Friday, April 30, 2010

Conversations With Lilac

Lately, I've begun to relate a lot to Morgan Freeman's character in Driving Miss Daisy.  Getting older isn't always fun, but a sense of humor certainly helps.  It helps in coping with the side effects of aging in those you love, as well.

I've mentioned earlier that often in the mornings, Lilac has a lot to say.  The other morning I got up and went to the kitchen to grab some water before heading to the bathroom to start getting ready.  While I was in the kitchen, I caught Lilac devouring Bunny's food while her food bowl sat mostly full.  I told her to eat her own food and picked Bunny's bowl up and put it on the counter.  Then I went in the bathroom and closed the door.  Sure enough, a few minutes later, Lilac had something to say.

Lilac:  Hey!  Hey you!

Me:  (opening the door, hoping for a Vincent Price sort of entrance and knowing it won't matter) Are you talking to me?

Lilac:  Yes I am!  I'm STARVING!  I need food!

Me:  You have food.  It's in your bowl in the kitchen.

Lilac:  No, Bunny ate all my food!

Me:  No, YOU ate Bunny's food!  Yours is in your bowl where it always is!

Lilac:  I need that other bowl!  That food tastes better!

Me:  It's the same food in all three bowls!

Lilac:  It still tastes better out of that bowl.

Me:  The bowls are identical!  There is no difference!  Now go and eat if you're hungry.

Lilac:  I'm not hungry anymore.  I think I'll just go start on my morning nap.

Lilac wanders back off at this point and I close the door again.  I finish brushing my teeth and turn on the shower.  Like clockwork, Lilac has more to say.

Me:  What is it now?

Lilac:  You forgot my morning scratch.

And so I dutifully scratch her in all her favorite places, behind the ears, along her back and across her chest, finishing with some rubs under her chin.  She gives a little sigh of satisfaction and wanders off to the living room to get comfortable on her orthopedic dog bed.  Of course I was running a few minutes behind by that point, but it seems a small price to pay to give the old lady her moments of happiness.  Sometimes it's a small blessing to be the only two early risers in the house and have our little rituals.
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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Status Symbols

Bunny here, taking over the keyboard for my turn to bark about what's on my mind.

We've been visiting the dog parks a lot this Spring.  I love it!  Last year it was so rainy that we hardly ever got to go because even when it wasn't raining, it was too muddy to go in and enjoy it.  This year has been perfect.  It's been warm, but not uncomfortable and most importantly, it has not been raining so much.

We meet a lot of different dogs at the dog parks.  So far, we don't have any regular friends there, but we meet a lot of friendly pups.  Two things never seem to fail when we go, though.  First, the humans will ask if I'm a greyhound or a whippet.  Then their dogs will challenge me to race.  The people get all excited with comments about how they've never seen a greyhound run before and how fast I am.  Of course I am!  It's what I've been bred to do for thousands of years!  I'm not being conceited about that, it's just a fact.  Some dogs were bred to hunt rats.  Other dogs were bred to herd sheep.  Most dog breeds had a specific purpose and job and we still have instincts related to those things.  Sure, it was easy for me to hang up my track jacket for a princess crown and a couch, but that doesn't mean I don't like to stretch my legs on occasion. 

It had made me think a bit about some things.  I'm not sure why all these dogs feel the need to try to beat me.  I'm also not sure why it's such a big deal to their people.  What I do know is that I'm fast, and they aren't going to beat me for a long time!  Sometimes, I'm even too fast for the camera.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Not All Dog Parks Are Created Equal

This weekend found us with some extra time on Saturday, so we decided to go and check out a new dog park that we've heard a lot about.  I was a little leary because I checked out another new one a couple of weeks ago and Bunny and I were both disappointed in it.  We have a regular dog park that we love, but when it rains, it turns to a mud pit.  I'm not adverse to letting the girls get dirty, but I am adverse to letting two or three muddy dogs into the back of the van.  I'll just say that there's a whole lot of carpet back there.  I also worry about them running like crazy in the mud and slipping and getting hurt.

There are several things about a dog park that play into the mix.  Of course, there's the facility itself and how it's set up.  Also important is where it's located.  There's also the very important dynamic of the other dogs who are in the park.  I will admit that there have been times we've left our favorite if it looked too rough or if certain dogs came in that were really unruly.  It's just not worth the risk for something that is supposed to be fun.  It's also not much fun for the girls if there are no other dogs there.  Bunny's favorite game in the world is chase, and Blueberry isn't going to be the leader!  That's where Her Royal Blueness draws the line.  I don't blame her for that.  Bunny is a bit of a show off at the dog park.

Anyway, we went to this new park after having heard some raves about it from a friend at work.  It's not as close to our house as the other one, but it was a rainy weekend and I knew better than to try going to our old standby.  I'll also admit that I was pretty curious about this park.  It's always fun to try to get action shots when we go, which sometimes works and sometimes does not. 

I am happy to report that it lived up to its reputation.  Bunny and Blueberry had a great time playing with a Sheltie (who learned the hard way that he can't outrun a greyhound) and a husky/pit bull mix puppy who was adorable.  It was green and grassy, plus the cool weather with the hint of rain in the air put the girls in the mood to really play.  Bunny ran so much that she actually laid down in the grass and rested.  That is highly unusual.  We even saw a squirrel with a death wish running along the top of the fence on one end of the park.  It was lucky for him that Bunny was too busy showing off to see him dart off the fence and up a tree inside the fenced in area.

It all made me curious about what others look for in dog parks that they visit.  What are your favorite things about the places where you let your dogs play?

Blueberry Types for the Blog

Monday, April 26, 2010

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder...

Going back to work has been challenging for me this time, for various reasons that I won't mire everyone down with here.  The girls all handled it pretty well.  I imagine Bunny envisioned stretching out even more on the couch than she did before.  Blueberry probably figured she'd be able to rearrange the dog beds however she wanted them to her heart's content.  Lilac was probably enjoying eating out of any dog bowl she wanted to without me telling her to eat out of her own bowl.

However, they all have their own little routines to let me know that they've missed me, just a little, during their regularly scheduled all day naptime.  Lilac goes first, barking at me early in the morning while I'm getting ready in the bathroom.  Most of the time, she staunchly avoids the bathroom at all costs, because she believes the only good thing about water is that you can drink it.  She does not want any part of a bath, playing in the pool in the summer, or even walking through a shallow creek or water puddle.  The fact that she gets baths in there a few times a year has made it a perilous place to be avoided at all costs.  Yet this week, she's decided she's coming in for a morning scratch and chat time every morning.  Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Mr. Taleteller, aka The Giver of The Dreaded Baths, is back in bed at that time.

Blueberry is the most aloof of our girls.  Her little routine is waiting to come in from turn out and then getting on the couch with me before Bunny can.  Her beautiful head will wobble a little and she curls up just close enough that there's not room for Bunny, looking like a regal queen on her throne while she allows me to pet the softest greyhound fur in existance for a few moments.  As a lowly serf, this is a great boon she allows me.  She will close her eyes in contentment for a few minutes while Bunny snorts and stamps her little foot on the carpet.

Bunny doesn't waste any time letting me know she's missed me.  There are soft sighs from her in the morning that let me know that she's unhappy that I'm leaving, at least until she gets to have my yogurt cup to clean out.  When I get home at the end of the day, she has to do a little tap dance on the floor, then she runs to the living room, where I am expected to follow.  So, I sit on the couch for a minute, while Lilac grabs her rabbit to let me know that it's time to go outside, and Bunny leaps up to lean against my chest for a few minutes.  Her little body just can't seem to be able to contain her joy.

I have to say, it almost makes it worth going back to work, just to come home and see them so glad to see me.  Almost, but those Monday mornings still come awfully early!  If we could just ease back in with a later work start on Mondays, that'd be great. 

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Small Request

Bunny here, asking a tiny request of our friends who might happen to be on Facebook. 

I'm entered in a contest by Voyager's K9 Apparel where you have to just go in and click on "like" if you like the picture of the hound in their raincoat.  I really want to win.  I suppose it's my competitive greyhound nature.  There are several dogs entered, most of them greyhounds, but if you wouldn't mind voting that you like me, it'd be very much appreciated!  All you need to do is click on the picture of the dog you like best and then hit like.  It will only work if you're on Facebook, though!  First, you have to click that you like Voyager's, though, so you can vote.

Also, if you're on Facebook, I'd love to be friends.  I know it's not for everybody, but I have fun with it!  There's a lot to keep up with there.

We'd also like to send our well wishes and prayers to Digby's family right now.  He's very sick with a tick disease and really fighting to survive.

Thanks!  Now I'm off to take my regularly scheduled nap!

Blueberry Types for the Blog

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Yakety Yak, Don't Talk Back!

It has not been a mystery here that Lilac likes to tell us what's on her mind.  She particularly feels the need to expostulate around four in the morning.  Lately, she feels the need to comment on just about everything, rather loudly.  The more interesting the movie or television show we're trying to watch, the more she seems to have to say.

I'm going to admit right here and now that it's becoming more and more difficult to find this trait endearing.  I'm pretty sure that Mr. Taleteller feels the same way.  My biggest underlying fear is that not only is she driving us bananas, but that she might be a resident of Looneyville herself. 

Yesterday morning was a good example.  Things were pretty much going as usual here.  Mr. Taleteller got up at 4:30 with the girls, took them out to the pen, fed them and came back to bed.  Bunny came back to bed, as well, while Blueberry made herself comfortable on the couch.  Lilac slept on a dog bed in the living room for a while before coming in to let me know that my alarm clock was about to go off.  How she knows this is a mystery of the universe.  Anyway, I got up and made my way out to the living room, then the kitchen for my water and finally back into the bathroom.  This is when it begins.

Lilac:  Alert!  Alert!

Me: (opening the bathroom door)  What is it?

Lilac:  Timmy's in the well!

Me:  What?  Who?

Lilac:  There's no need to fear!  Underdog is here!

Me:  Look, it's really too early for this.  Perhaps you could go in and finish your dream in there on the dog bed.

Lilac:  What are you doing up so early?  While you're standing here, make yourself useful and pet me!

Me:  I really don't have time.  I have to get ready for work!  Since when are you talking to me about getting up too early?

Lilac:  Is it early?  I hadn't noticed!  Would you be so kind as to pet me?

Me:  I am petting you!  What else do you want?

Lilac:  (yawning)  Oh, look at the time!  It's time for my early morning nap!  Toodles!

So, I close the door and start trying to get ready once more.  Of course I can't get off that easily.  Soon I hear demands from the living room.

Me:  What is it now?

Lilac:  My pillow's not properly fluffed.

Me:  Are you serious?

Lilac:  (stands and blinks) 

Me:  You only get away with this because you're an old lady!

Of course I go out, fluff her pillow, turn on the news for her as well as the kitchen light and check to make sure she's got fresh water waiting in her bowl.  I'm not sure which one of us is losing her mind, but I'm pretty sure one of us is on the verge.  I also know that one day, I'm really going to miss these funny little talks with her.  I just hope that it's a long time from now.

Blueberry Types for the Blog

Friday, April 23, 2010

I Just Can't Believe It!

Bunny here, finally getting a chance to use the computer.  Hello to everyone out there!

I never thought I'd be writing this, but it turns out that my mom has been (gasp) petting other dogs!  Monday she got up and went back to work.  She got home and I thought to myself, finally, it's Bunny time!  Well, she fussed over me, of course, and then Dad came home and they had dinner.  I was content because I knew that they'd soon be taking me for my evening walk and sharing the couch with me and petting me and all would be right in the universe. 

Of course that's not what happened!  They got done with dinner, we snuggled for a little bit and then Dad went to change clothes.  It was his dog walking clothes and I did my little happy dance.  Blueberry did her head bobble-tail waggle routine.  Then they went to the back door -- and left without us! 

Hours later they came home, with the stink of other dogs on them!  THE HORROR!  Other dogs were touching my mom while I was stuck here at home!  I was outraged.  I sat down on the couch with her to have a little talk.

Me:  I know what you've been up to!

Mom:  I told you we had to go teach class.

Me:  Class means the little human puppies that you work with!  I've been to class!  I wasn't whelped yesterday, you know.

Mom:  This was dog obedience class.  Remember the other Saturday when you went with me to teach the kids about how dog obedience works?  We're teaching those kids how to train their dogs.

Me:  Well, that's all well and good, but you have their stink all over you!  How do you explain that?

Mom:  Do I still smell like skunk?  Darn it!  We have to touch the dogs sometimes to help the kids learn how to train them.

Me:  Skunk?!  You saw a skunk?  Where?  I always miss all the fun! 

Mom:  One of the dogs got sprayed by a skunk.  Trust me -- I did NOT want to touch him!  I'd much rather have been home with you.  One of these days, I might start taking you with me.

Me:  Really?  Maybe I can get that dog to teach me how to catch a skunk...

Mom:  Yes, really, and you will not be catching any skunks!

I have to tell you all, I am not thrilled with this arrangement.  However, the skunk does smell divine!  That is a true treat for the olfactory nerve, let me tell you.  I suppose I can overlook this, but I hope she decides to take me with her soon!  Meanwhile, I'm glad that she comes home to me every night.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Not So Quiet Sunday Afternoon

Sunday found me at home this past weekend, taking it easy and relaxing before going back to the grind of work.  I deliberately made plans not to do anything so I could have the day to myself.  It was all going pretty much according to plan, too.  I read some blogs, had breakfast at my leisure, chatted with friends online and snuggled with the dogs on the couch.  Honestly, it was pretty much about the most perfectly relaxing day that you can imagine.

I imagine you all sitting there as you read this, figuring that of course this idyll couldn't have lasted, or I probably wouldn't be writing about it.  You would be correct.  In the middle of the afternoon as Mr. Taleteller and I sat watching a movie that we'd rented, we heard the sound of the fire truck sirens.  That's a fairly common occurance, since the fire station, like most other things of import in our tiny village, is just two blocks down the street.  However, it is very unusual for the fire truck to come down and stop right in front of our house.  I looked at my husband and stated the obvious. 

He looked at me doubtfully, as if I could be mistaken about a giant red truck parked in front of the house with red lights flashing on top.  The girls were less hesitant to check it out.  Bunny and Blueberry were at the door and front window to figure out what the deal was.  Mr. Taleteller then got up, because obviously the dogs' word for it is more reliable than mine, and went to the door.  He opened it and looked out.  A second fire truck pulled up and then an ambulance, and we saw that a police car had arrived before the first fire truck.  A niggle of concern started to work and we went outside to see if we could figure out what was going on.  Perhaps the kid next door had finally gone mental.  Maybe our yard was on fire and nobody told us.  Could there be some other catastrophe that we were unaware of right outside our door?

By that point, most people in our vicinity had come by to see what the commotion was.  It turns out that our next door neighbors, less than affectionately known in our town as The Village Idiots, had a gas leak in a space heater in a front bedroom.  Much ado was made over the whole minor incident and after the ESDA man showed up with a more sensitive tester (why I'm not sure, since we could smell the gas on our front porch and in the living room) it was decided that the electric and gas company would be called out to shut off their gas.  The fire department waited there until the gas man arrived. 

After that, most of the village, along with Lilac and Blueberry, had given up interest in the goings on outside.  Bunny, of course, stood sentry until the fire trucks were gone and I was sitting on the couch again after some checking on the garden outside.  Apparently, it was just the right amount of excitement as far as she was concerned.  She promptly curled up in my lap and took a nap.  Sometimes life in a small town can be all the excitement that you need.

Keeping an eye on the neighborhood can be a taxing job, you know!    

Blueberry Types for the Blog

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Puppies, We're Not In Kansas Anymore

We had a wicked storm the other night and it reminded me that we're in the midst of tornado season here in the Midwest.  As we sat and listened to storm warnings, I thought back to an earlier chapter in our lives.  It's a story that I thought might be fun to share.

The first year that we had Lilac found us still helping with a small greyhound adoption group that sadly is no longer in existance.  Mr. Taleteller and I had agreed to adopt Lilac, so we weren't really fostering greyhounds anymore, but we were still active with the group and doing what we could to help out. 

The woman who ran the group lives just a couple blocks down the street from us.  She had a pretty good relationship with some greyhound trainers and owners and she'd taken in several greyhounds who'd had an illicit meeting at the back fence and had come into a family way.  Greyhound puppies are a hot commodity in greyhound groups.  Don't ask me why, they're horrible little creatures most of the time!  They're often referred to as landsharks for good reason.  In any event, a female was brought to her who was suspected to be in the disgraced condition of being knocked up, but the trainer wasn't sure.

As weeks passed by, we'd go down to visit every few days and it soon became evident that she was indeed expecting.  A whelping box was prepared and she had her own private room in the basement.  She was a rather young greyhound, but a very sweet girl.  When it looked like she might possibly explode and that the arrival of the puppies had to be any day, something unexpected happend.  She had a seizure and collapsed on the concrete floor.  The mother-to-be was scooped up (no easy task with a dog who'd become wider than she is tall) and rushed to the vet.  The vet felt that she was still alright and sent her back to the house, saying that it was likely a sign that her puppies would arrive soon. 

Sure enough, the next day, she started to deliver her puppies.  The first one was born, a cute little brindle, and then she tried to deliver the second.  That second puppy would not come out.  Finally, some time later, the stillborn puppy came out.  Concern rose because she couldn't seem to get the next one out, either.  The woman's husband was gone, so she called us and we went down, helped load mama dog and her puppy into the back of their SUV and Mr. Taleteller rode in back with her while the woman drove.  I followed in our car in case we needed to leave for some reason. 

It was later in the day and the vet was called at home before we left.  He agreed to meet us there at his office.  When we arrived, he quickly decided that an emergency C-section had to be performed.  I assure you that when I woke up that morning, I had no idea that I was going to be helping with an emergency C-section on a dog.  We each had a towel and were given instructions on how to rub the puppies vigorously until the water was squeezed out of their lungs so they could begin to breathe.  There wasn't any time to be squeamish about it.  It was like catching a water balloon and I worked on my puppy for quite a while and sure enough, soon he started showing signs of life.  Another puppy was stillborn, but four more were born alive.  The mother was spayed right there before he sewed her up.  Because of the circumstances and the fact that she had things already set up for the mother and puppies at her house, they all went back home that night. 

The next morning, mama dog killed one of the puppies by stepping on it.  By three days afterwards, there were only two left alive.  Her maternal instinct just wasn't kicking in, so it was decided that the two surviving puppies would be taken away from her.  For a couple of weeks, they were taken care of at the vet's office, but then it was time for them to leave and go to someone who could care for them.  That turned out to be Mr. Taleteller and me.

I wasn't sure how our greyhounds would react to the puppies, particularly Lilac.  Hawk, in typical fashion, was terrified of them and refused to have anything to do with them.  Lilac looked at them as if they were spawns of the devil.  Of course, she was the only one of us who had any experience with greyhound puppies, so she was wise to avoid them.  I also later learned that just before she'd come to us, she'd left her second litter of puppies behind, so she was definitely still in the mood to be done with mama duties.  Treat was fascinated by them, though, and she'd sit beside me when I fed them, carefully supervising everything that went on.

We began taking care of the puppies in July.  For several days, I didn't leave the house at all.  I wanted to keep a close eye on my little charges.  Finally, though, I had a bill that had to be mailed over in town, and so I made up my mind to run quickly to town.  I figured that it would only take me about an hour and a half to run over and get back home. 

As I got ready to leave, I noticed that the sky was turning a bit grey and a few drops of rain were starting to fall.  I contemplated going back home.  Lilac is very storm phobic and worries and frets as storms approach, but I convinced myself to go anyway, because my errand really needed to be done.  So, I headed out of town.  Driving down the main road, I could see the storm rapidly approaching from my right and it looked like one doozy of a storm.  The sky was dark, angry grey that just roiled around.   I drove past a small manufacturing plant out in the middle of the cornfields and went over a small hill. 

It's funny how certain things in life happen all in a matter of timing.  Twenty minutes after I drove past that plant, I began hearing things on the radio about a tornado blowing through.  The more I heard, the more I felt that I needed to get my errand done and get back home.  I called my husband on my cell phone because he'd been out of town for work that day and I knew he'd hear about things from his office and be worried.  Getting back home proved to be a monumental task.  It seems that I missed the path of an F4 tornado by about two minutes. 

The manufactuing plant was decimated.  So were four houses that were along the road.  As a matter of fact, the whole road was closed because one of the houses was set back down right in the middle of the road.  Miles and miles of electric poles were taken out.  I had to drive way out and around through small country roads to get back home. 

We were without power for a week.  Our area was the center of a media circus for that amount of time, too.  I felt like I was living in an episode Little House on the Prairie.  Suddenly, preparing puppy bottles was a big production.  We did get lucky.  My dad has a generator and he brought it over, so we had about half of our house running on electricity.  It's a big status symbol here in our little village.  Actually, for the next three years in a row, we made use of that generator thanks to tornado season and an ice storm, all of which knocked us out of power for nearly a week each time. 

It's funny how we take so many things for granted.  I was glad that we had the whole experience, though.  We learned a lot, and honestly, we really had fun with those puppies while they were here.  I also really appreciated our creature comforts after that.  I guess it's a good example of life being what you make of it, too!

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