Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dog Training, $1

Mr. Frog prays for an end to the madness.

I don't whisper. Yes, I've seen that Cesar guy and he's got it all figured out. Actually, he's nothing short of astounding, and I wish I had some of his magic. That is not my fate. I am destined to languish among moderately well behaved dogs due to my inability to play hardball with consistency.

Case in point - a crowd favorite, your buddy and mine; Nigel. He is kind, gentle, and generally eager to please. Unfortunately (begin dramatic voice) Nigel has a dirty secret.

In short, he was a carpet crapper.

It takes merely a loud clap to spook him, so training him not to counter surf was easy. He never snacks on furniture (as did Sola) or bullies the ladies. He loves everyone in a big way, and we cherish him. Yet for more than a year, Mrs. Author would arrive home from running errands to find a most unfortunate gift, given in the most fresh and warm way possible. A real stink bomb.

I clapped many times, stomped my feet; threw loud tantrums and scared him silly. It was all for naught. For no apparent reason, Nigel preferred to take care of business in the house. We could have walked him to Alaska and back and he'd hold out. Profanities were uttered out of sheer frustration, knowing that no matter how hard we tried, how far we walked, how much we begged, he was going to bomb the carpet.

There is a faint silver lining in this literal cloud of a story. He chose the mat by the front door as his target. There was an unsavory lesson to be learned as we embarked on this journey - opening the door on the way in took a perfect slice off the top and smeared it across the carpet like so much frosting, a perfect patch of rancid refuse waiting for the shoe to drop. The first couple of times it did.

For a year we were locked in this poop pattern, and there was much applause in the house. I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to give up my dream of wiring every appliance in the house with The Clapper. In retrospect, it was this crushing blow that sent me over the edge.

As I watched TV one evening, a disturbing scene played out before me. Nigel quietly made his way to the door and assumed the position while I sat there stunned. He must not have cared for the weather forecast on TV, and thus decided it appropriate to create his own brown clouds. I went bonkers. All of the rules had changed - Nigel no longer cared to muster the energy to hide it.

I fumed as I bagged his bounty, hands bruised from months of clapping, olfactory senses ablaze. Nigel eyed me with amusement. I rose, molten bag in tow, and took a step toward the kitchen. As Nigel relaxed I paused briefly, positioned the bag approximately six inches above his head, took aim and....by the time Nigel realized what had happened I had resumed my walk to the kitchen and was ten feet away. He bemoaned my lack of restraint: I reveled in it. Truffles and Sola averted their eyes...

Nigel: I am scarred for life. A chocolate hot water bottle deposited squarely on my noggin - the utter indignity.

Author: Actually, you just stood there and let it lazily roll off your head. Your eyes however, were the size of my head.

Nigel: Fine, you made your point.

Author: And I did. Oddly enough, Nigel never had an accident in the house again.

Now before all of you start complaining to me telling me I should not have written about this, that I should have found another way - understand that I am not advocating making turd hats for your dog if you have the same problem.

I simply had a profound need to share the fact that Nigel is just strange enough to have required it.

Sola: It looked like a bag of, well, Truffles.

Truffles: I smell better. Nigel is a hothead, in literal terms.

Nigel: Please, all of you go play in traffic.

Happy Holidays All

After a year of stress and uncertainty, it's time to take a break and remember all the good that we are graced with. We count our friends among our blessings, and hope that you and yours enjoy a happy holiday season, and a prosperous 2009.

Be well!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Prayer for Truffles

A bit of bad news. Not a bit really - more like a mountain. Our little Truffles has idiopathic encephalitis. Sorry for the medical speak, but we have lost three dogs in five years and have likely spent somewhere in the neighborhood of forty thousand dollars on vet bills in that time, so we have become accustomed to vet lingo. We knew something was wrong when she had what appeared to be a petit mal seizure and began circling left whenever she attempted to walk.

In layman's terms, there is an area of her brain that is swollen. We have not identified the cause, but it's more important that we know what we are dealing with. It took a few thousand dollars and a battery of tests to narrow it down: Now we are going through a painful process of elimination as it pertains to treatment. Since the cause is not known, the usual course of treatment does not apply. She has gone through four rounds of meds and we're not there yet.

So we treat, and wait, and hope. The good news is that she is holding steady; her condition has not worsened. She is a tough little cookie, and that huge heart of hers is brimming with love. Please send good wishes her way - throw her a bone in your prayers. She'll love you for it, as will we.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Our best wishes to our friends, family and colleagues on this Thanksgiving. May you have a safe and joyous holiday!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different.

I'm guilty; we've been MIA. It's the job thing. Years of no free time have taken their toll, and I'm trying to find time to catch up.

But there is a change. A big one. We up and moved, to the (initial) dismay of the dogs. They like their routine, and we certainly broke that up a bit. The downside: they are fenced in. In actuality, Nigel is thrilled. He had to be leash walked until now, and he's happy for his relative freedom. But the ladies had been free to roam for years, and are not so happy to have boundaries.

They have yet to discover the good news. The house comes with a river. Winter has arrived early and the river is too fast for them, and will stay so until summer. We have not let them near it, and the river falls away in front of the house, while they are fenced in behind. They will forget about it until it's warm enough to keep the windows open, right about the time that the last snowbank has melted.

They have stopped pouting, and all seems right again. I ran downstairs to throw wood in the stove last night and noticed something on the side of the stairway.

Call me dog-centric, but it almost looks like it could be... : )