MORNING COFFEE AND TOP OF THE WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Coffee!


Oh, what a beautiful morning!

The sun is not shining because it rained all night, off and with a lot of lightning and thunder. Although our light dimmed briefly, we never lost power. Oddly enough, we were watching the weather when the main storm was passing. They were saying that the storms hustling south to north through Massachusetts were going to drop the humidity and the temperature.

For the next four or five days, we are going to have normal temperatures in the low seventies with more or less normal amounts of humidity.

Considering it was too hot yesterday to make a simple trip to Garry’s barber and finally get a proper trim for his head — because Garry, who had been outside cleaning up after the dogs — said “It’s just too hot” and that, from Garry is a real statement.

Garry likes warm weather. Garry likes hot weather. But this weather? Technically, it was just 96-degrees yesterday, but with almost 80% humidity, and not a breath of breeze, it felt well over 100-degrees.

Air has been like hot soup. The dogs refused to go out. Too hot.

Bonnie

Bonnie, it turns out, has been resisting going out because she is nearly blind. We knew she was going blind for a couple of years. She has a kind of chronic dry eye that even though we put drops and clean her eyes out four or five times every day, one eye is completely clouded up and the vet says it is unlikely she can see anything through it and the other, while still functional, is rapidly developing a serious cataract and it won’t be very long before she can’t see.

She is 11 years old. We have had her with us since she was a mere 9 weeks old, a rescue from a puppy mill. The better news? She is a bit pudgy, but not excessively. As far as Dr. Marcy is concerned, she is in fantastic shape for her age.


For her age.


I hate that wording. I’m not fond of it when it’s about me, but it gives me the cold shivers when it’s about one of the dogs. She has reached the end when “stuff comes up.” Lumps and bumps. She’s a great eater and basically, a very happy little dog, but she is getting old.

I hate it when they get old. It’s so soon. Wasn’t it yesterday I stood in the freezing, snowy yard at three in the morning begging Bonnie to DO SOMETHING so frozen mama could go back to bed?

She loves the snow. She was tiny, yet she bounced through it like one of those high-bounce rubber balls. She still loves snow. But not rain or heat.

We took in the Duke originally because Bonnie had become so inactive we felt her lack of vigor would take years off her life. She and the Duke have formed a real bond. He goes up and down the steps with her, apparently (on some doggish level) aware that she can’t see properly. No depth perception. He pushes her in and out of the doggy door.

With Duke around, she is much more active. The Duke makes her play with him. She doesn’t just lie on the sofa anymore. She plays and this is a good thing.

Duke shepherds both Scotties up and down the stairs, even though there isn’t a speck of shepherd in his Asian breed mix. He looks like a Shih Tzu, but he’s twice the size and he has a funny squashy, uneven face, one ear up, one ear down. Visually, he’s a dead ringer for a Papillon — except he is very much larger. But he has that face, minus the one downward-pointing ear.

The Duke

Meanwhile, against all odds, he shepherds both Scotties and us. He is always inches from Garry or me when we go anywhere. If it’s the bathroom and we shut the door, he lies across the threshold and waits. If we are off to bed, he settles in on the floor across the doorway. No night visitor will pass him by.

Duke and Bonnie!

Every night. On the wood floor. It is not that he is velcro on us. More like we are velcro on him. I feel like I should put a bed in the hall for him, but the hallway is really narrow. I’d trip and fall over it.

He wants my coffee and muffin, though first and foremost, he wants my muffin. With the lemon curd on it. If I turn my back for half a second, he’s nailed that muffin. Gone. He looks utterly innocent.


“What muffin? Me? I didn’t eat your muffin. Prove it. Show me the evidence.”


Not a crumb remains on his snout.

Drinking coffee in the morning is one part coffee, two parts fending off The Duke. I let him have the crumbs left on the plate few as they are. That level of loyalty surely deserves at least the crumbs — and anyway, he has probably swiped half of it while I wasn’t looking. He is very fast.

BARKING QUESTIONS – Marilyn Armstrong

Barking Questions – If only we could bark a few answers!

Our dogs bark at us. They look us in the eyes, then they bark. So we have conversations with them.

Duke

Duke: “Bark, bark.” Short whimper.

Marilyn: “What?”

Duke: “BARK bark BARK bark BARK.”

Marilyn: ” Garry, do you know what he wants?”

Gibbs

Garry: “No. Duke, you’ll have to speak up. What do you want?”

Bonnie: “BARK! Bark, bark, bark.”

Garry: “I’m sorry, we just don’t speak dog.”

Bonnie

Dogs look at each other, clearly frustrated. I’m sure they want something and apparently, whatever it is, it’s quite specific. I get when it’s food because then they bark at the plate or the fork or try very hard to get right in there and eat some. But the rest of it?

Bark? Bark bark bark? Definitely a question.

They need to learn to speak more people-like. Or we need to find a better way to ask them the bigger question. Why don’t you dogs speak English? Are you aliens? Do you have green cards? Are you guys legal?

FOWC with Fandango — Question
RDP THURSDAY PROMPT – BARK

GARRY DESERVES THE DUKE, BUT WHAT ABOUT ME? – Marilyn Armstrong

Duke is not our first dog. We’ve had a big selection of hounds, terriers, and mutts of various backgrounds, sizes, ages. Somehow or other they have all fit in here because anyone or anything can fit in here, assuming they want to. For years, there has been great howling and yapping and barking in this house and that’s the way we seem to like it.

Duke

The thing we’ve never had, however, are truly obedient dogs. We don’t demand obedience, so we don’t get it. I wasn’t a very good disciplinarian as a mom, either.

Discipline makes me feel guilty. Who am I to demand obedience? Who do I think I am anyway?

Garry is worse. Garry was born with a gene that says “whatever you tell me to do, I won’t do it.” It’s a special piece of DNA that screams “Oh yeah? Who’s gonna make me?” Even in the Marine Corps, when his drill instructor yelled at him, he laughed.

It got him a lot of days scrubbing bathrooms with toothbrushes, but it’s in his blood. He cannot help himself. I cannot help him either. He’s a tough nut. People think he’s so easy-going … and he is … unless you get him mad. Then he isn’t. Easy-going.

Duke is the dog Garry deserves. Duke also has no grip on “Do what they tell you. Be a GOOD dog.” You stare at Duke and he stares back. You can see every inch of Duke screaming “Oh yeah? Who’s gonna make me?”

Certainly not Garry. They try to stare each other down, but Garry starts laughing long before he manages to get obedience … and anyway, I don’t think Duke can do it. It’s not in him. The other dogs, if they hear that “tone” in my voice will do what I say because they hear the “alpha” note — and figure they ought to behave, even if it’s just a few minutes.

Not Duke. Nope. Never. He doesn’t do “obey.” He would make a feral cat look like a well-trained pup.

Unless I’m holding a piece of chicken. Chicken is another level of training and if I actually needed Duke to behave, I would need a lot of chickens. Possibly a whole cow. Or an entire flock of sheep and maybe a school of shrimp. Do shrimp swim in a school or is that just fish?

Anyway, Duke is the dog Garry needed. He is the dog that will go eyeball-to-eyeball with Garry until they are both laughing themselves silly. Well, Garry does most of the laughing, but I swear Duke is grinning.

So we know why Garry wound up with Duke, but what did the two Scotties and I do to deserve him?

NOT VERY SENSUAL – Marilyn Armstrong

Boyoboy, I can’t think of any time in my life I have felt LESS sensual. Life just isn’t like that these days. It seems to be more about regularity, eating right, hoping nothing breaks, and wondering if the retirement money will last as long as your life and what happens if it doesn’t?

I think that’s where dogs become more important. They are furry, fluffy, cozy, and snuggly. They are more than a best pal. They are the other “person” who remembers to kiss and hug you. Dogs love you and you can safely love them back. All they want is a biscuit and some playtime or a walk.

The longer I live, the rarer such behavior becomes. Someone who loves without wanting something back. Amazing, eh?

RDP #79 : Dog

ABOUT THOSE PETS – Marilyn Armstrong

Fur Children Questions

Originally extracted from:

https://pressingpatience.com/2018/08/04/questions-about-the-furbabies/


1.  Do you have any pets? If so, what kind?

We currently have three dogs.

All them dogs
More dogs!

Two Scottish Terriers and a mutt of Asian extraction.

2.  How long have you had your current pet(s)?

We’ve had Bonnie since she was 9 weeks old and she is now 11. After that, We’ve had Gibbs for two years and Duke for one year

3.  What’s the longest period of time you’ve lived with a pet? 

As a puppy … 2007

Bonnie wins that one. We got her when she was only 9 weeks old. And suddenly, she’s 11. How did that happen?

4.  What type of animals do you generally gravitate towards when adopting pets?

At this point? Dogs.

Feeding time
Sleeping time

For a long time, we didn’t live anywhere we could keep dogs, so we didn’t have them, but once we could, we got one, then another. And then some more.

5.  What type of animal do you think is the easiest to care for as a pet?

Pets are not “easy” really. When they are healthy and happy and not old and cranky, they are all easy. But time does to dogs what it does to people.

The last months of Bishop.

They develop physical issues, including arthritis and cancer and because their lives are so short, it feels like no time passes between puppyhood and old age.

6.  Do any of your pets have annoying habits that you can’t break them of?

Gibbs barks continuously when Owen is around the house. NO idea why because he doesn’t do that with anyone else. Duke tends to try to bully the Scotties.

BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK

They don’t like it and neither do I, but he has a passionate yearning to be top dog and he’s pushy. The Scotties are not pushy, so he gets away with it.

7.  What, in your opinion, is the most difficult thing about being a pet owner?

Vet bills. And losing your dogs to age.

8.  Do any of your animals have amusing traits that are particular to them?

All of them.

Bonnie is just adorable, stubborn, funny. Duke lived most of his life in a cage, but he has come a long way in a short time.

Gibbs

He’s quite the cuddler these days when The Duke doesn’t try to muscle him out of the way.

Crazy Duke got groomed

The Duke is totally wacko. Seriously nuts.

9.  Which type of pet do you think requires the most care?

Fish, absolutely. Fish tanks always need care.

10.  Was there a furbaby that you bonded with more closely than any other?

Griffin, our big boy PBGV was my favorite. He didn’t live nearly long enough.

Beautiful Griffin

But I love them all. He was just such a big heap of love and he made me laugh.

11.  Do you spoil your pets? In what way?

Basically, they run the joint and let us live here and feed them. We are very good about that.

12.  How do your pets react to strangers in the yard? at the door? in the house?

It depends on the stranger. Mostly, strangers don’t come into the yard. I have signs everywhere warning people away.

Incarcerated!

It’s not to protect them. It’s to protect the dogs from them.

13.  Do you tend to anthropomorphize your animals? If so, how far do you take it? For example: Do you dress them in clothing?

Not so much as I’ve gotten older. I often wish I could get into their heads and understand them better.

14.  Have you ever had what might be considered “unusual” or exotic pets?

We had a pair of ferrets, Bonnie and Clyde. They were adorable, but they weren’t our pets. They were our cat’s pets. He adopted them.

15.  How old were you when you (or your family) adopted your first pet?

I grew up with Doberman Pinschers. I think we got the first one when I was four and they were there until I was a teenager. Then they got a German Shepherd, but by then, I was out of the house and living a separate life.

Garry and I both had cats when we met. He had two, I had one. Getting them to like each other was not easy, but neither of us was willing to give up a cat!

16.  What’s the most trouble you can remember a pet getting into?

Bonnie was stolen, but the cops brought her home. Sirens and all.

18.  What does your relationship with your furbaby mean to you?

They keep us sane. I swear I’d never survive life without them.

19.  How do your pets react when you sing and/or dance?

We don’t dance and our singing seems to be mostly ignored.

20. Have you ever adopted a pet and found out you didn’t get along with them? What did you do?

Yes. We rehomed them to people who loved them.

21.  Where do your pets sleep in relation to you? Do they have their own bed, or do you allow them to share yours?

Our pets own the living room and sleep on the sofas. My back is too twisted to share it with three dogs and in any case, the Scotties are too short-legged to get up on a bed without being in danger of getting hurt falling off.

22.  How do you come up with names for your pets?

Bonnie Annie Laurie

Garry picked Bonnie whose full name is Bonnie Annie Laurie if you please.

I picked Gibbs.

Garry picked The Duke.

23.  Putting aside money and sanitary issues — If you could fill your house and property with animals, what type would they be?

Dogs. And maybe a donkey.

24.  What was the most expensive pet you’ve ever adopted?

A Norwich terrier who turned out to be a horrible mistake. We rehomed her and she lived a GREAT life, but she was not a dog who got along with other animals. And she was dumb as a rock.

25.  What, in your opinion, is the best thing about adopting animals into your home?

It looks like murder, but it’s actually playing. No pain, no gore, no blood. Not even any pulled out fur.

They remind you to keep living! Because you need them — and they need YOU.

QUIETYLY, DOGS AT HOME – Marilyn Armstrong

Quietly At Home

Just because.

My dogs are looking good. All freshly groomed and smelling rather better than they normally do. With all the mud and gunk outside, it won’t last, but I grabbed a few shots while I could.

I could not send the smell.

If Mr. Gibbs were a flower, I could link him up. But he is a dog. There’s no special dog link for him, but he was looking good today, so I thought I might show him off.

Mr. Gibbs, looking good
Aww. She’s so sweet

And then, of course, there’s the Duke …

 

CANINE PSYCHOLOGY – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I’ve had a lot of dogs — and I’ve learned a few things, mostly from the trainers with whom I’ve worked.

The most important thing I’ve learned about dogs is they can’t and don’t think like humans. We tend to anthropomorphize them and attribute motives to them of which they are incapable. For example, most people believe that dogs chew furniture or poop in the house when they are left alone because they are ‘getting back’ at their humans for leaving them. The problem with that theory is that it requires levels of conceptualization, insight, and understanding of cause and effect way beyond a dog’s capabilities.

72-lexi-on-sofa

First, they must have the self-awareness to know they are feeling angry at you, which they can’t and don’t have. Then they have to understand they can get ‘revenge’ (a human concept) if they make you mad or upset too. That is more than a two-year-old child can do, let alone a dog. Thirdly, they have to figure out, in the abstract, what behaviors they could perform to make you upset.

This is a more than a reasonable stretch for any dog.

72-lexi_2947

The explanation for most negative dog behavior seems to be stress or anxiety. Different things cause stress in different dogs. Various dogs react to stress in unique ways. Chewing and making in the house are examples of anxiety-driven behaviors, as are excessive barking and hyperactivity. None of these are thought out revenge schemes.

My anxiety prone dog gets most anxious when other people come into the house.

Remy and Tom

Apparently, that’s because she thinks she has to ‘protect’ me, which means she is on duty when the doorbell rings. However, this skittish dog does not react to things that stress out many other dogs, like thunder, vacuum cleaners, packed suitcases or even a trip to the vet. She is the calmest, most relaxed dog my vet has ever seen in her office!

Go figure!

Another interesting fact I learned about dog psychology is that dogs are very Zen. They truly live in the moment. They can only think about what just happened for about 10 seconds. That’s why to train a dog you have to reward them the minute they do what you want them to. When housebreaking a dog, you have to praise them profusely while they are in the act of making, not even a minute later. If you rewarded your dog right after they made, they would think you were praising them for whatever they were doing at that exact moment, like sniffing a bush or wagging their tail.

This brings up a funny story about how my anxious girl, Lexi flummoxed the dog trainer.

It also points up how dogs can see things differently than even the dog trainer believes they could. When Lexi was on the sofa with me, she would often growl at our older dog when he came near the sofa. So we followed the trainer’s advice and told her ‘no’ immediately and threw her off the sofa. In most dogs, this would end the offensive behavior.

72-Lexi-new-6

However Lexi continues to growl at her brother, but as soon as she does, she immediately jumps off the sofa and lies down on the floor. The trainer has never seen a case of self-punishment before. Her takeaway is logical though.

Thus “When you growl, you have to get off of the sofa,” is as valid a lesson to take from the situation as is just ‘stop growling’!

Think of your dog as a two-year-old child. You can’t expect the child or the dog to act or react like an adult/human or understand the world the way we do. You are the superior intellect in the relationship so you have to try and understand how your dog perceives and thinks.

Don’t get mad at your dog for ‘scheming’ against you and ‘purposely behaving badly to annoy you.’ His brain doesn’t work that way. Figure out what stressor is triggering his undesirable behavior and deal with the stressor or channel the dog’s anxiety in another way.