My company has an annual volunteering day where employees get on buses and go to various pre-selected nonprofits throughout the area to do hands-on work for most of the day. I chose an animal charity (surprise!), so I joined a group of co-workers to walk dogs for most of the late morning and early afternoon.
It was really a very pleasant activity. The dogs were delighted to get outside, they were very friendly and most were open to being petted for a long time. As with most shelters there were lots of smiling pit bull mixes, and my volunteer buddy and I mainly walked them.
Minor injury #1 occurred when we went to get a big dog named Captain out of his kennel. He was SO excited at the attention that he was leaping around and it was a challenge to get the lead over his head. Once we got outside I realized that I'd scraped and lightly punctured my arm in the chaos, but luckily it didn't hurt.
After lunch, we walked more dogs and then divided into groups to either wash dogs outside or stay inside to clean cat cages and socialize the cats. I chose the cats, naturally.
There were a lot of very sweet cats and kittens and I spent time petting a lot of them after I tidied up their kennels. Toward the end, my attention was drawn to two very noisy black kittens. They wanted attention and they let everyone know at the top of their lungs the entire time we were there. I opened their cage and picked them both up so that I had one on each side of my chest up by my shoulders.
They were purring and seemed very happy. All was well until one of them reached up and bit me on the earlobe. It wasn't just a quick nip either—the rotten little bugger bit and held on. If I hadn't gotten him unfastened, I might have had a new piercing. So yet again, blood.
I thought I was in the clear for the day after that, but I had a final bloodletting incident while preparing stir-fry for dinner. I was using my zucchini ribbon cutter and somehow I got my little finger too close to the blade. Dinner was a little late while I dealt with the gory aftermath.
I think I can call today a success if all my blood stays in my body. That seems like a pretty reasonable goal, don't you think?
Years before I got Toby, my company tried the whole "bring your dog to the office with you" thing for a while. I don't know specifically where it all went wrong, but I do know that it didn't last long.
Fortunately, my pets are so pampered that they didn't even notice. Take, for instance, yesterday morning when I tucked in the dog and Dr. Jones before I left for work.
Then there's the Italian Greyhound playdate I took Toby on a couple of weekends ago. He's not great with the socializing, but I did coax him into the yard a few times.
Eventually he went full wallflower and removed himself from the proceedings until I took him home. The dog above him on the stairs was similarly over it.
At home, he's spoiled rotten, though. Here he is chilling on the bathroom rug after a long walk.
Inspired by Noodleroux's example, I will now seal my status as crazy pet lady by listing for you the various nicknames that I call Toby.
And that's just the dog. Imagine what it's like when the five cats get involved! I'm going to go sit down now.
Oh hey, it's not too late to enter to win a Logitech mouse!
I love my dog. LOVE him! But. He's like the snooze alarm I never wanted.
Sometime between 4-5 a.m. every day - Toby creeps out from under the covers and does a nice ear-slapping shake, standing right next to me. If I don't look awake right away, he proceeds to paw at me with his feet, throw his body over me and poke me in the face with his damp nose. He has to pee. I get it.
I get up, dish out some mild verbal abuse that he neither understands nor cares about, put on my robe and slippers, pull his harness up into his hot little armpits, clip on the leash, and take him out to the front yard. He doesn't waste any time, fortunately. I give him his "thanks for not peeing in the house" treats and go back to bed without bothering to take off my robe. He jumps up, waits for me to lift the covers, curls up under my right arm and we both to back to sleep.
Sometime between 6 and 6:30 a.m. every morning - Toby crawls out from under the blankets and gets in another good shake, followed by a repeat of his tried and true methods of making me get up. If those don't work he might actually bark because he is starving—STARVING, I TELL YOU!—and cannot be made to wait another moment for his morning scoop of kibble.
We sometimes go back to bed after Toby's breakfast time, but we really shouldn't.
The whole routine played out this morning as usual, but it was especially painful because I was awakened at 1:00 a.m. by a hellacious hailstorm that pounded on the bedroom windows so loudly that it woke me up even over the sound of my bedside fan.
I'm actually okay with the two routine morning sleep interruptions, but add one more and I'm over my limit for sleep disruption.
As tempting as it was to take a little nap at my desk today, I'm happy to report that I resisted. But I will not be staying up late today, that's for sure.
Because I blog about my pets, I was invited to a free sneak preview of Frankenweenie. I didn't hesitate for an instant before I accepted because I'd been waiting for a full-length version ever since I saw the short in 1984 at a science fiction convention.
When my husband and I arrived at the theater last night, I was a little concerned when I saw that they were handing out 3-D glasses. My last 3-D experience was pretty miserable, but I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
I will eliminate any suspense about the viewing experience right now: the 3-D was spectacular. I don't have much to compare it with, but I'd say that stop-motion seems particularly well suited for 3-D and the fact that the movie is in black and white seemed to add to the effect.
One of the coolest things about "Frankenweenie" is that it's filled with overt references to classic black and white horror films. The main character's name is Victor Frankenstein and his classmates look very familiar from the Universal Pictures and Hammer Films canon and they even range into Godzilla movie territory.
The story is about a boy who is inspired by his science teacher (a dead ringer for Vincent Price) to try to reanimate his beloved dead dog, Sparky, Frankenstein's monster style. Even knowing that from the beginning, it's still heartbreaking when poor Sparky meets his initial demise and darned if the poignant moments don't continue throughout the movie. I'm pretty sure every single person in the audience was sniffling and dabbing his or her eyes on the way out of the theater. I know I was and so was my husband.
So obviously the movie has tons of heart and I can forgive it for making most of the "science" a lot more magical than real-life science. The characters are really well rendered, both in their animation and in the voice characterizations. Sparky's animation was particularly convincing—his mannerisms and movements were perfectly doglike.
I really loved the movie and I would see it again and probably buy the DVD to add to my Halloween movie collection alongside "The Nightmare Before Christmas."
Now I'm going to go hug my own pointy-snouted dog.
So you know about Dogshaming, right? Possibly the funniest blog I've discovered in a long time. Don't click the link unless you have lots of time on your hands because you'll be reading for hours.
This post is not about Toby doing anything for which he needs to be ashamed. (Not that he doesn't do some of those things, but that's another story.) No, this is about me being ashamed that I let him get ridiculously fat again.
Today I went to an Italian Greyhound playdate arranged by Kansas/Missouri Italian Greyhound Rescue. Even before I took him, I was fretting on Facebook that he was awfully porky. Sure enough, when I got there, he was by far the most corpulent of all of the several dozen dogs there. No other dog in the group was even close.
As soon as we arrived, people started exclaiming about how "solid" he was. I got well-meaning advice about thyroid testing. And I could see it plainly. I'd known he was overweight, but until I had other Italian Greyhounds to compare him to directly, I didn't realize he was that overweight.
That means it's time for decisive action. We did our 3.4 mile walking route this morning, which I was already planning to reinstate as a regular daily thing. I also swapped out the 1/2 cup scoop in his food container for a 1/3 cup one.
Toby will never look like the fine-boned, show-quality IGs. He's taller and has sturdier legs and a much wider chest than most of them. However, there were a couple of dogs in attendance that had a similar build to his without the extra chub, so it was a nice preview of what I could possibly achieve with him.
I'm sorry, little dog man. We're going to get you moving, make sure your thyroid is working right and work on finding some lower calorie treats to reward you when you're good. Obviously I'm still figuring out this dog owner thing.
I was feeling under the weather yesterday morning, so I decided to stay home and work from the comfort of my living room.
Everyone else in the house slept the whole time.
It was a pleasant and productive working environment. Best of all, at the end of the day I got to walk into the next room and take a nap in lieu of driving home.
Today I'm feeling much better and I'm heading back to the office. At least I know I don't have to feel guilty about leaving the pets behind. They hardly noticed I was there.
Today marks one year since we brought our little doggers home. It took everyone a while to settle in, but I think we've developed a pretty good routine and he seems to love us a great deal.
We have lots of daily rituals. He and I usually go to bed around 10:00 p.m. and he paws at the blanket until I lift it up so he can go underneath and curl up against my ribs.
Right now his inner alarm clock is set for exactly 6:35 a.m., and that's the time he crawls out from under the covers and gives himself a good tag-jingling shake. I grab my glasses and spend a few minutes talking to him and cuddling before we go outside for his morning constitutional.
He gets his breakfast when we go back in and I take him out one more time before I leave for work. He receives a Virbac chew stick as a reward for that piece of doggie business, which keeps him busy while I'm making my way out the door.
Barring long walks, which have fallen by the wayside a little due to a combination of overly hot weather and chronic foot pain on my part, we still have a lot of places to walk up and down our street and one street over. He likes to greet Dolly, the shih-tzu next door. I do my best to steer him away from another neighbor's giant pit bull because Toby doesn't have enough sense not to bark and carry on when we see bigger dogs.
I imagine he sleeps most of the day in his bed on the couch, but sometimes he plays chase with the cats (particularly Dr. Jones and Velvet) or chews his stuffed toys first. My husband gets up in the mid- to late-afternoon and takes him for his next potty break.
Suppertime is a little more complicated. Because my husband and I tend to stay pretty busy in the evenings, Toby gets double-fed more often than is good for him. I think we need something like this to keep track.
If the birth dates listed on his paperwork are correct, he's now nine years old. He's gotten a lot more white hairs in the past year, but I'm sure that the transition from the home he'd had all his life to our house must have been stressful.
The new vet has given him a more or less clean bill of health, but we do need to have his teeth and ears cleaned soon and I'll probably have them remove a couple of small skin growths while he's already out. I hope he gets to keep his few remaining teeth. The poor little guy has so few that his tongue hangs out whenever he's relaxed or sleeping.
House training is still a constant struggle. Some days he's perfect and other days he's inexplicably bad (and sneaky about it, too). Things have gotten a lot better since we instituted a treat reward system, though. He's improved enough that I'm ready to do a good kitchen floor scrubbing and re-sealing of the slate this weekend.
Ultimately, the best thing about having Toby in our lives is the companionship. He loves to hang out with us. He has his own chair in the TV room (stolen from poor Trillian) where he lies so he can be with us while we're watching television. Wherever we are, that's where he wants to be. The cats are like that as well, but the dog takes it up a couple of notches.
I'm glad we're able to be Toby's family in his later years. He's cute, cuddly and a fun little buddy to have.
Happy First Gotcha Day Anniversary, Toby!
Hi, Toby. Your Gotcha Day is coming up next month, so that means we've been walking and running together for nearly a year. As your coach, I thought this would be a good time to give you a few performance tips that will undoubtedly make things go more smoothly from now on for us both.
Let's start with etiquette, which could use a little refinement in your case. When we encounter a jogger, I know you find it very inspiring. However, you can take my word for it that it makes people uncomfortable when you strain at your leash and try to chase after them. I'm sure your bark is meant as a jaunty "Good morning!" but it usually only serves to startle them.
Then there are the other dogs. While I imagine that your episodes of leaping about and barking furiously are very aerobic, they are really not appropriate behavior in a residential area at the crack of dawn. Also, you weigh 20 pounds and almost every dog we see could eat you for breakfast, which is something you should really have realized on your own by now.
Jogging is something we both enjoy - at least until you abruptly stop to smell something. Our route is 3.4 miles at minimum, so I'd appreciate it if you would consider skipping just a few of the olfactory signatures along the way when we're going full speed. If you trip me and I fall on you, you'd better hope I have my cell phone on me and someone we know is awake to come and scrape us off the pavement. Either way, it would be bad on all counts.
Finally, there are your pit stops. I certainly don't begrudge you the opportunity to avail yourself of them; after all, that's one of the reasons we're out and about. However, it would be great if you could do a little advance planning and get your biological business taken care of when we're either in a neighborhood that has trash pickup that day or downtown where there are plenty of trash cans.
Otherwise, I think we're both getting a lot out of our walks. They're good bonding time, although I understand that as a sighthound you have other priorities while we're outdoors that take precedence over interacting with me. The exercise is great, though, and I think we both enjoy getting to know the neighborhood, the neighbors and their dogs.
Thanks for being my workout buddy and I look forward to traversing the area with you for years to come.
I live on a dead-end street that is not big on infrastructure. There are no sidewalks and the streetlights are spaced far apart. Thus, when I need to walk Toby after dark, we can be pretty much invisible, especially since I generally wear dark colors. One of my neighbors even made a point to caution me that the dog and I were hard to see when we walked up the street at night.
When I saw a blogger outreach call for Safe Glow dog collars, I was immediately interested. The company sent me a free collar (a $29.95 value) in blue, and Toby and I have been using it for several weeks now.
As described by the company, the collar is made from "wear-resistant nylon and it houses a flexible, light-transmitting polymer core that illuminates when the collar is turned on. A reflective stripe adds additional safety by providing passive reflectivity. Powered by a super-efficient (100,000 hour) LED bulb."
It has three "on" settings, two of which make the lights flash, which I don't personally like. However, the regular non-flashing setting is impressively bright and provides enough light to illuminate the ground in the front of the dog. I don't know what it looks like from a distance, but I imagine that between the light and the reflective strip, it would make an oncoming driver at least pause to see what was up.
The collar is rather wide, so when I put it on Toby above his other collars (thin leather collar with tags and Sentry Calming collar), it rides pretty high on his little neck. Thus, I only have him wear it for outdoor excursions. The clasp is nice and solid yet easy to release, so that hasn't been a problem.
I happen to have a lighted leash as well, but I like the collar a lot more because unlike the leash, the light glows uniformly in a wide strip around the circumference of the collar. The leash has LEDs spaced several inches apart and I wonder if that's ideal for visibility.
Now that sunrise is coming later, I think I'm going to start having Toby wear the collar for our early morning walks. I'm always concerned that a sleepy driver might not see us crossing the street, but it feels as though are odds are better if the dog is sporting a bright blue glow.
I was quite impressed with the quality and operation of these collars and I'd recommend them for anyone who walks a dog on the street. Visit the dog training collars site to check them out!
Standard disclaimer: Although I received this product at no charge, the opinions noted here are my own.