Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Tail of Two Bunnies

As some may know, and some may not, one of the greyhounds I share my life with is a young two-year-old hound named Bunny. She is a very good girl and is extremely mellow, most of the time. She never raced, I imagine because she is so petite and as a result, she did not come to us as, ahem, easy to walk on the leash as the retired racers that we've adopted. We're working on the issue, and she's come a long way from the leaping trout at the end of the line that she once was. I am in the process of losing some weight from stress eating the last few months and I've decided to be a lot more diligent about taking walks. Bunny is a great companion for this. She's always enthusiastic about going for walks, a lot like Treat was. The other hounds here are less enthusiastic about walking. I get ready and it goes a bit like this:

Me: Who wants to go for a walk?

Bunny: Me me me! There might be people out there who want to pet me!

Lilac: I'm an old lady and my feet hurt! Can't I nap in peace?

Bunny: Pick me! (now dancing in circles) I want to go!

Hawk: My God, the sky could fall at any minute! No way am I going out there! (As he hides in the crate.)

Bunny: ME! Here I am! People are out there waiting for me! (Now at the back door.)

Blueberry: Well, how far are you going to go? I don't want to miss anything, but a lady never works up a sweat...

Me: Okay, Bunny, lets go!

Bunny: Smell you old farts later! I'm going with Mom and people are going to pet me!

This has all been well and good for several weeks, but last week, Bunny met her arch nemisis in our backyard. Perhaps some of you may be familiar with him. He is quite a rascal.

This little fellow has been taunting Bunny from behind the turn out pen for a week now. She would love to get better acquainted with him. It also appears that he and his friends and family have been multiplying, well, like rabbits! They are all over the neighborhood all of a sudden. So, everyday, Bunny heads outside and she is on full alert, in case he's out there.

At first I thought it was simply youthful curiosity on Bunny's part, but then I realized he'd created a serious faux paws. He'd insulted her by giving the rabbit version of flipping the bird, as seen here. He lives to taunt this innocent little puppy. It really is a sad state of the world when those flea-bitten varmints get so uppity that they think they can sit outside a young greyhound's turn out pen and distract said hound from even taking care of business out there. I have a feeling that Bunny is not the only greyhound, or even the only dog suffering this indignity at the moment, but she's not aware of this. She is also not taking this lying down. Bunny has gone on full alert and she is ready to teach those devils in fur suits a lesson. If only she could get close enough. I suspect that one of these days it will happen.

She is definitely on watch now. At first it was just when we'd go out the back door to the turn out pen. Then, one day this week, one of the cheeky little critters leapt out of a shrub as we were walking, did a little rabbity dance in front of her and then skedaddled off. I don't think he was taunting her at that moment, he was probably showing off for some doe that looked like Jessica Rabbit and couldn't help himself. Spring has sprung in a big way here this week. Bunny, however, takes it as a personal affront that he would taunt her so cruelly.
So, now is she not only on the lookout, she has her nose to the ground, sniffing out where they've been and where they might turn up. They do not disappoint her. Those rabbits leap out in front of us several times on every walk that we take. I see Bunny trying to work out in her brain how that rabbit can get around the neighborhood so quickly. It hasn't occurred to her yet that he brought all his friends and cousins with him when the warm weather hit. I'm not sure I want her to figure it out. The fact that they're everywhere might haunt her puppy dreams and terrorize the sweet little pup. For now I'll let her believe that there's only one until she gives up her belief in Santa Paws and the Easter Bunny.
Thursday was the last straw for her though. One leaped out from a shrub, right under her nose. If I hadn't been walking her in a harness, she would have had him. She leaped and then barked her threats after his insult. His eyes got huge, like a cartoon character, before he retreated around the house, probably to leave a pile of rabbit pellets and collapse to recover from his racing heart. She was so close to catching him.
Hopefully he spread the news around the neighborhood that there's a new hound in town, who might be faster than a speeding rabbit. For now, Bunny is dreaming about the day she runs free of the leash and the rabbits finally learn their lesson. I'm dreaming of the day when the rabbits shake off this Spring Fever and we can walk in peace again.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wordless Wednesday 4/22

Is there anything sadder in the morning than a greyhound puppy whose person has to go back to work after being off for two and a half weeks? Don't worry, Bunny, summer break will be here in June!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Will Work for Pets

Today was a big day for the therapy dog group that we volunteer with. Once a year, they set up a booth at a local health and wellness expo and try to get new volunteers for Paw to Paw. Our group goes to several local nursing homes to visit residents who might not get visits otherwise. It's nice for the residents to remember pets they used to have and have a soft head to pet. It's perfect for Bunny, since she seems to need supplemental petting on a regular basis. It's also nice for Blueberry and Bunny to get out and stretch their legs a bit. I imagine that Hawk and Lilac breathe a sigh of relief when they go, too since that means they can stretch out and enjoy the comfy dog beds in peace. So, today was a chance for the girls to socialize with the other therapy dogs and get attention from the crowd. I can imagine how the thought processes were going as we got Bunny and Blueberry in the van to go.

Bunny: Oooooo! I've got my fancy collar on! People are going to pet me!

Blueberry: This had better not cut into my naptime!

While in the house...

Hawk: Ahhhh! They remembered my treat!

Lilac: Which bed to I choose? Zzzzzzzzzzzz!

So, off we went to the expo. The girls were popular as soon as we walked in the door. They began to work the crowd. They had a good time getting their sniffs in with the other dogs from the group. Bunny also enjoyed the chance to gloat about her obedience skills to Steppen again. I don't think he cared, he was too busy enjoying all the attention. We also thought we'd share a few of the dogs who joined us today. This is Jack, who has a bit of an obsession with cheese.
After a few hours of working the crowd, Blueberry really had had enough. She let us know that we were cutting into her union sanctioned naptime. She decided she was completely laying down on the job.

Me: Blueberry, you're not setting a great example here.

Blueberry: Is there a gnat buzzing in my ear?

Me: You know, I think there's a camera around.

Blueberry: Make sure you get my best side! I'll give you one shot, Mr. DeMille!

At least the golden retrievers were enthusiastic. Although even they were flagging a bit by the end of their shift. There seem to be a lot of them in the group. More than you can shake a stick at, but that would be unwise in a room full of golden retrievers. Scout and Sydney really would have liked a sample of Jack's cheese, though.
One thing I didn't anticipate is that Bunny and Blueberry would hold their own meet and greet for greyhound adoption there at the expo. Lest you be worried, Bunny did get petted -- a lot! She was in greyhound puppy heaven. I think she sold more greyhounds today than I've seen go off the shelves in a long time. Everybody wanted to pet her, and she tried to convince them all that she never gets any attention or gets petted. She turned her golden eyes on them and they were all putty in her paws. I think we finally found her maximum capacity for being petted today. After two and a half hours, she pointed her little needle nose towards the door and gave a pull on the leash. I made her tough it out for another half hour as we wrapped things up and then we took her to the van. Here's the proof that she did actually get petted today.

I am now sharing the couch with one tired puppy. I think she got her fill of pets for at least one day. Tomorrow is still open, however.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Crime Scene

This evening, we were again were witnesses to the horror that can occur when one shares their life with greyhounds. I'm sure it could happen with any dog, but I have to confess, we never had scenes like this with any of the dogs I grew up with as a child. The dogs I grew up with had the good grace to be dogs outside, it appears. That, or I was blissfully unaware of what they did in my youth. It's a tough call on that one. In any event, I should warn you, this was a gruesome scene. So, cover the kids' eyes, distract grandma and put down anything you might be eating before you go on.

So, here we are at the scene of the crime. You might notice the blood. That's right, blood all over our freshly cleaned living room carpet. Not only the carpet, but all three dog beds that were scattered about the living room as well. Thank heaven we had the baby gate up, or I'm sure the carnage would have spread to the bedroom, the bathroom, the hallway and maybe even the guestroom. Of course the easily-cleaned linoleum in the kitchen was spared. I've found dogs are considerate that way. Why they always help out that way is a mystery to me. Never ever will one of them throw up in the kitchen. It always has to be in a high-traffic area where everyone will see the remains for months if you don't diligently scrub it. For this job, I considered hiring Sunshine Cleaners. I'm sure they could handle something this bloody. I mean, if they can clean up murder sites, this is up their alley.

By now, I'm sure you're wondering what actually transpired in my living room this evening. You won't hear about it on the six o'clock news. Only because I didn't call them. My husband was out getting picture frames this evening and I was enjoying a quiet night at home. The dogs were laying about until they heard the sound of the car arrive home. Minutes later, my husband entered the house and instead of his friendly greeting, I heard him ask me a question.

Husband: What is that? Did somebody eat something?
Me, looking up in confusion: No, they've all been -- What the hell?
(I'm sure you can sense the moment when I saw the bloody scene.)

Hawk: You're home! Take me out! She never takes me out! I need to go out NOW!

Blueberry: I've been perfect all day. Why are you yelling?

Bunny: You're home! I know you came home to pet me! Pet me! Pet me! Pet me!

Lilac: What's all the fuss about?

We look around and discover that, sure enough, Lilac has broken another toe nail and is now pacing all over the living room. Husband gets out the gauze and vet wrap and as soon as she sees him, she begins pacing in earnest. Her time to redecorate the living room is limited and she knows it. After a brief skirmish between her and my husband that involves a fair amount of swearing in both English and dog glares, three attempts at bandaging and a kicking move that the dog can do remarkably well for her age at just the right moment to prevent the bandaging job from happening, it is finished. Husband begins spraying carpet cleaner on the bloody spots and the dog goes to the only remaining dog bed and lays down with a disgusted sigh. Hawk decides that he can't wait any longer and raises his tail, resulting in a shout from Husband that sends the three non-offenders to the back door with wagging tails. So, he takes them out as I lug the steam cleaner up from the basement to begin the cleaning.

The dogs are brought back in and Lilac sneaks in the crate to claim the only dog bed with a cover. Blueberry takes over the pile of dog beds without covers and Bunny heads for the couch. Hawk paces in nervous agitation as I run the noisy machine. Noise freaks him out. When the steam cleaner gets too close to Blueberry, she jumps up and goes to the kitchen. After she gulps down a huge amount of water, she returns to the living room to throw it up. Apparently I didn't have enough cleaning to do.

As I continue cleaning, Hawk, still nervous and pacing, begins to lift his tail again. Some more swear words are grumbled by husband who drags the poor dog back outside. Lilac now lies like the Queen of Sheba on the only dog bed. Blueberry has taken over our bed and Bunny is waiting on the couch, content with the knowledge that soon I will stop running the steam cleaner and sit down to pet her.

All this over a toenail.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ghosts of Easter Past

Today I'm writing about something that happened with our first greyhound, Treat, whom we lost almost a year ago. It's an Easter story, and one that always makes me laugh. We got Treat right after Christmas and became active with our local greyhound adoption group. Treat loved the meet and greets we went to once a month because she got to socialize with the other greyhounds.
In April, the local Petsmart allowed our group to take pictures of people's dogs with the Easter bunny and we got to keep the profits. Of course we snickered over the idea of taking our greyhound to have her picture taken with a giant bunny. How could we resist? Let me tell you, we should have.
We got Treat her first fancy new collar just in time for the pictures. We washed her and got her all dolled up for the big event. Yeah, the bath was her first tip off that it wasn't going to be the best day. Still, when we got in the car, she was excited, knowing that some grand adventure was in store for her. We arrived at Petsmart and headed inside.
As we entered, we met a new couple who had a stunning male greyhound whom we learned was named Zulu. He was a very striking dog and Treat did her best to flirt with him as we made our introductions. They had adopted from another group, but decided to have their dog's picture taken and stay to help out a bit with our group.
So, we all made our way to the side area where the pictures were to be taken. The husband walked up with Zulu and handed his leash to the giant rabbit. What happened next will forever be etched in my mind. Treat looked at the rabbit with eyes that looked like they belonged to a cartoon character. I swear that they telescoped out in shock before retracting back to their normal size and postion in her dainty little pointed noggin. She leaned in close to me and wrapped her body around my leg. At first I thought it was affection, but now I believe that she had some sense of foreboding as to what was coming.
The next thing we knew, Zulu went after the Easter Bunny with all he had. I'm not sure if he saw the dog toy of his dreams or if he had a lot of pent up hostility about the rabbits that had taunted him at the racetrack, forever out of his reach, but whatever was behind it, he didn't hold back. He leapt up and his teeth sank into the Easter Bunny's giant face. He let out a bark that sounded very ferocious. The rabbit and the dog both went to the ground in a giant ball of fur. I saw tails flying and rabbit ears go askew. Somehow, the man inside the bunny suit managed to pull the head of the costume off, or else Zulu did it for him. When the dog saw that a man had suddenly emerged in place of the rabbit of terror, he was all tail wags and playbows. He had no worries after that, and I suspect they may have snuck off later to have a drink.
Treat watched it all with a mixture of confusion and horror. She had definite ideas about how her dignity was to be maintained. I think by that point she was scared witless of the rabbit of her nightmares, but she wasn't going to show it. She did step up when Zulu was finished getting his picture and have hers taken. I wish I had it in the computer to show it, but it's one of those polaroid deals and I don't have it scanned in.
Suffice it to say, we learned some lessons that day. We also created a memory of a girl that turned out to have a larger than life personality. I still miss her every day, but I'll always think of her at Easter and laugh.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Where in the world is Mr. Stick?

Follow the adventures or should I say misadventures of Mr. Stick here! It looks like he has an unfortunate meeting with the wood chipper ahead of him. Mwuuuu ha ha ha ha!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Obedient Greyhound

Well, today was a big day for Bunny. My husband and I help teach 4H dog obedience every year. It's strictly a volunteer endeavor, but one that we enjoy. Today was the orientation meeting. Usually we go and help and our friend who also teaches the class brings along her German Shepard, Steppen. This year, after taking Bunny through obdience class in the fall in preparation for taking a therapy dog test, I decided to take her to orientation as well. Blueberry has been through beginning obedience twice with my husband, but so far has not passed graduation night. Bunny tied for first place on our graduation night, a fact that she wanted me to pass along. She'd also like everyone to know that she's really not a trained monkey, however, and that she only works for food and attention. As we gathered things together, both girls got very excited about the prospect of going somewhere. However, Bunny was the only one who got to go. I imagine their conversation at the back door went something like this...

Bunny: We're going somewhere! Where could it be? I'll bet there will be people there who want to pet me!

Blueberry: It's going to be great! It will be some sort of grand adventure!

Me: Blue, not this time. You're staying home.

Blueberry: What the ...? Are you kidding me? This is an outrage!

Bunny: I get to go! I get to go! Everybody get ready to pet me!

So, we take the little puppy to the orientation and she's busy working her cuteness. I wasn't sure how it would go, because, well, she's a greyhound. So, basically she's a cat in a dog suit, and they aren't known for letting other people know that they've been trained to do anything. For another, she loves kids and that was who this orientation was for. When there is attention to be had, Bunny can get a little distracted in her quest for pets and being fawned over. It has also been several months since our class and I was hoping that she hadn't forgotten it all.

When we arrived at the Extension Building, Bunny pranced inside, ready to see what the new adventure was going to be. I was a little worried that she wouldn't cooperate about going up the rather lengthy flight of stairs, but she took them like a little pro. We entered the room and she was all smiles and tail wags. I got out her training collar and leash and she was thrilled. She supervised me while I filled the bait bag with her training treats, making sure I didn't skimp any there. Then she followed me over to the snack table and offered a taste test of the cookies that were there for the 4Hers as I put them on plates and got it set up. Steppen came up and she gave him a polite tail wag. Then she began to see the kids and parents coming in. She was one happy girl. After most of them were in and seated, she made the rounds, giving everyone a little sniff and a graceful tail wag, batting her golden eyes at them.

Then it was time for things to begin. Steppen went out with Kathy to begin showing the basic things the kids will have to work on with their dogs. Bunny tried to wait patiently, but when she saw the treat bag, she just knew it was time for her to shine. Steppen went through his paces. He covered the sits, downs and the stand. He was slightly off his game, though. After a few minutes of work, he headed for his buddy, my husband, and began to play with him. Things went along for a bit, and then finally it was Bunny's turn to show off.

You can see here that Bunny was not so impressed by Steppen's skills in obedience. After he walked off for the third time and went into his crate, I think I heard her sigh in disgust. She really was watching them closely, but I don't think she was taking any notes. More like she was biding her time to show off for the masses. I suspect she was also somewhat shocked by his lack of enthusiasm for working the crowd. After about twenty minutes or so, though, she couldn't take anymore watching. She got to her feet and waited to use her greyhound stealth and speed to make her entrance and charm the crowd. No doubt petting would ensue after she made her impression.

Before long, she finally got her chance. Steppen went into his crate and refused to come back when called, even with the promise of cookies. Bunny wagged her tail gracefully as she stood and pranced out in front of everyone. To my amazement, she went through all her paces beautifully. She did her dainty little trot, demonstrated about turns, sits, downs and the figure eight. I have to admit she charmed the crowd. I was proud of her as she did her thing. She worked for me and also filled in for the slacking Steppen.

When it was all over, people couldn't wait to pet Bunny. She didn't mind one bit. She spent her time leaning against them and enjoying all the scratches. After everyone had left, she helped my by cleaning up a few left over cookies as well. I suspect her favorite part of the whole thing was when we got home.
She was taken to the turn out pen and then we brought out the other three greyhounds. She playbowed at them and wagged her tail. Of course she also let them smell her breath to let them know she'd had cookies. I'm sure there was a brief conversation out there.
Blueberry: Bunny, where have you been?
Bunny: It was so great! Steppen was there and...
Lilac: That big hairy dog? What was he doing?
Bunny: We were showing kids dog obedience moves and...
Hawk: Was there any food? Did you go through any magic window places?
Bunny: They gave me cookies and treats! And there were people there! They all wanted to pet me and they did! They petted me for a long, long time, until I thought all my fur would fall off! It was just the best thing ever and I got to go and you didn't! Better luck next time guys!

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