Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

Today many of us will be thinking about cookouts and gatherings with friends and family. That's fine, but off message. The point of Memorial Day is to remember those who served our country in the armed forces.

I just learned, through a friend, about a particular service dog who was a hero in WWI! We hear about dogs used in war, but we seldom learn their names or stories. It turns out that this particular pup was also, in a way, a rescue! He had been a stray!

Take a moment to remember our service men and women today. Enjoy your burgers. And read about the hero dog, Sergeant Stubby ! Read a lovely tribute to all MWDs at Dogster!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Walkin' the Dog

You probably have playlists that you like when you're dog walking. Me too. I put one together specifically for that purpose. It's 33 minutes and keeps up a pretty good pace. By the time we get back from a walk to this playlist, Nicki and I both have our tongues hanging out and we're pooped! If you'd like to try our walk on for size, here's the soundtrack!

Baby Blue                              3:37    Badfinger                    Straight Up   
Leopard Skin Pill-box Hat       2:12    Beck   
Catch My Disease                  4:14    Ben Lee                       Awake Is The New Sleep   
The Black Keys - Lonely Boy    3:13    The Black Keys            El Camino       
Bohemian Like You                3:32    The Dandy Warhols    Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia   
Walking in Memphis               4:19    Marc Cohn                   Marc Cohn   
Typical                                  4:12     MuteMath                    Mute Math [Bonus Tracks]   
20th Century Boy                   3:39    T Rex                           Electric Warrior               
Jump                                    4:01     Van Halen                    1984

You can also listen to it here  Listening is so much more effective than just reading song titles. Which is why I tried to embed a player for you. Alas, Blogger apparently doesn't like embedded players. If you can actually see one on this post, and it works, I'm very happy! I can't see it!!

Keep in mind that we live in a town with LOTS of hills, so a good chunk of this is done on an incline.

If you want to take a less athletic approach to a late spring/early summer evening with your pooch, I recommend Real Estate. It makes everything seem so pleasant and happy, which of course, makes it perfect for spending time outdoors with your favourite fur people!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Dog of the Day!

Nicki has been chosen as the Dog of the Day for Sunday, May 18th!

How appropriate that our little ray of sunshine is a Sunday DotD!! Go over and take a peek!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Dog Dreams

Dogs do dream, of course. Nicki vocalizes in her sleep. Sometimes her noises sound so human that I awake startled and ready to confront a human intruder! She sighs. She groans. She harrumphs! Pointedly!

So it's probably no surprise that I had a dream in which Nicki spoke. Words. In English. Clearly. In my dream, we were very excited about Nicki's speech, not because she spoke, but rather because of her extensive vocabulary. In my dream, dogs spoke. All of them. Quite naturally. Nicki's particular adeptness was what made this event noteworthy. Ah, what a lovely world I dream!

Then, my dream became a bit darker.

In real life, Nicki doesn't like people leaning over either her or me. She will growl, if it's someone with whom she's not very familiar, or she will whine or cry if it's my husband. She doesn't like anyone leaning over my shoulder at the computer, leaning over to kiss me, or leaning over either of us at all. I can stand toe-to-toe with the Hubby for a smootch and there's no problem. I can lean down as he sits in his chair to give a kiss, and she watches, but doesn't react much. We puzzled about this for a bit. I have a theory: most males, when trying to intimidate or threaten, will attempt to appear larger. One way to do that, which people do instinctively, is to lean over or toward the person intended for intimidation. In Nicki's previous life, there must have been a man who used that tactic, most likely toward a female in the household. Probably the same man who inspired Nicki to cower and urinate in fear simply from being in the presence of a male human. Musta been a real sweetheart.

But back to my dream.

In my dream, Nicki was curled up at my side as I lingered in bed with a cup of tea before starting my day. The Hubby was preparing to leave for work. We were enjoying Nicki's patter. Lots of "I love you!" and "I'm a good girl." Then, with coffee cup in hand, the Hubby came over and leaned down for a goodbye kiss. Nicki watched the movement, looked at his hand and said "Weapon?" We stopped and looked at her, remarking to each other that "weapon" was an unexpected word, even for such a sharp linguist as Nicki! She must have taken the coffee cup in his hand for a potential weapon! But Hubby had to get going, so we put the conversation aside as he tried again for a goodbye kiss. Nicki reacted the same way, but inched closer to me and said in a more alarmed and urgent way "WEAPON?!"

And I woke up.

To me, the significance of the dream was clear. That sweetheart of a guy who taught her to fear men so deeply was capable of such things. Not just intimidating a woman, but actually hurting her. Maybe even using a weapon.

We speak passionately about things in this house. When we talk about how angry a person or situation made us, we sound angry. And Nicki looks uncertain, hugging her body to the floor, watching to see if she should flee or leap to my defense. She defends me all the time. Even though the Hubby and I rarely even verbally disagree, she is always in close proximity to me if he is near me. If she's elsewhere and he approaches me, Nicki will appear out of nowhere, at my side, in my lap, at my feet, at the ready.

Nicki has been with us for seven months now. She stopped peeing in submission several months ago, but she clearly still doesn't completely trust the Hubby, even though he is absolutely her indulging "Daddy".  Maybe soon her fears will fade more quickly. Every interaction with men now shows her that the men she knew were not representative.

Maybe in a bit more time, her dreams will be sweeter.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Nicki Goes To School

Nicki went to school yesterday! Not obedience school, although she's done that too. This time, Nicki went to visit the kids and staff at our local middle/high school.

I had been talking with one of the TAs at the school one day while we shared lunch monitoring duty. We're both dog lovers, and we got to chatting about our dogs. (Don't worry; we were keeping an eye on the kids too!) She suggested at one point that I bring Nicki to school near the end of the day so she could meet Nicki. Well, that sounded great, but I was skeptical. Could I really just bring my dog to school? So I asked the principal. I got a resounding Yes! "We're dog lovers!" she said. Wow!

So I resolved to bring Nicki in near the end of the following day. I was pretty sure things would go well. Nicki is only reactive with other dogs, and I know enough to watch the kids for behaviors that might trigger unpleasant dog reactions.

That next day, as we busied ourselves along, a number of folks asked me about Nicki and whether I was bringing her in. What a nice feeling it was to be so welcome! As a few folks sat at lunch in a conference room, one called out to me "We're waiting for the dog!" Someone else chimed in in agreement. Okay!

As the day drew to a close, I wrapped up my chores. There were a few, inconsequential tasks left. I was told to leave those and go get Nicki. I didn't have to be told twice!

Nicki came bouncing into the school on her leash and harness. I brought approved treats (so nobody was tempted to share lunches or people-treats) and my camera. As we jogged through the halls, kids called out and smiled. When we got to the middle school office, Nicki was greeted by one of the teachers, our middle school coordinator, Mr. West, and our secretary, Mrs. Maddafferi. So many new friends! Everyone got down on the floor with Nicki! It was wonderful to see. She behaved herself very well. She was a bit hesitant with the gentlemen, as usual. But we have some tremendously kind and understanding folks at our school, and they were gentle and patient with her. Nicki warmed to them. The treats didn't hurt!

Mr. West meets Nicki
Nicki and Mrs. Madafferi
Then we got to have some real fun. We visited Mrs. Pratt's room. She had asked us to stop by. Here, Nicki was in heaven. The kids, her special love, were just enamored of her. They got right down and began petting and talking to Nicki. And Nicki just drank it in, giving back some furry love. This was a particularly sweet moment. Mrs. Pratt is a Special Education teacher. Her students have challenges that make a school day, and sometimes even just a regular day, a bit more difficult. They can feel frustrated, or disappointed, or angry, or left out, or all of the above. While all kids go through that to an extent, challenged students deal with it more often, and to a greater degree. It's tough being a kid with a challenge. And it's tough being a great dog that nobody bothers to understand. Or that gets neglected. Or even worse, abused. But dogs do an amazing thing. They never seem to develop a hole in their hearts, even if they're neglected or abused. They always seem to have more than enough love to share. Especially with people who need to fill a hole of their own. Or even if they just need to be "topped up" to make sure they have a full heart.