Tuesday, November 18, 2014

LaLuna Speaks

LaLuna has made a very big statement. Her singing tones, along with her facial expressions, spoke to me loud and clear. I now understand what she’s been trying to tell me for the last few days.

"DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT put that green stuff called kale in my chicken and rice ever again. I don't like it one bit, and you will notice that I pick only the chicken out because the kale infusion makes the rice taste like CRAP too! If that concoction shows up in my food bowl again, I will be forced to boycott eating, and fast forever, or at least until that nasty, leafy vegetable is removed from my sight. I don’t care that it is good for me, I can’t stand it!”

Well, okay - back to spinach and quinoa! Enough said. . .

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Vanishing Act

After yoga this morning, I went to Safeway to buy some kale for my morning juice fix. RockDog was with me in VeVe like always, but BunBun stayed home today. I arrived in the parking lot, pulled VeVe into a spot not far from the open doors of the grocery store, got out of the car and turned around, like normal, to tell him I would be right back. And, he was GONE!

He was not in his seat, nor was he in the backseat. WTF happened to him? I looked around the parking lot; walked to the other side of the car, looking inside again to see if he was lying on the floor, but PRESTO. RockDog had vanished. How could he do that so fast? He is always obedient and has never jumped out, especially right under my nose. I sternly shout the emergency recall: RockDog, NOW!


I saw people at the Safeway doors laughing, and noticed a guy trying to get my attention by pointing inside. Seriously? RockDog was running in Safeway? I ran inside where a few other people were pointing and snickering in the direction of the pharmacy. When I got there, I caught a glimpse of his blue roan coat running in the back, to the next aisle over. Again, the emergency recall: RockDog, NOW!

I had to say it really loud, getting the attention of even more people. I saw him pause and start running back in the direction he came in. He heard me, but couldn’t find me in all the people. I cut him off at the next aisle and told him to SIT! And, he did. I then escorted my cute little English cocker spaniel to the front of the store, out the door, and across the parking lot to the car, as the crowd cheered us on. He jumped inside VeVe and resumed his position on the passenger seat, wondering what the problem was. “What were you thinking?” I said. “You could have been hit by a car in the parking lot.” He stared at me, wiggling his stubby little tail and butt at the same time.

I’m sure he was curious about where I go every time I leave him waiting in the car, returning with several bags of good smelling food. He must have decided enough was enough. He wanted to run in and check it out, and had to do it quickly before I saw him. As soon as he heard me, he knew he would have to come. He was just trying to avoid me long enough to investigate the place where all food must reside. It’s probably a good thing he headed in the direction of the pharmacy, a turn the other way would have landed him at the meat counter, nose level with all things good in his carnivore world!

RockDog, you are a good boy. I’m just glad you didn’t snag a steak and run through the aisles with it dangling from your lips! Although, I’m sure the crowd would have cheered you on!

Woof! Woof!

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Singing Malamute Called Luna

She sings in the morning, she sings in the evening. She sings to go outside, she sings to come back in. She sings when it is time to eat, precisely at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.—I can set my watch to her serenades.

She sings at the vet clinic, arriving in the reception area and immediately bellowing out her wish to get out of there. Simultaneously, all three-exam room doors open, and the staff peer out to see where the noise is coming from.

She sings at the groomer, very loud when the dryer is blowing her massive coat. She was scheduled to be there for 3-4 hours. I wasn’t surprised to get a call after only 45 minutes—the groomer was frantically brushing her hair, so she could leave. She was causing chaos and all the dogs were howling. The staff could not hear themselves think, let alone answer the phone!

Luna sings to us every day, and it is music to our ears. We often sing back as she leads the choir for a morning howl. She sings for whatever she wants, we only have to be in tune with her to figure it out. She was close to being evicted from her hillside neighborhood in Anchorage, after the neighbors pooled together and purchased her a no-bark collar. She sang about that too, and of course it never worked. She grew up in the Sierras near Lake Tahoe. She hiked mountains and was a free girl to roam and sing as much as she wanted. Urban life is foreign to her, and she doesn’t understand why things have changed. She sings about that to anyone that will listen.

She is residing at TBTB Dog Camp for a time until the owners can figure out what to do. She can stay here forever, if necessary because well, she is now in fospices care. The dogs love the Queen Bee, and so do I. She arrived two months ago with a growing tumor in her anal area. A trip to the vet clinic was approved and scheduled. I was told by the staff to be on standby to pick her up immediately when they were finished with the tests, because her singing was causing chaos among the other patients. After X-Rays and an ultrasound it was determined, the tumor had invaded her abdomen, and without giving us much hope for removing it, a trip to a surgeon in Anchorage is scheduled next month. She will do that while I go on vacation for a few days.

For the time being Luna is pain-free. She is taking fish oil, Vitamin C and turmeric is sprinkled on her human food. She made it very clear when she arrived, that dog food was not an option for her palate. She has eggs and bacon for breakfast, a grain mixed with various meats, chicken or fish, plus something green, in her evening meal. If I sneak a small cup of kibble in her bowl, she will pick all the food around it, and leave the dog food. She’s not as discriminate about the treats, she actually loves Yummy Chummies most of the time, and can have as many as she wants because after all, she is the Queen Bee here, and all the dogs allow it.

Just yesterday, she chased the ball and ran with the other dogs, singing volumes about that experience. At 12, she is an inspiration and a joy. The TBTB dogs love her singing, and so do I. A singing dog is a good dog!

Sing on LaLuna, we Woof You! 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Twelve Dogs & An Earthquake

6:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning and you guys want to get UP—seriously?

Alaska, the land of the midnight sun— May 9th and the sun is up at 4:00 a.m. as the days continue to get longer, gaining about 5 minutes of daylight per day. What does that mean for a dogsitter? Dogs are up and roaming the house before I even open my eyes, that’s what.

Today it was around 5 when I told them to lie down and go back to sleep, without much luck. The three big dogs managed to keep quiet but RockDog, my English cocker was excited and wanted me up. He was pawing at my hair, licking my face and stepping on my torso in an attempt to wake me up. I tried lying quietly, pretending sleep but he wasn’t buying it. I wrestled with him for about 45 minutes, careful not to wake the elderly dogs. Finally at 6:05 I threw back the covers and said: “Okay, I’m up already.” Barely able to get my eyes open enough to find my glasses, I struggled through the crowd of eight anxious canines, to get into the walk-in closet for a sweater. The temperatures are still dropping to about 45 degrees at night, and back up in the 60’s as the sun warms up.

Down the stairs we come as the dogs race to the back door. I reach over and open it and eight dogs pushing and shoving for position, fly out. I then open the crate so the St. Bernard puppy can go out on the front deck. She is not inclined to run with the big dogs yet although she is quickly becoming one herself.  I swear she is growing daily, before my very eyes. 

Thankfully, Luce my 16-year-old cocker and her son, 15-year-old Woody were able to sleep through all the commotion. Back up to the loft to bring the dog beds downstairs for the day. Squeezing in time for a quick pee before beginning the routine that defines me as a dogsitter for yet another day.

In the kitchen measuring the oatmeal I notice a few of the dogs are ready to come back in the house. After they are settled I scan the crowd to see who is still missing—Anne, my mischievous little cocker. She is always the last dog in. I pick up the treat jar, step onto the deck, open the lid and, “Who Let The Dogs Out” rings out into the morning stillness. I’m sure my neighbors love me for this. When I still don’t see Anne, I close and reopen the dog’s head on the treat jar and, “You Ain’t Nothing But a Hounddog” sings out to her. When she doesn’t respond right away I know she is out of hearing range—not a good sign. She’s probably down the street at the neighbor’s compost pile, AGAIN. Okay, so she will come when she comes.

Back to the stove to put the oatmeal on, I hear a loud, eerie noise that sounds like the wind, but not quite. The dogs begin barking just as I recognize what it means. The house begins slowly shaking, building momentum—the dogs are barking, lamps are swinging and I freeze in space, holding the oatmeal spoon in my left hand. A few seconds and it is over, with no apparent damage. Earthquakes are a normal occurrence in Alaska, but this one visibly shook the entire house, not just the floor. Wheeew! Back to the business at hand, making the oatmeal, then my coffee, and finding Anne. She’s still not back.

I turn the oatmeal burner off, but leave the coffee on as I grab my shoes and run to the car to go look for the silly girl. I drive to the compost sight down the street sure to find her there, but no Anne. That is weird, where can she be? Back to a house full of excited, barking dogs where I grab the treat jar and return to the car. Driving slowly through the neighborhood with the windows down, I raise the head of the treat jar dog so the tunes sing out again and again, into the stillness where my neighbors are no doubt trying to sleep.

Still no Banane, and I desperately need my first cup of coffee. WTF? Back home, again greeted by over-the-top dancing and yelping dogs, acting like I have been gone for hours! When I open the front door, it hits me. I don’t think I even saw that blonde wigglebutt fly out the door. I retraced my steps and remembered getting my sweater out of the closet. She’s so nosy that she probably followed me in there sniffing through my shoes. After running through the neighborhood like a crazy woman twice, I am now sure that’s where she must be. She never makes a sound when she gets locks in. Just sits and patiently waits for me to eventually realize where she is.

Returning to the loft I am met by LucGoose and immediately know what that means. At 16-l/2-years-old, she can no longer get downstairs on her own, or hold her bladder for long. I pick her up giving her a morning hug, feeling gratitude for yet another day with my sweet girl. And sure enough, there is a puddle of pee and another brown treasure waiting for me on the floor. I’ll get to that later, but first I open the closet door to find the missing link, looking up at me with two big brown eyes wondering why I have been calling her name, and teasing her with the sound of the treat jar. She prances around my legs letting me know that she really has to go outside, like Now! We rush downstairs and she is out the door in a flash. With the repetitive sound of the treat jar tunes fresh in her mind, Anne doesn’t linger long. She empties her bladder and immediately runs to the door in anticipation of the Yummy Chummie that awaits her.

This is too much activity at 6 a.m., but it is my life. Some days are quieter than others. It is now 6:40 a.m. and I need coffee, albeit Decaf. The oatmeal is cooked and all dogs are back to sleep as I sit here writing about the start of my day. NPR just reported the earthquake—6:16 a.m. 5.5 magnitude on the Richter scale, 35 miles from Homer, aftershocks expected throughout the day.

The oatmeal is cooling, potty breaks are over and all 10 dogs are laid out asleep throughout the living area. WoodBoy and DoDog are snoring loudly from my bed in the loft. These two could care less if the sun is up or not; they sleep until at least 8 every morning.

A cup of French Decaf is ready, and my spot on the couch is empty and waiting for me. I curl up with a novel, next to RockDog.  I can relax for another hour until breakfast and then the second part of the day begins with 12 happy dogs. There is never a dull moment at Tails-By-The-Bay Dog Camp, and I love every minute of it. Even the earthquakes! What better way to feel Alive—bouncing dogs and a powerful jolt—first thing in the morning?

Woof! Woof!

Friday, March 21, 2014

RockDog. . . on Being Left Behind

I can’t believe she is actually walking out the door without me. . . AGAIN.

First, Kona for an eternity. Then to Phoenix for another long time. And now this???

She’s not even flying, she’s driving Sooby and she knows I go everywhere with her in the car? I know she was going to take me and then Forty West’s mom sent a text that he wanted to come play for the day. She thought I would be happy about that, so decided I should stay home. I am happy to run on Easy Street with Forty but what about after he goes home, and she’s gone for another two days?

It’s too quiet here, and the dogsitters have gone out for a while. They were suppose to take me to agility class today but got too busy with the other dogs in camp. I am bored and lonely for my mom, even with eight other dogs. They are content to sleep and I’m ready for some action. Think I will get on the kitchen counter to do some surfing. There must be something good to eat up there that will make me feel better.

How can I possibly get up there? Mom has cocker-proofed the house and there is nothing close to the kitchen counter to climb on. But I do remember getting in the oven in North Carolina and finding all those yummy liver bites that were drying at 170ยช. That dogsitter there found me inside the warm oven chowing down on the last of the 3 lbs of fresh treats. That was when mom went sailing in Belize without me. The nerve!

I will just see if there is anything cooking here in this oven. But there is no towel on the door to grab onto and pull down? Looks like I may have to use the weight of my front paws to push the door down. That should do the trick. Push, Push, Push, Slam. Darn it! This is tougher than it looks.

Push, Push, Push, Slam! I am persistent.

Push, Push, Push, Push, and Viola! The oven door is down, but it is empty inside – not even a scrap. Grrrrr! No liver treats today. But wait, if I stand on the door it’s just a small hop onto the kitchen counter where all things good reside. . . .Counter surfing time! Yippppeee!

I clear the counter in one try and my nose leads me directly to a bowl of chocolate that smells like nasty coffee, something called espresso beans. Ugh! I will pass on that. There must be something better up here.

Moving on. . . what is this stuff? Lick, Lick Smack - tastes like coconut, kind of greasy but still good. Gone in a flash, and I’m still hungry.

What do we have here, inside two plastic bags? The smell is enticing even through the barriers. The plastic is gross but the brownies inside are scrumptious. If I can have these every time she leaves, I will be happy. I know they belong to the visiting dogs but I cannot resist eating almost all of them, only leaving a few behind. Hopefully no one will notice.

Maybe I should get off the counter now before the dogsitters return and catch me in the act. I’m not missing mom so much now, and am happy to join the other dogs for a nap. I still can’t believe I was double-crossed and left behind to fin for myself. Sigh. . . hiccup, hiccup.

Dreaming of chocolate brownies, I hear the dogsitters return home but pretend to be asleep. They gasp at the pieces of plastic lying on the floor – sounds like I’m busted. Apparently the glucosamine chewies meant for Isis and Zep for their arthritis are missing. Those were medicine brownies? You could have fooled me - they were yummy! Sorry guys, but they tasted incredible.

Try as I might to look innocent I’m still in trouble. They simple can’t believe a dog opened the oven door and used it as a stepping-stone to surf the kitchen counter. But the good news is they are not sure if it was Anne or me, so we are both in the doghouse! (Anne glares at me with a smirk on her face)

The dogsitters take us for a run outside. They are still perplexed and trying to solve the Whodunit mystery. We return home and they have the audacity to actually leave again! I can’t believe we are home alone for the second time today. Since they are not sure who did the counter-surfing, they put both Anne and I in the big crate together, while the other seven dogs are free to roam the house. It’s a bit crowded in here, but somehow we manage to lie on one another for yet another nap.

My tummy hurts but it’s my own fault for being a glutton. Consuming over twenty brownies is a bit much even for a chowhound like me. Loud, rumbling noises are erupting from deep inside me, growing louder and louder. Anne has a panicked look in her eyes because she recognizes the sound of diarrhea when she hears it. Of course a poop would make it all better. But, how? And, WHERE? I’m locked up in a crate with Anne Banane so I will have to hold it. But, but. . .

I don’t think I can. Try as I might to keep everything inside, the liquid pours out of my butt and hits Banane smack on top of her blonde head, in the middle of her mop-top. UGH! Poor Banane is devastated! I look at her in shame, but she knows I can’t help it and she too, has no place to run.

Finally the explosion is over and we are left in a crate full of crap, and the smell is gross even by our standards. Anne is paralyzed, unable to move for fear of stepping in more shit. This is how the dogsitters found us.

One look at us and we were no longer in trouble. The mystery is solved and the culprit has been identified by the process of elimination – no pun intended. Anne could not have possibly pooped on her own head. So that leaves me, RockDog. Busted! What a job the dogsitters had cleaning up the mess and bathing the two of us. We are so happy to be clean again! Anne has forgiven me with one stipulation - I must include her in any future counter-surfing adventures.

Clean at Last!
My stomach is empty and my body is clean, shiny and dry. Is it time to eat yet? BTW, when is mom coming home? Please tell her that I promise never to counter-surf again. . . well, unless I’m left home again for no apparent reason.

Woof! Woof!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Vegan Dog

In the beginning of the year decisions are made to change behaviors. This effort normally lasts a couple of months if I am lucky, and usually involves food, drink and exercise - totally exhausted subjects for change.

For the past few years I have flirted with the idea of becoming a vegan. No meat, cheese or dairy products. That would mean using my creativity to make plant-based gourmet dishes that are so succulent that I won’t miss what I’m not eating. This is in direct contrast with the philosophy that deprivation never works. It merely makes you want whatever you don’t have, even more.  In the meantime I experiment with various vegan products so if I do decide on a permanent change, I will know what’s out there.

After a dog walk with nine exuberant canines, all but two come back to the house for a nap while RockDog, Bunny and I go to the grocery store for dog kibble. As I pass by the cooler I notice a pack of vegan hotdogs and think a bun-less dog with mustard and a salad sounds pretty good. Recently I bought a variety pack of mustards made in France and the basil one might be good at disguising a meatless dog. When you are hungry anything sounds good.

We are greeted at the door by seven barking dogs just waking up. It’s chaos at the gate as I come in with a bag of groceries, and a few dogs go out. The hatch on Sooby is left open because I am coming right back. Of course someone had piddled on the floor so I am temporarily distracted while wiping it up and then mopping the area – 5 minutes max. I then get the remaining bags out of the car and notice DoDog rushing up the driveway with her head down. She must really have to go potty, a bit odd since we just had a long walk. I unpack everything putting stuff in the refrigerator and cabinets.

Wheew, I am finally ready to fix my lunch. Wait a minute; I don’t remember putting the vegan dogs away?? I search in the bags to be sure I got everything out.  Maybe I subconsciously put them in the fridge, or the cupboards? Finally, I return to Sooby to see if the dogs fell out of the bag. I did buy them, didn't I? Could they have fallen out of the cart? Were they listed on the item printout I tossed in the trash on my way out?

Wait a minute! Didn’t I just see a lone Basset Hound quickly walking away when I returned to the car? Could she? Would she? Did she? The light bulb finally goes off. Of course she did! All the dogs are off the deck and anxious to get to a spot in the bushes where DoDog is hanging out nonchalantly looking my way. The other dogs have confirmed my suspicions with their relentless sniffing of said area.  I’m not about to walk over the hill on the ice to investigate the spot in question because I already know there is nothing left.

And now for the rub, I know she snagged them out of the bag while I was cleaning up dog pee, she knows she did it and has a sated smile on her lips, and the dogs know she did it because they can smell the residue of hotdogs on the earth where she opened the bag and no doubt consumed all eight dogs along with the plastic evidence. But, I can’t accuse her of such a heinous crime when I have no real evidence that she did it!

I wonder what does a Vegan Dog taste like? I have yet to know, but out of nine canines I bet eight know what one smells like and the other one knows they are truly delicious. But she has an indiscriminate pallet. Grrrrr! This human should know by now to never, ever leave tempting food anywhere near opportunists, even for a few minutes. Bottom line, the hotdogs are history and I must now find something else for lunch. Sigh. . .

Vegan Dog?
Isn’t this just like a DoDog becoming a Vegan? NOT!

Gobble! Gobble!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Who Let the Dogs Out?

A beautiful warm winter day in Homer, Alaska at 43 degrees on February 5th! Unbelievable.  The dogs are begging for a walk but the driveway and street in front of the house are extremely icy. I have busted my ass twice in the last two weeks so that is not an option.

Instead I load 7 dogs in Sooby the dog wagon, driving one street over to Easy Street. The car is rocking to and fro with Forty, the Yellow Lab, Lexie, the 130-lb. Mastiff, a Petit Griffon called Emily Pearce, RockDog, Bunny, Anne, and last but definitely not least, DoDog. They are over the top excited and can hardly wait to get out of the car. We are parked on a vacant six-acre lot that belongs to a friend and are ready to hit the dirt road that has limited traffic and no ice. I can’t get the doors open fast enough. RockDog and Bunny scamper over my lap as I get out to open the back hatch, and the rest of the dogs roll out onto the ground jumping, whining and barking their freedom cheers.

As quickly as we are out, DoDog and Anne take off in the opposite direction. Hey wait, you guys! I call them but they ignore me as the other five follow me onto the road headed north. I call and call these girls to no avail. Fine, go where you must. I will leave both your asses home next time. The rest of us are going on a walk! Grrrr! They are so frustrating!

The other five dogs walk, sniff, chase, bark, kick up their heels and have a marvelous time in the sun. Occasionally I look behind to see if the two renegades are coming. I complain to the other dogs that we are definitely leaving these two at the house next time. Even though the walk is perfect for this sunny day, I can’t help but be concerned about the missing twosome. We have walked about a mile when I finally see the DoDog running at top speed to catch up with us. Her short legs are kicking up dust all around so it appears to be a blur coming toward us except for an occasional glimpse of black and white fur. I don’t worry much about her because she will eventually find us with her hound dog nose. But Banane, well that’s another story. She only obeys when there is a treat involved, in other words she wants to be paid. Otherwise she marches to her own drum and thinks about it later, when she is lost.

We cut the walk short and head back in the direction of the car hoping to find Anne waiting for us there. NOT, she is nowhere to be found. The other dogs load up and I realize that DoDog has once again disappeared. WTF? Maybe she is looking for Anne? This is exasperating. The other well-behaved dogs are hot and need a drink of water. I cruise the lot where I last saw Anne with the windows down, calling her name and offering a treat. Nothing. . . And no DoDog either!

I decide to drive the others home for a drink of water and a much needed nap. As I pull out I see DoDog in the middle of the road waiting to be picked up. No Anne. We arrive back to the house and I call the vet clinic to advise them that Anne is missing in case anyone calls to report a blonde cocker spaniel on the loose. I take RockDog and Bunny with me back to the property and then I realize, DUH. I need the treat jar, a large black and white dog. When his head is lifted the sound of “Who Let the Dogs Out” rings out and if you shut and reopen it, ”You Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog” plays. Anne is trained to this sound and no matter where she is in the neighborhood she comes running when she hears it, a true chowhound. After going back to retrieve the treat jar, I drive approximately three miles out Easy Street, windows down, dogs barking while I continue to lift the head of the jar to play her favorite songs.  Nothing . . . Where could she be?

We return to the place where Sooby was originally parked and drive the complete circle, again letting the treat jar sing out the windows. Finally, I spot her inquisitive little face looking at us from the bushes. She is sitting with her blue scarf askew and ears perked. “Anne, where have you been?” I say as I once again lift the head of the jar. And, that’s all it took for her to come running toward the car. She had obviously been there in the bushes all along, smelling and scavenging to her heart’s content – not even 5 feet from where the car was parked. And she had no doubt heard me calling for her and totally ignored me. The treat jar did the trick. She is now safe in the car enjoying her payment of a delicious Yummy Chummy.

On the short ride home I called the vet clinic to let them know she was safe. “You want to know how I found her?” I asked Sue, as I raised the dog’s head and “Who Let the Dogs Out” rang out.

“What’s THAT,” Sue asked?

“It’s a treat jar," I explained as “You Ain’t Nothing But a Hound dog” played in the background.

She laughed, “You’re dogs aren’t food motivated, are they?”

Well, DUH.

Anne Banane is now sound to sleep, snoring on the back of the couch as I write this post. Being in the bushes for an hour and then having to eat some treats to make up for it, is exhausting. She is such a frustrating yet adorable little rascal, who can be mad at her? Not me! She’s a writing inspiration!

Woof! Woof!