The Ghost Dog

September 28, 2017

I’ve been training Ivy to get on the bed in a way that will be OK when she’s certified as a therapy dog.

She sleeps in her crate, but awakens around 6am. I put her out, and go back to sleep until she barks, once, to come in. Then it’s time for training to be on the bed. Instead of just leaping up, she has to sit, wait for me to get back to bed, and the command, “up!” She is very dainty, goes to the foot of the bed. I say “head down” and she does it.

So, I got up to use the bathroom with Ivy at the foot of the bed. I turned around after washing my  hands, and wouldn’t you know, she’s up against the pillows. She did the same thing on the couch. Silent as a mouse.

She’s going to be a great therapy dog because “doodles make you smile every day.”


Is it the End of the World, or the Start of the School Year?

August 20, 2017

There are so many things going on here in the Choice City this weekend. First of all, all roads leading north are clogged to a stop. HEY! You can watch the eclipse right here, or at least 92% of it, or still be sitting at edit 267 Monday morning at 11:47. Oh, and BTW, the minute your car crosses out of Colorado, “the Green State,” your car will definitely be searched. Every cop in the path of the eclipse is on duty at the state lines. Weed is legal here, but some idiot will drag it out of the state, where it is not legal. I’m glad I’m not going and don’t do weed, never have, because I just know the chicks in cellblock C would pass me around for a carton of smokes.

Also, every law enforcement officer in the state is on duty until after Labor Day. “The Heat is On.” Better be good with the brand new SUVS Mommy and Daddy bought Skippy to go to college. My dad gave me money for a bike. 47 years ago. For my birthday. In October.

It is also the worst weekend during the college year. CSU classes begin Monday, so all the  drinkers get drunk on anything they can get their underage hands on, including mouthwashes that still have alcohol, and some even die. Then, their grieving parents erect memorials to their memories that last until the unfortunate kids are forgotten. That pint of peppermint schnapps sure tastes like a candy cane by golly, right up until you throw up into your lungs and drown after you pass out.

Sometimes, their are riots, sometimes mattresses are set aflame in the streets. Vandalism is all over. Back when I lived across the street from campus, and our fence was kicked in on a regular basis, I held my father-in-law’s rifle in my arms on my doorstep. No bullets, can’t shoot, scared of weapons, but the visual was pretty obvious.

There are some cool things, though, going on thanks to the City’s Natural Areas department. The kids painted the “A” today, commemorating the days when the gender-specific CSU Rams (are there really Lady Rams? C’mon.) were the A&M Aggies. I guess I was a Lady Ram when I played field hockey, and I tried to stuff a jock strap with socks. It just didn’t work out, know what I mean?

Tomorrow, the students will come, about 1000 of them, to hike up to the “A”. This is a fun activity. They are not hung over, they are happy and polite, and of late, no girls wear flip flops to hike up a foothill in rattlesnake territory. Last time, I didn’t spot any girls with severe anorexia.

We tell the newcomers of the natural wonder of Fort Collins, hand out well-needed chapsticks and water, pass out maps of our 49 natural areas, and generally talk to them about what a wonderland they will be fortunate to live in for awhile. I do this activity every year as a Master Naturalist Assistant, and it’s great. There are over 100 busses rolling up to deposit the students, and I like to see them coming, as I did when I was a teacher.

I hope the weekend is great, and during the eclipse is going on for 3 minutes or so, all teachers and employers should let people out to see it. Have fun! And oh yeah, LEAVE YOUR DOGS AT HOME!


Rubber ducky, you’re the one…

June 27, 2017

You make bath time lots of fun. Rubber ducky, I’m awfully fond of you, do, do, do, do, do!

The great joy while waiting to see if the publisher of my choice will accept my book, before I start searching for another, is that for work, I have only to keep up my social media writing such as this blog entry.

I can read, and highly recommend the last two books I have been reading: Tell Me That This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson-a laugh out loud book that takes a few chapters, well about a quarter of the book really, before you find out it’s wicked funny. Before I start her next book, I am reading Senator Al Franken’s book: Al Franken, Giant of the Senate. This book is funny also, because Franken was a comedian for so long, that he can’t help but see some of the senate idiocy from a humorous point of view. It’s pretty up to date with regard to what’s going on in DC.

I also cherish my time with Ivy. We went to the dog park this morning, and a boxer attacked her. The boxer, a service dog for her human’s mother, serves as a “balance dog” for the mom’s MS. The dogs worked it out, and more doodles arrived, so it was a doodle Woodstock with a boxer thrown in the mix.

I had left a message for my groomer, April, whose shop is closed Mondays. I got a call back from Heather, Frank’s stylist, and she says she does doodles as well. I guess there’s quite a bit of knowledge to have to properly style a doodle. Ivy already has an appointment for the day of her Canine Good Citizen test, but I wanted another one. I can give her a shower, but doing her coat is another thing. She is rather like a giant mat right now with two eyes, a nose, and a smiling mouth. Heather said she could take Ivy next Monday, the third of July, when the shop, Spa 4 Paws, is usually closed. She didn’t want to get behind because of the 4th, and she would be there Monday. We will come up with some sort of plan to style Ivy. Too short, and she’s too poodly. Too long, and she is a giant mass of matted hair. She looks like a fat sheep, but if you hold her hair in on her sides, you get half a sheep in appearance.

Ivy has gotten used to the choke chain, although she nearly killed me today running me to the door of my friends’ house.

Because she did such a crappy job during CGC class last Tuesday at Home Depot, even though she was perfect two days earlier, I pondered taking her to drop-in obedience this evening. Then, I decided to save a few bucks and just go back to Home Depot. It was cooler there, anyway, and we are expecting mid-90’s tomorrow.

Anytime I take my dog where only people should be, I ask permission. Even though all of  Canine Learning Center classes use Home Depot for “off campus” practice, I still ask. The checker I asked was a wild woman with bright eyes, and clearly a person happy with her job and the people she helps. I asked her if she would like to pet Ivy while I held her collar. The woman went nuts on me and told Ivy, “You go crazy, girlfriend, be wild, have fun.” Ivy laughed her head off as she did what she was told. Yes, dogs laugh-hard. They also can text, “LOL,” but that’s for another time.

Ivy and I practiced healing and shopping, stays, turns, the whole megillah. I found that in a mostly empty store with long aisles, I could put Ivy on a stay, sit or down, walk well away, and wait. She was perfect, and when finally called, did her usual jump in the air, run to me at top speed, and jump to a sit. Then she “finishes” when told, which means going behind my back to return to heel position sitting down for a nice treat.

It was still early to go home, so I called Diane from the car (all handless) and said Ivy had a present for Logan, the little Yorkie who needed re-homing due to a move up in the mountains where he would have been a great meal for a roving eagle. The toy, a fuzzy yellow duck that quacks when bitten, was a great hit with Logan and Ivy. Sol, Diane and Darell’s little poodle, not so much. Sol, pronounced “Soul,” has taken possession of Logan, and just watched.

Ivy also had fun running in the yard. We do not have a back yard, so she ran like a little maniac on the grass, diving into its fragrant softness. I spied a circular sprinkler on the lawn, and asked Diane if she would turn it on. OMG! My doodle went nuts! She ran circles around it, getting wet, drank from it, and spent a long time getting soaked. I doubt the grass got watered at all. The three of us humans drank iced tea and watched all three dogs doing maniacal canine deeds. I think Ivy took the prize for “the dog that will never be allowed inside Diane’s house again.” At this time, she is still outside. We left for home via a gate out of the yard instead of going through the house. That dog was dripping wet. All that hair I was worried about had disappeared into droplets of sopping curls. I put her directly outside, where she fell asleep in the delightful summer evening. She just now barked, once, so I went down to put her to bed. Her hair is mostly dry, so I’ll spend tomorrow trying to brush it out. At least it will look clean for class tomorrow night if we can stay away from the dog park.

 

 


Linked Essays and Home Depot

June 18, 2017

When I read the email cover letter to send in the sample of my manuscript for Drinking Out of the Trough, I read that it was referred to as a collection of “linked essays.” Huh? What is that?

Linked essays are those that relate to each other by subject and through a timeline.

While all essays weren’t in perfect order, I could see that they had a natural progression with regard to a timeline. That was the reason for going to Judy’s house with her crazy long dining room table, and sorting out the essays. As it turned out, the essays were mostly in chronological order. Had I known what linked essays were, it probably would have confused me more that the simple directions of adding photos to this blog. I have an IT person, who is quite brilliant, but darned if I can follow the directions. I will work on this today while it is hot today.

My submission to the publisher I want is done. I only have to wait. Judy says this publisher has a pretty fast turnaround, so I’m not going to send more entries to other publishers until I hear the outcome of my submission.

So today, before going to the dog park, I decided to have Ivy practice for her next lesson in her Canine Good Citizenship class, which is meeting this week at Lowe’s. We went to Home Depot. What a great little dog! Ivy, who loves everybody, started jumping up and down on her hind legs to meet the nice employees who thought she was the cutest thing they’d ever seen (she is). I asked the to let her sit first like a lady, then love on her all they wanted. Ivy was in doggie heaven.

Next, we started shopping. We looked at granite countertops, light fixtures, and other hardware items. I had to call her back to heel a few times, but she did this right away. We practiced sit stays, and down stays with me circling her while she remained in her stay. When people just wanted to walk by, I told her to “Leave it,” and she complied. It helped that I had treats in her treat bag hanging from my shorts. Good distraction technique if you ask me.

What I was most proud of was when she saw a woman running a huge machine to clean the floor. Ivy didn’t even react to it.

All in all, it was a successful trip.

The dog park was crowded. All her friends were there. Boy, can that 34-pound puppy run! Fast. Ivy is fast enough to catch up to a black poodle she likes. Ivy is mostly poodle, so it makes sense that she is as fast as one. But she’s only nine months old. We spent about an hour and a half there, and it was time to come home so she could drop down into a deep sleep. She is out in her dog pen now, sleeping like she’s dead. I’ll hold a mirror up to her nose in a minute.

Have a great Father’s Day.

 

 


Dances with Kittens

May 31, 2017

Have you ever looked closely at a veterinarian’s hands and arms? If you have, you would see tiny lines of scars on them, a memory of the cats that have scratched them. I myself have plenty.

I have two scars that I actually cherish. When Cowboy Joe was coming out of anesthesia, he was a little goofy, and raked the back of my wrist with his back claws. There are two long, thin scars, memories of a strung-out kitten. It’s a memory from a cat I dearly love, so I am happy to look at them. At the time it happened, 2004, I was not amused. Since my cat was loopy, I understood.

The other scar I treasure was put in place by Pruney, the cat of my life. While living at home with my mom after college, I decided that Pruney, an inside/outside cat, should wear a collar. Many cats wear collars just fine. Pruney-not so much. She managed to get the collar stuck in her open mouth, and when I got her off the window screen where she hung onto dear life, she raked the same wrist with her two canine teeth. After over 40 years, I can still see the reminder that not all cats can wear collars. The last cat I tried a collar on was Kitty Alexander, our 20-pound tuxedo, who promptly got hung up on a door hinge. I had to unhook him. Now, I know how collars should fit on animals. No mistakes there. It’s part of what I teach my clients. These were just two freak accidents, and since Pruney was my last outdoor cat, there really is no need for collars on my cats. And a heads up to our humane society, I don’t license them, either, when they get their rabies vaccinations. Bad Mary.

In practice, my favorite part of well kitten visits is to educate people about how to care for their cats properly. The most important part of this lesson is, “How Not to be Killed by Your Kitten.” You see, people like to have Kitty chase their fingers across the room, or wave their hand back and forth on the carpet. It’s so much fun to see him get so riled up he can’t think, and runs around the room like he’s possessed. Bad idea. Kitty gets the idea that, 1. It’s OK to bite the finger when he catches it, which is instinctual, and 2. It’s OK that human body parts make great chew toys. They are not. NEVER use hands to play with your cat or kitten. Instead, have a toy or string that they cat catch and play with. For strings and similar items, be sure to put them away when you are finished playing, as the strings could be swallowed by an unsupervised cat and wind up stuck in his intestines and will have to be surgically removed.

The same play rules are true with human feet, except Kitty will add hiding for pouncing on and biting the feet. If you like being attacked by an unseen ball of fur, by all means, go for the foot fetish. It can, however, be very painful in the sensitive area of the top of the foot. Picture Tiger lying in wait until you come home from work, looking at the mail when, WHAM! You are attacked from below-a direct hit to the ankle.

Also be that cats like to climb things, like the drapes. Bad Kitty. This behavior is reinforced by thinking it’s cute for Kitty to climb up your pants with his razor sharp claws.

So what to do if your cat is the Kamikaze who actually gets to you even after you stop playing with hands and feet? First, don’t physically discipline an animal, ever. The cat is only acting on its instinct of preditory behavior. Second, you have only three seconds to react until the devious act is out of Kitty’s mind. Fill an empty soda can with small rocks, and have it ready to shake at Kitty when he is bad. Making a hissing noise is cat talk for “Look out, I’m going to get YOU”! You can also turn and walk away, play time is over, period. Be strong, even if he wants to start playing with you again. Nope-game over.

What’s more fun than playing with a kitten? Nothing! But be aware of safe ways to play with your little furball so no one, you or Kitty develop bad behaviors and gets hurt.


Hey Lady! It’s a DOG Park

May 16, 2017

I am wary about dog parks. They are great business for veterinarians. This mean that dogs can get hurt at a dog park. Yet I serve on the Parks and Recreation board (16 years total so far,) and when we build a new community or large park, we include a dog park. That’s what the people ask for in a park.

I cringe whenever I see a dog off leash. I live next to a dedicated prairie, the Cathy Fromme Prairie, dog laws strictly enforced. But still, every time I walk Ivy on the paved trail, some yahoo has his or her dog off leash.

One dude on a bike was running his mutt off leash while he pedaled in comfort. I asked him to please leash his dog. His reply, “Oh get over it.” Oh well, there are only so many park rangers, and they are usually elsewhere.

On the prairie, there are an uncountable number of rattlesnakes in the grass. Want to see one in the heat of the day? Surprise one. It doesn’t want to eat you, you are too big. So is your dog. However, the coil and strike maneuver is the snake’s defense mechanism. I’m teaching Ivy the word, “sidewalk,” so she knows not to yaw off the trail. If you want to go and look at a snake, go in the early morning, when they are basking in the warmth of the pavement after a cool night. When it warms up, the snakes retreat to the cooler underbrush.

The dumbest thing I’ve seen on the prairie was a grown woman with a black Lab, and a tennis ball launcher. She actually was going to have her dog chase balls through snake-infested grass. Oy.

In my old neighborhood made up largely of college students, I asked dog walkers to please put Fido on a leash. Their retort: “This dog is on voice command.” Sorry, dudes and dudettes, there is no such thing. Sure, your dog may come with you and be good for regular  or boring things, but if it sees something exciting like a racing bunny rabbit, pause for mental image of a racing bunny, voice command is no more.

So today I took Ivy to the dog park. It’s on the east side of town. I live on the west side. I go to this park because it is not frequented by students and their largely untrained dogs, who prefer the west side dog park at the very end of Horsetooth Road. We people know each other, and our dogs know each other as well. A lady came in with her doodle-it’s fun to see an adult version of my Ivy-and promptly yelled at a man with what she called an aggressive dog. He wasn’t aggressive. He met dogs with a bark, and maybe a chest bump. Then he settles in to play. She took her dog to the end of the park. She stayed there. Her “dood” came back to the other dogs to play.

Just as there is no voice command, at the dog park, there is not much obedience. The dogs are there to run and play. If we leave them alone, they work it out. Once, I was there with just a few people. Two women came in with a truly aggressive dog, the women oblivious to the sign prohibiting them. The dog went after our little cadre of mutts. We nicely said that her dog was aggressive and should be removed. Totally different behavior than the man’s dog who settled down. This dog didn’t, and attacked again. The ladies got the message and left.

Ivy loves the dog park, and she is a popular figure to see. It’s kind of like the TV show, “Cheers” where everyone shouts, “NORM” when he enters the bar. She knows how to play appropriately and socialize, which will serve her well.

Go to the dog park, don’t go to the dog park. It’s entirely up to you. But before you go, read up a little on canine behavior, OK?


She Was Superfine

May 4, 2017

I always wondered why my Highland Park classmate, Cindy Superfine Goldsmith, would leave “likes” on Facebook. She died in 2012. Then, another classmate, Bruce Garnitz, posted a Jewish prayer for Cindy. It was beautiful.

Cindy’s daughter, Kim, asked Bruce how she knew her mother. He replied, then I chimed in on how I knew Cindy.

Cindy wanted nothing more than to be a teacher, wife, and mother. She accomplished all of these dreams. May her memory be a blessing.