school. Every year our town holds a "Festival of Cultures" that draws dozens of ethnic groups, hundreds of participants and thousands of festival-goers. The relevance to this story?
The neighbor who lives two doors east of us, who is of Western Asian descent, came over to talk to us while we were taking pictures. He's seen our dogs many times, of course, but we're usually on our way somewhere and just wave. This time, we were fairly stationary, so he came to talk.
Ceilidh, of course, was beside herself, wiggling and chirping little monkey-noises because she was so delighted that someone came to see her. Our neighbor was, justifiably, rather hesitant, but after being reassured that she wished to lick, not bite, he came over and tried to pet her. On the top of her head. Which is impossible unless she's very, very soundly asleep.
But he made the attempt, which was nice. Then he was telling us that he and his daughter really want to get a dog. Since his wife won't allow a dog in the house, he planned to keep it in the backyard, with access to the garage in Chicago's 20-degree-below-zero winter weather. It was fairly easy to convince him that this was a bad idea; dogs are pack animals, need to be with the family, etc. He got it.
And then he told us the kicker - his wife is convinced that dogs are evil because she heard a creation story that says that dogs were made from Adam's vomit and therefore rejected and evil. Huh?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Wild Weather

Ceilidh and I didn't make it to Agility class last night. You might have heard about the severe storms in the Midwest? Well, yesterday was more severe than even we hardy Chicagoans were able to take in stride! There were two lines of storms that passed through the area yesterday. The first was about 3:30 in the afternoon (while I was out running errands) and the second all evening. There were some wind gusts up to about 80 mph with the first line, and we were under a tornado warning. And I think we had a couple of inches of rain with the second line of storms. I had thought that the second line would be gone by the time I would leave for class, but the storm was going in the same direction as I would be going. I tried, though! The streets were flooded on the way to the expressway, which is only a few blocks away. But there was very little traffic when I merged onto the Edens Expressway. I soon found out why! The expressway was flooded just past the next exit. Traffic was stopped at the exit. So, with the flooded expressway and the continual lightning over the city, where I was heading, I though it might be wiser to just take the providential exit next to where I was stopped and go home. So that you get the full experience, here are some photos (from the web site of a local TV station) of the storm and its aftermath.

This is the flooded expressway (different location) taken from an overpass.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rejecting Warhol's 15 minutes

In the continuing saga of my life going from boring to bizarre - I got a letter yesterday from the Judge Mathis television show. They apparently comb through the small claims court filings and contact the people whose cases they think would make good television. I guess it does have many telegenic elements - especially my gorgeous Dax!
I don't think I'll call Judge Mathis' producer - I filed the claim to get my day in court, not in the spotlight.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

She's fallen off the veggie wagon!

I took Ceilidh and Dax to the vet for their annual visit last Friday. Ceilidh is a solid mass of muscle and pretty perfect in every way. (Okay, her teeth need some additional attention, brushing-wise. But I dare you to come and stick your finger in an unhappily-squirming, really-don't-want-this Boston Terrier mouth. With all those lovely Boston Terrier teeth in that so-strong-you-can-swing-me-around-by-my-toy Boston Terrier jaw.)

Dax, on the other hand, has gained a couple of pounds. She's a bit round at the moment and needs to lose it. French Bulldogs, I'm told, gain weight very easily, and the three months we've missed agility haven't helped.

But the poor girl doesn't seem to have her nutrition facts straight! For the last week, Dax has rejected, refused to eat, even spits out! her vegetables. This is the girl who would forego hotdogs for lettuce! Her favorite munch was carrots! We used celery as her focus/tug toy in agility class! And now she won't touch the stuff.

Last night we had her absolute favorite - Romaine Lettuce. She took a piece, crunched and spat. I don't know who told her that veggies were on the "don't" list, but I hope she stops listening to this evil propaganda. I need my Daxie to eat her veggies!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Was anyone watching?

You know how embarassed you get when you trip on nothing and furtively look around to make sure no one saw you take a tumble? Golly did that last night. She was taking a nap on the couch and decided she wanted another perspective, so she started to climb down the little stairs we have by the couch. She missed! I raced over to see if she was OK, but she scrunched down and wouldn't let me touch her. I backed off and she straightened up, shook herself and sauntered over to her new bed of choice. She laid down with her back to the room, totally embarassed. (It's OK, Golly, we've all forgotten!)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I'll find out if the law is on my side

Once upon a time, in a different lifetime, I decided I'd go to law school. I'd been out in the working world about a year and thought night school would be a good idea. The first night of class, the first thing the instructor said was, essentially: What are you people thinking? You've decided to study law in the county with the most complex legal system in the world!

My career in law school was brief - there was a fundamental difference of opinion. Law School thought it was the most important thing ever in the history of the universe and that tardiness should be punished severely. I thought doing my job to earn money to pay the rent was a higher priority. Silly me.

Anyway, that was eons ago. And now I'm facing my first actual encounter (other than jury duty) with that notorious Cook County legal system. I've decided to sue the people who poisoned Dax. (See this post)

I know they didn't do it on purpose. But I really believe they should pay my veterinary expenses for the incident. I gave them a chance - wrote them three times to offer them the opportunity. So now I'm taking more drastic measures and filing in Small Claims Court. I don't think I should have to pay for someone else's stupidity.

I guess I've still got vestiges of the wide-eyed idealist who enrolled in law school last century. Wish me luck.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Giant Schnauzer Zoomies!

I used to think that just puppies went on wild careens in huge circles. Taking Agility classes has proven me wrong. Dogs of all ages sometimes just take off on the "zoomies." The rest of us just hang onto our own dogs, while the owner is flustered and embarassed trying to get their dog back. For the last couple of weeks at class, it's been Annie the Giant Schnauzer zooming around the room. It's amazing watching this huge black dog race around and around, sometimes taking jumps, sometimes leaping over the tunnels and generally ignoring her owner. What's really incredible is that Annie had puppies just a few months ago. A litter of eleven! Wow! Did the puppies suck the gray matter out of Annie's brain? Whatever the case, she's been having a great time! It happened twice last night, with the third zoomie run cut short by our instructor who yelled in Annie's face when she tried running past her. To prevent distractions and another potential crazy run, Annie was last on the final course after the rest of the class had left the room!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Does it ever stop?

It's nice to see that I'm not alone - the majority of votes on the poll seem to support my contention that the Swiffer is, in fact, the best invention ever in the history of the earth.
Since all of our dogs are short-coated, they don't really need daily grooming. I brush everybody (but Ceilidh) twice a week with a rubber grooming brush and a slicker brush. I don't quite remember why I started using both, but they seem to work together for nice, shiny doggy coats.
Golly's coat is by far the most impressive. Lush, thick, glossy black fur, just a bit of white creeping in now that she's 11. And she is the champion shedder of our house. Every time I brush her, you could coat a puppy. I used to think it was seasonal, but I was wrong.
Roc and Dax both shed, but Golly puts them to shame. It's like they're not even trying when faced with such a prodigious producer of fluff piles.
Ceilidh, however, is exempt from this tirade. She sheds very little, if at all. The reason for that is that the poor baby has an auto-immune disease that requires her to have a medicated bath every week. If she doesn't, she's completely bald. Last time I checked, there's no such breed as a Boston Hairless.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

French Bulldog Death Yodel!

Dax can do it, too!

Pitiful, just pitiful!

It's been really, really hot around here the last week or so, like most of the rest of the country. The only real impact on us - aside from skyrocketing electric bills - is that Dax (my French Bulldog) can't come to training class on Tuesday nights because the place we train doesn't have air conditioning.

When I was doing my research on Frenchies before I got her, everything I read said that the breed is very sensitive to heat and prone to heat stroke. Imagine my surprise when, her first summer, Dax would find the warmest patch of the backyard with the sun beating down and lie there, enjoying it enormously.

I thought I had the one Frenchie in the world who loved the heat. It turns out - not so much. She may like it, but she does get ill if she stays out in the heat too long. I did take her to training one hot-but-not-blast-furnace evening and she indelicately "lost" all her training treats and felt generally miserable, even after we got home.

I learned my lesson. When the temperature's above 85 F, no training for Dax. Last night I took Roc to class. I'm told that Dax spent a chunk of time howling by the back door, looking for me. I didn't know she did that! I thought the "Frenchie Death Yodel" was for other Frenchies, not mine!

Every time I think my girl is special, I'm wrong again. She's special just the way all Frenchies are.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Enjoy the Good Runs!

Ceilidh had a good night, last night at Agility class. It would have been a great night, but, well, she's Ceilidh. There were only four of us at class last night, so there wasn't much waiting between runs, and that was great! Ceilidh was a tugging fiend for the first half of class last night! She still won't tug on anything but her beloved Latex Soccer Ball at class (and I have the scars to prove it), but that's OK. We tugged to the start line, where I persuaded Ceilidh to give up the ball so she could run, and we were off! She was focused, attentive, efficient and fast!! Our instructor was even impressed! For the first half of class Ceilidh was tugging my arm out of the socket, but then she shut down... She wouldn't even look at her ball. Go figure.