Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Nose Knows...But It Doesn't Want To!

If you're a dog owner, most likely at some point you've experienced something like the scenario I am about to describe. If you haven't, just wait, your opportunity will arise at some point. To set things up, I will just say that we've had an extremely wet year here, and the fifth wettest October ever. I've almost forgotten what the sun looks like. Our hounds have not been happy about the weather. In case you didn't know, greyhounds melt when they are exposed to the rain. On top of that, it has converted our turn out pen to a slippery mudhole. My husband has laid straw out, but it's not much of a match for the deluge. You may also gather that cleaning up the pens after certain deposits have been made is particularly difficult. We usually take the four greyhounds out to the turn out pen, come back inside and get their food ready, leaving them a tad of privacy, then return to bring them back inside. Generally we are greeted by four shivering hounds with their eyes scrunched up and a look of disgust on their faces, even though they've been out there for less than five minutes.

(Bunny here, setting the record straight -- it feels like MUCH more than five minutes to me!)

When I go out, I try to do the humane thing and rush them back inside before they waste away to nothing out there in the mist of rain. I've never heard of a greyhound actually melting outside in the rain, but mine are convinced that they may become the first victims. Anyhow, in the back door we go and the hounds hurry in to the living room. Hawk has trouble with the back steps in his old age, so I help him maneuver up the steps and then enter the house and close the hallway door behind me.

(Bunny again, I think he fakes it! He jumped up into the back seat of the car with NO problems!)

As soon as I get in the house, it hits me! If you've ever smelled the fragrant aroma of freshly mashed dog turd, you know what I am talking about. It's a smell like no other. There is no mistaking it and even the most hard of smelling can't help but gag a little as it assaults the olfactory nerve. After turning around and going back out for a moment to clear my head, I reenter the house to find the offending foot which will need to be cleaned.

I check Hawk first, because often it is him. In his unsteady elderly state, he doesn't have a lot of grace about where his feet go. It's not him. Next, I check Lilac, since she has moments of instability herself. She's clean. Bunny has discovered a new outdoor recreation at turn out time, which is digging a hole to China, where I'm sure it's not raining. Often she comes in with clumps of mud stuck between her dainty little toes. She's not the guilty party.

(Bunny, once more -- as if I, dainty little puppy that I am, would ever step in poop! I am royalty and I tiptoe around out there to avoid such embarrassment, unlike some OTHER hounds!)

So, I call Blueberry. For some reason, she's curled up in the dog crate, her feet tucked underneath her. I call her again and she tucks her nose under her chest and sighs. Finally, I demand that she come. She looks up and gives me the serious stink eye before bedgrudginly standing and exiting the crate.

Me: Let me see your feet!

Blueberry: They're right here...

Me: (bending over her like a horse shoer, trying to lift a front foot which happens to be solidly planted on the ground.) Pick...up...your foot!

Blueberry: (shifting so that all her weight is on that foot) Which foot?


Blueberry: (sighing) Oh alright!

Me: My stars! That smells foul! How can you stand yourself? I think I'm going to pass out or be sick! We have to go back outside!

Blueberry: Oh, no! I don't think so! Just use a paper towel like you do for Hawk!

Me: He's old and he doesn't mash it up between his toes! Let's go!

Blueberry: (turning back towards the crate) It's cold out there and the water in that hose is even colder! No way!

A short wrestling match ensues with me holding on to Blueberry's collar and trying to keep her from walking over any more of the carpet. Blueberry struggles to get back into the crate. I know if she gets back in there the battle is lost and so I take a risk, letting go of her with one hand and closing the crate with it. She glares at me and then allows me to lead her reluctantly back outside. I turn on the hose and wash her foot off, spraying between her toes and lifting her foot to make sure that she's all clean. Finally, we return to the house where she promptly stalks off to the couch, since the crate is still closed, to have a good sulk and give me the serious stink eye.

Blueberry: I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!

Bunny: I'm her little dog!

Blueberry: (sigh) Just watch your shoes! And you watch yourself, whippersnapper!

Bunny: You won't hurt me! I'm too cute!

And so it goes that neither of us has really won this round. I'm not looking forward to winter and cold weather, but at least there won't be mud pie surprises anymore. There has to be an end sometime!
(Bunny, post script -- obviously, I won this round since I didn't have to go back outside!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Canine Activity Anyone?

It seems that Bunny may have taken the idea of saving my spot a little too seriously. It's hard to imagine, since she's generally not too serious about life in general. However, there are some things she holds sacred. Saving my spot appears to be one of them.

You can see here that Bunny is in repose, apparently not only saving my spot on the bed, but keeping it warm as well. You have to love that magical Swedish foam! Any dog owner would feel the cockles of their heart warmed when they found their devoted canine saving them a place with such devotion. I admit that the cuteness of the scene touched me when I saw it, which is why there's a photograph of the moment.

I quietly put on my pajamas, so as not to disturb her. Then I went into the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth to prepare for bed. While I performed those routines, my husband went in and got in bed. He brought out his favorite quilt and curled up to read. I emerged from the bathroom and made my way to bed, where my husband had been kind enough to prop up a pillow in my sleeping space so I had a place to get in. This is where the problem began. Bunny decided that she needed to snuggle with my pillow and save my spot for me as if I were really there.

So, I walked in and looked at the bed. I tried to convince Bunny to move over on her own. She closed her eyes and pretended to be asleep. I know that I heard my husband snicker as he, too, pretended to be asleep. So, after a few unsuccessful moments of trying to move my puppy (Have I mentioned that she graduated at the top of her obedience class?) over a few feet, I decided that perhaps I could slide the pillow out from under her and slide myself into the spot. I'm sure that every dog owner out there has tried this at some point, with probably the same lack of success that I experienced. Of course she sank right onto the bed, stretching out into my space even more. I tossed the pillows aside, undeterred, and fluffed the pillow I planned to sleep on, lifting the blankets back as far as I could. I managed to slide underneath her and got a sigh of annoyance for my efforts. I got into the bed, but somehow, there was only a tiny strip of blanket available to cover me. I pulled and tugged and somehow managed to wrest away just enough to cover myself with, if I laid very still and didn't turn over. The next morning, the conversation between my husband and I is mystifying.

Me: How did I get left with no blankets last night?

Husband: You too?

Me: What do you mean? You went to bed first!

Husband: I was sleeping on the edge of the bed! And I've got bruises!

Me: Bruises? Yeah, right!

Husband: (lifting his shirt) No, look, right here!

Me: What happened to you? That looks awful!

Husband: I thought you beat me up in my sleep!

Me: Trust me, if I was going to do that, I wouldn't leave any marks that anyone could see! But I didn't, just for the record!

Husband: Well, if you didn't do it, then who did?

Me: I don't know! I still want to know how I ended up with no blankets last night after I got myself covered up!

Bunny: Did Blueberry bother anybody else on the bed last night?

We both turned and looked at Bunny at the same time. Surely our sweet little puppy wouldn't do something like that! Could Blueberry be the culprit? Perhaps we'll have to set up a camera to solve our mystery. Canine Activity anyone?

Wordless Wednesday 10/28 -- Halloween Is Coming

Monday, October 26, 2009

The True Absolute Zero Experience

I've mentioned that Lilac often has a lot to say in her older age. What I haven't mentioned is that Lilac has another way of motivating us to do what she wants. This occurs mainly in the early morning, but it is not reserved to only that time. She will give a few warning barks in the morning, and then she pulls the deadly weapon out of her arsenal. If you're a dog owner, you know what I mean when I say the words "cold nose treatment." I suspect that she has some sort of underground tunnel from our bedroom to the icebox, where she must sleep with her nose inside for most of the night to be able to get it as cold as it is. Absolute zero must be warmer than her nose. The worst part of the attack is always that you don't see it coming.

Fortunately for me, I am not as often the recipient of this behavior as my husband is. Waking up to a high-pitched man scream, or hearing it from the other room, is not a pleasant thing. Your heart races, imagining some horrible injury, and then you find out that it's just the cold nose poke striking again. Her favorite is the early morning cold nose in the back poke, where she burrows her head under the blanket, but she has other moves in her arsenal. There's the attack from behind in the kitchen to get your attention when someone else is eating her food or she wants a sample of what you're cooking. Another dreaded maneuver is when she waits until you're asleep on the floor and sticks her nose to your neck to demand some petting. That nose is a wicked weapon.

Somehow, I suspect that this is all some big joke to Lilac. Possibly it's her revenge on us for being young whippersnappers who don't cater to the whims of an old lady. She has always been something of a Grand Dame, and we love her for it most of the time. Four thirty in the morning is not one of those times, however. You know that it's gotten bad when everyone lives in fear of her nose. I am not exaggerating when I say that people jump back and give her nose a wide berth when she starts to get the gleam in her eye. I've seen my husband drop her bits of turkey when she starts pointing and waving that nose at him like it's a loaded gun.

Husband: No, this is my sandwich!

Lilac: I'm hungry!

Husband: You have a bowl full of dog food in the kitchen!

Lilac: Drop the sandwich and nobody gets frozen!

Husband: *grumbling* This is a racket!
Does anybody know where we can get a nose mitten? It may be our only hope. We don't mind being a slave to our dogs, but we don't want to live in fear!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Snuggle Puppy

Our dogs love this time of year. They wait through the summer for the days when the air turns cool and finally, my husband emerges from the bedroom dragging his favorite quilt behind him. He lays down on the floor and is swarmed by three of the four hounds. He'll drag several dog beds over close to him and then spread out the quilt. Hawk, Lilac and Bunny will all mill around, hoping to get a spot under the quilt. Blueberry will walk over to another dog bed in disgust. She's not into sharing her snuggles with others and she's not a fan of being covered up.

Bunny has raised this little tradition to an art form, though. Not only does she want to be under the quilt in the mornings, afternoons and evenings when my husband is laying on the floor, she also expects to be under the quilt when we go to bed. She's also discovered that I have my own quilt to cover up with on the couch. This has made her extraordinarily happy. I also fear that we have created a monster -- a cute little snuggling under the quilt monster!

It started innocently enough over a chilly day during break. She likes to snuggle up against my leg, sometimes halfway in my lap, while I sit on the couch. I pulled out the quilt and covered both of us up, leaving her head out as well as my arms and head. Bunny sighed in contentment, closed her eyes and drifted off to canine heaven in a matter of moments, no doubt dreaming about how she was going to catch those rabbits who have been taunting her.

The next day, she was lounging on the couch beside me. When I pulled the quilt off the back of the couch, she hopped up and moved over as close to me as she could get. The look she gave me was just so sweet, I'd have gotten her whatever she wanted at that moment. I curled up my legs and she wedged herself up against me, gazing at me in adoration as I covered us up again with the quilt.

Now we fast forward to today. Bunny hopped up on the couch with me and laid down at the other end of the couch, needing a little space after our close snuggling of all morning. My leg needed a break, too, since I hadn't felt it in over an hour. As the evening chill set in, I pulled the quilt down and spread it out. She gazed up at my husband and the next thing I knew, he was tugging the quilt down around her, tucking her in so that only her little head was exposed. I watched this in amazement. I tugged it up a little over my lap. Bunny looked over at my husband, who is just as helpless against her powers of cuteness as anyone else, and he tugged it down just a tad to cover her little feet.

Me: Aren't you going to get a little too hot under the quilt?

Bunny: No, I don't think so.

Me: Well, you always start panting after you get all covered up in there.
Bunny: I don't know what you're talking about! (yawn) I'm getting sleepy...

Me: We could put your jammies on.

Bunny: They get static and zap my sensitive skin!

Me: If you wouldn't run around on the carpet...

Bunny: My stuffies need to play!

Me: Of course! How silly of me! Still, are you really sure you want to be all covered up?

Bunny: Oh yes! I find it very soothing!

Me: You know, I can't pet you too well when you're all bundled up in there.

Bunny: (eyes opening and the wheels turning in her brain) This is a problem! How about you put your hand under the quilt and also, I'll keep my head out so you can rub me under my chin in that spot I like! That should work!

Me: I see you've thought of everything! I suppose you're the one who's been dragging my quilt off the couch during the day when I've been gone to work?
Bunny: Well, I am the brains of this operation! A puppy's got to do what a puppy's got to do! Did I mention that it reminds me of snuggling with you when you're gone?

Me: You have thought of everything! Alright, let me tuck you in!

It appears that no one is immune to her powers of cuteness, not even me!

In a small post script, we'd like to invite everyone to "sign" our guest book at the bottom of the page with a photo. You don't have to have a blogspot account or be on Facebook or anything else to add to it. It will upload a photo right from your computer.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Get Your Stink On

Blueberry is a pretty girl. Actually, we refer to her as our supermodel, because she does have stunning good looks and she is actually very tall for a female greyhound. She's taller than a fair number of males that we meet. She's also a very smart girl. Just ask my husband, since she's almost got him trained. There aren't too many dogs who can steal the food right off your plate and make it disappear within an eyeblink. She knows just how to charm us to get what she wants most of the time, as well. All in all, she has matured from a somewhat wild and unpredictable two year old hound into a reliable and sweet eight year old. She is the alpha dog in the pack, although she rarely does much to assert her authority. She's a true blue brindle, her body is blue (the color grey in greyhounds is referred to as blue) with a few faint blue fawn stripes. A lot of people say that blue dogs have a lot of quirks. I don't find that to be true with her, she's a pretty normal greyhound in most respects. Still, she has one quirk that baffles me.

I should mention that greyhounds are sighthounds. That means that they hunt by sight and not by scent. Sometimes I suspect that Blue didn't get that memo. She seems determined to be a bloodhound, following the instincts of her nose instead of those from her eyes.

Blueberry has to have a certain "stink" to her at all times. She is very particular about it being just so. If it starts to wane, I will often catch her in the bathroom doing this crazy little roll and dance with the bath mat. She'll cock her head and push her body along across the bath mat, her back arched up and doing a crazy dog track like nobody's business. Normally she is very elegant and refined, but in this stink-acquiring moment, she throws all caution to the wind and attacks it with abandon.

It's not just our bath mat that gets the crazy roll treatment, however. After a bath, she goes crazy, rolling against the couch, the dog beds, the carpet, our bed and anything else she can rub up against. Most dogs have the post bath zoomies, but she has perfected it to a hilarious art form. I might also mention that Blueberry seems to live to make us laugh. I have no doubt that if she were human, she'd be doing stand up comedy that everyone would flock to see. The look on her face when you start laughing makes me think that she is laughing along with you. So, when we start laughing during this routine, she really throws herself into it. It doesn't have to be in the house, either. She will do it outside in the yard or even on a walk if she finds a particularly intoxicating aroma. It doesn't matter if she's in the finest collar she owns, when the urge hits, she has to follow it.

I really wish I knew what was so compelling about getting certain odors around her neck that was so motivating for her. It's just one of the things that remains an enigma about our charming girl. I guess we'll just have to be content with watching the show. Hopefully the bath that's planned for Saturday won't send her completely over the edge.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

Today I went back to work after our three week break, and I have to say, it was a nice return. The kids were happy to be back to school (one of the reasons I love Pre K) and my teaching partner and I were both well rested and refreshed as well. I got some very exciting news last night that made it a bit hard to go to sleep, but I still managed to wind down and realize that this is the first time I've been excited to go back to school in about a year. Still, it was hard to leave the dogs behind this morning. Hawk and Lilac are older and I worry about them a little. Blueberry likes to have her own bit of time together, but she really prefers to be with people on her own terms. Bunny, however, practically held on to my leg and begged me not to go. It was a sad sight to be sure.

Still, the best part about going back to work today was coming home tonight. There's nothing like the greeting of happy hounds at the back door. I got fanfare from the kids at school when they saw me to be sure, but it was nothing like coming home to loyal hounds who were elated by my return. The girls ran to greet me at the back door, tails wagging and feet tap dancing on the linoleum while Hawk barked at me from the living room.

They all have their own little rituals. Blueberry has to be the first at the back door, her head wobbling like a little bobble head, always waiting to be the first one spoken to and petted. Lilac stands on the step, ears raised to inquisitive half mast as she barks a deep bark that would make any robber wet his pants, even though what she's really saying is "I've been waiting all day for you!" She bats her big brown eyes and waits for me to scratch her behind the ear. Bunny holds back, but then can't contain herself any longer. She pushes her way through to get to me, sometimes walking under Blueberry if she has to. Then she stands before me, all wiggles until I pet her, then she's off like a shot through the kitchen to the living room. Hawk barks at me and then I let him out and he runs a half circle around me, pausing to lean his large frame against my leg and gaze up at me with his soulful eyes. Then Bunny explodes in her little dance of joy, running around the living room, over the couch and pausing there, begging me to sit down for just a second so she can press herself as close to me as possible and twisting herself like a pretzel so that she can lean her body against me and have her belly rubbed at the same time.

Of course, this only lasts for a few minutes and then the fanfare is over. The demands for bathroom breaks and dinner ensue and I'm relegated back to my status as servant to the hounds. Still, it's all worth it for those golden moments of arrival!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Save Me A Seat

Well, another school break is over for me. It's time for me to go back to work to earn money for important things like dog food and electricity so we don't all freeze to death. Everyone knows the signs of the end of break. Bunny, in particular, had been very clingy with me today. The rest of the dogs probably don't care that much one way or the other whether I'm here or not, but Bunny feels that we should be together at all times.

It's not just that we should be together, either. Bunny feels that we should be touching, or at least able to touch, at any moment of the day. I wouldn't say that it's a separation anxiety situation, she is just a very attached puppy. Today she spent a good part of the afternoon actually laying in my lap, her head on my stomach or shoulder. She also let me know that I was supposed to be petting her by rolling her head a bit or looking up a me with one eye when I got lazy. I know she wants me to be home with her, and quite honestly, I'd rather be at home with her than anyplace else in the world.

One thing that changes when I'm home is that I demand my one spot on the sofa. I don't ask for the whole couch, but I do ask for my corner. Blueberry often takes over the other corner and Bunny will jump up in the middle and curl up to me if Blueberry is on the couch. I suspect that Blueberry doesn't much care for sharing the couch when we're away, but if we're home, all bets are off. Bunny takes advantage of the situation to get whatever she wants with her cuteness. This afternoon as we laid on the couch, we talked things over a bit.

Bunny: You're really going back to work tomorrow?

Me: Yes, it's a necessary evil if you want to keep eating that fancy food of yours.
Bunny: I could just come with you. The kids like me!

Me: Not all day, every day. I'm pretty sure that wouldn't fly. Besides, it would interrupt your napping schedule.

Bunny: Naps are very important...

Me: I was thinking. Would you mind doing me a favor while I'm gone?
Bunny: What would that be?

Me: Well, you know how much I like my spot here on the couch?

Bunny: Yes, we all know that! You even made cute little me move over from there this morning!

Me: Right! Well, since I'm not going to be here for a while, I was thinking maybe you could save it for me. You know, keep it warm and everything.

Bunny: I think I could do that.

Me: Of course, I'll prewarm it for you in the morning before I go. All you have to do is keep your head on my pillow and curl up in my corner so Blueberry doesn't get her stink on it!

Bunny: Oh yes! I can do that!

Me: Thank you! I promise extra petting for you when I get home then!

Bunny: Why didn't we work out this deal a year ago? Sign me up!

And so it goes, I'll be a little busy getting back to work and we may have a few less adventures while that happens, but we'll get back into the swing of things soon. There will be days off together in November and December break will be here before we know it! I'm sure that life won't become less exciting here just because I have to go back to work, either. We'll find the time to update, but it may be a little different than it's been recently.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Price of Volunteering

People who have known us for a while know that we have been volunteers with several dog-related activities for some time. One of our favorites is visiting at the nursing home with Paw to Paw, a dog therapy group in Bloomington. We have gone over there for more years than I can count. We started after we'd had Treat for about two years when we realized that it simply wasn't possible for us to ever pet her enough in a shameless bid for free supplemental petting. It worked like a charm. Treat was a natural and Hawk did tricks to amuse the crowd when he didn't feel like being too close to people. After he was sidelined due to an odd shot reaction, Blueberry began to go, and she enjoyed it much more than he did, so he retired from visiting. He was more than happy to help Lilac hold down the dog beds at home. After Treat passed away, I looked for a new hound that I thought would be good with nursing home visits, since my husband and Blueberry are a pretty tight team. Bunny hasn't disappointed me. She turns on the charm the minute we walk in and she doesn't leave anybody wanting for an opportunity to pet a greyhound.

We're often asked why we go all the way to Bloomington to volunteer. It's not particularly close to us and we have had to cut back because gas has become so expensive, but the dogs love it and so do the people there. For many of them, it will be the only visitor they get all month. Often they tell us stories about dogs they had when they were young or that were particular favorites. I do have some of the stories memorized because I've heard them so often, but it costs me nothing to hear them again. It would be closer and easier for us to visit in Peoria, but unfortunately, the local animal welfare society there has a stranglehold on visits to anything in town. We've taken our therapy dog test with TDI, a national therapy dog group, and I am not comfortable with their test nor their policies on visiting. So, we've enjoyed going to Bloomington for many years and have been satisfied with our decision.

Getting a dog certified as a therapy dog isn't cheap, but I feel it is worth it. We took a basic obedience class together, which is not required, but is very worthwhile. One component of the therapy dog test is passing the Canine Good Citizen test and obedience helps a great deal with that. So, there's obedience class for around sixty dollars, a vet check, and around a hundred dollars in fees for the dog to be evaluated, although that is only when you take the test. After that, there are yearly maintenance fees to keep your certification, which isn't as expensive.

One thing that I've always dreamed of doing as a therapy dog team is visiting in the children's ward of the hospital. Recently, the local hospital sent out a plea in the local newspaper saying that they were looking for therapy dog teams to visit at the hospital, including in the children's ward. My husband and I got pretty excited, because we have looked for this opportunity for a while. I knew that it would be through the local welfare group again, but I was considering biting the bullet and signing up anyhow. We'd just be extra qualified if we took a national test and then passed their test as well, I reasoned. Then we got to their website and the details. They wanted three hundred dollars to take this evaluation to volunteer in the hospital. My husband and I decided that was the end of that dream.

Not too long ago, we ran into an acquaintance who does volunteer with this group. He was telling us about how he is in the program to volunteer at the hospital. Often he tries to recruit us to volunteer with this group. We had a pretty interesting conversation with him, while I was having a completely different conversation about it in my head.

Volunteer Man: The program is great! You should really try it!

Me: Yeah, I've heard this song and dance before... I was interested, but honestly, three hundred dollars seems like a lot to ask from volunteers.

Volunteer Man: Yeah, but, you can get sponsors to help with part of the fee.

Me: Um, we're in the middle of a recession! I'm sure people are shelling out sheckles for that kind of stuff left and right! That seems like a lot of work and a lot to ask of people...

Volunteer Man: Really, you can get the price cut down to just about half the fees coming out of your pocket!

Me: I have moths flying out of my pockets! Well... What is the test like? How many people who have taken the test passed it?

Volunteer Man: There are a group of people who evaluate the class. Over half of our class didn't make it. The testing was pretty subjective, but we're one of twelve who passed.

Me: (If you have met me in person, you can probably imagine the look on my face at this point. If you haven't, picture Will Ferrell's face when he spies the fake Santa at the store in Elf.) Oh yeah! Sign me up! I, um, wish we could, but it cost us enough to be ready to visit the nursing homes and do the READ program!

Volunteer Man: Oh, you can't visit nursing homes with the dog if you take them to the hospital! They track in germs! You can still do READ, though.

Me: (I was completely dumbfounded, but I think I managed to keep my mouth closed. That or my husband closed it for me.) Germs? The hospital is full of germs! Are you kidding?

Volunteer Man: Old people in nursing homes have germs that are dangerous to people in the hospital. They don't allow dogs that have visited nursing homes to come in.

Me: What happens when old people go into the hospital? Well, thanks for the info, it's certainly a lot to think about!

I have to admit that I've still thought about visiting the hospital, partly because Bunny is so good with young children. However, I just don't have the money required to swing it and then I think of the people we visit in the nursing home, too. They are thrilled to see us when we arrive. The people in the hospital will most likely always have someone to visit them and bring them cheer. We'll stick to the nursing home and enjoy the priceless feeling of being the bright spot in somebody's day.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Howl O Ween Treats

Bunny here, taking over the keyboard this time, since I am a coauthor on this blog. Mom and Dad started talking about our nursing home visit last night and saying that we had to get ready for the nursing home visit tonight. My ears perked up a bit. Going to the nursing home means that people there will want to pet me. Sometimes they even feed me stuff. It's always great fun! Mom said she needed a model for the ghost costumes they were making, so I jumped off the couch and offered my services. I didn't ask what this job entailed, but as it turns out, it involved me standing up a lot while Dad cut up a sheet a lot. When they started gushing about how cute I was, I knew that I'd hit pay dirt. Then it came time for Blueberry's costume. She was supposed to be a ghost like me. Dad called her and she ran in the dog crate. Dad picked up the scraps of sheet he'd cut off and said that Blueberry could be a mummy. It was getting late, so Mom agreed to it, even though she wasn't crazy about the idea.

As it got closer to time to go, Mom started thinking about how long it was going to take to wrap Blueberry up in those strips and get them to stay in place without slipping off, so she decided to get one of the costumes that Treat wore a while ago and let Blueberry wear that. "She's persnickety about what she'll wear on her head," I heard Mom say. They decided to test it out on Blueberry real fast. Blueberry started shaking her head around. Mom asked me if I wanted to try it. Of course I did! Once Mom put the mask on my head, I didn't see what the fuss was all about. I went back to eating dinner and Mom and Dad both laughed and commented on how cute I am. I wagged my tail. They decided that I would get to wear the dragon costume and Blueberry could be the ghost. I just knew nobody was going to be able to resist me in that costume. We got in the van and Mom reminded us that it was Halloween at the nursing home, but not to be begging for treats. She said it wasn't really Halloween yet and I'd have to wait a few weeks for the real thing to get here. I laid down and waited for us to get there.

When we arrived, we got out of the van and went to the grassy spot out front where we take a little powder break, if you know what I mean. Only this time, I realized I'd hit the jackpot! There in front of me was a Halloween treat, just waiting to be plucked. A plump little rabbit was sitting, practically under my nose. Well, I did what any self respecting hound would do -- I went for it. That darned leash really cramped my style. I was left with some tail fuzz between my teeth, but no rabbit meat. We headed into the first building, I put on my dragon mask and went to work. Everybody went crazy over me and I forgot about the cottontail outside.

Soon it was time to leave and go over to the other side. Darned if that rabbit didn't hop right under my nose and nearly knock Mom down. It was an insult and I'd have had him if Mom hadn't pulled us back the other way so fast. That darned leash foiled my plans again. Anyhow, we went into the other building and I went to work, oozing cuteness and working the crowd. When Blueberry saw how much attention I was getting, she finally decided to put her costume on, too. Well, part of it anyhow. I think I looked cuter in it, but she had to have something. People thought she was pretty cute, too, but most of them were admiring me. It was a great time and I can't wait to go back. There was lots of petting and if I play my cards right, that rabbit will lose the next round. I hope everybody has a safe and happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Cold Shoulder

This morning I woke up after my husband had taken the dogs out. It was raining and, quite honestly, felt like a good morning to sleep in and enjoy the soothing sound of the rain falling on the roof. After a little while, I got up and came to the living room, where I was greeted by a very digruntled puppy.

Me: Bunny, what's wrong?

Bunny: (glares and husband and huffs, burying her nose under her front paw)

Husband: She's a little mad at me.

Me: (trying not to giggle at her disdainful face) Why is that?

Husband: Well, your puppy really doesn't like the rain!

Bunny: He left me out there for HOURS with no raincoat! I'm drenched! Nobody will want to pet me now!

Me: (sitting down on the couch beside her) Oh, that's terrible! I'm so sorry!

Husband: (rolls eyes)

Bunny: (crawling over and burying her head against my chest) It was horrible! I thought I'd drown out there! Can't you get me some indoor plumbing?

Me: We don't have that kind of money, I'm sorry! Hopefully it won't be raining when it's time to go out later.

Husband: Bunny, I have your jammies! Let's put them on and warm you up!

Bunny: (hiding her face against me) Please make that buzzing gnat go away!

Me: Let's take off your wet collar!

Bunny: (holding up her dainty little head) Oh yes, please!

A few minutes later, she got up and went to get a bite of breakfast and my husband did put her pajamas on. She turned her head away and completely ignored his existence. By the time he left for work, she was still not acknowledging him in any way. Not even an ear twitch would happen when he said her name. I noticed that none of the dogs got up to see him out when he headed for the door. I guess none of them wanted to risk going out in the deluge again. I guess we'll see if they've forgiven him by the time we have roast for supper!

Wordless Wednesday 10/14 -- Pajama Party

(If you want to buy jammies, we got ours at

Monday, October 12, 2009

So, You're Saying There's A Chance?

Since the fiasco of Lilac's birthday breakfast, we have had a surge of more than the usual begging from a certain dog here in the house. It started innocently enough. Hawk lost a considerable amount of weight and he's always been on the lean side. He didn't have the weight to lose, so we began making a special recipe we got on Greytalk for meatballs that involved raw hamburger, peanut butter, oat meal, eggs and Karo syrup. It stimulated all the hounds to eat A LOT! Bunny was stalking the others, trying to get every morsel of the concoction that she could. Hawk was reluctant to eat it at first, and Bunny was happy to scarf it up for him lest it go to waste, but after he did, he became ravenous. He was practically tap dancing in the kitchen to get his next meal.

He has always had a habit of feeling that we should feed him some of what we are eating. I have no idea where he got that idea! Certainly not from my husband feeding him part of his sandwich every day at lunch time. Since the illness and the meatballs, however, he had become pushier than an old lady at senior discount day at the local buffet. He barks, insistantly, like a seal and does a little hop on his front feet. You would honestly believe that we were starving him here the way he carries on. The conversations between he and my husband over food leave me giggling to myself, but I dare not comment out loud.

Hawk: Hey!

Husband: Don't even start! I am not giving you my food!

Hawk: (looking suitably pathetic) I'm hungry!

Husband: You have a bowl full of dog food in there!

Hawk: It's just plain old kibble! I'm old! I need proper sustanance!

Husband: What's in your bowl is all you're getting!

Hawk: (beginning to drool) My bowl is empty! I swear! I'm still hungry!

Husband: I don't believe you. I was just in the kitchen. Now go on!

Hawk: (looking like Old Yeller, an Oscar worthy performance if there ever was one) I'm STAAAAAAAARVING!

Husband: You can't be starving! We spend ungodly amounts of money on your food every month! You eat better than we do!

Hawk: I beg to differ! (staring pointedly at Husband's sandwich)

Husband: This conversation is over. I'm not giving it to you and that's final!

Hawk: (moving closer, employing some long lost instincts from his coyote cousins) Is that your final answer?

Husband: Yes it is! NOW GO LAY DOWN!

Hawk: (goes to the bed, circles, then reappears silently over Husband's shoulder) Look, Blueberry's stealing your sandwich!

Husband: What? Hawk, I told you no! Oh geez! You're drooling on my sandwich!

Hawk: Well, it's no good now! I guess you'll just have to throw it in my food bowl...

Husband: (grumbling) Oh, just eat it!

Hawk: I knew you'd see it my way eventually!

We'd also like to wish Husband a very Happy Birthday on Tuesday! He puts up with so much. We really do love him for it!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bark In The Park

Today we attended Bark in the Park in Peoria near the Illinois Riverfront. This is an annual fundraiser that helps to benefit the Peoria Animal Welfare Society. Last year it was extremely hot, but this year it was quite brisk. Hawk and Lilac were more than content to rest their cockles at home, their toes turned up in the comfort of the recently turned on furnace. Blueberry and Bunny were happy for warm coats. Despite the chilly weather, we had a wonderful time walking by the riverfront, watching the contests and meeting lots of happy dogs and their owners. We ran into quite a few friends as well. Bunny tried her paw at the Olympic CGC competition and won a medal. Of course, Blueberry also got a medal and she refused to even set paw in the ring. Bunny spent a lot of time trying to entice other dogs to play with her, but of course, Blueberry is much to refined and sophisticated for that kind of puppy foolishness. Overall, it was a wonderful event, even if we didn't see any other greyhounds there this year. We saw everything from chihuahuas to great danes as well as everything in between. Bunny got a lot of pets from strangers and Blueberry enjoyed all the comments abou how calm she was.

Here are some of the pictures from the event.

At the end of the day, we brought home two very tired greyhounds. I suspect that there will not be an early wake up call tomorrow morning.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Thank You, Max and Anne!

A few weeks ago, we got a very thoughtful gift in the mail, and I have been remiss in sending out our thanks. Max knows about Lilac and her tender toenails and he sent us her own emergency kit for when those pesky nails break off. They also sent a very nice winter hat that no doubt will keep her ears quite toasty this winter. I haven't mentioned it here on the blog before, but Lilac hates to have her ears cold. She sends many thank roos to them for their generosity!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Things That Go Bang In The Morning

This will be another story about the joys of living in a small town. As I have mentioned, I am on a break right now, since the school where I work is on a year round schedule. I really enjoy sleeping in a bit on the three weeks we have off, however, it is not to be. If it's not my, oh so charming neighbor kids (yes, that was a hint of sarcasm in my voice) slamming their door right outside our bedroom window hard enough to shatter the glass (yes, this has actually happened), or my husband tromping through the house to get ready for work (I love him, but I swear that it requires about ten times more noise for him to get ready when I'm not going to work), then it is the fall bane of our existance. By that I mean, the local high school marching band and their outdoor practice. Every morning at eight o'clock, they begin to practice. When I say that they begin to practice, I mean that they parade past our house, trumpets blaring and drums crashing. Now that it's cold enough that we've starting sleeping with the windows closed, this shouldn't be a big deal. However, I'm not the only person in this one horse town (yes, someone really rides a horse past our house regularly) who is disturbed by the marchers.

Bunny is also not fond of the band. When I say she's not a fan, I don't mean that she's going to avoid their concerts and won't be picking up their albums. I mean that when they march past our house, she becomes a leaf-shaking mass of nerves. She will crawl up on the couch between Blueberry and me, but her body still trembles enough that I feel it through her whole body.

I'm not sure what it is about it that bothers her so. Thunderstorms roll through and she doesn't even flinch. The Fourth of July wasn't even a blip on her radar, while Lilac exiled herself to the basement to celebrate in peace. Backfiring cars barely get an ear twitch. However, something about those bass drums booming past gives her the heebie jeebies. It's one of those mysteries of life, I suppose. Nothing else in the world seems to phase her in the slightest, but for now, we both just have to suffer through the enthusiasm of the high school marching band, I suppose. Maybe we can both invest in earmuffs!

Until then, I guess we'll both just spend our vacation as early risers on the couch together and watching the world go by.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

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