Monday, September 17, 2012

Sweet-Tooth Anne

I’m invited to Dr. & Mrs. Smith’s dinner party on Thursday evening. He’s heard I’m a good baker so he requested I bring the dessert. I’m substituting at school all week so it has to be something seasonal and easy because time is a factor. I decide on a pumpkin spice cake with a Grand Marnier cream cheese frosting. I can mix, bake, cool and ice it in just the amount of time I have between getting home from work and being at the party by 6:30. I shop during my lunch break and begin the baking process when I get home. The timing is perfect. I take the cake out of the oven and place it on my bistro table to cool while I go to the bathroom for a quick pee.

When I return to the kitchen I am aghast at the scene before me, so much so that it takes a few seconds to register in my brain. Anne is on top the bistro table, gobbling up the cake so fast that crumbs are flying and the other dogs on the floor are catching them in midair. When she sees me she scurries off the table straight into her crate. Holy Shit, it is 6:00 PM and the entire top layer of the cake is demolished – and I’m talking in nanoseconds. Had I been even 10 more seconds in the bathroom the entire thing would have been gone. I am so pissed I can’t even speak, and she knows it that’s why she’s hiding. I slammed the door on her crate without saying a word. What to do now? I have to tell them.
Gutless Cake

I text Mrs. Smith because it’s easier than calling: “Forget the dessert, Anne ate it. Sorry”. I’m so embarrassed I don’t even want to go. How the hell did she get up there? A bistro table is tall enough to be cocker-proof and I always shove the chairs all the way in to prevent table surfing. I assume she jumped on her crate and leaped three feet across the room and onto the table. With the aroma of pumpkin filling her little nostrils, apparently she just could not resist. Sigh. . .

My cell rings and a man says: “Hi Karen, this is Bob.” I say hi not having a clue who I’m talking to, as I’m still in cake shock.

“You know I used to use the same excuse when I was in medical school and late turning in a paper - the dog ate it.” What? Oh, it’s Dr. Smith.

“Oh Bob, I am so pissed off, sorry about the dessert. And I just sent you a photo to prove it” I say.

“I have a terrible sweet tooth, bring what’s left of the cake and I will eat it.” Of course I think he is just being nice and trying to make me feel better. But no, he insists that I bring the remainder of this gnawed out spice cake. I hang up thinking he can’t be serious. I then get a text from his wife, “he’s such a sweets whore, bring the cake. He will eat it.” Okay, so I take the cake.

Dr. Smith meets me at the door and immediately grabs a bite of the spice cake as I set it down on the counter with the icing container. “Wow, this is really good and it doesn’t even look that bad. Maybe we can fix it?”

Mrs. Smith gets a large glass platter out of the cabinet and we flip the cake out of the bundt pan onto the plate. We begin working with the icing, filling in the sagging areas - a little lopsided, a bit flat but not too bad considering the bottom half has been gutted like a slaughtered animal. A finishing touch is needed to complete the art piece we have created. Something green for the top like a few fern fronds, voila! I must say it doesn’t look that bad, but do we dare serve this dessert?
After the Repair

Serve it we did! Even before we finished our salmon entree Dr. Smith had the cake out ready to cut pieces for all of us, making sure the icing filled any obvious holes on the plate. The guests went on and on about how moist the cake was – maybe Anne left some slobbers? When I left the party there was only a sliver left on the platter. No one breathed a word about a cake-eating cocker spaniel named Anne Banane. Who knew? Only the three of us, and the dogs at TBTB - and they aren’t talkin’! Mum was the word.

Sweet-Tooth Anne is now out of the doghouse and I’m wondering when she will strike again - leaping tall tables in a single bound, or bouncing like a ping-pong ball looking for something to grab off the counter and run. She’s an opportunist and when the situation is right for snagging food, she is all over it. It’s the smell of something cooking in the kitchen that drives her. But who can stay mad at a face that looks like this? Anne Banane you are both exasperating and hilarious!

Woof! Woof!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hitchin’ a Ride on Easy Street

High Five!
Zippity DoDog is a riot. The girl has never known a stranger and is loved by many. A hound dog with a sense of humor that can sometimes be exasperating – well, it doesn’t get much better than that. So today . . .

I drive seven dogs to a dirt road called Easy Street where there are only a few houses, little traffic and lots of open space. The intent is to have a long hike to wear them out because a tired dog is a good dog. We cram ourselves into a white VW Beetle called VeVe. The group includes Forty West and Lady, the Labs; Bear and Mikke, the Old English Sheeps; RockDog, and BunBun Roush, the Spaniels; and DoDog. The car is rockin’ to and fro with excitement on our short ride to Easy Street. I finally stop, sling open my door as they fly over my lap into the open space. It’s always a race to see who can get out of VeVe first. 

The dogs walk, run, sniff butts, hike legs, and chase each other through the trees, into the bushes and over the hill. By Homer standards it’s a really warm day so they find a muddy stream right away to drink and get their paws wet. The labs lay down in the mud to cool their bellies. After a mile or so they all begin to slow down so we turn around and head back to the car. Zippy has chased Forty and she has chased Lady using mucho energy. When she runs she also barks with that deep hound dog voice. Her stubby little legs are low to the ground so she has to run twice as hard just to keep up. On the way back she is draggin’ her ass way behind the rest of us, doing the DoDog shuffle as she pretends to sniff the ground but we all know she is merely taking a breather.

Halfway back I turn around and see three cars coming toward us, slowing down because of all the dogs, finally coming to a complete stop in the middle of the road. I yell to the drivers: “keep moving, they will get out of your way,” as I continue walking and calling the dogs toward me. I round a corner and they all come running except for Zippy. Did I mention how stubborn she can be about doing what she wants, when she wants to do it?

The rest of us wait on the side of the road to let the cars pass. The first two are loaded with people ooohhing and aaaahing about the dogs. “Are all these YOUR dogs,” and “Boy, do you have YOUR hands full,” were some of the comments made as they passed us at a snail’s pace. Where is the third car I wonder, as we stand waiting in the sun? I finally see it rounding the bend with what looks like, oh but it is, a Basset Hound in the driver’s seat! What the hell?

As the car approaches, we see Zippy on the lap of a small woman, looking over the steering wheel and I swear she is smiling. They totally pass us by before the car stops and the door opens. DoDog jumps down and runs over to the pack with a smirk on her face, seriously. I figure she took at least a half-mile off her walk by getting in that car. The driver was apparently in awe. I apologize for the inconvenience but there was no need. The woman drove off laughing, waving at Zippy oblivious to the rest of us.

Snoozing on VeVe's dash on the ride home

We make it back to VeVe and all is quiet on the ride home. The dogs crawl slowly out of the car and onto the deck for a drink of water out of the swimming pool, and a nap in the sun. DoDog is totally spent. She sleeps the longest and snores the loudest twitching her legs ever so often. I wonder if she is dreaming of chasing labs through the bushes, or if hitchin’ a ride on Easy Street just wore her out? I can’t imagine how she got the lady to stop her car and open the door? Most likely she stood in the middle of the road refusing to move. That would be just like a DoDog. 

Woof! Woof!  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Shit to Pay

Wants to remain anonymous

Waiting tables on Friday nights at the Elks Lodge provides me with enough leftover food to feed the dogs for a week. They dine on prime rib, rib-eye steak, halibut, chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, rice, homemade rolls, and squash – not a bad supplement to their organic kibble. I merely give them a spoonful each night to sweeten the bowl and let them know what great dogs they really are. Last week I actually had four boxes of leftovers that weighed between 2-3 lbs. each, that I put in the freezer. I cannot believe how much food is wasted – working in a restaurant is evidence of just how much we toss without a second thought, while thousands of people go hungry every day – but that’s another subject.

On Tuesday I placed one of the boxes in the kitchen sink to thaw, and forgot about it. The next morning much to my amazement the box while still in the sink, was empty with only a few grains of telltale rice on the floor. There are only two likely culprits that had access to the kitchen overnight – Bear and Mikki, the Old English Sheepdogs. I threw the empty box in the trash and made breakfast for twelve dogs. Bear walked away from his bowl making it all too obvious he was the one that consumed the three pounds of steak. He never leaves food so I can only assume he is too full of beef to care much about oatmeal and yogurt. Whatever, it’s a done deal so there is no point in mentioning it. A dog must be caught in the act to understand when you tell him a behavior is unacceptable.

Later in the evening I went to dinner and indulged with my girlfriends – one has just signed the closing papers on selling her home and the other had her possessions moved to Hawaii where she just bought a house. Not one, not two, but THREE Cosmos – one too many for the girl known to be a cheap date. Returning home to twelve canines I took another box of leftovers out to thaw but this time I put it in the oven, out of sight out of mind. Off and on during the night I heard the Sheeps walking around downstairs but they are often restless on summer nights when there is so much light.

The following morning the dogs would not let me sleep past their usual get-up time of 6:30. There is no mercy this morning, only hell to pay. I grabbed my sweatshirt, found my shoes, opened the loft door and stumbled down the stairs in a fog behind ten dogs going down and the Sheeps trying to climb up. This is too much chaos in the wee hours of a rainy morning – the perfect time to be sleeping. Sigh. . . We quickly get into a bottleneck situation, the lead dogs stopping abruptly at the bottom of the stairs and flat refusing to move forward – what the hell?

Oh NO, the dreaded fear clinches my already queasy tummy. I have a hunch something is lurking at the bottom of the stairs, just waiting for me as I wade through the frozen-in-space canines. That’s when I see it. OMG not today, ANY day but this one, please. Piles and piles of runny excrement scattered in blobs throughout the first floor everywhere – thank God for vinyl flooring. One of the Sheeps obviously had a major blowout and the results cover the floor. I try to always look for the good in any disaster – so the good news? The stairs appear clean and that is a consolation. Adding dogs with shitty feet to the equation would have plunged me over the edge into the black abyss.

And the smell, well it’s pretty bad. Finally getting around the dogs, I know what I have to do and it isn’t pretty. Paper towels, a trash bag, a bucket of disinfectant and a mop, but first I have to lead each dog around the poop infused obstacle course without stepping on anything. No worries they make a wide berth around each pile, walking on their tiptoes. For over an hour – before I even have a pee - I cleaned and I cleaned and I cleaned SHIT.  GAWD, it was exasperating.

No face shots!
The Sheeps have been coming to dog camp for five years and have never had an accident in the house. No doubt they were trying to wake me up from my alcohol induced sleep but failed to do so. I wonder if they are sick - is it one or both of them? Maybe I need to call the vet. Several hours later after multiple cups of coffee it finally hit me. I had totally spaced out the box of steaks that had been consumed just 24-hours ago. Of course it was Bear because he’s the one that ate the three pounds of rich food and was merely purging it out of his system. I realize with relief he’s not sick at all, just stuffed. It had to come out somewhere and when the urge hit him, it happened to be in the middle of the night when the house was asleep. Poor boy must have been traumatized, albeit relieved.

Today was a long day but we managed to get through it by washing blankets, rugs, floors and butts. OMG it’s going to be an early night. I had shit to pay all day and I’m exhausted! Serves me right. . . The work of a dogsitter is done for today.

Woof! Woof!
We Woof You BearBoy!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Boomerang Beau

Beau Beau is an Australian Shepherd that was in obedience class with RockDog, making him about 2-1/2. He loves to come to dog camp to wrestle and run with the dogs. I was recently a guest speaker at the Rotary Club luncheon and the subject was TBTB Dog Camp. One of the members asked if I could think of a funny story that happened at camp. Not one but two tales came to mind and both involved the Beau!

After spending the weekend Beau was picked up by the owner’s son before she returned home. A couple days later Maria stopped by to pay for his stay and of course an excited Beau was with her. She gave me a check and they left, all the while he’s looking over his shoulder wondering why he’s leaving? A few minutes later Woody was at the back door asking to go out, and there on the deck stood Beau Beau as Maria’s car was pulling back in the driveway. He had jumped out the window and ran back. That’s understandable because he’s just confused. In the past when he comes with her in the car he stays – he couldn’t understand why he was not staying today. Back to the car, she rolled the window up so he could not jump out again. As they drove off I could hear Beau howling his discontentment all the way up the street. He managed to get his snout out the window and was telling the world he was not happy about it.

Recently Beau was at camp and we had a ball day over the hill. I made a video for my Facebook page of the dogs chasing each other in hot pursuit of the green tennis ball - barking and dancing all the way down and back. The day after he went home Maria saw my post and played the video. Beau immediately tuned in pacing and whining at her door. He got so excited that she sent me an email that he may show up over here first chance he gets. Sure enough, before I even read her email Beau was back. And, he was extremely sneaky about it.

I was at the top of the hill playing fetch with eight energetic canines throwing the ball as far as I could into the bushes below. Somehow Beau got over that hill unnoticed and came back up with the pack of dogs. It took me a minute to realize something was wrong with this picture. There was one too many smilin’ dogs in the mix – and the extra face belonged to a dog named Beau! He looked at me wagging his whole body, pleading please, please, please – can I play? After hearing the dogs barking on the computer he felt sure he was missing something – and he was! More ball chasing than you can imagine.

Beau is like a Boomerang for a few days after leaving dog camp – he just keeps coming back. Maria has the job of distracting him so that he forgets about us for a while. Playing a video just brought it all back to him and he couldn’t stand it – he had to get back in the action, Pronto! After all it’s only a mile run up the hill and that’s nothing for a herding dog like Beau. And what can I possibly do? He’s so darn cute and loves camp so much. I just put him in the VW, take him home, give him a hug and tell him: "until next time buddy, you will soon be back for another stay at TBTB."

We Woof U Sweet Beau Beau!

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Zippety DoDah was rescued from a farmer’s market in Girdwood, Alaska in 2004. I was driving home from Anchorage when my beloved VW called VeVe insisted on turning off at the Girdwood exit. I had no control, VeVe merely turned toward the mountain. The farmer’s market was closing as we pulled up but I decided to take the three spaniels for a quick walk about since we were already there. We immediately noticed a little Basset Hound with mournful eyes tied to a tree behind one of the booths. “What a beautiful dog,” I commented to the vendor. “She’s free if you want her,” was her reply.

“FREE?” Apparently Zippy was causing two elderly cats a problem so it was determined that she had to go. She was passed on to this vendor to find her a home at the market that day and if not, she was headed to the local shelter.

 “Sorry” I said, “but I already have three dogs and getting another one is out of the question.” Zippy had picked up her toy and dropped it directly in front of OgDog, my pack leader just as I finished my sentence. We walked back to VeVe, I put the dogs in the car and automatically looked back over my shoulder. Zippy sat looking at us with the saddest look ever – Bassets are good at this. That’s all it took. I immediately turned around, walked back to the booth and said, “We’ll take her” and placed her in the back of the VW with the others. And that’s how it came to be that my spaniel pack adopted a Basset Hound. Apparently exhausted from a long day at the market, Zippy slept the entire drive home.

DoDog has proved to be the most stubborn, exasperating, endearing, and funny character in the pack. A friend once described her as a dog “marching to her own drum,” an accurate description. She has brought people together from near and far, is the mascot in a neighborhood where she is mostly adored - well except for her occasional trash rooting expeditions that her nose cannot resist, and her habit of eating frozen poopsicles in the winter. We are all grossed out with this one, but she loves it!

Zippy has never known a stranger, will get in the car with anyone, loves the sun in Mexico and is scared to death of cats. I had a client drop off his dog one day and while driving away he nearly had a heart attack when DoDog put her head on his shoulder from behind. She had crawled in the backseat of his car when no one was looking to go for a ride. Another time she saw an opportunity to run in the neighbor’s house to find the dog food bowl when she came face-to-face with Charlie, the cat. He merely backed her in a corner in the bathroom and without even touching her you could hear her howls and moans throughout the neighborhood. I thought she was in real trouble but Charlie merely had her cornered and was pacing back in forth in front of her nose and she was doing what she knows best, howling like only hound dogs can do.

She has slept in various beds in the neighborhood, swiped dog kibble in available bowls, grabbed steaks out of grocery bags, eaten a bottle of Vitamin C’s causing her to puke and poop bright yellow for days, and generally  been a pain in the butt, albeit an adorable one. The DoDog tales are endless - living with her I usually have a good story at least once a week. One day she will have a children’s book written in her honor.

Yesterday I saw her meandering her way up to the house across the street and noticed two cars in the driveway. The house is for sale so the neighbors have been leaving while potential buyers have a look. I took a leash and walked up the driveway asking a man and woman if they had seen a Basset Hound. They said yes, they thought she lived there! She had walked right into the empty house and proceeded to go through every room with them. She was merely showing them around since she is familiar with this particular house because. . .

One summer day she went to visit and found the house empty but the sliding glass door was slightly cracked open. She proceeded to push it open and go to the master bedroom where she climbed into bed and under the covers for a nap. For hours we were looking everywhere for her! When the neighbors got home they thought their cat was in the bed until DoDog crawled out and walked to the door to be let outside! She had not touched a thing in the house, just needed a nap. . .

I assured the couple she did not live there but she was the welcoming committee in the neighborhood. I put a leash on her and walked her back to our house where she crashed for a nap in the sun. Being the social butterfly on Katie Jean Circle can be exhausting!

In 2004 she was called Zippety DoDah and over the years we have given her many other pet names (no pun intended). My three-year old grandson insisted on calling her Zippety DoDog which we shortened to just DoDog, ZipDog, Zippy, Doodle Bug, and when I’m mad at her at least once a day? Well, I won’t mention those names. . .

Woof! Woof! 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Anne Banane, WHERE RU?

Thursday morning and I’m out of bed at 5:40 AM to get ready for an 8:30 assignment at Homer High School. Fortunately the hordes of dogs are not coming until later today so I just have my six and one guest, Cheyenne, a lovely Weimaraner that is a regular. By 6:30 I’ve had my shower and am ready to feed the dogs. I make the bowls and pick up Anne’s and RockDog’s to deliver them to their respective crates. They are the two biggest chowhounds in the group, pushing and shoving and whining so they eat first to get them out of my hair – rewarded for bad behavior, I know. They race me to their crate, normally. Well RockDog is ready, but where is Anne?

I can’t believe it, she is nowhere to be seen which only means one thing, she has escaped. I remember the dogs barking when I was in the shower at 6 AM, it must have been when she jumped off the deck and took off. My mind is creating a scenario that soon becomes reality. . . We have tons of snow with a large pile-up by the gate that is the perfect spot for doggies to climb up and jump over. Anne’s been watching the big dogs do this for days. In fact when Forty-West arrived for daycare on Monday he came to the back door and Anne was with him. I was flabbergasted! His owner said Anne had been in the driveway. She had finally figured out she too could jump off the deck anytime she wanted, and I didn’t even know it. After that incident she has only been allowed on the deck alone while connected to a lead.

So now my mind is reeling as to how she possibly escaped? I remember letting Woody and Luce in the front gate, and leaving the sliding glass door ajar when I did so. Okay so Anne must have slipped outside and once we went in the house, she was off and running and that’s probably when the dogs started barking (the fabricated scenario continues). Never mind how she did it, I just need to find her. I take a bowl of food outside and call her while jiggling the kibble in the bottom of a metal dog dish. No response, except from the inside. My hair is wet, I’m in my PJ’s, and it’s dark outside as I put on my boots and coat to go look for her. I walk up the road to all our familiar places, and no Anne. I surmised she is either in someone’s trash and totally distracted, OR she has run off down the hill – heaven forbid! I return to the house and realize that before I can look for her in the VW, I have to thaw it out which will take at least 15 minutes. The windows are frosted over. I start the car and go back inside and get properly dressed for the substitute assignment that I will probably miss.

I call my neighbors (waking everyone up), I call the vet clinic, I call the radio station, I call the police department, I call the animal shelter, and I call the rescue group in California that Anne came from. I call everyone I can think of. I freak out while still reminding myself I need to stay calm. Of course it is 6:45 AM so nothing is open except the police department so I left messages everywhere. I call the administrator at school to tell her I cannot come in because my dog is missing – I don’t have to be there until 8:25 but just in case. I am obviously frantic. How can I possibly sleep without this little wiggle butt on the pillow right next to my head? How can she be gone, and WHERE IS SHE? Normally if she does escape, she stays in the neighborhood.

I get in my car and can only see out of a hole the size of a quarter on the windshield – I have no time to scrape! I’m frantic. I drive the neighborhood with the windows down yelling, “Anne come.” Nothing - not even a trace. I proceed to drive down the hill, across the ridge, through neighboring subdivisions, everywhere I can think of. I beep the horn and call her name – I’m sure anyone watching would think I was a crazed blonde (I was) in a green VW roaming around neighborhoods at this ungodly morning hour.

By 7:45 it is beginning to get light outside. My intuition tells me I am missing something, I need to think about this situation, but how can I focus when I am distraught? I know Anne is fearful of strangers and can’t imagine that anyone could pick her up even if they wanted to. But WHERE IS SHE? In between driving around and making phone calls, I check in at the house to be sure she has not returned home. I say a prayer to the Universe to keep her safe.

If she got out as I predicted she had been gone for over an hour, and it’s cold out here. I can’t imagine where she might have gone. I drive north, I drive south, I drive east, and I drive west - I call her name, I honk the horn. Finally I return to the house to forward my landline to my cell phone just in case someone finds her. I have been driving around for almost two hours by this point but my intuition tells me she is okay. I listen to that inner voice most of the time in between bouts of franticness (is that a word?). I arrive back at the house and as I enter the front door I once again have the feeling I am missing something. Could she be in my upstairs walk-in closet? I doubt it because of course I got my clothes out of it after she went missing, but I checked anyhow. No Anne.

As I return to the downstairs it hits me like a brick, you know the slap on the forehead when the light bulb goes off? I was in the broom closet getting dog kibble this morning and the light in there burned out days ago so I had fumbled in the dark. . . As I approach the closet now I see the yellow part of the dust mop peeking out from under the door – now that is weird. I open the door. . . the bag of dog food has fallen on the door so when I open it, the bag falls toward me. And there in the dark sits my little darling looking at me. OMG, relief and laughter came at once. She had not run off at all. She had merely gone into the closet when I was filling the kibble can and I had shut the door before she got out. And, she didn’t make a sound not even when this frantic woman was running up and down the stairs, putting kibble in a pan and shaking it around while calling her name, running in and out of the house like a lunatic. I wonder if she had made a sound would I have heard it through all the commotion in my own head? I’m sure she just sat there silently wondering why I left her there alone.

So now I have made all these phone calls and have all these people concerned. I called the school and told them I was on my way, called the vet clinic, the police department, the California connection, the animal shelter and the radio station. Of course it is 8:20 AM and everyone is now at work and when I tell them Anne has been found they all ask the obvious question: “where did you find her?” and my response was the same “do you really want to know?” as I proceed to tell them the story and apologize for the early morning drama. And they all laugh! Sure it’s funny now, but at the time. OMG!

I am exhausted and delirious at the same time – that’s what an adrenaline rush will do. Now all I need is a nap and it’s only 8:35 AM! As it turned out I was only 5 minutes late for class. This is the start of my spring break and the last day of substitute teaching for a while. Anne Banane is sleeping on her new plush pillow as I write this blog - the perfect ending to the morning drama.
I promise not to accuse her of escaping again unless I know for a fact she has done so. And, I promise to get the light in the broom closet fixed!

Woof! Woof!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bonded at the Throat

Today is Wednesday but the way it started this morning I could swear it is Monday. . .

Forty West comes to dog camp three days a week for day care. His best buddies are Mikke & Bear, the two sheep dogs that are regulars at TBTB. When Forty is dropped off at 7:30 AM, the three of them always go out for a morning run to burn some energy before breakfast.
This morning they were running up and down the driveway, rolling in the snow and having their usual chaotic good time. When it was time to come in I open the door and call them but only Mikke girl shows up at the back door. Where are the boys I wonder? I wait a few more minutes and open the front sliding glass door and see them in the driveway. “Come on you guys,” I said. No one moves a muscle, or even looks my way. That’s weird.

It’s still a bit dark out at 7:45 AM so I venture out onto the deck to get their attention by reminding them it is time to eat. Still, neither dog budges an inch; they just sit there like stone. Bear was actually standing like a statute facing north and Forty was sitting very close to the right side of his face just looking up at him. What the hell? “Come on guys, let’s go.” Nothing. And then it dawns on me, “are you stuck?” I ask – although I can’t imagine HOW. Wearing only my PJ’s I hop over the railing in my sock feet to investigate. What I find gets my adrenalin pumping more than any caffeine in a double espresso.

Forty West has somehow gotten his entire bottom jaw underneath Bear’s collar and is stuck there with his mouth open. He can do nothing but stare at the side of Bear’s face. Of course the collar is so tight that Bear is gasping for air. Whenever Bear moves even a smidgen, it is excruciating pain for Forty. Being such a good buddy, he stays frozen to the spot, panting. I try prying Forty’s jaw loose but that is not possible because the collar is way too tight.

The mind creates incredible scenarios while in the fear mode. Should I scream for help and hope my neighbor hears me? Should I get some scissors and cut the cloth collar – but how would I get the blade under the collar without hurting Bear? Plus, I don’t dare leave their side. All the while I am frantically looking for the clasp, which isn’t easy in the mass of sheep dog hair. I’m wondering if it’s possible to make the collar just a bit tighter in order to open the buckle when I find it? Finally my fingers feel the buckle and I separate the long hair and find to my surprise, a snap collar! (thank God) In one quick movement I press the release button and the collar falls to the ground along with Forty’s jaw. OMG, relief spreads throughout my body as I begin to realize my feet at this point are frozen. Funny, I didn’t even remember that I only had my socks on until now.

The dogs are reluctant to move at first – they both look at me as if to say, “what the hell was that all about?” Neither one of them has any obvious injuries. I pry Forty’s mouth open to be sure he still has all his teeth and he does, plus there is no blood. That’s a good sign. I then look at Bear’s neck and inside his mouth. All clear, they are both okay just a little stunned. I hug them and race back inside the house past the crowd of fifteen dogs waiting at the door, cheering us on. Forty ran straight to his crate looking for breakfast with Bear close behind.

As quickly as it happened, it is over. Dogs truly live in the moment, and at this particular moment it is time to eat! The drama that just happened is already forgotten – at least for them. I still get weak in the knees just thinking about it! Shortly after breakfast they were back wrestling and rolling around like always. And me? Well it’s finally time for my first cup of coffee and a breather. Just when I begin to think my life as a dogsitter is predictable something happens to change that thought. There is never a dull moment at TBTB Dog Camp.

Woof! Woof!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Twelve-Pound Intimidator - Seriously?

A friend of mine called while I was on vacation to see if she could drop a dog off at TBTB Dog Camp. Cindy had graciously agreed to keep JackDog for a friend that had to fly back east at a moments notice. Once Jack arrived Cindy quickly found out that it was going to be more work than she bargained for since Jack decided to take over as top dog in her house of two laid back females. Well, that wasn’t going to work because Bette is submissive anyway and was simply allowing Jack to push her around. Poor Bette Cocker!

I did not want to impose a problem dog on my brand new dogsitter, so I told Cindy I couldn’t do it. This was on Friday and I was coming home on Monday evening and would gladly take Jack off her hands if she hadn’t found a solution by then. She was sure the problem would be resolved sooner than that. However, on Monday I received another call saying yes, she still had Jack and he needed to go as he was seriously pushing the girls around and causing chaos in her home. He had taken over the household and she didn’t know what to do about it. No problem, bring him over on Tuesday morning.

Cindy called at 9:30 AM on her way up the hill, thrilled at the prospect of having this dog out of her hair, so to speak. Jack got out of the car at TBTB and was obviously very bonded to her. I’m sure he was frightened because his mom had left in such a hurry and he had no clue what was happening. Cindy brought him in the house, all 12 lbs. of him. He is a Jack Russell mix and has an adorable look with one ear sticking straight up while the other one flops over.
He seemed friendly enough. I had put most of the dogs in the bedroom so that Jack could get in the house before being swallowed up in the pack. Only a few of my spaniels were at the door to greet him. Cindy put him down on the floor and Bunny went up to shake his hand (via a butt sniff) and he immediately attacked her at Cindy’s feet. Cindy of course tried to stop the snit by putting her boot in the middle of the chaos. I grabbed Jack up and told her that she needed to leave so I could get Jack incorporated into the mix of dogs quickly. Jack watched her leave and even whined at the door for her. He immediately went for Bunny again and I let them go for about 10 seconds before sternly yelling my favorite line: “KNOCK IT OFF,” and they did.

I told Jack there would be no fighting in the pack and put him in his crate for a timeout. After a few minutes I opened Jack’s crate door, and slowly introduced all 11 dogs to him. He was extremely fearful, not knowing what to think and doing lots of growling at all potential butt sniffers. Normally I leave the dogs to work things out for themselves after establishing my position as Top Dog. Things appeared to be going pretty well when Jack lunged at Bear, an Old English Sheepdog weighing over 70 lbs.
Well Bear would have none of this nonsense and immediately took Jack Boy to the ground with lots of growling. Jack was squealing like he was really hurt, when I told them both to knock it off. Of course all nine other dogs were gathered around in the cheering section. Jack was fine, without so much as a scratch on him. Bear had simply made his point and Jack immediately changed his attitude. He no longer seemed fearful and had a better understanding of where he fit into the pack.

It has been five days now and Jack is a new dog. He loves all the pack members and especially likes to wrestle with RockDog and Mocha. We now have fourteen dogs in camp and needless to say there has been no more snits in the group. Jack is a quick learner and figured out that sniffing butts is a lot more fun than getting into a scary altercation. He never really wanted to be the intimidator but that’s what he knew when he came here. He has a whole different attitude now and is actually having a blast at dog camp. He came here needing to be on a leash but not anymore. He loves being in the pack so much that he runs, plays and stays with all of us on our walks. He’s a happy boy, well actually a tired boy as I write this - fast asleep in his crate with the door wide open, after a day of running and wrestling.
It’s important for a new dog coming into a pack to find his place in the social order of the hierarchy. Jack realized early on that he does not have to be a pack leader and it’s much more fun and a lot less work, to just be part of the team. He is perfectly content with me as the Pack Leader at TBTB Dog Camp!

Woof! Woof!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Eyes Without a Face

It’s Christmas time at TBTB Dog Camp. We have a total of seventeen dogs in camp and feeding time is a wild circus of dancing, barking canines guaranteed to wake the neighbors at 7:30 AM.

As I make breakfast for the horde of dogs, I put the big guys on the deck while I dish up bowls - this keeps the chaos somewhat under control. I'm scooping up oatmeal at the sink and look out the dark window to see a pair of eyes staring at me. OMG! The jolt caused me to drop the spoonful of oats onto the counter and jump back. At the same time the realization hit me that it is canine eyes staring at me, and not human ones. It’s the eyes of the biggest chowhound of all, 40-West! Damn you 40, you scared the crap out of me!

He apparently jumped off the deck and climbed on a snow berm by the kitchen window to look and see what was taking me so long. I’m sure his job was to report back to the other dogs watching him from the fence. I burst out laughing and totally forgot the oatmeal. Instead it was banana nut pancakes for the 17 doggies at TBTB Dog Camp, and me. Hey, it's Christmas time and we deserve it! Especially with all that adrenalin flowing!
Woof! Woof!
Nom! Nom!