Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tales of a Dogsitter - Monday, Monday

On my way downstairs I pass the leather couch covered with sleeping dogs and realize it’s true what my friends say. If you are sitting on my couch, you are taking up a dog spot. I can't remember the last time, if ever, that I actually sat on the couch. If I did the dogs would be all over me because the fact is, like most everything else here, the couch belongs to them. Nothing is sacred in my house of dogs.

When I want some down time I get in my bed and work on the computer and/or read to get away from the hordes of them, but of course even there I have six dogs vying for position on the bed and it's a cluster until everyone finds their spot, circles twice and settles in. And then a lone dog that I won’t name has to be sandwiched in next to me, pushing against the computer eventually disconnecting the power cord. I shove him back a few inches so I can plug my Mac back in and then move my legs over a bit to accommodate his comfort. Finally all is good until I have to get up for something, which means of course everyone else gets up too. When I return to the bed the whole settling-in process is repeated. Once all that is done alas, I can maybe get some work done or at least feel like I can focus on something other than furry creatures that follow me everywhere including the bathroom insisting on being petted while I take a pee. It's exhausting, but also special. I'm not complaining just merely stating how it is at TBTB.

Today is Monday and the sun is out, the front door is open and the dogs are in and out racing on the deck. I am preoccupied with fixing their gourmet breakfast of oatmeal, bananas, and eggs covered with Greek yogurt, and when I turn around OMG. . . a blood bath. A trail of the red, sticky stuff is covering the floor from the deck through the dining area into the kitchen. All eleven dogs are licking, smelling and walking in it; there are blood prints everywhere - a likely scene from a horror film!

One of the sheepdogs has a bloody beard and front legs. I search his head, feet, and mouth along with all the other dogs and can't find where the blood is coming from. I wash the floors in the house, hose off the deck along with the dogs and call it good. The flow of blood has apparently stopped. The dogs just want to wrestle more, so obviously no one is seriously injured. All of this before I'd had my first cup of coffee/tea, or anything else for that matter.

A few minutes later after the final paw prints have been wiped from the floor, I look outside to see the sheepdog's beard again covered in dark red blood dripping off his chin. I grab my gloves, warm water, peroxide, and cotton balls, determined to find the source. After searching through the sticky wet fur on his face and head, I finally find a teeny scratch on the brim of his nose. It is so small that it is barely noticeable, but when I push on it the blood oozes out. So that's it! A micro-cut in an area without much skin, that bleeds and bleeds and bleeds. The vessels are so close to the surface that the blood flows freely from this tiny opening producing enough hemoglobin to simulate a massacre. With the mystery solved, the dog cleaned up and the alum stick applied to BearBoy’s scratch, at last it is time for a doggie breakfast and my first cup of coffee of the week! Bloody Hell, what a morning! ☺

Monday, Monday (ba-da ba-da-da-da)
So good to me (ba-da ba-da-da-da)
Monday mornin’, it was all I hoped it would be
Oh Monday morning, Monday morning couldn’t guarantee (ba-da ba-da-da-da)
That Monday evening you would still be here with me
Monday, Monday can’t trust that day
Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way . . .

Or, something like that. . . just another Monday in the life of a dogsitter!

Woof! Woof!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tales of a Dogsitter - The Story of Bette Cocker

I was at Lisa Ann’s Grooming picking up my sweet WoodBoy, who incidentally loves his occasional spa day. Lisa greeted me with: “you know there’s a black cocker spaniel at the animal shelter, don’t you?” Of course I could have gone all day without hearing those words. She also mentioned that the dog was badly matted and volunteered to groom her for free if ‘someone’ would bring her in. Well, obviously that someone would be me. As I left the salon, Lisa matter-of-factly said: “you’re going down there, aren’t you?” as I nodded my head and left. She knows my connection to the cocker breed.

I put Woody in the car and drove directly to the shelter. Sitting all alone in a huge cage was an elderly girl, overgrown and matted with an uncropped, tangled tail. She looked big but when I touched her I realized it was mostly hair that made her look so large. The first thing I noticed was how happy she appeared with a perpetual smile on her face, and in the mist of the dog barking chaos surrounding her, she didn’t utter a sound.

Apparently she had been picked up in the parking lot of the Down East Saloon and had been at the shelter for a few weeks. There were no calls to claim her even after the daily announcements on public radio. She was now up for adoption but sadly there had been little interest because of her age. Enough said, I paid the adoption fee, put a leash on her and lead her to my VW Beetle. She walked perfect on lead with her head held high, tail swishing back and forth, and still the smile. I couldn’t look at her without smiling; it was contagious. She jumped in the car and sat in the passenger’s seat like she had done it all before.

She needed a name. I hardly knew her but after spending only a few minutes with her, one came to me. She looked like a Bette and when I added Cocker, it was perfect. She immediately accepted that as her new title. With that problem solved we drove directly back to Lisa Ann’s for Bette’s complimentary spa treatment. Oh, and what a treatment it was – she was transformed into a black beauty.

When I saw her I was flabbergasted – OMG, she looked exactly like a cocker spaniel with a feathered plume tail that floated in the wind. She was a bit overweight, but still priceless. I gathered her up for the car ride home to meet the gang at TBTB Dog Camp. I had already given myself the “talk” before I picked her up. I currently have five spaniels and a basset hound of my own so keeping Bette was not an option. My plan was to find her the perfect home and foster her until her human was located.

All the dogs at TBTB loved Bette. She was well socialized, always happy, mellow, completely trained and just the perfect girl. I couldn’t find a thing to change about her behavior. She was a joy – if I felt sad, worried or down all I had to do was look at that big smile to feel better. She spent the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season at TBTB and had a permanent spot on the leather couch in front of the fire. In the meantime I continued to search for her forever home.

A friend of mine had lost her beloved dog in a snow blizzard just a few weeks earlier. Cindy also has a black lab named SusieQ and was eventually going to get another dog. Two dogs are always better than one. I told her about Bette but she wasn’t ready; the accident had been recent and her emotions were still too raw. After a few weeks we agreed to meet at the beach to see if Bette and SusieQ got along – that was a no brainer for me as Bette got along with all living things! After a walk of meeting and greeting, butt sniffing and tail wagging, Cindy decided to take Bette home for a sleepover to see how it went. Well that was all it took. After six-weeks at Tails-By-The-Bay Dog Camp and who knows how many at the shelter, Bette had finally found ‘home’ complete with a big sister!

Bette has since become Bette Boo Cocker and is still smiling. Cindy and SusieQ adore her, and she is my Goddaughter and the Godsister of the TBTB resident pack. We get to visit her and she and SusieQ stay with us when Cindy’s out of town. Bette loves TBTB Dog Camp and all the dogs here, assuming her old spot on the couch when she walks in. But, she is always ecstatic to see her mom, and without hesitation is ready to go home where she and SusieQ share a doggie bed complete with TBTB snug rugs.

By doing some investigative sleuth work I was able to determine that Bette’s first name was Willow. She was given to a family when her original mom got a job in the states and could not take her with and, she is 12 years old. After a couple years with the new family she apparently wandered off, got lost and they never tried to find her.

During her long ordeal at the shelter, Bette never lost her love for life, her trust in humans, or her positive attitude. She has now found her forever home and her smile is bigger than ever! She looks great, feels good after losing a few pounds and is content to live in the moment. In fact, Bette Cocker is happy to just “be.” Thank you Cindy and SusieQ for opening you heart and home up to this beautiful older girl.

Woof! Woof!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tales of a Dogsitter - The Huntress

She rushes to the back door around 6:30 AM each morning anxiously waiting the door to open, wildly wagging her stubby little tail. Outside she barks as she springs off the back deck into the weeds like a petit lapin. Her white wiggle butt quickly disappears in the underbrush as movement erupts and the birds began squawking in protest. She works tenaciously with her nose to the ground ensuring no bush is left untouched.

Focused on her mission I can’t see her, but I do see the bushes swaying back and forth as she moves under them. She has definitely connected to her purpose and doesn’t stop until all the birds are flushed out. She is a petite cocker spaniel, originally bred to flush woodcocks out of the bushes. She is the huntress, doing her job.

The job complete she returns to the back door, spent. Morning dew has drenched her blonde coat and her legs and paws are caked with mud. Big brown eyes look up at me as she patiently waits our routine. I tell her she’s a good girl and put her in the kitchen sink to rinse off the mud, leaves and sticks stuck on her belly. After her mini-bath and breakfast, she finds a spot to take a morning nap. Life is good at Tails-By-The-Bay Dog Camp for BunBun (aka Bunny) Roush.

Bunny arrived at TBTB Dog Camp over a year ago as a foster girl. She was rescued by Camp Cocker from a Los Angeles shelter and had previously been used as a breeder dog. She had multiple litters at a young age, and has had two hernia operations to repair the damage done internally. Bunny now has a permanent home with her foster mom. She lives on two acres with a pack of five other resident dogs, plus all the visiting client dogs. BunBun spends her days flushing birds, eating organic homemade food, begging for treats, walking on the beach and sleeping on the human bed. A special girl with a big heart, Bunny has a bossy disposition. She tells all the dogs who is boss at TBTB but no one really listens. ☺

As a dogsitter I have the opportunity to observe many different breeds as well as some wonderful mutts. It’s fasinating to watch dogs do what they were bred to do. Bunny has found her groove doing what cockers do best – flushing woodcocks. She can hardly wait for the backdoor to open so she can bark and pounce into the surrounding underbrush. Whether these are woodcocks or not, I don’t know. I just know that BunBun is ecstatic running through the brush flushing them every chance she gets. She is a happy girl that has definitely found her forever home. BunBun Roush will never see the inside of an animal shelter again.

Woof! Woof! ☺