Friday, May 30, 2014

We Have a Visiter

Just when you think you can't fit anymore, you manage to fit another. Someone very near and dear to my heart is staying with us. She's needing a little TLC due to an ear infection and so I brought her home with me last night.
Can you guess who it is?
Let me give you a hint:
she's small, Black and has a lot of "'tude."
If you guessed Jetta, then you are right. And let me tell you, she's her usual Jetta self. I've already managed to lose her twice and she hasn't even been here for 24 hours.
Last night was her first Great Escape. If you have been reading this blog for a while now you may remember a post titled "The Great Escape" quite a few years back. It was about Jetta "jetting" out an open door and me losing her for a while. Jetta never did master the skill of recall. More accurately, she refused to master the skill.
Last night I put everyone out in the back for last relief time of the night. Our fence is slightly questionable, so Otis either has to be watched or put on a line because he's figured out how to get out. I foolishly thought that Jetta wouldn't be able to get out because...well, she's old. I didn't expect her to climb up the stump and up and over the fence. But, apparently she did.
Once we realised she was gone, Mr. K and I went out looking for her. One of the neighbour's friends was waiting for a cab to go home and so helped us locate the meandering Jetta. The difference between the 13.5 year old Jetta and the 6 year old Jetta is that the older one didn't run away when we approached and snapped a leash on her. She happily trotted back to the house with us and promptly went up to bed. She slept well through the night and didn't get up until I did this morning when Hermione woke me up to be let out of her crate.
This morning is when I lost Jetta the second time.
I began my routine of bringing everyone out for their first morning relief time. Hermione and Otis go first since they have smaller bladders and may go inside if I don't get them out right away. We walked over to the little park at the end of our street and Otis peed right away. I knew there was another dog or person around because Otis was super excited, but I wasn't sure where the other being was. As we walked along, I got closer and an older man whom I see nearly every morning called out that it was just him and his smaller dog. He also has a full sized Beagle that he seems concerned may accidentally hurt the little dogs. Hermione got excited and raced to the end of her extenda leash which had been frayed because of the cat chewing on it. The frayed bit snapped and the leash came coiling back in, minus Bean. The guy was really nice and offered me his extenda leash, but I assured him that I only ever put the leash on Hermione for consideration of other people. She hardly ever wore a leash when we were in Scotland. She mastered the skill of recall with no problems. I finished my round of the park and returned with a leashed Otis and an unleashed Hermione, who beat me back to the front door.
The next two big dogs went out without incident and then the search for Jetta began. I called her and wandered through the bottom floor of our townhouse, but couldn't find her. I began to worry that she had gone out the front door when I was taking everyone else out. I really began to panic because it was about the time that people would be going to work and I didn't want her to get hit by a car.
Finally, I went up to check if she had stayed in the bedroom, but she hadn't. Mr. K came downstairs with me and heard her collar jingling in the basement. He went down and retrieved her from her exploration.
What a bum.
We went out to "park" and she trotted along beside me as if she hadn't been hiding away for the last ten minutes. She sniffed and quite enjoyed herself. When we got back to the house from our round around the park, she tried to continue our walk down the street, but I hustled her back inside. She's pretty spry for an senior citizen.
So, that is how our first day with our visiter started. It's a bit of a learning curve. You get so used to what your dogs do, how they react, what their habits are and when you bring a new (also old) one into the mix, everything goes a bit crazy. It's nothing we can't handle though and really, once she was home safely, we had a good chuckle.
It's good to know that my little firecracker hasn't changed one bit.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Happy Birthday, "Grand Lassie!"

It's Nala's birthday!
She turns three today. Honestly, she kind of seems older. I feel like I've had her longer than a year, and in a very good way.
This sounds so cliche, but every time we get out and work this girl blows my mind. Just the other day Tenie, Mr. K and I went for ice cream. I was following along behind and suddenly Nala stopped dead. I was hardly paying attention since I was busy sucking down Cotton Candy ice cream. I stuck my foot out and found the foot and a half drop off that would take me on to the grass, that would eventually get me to the picnic table we were headed for. That said, if she hadn't stopped, we may have been off to the emergency room for crutches and a tenser bandage instead of a leisurely snack listening to the crickets sing. Good girl, Nala. Her stop was so abrupt and definitive that even Mr. K was like, "whoa."
So what do you give a working dog for her birthday?
Work. :D
Some would suggest she gets a day off, but Nala would prefer to work. That said, we're going to go down to the boardwalk so that it is fun work. A lot of people, dogs, birds...the river. It should be fun. I'm also making doggie friendly ice cream for Nala and her doggie friends to share.
Happy 3rd, beautiful Lassie. XOXOXOXXOXO

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mud, Snow and Total Bliss

Sunday marked Mother's Day here in Canada and the United States. I've been teasing Mr. K that I'm a mom and should celebrate Mother's Day because of all of my fur kids. I didn't get any cards or flowers, but he did make my mom and I a very tasty breakfast and then Mom and I headed out with the beasties for a much needed leash free run. (A hike for the humans).
The spring weather this year has reminded me of Scotland. As I sit ere writing this the rain is pattering down outside again. We seem to get about one day a week where the sun makes a strong appearance and then it's gone again. I wouldn't say Sunday was sunny during the earlier part of the day, but it wasn't raining either. So, we decided to risk it.
Four excited dogs loaded and rubber and hiking boots thrown into the mix as well and we headed out to an area where we used to go Rainbow Trout fishing when I was a kid. We used to drive out on the weekends and stay in my Grandpa's trailer Tenie and I have many fond memories of splashing through mud holes, through creeks and rivers. Campfires and marsh mellows at night and usually lots of mosquitoes.
It was perfect.
This  time around there weren't any trailers and, thankfully, no mosquitoes. We couldn't even drive down the road to the unofficial camping spot because the road was water, mud and snow. I had hoped we'd be able to do the walk up to the waterfalls since that hike is actually a hike with hills, bridges, creeks and just more challenging terrain. However, for us to go all that way we would have had to leave Otis at home. There is no way his little French Piggie legs would have made it from the start of the road where we parked all of the way past the old camp spot to the waterfalls and back. So, we set the camping spot as our goal and set out; Nala, Roscoe and Hermione charging ahead, mud and snow spraying up behind them. Sir French Piggie had to remain on leash since his curiosity could be dangerous. There are a lot of watery places along the road and since French Bulldogs drown very easily, having him yank my arm off for nearly two hours was much preferred than him getting into an unsafe predicament.
Mom and I walked along just listening to the noises around us. Mostly all we heard were the thundering paws of the two bigger dogs, but there were birds singing, mostly Blue Jays, and in some spots you could hear the river running by. Whenever possible, Otis attempted to drink his way along the road. There were watery mud holes the whole way and he would jog along scooping up mouthfuls. Despite Hermione only weighing 12 pounds, she kept up easily with the bigger dogs. If Nala went galloping past, you could be sure Hermione was hot on her heels.
We saw one vehicle coming out on our way in-a big truck that was able to slosh through the boggy road. I heard the vehicle long before it was visible and blew the whistle to have the dogs come back. They impressed me with their prompt return, despite all of the distractions around them. All three mud covered beasts waited patiently while the truck past and then charged on again.
When we finally reached our destination, Otis had stopped pulling a bit. I think the little guy was starting to run out of steam. We walked down the normally rock strewn hill that was now entirely mud, to the river's edge. The water was so high. We stood with our toes nearly in it, in a spot where you normally stand on dry land. Our heavy snow falls this winter coupled with the very wet spring has made for a very high and fast running river. Nala went up to her elbows, but either the water was too cold or the current too strong because she immediately came right back out. There were no camps to be seen. We didn't stay long as we could feel the sky trying to spit more water out; not that hurrying back would help us now: we had the whole way back to get rained on.
We turned around and began the hike/walk back to Mom's SUV. The dogs were pretty tired by this point. Nala and Roscoe stayed pretty close on our heels. Every once in a while something must have smelled great or they saw something because they would take off at full tilt, but would always return, tongues lolling. I heard another motor which served as another recall exercise opportunity. Whistle blew and three still very wet and muddy dogs came directly to me. Treats into mouths and we held on to collars just to make sure no one darted out in front of the ATV coming up behind us. It was a good thing too because there was a Black Lab on the passing 4-wheeler and my dogs were very interested in being friends. I think the other dog was too because the woman on the back of the bike had to hold on to him/her pretty tightly. Once it was around a corner, everyone, barring Otis, were released again and Nala took the opportunity to chase Roscoe down and engage in some mud wrestling. You can always count on Nala to exercise our old man. Not that Roscoe is particularly old at seven. In fact, we've always called him our "old man" even when he was younger. It's just his disposition.
We carried on past a giant tree that had fallen down. Someone had cut it into pieces with a chain saw; probably so they could actually get past it. There were several ten foot or so chunks all along the road. It must have been a massive tree. The scent of freshly cut wood was so familiar and sweet. There was another spot where the smell of fresh pine filled your nostrils A huge pine tree bough was down. It looked like it had broken: maybe from the heavy snows, winds or maybe both.
It was so nice to just walk along, enjoying the fresh air and not having to really worry about other people's dogs attacking ours.  That is the one thing i love about living up here: if you want to be alone in the forest, you have plenty of opportunities. I really don't get out completely alone of course, as I usually need a human guide to get me through. However, walking with Mom was really nice. We didn't talk much, but rather enjoyed the quiet around us. I'm really kind of a nature nut. I grew up camping and was one of those kids who never wore shoes in the summers. If we were out camping or fishing, I'd choose to sit in the dirt, on a rock or a log instead of the folding lawn chairs that we had brought along. Even now, I'm like that.
As we neared the SUV the rain started coming down a bit harder. We really weren't that far from the vehicle and the dogs were already so wet and muddy that it really didn't matter. However, we made it back and were all loaded up again before the rain really came down. I managed to struggle out of my mud covered rubber boots and back into my sneakers before we started the 45 minute or so drive back to the city.
It's funny how before that walk I had been struggling with being incredibly grumpy and after it was like I was a whole new person. I love watching the dogs race around and have a good time. Hiking (or slogging through mud and snow) always seems to reset things for me. I'm hoping this weekend we get another nice, or sort of nice day, so we can go out hiking again.
Having that tasty breakfast and then going out with Mom and the dogs is better than any Mother's Day card or flowers; at least to me. :)

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Worth Writing About

I hadn't meant to have such a long absence. Honestly, there have been things to write about, like Kim and I going to my Dad's classrooms and introducing Nala and Kayla to the kids during National Service dog week...and our adventure to Walmart where there was a Leader Dogs booth set up and I got to snuggle my favourite German Shepherd puppy in training. (Notice I said "favourite German Shepherd puppy" because I have a lot of favourite puppies). But, every time I go to write, I'm often too exhausted from our outings and then I never get around to it.
However, I do have to write about this.
I have finally managed to get in touch with Nala's puppy raisers (or puppy walkers if you live in the UK). Over the last year, I have tried, but my communications just never went through. Once we moved, I sort of stopped trying, but after going to the prison and interacting with the puppy raisers there, hearing Patti's story about her most recent Leader Dog graduate Dutch  and spending so much time with Kim, I knew I had to get a hold of them. So, I emailed Nala's school and asked the administrator there to please pass on my email address to Nala's puppy walkers. That way, the ball was in their court-just in case they didn't want to talk to me.
I waited and hoped that I would hear from them and today we exchanged our first emails.
I am so, so, so thrilled.
Nala has had such a profound impact on my life that I think it is so important for her "Before Me" family to know what a fantastic job they did; especially since, I think, Nala was their first puppy.
Her "Before Me" mom didn't write much as it's late in the UK, but one statement stuck with me: she said that Nala was always a "Grand Lassie" and nothing could be more true.
I can't wait to learn all about my Grand Lassie's puppyhood and the amazing people who welcomed her into their home for a year, then gave her up so that she could be my Grand Lassie.
It's feeding time here for our furry bunch, but that was definitely worth writing about.
PS: Guess what? She ate the kids' socks too. Looks like ours weren't the only ones that passed the Nala taste test. LOL