Thursday, January 30, 2014

Howard's Holligans

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I met Gretchen at the Howard house to practice the noon feeding of the Howard's dogs. I have come prepared for this visit. Gretchen said she had trouble getting the dogs back into the garage so I brought my reindeer meat bologne shipped to me from Alaska and a dog leash. Little did I know that I should have brought a life jacket for Gretchen.

How much trouble can it be
taking care of EB the puppy?

The visit started off as it was fated to continue. Gretchen was outside waiting for me when I pulled up in my truck. We exchange hellos and Gretchen starts walking--I assume she is going to walk to Deb's house and Gretchen assumes that she is getting in my truck. I am driving the truck and my assumption wins but I accidently nudge Gretchen with my truck. Acckkkk!!!!! What a way to start the day!!! Almost run over your front of her son....on Thanksgiving. I make some room for Gretchen and she gets in the truck and we drive to Deb's house.
We enter the garage and the four dogs (3 bassets and 1 wire-haired dachhund) are very happy to see us. Ellabelly (hereafter referred to as EB) is happy to see anybody. She is the Howard's new 3-month old basset hound puppy.  The world is a toy to her. We review feeding routine (now was the puppy's food in the red and blue container or the white container?) and successfully feed the little piglet.

Ella with her flying ears chases Tuck.

Gretchen then discloses that we need to check on the health of the upstairs pets. So we observe fish has left over food, hamster has food and water (but was never actually seen--presumed alive), and bird has food but water is dirty, which is soon remedied. 
We go downstairs and put our shoes back on. As I am re-tying my shoes, I stand up and nudge Gretchen who is bending over the fence and almost knock her off her feet. At least her son did not observe this and the puppy is not telling. We clean up poo and pee and proceed to inspect the rest of the pets.
The rat needs more food so Gretchen opens the door to add more food to the bowl. Rat is lonely and proceeds to leap out onto Gretchen's shirt for some petting. Note to myself that rat is friendly and is not jumping for the jugular.

Do you think this rat is going to go for the
jugular or
just wants to cuddle?
Then we go on rabbit patrol. Garage rabbits are in good supply of food and water. We proceed to the garden area with dogs following. Garden rabbits also have victuals. Gretchen informs me that one rabbit humps hands. Good to know.

You'll never guess what this rabbit is

We walk around the garden area a bit and the dogs continue to frolic and play. Observation: dog poo is the exact color of fallen leaves. This reminds me of when my sisters and Mom and I toured Frank Lloyd Wrigth's archetectual master piece Falling Water . We learned that the guest house was painted the exact shade of beige that matches the underside of a fallen fall maple leaf. Little did Wright know that the color also matches some of the many variety of colors of dog poo that lurk in the Howard yard.
Can you spot the pooh?
We continue the walk and get a reminder of why puppies need to be watched. EB tries to squeeze through two poles and almost gets stuck. At the way she is growing, she will get stuck if she tries that four days from now.
Gretchen asks if she can leave us now and go take care of neighbor's cats and chickens. Of course she can, how difficult can the rest of the dog duty be? I had planned on reading while the dogs enjoy their run. Noticing the lack of lawn chairs, I get a puppy pad and put it on the front steps. I start to go to my truck to get a book when I discover that I can't see the dogs. Aaaaah, and Gretchen has been gone less than three minutes and I already lost EB. 

I didn't show this photo of EB getting her head stuck
 to Deb for weeks after the pet sitting incident--just
in case Deb thought I was a bad pet sitter.
I start calling for the hounds and wandering about the property. Oh, no, EB has followed the other dogs down to the lowest level of the property. Gretchen specifically said EB is not to go there. I begin to go down the rock stairs and realize that I am in great danger of slipping on those rocks. Now I wish that I had brought a life jacket for myself. I spend at least five minutes watching EB frolic among the foliage and try to find a way onto Gretchen's property. Gretchen emerges from the neighbor's and I desparately call her and explain about EB--I just took my eyes off of her for a moment. Gretchen descends the steps and carries EB back up the lawn ramp which avoids the rocks ascent.
EB practicing her stance for her show career?

Miss Gretchen then models proper puppy observation procedure. You need to follow the puppy constantly in the garden area ensuring EB does not get stuck behind poles, slip under the fence, or jump off an elevated flower bed. Also I remember the Frank Lloyd Wright guest house color and avoid poopy traps. And be especially careful because EB delights in weaving between your legs and setting you up for a fall.

This is just about the only safe
place for the older dogs in the garden.

Gretchen asks me if I am OK for the rest of the visit. She needs to get ready to go to Thanksgiving dinner. She departs but as she exits out the gate she suggests that I might want to get the dogs back into the garage while she is there to help. I call the dogs and they all come running into the garage--no reindeer bologne or leash needed. I count to ensure that four dogs left the garage and one, two, three, four dogs returned.
Poor Raspberry!  She just wants a break from EB.
I close the door and proceed to watch EB torment the older dogs. She has no off switch. The older dogs just want to rest a bit. Tuck wants to cuddle with me but I can't figure out a way to get his long body onto my lap. We finally settle on Tuck laying on my extended legs like he would rest on on sliding board. We bond for another 15 minutes.
EB and her older sister go back into the pen and I remember to push the chair against the dog food containers to make sure the fence stays up. I refresh the water. I lock the door and go home to clean up for my own Thankgiving visit.
And to think that I get to do this all again on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday. At least Gretchen will be safely at work dealing with plant shut downs and drivers calling in sick.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

These are a few of Blessi's favorite things

Tastykakes are a Philadelphia delicacy.  Yum!
Blessi's favorite things of course all involve food. When I first got Blessi, he was direct from Icelandic and would only eat bread.   Over the years, I have experimented to see what Blessi does and does not like and his tastes have expanded. 

He adores peanuts, carrots, apples, grapes, oranges, Peanut Butter Tandy cakes, any kind of donut, horse cookies, peppermints, celery only if it has peanut butter on it, raisens, cashews, walnuts, any type of berry, bread, cereal, barbequed potato chips, French fries, bananas (maybe), and apple juice.  He likes the smell but not the taste of coffee.

Blessi will not eat corn bread or shortbread cookies.  He is not fond of sugar cubes or snow peas.  He tasted broccoli one time--chewed it up and spit it in my hair.  If Blessi could, I am sure that he would quote George W. Bush, "I do not like broccoli. And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli."