Saturday, January 24, 2015

52 Week Snapshot Challenge, Week 4: Dream #52Shapshots #PBSG

Here we are on week number four of 52 Snapshots of Life, a weekly photo challenge hosted by The Lazy Put Bull.  Already?!  Week four!!

This week's photo topic is DREAM and I happened to have noticed this was coming up a couple weeks ago, so I took some photos of Hobie sleeping while I had the chance.  He's so old and hearing-impaired now, that when he sleeps, he is practically comatose.  It can be quite disconcerting, and I find myself checking to be sure he is breathing quite often these days.  He also falls asleep with his eyes open, which is kinda creepy.  Sometimes, I'll find him with his tongue hanging all the way out of his mouth, sound, sound asleep, as if he is on anesthesia, or something.  Ah, I just love the ol' guy. During this photo shoot, he didn't even know I was there, taking pictures of him.  I hope my readers and followers enjoy the photo gallery this week for....


I cut his nails later on that same day!  Horrified!!  lol

Sound asleep, with one eye open.

Bonus pic!!  The pack, sound asleep! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

5 Tips for Surviving January Thaw With Your Pets

Wouldn't you know it?  After a week-long deep-freeze (the opposite of a heat wave!), we entered into January Thaw yesterday here in Massachusetts.... and then came the rain!!  

Last night, it poured buckets of rain.  The entryway to Hobie's new "apartment" became flooded, so instead of stepping on a sheet of ice or snow when he takes his first step outdoors, it was ankle-deep water.  Ankle-deep for a human, I might add, so he was submerged up to his legs!  I took the snowshovel and made a lame attempt to "bail" the water, as if we were in a sinking ship.  To no avail.  But, this morning, it had all dried up overnight, and everything is chilly again, but not a deep-freeze.  Normal winter temps today.  

This all got me thinking about January Thaw here on the lake in central Mass., home of wait-a-minute-it'll-change weather, hockey players, ice skaters, ice fishing enthusiasts, and snowmobilers.  Here are a few things folks should keep in mind for their pets during January Thaw (or early spring, which is just around the corner!):

  1. The Lake Is Not Safe.  As my brother, a retired police officer, always told us, "The lake is NEVER safe."  Well, last week, in the deep-freeze, that could have been debatable (but who wants to be out there in those temperatures?!).  But once we get into a thaw with temps in the 40s, the lake begins to thaw just like everything else.  All the snow in our yard is gone from the rain overnight.  The lake has visible patches of slushy areas.  My rule is, I never, ever, ever let my dogs out onto the lake (heeding my dear brother's advice).  Ice fishing enthusiasts have argued with me, "The ice is safe".  They can do what they want, but the dogs are staying behind the fence at home, thank you very much!  We have lived here for 30 years, and, yes, a few neighborhood dogs have fallen through the ice -- some have not survived.  You don't want to be "that guy" whose dog-falling-through-the-ice story ends up on the evening news.  Not to mention that a dog with access to the lake can easily run to the other side of the lake, those woods, those other neighborhoods, and poof!, he's GONE.  I can't count the number of unknown dogs who appear on our doorstep, having wandered across from the other side of the lake in winter.  Are you going to run across the lake, into the woods on the other side to try to catch him?  Probably.  Don't get yourself, or your dog into that situation.**
    You mean, if it was frozen, I could go over THERE?!
  2. Ice, Mud, Salt, Sand...and Poop.  That oasis you call a back yard has turned into Poop Soup!  All has been revealed!  And you thought you were doing such a good job cleaning up after your pooches.  It must have been the holidays... the task got away from you... yeah, that's it.  You let your senior dog out to do his business and he has all of these things to contend with.  He slips on the ice, or mud (or both) and down he goes.  Your cat gets salt crystals on her foot and starts twerking trying to shake it off.  Your young, enthusiastic hound drags gobs of sand into the house, and your three-legger hops into the house and plants single footprints of mud all over the brand-new carpet.  What's a mother to do?!  
    My new hobby? Stamping!! all over the floors!
  3. Loosened Fences and Wobbly Gate Latches.   When temps rise, after being so low, fencing material can buckle, shift, or even collapse.  Walk around your yard and check all gates to be sure the latches are still holding securely.  One lunge onto a fence at a passing dog or car and whomp! an entire section of fence can fall over.  Think I'm exaggerating?  It has happened to us!  Inspect all sections of fence for stability.  If a section feels wobbly, keep an eye on it, or twist a bungee cord onto that section to hold it up until spring.  Full-on repairs may not hold because of continual weather changes (especially around here!), so unless it's crucial, try not to repair or replace until spring when the ground is more stable.
    Note loose wire at bottom of fence.  Photo from last spring.
  4. Cold little paws! After being cooped up for so many weeks, it seems like a grand idea to take the dogs for a walk, right?  Keep in mind that roads and sidewalks can still be slippery, with either mud or ice, and sand or salt-covered roads are a real concern.  Use doggie mittens or shoes for your pup if you absolutely have to take that walk.  (And don't forget to wear shoes with good traction, yourself.) If you don't have paw coverings, be sure to wash off Rover's paw pads with a paper towel soaked in warm water when you get home.  Ahhhh, it will feel just like a spa treatment!
    I could just stay out here all day, I love it so much.  Cold paws?  Me?
  5. Bring Your Pet Indoors, Anyway.  If your cats are like mine, they can't wait to go outdoors, and are usually climbing the walls, swinging from curtains, and tearing up toilet paper rolls in an effort to be thrown out!  While a January Thaw can seem inviting for them, it's still chilly out there, especially at night.  Don't let your outdoor-loving pets stay outside too long.  Even if they seem to be enjoying themselves, they can get chilled quickly.  [Our cats do have a safe place to retreat to in the event they refuse to come in... it's a small cubbyhole in the roof rafters of the guest cottage on our property (pictured above). Just the right size for the kitties, and they glean the heat from the cottage!]  It's always nicer to have them snuggled on your lap by the fire, no matter how much they try to tell you otherwise.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         **how come cats know enough NOT to walk out onto the lake?!

This post is part of the "Keeping Your Pets Warm" Collaborative Event hosted by Felissa, Davinia and Indiana at Two Little Cavaliers! We hope that you will drop by and visit all of the other posts participating in this event. The linky will be open through Friday 1/23/15 in case anyone else would like to join us. Please only link up a post if it focuses on Keeping Pets Warm. Your post can be tips, tricks, ideas, DIY projects, Crafts, or anything that will help pets or feral animals stay warm during this really cold winter!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

52 Week Snapshot Challenge, Week 3: Joyful #52Shapshots #PBSG

This week's theme for 52 Snapshots of Life, a weekly photo challenge hosted by The Lazy Pit Bull, is "Joyful".

Our house isn't exactly joyful, it's more like stressful!  I'm just JOKING!!  I'm kidding!!  Here are our furkids expressing their joyfulness.

l-r Cali, Newman, Cooper and Hobie find it JOYFUL to hang out with Mom while she works and sips her morning coffee.

Charlie Brown's favorite joyful activity is treeing Mr. Squirrel in the back yard.  No matter what the weather, he'll locate his friend Mr. Squirrel every morning, chase him up a tree, and holler about it until I go outside and congratulate him.  I think Mr. Squirrel likes the game just as much as Charlie does -- he plays every morning, too!

He's up THERE!

He's down THERE!

A-rooooooo!!  Squirrellllll!

And now, from a different perspective.

Last, but certainly not least, is our somewhat anti-social kitty, Tux.  His passion for joyfulness centers around food, food, and more food.  Secondarily, he likes to sit on the desk while I'm (trying to) work!

No, don't work!  Play with meeeeeee!

Friday, January 9, 2015

52 Week Snapshot Challenge Week 2: Music #52Snapshots #PBSG

We're taking part in the photo challenge, 52 Snapshots of Life, led by our friend Christina at The Lazy PitBull.

This week's theme is Music, and so it was super easy for me to know what I was going to photograph. My favorite musician is Tori Amos, so that part was easy.  

How to include the pets in the photo was the question.   It was a toss-up between Tux watching Tori Amos videos on my computer, or Charlie Brown watching Tori Amos on the TV with me.  I chose the latter.

YouTube video of Tori's show in Boston from 2011 -- I was sitting right near the person who filmed this video, so watching it on YouTube, on the flat screen, is very close to being there all over again.  And yeah, we had really great seats!

Charlie often watches TV.  This time with a rawhide bone in his mouth for extra oomph.

Almost like being there!

What we were really looking at - and yes, he really watches!!  He's been known to watch a whole movie with us!

Friday, January 2, 2015

52 Snapshots Challenge, Week 1: New #PGSG #52Snapshots

Blogging to you from our NEW room in a NEW year, it's me... and my faithful sidekick, Hobie, who turns 15 years old in just a couple of days!!  We're taking part in the photo challenge 52 Snapshots of Life, led by our friend Christina at The Lazy PitBull.

Over the spring and summer, I not only injured both of my shoulders carrying Hobie up and down the stairs, and also realized he was living in a 5-foot world which seemed mightily unfair.  The poor guy was using our gorgeous deck as his bathroom, and basically had no activity other than to pace around in circles between our very small living room, our not-dining room (ha ha, that's a joke), and kitchen. Everyone in the household was becoming increasingly sad about this, most especially the Hobester himself.

I was not happy living in a five-foot world :(
I hear tell that the next big thing is "Tiny Houses".  Well, lemme tell you, I am an expert at living in small spaces.  We've had a tiny house for a long time -- a few of them, actually.  A couple years ago, we had begun renovating portions of our basement because the floor was falling apart.  The further we went along, the more it became clear that the remainder of the basement just looked yucky in comparison to the new parts, and quite honestly -- we needed more space!

This is what the laundry room used to look like.
It also became increasingly clear that I was never going to sleep again unless I started living on the same level of the house as Hobie, since I had been up half the night, nightly, carrying him up and down stairs each time he had to relieve himself.  Old dogs can't hold it in like they could in their younger years, you know; and besides, I'd do anything for my dog... anything.

On October 17th, I saw (and met, and got my picture taken with) Cesar Millan "The Dog Whisperer" for the third time.  Such a thrill -- he is such a nice man and he puts on a terrific and very funny show onstage!  The next day, the room was finished and the new bed was delivered.  I carried Hobie down the stairs one last time and into our NEW room on October 18th!!

Charlie "claiming" the bed!

Ma! I like my raised bowls in my NEW apartment!

This pic is blurry, but... Look, Ma!  No stairs!!

I've been sleeping down there every night since, with Hobie, the other two dogs, and sometimes a cat or two.  Hobie once again has full access to the back yard, and we feel it has added significantly to his quality of life.  He now goes out for "walks" around the yard as often as he wants (yeah, sometimes in the middle of the night!).

As a matter of fact, I've gotta go let him out now.... he's doing the Ol' Dog Pace.

Until next week!  Happy NEW year!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It's National Mutt Day

As the weather gets colder in some parts of the world, we take a "paws" and reflect on adopting our mutts, two of whom just happen to be littermates.

Our dogs, Charlie Brown and his littermate, Cooper, didn't come from a brick-and-mortar shelter.  They were transported to Massachusetts from Tennessee as nearly newborn puppies, along with their other six siblings and their mama dog, Kate, three days before Christmas in 2011.  A wonderful organization, Great Dog Rescue of New England, arranged for their rescue from a high-kill shelter in Tennessee.

The little family had been supposedly found in an abandoned house that was about to be torn down.  The now legendary story is that a worker was doing a final check on a house that was to be condemned and demolished.  As he was going around room-to-room, he heard a squeaking noise and discovered Kate and her pups in a closet.  He scooped them all up, and surrendered them to a shelter, thinking he was doing a good deed.  Unfortunately, as most of us in New England know, "shelters" in the deep south are almost certain to be so-called "high-kill" facilities.  The name shelter is definitely a misnomer in this case!

A pile of pups!

The paperwork we received for Charlie Brown, whom we adopted in January of 2012, said that he was born on 11-11-11!  Cool, right?  I saw Charlie Brown on Great Dog Rescue's Facebook page, and showed the picture to my significant other.  We had lost our beloved hound dog, Hector, very suddenly and shockingly only five months before, and were still reeling from the loss.  Neither of us was ready for another dog, nor was Hobie, our faithful Lab/Shepherd mix, then 12 years old.  But, we wanted to do something in Hector's honor, and we could afford to help a needy dog, so, the next thing you know, we were filling out an application.

Hector, my love

The sad news came back that someone had beat us to it, and Charlie Brown would not be ours.  We asked if any of the other littermates were available instead.  The answer was no, they had all been adopted. The agent casually mentioned that we should check back in about two weeks, just to be sure, as sometimes adoptions don't work out, for whatever reason.

Our busy lives went on.  We enjoyed our time with Hobie as the lone dog, and our three cats.  We missed Hector like crazy.

One morning, I decided to just check in with the rescue agent as she had suggested, thinking nothing would come of it.  To my surprise, she said she was just about to call me, that Charlie Brown's adoption had fallen through, and he was still looking for a home!  Then ensued a home visit to check us out, a questionnaire about our work schedules and so forth, and a trip up to the New Hampshire border, where Charlie was living with his foster mom.
I adopted Charlie Brown almost sight-unseen.  I had no intention of saying no, even though I was given the opportunity.  I spent maybe 15 minutes with him and the foster family's other pets, signed the papers, put him in the car, and made the long trek back home.

Charlie Brown, same car as Hector's pic, above!

The first night, Charlie slipped through the one, and only, hole in the fence, and was trotting around the front yard; ate a piece of rusty metal; and vomited it all up on the leather furniture.  I thought, "Now, I've done it.  He has been poisoned, is going to die, and I will be banished from ever adopting another pet from a shelter or rescue!"  I slept on the couch, with Charlie Brown on my tummy all night.  The next day, he was fine.  For the next several months, this dog challenged me at every turn.  I've had dogs all my life, but this one has been my biggest challenge so far.  Things were about to get even more interesting....

We had Charlie Brown just seven months, when I received an email from the foster mom and rescue agency.  The email was also sent to all of the other people who had adopted the puppies from the litter dubbed "Kate Plus Eight".

The runt of the litter, originally named mini-Cooper, and then known as "Fluff", was being returned to the rescue agency.  He had sustained an inoperable injury to his right, front leg, which would require amputation.  Did any of us want to adopt a brother?

Coop when he had 4 legs, just prior to amputation

Not considering that option for a moment, I re-wrote the email in my own words and broadcast it to my friends by email, Facebook and Twitter.  The number of individuals who wrote back to me and said "YOU must adopt him!" was astonishing.  People who knew me, but did not know each other, were all replying with the same response.  I casually mentioned this to my partner, who was already concerned about the stress I was under raising Mr. Pack Leader (Charlie Brown)!!  "Can you imagine if there were TWO of these?", he asked, and pointed to Charlie who was bouncing around in his early-morning shenanigans.  I laughed.  I had never lived with more than two dogs at a time before.  I would be crazy to do this, right?

Knowing that I was, indeed, crazy, a few days later, I filled out the application to adopt "Fluff", whose name had already been changed back to Cooper.  His original adoptive family had named him Fluff because their other dog is named Peanut Butter.  Peanut butter and marshmallow "Fluff" is a popular sandwich here in New England where Marshmallow Fluff was invented and is still produced to this day.  The sandwich is called Fluffernutter!  The family were unable to afford the medical expenses necessary to either treat, or amputate, Cooper's leg which sustained an injury mysteriously, as no one has ever been sure exactly what happened.  Because the injury had been sustained some weeks prior, and he had been confined to a crate in a well-meaning attempt at rehabilitation, the leg could, unfortunately, not be saved.  We were not the owners of record, nor was the original family -- Great Dog Rescue owned Cooper, and they made the (right) decision to go for amputation.  Experimental surgery was an additional, non-guaranteed, and expensive option.  As the vet so eloquently put it, "I wouldn't put my own dog through that."  The amputation was scheduled, and we donated some of the money to rescue to help pay for the surgery.

And a few weeks later, with the scars still showing, but he's happy

Cooper, who was with his foster mom during surgery and recovery, bounced back from surgery within a day or two.  The most difficult part was keeping this young puppy from jumping around too much while healing.  The first thing he did when he got back to their home was jump up on the humans' bed!

Cooper stayed with the foster family for about two weeks, until his stitches were removed and he was fully recovered from surgery.  We had visited him before the amputation, and brought Charlie with us to be sure they still got along (they are thick as thieves).  I later learned that Charlie and Cooper were the last two remaining dogs to be adopted out the first time -- even their mother, Kate, was adopted out before them.  So, they were more or less a bonded pair.  I often think it took all of this for them to find their way back to each other.

I brought Cooper home in late August of 2012, almost exactly one year to the day from the day Hector died so suddenly a year before.  There often are times that Cooper reminds me so much of Hector.  His demeanor, his cuddliness, his gentle presence in the room.  He even sits in the same favorite spots as Hector did.  If you believe in reincarnation, you might think maybe Cooper is Hector, reincarnated.  Sometimes, I like to think so.

Cooper is an amazing creature.  He does not appear to be "disabled" in any way, shape or form.  He can often run circles around his brother, quite literally.  He jumps into and out of the car, and onto and off furniture, like a champ.  He likes to run on the beach.  People who meet him for the first time usually don't notice his missing leg for several minutes.  He has an active and full life.  He adores his "uncle" Hobie, now almost 15, and all of the cats.

As we surpass the boys' third birthday, they really have turned out to be "great dogs"!  We have stayed in touch with the Great Dog Rescue volunteers, our foster mom, and most of the other adoptive pet-parents of Kate and her babies.  We got together on November 11th for the past three years (which just so happens to be a holiday!) with some of the other pet parents to celebrate the kids' birthdays on the beach in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

First birthday, 11-11-12

Second birthday, 11-11-13

Third birthday, 11-11-14

Earlier this year, yet another of the boys' siblings was returned to rescue due to the medical situation of one of his adoptive parents.  I thought about adopting Franklin for about five minutes.  Somebody beat us to it.


(Originally written by me in October, 2014 for DoggyLoot's blog to recognize "Adopt A Shelter Dog Month", but never published.  All original material. This  is my intellectual property.)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Puppies' 3rd birthday photos #WordlessWednesday

 We had a great time at our third annual puppy birthday reunion in Gloucester, Mass. last weekend!  The "Kate Plus Eight" litter all reunited, except for three who live too far away or were otherwise engaged.  We missed Simon, Ralphie and of course, Charlie's exact twin, Copper (not to be confused with Cooper!).  The remaining five siblings got together, and we even met Franklin for the first time!  Mama dog Kate was there, and of course foster-sister Bella and step-sister Tina!  Oh yeah, and all those humans.

Merci beaucoup to my friend Myriam who took some fantastic photos!  (Click on the individual photos to make them HUGE!)

All 5 siblings are in this picture - Franklin (black dog); Molly (way in the back); Tess (with ball); Cooper and Charlie.
I can't tell them apart!  That's Tess!
As always, Cooper had to claim the ball immediately upon arrival!
Sister Tess is saying, "Hey! Gimme back my ball!"
"I'll just go over HERE with it, instead!"

The elusive Molly!  She couldn't resist meeting the little puppy and that's how we got a picture!

Beautiful mama-dog, Kate, pretty in pink!

Charlie Brown and mama Kate have the same profile.

We finally met brother Franklin!  Yes, he is from the same litter!

Beautiful foster-sister (or "aunt") Bella!!

Coop very happy with his ball on the beach!

Step-sister, Tina, is the only one who swims!

Can't get enough of Cooper and his ball!!  Three legs on all those rocks!

Charlie Brown happy to be on the beach.

Charlie begging from foster mom, Kathy N.

Gorgeous sister, Tess finally got her ball back.  You have to look several times to be able to tell the dogs apart.

Franklin is literally the black sheep of the family, but as tall as his brothers and has the same facial features.

Mama Kate and foster mom Kathy - the two responsible for all this!


Tess ... who's who???

Beautiful Bella!!!

Kathy with Bella, Franklin and camera-shy sister Molly down in front sticking out her tongue!

Charlie Brown wants in on the action!

Gorgeous mama Kate!