Monday, September 16, 2013

A Mama "Oopsy."

Every once in a while our animals will suffer a Mama "oopsy." Sometimes it's just because I'm a human and make mistakes-like when I thought Hermione was being annoying and really actually had to pee-and other times I have what we have dubbed "blind moments." Blind moments are periods in time when something ridiculous happens because my eyeballs just don't work. One I can clearly remember from high school occurred on a choir trip.
Lindsay and I were sharing a room. She was on the top bunk and I was on the bottom. We woke one morning and began dressing for the day. I had managed to get myself fully dressed, but was missing one sock. It was early and I was grumpily grumbling about not being able to find my sock. My grumblings eventually turned into ranting and Lindsay mercifully stuck her head over the side of the bunk bed to say,
"Jess, your sock is in your lap."
That, my friend, is a classic "blind moment."
Well, last night I had a blind moment and Rufio got caught up in it.
To begin with, you should know that our bedroom doesn't close properly. It's annoying. The animals can push it open whenever they please and frolic about in there. We try to limit the bedroom to "sleeping time" and not "going wild" time. So, if I hear them in there I shoo them out. I have also taken to locking Hermione's crate because Otis fancies peeing in her bed. It's the only place he does it and we think he's marking. Can we say, "neutering time?" Anyway, someone had broken into the bedroom and so I rushed in, chasing everyone out and returning to lock Hermione's crate. I didn't check inside: I never do.
The evening passed by and eventually it was last relieve time of the night. As I came back in from taking Hermione and Otis out, my nose picked up an awful smell coming from our bedroom. I was upset to say the least. I knew right away it was the cat. Hermione and Otis had just done their business outside and kitten poop has a particular smell. Mr. K went into investigate while I took the rest of the dogs out. When I got back in with Nala he said,
"In Rufio's defense..."
Turns out, I locked him in Hermione's crate. I have no idea how long he was in there for. I can't remember what time I locked the crate at. How ever long it was, he finally had to go. You really can't blame the guy. He even buried it in the blankets like a good kitten. Mr. K had found him when he went in to find the source of the smell. Rufio had meowed at him and it took Mr. K a few minutes to realise where the cat was.
The crate was promptly cleaned and the blankets thrown into the washing machine. Thankfully Hermione had an extra bed so she had somewhere to sleep.
So, what's the moral of this story?
Check things before they are locked  for wee kittens.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Just the Girls

As the title of this post would suggest, the other night I took just Hermione and Nala out for a free run. I usually pair Hermione and Otis together since Nala gets most of her exercise/stimulation from working, but the other night she was due for a free run. As for Hermione, she's always due for a free run. So, I filled two Kongs with peanut butter and left Roscoe and Otis happily munching away in the living room and leashed up the ladies.
It's funny how the dogs know what cues mean what. Nala knows as soon as I get her collar down with the bell that she's either going out to work or out to play. Either way, she gets excited. Hermione knows as soon as I fill my pockets with treats and grab my cane, we're going for a run which makes her excited. Despite their excitement, both girls waited patiently for me to get my coat and shoes on. Nala sat perfectly still, trying very hard to be good even though she was quivering with excitement and Hermione tried to hold her sit, but kept popping back up to stand and stare at the door. I would have her sit back down of course to reiterate to her that she needed to be calm and wait. With leashes, shoes and coat on, we headed off.
It had rained earlier in the evening and so I figured the girls would need a rinse by the time we got back, but the rain had stopped and the evening was quite pleasant. We walked for probably close to an hour. The girls responding very nicely to the whistle recall. It made me a proud dog mom when I blew the whistle and Hermione would prance over to me, putting her paws on my thigh to let me know she was there and Nala would come crashing towards me, skidding into a sit in front of me. Both girls would sit, have their reward and then be released. It was one of the most enjoyable walks I've had. It was later in the evening and since it had rained, the cycling traffic was down and that relieved a lot of stress. It was also nice having two well behaved dogs that I could rely on coming back when called.
I think the girls enjoyed themselves too. Whenever Nala would go charging past me, there always came the little pitter patter of Hermione's paws, hot on Nala's heels. Their bells jangling away kept me aware of their location and that meant I knew when I needed to blow the whistle to have them come back. They both responded very nicely to verbal cues as well. Once, Nala decided she was a mountain goat and started climbing the side of the ravine that hems in one side of the path. I whistled her back and when I heard her heading back in that direction, all I had to say was "Nala, no" and she turned back around. Granted, she tried three times before she realised I wasn't going to let her go back up there, but she always re-routed her line of travel when I directed her.
They certainly did need to be rinsed off when we got home, but it didn't really bother me. Hermione allowed me to pick her up and put her in the tub. She was just as patient as I sprayed her legs and belly off. Nala hopped in the tub on her own. At first, she needed a bit of convincing, but she did it and was promptly sprayed down as well.
I love walking all of my dogs, but the girls are the easiest. Otis likes to go off and eat everything he sees and has to stay on leash. He's a French pig remember? We didn't nickname Roscoe "Ranger Roscoe" for nothing. He likes roaming through the forest, sniffing out rabbits and foxes and he's a bit slow on the recall. I've been loading the whistle as you would with a clicker and I'm hoping that it will be a solution to Roscoe's slow returns. I like letting Roscoe and Nala run together because they are nearer in size, but when he's running, Nala tends to take on his ranging qualities and is slower coming back when called. It's just something I'll keep working on with Roscoe and then maybe I'll have three dogs who return right away when they hear the whistle. As for the French Pig? His little piggie urges may be stronger than associating whistle with yummy treat. Maybe I should start feeding him mud when he comes back when called. ;)
Regardless, it was a very nice walk with my girls and I think the next time Nala is due a free run, I will pair her and Hermione together again. Besides, sometimes you just need a girls' night.

Friday, September 06, 2013


I don't know what's going on with me, but little things have really been getting under my skin. Most of all, the way some people view pet owners and their decisions to have animals instead of kids. Let me tell you a story to highlight my disgruntled state.
"Most landlords don't allow pets because they are messy." A man speaking to a random woman said as I walked past with Hermione crunching loudly over an empty chip bag and crushed soft drink can.
"Animals tend to destroy things." He continued on just as loudly as I stumbled over two random box springs some human decided to leave on the sidewalk because they were too lazy to call the council to come and get them.
"All pets stink and so landlords really don't like having them." Loud talking man blabbed away as someone who smelled of unwashed hair and clothes tramped past me and another smoking breezed by on the other side. I can't express to you the amount of people here that smell of mildew clothes and unwashed hair. It's shocking.
"They're also really too noisy." He blared from half a block away. I wondered if he noticed the music blasting from a flat window across the street and a child screaming mercilessly in yet another. I wondered if he noticed the volume of his own voice.
My point is, humans can be  just as stinky, messy, noisy and destructive as animals and human noise, stink, mess and destruction are tolerated as socially acceptable. I am horrified at the amount of garbage people just toss on the ground when there is a bin not five feet from where they tossed their empty food containers, drink bottles or cigarette packages. There's even a random chair sitting in the middle of the green space along the cycling trail. Someone just dumped it there because they couldn't be bothered to dispose of it properly. Last fall, a garbage bag of dirty clothes sat on the side of the trail, spilling over, for nearly the whole winter. These are just small examples of the littering problem that seems to be rampant.
It's become commonplace, at least here, for children to scream, dump sugar/salt all over the place and have their prams and/or bikes take up aisle space in eating establishments. We watched in horror as a mother out with a friend for breakfast, let her toddler dump the entire sugar container all over the table and floor because if she took it away he'd start howling. He started on the salt too, but the breakfast date was over before he got the entire container emptied out. This is not the only incident of such behavior that we've witnessed.
Just on Saturday, I had to argue with a pub employee about Nala being allowed in the dining area of the pub. He was adamant that she was not allowed because she was a "dog" and wouldn't back down. He said we could sit in the bar area where the dogs were allowed, but we were not going in the dining area. I finally got it across to him that she was a "guide dog" and that it was illegal for him to deny her, and by proxy me, access to the dining area. While I argued with him, Nala sitting quietly at my side, I couldn't help but notice a two year old screaming insanely in the dining area while his drunken aunt squawked just as loudly at him. Then, just as the employee finally caught my drift about it being illegal to deny a guide dog access, crazy aunt sprung up from the table and began chasing screeching two year old around the dining area. This behavior, by the way, continued throughout the entire meal until crazy aunt and crew left. Nala lay quietly tucked under the table for the duration of our stay.
Anyone catching my drift?

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

One Cool Cat

We do a lot of grooming in the Mr. and Mrs. K household. Just today, Mr. K took care of a few of Otis's front claws that were beginning to curl and a few on Roscoe's front paws as well. Maybe not as much as I should, but at least once a week, everyone gets brushed, nails trimmed, teeth brushed and any treatments that someone may need. This week was no exception. The only thing is that Rufio has managed to miss out on the grooming routine the last couple of times. He's not as easy to wrangle as a dog. Even though, quite honestly, he's not even half as bad as any other cats I know. When I began the grooming regiment yesterday, spending over half a hour on Hermione's flowing locks, Rufio got caught in the cross fire and he was added to the list of my beauty victims.
I first started by brushing him. Mr. K has been really good about brushing him and so he's pretty used to it. I use a comb called a Greyhound Comb, but don't be deceived by its name. It's a brand and not anything that should be used on a Greyhound. The teeth are metal and would feel horrible for a Greyhound. One end of the comb has its teeth set wider apart and I use the very end tooth to pick through mats on both Hermione and Rufio. It works like a dream. I haven't had to cut Rufio's fur once, nor Hermione's since purchasing the comb. He had two little mats starting which he allowed me to pick through; always holding the fur down by the roots to ensure no uncomfortable pulling/tearing. I want him to keep enjoying brushing. After that I decided to tackle every animal's least favourite part of grooming...his claws. I grabbed the clippers and sat with him in my lap. I hooked an arm under his front legs and gently rubbed his face and talked to him, all the while playing with his toes on one front paw. To my shock, he flexed his toes and pushed his claws out. He sat like that until every claw was clipped and repeated the trick for the other three paws-even his back paws! I can't express how surprised I was. Here was a cat not only letting me clip his claws, but helping me.
Later when I told Mr. K he said that he plays with Rufio's paws a lot and that the cat always flexes his toes for Mr. K. Rufio must have become so used to doing that when I started clipping his claws, he wasn't even phased. I've trimmed them before. I tried to do it quite often when he was a very tiny kitten to show him that claw trimming wasn't bad, but this was the first time he helped me.
I have to say that the Siberian cat is one of the coolest cat breeds out there. I'm sure I'm partially biased, but who else's cat offers up their claws for trimming?

Monday, September 02, 2013

The Love of a Dog

The dog is known for its loyalty, love and devotion. We all know that, but this morning I experienced it in such a reaffirming way that it is humbling. Of course I've experienced this type of love and devotion before. I've written about it. Just the other day I wrote about Nala following me around the Pilates studio while I got ready for clients. I experience her devotion every time we go out and I ask her to "straight on" past a small child offering her crackers or another dog choking itself desperately at the end of its leash wanting to meet her and she does it. Perhaps I've become accustomed to my dog's devotion in those scenarios. I suppose in a way I've come to expect it. How else would I be able to trust that my dog is going to get me safely across a street or stop at the top of a steep flight of stairs?
I've experienced it with my pet dogs in the past too, but a lot of my dog memories of the past are of working relationships. I remember my very first pet dog showing me loyalty and devotion, but I was just a small kid. I didn't really know what that meant. So, when Hermione curled up on the couch with me this morning, as she does every morning, my heart twanged a little bit.
You see I had been a bad dog mom. Being a good dog mom is something I pride myself on, but last night, I got a failing grade. And yet, this morning, after I had been a bad dog mom for her last night, Hermione still snuggled up to me and fell asleep with her little fuzzy head pressed against my leg.
This is what happened.
Last night, Mr. K helped me take everyone out before bed. It was incredibly windy and when it's like that Hermione chases everything. We let her off leash to do her business and waited around while everyone else emptied their tanks too. Hermione is easily distracted and so when it's super windy it's best to let her off her leash so she can run around and eventually give into her "go to the bathroom" urges instead of her "must chase every blowing fluff that passes my face" urges.
After everyone had went, we went back inside and I went to bed. Nala got into her doggie bed, Roscoe his, Otis was put up on our bed and Hermione went in her crate, as per every night. Not two hours after we had gone to sleep Hermione started her gentle "woof woofing." I told her to quiet and rolled over and went back to sleep. I thought she was fussing because Mr. K was still awake and she could hear him moving around. A little while later she fussed again, but again, I ignored her. I thought Mr. K was in the kitchen and assumed that she was complaining because she wanted to be in the kitchen too. I could smell something cooking and so dismissed her grumblings. Eventually, Mr. K came to bed and Hermione went crazy. I don't know what made him go over to her crate, but he did and thankfully he let her out.
The poor thing had to pee so badly that she had peed in her crate.
I don't remember the last time she did that. Not since she was a very small baby. Her beautiful feathers were soaked as was the long fur on her under belly. She had peed on the plastic bottom, but it had been so much it soaked into her bed. I felt awful.
Here I had ignored her, thinking she was just being difficult. Some nights she does that and in order to discourage her from waking people up whenever she wants to, I just ignore her and she goes back to sleep. Well, she actually had to go last night. Because we had had them out for such a long time and because she had been off leash, I had assumed that she had gone. Apparently not. The blowing world must have been too much of a distraction and she must have not gone. If I had thought that she hadn't gone, I would have taken her out as soon as she started complaining.
I scooped her up and raced her to the bath tub where she waited patiently for me to wash her legs and tummy. She's so good in the tub that even when I turned around to get a towel to wrap her up in, she waits patiently until I say "arms up" and she puts her front paws on the side of the tub. Then, I lift her out. She never tries to jump out, even though she could.
I rubbed her down with the towel, trying to dry her as much as I could. Mr. K cleaned the plastic tray from the bottom of her crate and put her crate back together. We have this blue blanket that all of the dogs love. Technically, it's a human blanket, but last night I used it as a substitute for her bed. It's some kind of micro fleece and the dogs are always trying to steal it from me. I know Hermione doesn't know that I gave it to her as a sort of "I'm sorry" bed, but I know she enjoyed it at least. She was fluffing and scrunching it even before I got her crate door closed.
So, you see? I was a bad dog mom. Not intentionally cruel, but nevertheless, I felt awful. And, as she does most mornings, Hermione climbed up beside me while I drank my coffee and played on the internet; just like nothing happened. I know that cognitively speaking, she can't equate pee filled crate with bad dog mom, but it really does make you think about how trusting and loving these creatures really are.