Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Who's Who and What's What

We've all seen them-videos or photos of tigers being friends with something it would normally eat, a dog nursing a litter of kittens, chimpanzees adopting a wolf. Okay, perhaps not the last one, but you get what I mean. Everywhere there are animals defying what we would call "nature" and doing some of the most amazing, and really, selfless acts. I'm not about to claim that my animals are performing selfless acts-well, okay they are pretty forgiving and loving creatures-but that's not where I'm going with this. My animals aren't protecting helpless baby animals or anything to that scale, but they certainly seem to be confused as to what kind of animal they are. Let's start with Rufio.
Rufio, a Siberian kitten by birth, but part dog in heart. How many cats have you seen just lie down in the middle of the floor and take a nap, the way a dog would? I'm sure it happens, but I don't think it's that common. Just yesterday I was standing in the kitchen washing the dishes and there was little Rufio, spread out behind my feet having a snooze. He stayed there the whole time I was washing too. Most cats will perch somewhere and watch you suspiciously or maybe even be hiding. There aren't many I know that will, what we call in the dog world, snoopervise. Cats don't snoopervise, they demand or disappear. He also has taken to sleeping and wrestling with Otis and just this morning Rufio was grooming Otis's head. Okay, that last behavior is a bit more cat-like, but the way he wrestles with Otis is very dog-like. Speaking of Otis, let us explore his confused mammal tendency next.
Otis, French Bulldog by birth and pig in heart. There's no other way to describe it, but that Otis sometimes forgets he's a dog and takes on piggy qualities. I'm not just talking the snorting. Of course he snorts, he's a Bull breed. It's his infatuation with mud. No matter where he is and where the mud is,  Otis will find it. He gets this "seek and destroy" strut on and goes off charging as fast as his little stumpy legs will carry him to his messy victim. Once sed victim has been located, Otis rushes in face first and disappears up to his pointy ears in mud. His mouth is constantly open so he can get as much mud in as fast as possible and his snorting reaches peak levels. He rolls his head about in it, mouth open snorting happily. He gets so invested that his little face wrinkles get packed with mud which Mama gets to later dislodge. There's no stopping him once mud has been spotted. The only thing that may deter him is a squeaky cupcake and that only works sometimes. Unlike Hermione, who thinks mud is the devil, Otis is in "hog Heaven" when a mud hole is to be found.
So, if Hermione isn't a pig, then what is she?
Well, I'm not entirely sure. Hermione hasn't exactly crossed species lines as much as declared herself royalty. I suppose in a way, this is a a sort of identity crisis as well, but she definitely doesn't think of herself as anything but a precious princess who should be adored. She prances around and always bosses the other animals, cat/dog dog/pig and all. If someone is in the bed she wants, she tells them to shove off and they better not even think about sharing her water bowl with her. She wouldn't want their commoner's saliva to mix with hers. She likes to be groomed and pampered and flitters about to show off her flowing locks. She's most certainly Daddy's princess and everyone else has to wait until she's done for their turn to cuddle with him. She is definitely your first class royal which also translates to royal pain in the...
To recap: We have a cat who think he's a dog, a French Bulldog who thinks he's a pig and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who thinks she's a princess. Where does that leave the two big dogs?
Oh, don't you worry: they are confused too
Roscoe, a Black Labrador by birth, a bear in heart. If you ever passed by my front door when Roscoe is in full play mode, you would think that I had a rabid bear trapped in my living room. Roscoe is a good sized Lab, weighing in at 30 kilograms, but the sounds he makes belie his stature. He and Otis like to wrestle-or rather, Otis likes to wrestle with Roscoe and Roscoe puts up with it because he's a good sport-and when the two of them get going, Roscoe rolls around on his back, growling his head off. Maybe "growling" isn't quite the word. It's this strange cross between growling...well, growling and bear noises. Have you ever watched those TV documentaries that usually end in being sad because one animal or another they are following ends up dying? Well, usually before the dying part they will show bear cubs playing. If you've ever heard those cubs playing, then you know exactly what Roscoe sounds like when he's lying flat on his back, allowing our French Bulldog/pig to chew on his face. I've heard other dogs make similar noises. In fact, Nala can really get a good growl going when she's battling with the French Pig, but I've never heard anyone get anywhere near Roscoe's likeness to bear sounds; unless they are really a bear, of course.
Nala, Yellow Labrador cross Golden Retriever by birth, laundry hamper in heart. As I mentioned, Nala can make (sort of) bear noises, but her confusion does not lie in trans-species relations. Nala has taken on characteristics of a more inanimate object. That's right: Nala thinks she's a laundry hamper. I don't know what it is about socks, underwear or pieces of clothing in that general size range, but whatever it is, Nala feels it is her job to swallow them down whole. I discovered this clever little trick when I had to pull one of the fleece tugs I made from half way down her throat. I thought this habit only pertained to fleece tuggies, so I put them all away in a bin so that they are only played with under very strict supervision. I think she was trying to keep Otis, the French Pig, from getting the toy. A slightly alarming behavior and I thought I had solved the issue. Unbeknownst to me, Nala thought that she should help with all of the laundry. Again, this was discovered in a highly unsettling fashion. This time, I did not have the pleasure of yanking the victim from down her gullet. Oh, no. I had the joy of meeting it after she had already "disposed" of it. Nala's first real victim was a pair of my underwear that she swallowed whole and then puked up two days later. I was made aware of their reappearance when I stepped firmly on to a pile of something slimy and warm. And yes, I was in bare feet.
Now, of course this confusion is slightly more dangerous than thinking you are a dog when in fact you are a cat and so I started taking heavy precautions. All worn clothes went into a closed and latched hamper, but I am human and sometimes when I am very sleepy I throw socks on the floor before bed instead of locking them in the real laundry hamper. She's managed to eat two more socks and promptly vomit them up. I've also pulled another from her mouth. I'm not entirely sure where this behavior comes from, but obviously we have to work on convincing Nala she's a dog and not a laundry storage unit.
All of these identity crises get very confusing for me. Half the time I don't even call them by the right names anymore. How many households can say they have a Cat/Dog, French Pig, Dog/Bear, Laundry Dog and a princess?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Request Denied

I had other plans for today's post. Mr. K and I had a most fantastic evening out last night and I was going to tell you all about that, but something else has gotten under my skin. And so, that post will have to wait until tomorrow.
Today has been a legitimately rainy day. We've had a few fabulous weeks of moderately warm and sunny days. When the sun is out in Scotland, you take advantage of it because you never know when it will go away. So, the last little while has seen me and the dogs out...a lot. With the change in weather, I've honestly spent the afternoon doing absolutely nothing useful. I've played with the dogs, put one load of laundry on and made sure all fuzzy creatures were relieved and fed, but  other than that, I've been a real couch potato. This use of my time may have been dangerous.
I had spent the earlier part of the afternoon reading various articles about cat health, dog training and other animal related topics. I read about how cat's claws are made from the same material as human hair/fingernails and why exactly declawing has been outlawed in the UK. After reading the article I'm glad it has been.
Did  you know that in order to declaw a cat the vets actually have to amputate a part of your cat's toe? It would be like someone removing your fingertips from the distal joint. What makes this procedure even more horrifying is that cats walk on the ends of their digits. This means, with the amputation, the cats basically have to re-learn how to walk again. Anyway, it wasn't just this that got me all in a tizzy.
I also decided that it was a good idea to look at dogs needing adoption.
Because I like torturing myself apparently.
I don't know what the population of homeless animals is like in North America because I haven't looked in a while, but here in the UK it is a rampant problem. I've known that for a while and thought to do a little in order to help. Mr.  K and I donate to a rescue once a month. Basically, we symbolically adopted a dog and our money goes towards his care. You can even go to meet your dog if you want, but our guy doesn't like strangers touching him and he lives far from us. So, it kind of seems silly for a person who uses touch to see to spend five hours on a train to meet a creature she can't touch/see. However, I really like getting the updates we get about him and I plan on sending him a little care package of toys and maybe a hand made blanket. It was from one such update that I began to realise just how dire the homeless animal situation really is. I can't remember the exact number, but whatever it was annually, it works out to over 345 dogs being picked up by dog wardens and/or placed in shelters a day. This also means that over 20 dogs are put to sleep a day.
The numbers are shocking and, of course, bother me. I want to help.
aside from our monthly donation, I've applied to volunteer with the Springer Rescue of Scotland. I had a home check and just have to finish filling out the paperwork to become an official volunteer. These are not the only ways we've tried to help either. I don't remember if I blogged about it then, but when Mr. K and I were looking to add another dog to our family last autumn, we tried adopting dogs from at least three different rescues.
All three denied our requests. And, this is where today's reading started getting me all worked up.
One didn't actually come out and say "no," but they blocked out application by never following up with us. I emailed several times about different dogs we liked, expressing that we were willing to travel great distances just to meet the dog and see if we were a good match; never mind having to go back and pick him/her up if we were. One dog we looked at would have taken us over eight hours on the train. The rescue never responded even though we saw on their Facebook page that the dog stayed available to be adopted for long after our request. We had even been home checked and the person who conducted the check said she was telling the rescue that we would be suitable for any dog we wanted. She even forwarded me a copy of the form in an electronic format so I could see what she said. Still nothing from the rescue.
The second rescue we contacted told us flat out that they did not re-home dogs with other dogs.
Pardon me? I am confused by this policy. Dogs are social creatures and often enjoy the company of other dogs. Of course some don't and then there are some who can't be re-homed with other dogs because of issues he/she may have acquired throughout his/her history, but I repeat-dogs are social creatures. But, nope. They do not re-home dogs in homes with other dogs.
End of story, apparently.
The third rescue we actually went to view as they have a physical location complete with over flowing kennels very close to where we live. We walked through the kennels, meeting the hundreds of dogs-and I mean hundreds-that needed homes and picked five that we thought could be potential matches for us. We were prepared to look at other dogs, but those were the ones we wanted our dogs to meet. I had said that I didn't want a Border Collie when we went in and despite that, we still looked at one because he seemed sweet. We have nothing against Border Collies, I just know their energy levels are beyond my capabilities; unless I move out to a farm. They told us to come back with our dogs and we did the very next day, but when we arrived we were told that we couldn't have any of the dogs we had looked at because they were "too much dog for you." I asked what that meant and basically we went in circles for over twenty  minutes and finally it came out that we couldn't adopt the dog we wanted because I was the primary caregiver and was blind. They told us they had an elderly Border Collie we could take a look at if we wanted, but by that point we had both had enough and left. Not to mention, when I expressed that I was not prepared to take on a Border Collie, I was told that "this is not a catalogue. We can't just give you whatever breed you want." I was stunned: hadn't they just told me that a German Shepherd cross was the wrong breed for me?
We're not the only people I know to be denied by rescues for, what seems like, unreasonable criteria here. One of my friends who has owned dogs all of his life had gone into a shelter and was denied because he worked. They said that if he would be away for more than four hours a day then he could not adopt from them. They must not have been listening because he told them that he would be taking the dog to work with him. This is the friend who is Glacier's new Daddy. If I could trust this man with my retired guide dog with, how is it possible that the rescue could think that he wasn't good enough to adopt a dog in desperate need from them? I guess this worked out for me in the end though, because Glacier has a first class home.
There are rescues here won't re-home any dogs to any homes with children. Some won't re-home unless the children are over the age of ten. some won't re-home to you if you have cats.
Now, before I go any further I just want to say that I understand that there are parameters put into place for a reason. The dog's best interest is what is at stake here and they are trying to do right by the dog, but in light of all of the statistics, something has got to give.
We know for sure that one rescue didn't want to give us a dog because of my disability. We suspect that the other rescue who just didn't reply felt the same way after the home checker put it in her report. At the time, I didn't think it was a problem for her to tell the rescue I was blind. I had not told them initially because I was afraid of their reaction but I thought that if the woman doing the home check didn't think it was a problem then the shelter wouldn't either. I assumed incorrectly. A friend was refused a dog because he worked, but it makes me wonder how the rescues expect people to pay for the dog's food and vet care if he/she doesn't work. Other rescues flat out refuse to re-home to families with children and it makes me wonder how many dogs are missing out on a family life just because there is a nine year old kid in the home?
I have a household of four dogs who eat high quality food, receive first class vet care, go on walks every day and have mini training sessions every day. They are played with, snuggled with, groomed (which includes tooth brushing), and free run. They get healthier treats than I do and play with safe, interactive toys. It's to the point where my friends think I'm nuts. And yet, I did not offer a good enough home for a rescue who so desperately needs a home.
I think you can probably see the point I am attempting to make here.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Good Food, Better Company

Last night Mr. K and I met two of our friends for a tasty dinner of burgers at a little pub. They had introduced it to us a while back and it probably has the best burgers I've had in Edinburgh. From the outside it kind of looks like a bit of a dump, but it's apparently under new ownership and the inside has been nicely renovated. It's also dog friendly and most times that we've been there, there have been furry friends about. We've seen everything from Labs to little Westies hanging out while their people tucked into burgers or had a few pints. Our friends have a black Lab named Jango, but he didn't accompany them last night. He's five days older than Hermione and definitely is still full of Labrador puppiness.
When Mr. K and I arrived Mama Jango and Daddy were waiting for us. It had been a really sunny and warm day and so the place was quite busy; not to mention, kind of warm. Most places in Edinburgh don't have air conditioning because they really don't need it. Nala settled nicely at my side and the server brought her a bowl of water as per the norm. Not only do they offer good service to its people patrons, but the four legged ones are looked after as well.
We had a great meal, just chatting and laughing. Jango Mama brought me a small gift. It is a set of miniature spoons with all of the provinces of Canada on each one. Her father had recently past away and the spoons were his. I didn't realise how much sentiment they held for her until she told me that they used to be tucked into a card table that she could remember opening up and seeing the spoons when she was a kid. I was really touched and plan on hanging the set on a wall somewhere in our flat-probably the kitchen; seems fitting. After she showed me the spoons and I explained provinces and territories, we ordered our food. I usually order the same burger called the Pioneer, but I decided to be a bit more adventurous and order a burger called the Shroom. I love the Pioneer so much, but if one burger is good the rest should be too, right? The Shroom didn't disappoint. It was a giant Portobello mushroom covered in melted cheese, a Chili mayo, tomato and some other tasty herbs. It was fantastic. Our table was reserved for eight and so when we were finished eating, we moved to a different bar to have a drink. That's the thing about living in a capital city: you are never left wishing for somewhere to go.
although I loved dinner, it was kind of a relief to get outside. It had been really warm in the pub which meant it was also a bit stuffy. We walked a few short blocks over to a bar and found some seats outside. It was still a mild night and it was very enjoyable to sit out on the patio.
Jango Daddy went off to buy us some drinks, leaving the rest of us to settle in. Each of the patio tables were sitting on a section of fake grass. I'm assuming it was to add to the decor as well as mark out each seating area, but when I asked Nala to "down" she had to think about it. She hesitantly sniffed the fuzzy plastic stuff, placed a front paw on it and slowly slid to the ground. All the while she was staring suspiciously at the stuff covering the pavement. Eventually, she settled in and I think she found the fake grass comfortable. It was certainly better than just lying on the pavement.
We all sat out chatting for quite a while, sipping on our drinks and enjoying he evening. A few pet dogs passed us by, but Nala hardly moved; not even when two miniature Poodles pranced past her face. We stayed out long enough for the temperature to drop and the wind to pick up. Jango Mama had to work in the morning, so when we all started getting goosebumps, we called it a night; a very enjoyable night.
There's nothing like a night filled with good food and even better company; fuzzy beings included.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"All The Single Ladies...!"

...Put your paws up!
Hermione's got hers in the air, but on Tuesday she certainly wasn't sure if she should be a single lady or not.
With having four dogs, I've been trying to exercise each of them either on their own or in twos. Nala gets her own one on one time when we work and I've been taking Roscoe mostly on his own to do some training with him. Hermione and Otis often are paired together and so Tuesday evening, Mr. K and I headed to the park with the two little ones for their turn.
The park wasn't too busy which kind of surprised me since it was a really nice night, but we found a Labradoodle puppy and another toy breed of some sort for Hermione and Otis to play with. Hermione was not impressed with the puppy at all, but Otis loved him and the two boys wrestled until Bramble-Labradoodle-parents' said it was home time. The other toy breed had also been a female and so I think Hermione just wasn't interested: she really is a flirt. She thought about playing fetch with the other dog a few times, but changed her mind and just people watched instead. After Bramble went home, Mr. K and I started wandering about the park in the hopes that our movement would get Hermione moving as well. Otis was off meeting and greeting and eventually we came across a guy with his ShihTzu. We tried walking away, but the little guy kept following us. He was wearing a cat bell and you could hear him charging up from behind you, running as fast as his little legs could carry him. His dad was on the phone at the time, but kept a watchful eye on him. We walked slowly, thinking that the little friend would eventually go back to his dad, but he was too smitten with Hermione. However, at first, we didn't know that was who had caught his eye.
Otis is much more outgoing and likes to play with any kind of dog; no matter its size. Hermione is more of a people dog and will sit happily on a bench watching people as opposed to playing with other dogs; unless Otis is chasing her of course. She's also taken to chasing Nala and Roscoe now and it's good to see her running with them. When we finally stopped walking to say hello to the persistent pup, we were surprised to see him introduce himself to Hermione. I thought she'd be stand off-ish with him, but she watched him, tail wagging and thinking whether or not she'd like to be his friend. As his dad hung up the phone, we began to realise that Mr. Persistent pants was in love. He kept nibbling Hermione's ears and then he'd try to make his move. Very gently, so as not to be rude, he'd place one paw on Hermione's bum. She would spin around as fast as she could and stare at him as if to say,
"I don't think so Sir!"
He'd go back to giving her kisses and making little cooing noises, all the while trying to woo her. Hermione is a proper princess though, and she was not fooled by his pretty words or gentlemanly charms. We found out that the dog's name was Joey and that he was actually a highly coveted stud dog.  Joey tried to convince Hermione that she should love him back by placing his head on her bum, with the same result of her spinning about and giving him a dirty look.
This game of Hermione playing hard to get went on for quite some time and Joey was very certain that she should be his  girlfriend It even got to the point where he wouldn't let Otis near her. It was at that point that Joey got put back on leash and taken home. His dad was a good owner. He didn't want Joey thinking that he could growl at other dogs just because he thought someone was his girlfriend. Apparently, he has a habit of once he sets his sights on a lady friend, he won't let other boys come near.
As for Hermione, I don't think she was too heart broken. He was handsome and all, but she is a very independent woman and isn't looking for a boyfriend right now.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Cupcakes Are For More Than Just Eating

It's no secret that we have a house full. We are literally over run with fuzzy creatures here, but I'm not sure either of us would have it any other way. Sure, some days, it's a bit much and I wish the dogs could take themselves out for bathroom breaks or take themselves to the park, but the majority of the time I love having everyone around. There are always challenges when owning animals, especially when you have four dogs and one cat. The biggest challenge with the cat thus far is making sure he doesn't ninja sneak out the flat door when I'm taking the dogs out. With the dogs there are different challenges. For example, I had to figure out where everyone would eat so that they had their own space. I solved that dilemma by shutting Otis in the bathroom, Hermione eats on one of the couches so she is up above Otis's reach, Roscoe gets the kitchen and Nala eats by the front door. It took some juggling, a few spilled bowls of kibble and some curse words, but that problem was fixed in the first couple days of having four dogs in the house.
Another issue I face sometimes is making sure everyone gets enough exercise. I can always walk Hermione and Otis together which cuts down on walking time, but then that leaves the other two big dogs. Nala gets most of her exercise from working and her biweekly play dates with Toby the huge Chocolate Lab, but I hate leaving her at home when everyone else gets to go out for a run. So, I guess that is my issue. On top of that, Roscoe needs to go as well, but he comes with a whole set of issues.
He was attacked by a dog a few years back and ever since then he gets over stimulated by some dogs. He starts making this ridiculous squawking noise and runs full tilt at them in greeting and depending on the dog's reaction, he can either bark at them or play with them. Either way, this rushing at other people and their dogs is definitely unwanted behavior. I used to try to put him in a "sit stay" when he started making that noise, but it made him even more agitated. That usually resulted in him lunging towards the other dog, barking excitedly and trying to pull me over. That also was not okay. In fact, that was worse because then he looked vicious. So, I was walking him on his own for a while in an attempt to build up his confidence and work out a method that kept him grounded. However, this meant I was walking dogs for three hours or so a day plus the bathroom breaks and I was going insane. So, I had to come up with a new plan.
Thankfully, on occasions Carmen takes pity on me and walks with me which means I can walk all four dogs at once. I would never walk four on my own; three maybe, but not four. It's difficult enough using a cane, heeling Otis and carrying on with two off leash, never mind three off leash.
Aside from the number posing a bit of a problem, I was having troubles wrangling all of them when I called them. If it was just two, recall was pretty good. Nala's is always spot on with the whistle and I started introducing the whistle to Roscoe as a form of recall. However, it didn't always work with him. Hermione is never a problem with recall. Hers is probably the best, but it's because she doesn't want to let you out of her sight. But honestly, I was feeling like a complete idiot trotting around the park shouting,
"Nala come" and then ten seconds later "Roscoe come" and then maybe a minute later "Otis leave it." I felt like my dogs were out of control and people could see that. Of course recall treats helped, but the dogs often took their sweet time coming back as opposed to it being instantaneous. This often resulted in a second, "So and So come."
This went on for a few weeks and it was only getting worse. I knew something had to change, but for some reason I couldn't put my finger on what needed to happen. The funny thing is that if someone had emailed me or called to tell me about this problem and ask for help I would have known what to tell them. I guess being an objective observer is easier than being thrown into the mix of it all. So, I took a step back and tried looking at it as if someone was looking for advice and surprise, surprise-or not-the answer came to me. It was so simple that I berated myself for not thinking of it sooner.
My new secret weapon would come in the form of a cupcake.
No, not a real cupcake-a squeaky cupcake.
Remember the squeaky cupcake I bought Nala for her birthday? Well, the thing is stupidly loud and we really limit how often the dogs actually get to play with it in the flat because it could drive a person mad. Remembering how loud it was, I took it out on one of our walks, all four dogs in tow to see if it was loud enough to lure my rogue beasties back to me.
We got to the park and released the hounds. I let them burn off some steam for a few minutes and then began shamelessly squeaking the crap out of the cupcake. The response was marvelous. All four dogs came charging from across the field and stopped perfectly in front of me. Everyone was asked to sit, given a treat, told to wait and then released again. My recall woes of walking four dogs off leash were over.
I've only been out with the cupcake three times now, but it still works like a charm. I've even used it when walking along and someone's fallen behind. Just one squeak and whoever is scrounging about in the forest quickly catches up. I don't treat reward every time I squeak the cupcake. I keep that for the whistle since I think that the whistle recall is the "you come now" recall. It's the recall that is never to be ignored. So, treats are dispensed with every whistle recall which I use less than the cupcake too keep it novel and important.
I've even used the cupcake to get Roscoe to focus on me when he is getting all worked up about another dog coming towards us. I can have him sit, squeak the cupcake and then drop a treat into his mouth while the other dog is passing and he never moves. This is a bit harder to manage if I have more than one dog since I have to make sure everyone is safe, but it works. It even works if he is off leash and charging away towards another dog in the park. As soon as I hear the squawking start, I pull out my handy dandy cupcake, squeak like a maniac-okay maybe only two squeaks is necessary-and Roscoe turns right around and runs back to me. The 1.50 that I spent on the cupcake has made walks enjoyable again and stress free. I don't even have to sound like an angry dog mommy talking sternly to her dogs when they aren't listening.
I think others are noticing too. Last night I got a compliment on how well trained my dogs were. I just laughed and explained the power of the cupcake. The people I was talking to had a five month old Lab who was a wild one and they said that perhaps the 1.50 investment would have to happen some time in the near future.
So, yeah, I'm still the crazy blind woman with four dogs, but at least I'm the crazy blind woman whose four dogs come back and don't make her look like a fool who hasn't done any training with her dogs.
Thank you squeaky cupcake and may you ever retain your squeaking power.

Friday, June 14, 2013

My War on Poop

This post doesn't need much of an introduction; except that, this is a letter I wrote up for my guide dog instructor to post on a guide dog trainers' forum. We had several discussions during class about guide dog owners needing to pick up after their dogs and the other student and I took it upon ourselves to attempt to educate a few people. We even dubbed our (unofficial) campaign:
Bottoms up!
Cheeky, I know. My apologies if the formatting is all strange: I copied and pasted it over.  Anyway, without further delay here is my letter.

Pick Up or Pack Up

In light of recent events, I’ve come to realise that the issue of pooh needs to be addressed. As a guide dog handler working with my third dog, I’ve always had a strict policy about cleaning up after my dog; a policy that was instilled in me by the guide dog school where I received my first two dogs from. In fact, it’s a policy I’m proud of and feel gratitude towards the school for teaching me the importance of being a responsible citizen. Not that I wasn’t before, but it was made clear to me that if I was not willing to pick up my dog’s pooh then I was not responsible enough to have one. It was said more than once to many students that if they did not pick up then they would be leaving the campus without a dog. As someone who recognised the social importance of picking up, I whole heartedly agreed with their stand. If your only disability is blindness or visual impairment then there is no reason for you not to clean up after your dog in public places. This sentiment was reinforced just the other day. The perception of the public towards guide dog handlers in this country is not a positive one, especially wen it comes to pooh.
“Oh God! Her dog just sh** on the pavement!” A disgruntled passer by exclaimed as my new guide dog gutter relieved. The dog had just begun her business and I had not had time to get the bag out and so my fellow pedestrian was not aware that I had full intentions of cleaning up the mess. My partner, who was standing a few paces away, later told me about how the woman and her companions continued to exclaim loudly about how guide dog owners let their dogs make messes all over the streets of Edinburgh and don’t bother to clean up. Apparently, she continued to glare at me as well, but once I managed to wrestle a green, bio-degradable pooh bag free from my purse, her exclamations fell silent and a look of complete shock and pleasure replaced the disapproving frowns. I have always felt that guide dog handlers should be given the tools to look after their dogs and picking up pooh is one of them, but after such a strong reaction from a complete stranger, my convictions have only grown stronger.
As a part of our guide dog training, we are taught how to feed our dogs, what foot positions to use, the hand signals and the verbal cues. If your Guide Dog Mobility Instructor tells you to:
“tell your dog forward,”
you don’t change the command to:
“Fido mush!”
If pooh pick up was a part of the curriculum, guide dog handlers would at least be given the opportunity to be a responsible citizen if they should choose to be. Perhaps some will refuse, but the majority won’t and sooner or later, guide dog owners may not have such bad reputations. Not only does it save their image as a contributing participant of society, but it may even save a pair of their own shoes when they don’t walk out and step in their dog’s business.
My point was further reiterated when I was out spending my dog in her usual relieving area, leash extended, me singing “busy, busy.” As I stood digging one of my ever handy pooh bags out of my pocket, a person hurrying off to work stopped to thank me for cleaning up after my dog. He said, as he slammed his car door shut,
“you should give some sighted people lessons.”
Maybe I should and maybe, this letter is my way of giving that lesson. Whether you are fully sighted or not, if you are responsible for a dog in any capacity, picking up pooh should not be an option. The guide dog schools in North America make that very clear. The same law that dictates guide dog owners don’t have to clean up after their dogs in the UK also exists in those countries as well, but the guide dog schools, and most of their graduates, feel that it’s the principle of the matter. If we are always clamoring about equality then we need to accept the responsibility that comes with it. We cannot accept equality and just discard the aspects of it that are inconvenient. And, let me tell you, pooh is inconvenient, and not being able to pick it up is even more so. However, refusing to pick it up, or even too learn how to do it, spits on equality and the people who fight for it.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"This Bed is Just Right"

Now, I know no one has really seen photos of Nala, but you need to believe me when I tell you she's a fairly decent sized dog. Even though she's a girl, she weighs 31 kilograms and is quite stalky. She's not as tall as Roscoe and definitely not as tall as Glacier, but she's certainly bigger than Jetta. So, why am I going on and on about Nala's size? Well, in order for you to understand this story, it is very imperative that you understand that Nala is certainly not a small dog.
Yesterday morning, Mr. K and I were sitting in our living room watching a TV series we've both gotten a bit invested in. All of the dogs had already been out for their first bathroom break and I was happily sipping away on my morning coffee. It was the perfect morning: sleepy puppy dogs, Mr. K and I watching our show and coffee. Even Rufio, the cat, had joined us. Not surprising since the cat is having an identity crisis and thinks he's a dog.
I'm not entirely sure how it came about that Mr. K noticed Nala, but when he did he nearly fell over laughing.
"Babe, look at your dog." He said.
"Where is she?" I asked, contemplating climbing out of my cozy position on the couch where I had been snugled in with Rufio, Hermione, my quilt and my coffee.
"Check the cat bed." He replied, still laughing.
I just had to see what he was talking about. Thinking that Nala was using the cat's bed as a pillow I untangled myself and scuttled across the living room floor on my knees, hands outstretched to the place where the cat bed is.
Technically, it's not a cat bed, but a small dog bed instead. It's quite plush and the material is soft and fuzzy. We bought it for Rufio to put in his room, but since he spends a lot of time out in the living room with us, Mr. K moved it out for him. Hermione's used it a time or two, but Hermione really isn't much bigger than the cat. She weighs a wapping 5 kilograms and the bed was designed for a dog her size. So, if we find her crashed out in it, we just smile and pat her because it's cute.
When I reached the dog bed turned cat bed, I nearly fell over laughing. Nala was definitely not using it as a pillow, nor had she just propped her upper body on it.
Oh no.
Nala was in the cat bed. All 31 kilograms of her was somehow crammed in to the bed. She had wrapped herself up into the smallest ball, paws tucked up under her and nose shoved beneath her tail.
How she ever managed it we're not sure, but she stayed there for a good part of the morning. Eventually, she moved to the couch we've dubbed the "dog couch" where she was better able to spread out.
I've never seen the likes of it before, but in our household you never know what will happen next. Hence I'll leave you with my mantra
"there's never a dull moment."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hey Lady! I Got to Go!

Potty training puppies has been a topic more than once on this blog. Trying to be consistent enough to teach your puppy that going outside is good and that inside is bad while being blind was one of the biggest challenges for me when raising a new puppy. When Mr. K said he wanted a kitten, one of the things that won me over in the end was that they pretty much come litter trained, and in our kitten's case, he was most certainly litter trained.
Around about seven weeks most kittens are reliably litter trained. Mom knows what she's doing and she teaches her babies well. Sometimes kittens can have "accidents" just like puppies, but for different reasons. Sometimes they don't like the new litter or perhaps they are used to an open litter tray and the new one is a covered one. Thankfully, Rufio had no problems at all with the new litter and Mr. K put the lid and door on the box in stages in order to make the transition easier for him. There really isn't a lot of human interference needed. Admittedly, just having to scoop the box, which Mr. K has taken responsibility for, is also much easier than having to take an extra body out to "go." It's taken me almost a year to have Hermione to the point where she lets me know she has to go. She used to just pop a squat if I didn't get the message, but now she barks at me. But again, it took a long time. So, when my kitten started telling us he "had to go" I was completely shocked and quite thankful.
Rufio is not like any other cat that I've met. Perhaps it's his breed or perhaps he's just a unique little guy, but he loves being with his people and does everything in his power to be where you are. He also likes to be with his doggie friends and does everything in his power to be with them too. That means, that he comes into the living room and hangs out with us. The only issue is that his litter box is set up in a different room and I shut the door to the living room to keep the dogs from scattering about the flat and also to keep them from barking at people making noise in the shared stairwell. When we first brought Rufio home I tried to figure out just how we would make sure he had access to his box, all the while  keeping everyone else in check, but just couldn't come up with a way. We had thought baby gate, but that wouldn't keep the noise level down and wouldn't keep the barking down. So, I just started letting him out every once in a while to give him time to go use the litter box if he needed.
The thing is, I really didn't need to worry. Unlike Hermione, it took Rufio only a matter of days to teach us his "I gotta go" cue. The first time it happened, I wasn't entirely sure what was happening, but after a time or two and by comparing notes with Mr. K, we came to the conclusion that Rufio definitely lets us know when he has to go. And let me tell you, he's not subtle about it.
Just the other night, he became very adamant about his need to go. I hadn't opened the door in a while and he had just had some food before coming in to hang out with us. I had been on the floor playing with the dogs, and ultimately the cat too, when he began racing about the living room like his a** was on fire and meowing over and over again. At first I didn't know what he was doing. We had just been playing and so I thought this was just a new part of the game. But, when I sat down on the couch and he continued to run zoomies around the living room, yelling his little head off, I realised he was desperate. I promptly got off the couch and opened the living room door for him. He did one more frantic circuit around the room and then shot out the door towards his room, still shouting. He continued his steady stream of meowing until he got to the box. All I heard was the slamming shut of his litter box door, one more muffled meow and all was quiet. He emerged minutes later and came to sit silently on the couch with Otis and I.
I always knew he was a vocal cat, but didn't know just how vocal. Mr. K had told me that he yelled until he got into the litter box, reminding us of a little kid doing a pee dance and singing about their desperation, but I had never witnessed that part of his "I gotta go" routine until the other night. I have to tell you, it's quite convenient that our kitten lets me know he has to go and not to mention quite comical. He's even started shouting about his need even if he's not locked in somewhere. You know Rufio's on a mission when he goes tearing past you, a song of desperation emitting from his little fuzzy body. The end of the performance always comes with a slam from the box door and one more muffled meow.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Let's Talk Dog Breeds

There's no denying that every dog lover probably has a favourite breed. Many become totally devoted to a breed and stick with it their entire lives. Mr. K, for example, would never own anything but a French Bulldog for the rest of his life if he could get away with it-oh and Siberian cats too of course. I personally don't have a preference: I love each of our dogs for their particular breed characteristics as much for their unique personalities. There are also some breeds I'd love to own one day as well, but would require a lot more room. We'd never fit a Bull Mastiff comfortably in this flat or a Great Dane. I'm a sucker for the large breeds. But what sparked this ramble about dog breeds was a couple of articles I've been reading about what dog breeds are child friendly. Some of the dogs on the list didn't surprise me, but some that were left off did.
The Labrador and Golden Retriever showed up on every single list that I've seen so far. I can understand that, but it's interesting that these breeds are listed as child friendly and tend to omit the high amounts of stimulation they need and destruction they can actually cause when puppies. Most of my experience with dogs is with Labradors. I grew up with one and all of my guide dogs have been Labradors, or in the case of Nala, a Labrador cross. They are fantastic dogs, but to read about them online you'd think they were the angel dogs of the dog world. Their temperament is fantastic, but they require a lot of training and because they are a bigger dog they can cause a lot of property damage. I think first time dog owners who end up with a Lab puppy are a bit shocked when their adorable bundle of Yellow/Black/Chocolate fur chews their way through a kitchen cupboard, a deck railing or even a house door. I have had Labs in my life who have done these things, one of whom went on to be one of the best guide dogs I am honoured to know.
I think my Mom was shocked when our Yellow Lab puppy chewed his way through their newly built deck; broke through every kind of tie down they could find; ripped a tree out by the roots; ate the arm off of a chair; and made his way systematically through my Barbie and dress shoe collection. That said, once he was trained, he was probably one of the best dogs around. He used to pull me on roller blades through the house and play fetch with me for hours. So many things were destroyed because we just didn't know what we were doing and got a Lab because they were supposed to be a good family dog. He was, but if my parents didn't have the patience they did, or perhaps they knew I'd just die if they gave him away, he may have ended up one of those Labs you see going up for adoption around age 1 or 2.
I cant' speak for Roscoe's puppy raisers because I've never actually spoken to them myself, but they told Mr. K horror stories of their future Leader Dog hopeful eating a rock and breaking a tooth; chewing his way through an island in their kitchen and many other Labbie puppy antics. Jetta's puppy raisers told me of how she used to steal socks and zoom around the house so fast that no one could catch her. She also never learned recall, despite anyone's best efforts. Basically, Labs are great family dogs, but be prepared to have to do some training: they don't just show up as a great family dog and can quickly get out of control if they aren't trained properly...just like any dog really. I think that label of being "a great family dog" allows them to get away with things other breeds can't, like jumping up when puppies for example, and then things quickly snowball. I've seen plenty of Labs who have been granted a "get out of jail free" card just because they are Labs.
There is a Black Lab that we run into quite often when out walking. He's a big boy; probably bigger than Roscoe and maybe even bigger than Glacier. He's not neutered and he drags his owner everywhere. He jumps on people and has gone after Roscoe and Otis in an unhappy manner. However, most passers by, including his owner, brushes his snarling off because he "is a Labrador and a good family dog." If anyone saw a German Shepherd or a Pitbull doing that kind of thing they'd have a fit. I'm not saying don't get a Lab, but rather, get to know some Lab puppies first. Maybe puppy sit one and then decide if a Labrador is for you. They are great dogs, but they take effort; probably more than the internet makes it out to be.
The one breed that I never see on those "best dogs for kids" lists is the French Bulldog and I am completely baffled as to why not. Now, you may be thinking:
"Jess you're being biased. You have a French Bulldog."
But, honestly, I'm not. I also have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and have owned Dachshunds and a Great Dane Lab in the past and out of all of the breeds that I have experience with, I would say that French Bulldogs are probably the best breed for pretty much anyone; unless you want your dog to go jogging with you, then perhaps you should stick to the Lab or Collie. However, if you live in an apartment, in a house, if you have children or are a retired person, the French Bulldog is for you. I think part of the reason they may not be as popular as some of the other breeds is because of their price, but every penny is worth it. To be more concise, here is a list of the pros and cons of having a Frenchie so you can decide for yourself.
1. They are actually much smarter than people think and although they have a Bulldoggie disposition of being stubborn sometimes, their need to please is much stronger than that Bulldoggieness and they are easily trained.
2. They are very easy to house train. They like to be clean and so learning to do their business outside happens quickly.
3. They are the best snugglers you could ever ask for. I'm not kidding. Under the covers, over the covers, on the couch, on the floor...wherever you may be you can be guaranteed your Frenchie will be with you.
4. Not a bad bone in their body. They can technically develop "little dog syndrome" if not socialised properly, but that can happen with any dog.
5. They want to be everyone's friend. Otis must greet everyone at the park and so gentle about it. Nothing phases him. He trots up to children in strollers, on bikes or walking and introduces himself. He likes every dog, as long as they are friendly to him and will even run around with the biggest or smallest dogs at the park. He's not picky.
6. They are pretty easy to groom. A Zoom Groom brush over his coat and a light combing to make him shiny and he's ready to go. You do have to wipe out his wrinkles for him and make sure his big bat-like ears stay debris free, oh and sometimes you may have to wipe his butt with a baby wipe, but he doesn't need fancy washes/brushes/perfumes Etc.
7. They don't need a lot of exercise. This could be a pro or con, depending on your lifestyle. Two to 3 20 minute walks a day is good enough for these little guys. That said, he also joins us on our hour long walk and does fine. They can also over heat due to their noses being short, so exercise should be monitored. If they are in a home with kids, parents should supervise play to ensure the dog isn't over heating.
9. They can drown very easily. Because the dog is so top heavy and their noses so short, Frenchies can drown in even small rain puddles. So, if you have a pool and the kids are in it, supervise your Frenchie.
10. They are a playful breed who likes to clown around and can easily be re-directed if misbehaving. If the dog is chewing on something it shouldn't, handing it a toy it can have usually works.
The most important thing is though, if you decide that a French Bulldog is for you, make sure you find a reputable breeder because if you don't, everything I just wrote won't count for anything. Good breeders breed for temperament and health first and foremost. Otis's breeder is fabulous and it shows in that Otis is incredibly sweet, comical, trainable and he didn't snort or over heat as easily as other Frenchies that we've encountered. Not every breed is a perfect fit for every life situation so I guess the most important thing is to research and actually meet specimens of the breed that you want. Just reading about them isn't good enough-we've learned that the hard way. The French Bulldog might not be for your family, but I thought it was about time that the Frenchie be added to the "best breeds for your kids" list somewhere.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Nala the Exploer and Ranger Roscoe

It turned out to be another great day here today. This morning when Carmen and I went for a run, it was overcast and a bit cool. We were both sure that it would rain and I was glad that Hermione accompanied us on our 3 mile run. She is still probably the most high energy out of all of the dogs and if she doesn't get out every day, she can be a holy terror. I got home showered and then Mr. K and I wandered over to the cafe for an early lunch. Nala did a good job working over, but it really isn't a very far walk and doesn't really challenge her in terms of working. So, I decided that we'd get out later in the day, even if it was raining, to get some more work in. However, after lunch I was sleep, perhaps it was the run or perhaps it was the split pea mint soup with half a sandwich, but I fell into a deep sleep on the couch; snuggled under the blankets with Hermione and Otis both asleep on my feet. I didn't sleep long, but it must have been a good sleep because when I woke up, I was ready to go again.
I really should have stayed home and washed the giant pile of dishes growing in my kitchen. I swear they must procreate over night. Instead, I texted Carmen to ask if she wanted to go on a walk. I figured that since Hermione had already been out earlier that we'd take Roscoe and Nala would work. We discussed different destinations, but settled on exploring an area that we've never ben too despite it being less than a ten minute walk from my flat.
Both dogs were pretty excited as we exited the flat, but both sat patiently waiting for Carmen's arrival. Once we set off, the excitement got the better of them and Roscoe was pulling strongly on his lead and Nala was yanking my arm out of the socket. We had them sit, readjusted some gear and set off again, with some better results. They were still excited, but I think they needed a small time out to re-focus.
Normally, we go down to the cycling path and walk along there. There is over 45 kilometres of trail and we've obviously haven't been anywhere near discovering all of its hidden treasures. However, I wanted a change of scenery. The night before we had been out walking the dogs and run into a lot of rude people. Cyclists were speeding up on purpose when they got close to the dogs and other pedestrians who had their dogs off leash would have a freak fit if my dogs sniffed theirs; even if theirs initiated the greeting. So, I suggested we walk out to the lighthouse that is nearby instead and see where the path took us.
The first part of our walk took us along some residential streets and then out on to a small water front area where there are a few restaurants facing a small bay. We walked along the water, enjoying the sunshine and the smells of sea water and delicious food cooking. Nala was great pausing at curbs, stairs and any other surface changes that came up. Even if Carmen crossed a street, she waited for me to give her "forward" cue before stepping off the curb. This indicated to me that she was listening to me and paying attention to her job.
After a brief tour of the water front, we turned down a gravel path and followed it along. The water was still beside us and it was nice listening to the waves crashing on the shore. There is an entrance from this path into the gym that I go to and Nala tried to take me there even though we've never walked this particular route before. What a smart little cookie.
 Eventually our walk took us into a large green space with barbecues. There were already a few people setting up to picnic so we didn't unleash the dogs, but we did meet one woman walking her dog who said that she free runs her dog in that area all of the time.
I'm shocked we've never been there before. It's cyclist free and clean. The only thing you would have to be aware of was the barbecues, but if you went during certain times of the day I am sure picnics would be few and far between. The woman also told us that when the castle sets off fireworks you can see them from that spot and a lot of people gather there to watch.
Again, why haven't we found this spot before?
I definitely think it's a place we'll make an effort to visit again with our own picnic and some, probably, very excited dogs.
After our meander around, Carmen and I decided that we weren't quite finished being out and about. So, we headed to a dog friendly pub that sits facing the water. There is a patio outside as well which we originally thought to sit at, but quickly moved indoors when we realised that the smokers were all congregating out there. We sat at a small table in a part of the pub called the "conservatory" because the sun shines in strongly there and the staff brought Nala the Explorer and Ranger Roscoe some much needed water. Carmen and I opted for a glass of wine since it is Friday after all and shared a plate of toasted pita bread and humus. I only ordered the small glass since I hadn't eaten since lunch, but when I stood up I realised that I should have had dinner before my glass of wine. I followed carmen up to the counter to pay, where Nala and Roscoe were both offered a dog cookie, and could hardly follow Nala's guiding movements. I certainly wasn't drunk, but I certainly was buzzed.
How on Earth did that happen?
I'm not a huge drinker and it's been a while since I've had an alcoholic beverage, but seriously?! Half of a glass of wine and I think I was tottering about. I can actually drink quite a bit before feeling it at all and so it was shocking. I told Carmen she had to guide me home and her response was:
"Who's going to guide me?"
Apparently, the wine had hit her hard too.
"It'll be the drunk leading the drunk blind."
The buzz had thankfully pretty much worn off by the time we walked home. I was glad since I had four dogs to feed and relieve still and I didn't want to be floundering about down on the cycling trail trying to get my dogs to "park," or "busy busy," or "potty..." whatever their command may be to get their business done.
So, what was the moral of today's story?
Exploring good and so is drinking wine, but only if you have someone else who is drunk to guide the drunk blind person home.

Monday, June 03, 2013

I'm a Chatter

There's no denying it: I can talk. When I first meet someone the same can't be said as I'm pretty shy, but once I get to know you, good luck getting me to shut up. Maybe that's why I like to write so much: I like to blab. I've always known that I'm a talker, but today I was interviewed by a magazine that wants the story of how Mr. K and I met and details of our small farm. I think I talked that poor woman's ear off. I never know what to say when someone is interviewing me.
When I was swimming, I used to think of some of the questions I'd get asked and prepare some answers just to keep me on topic. It usually worked. I also used to do this to make sure I didn't forget to thank someone who really deserved recognition, but these sort of "life" interviews get me all turned around. I don't know what's important or what is necessary, so I just end up blabbing on and on and on. I'm hoping the writer doesn't think I'm a crazy yapping dog lady.
On the other hand, I suppose she did ask the questions.
She's supposed to call me and read the story to me before publishing it. I'm interested to see what makes it into the story and what doesn't. All of this yapping has really reiterated to me that I really need to write a book. But, as I've expressed before, I have no idea where to start or what aspects to write about. It was like every time she asked me a question, story after story poured out; way too many to write in a magazine article. Way too many!
I talked to her for probably an hour and we didn't even touch on the sporting aspect of my life; living as a  blind person (which was kind of nice actually); or navigating through three degrees. Not that university careers are something to write a book about necessarily. That just brings me back to what would I write about and how would I structure it?
Perhaps I have to stop looking at it from the perspective of "who will read it?", to: "I'm writing for my friends and family and me and if someone else likes it, then great."
Either way, I have to stop yammering on about writing a book and just do it. :)

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Rufio the Dog Walker

Surprisingly, we've actually had a nice spring thus far. According to the BBC it's the coldest spring in fifty years, but at least this year we have sunshine and little to no wind. I don't think last spring was warmer since I distinctly remember wearing a winter coat on July 15th last year, but what do I know? With all of this wonderful weather, I've been trying to take advantage of being outside since you never know when it will go away here. So, that means a lot of extended walks for the dogs and me. On Thursday evening, it wasn't just the regular walkers out though. Since it was so mild out, Mr. K decided to join us and he and I took the entire family to the park.
That's right. Every last one of us went to the park-two humans, four dogs and one kitten.
It probably looked absolutely ridiculous. I always get comments about how many dogs I have:
"How can you control all of them?"
"Wow, so many?"
"You are crazy."
Now, I show up in the park with not only my four dogs that are apparently difficult to control and make me a nutter, but also with a kitten.
Knowing that Rufio was going to be a show cat, Mr. K and I invested in a small over the shoulder carrying bag for him. It really just looks like a "messenger bag" with an opening at the top for the cat to stick his head out if he so wants to do so. Mr. K is tall enough that I felt comfortable with him carrying the bag-if any dogs were too interested in the bag, the cat would be up high enough that he should be safe. We also have a small harness for Rufio that clips into the bag, so he can climb in and out of the bag, but can't escape. One thing that judges like to see is a friendly cat, hence, we figured bringing him to the park was a good place for socialisation.
We found a bench and parked ourselves there, letting the dogs roam free and visit other dogs and people. Roscoe had to be put back on leash at one point for a time out as he thought breaking up someone's picnic and not coming when called was a good idea, but other than that there weren't any problems. Mr. K just set Rufio's bag on the bench beside him and whenever people passed by and saw the cat, he told them they could pet him if they wanted. The more we have strangers touch him the better. Strangely enough, he did great. He only had one freak out moment when one little yappy dog went barking and bouncing about Mr. K's ankles, chasing Hermione, but he was up high and safe. He calmly chilled out in his bag and watched the world go by. On the way out of the park he caught sight of a squirrel which Hermione promptly chased up a tree. Rufio was very interested, but didn't try to get away from Mr. K.
We stayed for quite a while since the dogs were having fun, as were we. A lot of passers by stopped to admire Otis and a group of teenagers stopped to try to teach Roscoe how to play fetch. They would throw the stick, Roscoe would chase, pick up stick and then break it into little bits. Once or twice they saw progress when he'd return it half way then crunch, but the game ended when Otis got the stick first and made off with it. Roscoe also made fast friends with a little Border Collie who wouldn't leave his side. Nala made a game of taunting Roscoe and then running as fast as she could away from him. She seemed to enjoy the game and it meant both dogs were well exercised. Hermione was busy chasing anything that blew in the wind, chasing Otis and introducing herself to anyone who walked in her near vicinity. Mr. K and I enjoyed ourselves as well, chatting with the Border Collie's people and the many other people who stopped to pet Rufio or one of the dogs. It was a very relaxing evening which resulted in four tired dogs and one very sleepy kitten. As the old saying goes:
"a tired dog is a good dog."
I think that applies to kittens too. Rufio was so sleepy when we got home, he forgot to get up to kitten mischief and just slept.
Time got away from us and by the time we realised we should start heading home, Rufio was beginning to get a bit restless. Nothing too major, but he would climb out of his bag and up to Mr. K's chest, insisting that Mr. K carry him that way. I think part of it was because he wanted to look around. I definitely think it's something we should do more often. It's good to expose Rufio to new environments, but honestly, nothing seems to ruffle him.
The sun is out again today in full force so I'm thinking a trip back to the park this evening with Mr. K and everyone is in order.