Saturday, December 27, 2008
The HBIC at The Farm sent a 'thank you' package with some home-baked dog treats, and I learned what she found to do with the raw food samples ( http://sukasplace.blogspot.com/2008/11/cold-indeed.html ) - bundle them up in small groups, and send them as gift training treats. Well, that makes sense - opening a double handful of packets is much easier, individually, than opening literally thousands. Much less scary! So, yeah, some of those found their way into Suka's Xmas package. In addition, she's been given pressed-rawhide (not solid!) chewies, and pink piggie toy, which she's decided is worth carrying about the house (the first toy in which she's shown any real interest).
Along with all the nifty treats, she's talking more, and showing a lot more affection to other members of the family. This is, I'm sure, in part due to others picking up the care slack when WAML, but it also seems to stem from the competition to be the one to giver her treats. Also, my daughter has taken to cheating... Well, not cheating, per se, but she's at that pubescent stage wherein other people are all idiots, and are to be tollerated on sufferance, at best (she ruins the effect by giving my random hugs and pesting me to watch Monty Python with her). As part of this "Oh, that Angst!" attitude, she's taken to going out to the old playset in the back yard to read her "Twilight" books. She takes Suka out with her, so Suka has identified my daughter as the "outside girl." Needless to say, my daughter's status has risen considerably! The younger child has been drafted to treat Suka while I'm trimming her nails, and with placing her food on the floor, so he's risen, too.
All told, not the most thrilling of Christmasses, but far from a disaster. Considering how easily the wheels might have come off, I'm counting this as my Christmas Miracle.
So to everyone (all three of you) who read this; Happy Holidays (what's left of them!) and a happy and productive new year!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I'm a Clinical Publisher for a very large Pharma - I assemble the scientific reports that the scientists and physicians at my company write, along with raw and processed data, publications by various researchers, and all the other related documentation on new and existing drugs from our product line, assemble them into a coherent package, and prepare them for submission to the FDA (Regulators), state regulatory agencies, and for posting to public informatin portals. It's demanding work, but I'm usualy up to the challenge - I've got some expereience, and I've got good mentors for when I have questins about process. But recently I tackled my very fist Supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) for a major product - basically, asking for approval for a new use for an existing product. It's a BIG product - A major name that everyone would recognize instantly if I named it, and the indication we're requesting is an interesting, ground-breaking, and possibly a major thereputic advance, assuming we get approval. Needless to say, there's a lot to be done. In a very short time. Timelines were cut to the bone, and major contributions to the package were delivered late - VERY late. Hours extended... Additional Publishers were called in... Hours were extended again... Frankly put, Work Ate My Life.
Something had to give... Well, everything gave. Suka's only received the attention I have left. Frankly, she's gotten more than my son, over the last couple weeks, but he's got his sister and mother looking out for him. Even still, she's gotten rather short shrift lately. My daughter and wife love Suka, and care for her, but it's me she looks to most, and she's been missing the attention. Something has surfaced in her personality that wasn't present earlier: Talkativeness. Lots of it. When I stagger through the door, she's waiting, and she's talking - High pitched whining, low moaning, chattering, and 'wowing.' Suka's not normally very vocal - she doesn't bark hardly at all; maybe no more than once or twice a day. But since my stress, pressure, and work load have taken off, so has her vocabulary.
I wonder, now that the pressure is off... Will the talkativeness remain?
Monday, December 22, 2008
Suka has even been reluctant to go out, and I *know* she's used to the cold. Maybe it was the freezing rain of a couple days ago, which coated all the blades of grass in their individual icy sheathes - that must've felt a bit weird on her feet. Pretty, but weird. Today, the grass is more-or-less dry, if something covered in hoarfrost can be considered to be technically dry. Maybe it's that the frosty grass looks, well, feathery. Maybe icy feathers feel weird on one's bare feet?
Well, it isn't going to last... no clouds today, no clouds tonight; dang cold overnight and tomorrow, then a maybe a twenty degree jump, and rain. No white Christmas this year - The liar's accademy (weather services) are reasonably certain that we're going to have wet Xmas this year, and that's the kind of prediction they're sadly good at. Well, we need the rain anyway... If any actually soaks into the newly-frozen ground. Cold wet rain? Ah... Suka's not going to be terribly fond of that, either.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Suka is a poor little begger. Emphasis on "Poor." She can't beg to save her life. That doesn't stop her from trying, though. A 'good' beg involves a touch of subtlty, a bit of acting, and a complete lack of shame. The "Oh, poor me, I'm sooooo hungry, but I would NEVER dream of taking food from you while you're at the table" act, combined with the ever-so-brief but artfully longing glances at your plate, and maybe a heavy sigh or two... THAT is the stuff of a good beg.
Suka, on the other hand, spoils it. She can't get past the "Hey, you've got food! Gonna give me some, huh? Are ya? ARE YA..?! No..?! Rats. Huf. I guess I'll go hide in a corner where you can't see me." No follow through. No pathos. No subtlty. No art. However... She does have me, and my own stupidity, on her side. See, when I cook (and I cook a lot), I tend to camp right by the stove. And Suka will come in, look hopefully about for spills, and then set up camp nearby. Not begging, just hanging out - I don't have a plate yet, so am a poor target for a well-executed beg, much less her version of same. So there I am, killing time, with a dog nearby... Ah-ha! Training opportunity! I'm sure most of y'all know where this is going, already...
So, I'm there, the food is on the stove, and the reefer is right by my side... And that's where I keep the spare StinkyKibble(tm). So, thoughtlessly, I once snagged a bag of the odiferous treat, and proceed to work on Suka's sits, downs, stays, "gimme paws," and the like. Anyone care to guess what lesson the dog was really learning..? Yeah. So now, I've got a salivating dog at my side whenever I cook... And she's not even begging.
It's not all going her way, though! Tonight, I was nibbling whilst cooking - Much of the family is sick, and that means I'm catering to three different requests for comfort food. Well, they all have the same base, but it takes a while to cook, and then turn out the variations-on-a-theme my basket cases all desperately want. So I'm snacking a little, as I cook - A few home-made taquitos I whipped up on the side. Just exactly the kind of thing a dog-on-the-make might try to wheedle out of me - If she knew how to wheedle. But I've also got a little bowl of home-made hotsauce with me, into which I'm dipping the taquitos... It's nothing fancy, just an experiment in flavors (not quite right yet. Still missing some of the "low" notes...), but it's pretty sharp - It makes me break out in a nice sweat. I dip a taquito in the bowl, and look over at Suka, sooo blatantly begging. "Heh" thinks I, and I hold it down where she can get a good sniff... Now, Suka isn't a little puppy, and she's no oldster - She's right smack in the middle of 'prime time,' and she's fast! Out snake the jaws of doom, preparing to neatly sever half my rolled tortilla treat when suddenly she freezes. I can almost hear the screeching halt she's just slammed on her jaws, and the deeply wounded look on her face is priceless. "What the hell is THAT crap..?" I can almost hear her thinking.
Suka looks at me... Looks at the offending snack, and then back at me again. And she sits back down again. The fun just went out of drooling near the stove for tonight! I didn't compound my crime by offering her a non-spicy treat to sniff, next. Once was enough... I'm not going to mess with her head by mixing things up. Though she did come close enough to sniff the bowl I was holding, and give me an incredibly non-plussed look. "You EAT that stuff..?! Dude, that is wrong." Of course, considering that she likes StinkyKibble(tm), I can't say as I have much respect for her culinary palatte.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
I look out the window this morning, and everything is accented in white - Not thick enough to conceal shapes, it never-the-less conceals what ought to be concealed - All the little details that might detract from the image before me are made innocent in their icy white lace clothing - There are no scars on the neighbors' lawns, no discouloration where the county came through and tore up yards to replace water mains. The raw stump of the massive maple that was cut down no longer looks like a broken tooth -It's now a snowy cairn marking the place where that looming giant once stood.
Into this innocent view, Suka trots; her normal fast, prancing gait reduced to three-quarters time, as she savors the sensation of snow on her feet. She dips her head and skims some snow into her mouth, like a gull drinking on the wing, and continues her detailed examination of the world, trotting daintilly along, checking each corner, and following scents that ought to have vanished under the snow. Her forelegs fold up under her, like collapsing landing gear; her hind legs never miss a beat, driving her chin and chest along in the snow. Over onto her side, she rolls her shoulders, head rolling even further. Still, her hind legs drive forward. Head rotating further still, finally her hips are torqued out of line, and she flops over onto her side, laying there, as if simply luxurating in the feel of snow against her fur. Then, with a snap, Suka whips over onto her back, and begins to wriggle, writhe, and luxuriate in a good old fashioned back-scratching, hind legs kicking alternately, spastically, in delight. I grin at her groans of pleasure; she looks so silly, and so obviously loves a good roll in the snow, I cannot resist.
With a sudden flurl, she springs back to her feet, and gives heself a vigorous shake... Time to move on, and find a new spot to flatten.
One of these days, I really must replace my camera.
As I was writing this, the snow returned. Suka's smooshed spots are rapidly vanishing. I guess I'll have to let her out to try again. Oh damn.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Took Suka along, but she didn't have as much fun as the rest of us. She's still a bit twitchy about strange places, no matter how much she loves going for a ride. Complicating this are my father's dogs - Lacey & LD (Little Dog). LD is about 50lbs. This is little? Well, in comparisson, she is little. Lacey is a newfie/lab cross, and is a 95# monster. They're both good dogs, but more than a little rambunctious, in the way typical of labs (LD is a pure lab). Suka, frankly, has no clue how to play with dogs. Complicating things still further, dad uses an electronic fence, with which Suka's got no training or experience (nor equipment), so she had to stay on-lead outside the house.
LD wanted to get to know Suka, which would've been fine, but Lacey kept trying to coax Suka into a play fight, or a bit of bounding about the place, and not only could Suka not join her, but she was more than a bit intimidated, and not liking it at all. So, Suka spent most of the afternoon denned up in her crate, watching the action, instead. She did come out after Lacey and LD were properly worn out - which took four kids and the better part of the afternoon - Those two are fit!
In general, all the dogs were all well-behaved, aside from a bit of lip-curling on Suka's side, and a bit of counter-surfing and trashcan mining by the two black dogs. Not a bad day, though I would've been quite pleased if Suka would've engaged the other two a bit more. Well, I suppose that's a bit much to ask - Either one of them outweighed her by a substantial margin, and combined, they outweigh her by nearly four to one.
So, maybe not a runaway success, but some more socialization, new experiences, and so on - one more step forward, even if only a small one.
Oh, and the meal? Wonderful. :-)
Sunday, November 23, 2008
So, the load was about one and a half tons - Three pallets worth, packed in large tri-wall boxes. Of course, the bags weren't loaded in anything like order - Everything was just dumped in, higglty-pigglty, and with no care to whether or not they'd play nice with the other contents. End result, not only did it take two of us about three hours to unload, sort, and stow, but we had a lot of bags re-burst, and had to make like mad with the tape.
This time, we had not only the usual variety of burst bags of dog and cat food, but also cans of "kong wiz" aerosol-propelled goop for baiting kongs, dog treats of random sorts (which I suspect didn't sell worth a damn), about a half-dozen different kinds of kitty litter, rabbit food(?!), bird food (!!), some toys, and a couple items I've got zero idea what the hell they are - They look like plush fuzzy beehives, and have an obvious purpose, but what that purpose is, no one knows. Also about 3150 little sample packs of some kind of dried raw dog food from, of all places, New Zealand. Little sample packs - each individually-packed folder contans about a heaping tablespoon-worth of the food. WTF..?! I have a hard time imaging something more useless for feeding dogs. Now, for a vet's office, where they could be handed out to patients to help keep their dogs distracted, yeah, that'd work. And, I suppose, if you wanted to go to the trouble of opening up all the little folders, they'd make pretty decent training treats, but man, the work involved for the value recieved! I know, I know... I should be grateful for the donations... And I am. But donations of this sort are actually counter-productive. Feh.
At the bottom of one the tri-walls was a very phalic-looking dog chew toy that makes cow noises when you move it. It looks, to be blunt, like a noisy, red, semi-anatomically-correct dildo. Only the most confident of men would let their dog chew on that! I think I know why that item wound up in the shipment - No doubt it's been on the shelf for years, no one willing to buy it.
Oh, did I mention somewhere that it was cold? It was. Now, in Alaska, this probably isn't anything to note, but here, it's bitter - I woke to 23f temps, and it never went above 27f. And windy... Especially on The Farm, where there's no land features - none - to stop the wind blowing across the Chesapeake Bay. And of course, the wind was dragging lovely moisture with it, so the wind was a nice, biting, damp ice-pick kinda thing, finding every gap in your clothing, or simply ignoring the gaps and stealing your warmth right through your clothing. It's the kind of weather that brings snow out of a clear blue sky, as the humidity freezes out. Yeah, we had snow like that all day. Of course, we were humping donations back and forth, working up a healthy sweat, and didn't that just combine well with the wind! Not.
The farm is absolutely swimming in dogs right now - Someone had been busy since the last time I was down, and there were three new kennel runs established, and all were already full. Plus, someone dumped a couple pregnant cats on us, too, which had littered a passel of adorable kittens that were busily making the HBIC's kitchen their kingdom. Donations are down, intakes up, and volunteer hours are down... I've said that before, I know, but it's still a central, inescapable fact of what we do. This last shipment of food is an absolute godsend, as the shelves were damn-near bare, and purchasing food enough to feed the residents at commercial rates would blow a huge hole in the already-stretched finances.
The shelves are packed now, the ready-use cannisters are full to bursting, and there's enough that we could pass some along to the local food bank. Yeah, the food bank - people who can't make ends meet have pets, too. Every family that can get a bit of pet food from the food bank is one less family that'll be looking to place their dog or cat in a shelter. It's all of a piece with our mission; if we can prevent a dog being placed in the shelter in the first place, it's better than actually intaking and placing a half dozen dogs, in terms of resources used.
Oh, and we've also got a large stack of the food samples, too. I wonder if we leave them out, if the rats won't make them vanish for us..? Naaah... I suppose we'll find some way of putting them to use.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Suka, however, has decided that snow is an invitation to roll. In the back yard, the soft green-white blanket is stippled by dark green circles where Suka has flipped onto her side in her curious approach to a good back scratching, then proceded to roll onto her back for a vigorous, wriggling, foot-kicking roll-n-scratch. Anywhere there was a good coating of snow, there's a nice smooshed-down patch where she went and had herself a party. ;-)
I can hardly wait until we get a proper depth of snow - I'm expecting a proper snow monster to go with the precipitation.
The snow's cleared out, and the stars are crisp and clear. The air has that sharp prickling bite to the nostrils which means real cold is coming - No clouds, no heat retention, and the thermometer is plunging. I'm due at The Farm tomorrow to sort a dog food donation - I'll be dressing heavy.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
When Suka went to jump up, I initially put my hands behind my back and turned away from her - The "hands behind my back" was to remind ME not to push her away - the hand contact from that was a reward to her! Within days, she started to recall her manners as soon as my hands started to move behind my back - I didn't intend for this to happen that way, but the command for Suka to get off/not jump up has become just that; to put my hands behind my back! No verbal command necessary, I just start the motion, and she sits right down!
For general reference, when coming home is treated as a low-key affair, dogs learn to react in a lower-key way. If you greet them on your return with rewards, extra attention, and excited greetings, they'll treat every homecoming as a party, with wild exuberance - fine, if that's what you want, but many of us prefer the lower-key approach!
'Entering softly' basically means paying little-to-no attention to the dog upon your return home, for a few moment to a few minutes, as needed. This gives the dog a chance to adjust to your presence without a big production. Typically, for instance, I come home and will place my keys in the bowl, hang up my coat, put the mail on my desk, and maybe feed the cats before I let Suka out of her crate*, or even acknowege that she's there (remember - the crated dog is invisible!). By that point, she's no longer a bundle of nervous energy - I'm home, the routine is established, and when she's released from the crate she slips into the routine with only her usual body-wiggles and foot-stomping - no jumping up!
The trick to training an older dog, as I've learned (with plenty of help!) to use on Suka, is to be consistent, to catch them in the act that you want to modify or encourage, and to let the dog make the right choices - If you correct a behavior, the dog will try something else. When they hit the behavior you want, reward it! If you see a behavior you want to encourage, label it and reward it: "Good sit!" "Good down!" and so on. Suka and I have quite a way to go together yet, but she's already learned enough that she fits right into the household, and even my not-terribly-dog-friendly wife has fallen in love with her and her good behavior.
The best place to train your dog is where it is, wherever it is! Pretty much anywhere you go, there's a teachable moment to be found.
Remember: Consistency, patience, and practice, practice, practice!
Lead-pulling and anxiety reactions on-lead.
* I'll address crate training at some other point. Please don't flame me just yet - Save it for that post!
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sarah contacted me, asked for a special run down to The Farm, to get things squared away. Times are tough, volunteer hours are down, intake requests are up. And we've gotten a couple HUGE runs full of dogs from things like Hurricane Gustav - the Humane Society of South Mississippi brought us a truck full of rescuees, for instance. And more are coming...
So, down to The Farm, to do a little scoopin' and scrapin' and whatever else needed done. Got there early enough that 'Yappy Hour' was still going on, but things were looking a little unsettled, so I didn't take Suka into the field with the rest of the resident pack; A couple of the dogs seemed to be having status issues, and Suka wasn't keenly interested in joining the ruckus. That's fine - I was there to work, anyway. So, walked Suka about, then crated her up and got to work. About that time, the rain arrived. Oh, wait - Did I forget to mention that it was a grey, dreary kind of morning? Well it was. Until it started to rain. Then it was a grey, dreary, WET kinda morning.
There are a LOT of puppies at The Farm right now, though I think they're secretly a genetic experiement gone wrong - They've been crossed with cow DNA. I can think of no other explanation for how something so small can poop so much! The cute little buggers are pooping at twice the rate (and volume!) as their older counterparts! Oh, and they've got sharp little claws, too! So, I'm in with the pups, scrapin' and scoopin' as fast as I can, before the rain turns their mess into something truly horrible... And the pups are all jumping and clawing and whining for attention, and, oh, incidently, covering my boots and pants in kennel muck - which contains pretty much what you think it does. Once the kennel runs are clean, time to clean the pups, and their bedding. Then feed and water them... OK, done, and on to the older dogs, whom have the sense to 1) stay out of the rain, and 2) not stomp in their own mess, and 3) are generally much better behaved. Except one - Him, I had to save from hanging himself. This is a dog who comes from an area where bull-headed BCs are common, and he's stronger than most. Plus, I think he's a retriever mix, too. He's managed to pry up a corner of the heavy-duty chainlink fencing of his run, and shove his head through. In the process, he'd hooked his collar on the wire, and was well and truly stuck. I have to say, he took the indignity of the situation with fair aplomb - Waiting patiently for me to come in and unclip him from his self-inflicted peril. Whereupon he immediately sat on my foot and grinned at me. This is why I'm thinking "retriever mix" - He's got zero sense of shame. "Whoo-hoo! I jest 'most died! Let's play!" Clearly, this is a redneck dog.
So, into the kennel house with him, while I break out some fencing wire and whip the bottom of his kennel fencing to the bottom rail. When I way "whip," think whipstitch. With fencing wire. Which means taking a seat on the ground with a spool of wire, and sewing the chainlink fencing down to the bottom rail. Did I mention it was raining? And I'm sitting in wet, muddy grass and/or streaming wet concrete? And there's guaranteed to more poop in the squishy/streaming mess, somewhere. So, a couple flesh wounds later, Bubba the Redneck Pooch ain't gettin' out of this kennel, nor can he hang himself on the bottom of the run. I've no idea how, but I'm sure he'll find some other way of getting into trouble, though. Probably while yelling the canine equivalent of "Hey, lookit me!"
Carrying on, did a bit of laundry to get some more bedding clean and ready - they're gonna need it! Also fixed a couple gates for the main fences - these are big stock gates, the kind with wheels to support the open end whilst they're being swung. Had to replace the support wheels where time and circumstance had managed to destroy them. More sitting on the ground. In the mud. And rain.
Along the way, Sarah stops me. "Is Suka in heat?"
Gods, I should HOPE not... I'd been told she was altered - But something is definately up! All the classic external signs of the early stages of heat, and now that I was thinking on it, many of the emotional ones, too - She'd been much whinier, much more clingy than is her usual, and much more submissive than usual, too. Damn... Now it's time to confirm what I *thought* I knew... And come to find out, I didn't know as much for certain as I thought. What I thought I knew turns out to be "whisper down the lane" kinda information, and not as reliable as it might be. It's possible she was never altered. Or it's possible some ovarian tissue was missed. Whichever, I've got a new mission - Keep Suka away from male dogs, especially intact male dogs, until I can get her to a vet to confirm her status! Yee-haw! Just what I needed - I'm soaking wet, covered in mud and the kind of sludge you find on a working farm, and now I'm paranoid, too!
Well, that was pretty much the capper for me - The chores were done, and I wasn't hanging around in the rain to socialize, not with a possibly intact bitch in heat by my side! Fortunately, I brought a tarp to cover the seats of the car - I left smudges when I sat down, but a tarp is easy to clean.
Oh, and by Sunday, the external signs were no longer "maybe" but rather "Oh, yeah" obvious. This isn't an anal gand infection or a UTI - It's the real deal. She's either intact, or there's definately some ovarian tissue floating around inside her still. Just what I was looking forward to... Not.
I hope my vet has a sense of humor, cause she's gonna need it.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Saturday dawned blustery and overcast, with intermittent drizzle. Up with the day, to get my daughter ready and run her off to her morning at the University of Delaware's Children's Chorus' Song Fest - six hours of singing and drumming with a wide collection of musical groups all under one roof. She'd be picked up later by my wife. Once my daughter was dropped off, it was my turn - With Suka in-tow - to run off. Off to The Farm, for an open house. MABCR runs open houses roughly twice a year, or as resources and weather permit. This fall, the open house was being held despite the weather. For a late October day, it was warm, and the rain wasn't heavy - Not yet, anyway.
I brought with me some home-made salsa to share; I make some mean salsa. I *know* I make mean salsa - I accidentally rubbed my eyelids after playing with the hot peppers. They were better-quality than I expected, and the oil soaked off my fingers, and through the skin on the tops of my eyelids. Oww! Not an eye-opening experience - more of an eye-closing one! AKDD is calling me "Squintyboy" now, and with more than a bit of accuracy. :p Anyway, good salsa is a partial offset for bad weather. I also brought along some StinkyKibble(tm) for Suka.
Got to The Farm to find that an agility clinic was on-going, so made myself at home, hanging out and walking Suka about the farm, away from the clinic. Suka's still a bit freaked out by The Farm, though her stress reaction is quite manageable. The HBIC, Sarah, showed me some tips for helping get her reactions more under control, and I spent a good chunk of the day walking Suka about and acclimating her, socializing her, and just enjoying being at the farm without any real chores. Silly me! I should know better...
Sarah ambushed me and asked, pretty please, as I was the only one not attending the clinic, if I could clean & feed. OK, no problem - I can do that! Crate Suka up, get my nasty boots on, and off I go with scoop, hose, and cleaning supplies. There are relatively few dogs at The Farm right now, so it was pretty straight-forward. Clean the runs, scrub the water buckets and food bowls, and chivvy the dogs into their runs. Feed the dogs, clean up the outside area, haul the trash. Takes about an hour and a half, if you've done it before. In mid-clean, was surprised by a drop-in visit from Animal Control, come for an inspection of the kennel area (which passed with no complaints!), but still managed to get done in plenty of time to share in some excellent pot-luck lunch. The salsa was a hit, but the best dish was some kind of chili pot-pie, for which I will definitely need to beg the recipe!
Back outside for more agility work, but the wind blew, and then the skies opened up - rain was coming down hard, and sideways! That was pretty much the end of things - When it's raining harder than standing under a hose, and the agility equipment is blowing away, it's time to call it off! So, toddle back home, the pair of us wetter than drowned rats, for a good lie down in a nice, dry nest. Well, a nice lie down in my favorite chair, Suka curled up under my feet, and heavy blanket thrown over the pair of us! May as well be a nest, anyway!
Sunday couldn't have been more different, weather-wise; Sunny, warm, and cloudless skies. Newark has parades every chance they can come up with an excuse - Halloween is a great excuse! So, Main Street is blocked, and everyone and anyone whom can think of a reason they should be marching shows up and marches! It's basically a street party, with a parade as the excuse. Thousands of costumed spectators, thousands of costumed marchers, fire brigades, National Guard units, high school and university marching bands in costume (one brass unit completely co-ordinated as a Pac-Man game!), politicians, beauty queens, old cars, fancy hotrods - All the makings of a stereotypical small-town parade! Even Mike Castle, our US Representative, was present, marching along as Frankenstein's Monster. He looks the role, too. ;) The only thing missing was a mounted unit. Eh - Next time, I'm sure!
My daughter was marching with our church's unit, as were my nephews. They'd apparently lost the plot as to where to meet up after the parade, according to my sister, so I stepped off the curb and joined the unit as the marched past - Hey, this is a small town! Anyone can play!
Did I mention I'd brought Suka along? Well I did. She needs exposure to the wide and varied, and to people, and to crowds. I couldn't be more proud of her - She was wonderful! Yes, she was a bit stressed, but the biggest stress on her seemed to be standing still - She wanted to smell everything, greet every dog, and in general explore until her legs fell off! She was the hit of our church unit's march - I was walking alongside, rather than in the middle, so she wouldn't trip anyone with her lead, and the result was that we were right on the edge of the crowd where people could get a good look at her. She's a beauty in my eyes, of course, but it sure was nice to hear so many people saying the same thing, too! She trotted along the parade route, licking faces, greeting people and dogs, and hunting for every new scent she could find - A really wonderful day for her, getting out and about and showing how truly good she is!
After the parade, it was mass trick-or-treat all up and down the street, with every merchant giving out goodies to the throngs of children. Catton candy and balloon venders stalked up and down the street, and people overran the downtown with a will. It says something about the town, that the motorcycle cops had as big a crowd around them as the guy playing Ronald McDonald did. Through all this, I walked Suka down the middle of the street, stopping to talk to her admirers, letting her greet dogs, and generally moseying along, keeping an eye on the kids as they did their level best to fill their bags to over-flowing with loot. My daughter didn't do nearly as well as her little brother, though - There's something about a four-year old pirate that just makes people extra generous. Must've been the hook he was brandishing at them! :D
After a long afternoon of walking and partying, we returned home - Where Suka and I nested up in my chair again. :p
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
With the crisper air, the shorter days, the turning leaves, Suka has turned as well. Her personality continues to unfold, and she's much more active, engaged, and inquisitive. Still, she remains a sweet, well-behaved dog, but she's also prone to fits of wrestling, and has taken to pestering for walks, pestering for play, and even pestering the cats. The cats, needless to say, don't speak 'dog,' and are most confused by Suka's attempts to goad them into a romp.
Feline confusion doesn't stop Suka, though - Her ears pricked up and forward, she bounces at the cats, eyes bright with potential mischief, only to be rebuffed by indifference, confusion, or (in Max's case) a most impressive display of curmudgeonry. Curmudgeonry? Is that a word? Well, I guess it is now. Max is slowly learning to tollerate this bounding oaf in his kindgdom, but is not willing to put up with shenanigans of any sort!
Well, if the cats are no fun, she can count on me for a bit of "squeaky chase." She's got a little squeaky donkey, which is her favored toy. She's got a squeaky elephant, too, but that one doesn't taste as good to her, for some reason. ;-) She'll chew her donkey, drag it around the house, and will nail it in mid flight with unerring accuracy. Getting it back for a second toss is a bit of a challenge, but once it's back in my hands, well, she's locked and loaded for another catastrophic mid-air kill. Ziiip! Goes the flying donkey! Clack! Go the jaws of doom, and the poor donkey meets its grim end once again. As the weather cools, Suka's more and more inclined to punish the poor, long-suffering quadruped. Or maybe she's just fed-up with 'political season'? Naaaah.
Suka's walks are growing longer, too, as the air chills, and her coat is filling back in. By Alaskan standards, this is a heatwave, but by local standards, well, it's time to grow the coat back in. She doesn't tire so fast, and doesn't wind up sucking up near as much water as previously, either. I can hardly wait until a proper chill - I bet I can have her chasing that poor donkey for hours!
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Not until I call her and tell her she's a good girl will she stuff her face into her food.
OK, BCs can be quirky, but that's a new one on me!
Monday, October 6, 2008
Getting to the farm, I find that it didn't much matter that I wasn't there in the early AM, as there was still a good bit of work to do. So, some of the less-typical taskings one might find when volunteering as a Rescuer:
Pulling weeds... Clearing the fence line of the dog yard, so the low-lying electric wire will stop shorting out, and we can be assured the dogs won't try to tunnel under the fence. Lots o' weeds to pull, but the ground was soft from the recent rains, the weeds fairly strong due to said rain, and that resulted in great clumps of weeds coming out at each pull. But frankly, I'm out of shape, I've been a bit sick of late, and have pulled too many late nights at work, so I faded fast. Fortunately, there were other volunteers, including one particularly industrious fire-fighting architect, who really went to town on the weeds with hand and shovel.
Auto Mechanic... Of sorts. There's an older car, one donated to the Rescue for resale, the proceeds to benefit the dogs, but one which hasn't moved under its own power in a year or more. Nothing actually wrong with it - it's just that no one has gotten the spare time to sell the bloody thing yet, so its been sitting. And, of course, the engine was dry as dust, and the battery flat as flat as Jebal Ali, with nice weeds growing up through the engine compartment, and divots under the tires... So, put it on the booster pack, and periodically try to get it to turn over. No dice. So, gather a bunch of people, and push the little bugger to where it can be reached - It'll leave, even if it has to be towed. But maybe, after a long charge, someone will be able to get it to crank over. Maybe.
Arborist/landscaper... The HBIC got a lot of trees from the local nursery at a steep discount, this being the end of the season, and we being a non-profit and all. So, we dug holes and planted trees, too. Quite a few of them. But, as previously noted, much of this was handled y other volunteers. I'm out of shape. And tired. And not a little it still shaky from the stomach bug. But I did help... And next time I'm at the Farm, I should be in better condition.
Several really plugged-in and gung-ho volunteers made the rounds of Washington, DC's various Federal Agency HQs this last week, setting up information booths at the kick-off events for the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). For those of you unfamiliar with the ins and outs of US Federal bureaucracy, the CFC is a coordinated charity drive. Rather than have every charity in the world hitting Federal Workers up at random intervals throughout the year, they all gang together in one giant posse, and hit them up one time, all at once, and get over with it. This is a big deal - paper-pushing administrators like to brag on their support for this official 'non-official' pan handling, and they set up informational fairs that allow charity groups to tout their cause. Well, someone had actually slugged a charity number on us - We are a non-profit, after all - and when our go-getters learned this, they took a table and some flyers and handouts, and a couple likely dogs, and made the tour - State Department, Labor Department, and so on. We may not get much in the way of donations, but a good number of people actually sat down and talked to our people - Some adoptions are likely to come out this, if nothing else!
With all that, things are going well. So, just to put a reality check on things, my son let Suka escape this AM. I don't think he was being malicious, he's just a four-year old. Rather than wait for his mother or I to escort him out of the house, he decided to go ahead on his own, and I hadn't crated Suka yet... So out she went, and vanished like the mist. Perfect way to start a Monday... NOT.
I don't know exactly where she went, though I did hear some random barking in different directions - Fortunately, that early in the day, TRDATEOTN were inside, or at least not active. After a quick close-in search that turned up nothing, I grabbed the car and started a wider sweep. As I was doing that, Suka returned, quite happy to have my wife let her back in the house. *Whew!*
That's more adrenaline than I need on a Monday AM, to be sure. And worse, now Suka has learned that she can slip past my son and go have an adventure, with nothing (in her mind) bad happening. We're going to have to completely change the door protocols now, to prevent a recurrence. Yuck.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Introduce dog to family, observe and chortle with evil glee as wife, who swears she's not a dog person, becomes infatuated. Giggle as children also become infatuated. Ignore signs of own infatuation. Not possible - I'm an adult, and a rescuer, to boot - I'm above canine manipulation!
Moving right along to "Monster Creation 102, Optional Topics:"
Purchase a training lead. Oh, wait, I might need different lengths - Better get another one. Oh, and wait, what about a pretty lead for when I'm walking her someplace where I might want her to look 'pretty?' OK, fancy lead. And matching martingale, too. Gotta cover all bases! Oooh, and what about tags? I'll want to easily switch tags when I'm changing collars - Lets get a tag clip, too - a fancy one, so it'll go with the fancy lead & collar! Oh, and nifty little 'poop bag' dispenser, too! Can't just stuff bags in my pocket, oh no! That'd be gauche.
Me?! I'd never go over the top like that. T'cha!
Intermediate Monster Creation (200 level):
Carefully teach the non-obsessive, non-toy-focused BC to play with toys. Then introduce "tug-o-war." Then introduce "Fetch." Then add erratic bouncy-toys to Fetch. Last, wonder why the dog is standing at the door, bouncy toy in mouth?
I wonder if teaching the kids to play Fetch with Suka would move me to the advanced class, or does that fall under 'optional topics' at the intermediate level?
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Call me prescient; Pip has gone home, already! She took almost no time at all to assess and place.
She flew through - in little more than a week, she'd already found her place. Other dogs haven't gone as well, sad to say - One placement was returned almost immediately - the resident dog objected violently to the newcomer. It's rare that we have a screening failure of that magnitude - We were a bit shocked. Oh, it happens, but so rarely that it's caught us on the back foot.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
310 miles, before the day was done, but I brought a tiny, sweet full-grown owner surrender, and a 12-week dumped puppy to the Farm, where they could settle in comfort and safety.
Pip, the owner surrender, already has potential home prospects lined up. She was obviously stressed, but behaved very well for me, and was completely appropriate with the other dogs at the Farm. The puppy, OTOH, hasn't anything lined up yet, but he's an utterly fearless little fuzz-ball. He was dumped at a shelter at age approximately three weeks - And when I mean 'dumped" I mean left on their doorstep in a box sometime over night. Three weeks old..?! What the hell, people?! What idiot takes a pup away from its mother at three weeks?
Well, anyway, a shelter worker took the pup in, and nursed him past weaning, before sending him to us. The result is not only is he a fat, cheerful little guy, but he's got zero sense of fear - boldly ran up to me, ran over to the car, ran over to pretty much everything that caught his eye - a blowing weed, a scrap of trash, the other dogs, the barn cats, the HBIC, another volunteer... This little guy might take as many as five minutes to place.
Considering the unmitigated train wreck the last transport run was, this one was pure pleasure.
Just want to show you my passengers:
Casey (the puppy):
Bold little guy, fearless and inquisitive - Not for a novice home!
Pip (tiny little Lady - And I DO mean "Lady!"):
She's going to be a beloved pet for someone - Proper, appropriate, and mannerly, she's a canine "Miss Manners."
Monday, September 1, 2008
Puppy Jez, one of a litter of puppies that were transferred in at the same time as my semi-disasterous transport run,* went home on Tuesday. Jas, from the same litter, went home Wednesday. Duncan, whom you've already read about, went home Saturday. Marla (formerly 'Marly'), the subject of my disaster-run, went home yesterday (Sunday), as did Gabby (another of the puppies). That's three of six from that litter. The rest are all in foster care.
This is why I go scoop poop - Not for advice (excellent though it be), but because the HBIC is a genius at finding good homes for so many dogs! She needs help to make it happen, and I'm very pleased to be even a small part of making her mission succeed.
*Reference to the 'adventure' in question: Blue Rock Shilohs: Transporting: It's not just a drive in the country.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
The Adoption was Duncan, whom I don't care for one way or an other - he's never had much time for me, and I've more or less ignored him right back. but yesterday, as Sarah was offering last-minute advice to his new family, all of as sudden he was quite friendly; What's with that? Well, it's Stinkykibble(tm)! I'd made up a batch for Suka that morning, and my hands still stank. Heh! I've tweaked the make-up of Stinkykibble - I've added a touch of anchovy oil for extra stink, and it works! :-p Duncan certainly liked the taste, even having been wiped off and diluted by time.
The intake was a big guy. Supposedly, he's aggressive and has resource-guarding issues. I wonder, though - He certainly sucked up to me, and wanted to follow me around. I'm a big, bearded, loud, scary guy, and he wanted to follow me? Must be the Stinkykibble! :-p Anyway, newly-intaken dogs are under stress, and aren't showing their full personality - I suppose the reported issues could be true. Dunno, but we'll see.
Anyway, I brought Suka with me, and by-and-large, she was a very good girl. No lunging or acting out. She settled in her crate and waited while I did my chores, but didn't want to come out. Well, none of that! She was there for a reason, and hiding wasn't it! So, popped her out, and introduced her to the part of the resident pack currently out and about - mostly retired stockdogs - and to the Volunteer Coordinator and the HBIC. Sure enough, I find that I've been making some mistakes... HBIC straightened me out on those, and showed me what she meant - damn, she's good! Gave me solid advice on getting Suka to adapt to TRDATEOTN, and how to teach her how to make the right choices with them. Homework! Anyway, I feel myself well repaid for scooping poop!
Poor girl, Suka stressed heavily - I've got to make a habit of taking her places, to help her learn to not stress on road trips. She LOVES the car, and riding, but doesn't like new places. Well, no surprise - She's been to the Vets as often as anywhere else, since she's gotten here. More homework!
Friday, August 29, 2008
The sky really isn't about to cave in:
The "new" parvo is seven years old, current vaccines work, and so long as your dog has current immunizations, and you follow proper hygene, you're in pretty good shape.
Go play fetch with your pup, or something.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Suka's settling in soooo well! Too well, perhaps? She's testing her limits, and showing her confidence, and generally being a sweet, loving, mildly pushy dog. OK, "So, what's the problem?", you might well ask. Well, the problem is, that she's starting to push in places I don't approve. Putting a paw on my leg to beg for affection? I can correct that. Jumping up? That I can correct if my wife would stop indulging her! :-p Chasing the cats? Well, she doesn't chase the cats - they've got six points on each, five of which are sharp and poke-y, and Suka knows this!
Buuuut... She's taken to ground scenting (air scenting, too - but that causes no trouble), and when she gets her nose into certain scents, she's On A Mission. As in; she doesn't hear me anymore. I just wish I knew what those scents were, and where they were. Not having a dog's nose, I, of course, have no idea when to expect the olfactory lobotomy (Noooobody expects the olfactory lobotomy!). This might be just as well - Who knows; had I dog's nose, I might well be down on the ground with her. Besides which, my face is hairy enough - I don't need to be mistaken for a baboon. :-p
Along with this newfound confidence of hers, has come lunging at The Rude Dogs At The End Of The Neighborhood. TRDATEOTN are a collection of poorly-tutored dogs who love to lunge at their fences and bark at other dogs, and who sometimes to fight with each other for the privilege of having the choicest spots from which to be rude. Previously, Suka's been content to raise her ruff but walk on by, otherwise ignoring them. Think of it as a ladylike sniff of disdain at their poor manners. Ah! But now, her manners have taken a plunge towards the gutter (they probably smelled something nice and stinky down there), and she's barking back, spinning a the end of the lead, and generally acting like a punk in their presence. No sooner than they're out of sight, than she regains her composure, but for fifty yards or so, she's a Nut!
So - I've got two situations where she's Not Getting The Message. What to do? She's not toy-focused. She's not particularly food-driven either. Halti? Gentle Leader? Martingale? Well, martingale collar for sure, under any circumstances - She's almost slipped her leather collar a couple times already. A properly rigged martingale will stay put, without choking. Period. But, I don't know how to use a training collar or harness. After reaching out for help, I got all manner of well-meaning advice, but much of it was wide of the mark. But at least one suggestion hit the mark squarely in the center... Training with treats to distract her from the other, unacceptable distractions. But she's not treat driven... Or IS she? Stinkykibble(tm) to the rescue!
Stinkykibble is my rendition of training with dog food and high-value treats. I don't want to wreck her diet - it's so nicely balanced! ;-) but Suka *will* go for hot dog bits dusted in garlic powder and grated cheese. Or, better yet, from her PoV, kielbasa. But Polish sausage gets pricey... So! Dice up a little sausage, a little hot dog, and dust liberally with garlic powder and cheese. Substitute that mess for an equal volume of kibble from her daily meals, and store in a bag, in the reefer, over night. Come morning time, you've got all the day's food, already in a bag, and all nice and stinky! Stinkykibble! Separate the Stinkykibble into three portions; one for each for the morning and afternoon meals, and one to serve as training treats. Stinkykibble is like a magnet - Where it goes, so goes Suka's nose. And if there are TRDATEOTN yelling at her, well, she doesn't care.
Monday, August 25, 2008
She's been deprived in some ways, though, I can see - She's got *zero* concept of most doggie games, like fetch. She just doesn't get it. So - While her dog manners and people manners are outstanding, I need to teach her how to *play* like a dog!
Under her influence, I've got the back yard fence repaired, the grass neatly cut, and the poke-berries (poisonous purple berries, with semi-woody stalks) growing behind the shed cut down and into the compost pile. Also, the house is progressively becoming less cluttered. The dumpster has been and gone, and it departed in a very full condition. So - My house is leaner & cleaner than it's been in a while, as is my yard, too.
The cats are less than impressed, but they're maintaining separation for now.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Suka (indeed pronounced "Sooka" - that would be like "Sue-ka" not like "took") is (and I do hate to burst any bubbles) actually named accidentally after a Sibe belonging to my nurse Jill. As she came into my hands, her name was Sukie, which I think is a cute name for a Shih Tzu or a Lhasa, but NOT for a BC. And I just couldn't make myself say it. I kept accidentally calling her Suka (from knowing Jill's dog) and Jill didn't mind me copycatting (copy-dogging?) one of her dogs' names, plus Suka comes to it readily, so there we are. It didn't occur to me to ask Jill what "Suka" meant, but I will. I thought about calling her "Sitka" (a good Alaskan name), but she seems to like Suka, so there she stays... unless MaskedMan et al want to change it. [NB: NO, we do not. :-p ] Meanwhile.... Uh, Suka is an obscure word of a little-known Yupik dialect which means "sweet bird of the snow" and is sometimes used to indicate the color of ptarmigan when they are in the middle of their molt from the russety browns of summer to the white of winter. Yeah. That's the ticket. (Yes, I AM a member of the PLO... Pathological Liars OOOoooononymous.) Or, it could be some derivative of Susitna, which is the name of a mountain and a river and all kinds of other things up here. It could be SU from SUsitna, and KA from MatanusKA, another native place name (Suka's earliest known history having sourced from the Matanuska-Susitna borough.) See? We can make it all KINDS of Alaskan!
I suspect Suka is a BC/Sheltie cross or else a BC/Sammy cross, but it's a guess. Short of DNA testing, there's no telling; she could be all BC for all I know. [NB: I'm thinking more likely Sammy than Sheltie, but it doesn't really matter anyway. And canine DNA testing is notoriously unreliably anyway. :-p ] Her early history is unknown, having come to the prior owner from the pound. She was a patient of mine several years ago, at which time there was a chance her (divorcing) owners might need to place her. At the time, I had 2 fewer dogs than I have now, and I told them that I'd consider taking her if they couldn't work it out (although as she had a little boy at home who is mad for her, I didn't want to break that up - and they did work it out that time.) Several years later and a re-marriage/newly pregnant new wife down the road, the owner was again facing a problem with keeping her. He hated to do it - he kept saying that she was the best dog he'd ever had - but the little boy had moved to CA with the first wife, and with a new baby on the way, and the man being a trucker and not home all the time to help with the baby and the dog, Suka didn't have anywhere to land. So I bailed her out temporarily, and Tranq and family are going to see if she'll work out for them long-term. But we should all give Tranq a BIIIG pat on the back, because I struck out on finding other homes up here. So he bailed her out even more than I did... I'm just his long-distance minion.
She's a sweet dog, extremely affectionate, and generally gets on fine with other dogs - but there are just too many dogs here right now, and I personally think that as much as she loves to snuggle, she would be best in a single dog household. It does my heart good to know how excited Tranq and all the Mrs/mini-Tranqs are about her. She deserves a home where they're excited about her and can make her the center of the dog-attention (and here, even if I was NOT over the borough limit on dogs, she would have to share.)
OK, maybe Suka's a BC/X. Whatever. Anyway, this is a dog my sister's known for some time, and was saved from Animal Control a few years ago, but times and circumstances change, so her new family wasn't able to keep her any longer - My sister took Suka back in, but couldn't keep her - Raven is due home, and AKDD's up against a municipal dog limit. There aren't any, aparently, local BC rescues in her area, and there weren't any within easy reach, so she reached out to me for help and advice, to see if I couldn't get Suka into MABCR. Unfortunately, MABCR is in high-gear right now, and slipping another dog into the steady stream of dogs coming through is pushing things pretty hard. On top of that, Suka's description is glowing - She's reputedly "the best dog I've ever owned" according to her rather distressed former master. Now, I'd been showing my wife picture sof Suka, and talking about the process to her, and so on, and one day, about a week or so ago, she suddenly turned to me and said, if you clean the house, we can take her in. 8-0
Cleaning the house is kinda important - both of us tend to horde stuff we really ought to have ditched some time ago.
I ordered a dumpster. It was big. I filled it.
If we'd not touched it in over a year, and it's replacable without too much effort or cost, it was gone!
So, without further ado, let me introduce Suka, Muse of Housecleaning!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Bear with me - I'm a bit scared right now. I've lost my beloved boy, and my safe home, and have been staying with a nice lady and her pack. They're nice people, but they're not MY people. I like this lady, even if her pack are a bit trying. A couple of this new pack are kinda pushy or bratty, though, and they keep taking my toys. Really, I don't need or want too many dogs around. It's not like I'm a snob or anything, but people are much more interesting, fun, and snuggly.
Anyway, I'm about to get on a plane and fly away... I don't know exactly where I'm going, but right now I'm a bit frightened and alone. Who will be waiting for me on the other end? Will there be someone on the other end? I hope they haven't forgotten me!