Monday, January 31, 2011

Why We Hike With Our Dogs

If you are a regular reader of our blog, by now you know that most weekends find us doing some sort of hiking.  We started hiking late last summer after we realized that Morgan was going to need a lot of exercise to help keep her grounded.   However, it's more than just occupying Morgan that keeps us going back out on the trails.

I've found that I really enjoy it for a multitude of reasons.  We are very lucky here in Illinois that our state parks are still free.  This means that we just have to get gas in the van to get us there and find something to eat, which makes for a rather inexpensive weekend outing.  It also gives us an opportunity to see some of the most beautiful sights our state has to offer, many of which are hidden gems that few people know about.  Almost all of our state parks allow dogs on leash, too.  I only know of a few exceptions.  Almost all of our national parks are closed to dogs or provide extremely limited access.

There are also other places where we hike, but with so many different state parks, we've been trying to see as many different ones as we can. The important part is that we get a chance to disconnect from the fast-paced world that we normally live in and reconnect with each other, the dogs and ourselves.  It's not the same as the walks we take around the neighborhood during the week.  Our time out hiking is a chance to really leave the stresses of the week behind and spend time with those we really love. 

As soon as the backpacks come out, the dogs begin their merry dance.  They obviously love the time we spend out away from the house as much as we do.  I think it's as important to them to have time with us as it is to us to have time with them.  As soon as we head out on the trail, I see tails wagging and I notice that Bunny will keep looking to me to see if I'm coming and we're really going to go.  After a while, she'll get immersed in smelling things on the trail and looking at things around us, but the first part of the hike she's always looking to see that she's connected with me. 

I don't think that hiking is the only way to make a connection with your dog.  There are lots of ways to do that.  I think the truly important thing is that you disconnect from the things that tend to distract you in this electronic age and learn to engage yourself fully with your furry companion for a while.  What ways do you enjoy spending time with your pets?
Blueberry Types for the Blog
Bookmark and Share

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Second Puppyhood?

There's nothing like life with an elderly dog to really humble you.  If you're not familiar with our blog, Lilac is our senior Greyhound here and she's fifteen and a half years old.  I believe the average life expectancy for a Greyhound is from twelve to fourteen years old, so our old lady really is quite aged at this point. 

It's been an interesting week at our house.  To start with, Lilac has gone on strike.  When the weather gets cold it's tough on the older hounds.  We try not to leave them out longer than we have to and to make things as bearable for them as we can.  It seems that we've come to an impasse in this area.  Lilac is suffering from a lot of weakness in her back end.  She does okay when she's walking around, but standing in one place is tough for her and it doesn't take long to see her back half start to sag to the ground.  To get in our back door, you have to climb five steps.  These steps are difficult for the old lady to climb.  She would really prefer to avoid them.  This leads to a stand off at the back door every night.  I am more than happy to carry her up the back steps.  However, Lilac's pride can't accept this.  So, I reel her in gently with the leash and we have a little chat at the back door as I hold it open and try to cajole her to just walk in the door so I can help her.  Once I push her in the door, she gives me a dirty look and hauls herself onto the steps before I can maneuver to stop her. 

Tuesday night I arrived home to see that Mr. Taleteller was home early.  I thought maybe his excitement about going to class that night with Morgan had motivated him to leave a little early to get ready.  It turns out that it was not the case.  He'd stopped by home late in the afternoon on his lunch break and had to call the office to tell them he wouldn't be back in.  It turns out that one of our breakfast dishes in the sink had something irresistable on it.  Lilac decided to counter surf and broke one of her bad toenails in the process.  She has SLO so this happens on occasion at our house.  Mr. Taleteller bandaged her up to keep her from bleeding on anything else and set to work on cleaning up the kitchen.  He tells me that it looked like a scene from a horror movie with blood all over the sink, counter, kitchen floor, dog beds, living room carpet and probably still hidden in some nooks and crannies that we haven't discovered yet.  It was so much fun wrapping Blueberry and Lilac in matching IV bags over their wrapped up feet for turn out.  Fortunately, we only had to leave Lilac bandaged up for a few hours until the bleeding stopped.

Thursday night we had steak for dinner.  Lilac, Blueberry and Morgan all gathered around to gaze at me adoringly as I began to eat my dinner.  None of them is ready for an Academy Award yet because I didn't believe for a minute that any of them was more devoted to me than they were to the steak I was cutting.  This steak had a bone in it and as I sat trying to cut it on a tray, Lilac walked up and decided to take matters into her own, erm, mouth.  Right in front of me she reached up over the edge of the tray like a Great White Shark surfacing to attack its prey.  I pulled the plate away and scolded her.  She smirked at me and went for it again.  I feared there would be a wrestling match between the two of us over my steak, and I wasn't sure I'd be the victor.  In the end, I did eat my steak, and there was a bite for each of the dogs after it was over.

Lilac seems to be really feeling full of herself this week.  I'm not sure what has brought about her burst of fiestyness, but she's definitely sassier than she's been since Old Man Winter came knocking on our door.  I have to wonder if she's entering her second puppyhood as she fades into her twilight years.  Alright, I confess, a part of me wonders if she ever completely left puppyhood.  It's tough when she talks back to you like a teenager and then reminds you that she's old enough to be your great grandmother in dog years.

We're participating in this Saturday's Pet Blog Hop, hosting by Life With Dogs, Two Little Cavaliers and Confessions of the Plume.  If you'd like to participate, please follow the rules and follow your three hosts, add your blog to the Linky and copy and paste the html code into your html editor.  Thanks again to our hosts for putting on the hop!

Blueberry Types for the Blog
Bookmark and Share

Friday, January 28, 2011

In Racing Form

Bunny here at the keyboard with a race update.

While Pip has been off in the hot tub with a certain group of ladies, I have been concentrating on winning the prize.  I hope he and Roo have been having fun down there in the tropics.  I admit, I was hoping to have some dogs cheering for me to win, but I am happy to be the dark horse, er blue fawn dog, and come from behind to surprise everyone on race day.

I suppose a lot of you think I've been living on Puddles' Cheetos and beer diet, but this is not the case.  As an athlete, I know that I have to be careful with what I eat.  I leave the junk food to Puddles and stick to my yogurt when I need a between meals snack.

I've been looking for inspiraton to win.  It's not just about being cute enough, fast enough, or doggone liked by others, it's about that drive from within.  Then it hit me.  There are lots of Greyhounds waiting back at the kennel where I was adopted, waiting to win their race to the couch.  So, I'm not just running for me now, I'm running for them, too.  I feel the fire or competition in my heart now. I'm ready to go!  So, Pip, what do you say?  Are you ready for race day?  Be sure to tune in February 5 to see the race, everyone!

Blueberry Types for the Blog
Bookmark and Share

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Who's There?

Bunny here at the keyboard writing about our newest housemate.

When we go out on our hikes, we're always looking around, hoping we'll see some interesting things in nature.  We've run into a few deer and spied some Bald Eagles from a distance, but we really haven't seen too many unusual animals when we've been out and about.  Now it turns out that we have a better chance of spotting wildlife right here at home.

It seems that an owl has taken up residence in our resident bird nest.  A couple of years ago, some robins built a nest in the awning outside our kitchen window.  This fascinates Dad.  He keeps saying he's going to get us a webcam to put out there so we can watch them all the time.  After the robins move out, some wrens take over the nest and hatch their chicks.  Dad enjoys this so much that he won't disturb the nest.  It sits there unoccupied until the next Spring rolls around.

Last year we had an owl visit once in the awning outside the living room during a bad snow storm, but he didn't come back after that.   This year, the owl seems to really like the spot under the awning.  The three days we've seen him there have been really cold, bitter days.  He seems to know we're in here, but it doesn't bother him much.

Now I've been thinking.  You all might know that I consider myself a mighty huntress.  There's nothing that I'm scared of.  That owl is also a mighty hunter.  If I had an owl to hunt with, imagine what we could catch.  That would make us an unstoppable duo.  Those rabbits wouldn't know what hit them.  He's so fast, Mom's been trying to catch a picture of him flying off, but he always gets past her.  The best we've gotten is this short video.

We think he's a Western Screech Owl, but we aren't certain.  Is there anybody out there who knows for sure?  Also, can anybody tell me how to convince him that we should be hunting partners? 

Also, our friend Mayzie is having a commentathon on her blog today to celebrate one year of blogging.  For every comment she gets, her mom will donate twenty five cents to her rescue group.  They're also going to pick one commenter to recieve a matching donation to a rescue group of their choice.  So, please drop in and leave her a comment today!

Blueberry Types for the Blog
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I Choose You...

I've been thinking a bit about the bond I have with my dogs.  Several things I've read lately have made me ponder what it is that creates that bond that some of us have with certain dogs.  I have to wonder if some of it doesn't start right from the beginning.

I know that everyone has a different experience in picking out their dog.  As a kid growing up, we chose puppies, but I didn't get the final say in which puppy it would be until I was fifteen years old and chose our Australian Shepherd for my birthday.  She was female and the last blue merle the man had left.  My sister and I worked on my dad and he agreed to pay the extra money the man wanted for her unusual coloring.  We started dog obedience together the next year, just hoping she'd learn to come sometimes when we called her name and she went on to win the State Fair obedience competition that year.  I loved that dog and I remember crying a lot of tears when I left home and had to leave her behind.  My sister still loves the breed and has a pair of Aussies now, but she lives in a rural area where they can really do the sorts of things Aussies like to do.

It wasn't until my husband and I were married and able to buy our first house that I was able to really choose a dog of my own.  I consider us very lucky that we found the adoption kennel that we found.  There are some adoption kennels that choose your dog for you and that's the dog you go home with.  Others will let you look at a website and choose your dog without meeting before hand.  At Quad Cities, we filled out a questionaire and they let us meet dogs that they thought would fit our criteria.  There were only four cat safe dogs in the kennel at the time, so we only met four.  Looking back, I see that as a blessing.  We'd have been overwhelmed meeting twenty dogs. 

The two things that stick out to me about that first meeting are that Treat was one of two dogs who really seemed to like us and was leaning against us from the beginning and she was the only one who looked back at us as they led her back to the kennel.  She blossomed when we brought her home with us a week or so later.  We'd had offers of a puppy for Christmas (that I didn't know about until after Christmas) and when we told our families that we were adopting a full grown Greyhound we were met with hesitation.  As soon as everyone met her, though, they were charmed by her.  She easily became my heart dog and when she died, I felt like I'd lost a part of myself.  If I'm honest, I did lose a part of myself and I had doubts about whether I could open myself up to that kind of loss again.  Even with three other hounds in the house, I was lost without that connection.  It wasn't that I loved them less, we just didn't have that certain magic.

We went back to the adoption kennel.  It was the first time we'd chosen a dog without Treat.  We took Blueberry with us and she was...less than the dogs we were introduced to.  I saw some very sweet dogs who were beautiful, but I didn't feel that connection.  I was feeling pretty disheartened, to tell the truth, after meeting over a dozen dogs with a very patient adoption representative.  Finally, she offered to bring out a little dog she'd mentioned before, but she cautioned us that she was very new and they didn't know a lot about her yet, and that she was very young.  When Bunny walked in that door, she walked straight over to me on the couch and leaned against me.  Blueberry -- didn't dislike her on sight.  She eventually made her way over to Mr. Taleteller and gazed up into his eyes.  I was stunned by her calmness and confidence.  I'm pretty sure I asked several times if they were sure that she was only eighteen months old. 

What strikes me is that the dogs I've felt the strongest connection with have chosen me more than I've chosen them.  Perhaps they have an instinct in them that I don't understand, or the wisdom to see something that we don't.  I know that people can come by dogs in many different ways, but I can't imagine not having a dog who chose me now.  For those of you out there who have had a heart dog in your life, either currently or in the past, how did you find your dog?  What do you think goes into the making of a deep bond with your pet?
Blueberry Types for the Blog
Bookmark and Share

Monday, January 24, 2011

Gone To The Dog Show

Bunny here at the keyboard writing about our lazy Sunday.

We didn't really get out much this weekend since we were making sure Mom was getting over her bronchitis and it was bitter cold.  We went out to the lake for a quick walk and I was shivering in no time.  As far as I'm concerned, Spring can get here anytime.

Sunday afternoon, we found a way to amuse ourselves that everyone could be involved in.  Best of all, it was inside and we could enjoy our beds and couch.  We all gathered round to watch the Eukanuba National Championship. 

Of course, our main interests were the Hound group and the Working Dog group.  We were cheering for Chanel, the Whippet, to win. We also thought Sara the Greyhound was pretty.  Morgan sniffed in disdain at the German Shepherd, but we were also watching the Australian Shepherd, Reckon, closely. 

We were impressed to see dogs win awards for Search and Rescue, Police and Therapy work, too.  I was quite impressed by the fancy collars those dogs were wearing when they got those awards.  It was good to see that they thought those kinds of jobs were important.

In the end, Reckon won.  He reminds us a bit of our cousins, Ruby and Nipper.  Mom said those show dogs are lucky they don't have to compete with me.  I don't know if I'd like the life of a show dog.  It seems like an awful lot of just standing around, and then the judge doesn't even want to pet you.  I'll just look good from the couch!

Blueberry Types for the Blog
Bookmark and Share

Saturday, January 22, 2011

There's Only Room For One In This Sick Bay

This week has been a tough one for me.  What I'd hoped was just a touch of respiratory flu proved to be a tough case of bronchitis that kept me home from work all week.  I spent quite a bit of time curled up in bed, which Nurse Bunny heartily approves of.  However, in the interest of getting a good night's sleep, I also tried to get myself up and out of bed for part of the day. 

If you're a regular reader of the blog, then you know that I'm not the only one recovering here at our house.  Last week Blueberry broke her toe and is now sporting a rather large splint.  In the beginning of her convalescence, I was feeling pretty bad for her.  However, since she's learned to get around in her splint and the pain has dulled, she's been getting around quite well.

Apparently, she thinks that she has a claim on the couch right now.  I disagree and feel that I need the couch just as much, if not more, than she does.  It's not that I'm not willing to share.  As a matter of fact, two dogs AND a person can fit on our couch.   Provided the dogs and human are cooperative, that is.

I have noticed that Blueberry has been a lot clingier lately.  I attribute it to her not being able to go with us as much as she and we would like.  I also think that she's finally reached a point in her life where maybe she likes more physical comfort than she did when she was younger.  She's always preferred to have her own space to sleep, sometimes even sleeping in the living room while the rest of us are asleep in the bedroom.  I don't blame her -- I like to have my own space to sleep, too.  Still, it seems like she's taken it to new heights this week.

A lot of times, if Blue wants to be on the couch with me, she'll climb up and then stretch out so that none of the other dogs can find space up there.  I can't imagine how I ever found that this was cute.  You may be shaking your head and saying something to yourself about how sweet that is that she wants her time with me and how crazy I am to say that it's anything different.  Well, here's where the problem begins.  Blueberry doesn't think that she should have to share the couch.
I come out in the morning and ask her to move over.  She give me a look from the corner of her eye and then feigns sleep.  A second request from  me results in a snort, which she attempts to disguise as a sneeze.  Finally, she moves over infintessimally and I wedge myself into the corner, muttering about how she's lucky I'm sick and she's injured.  This results in a huff from Her Royal Hineyness followed by her standing up, stretching herself halfway on the floor and half on the couch before she hobbles off, ka thunk, ka thunk, ka thunk, tapping the floor extra hard with her splint as she stalks off to the crate to sulk.  I'm not sure if dogs feel guilt, but they certainly know how to use it against us.

She doesn't stay in the crate for long, though.  Oh no!  Soon, she's back, sniffing me and letting me know I'm forgiven for disturbing her before she will hop back up on the other end of the couch.  The next thing I know, she's stretched out on two cushions, her head leaning against my foot or leg.  I continue to read, or perhaps I'm looking at something on the computer, or watching a little television.  Soon, I begin to notice something.  Darned if this couch isn't shrinking!  Soon, Blueberry is so close to me that I've lost feeling in the entire lower half of my body.  I try to push her over, but I might as well be trying to control the flow of lava.   I get up and limp to the kitchen to rattle the treat jar.  Three dogs appear for treats while Blueberry sits up on the sofa, her ears perked in anticipation of the treat I'll bring back to her.  That didn't go as planned. 

I look at Bunny.  She's laying on the dog bed on the floor, avoiding what she imagines will be another Clash of the Titans.  No doubt she feels that if we take each other out, the couch will be all hers.  Morgan finds a reason to go on patrol.  Lilac yawns and closes her eyes, not willing to interrupt her nap for our silliness.  Finally, I sigh and realize the inevitable.  I am just going back to bed.  At least it's big enough for several of us to share if we all decide to head in there.  I'll fight the Battle of the Couch later.  Sleeping in bed with Bunny and Morgan suddenly seems like a much better idea, anyway.  I guess this way, we're all winners!

We're participating in this Saturday's Pet Blog Hop, hosting by Life With Dogs, Two Little Cavaliers and Confessions of the Plume.  If you'd like to participate, please follow the rules and follow your three hosts, add your blog to the Linky and copy and paste the html code into your html editor.  Thanks again to our hosts for putting on the hop!

Blueberry Types for the Blog
Bookmark and Share

Friday, January 21, 2011

Turning Nine Is Fine

Bunny here at the keyboard, taking over for Mom. 

I'd like to start by saying that I've really had my paws full taking care of Mom this week.  She's been sick with bronchitis and after I'd tried every trick I knew to take care of her, I finally had to get Dad to take her to the human vet yesterday.  I apologize that we haven't done a lot of commenting, but you have no idea how much work it is taking care of these sick people!  Anyroo, the vet gave her some medicine and hopefully next week we'll get more into the swing of things.  I'm sure glad we got a lot of posts ready over the weekend.

Anyroo, since Mom was sick, and Blueberry has a broken toe, we had a low key birthday celebration for her.  I don't think she likes a whole bunch of fuss anyway.  She's a "let's get to the cake" kind of girl.  That's one of the things I admire about her.

The good thing about any birthday is that we all get to partake of cake!  Maybe it's not such a bad thing that Mom was sick again, since it meant that we got to have cake from the dog bakery.  I don't know what sort of magic they bake into those cakes, but they're delicious!

Blueberry wanted to thank everyone for all their birthday well wishes, too!  She loved being Queen for the Day.  Tomorrow, I'll be sure to get my tiara back, though!

Blueberry Types for the Blog
Bookmark and Share
Related Posts with Thumbnails