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?