Thursday, September 29, 2011

Let's Play!!

One of the biggest changes that's occurred in our home is rediscovering the joy of play.  While the initial fear and uncertainty of a new dog has settled, and the girls have come to realize he's not the devil in a dog suit, we are starting to see something beautiful.  Play!  Watching dogs at play brings a smile to my face each time.  They play with complete abandon and carelessness.  The essence of glee!  But each dog has her or his own style of play.

We'll start with Arwen of course (who else?).  We've discovered that Arwen has the worst play skills of any dog ever.  Really - ever!  Her version of play involves complete and total subjugation of the playmate (Fenway).  If the playmate tries to get up or, you know, "play", this results in loud "woos" and stiff body posturing over said playmate who's only option is to roll onto his back in total submission.  Game over.  If this playmate decides to run, butt-biting is perfectly acceptable, then the standing over routine, complete subjugation again and this is sometimes followed by laying on top of the playmate to assure he can't get up.  It's a bit like watching a cat and mouse "playing".  Or like watching Vlad the Impaler in furry form.  Needless to say, there's a great deal of human intervention involved and even more time-outs.  She could never quite do this with Nyxie because of Nyxie's size.  Nyxie prefers toy play rather than being bit on the butt.  I can't imagine why...

So for years, poor Nyxie has longed for a true playmate.  One that will grab hold of a toy and tug!  One that will chase her silly self as she bounds from couch to ottoman and back to couch in a single graceful motion without biting her butt.  After her initial uncertainty and fear of our new little pup, she now seeks him out to play, toy in her mouth.  She'll bark at Fenway and bow, showing beautiful play-skills.  Sometimes she can get out of hand and starts "mouthing" the top of his neck,  but a quick correction from us sends her sensitive soul to settle down.

Finally, there's little Fenway.  Coming into our home as a new pack member is not for the canine faint of heart.  Neither one of them was terribly welcoming, but through some sweet talking and posturing, he's winning them over.  He learned quickly to lay on his back or find a human to cuddle against when things would get too rough.  And best of all, he plays like a pro.  He'll eagerly follow when teased to chase, but can end a play session with a look.  He easily entertains himself with a chew bone, but can hang on to the other end of a Wubba like a champ!

Sometimes all you need is a little fun, however overdue it might be...


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Our Old Soul Puppy

Fenway is balanced.  I’ve never met such a calm and relaxed puppy.  Dog lovers will understand what I mean when I say he rarely pants or keeps his mouth open.  There is no out of control chomping, finger-biting, or drooling.  He does a great deal of observing, sitting perfectly still with his mouth closed, brow furrowed and eyes intent.  What kind of old soul dog is this?

I love my two girls dearly.  They make me sublimely happy with what they do and how they love us.  They are mostly obedient and well-mannered (except around other dogs) and are predictable in their needs.  Before Fenway, I’ll admit, I was letting the discipline and consistency slack a bit.  I was becoming complacent in my dog skills.  His arrival has meant keeping a keener eye on the dogs.  He's a dream; it’s the girls I have to watch vigilantly for rough play, nervous energy and predatory behaviors.  All these behaviors require correction and a chance to “get it right” again. 

Fenway will sit and watch the girls and us, deep dark eyes taking it all in under a furrowed brow.  He very rarely needs behavioral corrections, and when given, they are followed and learned almost immediately.  It’s as though he’s thankful to have been rescued, although I know he can’t understand that.  Can he?

Some spiritual beliefs involve people having a few chances at life – “a do over”, so to speak.  Those that have been through a few earlier versions of oneself and have innate knowledge, peace and understanding are called “old souls”.  I can’t be sure, but I believe Fenway is one of these old soul dogs.  He’s brought tranquility and balance to our pack.  All change comes from some chaos, though, and this integration has been no exception.  But we’re almost on the other side of the change.  Nyxie’s gained a playmate for her abundant energy and can finally share her toys with somedog that can appreciate them.  Arwen is still trying to figure him out; he’s not taking her as seriously and dramatically as other weaker dogs do.  Maybe she’ll learn humility. 

I’ve learned from Fenway that having a dog does not mean more work and more stress.  In fact, being near him, with his warm little body pressed against me in a doggie snooze, is calming.  His energy soothes me.  His Zen way of being is just beautiful.  We are a lucky pack, indeed.

What a happy sundog!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ignorance is not bliss

We had a bit of a scare earlier this week.  Last Sunday, Arwen was not acting herself.  She was yelping quietly when getting on the bed and the climb up was done more slowly and gingerly than usual.  When Nyxie did her usual facial licking, Arwen snapped at her hard - twice.  Poor Nyxie was at a loss.  She wasn't quite sure what she'd done wrong.  This was just business as usual as far as she was concerned.  Clearly, Arwen was uncomfortable.

Along with stiffness, we noticed her panting more and some clear mucous falling from both nostrils.  My first thought was that her allergies were bothering her and she could use some warm steam inhalation.  This was an easy at-home remedy to help rule out possible allergy issues as the cause.  Into the shower I went, letting her enjoy a peanut butter filled Kong just outside the tub while inhaling all the steamy goodness.  She seemed a bit more herself, but this was most likely due to the yummy peanut butter.

The next morning she was still stiff.  Off to work I took her.  She was seen by my friend and boss, Dr C who tested her back strength as we suspected her spondylosis (degenerative osteoarthritis of the spinal joints) was bothering her.  Nope - her back strength was solid.  Pretty good for a dog going into her 11th year!  Dr C said she suspected her stomach may have been bothering her and gave me some medication to help relieve the inflammation and I drew some blood for a blood panel as part of her yearly check-up.

After she had her meds, she drifted off to the deepest sleep of kings, nodding off drowsily before sleep.  Poor kiddo must have been sore throughout the night.  We're relieved to report no further issues.  Her bloodwork came back beautiful, totally normal!

Sometimes I wish I didn't work in this field, because all the problems that could be at the root of the cause creep in to create a horrible feeling of worry and fear.  "Ignorance is bliss", they say.  I disagree - a healthy pack is bliss!        

A quiet moment of Three Dog Peace - Arwen's Pack as one!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

When In Doubt, Just Cuddle

He cuddles.  Fenway likes to snuggle in and be warm and cozy.  He's showing some genetic Pibble with all this cuddle-puddle behavior.  I'm not sure if it's a safety tactic to keep away from the less than welcome ladies in the house, or maybe he's just chilly.  I just like to think of him as a cuddle bug.

The girls snuggle a bit with us - Arwen enjoys a nice upside down belly rub and will stay in close proximity to me at all times, but a good long cuddle is simply too much heat for her, I suspect.  Nyxie like to snuggle into Matt's pillow when it's just the 2 of us.  She'll press her nose against me and steal my warmth, facing me on his pillow, her body pressed against me.


To say they've accepted Fenway is a bit of a generous stretch.  "Getting familiar with his presence and not actively trying to kill him all the time" might be a more accurate assessment.  Fenway is an "old soul" dog - one that seems to understand things that he shouldn't already know.  Aside from a perpetually worried look on his face, he's the embodiment of zen.  I suppose I'd be perpetually worried as a newcomer around these 2 myself...

We're taking one day at a time here, working it all out.  We're giving time to each, while letting them know how much they're loved.  Change can be tough, but cuddling comes easy.  

Thursday, September 8, 2011

And Then There Were Three...Arwen's Pack Has Grown!

We needed another dog like we needed a hole in the head. But just when you think you've got it all sorted out and it's coming together, life decides you need a bit of a shake. Not the creamy delicious kind, but the hard "Holy Cow! What was THAT for!?" kind of shake.

This past weekend, Matt was outside just after midnight when he heard some nearby wimpering. Turning to listen closely (whether by instinct or simple curiosity), he saw a small brown dog come bounding over, all whines and ears back. The little pup just sat at his feet staring up at him. Well what the hell do you do at that point?! After a choice HBO word, knowing full well what was in store, he reached down and comforted this lost creature. I know this because just moments later the bedroom light flooded over my sleeping self and I was told to come downstairs and see something "cute, furry, lost and terrible".

With the same choice HBO word, I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and threw off the covers. "Terrible" is right - we couldn't bring this puppy into the house. What if it had distemper or parvo? We'd just seen a case of parvo not a week ago at the clinic. All these thoughts were put on hold as I opened the door and looked down the stairs. There, a whining, simpering, doe-eyed puppy looked up at me and melted my heart.

We looked him over and found gum in his dirty fur, his skin loose over visible ribs. Poor kid - was he in this condition and just ran away recently? Was he abandoned by somebody? Stairs were completely foreign to him and every house around us has 2 stories. "Inside" seemed to be another totally foreign concept. He was wearing a collar without tags and when we scanned him later, we discovered he had no microchip either.

We put a leash on him and walked around the buildings, hoping to reunite him with his owners. Nobody was out looking, the streets were empty. More HBO words....what now?

Plan B involved taking him to the clinic where I work and checking him over for parasites, a microchip, and some clue as to his age. We had to wake up T at 12:30 in the morning to keep her from being home alone. Upon seeing the foundling, her eyes lit up like diamonds. She was in love!

At the clinic, we checked him for parasites and he was badly infested with hookworms. Yuk. Those could kill a pup! I dewormed him and left him there; safe for the night.

Against all of our better judgement (except T because she's in love), we've decided to keep him. So maybe the "shake" I mentioned we got earlier is sweet, but still a shake in the other sense as well!
But bloggie friends, I need some help with 2 issues:

1) We are considering the name "Fenway" after Fenway Park, of course. We're 2nd generation Red Sox (and T will make the 3rd gen) fans, so it seems fitting. Any other suggestions?

2) The girls aren't impressed. Arwen is trying unsuccessfully to dominate him with her usual bullying tactics and Nyxie is afraid of him all scared growls. Yup, my 80 lb GSD is terrified of a 26 lb muttling who won't get bigger than 30-40 lbs! Poor girl...There has been some snapping at one another, and integrating isn't going as smoothly as I 'd hoped. He has great calm energy. Any ideas or help?

Thank you, Loves!
FYI - interwebs are acting funny so pls be patient with me. I had to write this post from my phone!

Published with Blogger-droid v1.7.4

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Intruder

Today I pulled out the vacuum and did a bit of routine cleaning, getting a jump start on the long weekend.  At our house, this routine is met with some hostility.  The Intruder is hauled out of the utility closet and then (since I never remember the right order of things) I realize I have to pick up all the dog toys spread out over the floor.  The toys are everywhere.  It's as though some sneaky anarchist hid some TNT at the very bottom of the toy basket when I wasn't looking and then set it off.  I know there's no TNT (Nyxie would've sniffed it out and alerted- WOOF!) but there is an anarchist.  Two, in fact.

So out comes The Intruder.  It's loud, pushy, and just runs all over everything - it's....the vacuum!  Arwen tolerates it, but definitely gives it a wide berth, eyes intent on watching, but all the while trying desperately to play it cool.  Nyxie is transparent in her dislike.  She's downright hostile towards it.  She'll pace around it as it's being plugged in, just waiting for it to fire up.  As soon as it's turned on, she'll hop towards it in a play/ fight move.  The initial excitement is over when I snap my fingers, but as I go room to room cleaning, she'll follow me and The Intruder at a safe distance.  And God forbid I extend the hose to use the crevice attachment...her arch enemy!

Surely this is some rude beast from an evil netherworld bent on destroying the perimeter's safety.  How can she possibly keep us safe when we invite such dangers in willy nilly!?  It's a tough job protecting Arwen's Pack.  It's a good thing she has a long weekend to rest up from The Intruder's visit.

I've got my eye on you....


New articles for your reading pleasure:
1) If you're in Dallas this weekend, there's a fun benefit event happening on Sunday - The 2nd Annual Motors and Mutts Classic Car Show to benefit A Different Breed Animal Rescue.  It'll be a great car and dog friendly event!
2) My newest article for HelloDallas discusses canine obesity - just a few extra pounds can hurt your pup!  You'll see a couple of familiar pups on this website ;)

Have a great Labor Day weekend!