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A few weeks ago, reading some Billy Collins, I came across his description of a dog “porpoising through the snow.”  Beautifully apt.

Today on Whiskey River I read this wonderful Mary Oliver poem. We’re facing a major snowstorm tonight, and I can almost see already how Crispin will illustrate this one. Dinah likes snow well enough, but she prefers to view it from her regal seat at the top step of the back porch.

The Storm
Now through the white orchard my little dog
romps, breaking the new snow
with wild feet.
Running here running there, excited,
hardly able to stop, he leaps, he spins
until the white snow is written upon
in large, exuberant letters,
a long sentence, expressing
the pleasures of the body in this world.
Oh, I could not have said it better
– Mary Oliver

Happy snow day, everybody, and every dog!

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Remember the lasagna? Yeah, that one.

The one that Crispin ate in its entirety.

The one that prompted us to go out and buy babyproofing locks to put on the refrigerator.

He’s at it again.

This new lasagna has actually made it into its third day, which is, in itself, a miracle. So tonight I’m cutting pieces out of it to put into the oven to reheat.

Picture this: I have cut one neat, square piece of lasagna and put it on a baking sheet. I am standing (this is a very important detail) between Crispin and the naked piece of lasagna. I go to cut a second piece, only moving over a tiny bit, when . . . WHAM! Crispin dematerializes, and then rematerializes with the piece of lasagna fully encased within his capacious mouth.

Seriously. It was like something from Star Trek.

Then I put the remaining lasagna in the (locked!) fridge and now he’s sitting in front of it, studying it. I’m convinced that he’s trying to figure out how to take the fridge door off its hinges.

This is a serious threat. Remember, he has Swiss Army Paws.

Anyone for takeout?

I’ve gone a long time without a dog blog post, but I’m definitely still out here, as are Dinah and Crispin. It’s just that . . . and I say this while crossing my fingers, throwing grains of salt here and there, and holding my breath . . . they haven’t done anything horrible terribly blog worthy lately.

Seriously, it’s all been business as usual around here. True, Crispin did figure out how to open the tall kitchen cupboard where we store condiments, tea, jams, and so on, but there wasn’t much in there he really wanted to eat.

We made it through Christmas without either of them knocking the tree over, unwrapping any gifts, or taking any of the ornaments off the tree to play with. Okay, so we don’t actually put ornaments on the bottom third of the tree any more, but, you know, Cris can still fly, so he might have made mischief  . . . but he didn’t.

Could it be that the Crispy Critter is growing up? It’s true that he had a birthday in December–he’s 3 years old now. But airedales don’t really stop being puppies for years. An airedale owner I know was walking with her dog one day when someone stopped her to ask “Your puppy is so cute and energetic–how old is he?”

They were floored when she replied: “Eleven.”

So we’re still bouncing around, mostly in varying amounts of snow, which they both love. They don’t even mind the deep cold we’ve been having–Dinah, especially, spends long winter mornings sitting on her behind on the icy back porch, surveying her snow-covered territory (for she, like the famed turtle, is queen of all she can see). Sometimes I worry that she’ll freeze to the porch boards.

Now that would be something to write about!

My dogs do plenty of really dumb things.  I won’t dis them by naming any of them (you can read about them here in past posts, anyway).

But once in a while they blow me away with their intelligence. I know–you’ve been a dog person for a long time and you take this for granted. I’m still new to this religion so I was startled and impressed when this happened yesterday.

I was in the back yard using the picnic table as my art studio. Crispin came out with me (not for nothing is his nickname Velcro Boy) and was keeping a watchful eye on his territory, and on me. After a while I realized Dinah hadn’t come out with us.

“Crispin,” I said. “Where is Dinah?”

He leapt to his feet and started looking all around us.

“Cris,” I said again. “Dinah’s in the house. Go get Dinah.”

He took off like a shot, and 12 seconds later he was back with Dinah in tow. We all settled down together to enjoy the afternoon.

I told this story to the Pack Leader, whose response was “Yeah, sure–what did you think he would do?”

I, however, am still in the beginner’s mind phase of dog person-hood. I’m impressed.

Yesterday afternoon Second Child and I spent some time playing soccer in the yard with Crispin. He has two soccer balls, a fat round one that rolls nicely so he can chase it and bring it back, and a partially deflated one that’s easy for him to carry and that throws sort of like a lead weight. Both of these activities are known to him not as “fetch” or “playing ball,” but simply as “soccer.” We say, “Hey, Crispin–soccer!” and he runs for the ball.

Airedales are natural soccer players. Here, for instance, is Dinah on her first day in our home, working on her game strategy:

So the radio’s on in the kitchen this afternoon, tuned to NPR’s Fresh Air, on which host Teri Gross and her guest are discussing over-involved soccer parents. The dialog on the show is going mostly: “so, soccer blah blah blah soccer soccer blah di blah di blah soccer and then soccer . . .”  And doesn’t Crispin run to the mud room, fetch the better inflated of the two soccer balls, bring it back to the kitchen, and set it down in front of the radio.

Coincidence?  I think not!

Letterman, look out!

Things have been pretty quiet around here, dogwise–knock wood (please join with us in doing so).  The fridge has resisted the prying paws and nudging noses of marauding airedales for several weeks.  The warming weather has enticed them into spending much of their waking time romping happily in their big back yard. They’ve even been sleeping late on weekends and during Second Child’s spring vacation, meaning that we’ve all been able to enjoy a little extra sleep.

This past week, though, they both suffered briefly from . . . some internal disturbances. Without going into detail, let me just say that when you have two or more dogs operating within the same back yard, sometimes it’s difficult to tell which one is leaving evidence of being a little off in the digestive department.

Enter the humble crayon.

Not sure which of your dogs is leaving unpleasant gifts in the back yard? Try this:  peel some crayons, one bright color for each dog you own, and use one of those little square pencil sharpeners (or the built-in one found in larger sets of crayons) to grate just a bit of colored wax over each dog’s plate of food.  Just a little bit–good quality children’s crayons are non-toxic, but you don’t need to overdo it.  The next time they do what dogs must do, you’ll be able to tell which one has the collywobbles.

Aren’t crayons wonderful?

If you’ve been following these posts, you know that Crispin has been in what we call his “extra Crispy” mode this week.  Making his pilgrimage to Refrigerator City has been a dream come true for him, and a nightmare for us.  A friend who’s been reading along (and who’s a licensed clinical social worker) sent me a helpful page of instructions, intended for families with children who have Prader-Willi syndrome (a rare genetic disorder, one symptom of which is insatiable eating), for putting a refrigerator into serious lock-down.

The analogy is apt. I’ve diagnosed him as being like a failure to thrive kid, except that his early deprivation was caused by a parasitic infection he had when he was a baby (roundworms and the dreaded hookworms). No matter what we fed him, he was still–literally–starving. At one point he was so anemic that his gums were white, and the vet was pretty sure he was going to die.

We pulled him through, though, and evicted his little tenants, but now the vet says the episode probably changed his brain in a way that’s left him–like the P-W kids–hardwired to seek food.

Incessantly.

Especially butter, which he craves with an unholy passion.

We can’t leave any food out or even turn our backs to get the mayo while we’re making a sandwich or !POOF!, the sandwich is gone before we turn back. He and Dinah have to be fed separately–she in the mud room, and he out on the back porch–or he’ll bolt all his food and then eat hers. And, as I’ve documented here before,  I have caught him on more than one occasion standing on his hind legs at the stove, front paws propped on the rim, eating simmering or even boiling soups and sauces right out of the big LeCreuset Dutch oven.

When he was little he would eat so fast he’d sometimes choke on his food, and the vet advised us to feed him in a wide, flat metal bowl, then put a huge rock in the center of it, and spread or sprinkle the food around it so he wouldn’t be able to get to it as quickly, or to get him a set up like this:

or this:

We–being basically cheap thrifty types–went for the rock. Man, did he hate that rock. Once in a while we’d find the bowl rock-less and the rock itself tipped over the edge of the porch. We never did figure out how he got the rock out–better not to know, probably.

When he’s not gorging, he’s a delightful boy–glued to our sides (one of his many nicknames is “Velcro Boy”), loving, and very tuned in to the moods and feelings of the family. Second Child and I have often said that with the right training he’d make a great hospice dog. Unless the patient he was visiting had food–then all bets would be off.

Sigh.

Have any of you had a dog with an eating disorder? How did you handle it?

Crispin’s fridge-raiding days are over.

At least until he spots this latch we bought from a company that sells childproofing safety devices.

And figures out how to unlatch it.

We’re pretty sure it’s only a matter of time.

We had our first snow of the season here yesterday, and the dogs had a high old time romping and playing in the great fluffy depth–all of, perhaps, three-quarters of an inch of the white stuff.

I think they’d be very envious of this dog:

Many thanks to my friend Marie for sending this my way.

My daughter came running to tell me on Sunday, “Mom, Mom! There’s an airedale on tv!” and though I missed it then, I finally saw it yesterday. It’s an ad for our state’s lottery, featuring a man and a woman sitting in a car. She has obviously been doing her holiday shopping, and starts pulling from her shopping bag the presents she’s bought “for everyone!”–all, of course, are lottery tickets–“One for mom, and one for your sister and one for . . .” and so on until she holds up the last one teasingly, saying, “And one for . . . ”

At which point a large and lovely airedale pokes its head up over the back of the front seat and steals the card. Very funny. Very airedale. Very scary–the notion of an airedale with disposable income.

Id buy mom a new tinfoil hat!

I'd buy mom a new tinfoil hat!

A whole case of Kongs, so Mom can always find one when we need it!

A whole case of Kongs, so Mom can always find one when we need it!

What would your dogs buy if they won the lottery?