Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sibling Revelry

I don’t have many pictures of my two cats snuggling together, and the reason for this is simple:  Plum is a perv.  If Posy is lying in a certain way, minding her own business and doing nothing wrong, Plum can’t resist stalking up to her and climbing on, biting and twisting the scruff of her neck, while kicking her tuckus with his hind legs.  Now, nothing is actually going on here, if you get my drift.  Much as he’d like you to think otherwise, Plum is no tom cat.  He’s a eunuch, through and through.  It is all a kind of charade, yet one with a whiff of sexual violence to it.  I can't blame Posy for skedaddling off her spot when Plum tries to get cosy.

Being a dog person, when I first saw Plum doing this to Posy, I figured it was a dominance thing.  After all, dogs do this all the time to work out who’s who in the pack.  But when I asked our vet about it, she said she was pretty sure it was sexual.  So now when I see him sauntering over towards a snoozing Posy, I tend to yell out, “Hey Jim Bob, get off your sister!  Our family tree has branches!”  The result is that now Plum will often look over at me first to see if I am watching, and if he sees that I am, he will continue on by, whistling a little tune, acting like it was fully his intention in the first place to just go for a little patrol around the perimeter of the apartment to make sure all is well.

Often Posy will just lie there and take it—she’s 6 pounds to his 14 after all.  But sometimes she will start to raise a ruckus and voice her displeasure, and when I come to break the fight up, I usually find tufts of Plum’s purple fur floating about, and I give Posy a verbal high-five.

So when the weather gets cold and Plum is in the mood for a cuddle, you can understand why Posy generally will leave after a polite two or so minutes and go find a place in which Plum cannot fit.  Here, however, are a few pictures taken when Posy was too comfortable to move just yet:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Some Pig

I almost hesitate to write this since I don’t want to jinx myself, but my apartment has surprisingly little going on in the way of insect life.  The occasional fly makes its way in and then is promptly dispatched by my stellar bug-hunter, Miss Posy Fern.

Does she look like a killer?  No?  That’s part of her strategy.

I tend to get divebombed by one or two mosquitoes per summer, but that is pretty much it.  No ants, no spiders, and nothing remotely roach-like.  (Again, knock on wood!)

In actuality, I suspect that the lack of bug-life in my apartment is due to the fact that I cohabit with a multi-legged monster.  And I’m not talking about my dog or cats this time.  There is a centipede-ish kind of thing that will appear on my wall about 4 times per year.  And when he appears, I do absolutely nothing, because this “centipede” is the size of a Chihuahua.  No joke.  It is way too big to kill.  It is so large I feel one of these days the city is going to fine me for not giving it a collar with a license.  It’s got to be at least half a foot long with uncountable amounts of legs and feet.  And it is FAST.  But I rarely see the beast.  He makes an appearance a few times a year, and once he leaves I’m never quite sure he was even there.  He’s like the loch ness monster:  let’s call him the apt spruce monster.  I don’t know where he comes from or where he goes to, and I don’t want to know.  But I have a hunch that anything remotely insect-like that comes anywhere near my abode is soon a fine haggis in the belly of Apt Sprucie.

This, however, is all a digression.  I was just thinking about insects, because I was wondering how a wee bug would feel if they climbed up Mount Bedspread and found themselves face to face with this:

Or this:

And if it was a bug who could fly, say, it might make a hasty getaway, only looking back once in horror to see the sight from a different perspective:

It is no wonder that almost nary a spider or insect is making its way hither.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Peace and Quiet and Blue Hydrangeas

Like a reverse commuter, Dorothy traveled out of the city yesterday for some greenery and quiet and singing birds and good times.  But before all the good, she had to weather her second car ride as an older puppy.  It was a little disappointing, in that the last two minutes of the trip involved a pass and review of the kibble and chicken she had eaten a few hours earlier...but on the whole, we give her car-riding skills a B+.  She cried on the way there, but generally did so from a lying-down position, and on the way back she really didn't seem nervous at all.

Dorothy, feeling rather pleasant on the whole:

Dorothy, wondering why we are still in this stupid vehicle:

Our destination was the lovely suburban hamlet of Narberth, PA, and it did not disappoint!  After living in the city for a long time, it is always nice to be reminded that other places are Quiet!  And have tons of beautiful, verdant trees!  And songbirds!  And gardens that are not just a pot on the concrete.  I was treated to specimen after specimen of my tied-for-first-place favorite flower, blue hydrangeas.  Almost every yard seemed to have a spectacular bush that was in perfect bloom--blue, purple, white, and some with multiple colors.  I kept no doubt annoying my companions by making them stop and ooh and ahh over the bluest flowers I ever did see.  Sigh.

But I digress!  I forgot to bring my camera on our walk, so you'll have to take my word for it, but Dorothy -- champion sidewalk sitter she -- walked beautifully on our thirty-minute walk.  She even walked up and down her first hills (Philadelphia is a very flat city), and enjoyed gathering speed as she walked down, culminating in a veritable trot.

We also spent time in my boyfriend's apartment, and Dorothy very much enjoyed exploring the place (although she wasn't too sure about those ceiling fans spinning above--they seemed a suspicious sort to her, thank you very much, and kept rudely blowing on her head).

After first exploring all the things she could climb on -- couches, a bed, armchairs! -- she then explored all the things she could go under.  So a lot of the time we spent there, the view of Dorothy was this:

Here is Dorothy enjoying her newfound lair under a couch, and then trying to drag a sock monkey there so she could kill it afresh:

So although we might bring some additional moist towelettes in the car with us the next time, both Dorothy and I very much enjoyed escaping summer in the city.  And we are determined to get Dorothy used to the car, come what may (after all, if she doesn't like to walk and doesn't like to ride in a car, our options will become limited!  She's a bulldogge, not a houseplant, I tell her....)  Stay tuned for a report in weeks to come of our next excursion, which will involve water and perhaps a paddling dogge?!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pet Rat

This picture just about makes me want to add a pet rat to my menagerie:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Plum Dumbledore

Plum turned 6 on May 23rd and I must admit I forgot all about it until five days later!  Oh the horror.  Not that I would really have done anything to celebrate the day--no gifts or little hats or special meals or anything like that--but I definitely would have called him the birthday boy and given him a few extra scritches.  Oops!  Sorry, Plum!  So here is a mini-pictorial of Plum's first six years, from Kiev to Philly.  What a handsome fellow!  And he knows it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bullies: Of Sticks, Dogges, and Men

When I had been living with Dorothy for a week or two, I went to a small local pet store and purchased Dorothy a bouquet of bully sticks.  The owner of the store was working at the register that day, and told me that if it weren’t for bully sticks, she would not have graduated from college.  Apparently, she had a pair of Basset Hounds while going to school and they would only leave her in peace if she gave them each a bully stick to chew upon.

I now very much understand what that woman meant.  Dorothy is housetrained, so I no longer have to worry that she is off somewhere finding creative spots in my apartment in which to toilet, but unless she is sleeping, I pretty much have to keep an eye on her at all times.  A very smart girl in general, Dorothy is an A+ student when it comes to the subjects of cat cornering, say, or domestic object chewing.  She plans to major in shoe destruction, and is clearly considering a minor in furniture gnawing and blanket burrowing.  She also likes to jump, and will attempt Evel Knievel-like maneuvers to heights she has no chance of reaching, like to the high windowsill above my bed, or from the chair in the bedroom to the bed.  The other day I caught her contemplating jumping from the bedroom chair to my high dresser; when I said no, absolutely not, she got a very guilty look on her face, so I know one day I’m going to find her frolicking among my very breakable and rather expensive bottles of perfume.

So if I want a little bit of time to myself—say an hour per night—I bring her bed into my study, and give her a bully stick and let her go at it.  For those of you who are blissfully unaware of exactly what a bully stick is, I shall now burst your bubble with the following two words:  bull penis.  Yep.  My little flower, Dorothy Hyacinth, is sitting behind me as I write this chewing on what was once a bull’s pride and glory, and what he no doubt hoped would stay attached to his person.  But these dried sticks are good for dogs!  Better than rawhide, I’m told.  They have glucosamine in them, and don’t lend themselves to choking or intestine-tangling.

I hope you’re not eating.  I’m certainly not, because the one thing the woman at the pet store failed to mention when she proclaimed her ode to bully sticks, was their odor.  They smell absolutely putrid.  When Dorothy is chewing one near me, I feel like I am sitting in a World War I trench surrounded by lime-strewn body parts.  Think of the worst smell you have experienced and multiply it by 50.  Yep:  bully stick.  I consider it the bull’s revenge.

And now on to bulldogges and those who bully their owners.

To the pocket-sized man who manages the market a few doors down from where I live:

Admittedly, I could have tried to find a better place for my puppy to piddle than on the sidewalk outside of your market.  However, I’m not quite sure how I’m supposed to prevent a 6-month old dog with a urinary tract infection from letting loose a few drops in the out-of-doors.  I suppose I could have picked her up and carried her past your store.  But the sidewalk is a public place, and the dog-walking ordinances in Philadelphia only mention excrement and not urine, precisely because about two minutes after a dog urinates on a sidewalk there is barely a trace of it left.  When you began the conversation with clear venom and a rudely sneered “curb your dog, ma’am” what exactly did you have in mind that I should do?  Pull my dog into the bike path?  Jaywalk her across the street?  And was it really necessary to stand there hosing down the three drops she left as if their very essence would contaminate every single item in the store?

I'm happy to adhere to your request to the best of my ability -- which admittedly won't be 100%.  But whoa there, Napoleon!  If you can't reach polite, can you at least start with civil?!

And go ahead, keep glowering at us from behind your picture window every time we walk by (which, because of Dorothy’s UTI, is every 10 minutes).  I’ve gotten to the point now that I hope, as you shadow us behind the glass, arms crossed, your face a clenched fist, my glorious little bulldogge will reveal to you the infinite capacities of her full bladder.

Dorothy, not feeling very sorry:

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Posy of Pictures Of Posy with Posy

Some blogs that I read these days have a feature they call "Wordless Wednesdays" -- as in, a picture is worth a thousand of, etc. etc.  I thought today I'd follow in their footsteps with a Mute Monday.  And hope it doesn't fade into Taciturn Tuesday, Wordless Wednesdays, Thoughtless Thursdays, Feral Fridays, Silent Saturdays, and then Sunday, let's chat!

And so I present a posy of pictures of Posy with posy!  Behold the fierce tigress as she approaches nature!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dorothy Under The Knife

On Thursday, Dorothy had her spaying surgery.  Her milkshake will no longer bring the boys to the yard.  She will not have any unwanted gentlemen callers showing up at strange hours tracking pheromones.  She can now no longer be a bio-mom.  And to all this we say:  yay!

Or we will in a few days hence.

The worst part of the whole ordeal so far has really been denying her breakfast on Thursday morning.  She could have water then, but nothing else, and Dorothy is definitely the kind of gal who believes in starting her day with a square meal.  When I fed the cats and didn't feed her third, as is our wont, she cried a bit.  And then sat in her crate and cried a bit.  And then snake-crawled into her bed and lay there all despondent and oh woe is me.  It was very hard not to just scramble her an egg and slip her a slice of buttered toast.

Then, because I had no treats in my pocket to give her, did I think she would actually walk all the way to the vet?  I had hoped she would, but No.  No treats, no trotting.  So carry her to the vet I did.

We picked her up at 4:30 all groggy and pathetic-looking and wearing the cone of shame. She was barely out of the anesthesia at that point, so once we got her home, she just lay down and shivered and cried at the cone encircling her neck.  She walked like a drunken sailor, and she kept somehow suction-cupping the cone to the walls as she stumbled down the hall.  So sad!

I ended up taking her cone off at night and she didn't once try to even look at her stitch area, let alone bother the wound (and she still hasn't, three days later).  She's been on painkillers every morning, but in the afternoons when they wear off she has been her old self:  running and jumping and doing everything she is not supposed to want to do.

She even has forgiven the cone of shame.  Here she is thinking it a fine chew toy:

The only negative, so far, has been that she seems to have acquired a UTI, which meant that starting Saturday afternoon she asked to go outside pretty much every ten or fifteen minutes.  Of course, it didn't really occur to me what was going on until about 4:55 on Saturday, which is basically the beginning of the Vet Dead Zone.  I lunged for the phone in slow motion -- NOOOOOOOOO! -- and made the call, but it was too late.  The office had closed and would not re-open until Monday morning.  (A vet who opened up a Sunday walk-in clinic could make a fortune, I'm convinced, since all my pets get their ailments on that day).  But after the eightieth time of taking Dorothy out at 10-minute intervals, I was grumpy enough to call the vet's emergency line, and now I'm to give Dorothy vitamin C today to make her urine acidic, and then if it is still going on tomorrow I can pick up antibiotics.

Despite her making it through this one with flying colors, Dorothy and I are both very hopeful that this will be her first and last surgery.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Goalie

These pictures might look to you like two companionable animals lying in the slightly disheveled hallway of someone who needs to learn how to put her shoes away in the closet.  And about that last part, you'd be right.  It's the companionable part that is the falsehood.  For the real scenario here is that Dorothy made the strategic error of wandering towards the door for some random sniffing, and Plum seized the chance to block her in and pen her there, by lying down nonchalantly right in front of her across the hallway.

Dorothy, alas, then had no choice but to lie down for a snooze on the hard rug, since she is afraid of what would happen if she tried to squeeze by Plum, or worse!  Step over him.

So they are at an impasse.  The impasse of a bullying big brother with talons, who is not afraid to use them.

Poor Dorothy!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


"There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls." -- George Carlin

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ladies Who Lunch

Each day, while I am at work at my office, Dorothy is hard at work asleep in her crate.  Because she is still a puppy with a puppy’s small bladder, I walk home at lunch daily to take her out to do her business and so she can stretch her legs and get a bit of exercise.

“I’m off to take my dog out at lunch!” I’ll say as I leave work.  Dorothy, however, seems to misunderstand that phrase.  I’m afraid she hears:  “I’m off to take my dog out TO lunch!” and begins to picture the Russian Tea Room, say:

Or a fancy buffet:

Dorothy would much prefer some caviar and borscht in the Russian Tea Room or some goodies at a buffet to a walk in the hot city sun.  But she soon learned that she was mistaken, and that our walks around the block were for walking’s sake, and not a journey to a bountiful kitchen.  So now when I get home and greet her, she doesn’t even lift her head, although her eyes will open and swivel in my direction.  I will open the door of her crate, go find and say hello to the cats, and perhaps look through my mail, all while Dorothy remains in crate-sleeping position, without moving a muscle.  I’ll put on her leash, and this is what happens:

She is hardly a racehorse chomping at the bit to get out the gate.  In fact, I usually have to bribe her with a treat or two to get her up and moving.

We walk around the block slowly.  If she is lucky, she will get to kiss many admirers.  If I am lucky, she will deign to finish the block with only minimal sitting.

Nowadays, when we return to the apartment, she will go into the bedroom and stretch out on the bed with a toy for ten minutes.  She likes to stretch all the limbs that don’t get to be stretched while in the crate.  Here she is enjoying her uncrated luxury, with one of her favorite toys, a stuffed rat:

One day soon, I tell her, when she becomes a more trustworthy sort – the kind, say, who doesn’t torment kitties, rummage through the garbage, or chew Items That Belong To Others – she will be able to have the run of the apartment for the entire day.  But she is not that sort, yet!  So in the meantime, she has to brown-bag it in her crate for the afternoon; and it is one of the very good things about Dorothy that she has always liked being in her crate, even if the coming out of it at noon remains an effort that only receives a C+. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Cat Cave

"But whatever the reason,
His heart or his shoes,
He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos,
Staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinchy frown
At the warm lighted windows below in their town."

Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth...
There hath he lain for ages and will lie
Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep....
(from "The Kraken" by Tennyson)

Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. 
And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Passive One-Upmanship

On occasion, Dorothy and I will meet on our walks a yellow lab being walked by its owner. The lab is about 18 months old and although a little exuberant at times, it seems pretty well behaved, all things considered.  Dorothy is always happy to give the lab a greeting, although it isn't one of the dogs that she sees and instantly begins playing with.

Lately, however, our interactions with the lab have become a bit odd.  Dorothy and the lab seem to be engaging in a contest to see which one can be more submissive.  I'm reminded of two people being uber-polite and engaging in a kind of contest of "After you!"  "Oh, I couldn't possibly!  After you!"  "But I insist!"  Etc.

For this is what happens when Dorothy and the lab are about half a block away from each other.  They will see each other and stop.  The lab will immediately lie down on its belly, in a submissive, come hither, let's greet way.  But Dorothy, when she sees this from half a block away, won't keep walking towards the lab, but instead will lie down herself, and then roll over on her back, showing the world --and presumably the lab half a block away--her pretty pink belly.

So there the owner of the lab is, standing over a dog who is lying down on its stomach, and there I am, standing over a dog who is lying on its back.  All four of us are at a stand-still.  All four of us fools.

Dorothy, not liking to be called a fool, thank you very much.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dorothy Does Dogpark

Last Friday, when it was a cool and humane 80 degrees instead of the 102 it is today (oh when we were young and times were merry!), Dorothy and I set out on an evening walk.  It wasn’t going to be an ordinary walk, I decided; instead, we would head towards the dogpark and see how far we got.  The dogpark is a fenced-in area about 7½ blocks from my apartment.  There’s a small area for small dogs and a large area for all other dogs and small dogs with a napoleon complex (you know who you are).  The small dog area was where my pug, Tulip, had her monthly pug meet-ups, and the first few years we often walked down just so she could be off-leash and “socialize” (and yes, for those of you who knew the middle-aged and then elderly Tulip, by “socialize” I mean walk around greeting the people and begging for treats).

Anyway, the walk to the dogpark is very do-able for a normal dog; but as readers of this blog know, Dorothy is not too keen on an outdoors walk.  So I thought maybe we’d go halfway and then each time hereafter walk farther.  But the evening was cool and fine for walking.  And I had the clicker with me, which always makes Dorothy concentrate a bit more on the task at hand.  So we got closer and closer to the dog-park, until we were only a few blocks away and I knew we were going to make it (cue "Chariots of Fire" music here).

Lo and behold we were at the dogpark gates!  Dorothy was suspicious.  I had to carry her through the gates, because she was having none of them.  However, once we were inside, she was curious.  The area is actually pretty big, although its surface is a mixture of pebbles and dust with the occasional shade tree here and there, and benches around the edges (unfortunately, when the wind blows, clouds of dust billow around the park, so it is not unlike taking one’s dog for a romp in the Sahara.  Note to self: don’t wear contact lenses to park Ever.)  After a few dogs had greeted Dorothy and she seemed comfortable, I took her leash off.  

And did Dorothy immediately go check out the dogs, or start to run, or pay attention to the dogs who had come up to check her out?  No, no she did not.  What she did do was go around to all the benches, and scramble up on the bench if there was room, and if there wasn’t room, she scrambled up on the people who were sitting on the benches.  And once there:  she gave kisses.  So while the big dogs galloped and the medium dogs trotted and the small dogs scurried and gamboled, Dorothy sat on benches and smooched.

After about twenty minutes, however, she began to be curious about what her fellow creatures were doing (and no doubt began to be a bit dry-mouthed and chapped-lipped from all the kissing), and ventured forth to join their ranks.  She was very savvy about it for the most part.  She was interested in the dogs who had sticks, and she was interested to see if they would give their sticks to her.  So she would tentatively and politely nibble on an edge and see what the reaction was.  If negative, she would go on her way; if positive, she would tighten her hold on the free end of the stick!  At one point she started running around going crazy and letting out all her energy – and Dorothy, I discovered, is a fast runner!  She left many a dog in the dust, until she was finally overtaken by an Irish Wolfhound named Rocco.

There were a lot of nice dogs there, too: a very low-to-the-ground Basset Hound, a friendly fat blue pitbull named Benny, who was wearing a spiffy orange bandana and whom all the people there seemed to know well, many labs and retrievers, some viszlas, a pair of fat puggles, and many more.  Dorothy had a good time, all in all, and she especially enjoyed getting fed water from a nice lady’s water-bottle.  That was fun!

Our return walk home was at tortoise speed, but that was to be expected, since a good hour and a half had elapsed since we left home.  I did have to carry Dorothy on the penultimate block, where she lay down panting, but after such an excursion, I was happy to do it.  Now if the temperature would only drop a bit, we’ll attempt dogpark trip #2!

Dorothy, ready to go to the dogpark again:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dorothy Enjoys a Puzzle

Dorothy had her first home playdate yesterday.  It seemed like a typical toddler playdate to me, in that she didn’t love sharing her toys or her crate, she had an accident, and her older brother was quite disturbed by all the ruckus.

The evening began with a 30-minute training session with Dorothy’s trainer, Perry.  I find it very interesting to watch Dorothy interact with Perry, because the moment Perry walks in the door, Dorothy is all business.  (Well, after she gives Perry an uber-greeting and then attacks her knapsack for treats, that is.)  She gets in a down-stay and then immediately tries to figure out what Perry wants her to do.  You can practically see her thinking, and she clearly likes to do it too—she likes to puzzle things out and then get rewarded with a treat.  Perry will generally only have to show Dorothy how to do something once or twice, and then Dorothy gets it.  

Last night we worked on the stay command, with Dorothy staying while we walked around and even stepped over her.  Then Perry thought I might want to start working on the “off” command.  This one is a bit tricky for Dorothy, because so many people who come up to meet Dorothy on the street squat down and want her to jump up on them and kiss them.  So we figured we’d go with an “off “ command, so that I can use it if Dorothy is about to jump on someone who doesn’t want to kiss her.  Strange though that may be….

After thirty minutes, we then walked a few blocks to pick up Perry’s foster dog, Puzzle.  Puzzle is a 10-month old mix, who was found down south and thought to be blind.  Her blindness was only temporary though, and she has turned out to be a really nice little dog.  She is believed to be part cattle dog, part Jack Russell, and part beagle.  I would call her a small medium-size dog, or a large small-size dog.  She is looking for a home, if anyone wants her!  She’s great with kids and other animals, and having spent the last three months living with a professional trainer, she is very well-trained and quite low key.  She’s cream and blonde in color, with a lot of spots and freckles, and one cream-colored puzzle piece-shaped spot right in the middle of her back.

Puzzle was very good with Dorothy, who was really having her first one-on-one play situation since she left Maine.  Dorothy, I’m learning, is all about the jowls—which I’m told is a bulldog play trait.  Puzzle wasn’t quite sure she wanted to play with Dorothy at first, so Dorothy just relentlessly went after her jowls.  I guess Puzzle finally figured she could either play with Dorothy, or be torn to pieces by her, so she went with play. 

I tried to document the play, but they moved quickly!

And here the two of them are in an almost perfect down stay!

And here is Dorothy, completely exhausted, after Perry and Puzzle left.  She couldn't even make it to a bed or couch, but had to collapse in the hallway:

Dorothy is ready for another friend to come visit!