Monday, December 27, 2010

Tails of a Dogsitter - Christmas 2010

I had so many dogs on the books for Christmas that I refused to count how many until the day they arrived. As it were I had dogs coming everyday during Christmas week, up to and including Christmas Eve.

My job as a dogsitter is to manage the pack, making sure they are properly introduced to each other and their doggie needs are met in a supportive, caring way. Lots of good boys, good girls, belly rubs and back scratches are required, along with hikes, good nutrition, playtime and mental stimulation. It’s a full time job, especially at holiday time. And anyone that thinks it’s easy – think again. You absolutely have to love dogs to do what I do, in the way I do it. Just liking them is not enough – it’s important to “get” them in order to maintain peace and order among the pack. I love my job – it is rewarding yet exhausting at the same time! ☺

We had a total of seventeen dogs in camp for the holiday. They enjoyed walks in the cold (they don’t mind), wrestling in the snow, knucklebones stuffed with all their favorite things: peanut butter, beef, chicken, cheese, etc. Of course they each have to be in a crate while eating their bone to eliminate any possibility of a problem in the pack.

The holiday guests are all off-leash dogs and usually stay together with me at all times. Because dogs for the most part are in constant motion, with this many it is impossible to do a head-count after each walk to be sure everyone is back home. So, I made a roster and call out their names at the door when we return. They get the hang of this routine right away. They stand around my legs until their name is called, take their biscuit and then move on into the house ready for a nap. Sable is always the last one in. She bonded with Jazz, the neighborhood lab and will lag behind until the last possible minute to run home and grab her treat by the door. Dogs are amazing when they figure out a routine; I can actually set my clock by it. They definitely let me know when it is 6:30 AM potty time, and when it’s 5 PM – dinnertime!

Unlike Thanksgiving, a turkey dinner was not prepared because it was impossible to be in the kitchen with all these dogs by my side. However, they did dine on weekly leftovers of roast beef, meatloaf, organic carrots, and smoked salmon. Mealtimes are always a howl – trying to maneuver my way around in the kitchen with dogs everywhere, as they await their gourmet meal – some not so patiently, making whining sounds in anticipation and causing the others to become anxious as well. There are a lot of “Knock it Offs,” from me, the Alpha.

It is necessary to separate the chowhounds from the others so that every dog has equal time to finish their meal without having to growl and guard it. The line-up is: Chowhounds DoDog, Bette, Tia and BunBun are relegated to the bathroom, Piper and Dosha are served by the back door, Sable in the Great Dane crate, RockDog in his crate, Annie in her crate, Kodiak and Lucy on the front deck, Ned, Sheba and Fern in the dining area, and LucGoose, WoodBoy and ZipTally in the kitchen area. Of course I am the designated food nazi making sure no food inhalers stick their nose in another bowl.

Some of these little darlings have their own special meal requirements. For instance, Ned always has milk on his kibble along with chummies on the top and Fern is given a spoonful of homemade smoked salmon at each meal. The neighbors sent over some wonderful star shaped doggie biscuits for dessert. Paul, Nancy and kids - the doggies woof you for this, and so do I since they were going through the Yummy Chummies and Liver Dog Bites really fast!

As I write this there are fourteen dogs left. Tomorrow three more will say goodbye to TBTB until next time. They will dance in glee when their humans arrive to pick them up – just like they dance in the car on their way to dog camp. I always tell the owners not to be surprised if their dog sleeps for a couple days after getting home. ☺ After all a tired dog is a good dog! ZipTally will be with us until mid-January, making him the longest dog in camp for the season – one month.

I photographed a mug shot of all the adorable little faces and put together a collage for each owner. It is similar to a grade school picture and will serve as a remembrance of Christmas 2010. We woof you a merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Tails-by-the-Bay Dog Camp – where every dog is a Star!

And, next week I go to Wasilla to celebrate a belated holiday with my human family. Yippppeee!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tales of a Dogsitter: Balls or No Balls? That is the Question

The rule at TBTB Dog Camp is to not accept intact male dogs, but occasionally I make an exception. After all RockDog at 11-months old still has his little testes, but he doesn’t seem to know what that means yet.

Zip Tally has been coming to TBTB for years and I actually forgot that he still had balls. He’s never been a problem; he’s just a short little dog with a big attitude, but gets along great with all the dogs. He is a Corgi so herding is what he’s bred to do. It’s hard for him to keep up with the Labs but nevertheless he always tries to do his job.

I have never seen Zip Tally around another intact adult dog until today when Kodiak, a 120-pound Chesapeake Bay retriever with unbelievable gonads, arrived in camp. Add that to the Dukemesiter, a neutered Rottweiler that thinks he still has balls. Talk about posturing! OMG, no one has attempted to mark a spot in the house, but there is lots of yellow snow outside!

So far Kodiak has tackled Zip Tally to the ground twice with lots of growling and pushing. Zip cannot control his herding instinct and is constantly strutting around with his chest held high and tail up in the air, grumbling under his breath. Of course Kodiak does the same so they are for the most part going in circles until I say in my most intimidating voice: KNOCK IT OFF! And they do. Duke is desperately trying to get in on the action but has not sparked any interest from either one of these studs. It’s funny to watch them outside repeatedly marking over each other’s spots. Where do males get all that urine anyhow?

Duke is only here for daycare and leaves at 5 PM. Interestingly enough once he was out of the picture the other two pretty much settled into being together. In fact after dinner they showed absolutely no interest in each other.

Ned and Sheba also arrived today – two wonderful, older Golden Retrievers that are regulars. Ned likes milk on his kibble along with chicken or fish and of course Yummy Chummies. And, for dessert he gets a bowl of ice cubes that he adores. He could care less about not having balls. NedHead is content to lie by the fire and get his belly scratched. Sheba on the other hand is not impressed at all with the posturing dudes and prefers to lie on her bed in the loft far away from all the action on the first floor. She rolls her eyes in disgust as if to say: “Males! Oh, pleeeease.”

We now have a total of 14 dogs in camp and will be adding one a day until Christmas Day. Everyone gets along great and they follow me everywhere. When I’m going upstairs and look behind me at 14 furry friends, it’s not easy to turn around and get back downstairs. As I write this, I’m looking at a pile of dogs in front of the fire, another pile on the couch pillows and a couple behind my head on the chair, a few more in the hallway, and Zip Tally retired in a crate with the door open. Strutting one’s stuff all day can be quite exhausting!

Oh my, life is definitely good at Tails-By-The-Bay Dog Camp - with or without balls!
Woof! Woof!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tales of a Dogsitter - A Lesson in Tolerance

It is Sunday night at TBTB Dog Camp and the snow is blowing outside, but inside we have a raging fire in the woodstove with a full moon out the window. Doggies have had dinner, a potty walk and are now sleeping all through the house. I’ve also had dinner and nodded off while reading in my favorite leather chair with a few furry friends. It seems like hours have passed when I’m jolted back to semi-consciousness by sounds from the roof vibrating, or is it the walls? Are we having an earthquake? These are my REM thoughts as I pull myself out of a dead sleep to see what all the noise is about.

I realize. . . no it can’t be. Is it SNORING? OMG, it is. . . someone is snoring louder than any man I’ve ever heard! Who could it be? I look outside to see if my roommate Russ is home. Nope, his car is not in the driveway. Was it ME, I don’t think so since I’m wide-awake now and it’s louder than ever. It has to be a canine, but WHO?

I did the doggie headcount, checking them twice: 9 sleeping darlings – not Luce or Woody, nor Zippy or Rock – not Annie or BunBun nor Zip Tally or Betty. Well that leaves. . . doggie number 9 – a lovely 12-year old Chocolate Lab, Fern. OMG it is her. She is sawing logs like I have never heard a dog do before. Hilarious! Who would have guessed that a sweet, reserved female could make that much noise? Way to go Fern! I know you’re in doggie dreamland right now and the other dogs don’t even notice. In fact, they are all still sound asleep. Goodnight Girly, sweet dreams!

A house full of happy, sleeping dogs at TBTB Dog Camp – does it get any better?
Woof! Woof!

Imagine a room full of sleeping humans with one person snoring extra loud? Would all the others be sleeping? Or complaining?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tales of a Dogsitter - DuWhite Dawg (DD)

I can’t possibly have a blog without writing about the DuWhite Dawg. DD has been coming to TBTB for five+ years now. He’s a beautiful big Samoyed that resembles a cuddly teddy bear, and he’s sure the world revolves around his needs. He’s a people dog, not a dog’s dog.

DD constantly follows me around hoping for a treat. If I turn around too quickly I bump into him. If I’m in the kitchen he’s by my side, pissing all the other dogs off. There is growling and posturing going on all around him, but he is oblivious to it. Funny his owner used to tell me to keep him on lease outside or he would run off. Ha! John doesn’t tell me that anymore because I couldn’t lose DuWhite if I tried. He is my shadow. And because he has separation anxiety he has to go everywhere I go in the VW. I must admit, he looks really cute in the driver’s seat – he assumes the position every time I get out of the car.

His separation anxiety was noted during his first visit to TBTB Dog Camp. I returned from town in a snow blizzard only to find my sliding glass door wide open and nine visiting dogs in the driveway. OMG! I’m sure he told them he would let them out but they HAD to stay in the yard. The next time I put him in a Great Dane crate only to come home and find him outside again, the door wide open – at least I had the forethought to barricade the other dogs upstairs this time.

Okay, so not only can he open sliding glass doors, he can also unlatch crates. So that being said, the next time I went to town I locked the sliding glass doors and left him in the house. When I returned all the food in the cabinets was pulled out onto the floor PLUS he took a massive dump in the middle of the living room. He was definitely making a statement and I finally got it! After that episode he has been my steady sidekick in VeVe wherever I go. He is fine with that because that’s his routine, he goes in the car with John everywhere.

During his recent visit to TBTB I found myself thinking more like a dog than a human, or in this case thinking more like a DuWhite Dawg – a requirement in staying one step ahead of him. DD just left yesterday after being here for seventeen days. In that time frame he managed to:

Open a fifty-pound bag of dog food in the car – fortunately I caught him before he consumed the entire thing.

Eat an entire bag of Pita bread and most of the plastic bag – in the car.

Open oatmeal and spread it all over the car floor – I’m sure it didn’t taste as good as he expected.

But, the real kicker was when I went to the post office to mail holiday packages to my family. I could only carry 3 of the boxes so had to come back for the other two. In less than 5 minutes, DuWhite dog was well on his way to having a box of homemade Grand Marnier Chocolate Truffles, Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Filling, and a bottle of Kahlua made with grain alcohol, 190 proof! OMG! He had managed to chew through the flat-rate box in no time flat and had gnawed the tin box to the point of a puncture hole. Yikes! A few more minutes and I would have had real problems – a white dog stuffed with chocolate and alcohol! Not a pretty picture.

So now I have to take the box home, assess the damage, repack a NEW box and stand in line at the Post Office again! Grrrrr. Plus I now have to plan my trips to town, getting the groceries last. And, if I go to more than one store for food items, well I have to carry all the groceries into the other store with me, because no matter where I hide food in VeVe, DD will find and eat it in a heartbeat! Sigh. . .

DuWhite Dawg if you weren’t so darn cute, we would have banned you years ago! You make the other dogs seem easy. But, you are such a major character in this screenplay called “Tails of a Dogsitter.” And of course who could resist that adorable Teddy Bear face?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tales of a Dogsitter - The California Wiggle Butt Strikes Again

Twas the morning of Friday and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse - only one lone cocker spaniel.

The TBTB human roommate returned to his bedroom to find the door slightly ajar. Upon further investigation he noticed an empty brownie wrapper on the floor just as one California wiggle butt scurried past him with her head lowered to the ground. The missing brownie dangling from her lips and in a flash it was gone – down the gullet.

Busted! But not before seizing the opportunity to inhale her find in one breath. Annie had silently struck again, but a chocolate brownie? Good thing it was milk chocolate and not the dark stuff – that could have meant a trip to the vet. She actually missed the second brownie sitting on the table – NOT. She simply got caught at her jump-and-grab routine and was only able to snag one before running out the door.

She now sits by his door, pondering. . . waiting for the perfect opportunity to slip into the quiet bedroom for her next reward. Her memory is long and her wait is patient. The nose not only knows, it does not forget! The smirk on that cute little face says it all: “Let your guard down, and I WILL be back!”

Woof! Woof!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tales of a Dogsitter - TBTB Thanks-Giving Day, 2010

Seven dogs and I rise early on turkey day. There are goodies to package up – including some homemade Kaluha that I made a few weeks back that needs to be bottled. It has been sitting in the dark closet just waiting to be opened. Well, okay so I already opened it and had a nip, or two, or. . . In fact, I have decided to give the stuff away because I cannot leave it alone. Made with 190-proof grain alcohol and mixed with milk, it tastes just like a milkshake! The problem is it goes down way too fast, and leaves me wanting more. I must share this with my friends so out the door it goes with me today, well most of it anyway. ☺ I am fortunate to be invited for dinner at three houses, what a treat - sorry doggies but you have to stay home.

On normal days the TBTB doggies are fed a breakfast of oatmeal, boiled eggs, homemade Greek yogurt and bananas on top their kibble. This morning I added a scoop of canned pumpkin wishing them a happy day. Sure, they think. Fine for you to say – you’re out of here and two of us will be in a crate while the remaining five of us will sleep on the couch all day just waiting for you to return. Okay, okay . . .I get it. Maybe a nice long walk before I leave will help with the guilt – I’m finally out the door around 11:30 AM – leaving behind some pretty sad faces. On a normal day at least three dogs would come with me in the car. But today, they all have to stay behind.

I arrive at Anne & Dick’s just in time to sit down to a delicious meal of turkey, oyster dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, homemade cranberry relish and the best part? Pumpkin Pie made from real organic pumpkins grown in Homer. Nom, nom. . . And, did I mention the yummy red wine? Now, I’m really full. I intended to pace myself, what happened? Oh well it is Thanksgiving and it’s okay to be stuffed like a turkey. I hate to eat and run, but I must move on and make my appearance at house #2.

Jane and her friends have just settled in at the table when I arrive. Oh, no thanks, I’m really good right now, no plate for me. I’ll just have dessert. Oh, and some wine please. ☺ I pass up incredible looking vegetarian dishes along with a perfectly roasted turkey and all the trimmings. I flat did not have any space in my belly for another morsel of dinner, but I did opt for something sweet, AGAIN! One of Jane’s guests is a baker/sous chef and he made the most amazing cheesecake with goat cheese. It was so incredibly rich that I needed another glass of red wine to go with it. Plus there was a sliver of Pecan Pie on my plate next to the cheesecake. Of course it was all consumed in a heartbeat. Yikes! I need to keep moving to digest all this good food. See you later guys, enjoy the Kaluha and thanks for the wine!

I arrive at house #3 around 4:30 – just as they too are sitting down to eat Thanksgiving Dinner – dé·jà vu. No thanks, please just let me sit here and have a splash of wine. Sharon hands me a wine glass full to the brim. OMG. I drink it quickly so they can get on with their meal and I can get back to the doggies. The food by now has moved through my stomach and the only thing left sloshing around in there is red vino! (And, you wonder where Misty Ann gets her wine tooth?) Thanks Guys, have a Happy Thanksgiving, and call me later if you need help with the leftovers!

By this time I’m feeling pretty guilty for being away all day. I arrive back at TBTB just in time to make doggie dinners. OMG, did I even think to bring home any leftovers? Nada. Not only was I gone most of the day I also forgot to bring home a single turkey scrap. So once again they had to settle for kibble with a dollop of canned pumpkin on top!

In the meantime I come up with a plan for black Friday – and NO, it is not shopping. The thought of that madness causes me to hyperventilate! Instead at TBTB Dog Camp we are celebrating "black" Friday as "Dog Day Thanks-giving" – sounds much more appealing, don’t you think?

So. . . on Friday morning in the company of seven grateful canines, I roasted a Butterball turkey breast, made mashed potatoes, herb stuffing, gravy and lima beans, all while they sat in the kitchen and patiently looked on. At last their real Thanksgiving dinner was served! And, a short time later I had seven snoring dogs sacked out in the living room. Life is as it should be at TBTB Dog Camp where dogs are treated special - as they should be.

I am thankful for the six special dogs (LucGoose, WoodBoy, DoDog, RockDog, Misty Annie, & BunBun Roush) that permanently share my space, and all our canine guests that come over for a sniff around Tails-By-The-Bay - the upscale retreat for the well-pampered dog. Woof! Woof!

or on this day. . .
Gobble, Gobble!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tales of a Dogsitter - Misty Ann Strikes Again!

Okay so Misty has become Misty Ann, Misty Annie, Misty Annie, Annie, Annie, and now the latest? Ms. Annie. It seems to suit her. I have fallen for this foster girl – not only is she funny, she is extremely loving, and whenever she sees a chance for some solo attention, she gets on my lap, licks my face and rolls onto her back for a belly rub. This makes her happy. I can tell because she has a perpetual smile on her lips. However, she is still up to her tricks on the side.

I have started feeding her in a Kong and she loves it. She’s so efficient and patient in her task of destuffing it. I fill up her food bowl and then stuff the Kong directly from her bowl. It is two full Kongs worth plus after all the work, she then gets to lick the bowl clean. Talk about excited! She jumps three feet off the ground when she sees me with the Kong and her bowl.

Tonight she finished her dinner and was happy to chill by the woodstove with the other six canines in camp. I was enjoying my glass of wine, she now knows it is off limits at least while I’m next to it but I know she would go for it if I got up for any reason. ☺ Anyhow I love reading my book with a glass of vino in front of the fire on a cold winter night surrounded by all things dog.

Tonight, I hear something upstairs. I look around me and mentally do a head count. Okay so six are accounted for, who is missing? Ahhhh, it’s Misty Ann or Ms. Misty, now known as Annie. Although there is a commotion upstairs I call her and she runs to me and immediately lies down at my feet looking contrite. Okay, girly. I know you’re up to SOMETHING, but that’s okay. I’ll check on it later.

Two hours later I go upstairs and everything looks in order. Except. . . the small bowl with doggies treats is missing. I see some paperwork on the floor under my desk and realize that Annie has apparently jumped on my chair, moving onto the desk (where she knocked two pieces of paper onto the floor) and gone over to the bookcase for the big snag. That’s right, the entire bowl that held doggie treats is missing. Other than that everything is as it should be. I look under the desk, in the doggie tent, under the bed and have yet to find the bowl. Go figure.

She’s amazing. She moves in for the snag, grabs it and hides all the evidence. I’m not sure I would have noticed the missing bowl without the clue of papers on the floor. Hey girl, you almost got away with it. But where IS the bowl? Did she eat it? I’m sure she stashed it to be rid of the evidence and it will turn up at the most unexpected time.

Living with a smart little wiggle butt is indeed a challenge. She is a howl and I doubt seriously that she will ever leave TBTB Dog Camp. She keeps us on our toes here and we like that. Ms. Misty Annie - we love you! How could we not? You are not only clever but also a complete riot. Now, where is that bowl that once held the liver treats???? All the dogs want to know . . .

Woof! Woof!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tales of a Dogsitter - The Nose Knows

Quirky Misty is up to her tricks again with the dogsitters that fill-in at TBTB Dog Camp. She knows I have her figured out so she doesn’t get away with much anymore. I have learned what needs to be Misty-proofed around here, including my cabernet glass. However, old habits die-hard especially when a new alpha steps into the picture . . . let the games begin.

Sarah, my summer roommate adored the dogs, especially Misty who would sneak into her room every chance she got. Misty bonded with Sarah almost immediately when she arrived in Homer. So when I decided to fly back east to visit family, Sarah volunteered to care for all the doggies for the few days I would be gone. She was fully aware of Misty’s propensity to jump and grab whatever was available on the edge of the kitchen counter, and to put her nose in just about anything that she found interesting, especially good wine. Sarah was actually the one that put the childproof latches on the kitchen cabinets to keep Misty and her accomplices out of them. However, Sarah was about to learn just how far this girl would go to when guided by her stimulated Nose.

After a few long doggie days Sarah was in town running personal errands and decided to treat herself to some delicious Thai noodles at the Vagabond Café. Not wanting to leave the dogs home alone for long, she got her order to go. When she arrived home she placed her lunch in the center of the kitchen bar (out of jump and grab range) and quickly went upstairs to check the phone messages. She returned in a flash to find her noodles totally consumed by apparently one amazing blonde wiggle butt. To this day Sarah has no idea how Misty could have possibly got on that counter, ate the noodles in a FLASH, and got back off the counter without a sound – it’s a complete mystery to both of us. But the only thing left on the counter that afternoon was an empty noodle box. And, sitting nearby on the floor was a very sated cocker spaniel with a smirk on her face. The good news? Sarah was determined to have noodles that day. She returned to the café and after telling her story to the owner, got a second order on the house. She went straight home and ate them before you-know-who had a chance to even think about scoring again!

Fast-forward another month. . . Sarah is now back in San Francisco so I hired a vet tech to help with the business when I travel. Last week I went to Anchorage for an overnight stay and explained in detail to Alisa the personalities of each dog. She too was aware of Misty’s food fetish – I told her Sarah’s story. So, when I returned home I was surprised to hear yet another tale of the Nose. Seems that nose cannot resist the smell of food, particularly if it’s anywhere close to being accessible - remember she can obviously leap tall buildings in a single bound!

Alisa stopped at McDonald’s to grab an evening meal – McBurger (thank goodness without ketchup or onions) and a large order of fries. When she arrived home the dogs desperately needed to go out for a potty break. She ran upstairs, food in hand (first mistake) and stashed it in her duffle bag throwing a coat over the pile (second mistake), and raced back downstairs to let the dogs out. She was out for only a minute when it dawned on her there was no Misty in the pack. Oh NO!

Back inside and up the stairs only to find???? You guessed it. An empty burger box that was slightly ajar – no trace of food anywhere, a container that once was full of fries, and a cocker spaniel with a “who, me?” look on her face. The food had been consumed in a nana-second. Alisa could not believe it and being a vet tech she also knew she was in for trouble – like diarrhea! What she didn’t expect to see were whole fries coming out the other end. Misty had obviously inhaled the food! After a few bouts of much expected diarrhea the next day, things were pretty much back to normal when I returned that evening. Alisa is still in shock that a dog could eat so much, so fast. That be our blonde quirky girl.

Since Misty is a rescue girl, I have to wonder if her food obsession comes from a history of deprivation, or if it is just her nose that takes over? That’s the thing about rescue animals; we have no clue where they came from or what they’ve been through. There is something about this blonde girl – her tenacity and cleverness endears her to everyone she comes in contact with. One of the volunteers from Camp Cocker Rescue recently visited both BunBun and Misty here in Homer. The girls remembered her and were so glad to see her. After reading my story about Misty getting into the red wine, Kristi brought us a bottle of Merlot to share. Thanks Kristi! Misty actually got to smell it this time, but I drank it before she had the chance!

Misty is so adorable who could get mad at that innocent looking little face? We just deal with all her quirkiness. In fact, it keeps us laughing most of the time. But I have decided to include in my instructions for any dogsitter that covers for me the following disclaimer:

“WARNING: Place All Unattended Food Items in the OVEN - The Nose Knows.”

Life continues to be a HOWL at TBTB Dog Camp. Woof! Woof!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tales of a Dogsitter - Blood, Sweat & Tears???

Parker, a beautiful 90 lb. golden lab arrived at TBTB for his first visit. Like most labs he immediately bonded with the pack and was ready to participate in all things dog. He appeared a bit chunky but was still willing to run and play with the other dogs. His ball obsession was even more profound than the Tedster, another Lab that will fetch the ball until he drops. Little did I know that Parker, although a bit overweight, would be able to outrun, outfox (dog) and basically outdo all canines with his ball chasing abilities! This includes beating out Forty West, an eight-month-old lab puppy that can fly like the wind. There was no stopping the Parkster, none of the other dogs could hold a candle to this amazing runner. I was in total awe, not believing a dog that size could move so fast!

We made several trips to the playing field across the street. It’s actually called a “gravel” pit but there is no gravel, only sand to run and roll around in. The dogs love it - up one side of the sandy hill and down the other – great exercise for all, including me. On the way to the field we take a trail that is surrounded by low prickly bushes and ground tundra that is difficult to get through. However, the dogs manage to run in and out chasing who knows what. The moose smells are tremendous as there is a cow with twin calves that frequent the trail after hours.

I often throw the chuck-it ball deep into the bushes so the dogs will have to hunt for it. Of course Parker pops out with the ball in his mouth over and over, followed by two trailing Labs wondering how he could possibly be doing that! We were almost to the field so I threw the ball in the bushes one last time for Parker to retrieve. He ran in and quickly brought the ball back to my feet. But what was that on his foot? OMG and, all over his chest, and covering the side of his face? It’s red, wet and sticky. Blood? What the hell???

Parker is jumping like crazy in anticipation of yet another toss of the tennis ball, as the blood pours onto the ground at his feet. Finally I get a grip on his collar to settle him down so I can find the problem. He looks at me like: “Problem, what problem?” I have never seen so much blood and he is oblivious to it as he continues dancing around my feet.

I finally see a small slit in his right ear and the blood is literally pumping out, running like a faucet. OMG, the other dogs are getting it on them and my hands are soaked. I struggle to get him back to the deck to have a better look while he is still waiting for me to throw the ball. Finally back at the house I manage to get the other dogs inside as I barricade Parker on the deck, grab some paper towels and attempt to stop the bleeding. The cut does not look that bad – it’s only a small slit on the bottom of his right ear (less than an inch long) but the blood on the deck reminds me of what a moose slaughter must look like – not that I have ever seen one.

I am running out of towels and the blood is still pouring. Finally I get my neighbor on my cell and ask her to come over and help me. In the meantime I call my vet and find out that a dog cutting his ear is similar to us cutting our forehead. The blood vessels are on the surface and the bleeding is profuse. She told me to try and get the bleeding stopped with pressure, and if necessary I could bring him to the Clinic and they would do it. Pressure, how can I possibly get him to hold still long enough to apply pressure?

My neighbor arrives with gauze and surgical tape. We attempt to fold Parker’s ear over the top of his head and make a turban around his head, securing it with the tape. I’m holding this wiggle butt boy as she wraps and wraps, dropping the tape twice in the process. By this time I am soaked in blood and sweat! So far so good, until . . . . OH NO, the vibration starts at his head, moving down his back and ending in full force with his tail whipping back and forth - the full Labrador retriever shake-off. The turban at this point is completely dismantled and the blood is once again spilling out of the cut onto the deck. There is no way I can stop it and the wood on the deck is getting redder by the minute. All the other doggies are watching through the sliding glass door in hopes of getting out to investigate all the action. No way José - I don’t need another eight dogs covered in blood!

I called the owner to get her okay for a vet visit and although I had not heard back from her, I made the decision to take Parker in. I called back to let the Clinic know to expect us, gathered up a towel to put pressure on the cut while getting Parker into VeVe. Down the hill one-handed as I struggled to shift gears plus keep the towel on his wound while begging him to not shake off in the car. We finally arrive at the Clinic and I get Parker weighed in leaving an incredible bloody trail around us.

Finally, the tech takes him from me and tells me it will be awhile as they are slammed with emergencies right now. As I hand him over the receptionist said to me: “we have a bathroom in the back that you can use to wash up.” Great, my hands are covered in both wet and dry sticky blood. “Thanks,” I said as I closed the bathroom door. It wasn’t until I looked in the mirror that I realized it wasn’t just my hands that were covered, my entire face looked like I had been in battle. I couldn’t resist giggling at the image in the mirror, as I washed up and drove home to clean up the car and the deck.

In the meantime Parker’s owner called and said he was prone to accidents and wasn’t the least bit surprised that he was at the vet’s office. I barely got the massacre cleaned up when the phone rang and the receptionist at the Clinic said he was ready for pickup. Wow! That was fast. No worries, she said it was a small scratch probably from a tree branch, and they just cauterized it (ouch!), stopped the bleeding and wrapped it up tightly to heal. He was good to go. I rushed back down to the office to find a very pathetic looking Boy. Tears starting flowing from my eyes when I saw how pitiful he looked. All I could do was bend down and hug him.

He had a turban securely wrapped around his head and under his chin making it impossible for him to shake it loose. In addition they had a cone around his neck making it hard for him to walk without tripping or running into something. I looked at him; he looked at me pleading for me to do something. I told the vet tech that the cone would never work. She said the vet wanted it to stay on for two days. Okay, I said, but he’s not going to tolerate it. I could see the fight or flight look in his eyes – oh well, we’ll give it a try. Before we made it to my car he had ripped the cone and it was dangling around his neck. I took it the rest of the way off his head and rubbed his back convincing him to relax and not shake.

Parker managed to get through the next two days without getting his ear out of the wrapping. He tried and almost had it loose a couple times but he was able to keep it on. His owner picked him up a very sad looking pup, but at least the bleeding had stopped, no stitches were required and his ear would be back to normal in a few days. Thank Goodness! I was stunned when she gave me a $50 tip that she insisted I had earned.

The morale to this story? If your dog cuts his ear resist the urge to freak out about the amount of blood that squirts out. Chances are it looks a lot worse that it really is. My job is always challenging and exciting – there is definitely never a dull moment in the life of a dogsitter! Especially one that loves her job.

Woof! Woof!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10 Pet Peeves that Dogs Have About Humans

Blaming your farts on me.....
not funny... not funny at all !!!

Yelling at me for barking.

Taking me for a walk, then
not letting me check stuff out.
Exactly whose walk is this anyway?

Any trick that involves balancing
food on my nose. Stop it!

Any haircut that involves bows or ribbons.
Now you know why we chew your stuff
up when you're not home.

The sleight of hand, fake fetch throw.
You fooled a dog! Whoooo Hoooooooo!

Taking me to the vet for 'the big snip',
then acting surprised when I freak
out every time we go back!

Getting upset when I sniff the crotches of your guests.
Sorry, but I haven't quite mastered that handshake thing yet.

Dog sweaters. Hello ???
Haven't you noticed the fur?

How you act disgusted when I lick myself.
Look, we both know the truth. You're just jealous.

Now lay off me on some of these things.
We both know who's boss here!
You don't see me picking up your poop do you?



Monday, September 20, 2010

Tales of a BIRDsitter? - Bye, Bye Birdie

It is truly a beautiful Sunday in Homer town. I had a friend down for the weekend and along with seeing the play at Pier One Theatre “We Won’t Pay, We Won’t Pay,” we had dinner and breakfast out, enjoying a great weekend.

Before she left to drive back to Anchorage we went for a bite to eat and then to the Oyster Farm to buy some fresh Kachemak Bay oysters for her to take back to the city. Judy left for her drive back and I headed up the hill to nine dogs ready for a walk.

As I approached the front door I saw a small bird on the steps. So often birds fly into the large windows in the front of the house, and break their neck in the process. Lying on the step by the sliding glass door was a lovely little Gold Crown Kinglet. He had obviously hit the glass and was struggling to breathe. I picked him up and saw that one of his eyes was really alert but the other one was smashed, I assume that’s the side where he hit the glass.

This happened a few years back and I massaged the bird, and then laid him in a safe area so he could regain his strength. I went back to check on him a few hours later, picked him up and he flew out of my hand, well on his way. That was a good feeling. I hate finding the dead ones on my deck. Once I tried to cremate a tiny creature and had an awful time getting it done. I have since taken to placing them carefully in the tall grass and saying a blessing for the life that was lost by my window glass, and the pain and suffering endured. Although I know the critters out there will eventually eat the corpse, I recognize it is part of the food chain and that’s just the way it is.

This little guy, who I named Little Bird, was struggling very hard to sit up. I found a nice spot, got a soft cloth for him to lie on and left him to recover. The spot was high on a ledge so the dogs would not find him when we went walking. A few hours later I was delighted to see that Little Bird was gone from the ledge, thinking he had flown off. It wasn’t until I looked down that I saw him lying on the ground beneath the ledge still struggling. ☹

Once again I put him back on the ledge – this time in a small box. A little while later I checked and he had once again tried to fly and fallen off the ledge. The six-foot fall was not helping his condition at all. I needed another plan.

I decided to put him on the back deck away from the dogs. Twice he got out of his box there and was desperately trying to be on his way but couldn’t quite do it. He was wearing himself out in the process. I know a lot about dogs but absolutely nothing about birds. I was worried that Little Bird was in pain and I had no idea what to do about it. Who could I call on a Sunday afternoon for advice?

I tried Islands and Oceans Visitors Center but was unable to get a human on the phone, and leaving my name and number for a return call on Monday was not an option. I then called Homer Veterinary Clinic and got the number for the weekend Vet. The on-call Vet answered on the fifth ring and I explained the situation to her and asked what I should do. She said I could bring him in the following morning. “But, what about the rest of today and tonight if he is suffering,” I wondered? “Isn’t there anyone else I can call?”

She told me there was a bird rehabilitation woman named Charlotte in Homer and was happy to find her phone number for me. I got Charlotte on the line just as she was leaving for her shift at the Lynx Golf Course. She told me to bring Little Bird to her there. Deal, I arranged to meet her at the golf course in an hour. I got Little Bird ready for the trip by placing him in a deeper box with some fleece lining.

Little Bird seemed to be getting stronger as the day progressed but he still couldn’t fly even though both his wings were flapping. On the drive to the golf course I had a difficult time keeping him in the box because he was determined to escape. Hang in there little buddy; we’re going to get you some help!

Finally we arrived in the parking lot at the Golf Course and Charlotte was there to meet us. We took Little Bird inside so she could examine him. She thought perhaps he was still stunned a bit. But, because his legs were hanging and not engaging in his efforts, she said he also might have a neurological injury. She told me not to worry; she had rehabilitated birds in much worse shape than Little Bird. She explained that he is a migratory bird and if his injuries require a few weeks of healing, he would have to stay with her for the winter. But, if he’s up and flying in the next few days he will be able to make his return trip south to the warm country.

I am confident that he will be nursed back to health in comfort no matter how long it takes. He’s in good hands. I said my goodbye to the sweet little bird and gave Charlotte my phone number. She promised to call and let me know how he was doing. I left knowing Little Bird had a strong fortitude and was not about to give up the fight. Bye, Bye Birdie. Grow strong with time and have a good life. ☺

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tales of a Dogsitter - Quirky Misty

Tales of a Dogsitter – Quirky Misty
Misty, one of the California blonde rescue girls from Camp Cocker, arrived at TBTB Dog Camp sporting a bag of clever tricks. First, she has the most adorable tilted head with a mop-top (some call it a cocker crown – long hair on the top of her head) making her look oh so sweet and innocent, It took me a few days to figure out she was the culprit getting into all things Not Dog.

Misty Ann could leap off the ground in a single bound, (about three feet in the air) and grab whatever she saw on her way down, and then run with it. She started with the trash – easy to solve. I just moved the trash far enough back off the counter that she can no longer reach it. She then moved on to grabbing food bowls that were intended for arriving dogs, off the counter. All the dogs loved her for this one because when the bowl hit the floor and scattered food, the game of clean-up was on. Again, this was easy to solve. I just moved the bowls away from the counter edge.

Misty also loved to lie on the kitchen table so she could be eye level with the activities. Solved that too, moved the chairs away from the table so she couldn’t get up there. The other day I left my bathroom makeup drawer open and couldn’t find the mascara. Later I noticed it in the doggie pup tent – she doesn’t chew anything but food, but she loves to grab and run – it’s a game with her. And she’s sneaky – sometimes you don’t see her do it, especially if she doesn’t have to jump up to reach her target.

Her latest trick. . . I’m sorry to say is one she has taught the other dogs. I was on the back deck yesterday enjoying the sun. The puppies and I had just returned from a run and everyone was tired and ready for a nap - or so I thought. Duke the Rottweiler pup and my other spaniels were just ready to nod off in the glorious sunshine when I realized Forty West and RockDog were missing from the crowd. I assumed they fell asleep downstairs (in my dreams) but something told me I better check. Quiet puppies could mean trouble.

I crept down the stairs and there they were – the two of them, inside the cabinet with both their noses buried inside a box of CornFlakes. OMG it was so funny. They were quietly chowing down and didn’t even notice when I came up behind them to snap a picture and then say in my big, bad, scary voice: “what are you doing?,” totally startling both of them. Misty of course was sitting in the background with a smirk on her face. I have chased her away from the Lazy Susan cabinet many times. I cleaned up the cornflake crumbs and checked the box to find Forty West and RockDog had devoured almost the entire thing. The good news, in no time flat they were sound to sleep on the back deck with the rest of the pack.

The puppies now know how to rotate the Lazy Susan cabinet so they can help themselves to whatever they want on the shelf – they figured this out by watching Quirky Misty! Needless to say she has integrated very well into the TBTB resident pack and made lots of friends with her antics. The Lazy Susan problem is not so easy to solve, especially with all the dogs aping each other. It will require a child’s latch on the cabinet to keep them out, especially since they have been rewarded with yummy food every time they open it.

I’m now onto Misty’s bouncing up and down, so when I hear it I call out to her and she immediately stops or comes upstairs. But, the other mischief – well I find myself counting heads all the time so that I know if any dogs are missing before the trouble starts! It’s impossible to get mad at these adorable little faces – I just have to stay one step ahead of them and think like a Dog. Needless to say when I have a group of puppies here for the day it can be quite exhausting. Oh well, just another day in the life of a dogsitter. I truly love my job – it’s a real HOWL! ☺

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tales of a Dogsitter – Tightass*

*American Slang meaning: an inhibited or excessively self-controlled person.

I have a friend that works for a bear viewing charter service here in Homer and she often refers clients to TBTB Dog Camp. Rather than leave their dogs in a camper for 8-10 hours while they are off photographing frolicking brown bears catching salmon, clients can drop their dogs off with me for daycare or an overnight stay.

Yesterday my friend had an extremely uptight east coast couple inquiring about a bear-viewing trip – she referred to the woman as a “tightass.” She can get away with stereotyping east coasters because she is in fact one herself and can immediately recognize the attitude - so different from what you find in Alaska.

This particular couple was concerned about leaving their dog home alone in the RV, so my friend mentioned TBTB Dog Camp adding that the owner (that be me) loved dogs so much that they were allowed on the furniture, and that she even let them sleep on the bed with her if they wanted to.

OMG, well that did it – sunk the sale, out the window, over the top! My friend said the look on the woman’s face was priceless. Aghast, they both stared at her totally stone-faced, no hint of even a small smile, and tightass said: That will NEVER work. We do NOT allow our dog on any furniture.”

Recognizing the humor in all this and knowing the sale was gone, my friend simply agreed. “Yelp. You’re right, that will never work!” They didn’t book the trip. . . or dog camp. ☹

I wonder if a tightass client would produce a tightass dog? No doubt, but I bet the dog – with a little encouragement - would have a ball letting his hair down. He could really cut loose and have a once in a lifetime experience at Tails-By-The-Bay Dog Camp, where dogs are allowed to be dogs. And except for the smile on his lips, who would know the difference? ☺

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tales of a Dogsitter - Wino?

As I sit here in bed writing TBTB Chronicles I am enjoying a glass of cabernet sauvignon. The sun is sinking behind the horizon earlier these days and the leaves are changing colors too quick for comfort. There is a definite bite in the evening air. The locals know that fall is upon us here in Homer and winter is but a couple months away. Yikes – it seems to be coming really fast!

There is nothing better than a nice glass of red vino to take the chill away - comfort for the soul. I look around and see six dogs sharing my bed as I write. Of course they are all laid out, fast asleep with the heavy breathing of happy canines. Life is comfortable at TBTB Dog Camp.

I creep out of bed for a bathroom run careful not to wake anyone up, run downstairs and am back in less than 5 minutes. And there she is. . OMG, I can’t believe it! Camp Cocker Misty, Quirky Misty we call her because she is so hilarious, is standing on the nightstand with her entire snout in my glass. She is lapping away at the wine just like water and loving it! I struggle to get her face out of my glass and notice that she had consumed more than half of it. Needless to say she is now sound to sleep by my side. Can’t fault the girl for having good taste. Sweet dreams girly! Hopefully you won’t have a nasty headache in the morning.

Do you suppose dogs can develop a taste for good wine? If so, would they then be called a Dino?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tails of a Dogsitter – Hair Balls?

Dogs that come to Tails-By-The-Bay Dog Camp are free to be. They are allowed on the furniture, in the bed, on the deck, in my studio – whatever makes them happy. We aim to please here. I often work in my art studio accompanied by as many as 15 dogs at times. They are happy just to be with me and often lie around sleeping as I work on my photography prints.

I have an archival printer that allows me to print large images for my clients. Lately I have had an ink smudge on the corner and down the middle of the prints. It looks similar to a roller mark and I can’t for the life of me figure out where it’s coming from. I have wasted so much paper trying to switch the settings to see if it makes a difference. Nada. With Q-Tips and alcohol I have cleaned every roller I can find, especially the ones that line up with where the smudge comes out on the paper. I have also done the automatic cleaning through the computer process that takes mucho ink to complete. Short of taking the printer apart piece by piece, I have tried everything I can think of and nothing has worked. The smudge is still there.

Consequently, I can’t get the work out. I have client projects lined up and it’s either find a computer maintenance shop that will look at it, or bite the bullet and buy another printer at the tune of 1K+. There aren’t a lot of options in Homer, and usually tech people tell you it will be more expensive to fix it than replace it. Well, I called Radio Shack and that’s exactly what they told me until I explained it was an archival, large format printer with a replacement cost of at least a grand. Having said that he agreed to have a look at it for $65/hour.

After a few days I called to check on the progress only to find he had just gotten to it. I explained that I had work to do and needed to know as soon as possible if it was fixable, or if I had to order a replacement. Not a problem, he assured me. He would call me later with a diagnosis. Much to my surprise he called back a few hours later to say it was ready for pickup and if I hurried, I could pick it up before they closed at 6PM.

“You fixed it?” I was amazed.
“Yelp,” he said. “It’s ready to go.”
“So, what was the problem?” I asked

He explained how he had pulled a large ball of hair out of it, and “it wasn’t human”, he added.

OMG, I burst out laughing, asking him if he knew what I did for a living? He hesitated and then responded with “other than making photographic prints? No”.

“Well, I’m a dogsitter,”
I said. . . and it was his turn to crack up.

Yes indeed a large hairball had been imbedded on one of the rollers causing a huge smear on my work. Why is that not a surprise? Maybe I will have to start vacuuming the printer just like I do the floors -- at least twice a day! You just never know where the “essence of the dog” is going to turn up at Tails-By-The-Bay Dog Camp.

And, the good news? For less than $100 I got my printer up and running again and I don’t have to buy that new one after all. Even with hairballs. I still love my job! It keeps me smiling. ☺

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Day in the Life of a Dogsitter

Just how DID I become a “dogsitter”? An evolution, that’s what it was – never planned, it just sort of happened over time. I started doing it for my friends and word spread about how their dogs loved coming here. Eventually I came up with a day rate to supplement my income as a server, created a name for my business, got some cards printed and like magic. . . I no longer had to wait tables in Homer. In fact after 5 years, I am so busy that a social outing is no more than 3-4 hours. This is 24-7 job – there are no days off unless I plan them well in advance and find a substitute that is willing to sleep with dogs - essentially a like-minded person as nuts about canines as yours truly.

Like most people sometimes I wonder about the job I have selected. But, I do adore hanging out with dogs – they make me smile. In fact I was probably a cocker spaniel in another life. In this business most days are a complete howl, but other days can be exhausting and/or exasperating. Today was one of those “other” days.

Several dogs woke up at 6 AM and needed to go potty. Okay, I climb out of the dog-filled bed (sometimes a challenge), grab my robe; search for my flip-flops, and locate the contact solution that allows my eyes to open enough to get the doggies downstairs and out the door. On the way I see that someone was not able to hold it so I grab the bleach cleaner along with the paper towels and wipe it up on the fly. Since I am the pack leader they all wait for me. I run downstairs quickly to let the other nine out before they too pee their pants – or in this case, pee on the floor (thank goodness for laminate floors). And, for me personally - well I will just have to hold it for now.

Pampered housedogs do not particular like rain so they immediately put on the brakes when they see it is pouring outside. Okay, so I go out first and coax them onto the porch, where they would stay unless of course I go out to the grass with them. GAWD! As I stand in the pouring rain in my bathrobe they all scurry around finding the right “spot” to relieve their bladders. Finally everyone is finished and at the backdoor – obviously deciding they can hold the poop until the rain ceases a bit – fat chance. It’s a record rainy season here in Homer – we are going on 29 days of straight rain so wet dogs are the norm.

We are finally back inside – a pack of wet dogs and a drenched blonde anxious for her turn in the loo. Ahhhh, life is good. Before getting on with the canine breakfast regime I run upstairs to change out of my wet robe and into some real clothes – sweats. And there I see it, OMG. . . how could I have missed the smell and the size – the thought flashed through my head that maybe, just maybe I was getting desensitized. That’s a scary thought. In any event, one of the dogs obviously had a blowout sometime during the night – diarrhea. Back downstairs to get the bleach bucket – still in my robe. Sigh. . . .

Back up the stairs, followed by the herd. As I’m cleaning up poop, messy poop, lots of poop, I see Qimmiq, the yellow lab on the back deck, retching. Two large blobs of vomit hit the deck - thank goodness this is outside. Of course all the other dogs want to investigate to see if there is any undigested food in the pile. I get them inside and slam the back deck door leaving Qimmiq in the rain to make sure she is indeed done, while I finish cleaning up the poop pile that I somehow missed in my morning fog. That done, I go to the back deck and see that Qimmiq has eaten grass during her brief potty break outside, and that is why she has thrown up. She’s fine now and ready for breakfast. I clean that up and head back downstairs to trash all the evidence.

And what dear God, is THAT I see on the living room floor? An entire roll of shredded toilet paper all over in the short time I was cleaning??? Teeny, weenie, tiny pieces of paper everywhere that needs to be picked up. Grrrrr. . . Although tedious, this is so much better than cleaning up bodily fluids – I’m at my limit already today - one more pile of anything could indeed push me over the edge into a fit of hysteria.

I look at the clock – it is now 7:30 and the dogs still have to eat. Never mind, I am getting dressed first (I dream of a shower but know it is out of the question right now) – back upstairs I cautiously peer into the bedroom wary of finding yet another mess. Wheeew! Coast is clear, looks like I can get those sweats on now (who needs to go to the gym when I spend my days running up and down stairs?).

Finally it’s 8 AM and I am ready to start my real day. It’s been a long morning but I look around me at nine adorable little faces sitting in the kitchen waiting for me to make their oatmeal, peel the boiled eggs, cut up a banana and get their homemade Greek yogurt ready to eat. They clean their bowls, lick their lips and are now ready for their morning nap. I’m exhausted and ready for yoga practice to center myself for the rest of the day.

Like any job, some days are better than others. Life is as it should be at Tails-By-The-Bay Dog Camp – where a dogsitters job is never quite done! Oh, and did I mention how much I LUV my job? Namaste

“Observe the wonders as they occur around you.
Don’t claim them. Feel the artistry
moving through, and be silent.” – Rumi

Monday, August 16, 2010

Five Dogs, VeVe & Me

Days slip into weeks at Tails-By-the-Bay Doggie Bed ‘N Biscuit. The summer is flying by with lots of doggies in and out plus fabulous weather suitable for beachcombing and ball chasing hounds. Tuesday morning and time for a run to the beach in Veve. Dukie, one of the big dogs has decided after a romp in the gravel pit that he wants to hang out under the house instead of in the house! That’s all fine and dandy except we are ready to load up for a beach run and he won’t come out from under the house. So, after tempting him with a hotdog that he cannot resist, he moves closer to me – my body is partially under the house in a scrunched up contortion as the opening is not really big enough for me but somehow I have managed it. With an outstretched hand holding an Oscar Meyer Weiner I am able to grab his collar with the other hand as he chows down on the beef – he also LOVES cheese but forget the dog treats - he won’t touch them! ☺ He didn’t resist coming, just wanted to know that Yes I am giving him the special attention he deserves, and Yes I really do want him to come in the house. The hardest part was getting my body to unwind out of the predicament while holding his collar. That done, Dukie meanders into the house to a doggie bed for a nap - fully sated after eating an entire hotdog.

Okay, now I think we are ready to go. I open the car door and 5 dogs jump into Veve each claiming their spot. Teddy is a yellow lab with more energy than ten dogs – he’s off the wall hyper and will chase the ball until he drops. No matter how much we exercise he never wants to quit! He could actually be the Marley dog, reincarnated. And then there’s Issy, another yellow lab that loves the chase but can’t come close to competing with the Tedster in speed, although she never gives up. The big dogs are relegated to the back area, while the smaller ones share the front seat. Yang believes he is a big dog most of the time and prefers staying in the back with Teddy & Issy. So that means Luce & Woody are in the front seat with me.

Okay, so you’re wondering - where’s Zippy? Well, she is not invited to the beach because she doesn’t really like it much, but instead prefers the bakery right next door. Off to Two Sisters Bakery first chance she gets to pester the outdoor diners into giving up their croissants, or at least a portion thereof. When that happens (and it always does) I end up spending more time looking for her than throwing the ball. So consequently she gets to stay home when the rest of us go to the beach for a serious ball-throwing session.

Getting there is always a thrill as the excitement in the car is totally over the top. The dogz are whining, barking, prancing, and panting in anticipation of a run in the sand. It’s approximately three miles down the hill and what a ride it is! The big dogs are in my face (Teddy manages to slime me twice), standing on my shoulder to get a better view, hanging out the window in hopes of getting there faster while the smaller dogs are climbing on each other trying to get a spot on my lap to look out the window. Are we there yet? Are we close? Meanwhile Veve continues down the slope on autopilot. I’m sure anyone passing me would swear the dogz were driving her down East Hill Road since I am barely visible in the crowd – which also means I’m struggling to see the road for most of the ride. The good news is I have driven it so much that it’s not necessary to see exactly where I am. Are we there yet?

Finally we get to the parking lot at Bishops Beach just as a man in a wheelchair, and his dog are leaving. He looks stunned when we pull in next to him, and yells over the chaos: “How MANY dogs do you have in there?” just as his dog jumps up to peer in the window. OMG, the 5 dogs already excited, now go berserk! So much so, that I’m sure the car is rocking back and forth as they all begin barking and jumping up and down at once. Needless to say the windows are fogged over and I’m sure he didn’t hear my answer. I finally manage to get the door open (I’m ready to get the hell out of the car!) and all five of them fly over my lap to meet his dog. Lots of circling, butt sniffs, posturing and doggie communication is necessary before we leave the parking area heading toward the beach. Are we there yet?

I get the chuck-it ball, the bag of treats, my camera and a couple of leashes just in case I need them, and head down to the water. At last we arrive at the Homer public beach where dogs are allowed to run free without leash rules. People often do a double take when they see me and all the dogs – some actually ask if all these are mine, while others just have that look of wonder. It’s low tide so there is a large area of packed sand for the dogs to run. And run they do! Chasing the ball, swimming in the ocean, sniffing butts, getting treats and generally having a doggie good time. Issy and Teddy develop an efficient system for ball retrieval. Teddy swims out to retrieve the tennis ball while Issy waits in the surf. When he reaches her he drops the ball allowing her to actually bring it ashore and back to me, as he waits in the wings for another long throw into the icy waters of Kachemak Bay. It’s interesting to watch them work so well together while still totally enjoying themselves! Of course Yang is trying to figure it all out while running in the surf and getting his feet wet for the first time. The spaniels are content to watch this evolve as they have been there done that many times in the past.

After over an hour of running full speed, we head back to Veve. My friend Kay is playing Frisbee with her dog Tango and is curious to see me get 5 wet dogz into a Volkswagen. No problem, they follow me back to the car at a much slower pace than when we arrived, and one by one jump into Veve and shake off. Okay, so I have a sandy, wet-dog smelling car. That’s okay; I have 5 happy, content dogz almost immediately asleep for the drive home. What a contrast, you could hear a pin drop in Veve. When we get home the dogs stretch out on the deck to dry in the warm sun. Teddy did make one attempt to bring me a ball, and I just looked at him with that “you’ve got to be kidding” look. The next thing I know he is sound to sleep snoring in the sunshine. It’s been quite a day - 5 Dogz, Veve and Me. Life at Tails-By-The-Bay is always an adventure. And, a tired dog is a happy dog! Woof! Woof!

Did I mention how much I love my Job?