Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hide And Seek

(Taken from "Beyond Fetch: Fun, Interactive Activities for You and Your Dog" by D. Caroline Coile)



Abilities: Stay while you are out of site; come

Dogs have as much fun playing hide and seek as kids do--and they're better at it! The only thing they're not good at is counting to 100 before they start seeking. That means you either have to place your dog on a stay and then call him, or wait until he's in another room before you call. Either way, it's part of his sneaky plan to make you give away your hiding place. Start hiding in easy places: behind doors, in closets or under tables. Then move to harder places: the bathtub, under the bed or in a cabinet. Any children playing this game should be cautioned about choosing only safe hiding places. Try to resist the temptation to jump out and say "boo!" when your dog finds you. OK, only do it if your dog thinks it's funny. You can boost enthusiasm by handing out a treat when you're discovered. As your dog hones his skills, you can move outdoors and start hiding all over the place. Taking turns with a friend who can hold your dog while you hide enables you to really challenge him. You can go farther away, climb trees and if you're especially daring, hide in shallow water. Not only is this a fun game by itself, but it is also a good foundation for more involved games of trailing and of search and rescue. For added fun, play in the dark!

Summertime Is Calling!!

Ah, Summer has officially arrived!! Dreary rains have ceased to make way for warm, lovely sunshine!! A season when we sport shorts, tank tops, flip-flops. Drive to parks, enjoy hikes, indulge in backyard barbecues. A season when we attend weddings, graduations, birthday parties. In 70-plus degree temperatures.... With a light breeze.... That is my idea of the perfect afternoon!! And Summer is a lengthy, dull season sans canines to share it with!! Why? The possibilities for bonding are boundless!! You can take Buddy camping. Or sit in the privacy of your own garden with Sabrina. Seriously.... The options are endless!! I have been reading through this fantastic pet resource book entitled: "Beyond Fetch: Fun, Interactive Activities for You and Your Dog" by D. Caroline Coile. It is literally jam-packed from cover to cover with game ideas!! Red Light/Green Light. (Simon) Says. Red Rover. Some are physical activities, others mental. "Beyond Fetch" features party games, options for indoor/outside play, even homemade toy ideas!! Plus more!! Even games which encourage obedience!! Within the pages of this reference book are wonderful bonding opportunities between master and canine!! Not every game listed is suitable for every breed. If you have an "opinionated" Border Collie, then "Bark-o-Rama" wouldn't at all be appropriate!! As the owner, you should know your dog. Be his judge as to what's best for him!! On a sunny Saturday afternoon, Uncle Michael and I tried one of the activities featured in "Beyond Fetch". From Chapter 1. It was Hide And Seek. We enjoyed teaching it to Rose.... She had fun participating!! Of course, it was a trial run!! And our rules altered themselves three times. Firstly, in our backyard, I held Rose's collar, while Uncle Michael hid, or vice versa. Uncle Michael/I called out: "Rose Come!!" We allowed my mongrel to watch us run away. She seemingly had little sense of direction with that rule!! Really? Where is that incredible "hound" nose? Rose would bound toward me/Uncle Michael with gusto, take a spin around where I/Uncle Michael was hiding, then look pleased with herself!! But this felt like cheating!! Secondly, Uncle Michael/I held Rose's collar on our patio.... Where she could no longer watch us run away. My bright girl caught on swiftly!! She soon figured out that the object of this game is to run across our backyard as I/Uncle Michael called her!! Plus, we lavished Rose with verbal and physical praise whenever Uncle Michael/I were found!! Fun, fun, fun!! There was merely two "off-limit" hiding locations: No flower garden and no fruit/vegetable garden!! Around here, everybody has what we call: "House Rules", where original instructions are always bent. When we played Hide And Seek, on the third round, Rose decided that she was done!! Seriously? Done? By then, Uncle Michael was repeatedly calling out: "Rose come!!" with zero response!! She just stood there, motionless, like a statue, on our patio!! So I walked toward my now disobedient mutt. Firmly took hold of her collar. Gently lead Rose to my hiding spot. Rose's shoulders slumped, her head hung low. As if she was wondering: "Did I do something wrong?" Oh, that broke my heart!! By trying to teach Rose to obey, it seemed, we robbed all the fun!! So our "House Rules" will be that Uncle Michael/I only call Rose's name!! This way, when she is done, there's no disobedience involved!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Everybody Loves Rose!!

Our cul-de-sac is inhabited by elementary-aged kids. Several of them. Four rambunctious, high-energy boys visit Grandpa and Grandma daily. A brother/sister used to reside here, but have since moved away. This sweet-natured boy lives with his single mother. Two swift-growing brothers are being raised by their grandparents. They each enjoy playing outside--riding bicycles, shooting baskets, chasing one another, riding scooters--and all eight of them (Minus one) loves stroking Rose's velvet-soft fur. There is Shawn and Aaron next door. Those are the twain brothers who are being raised by Grandpa and Grandma. Also next door are Jonathan, Josh, David, plus Daniel. They are the brothers who frequently visit Grandpa and Grandma. In the next house over, there is William. He's the boy who resides with his single mother. Lastly, there is Brad and Libby. The brother/sister used to live here, but moved away. They visit Grandpa and Grandma frequently, however. Occasionally, these kids have friends over, even!! When I take Rose for her afternoon walks, it never fails, everyone bounds toward my sweet mongrel. Everyone, but Shawn, anyway!! Shawn is either too "teenager" to care, or he does not like canines!! The kids lavish attention upon her. Comment on how soft Rose's fur is. Share stories about their dogs. Ask what her name is. Question Rose's breed(s). Ask how old she is. Rose, of course, being my "Social Butterfly" wholeheartedly enjoys all the extra pats and scratches!! She just stands there, so patiently, awaiting our walk, yet willingly receiving each juvenile hand that touches her!! Rose swiftly grew to accept these kids like they are family. She whinnies softly for them as they run home from school. Rose would even let out a high-pitched bay.... If I allowed her to!! Because of Rose, I have formed a friendship with these kids. They are more than just "neighbors". I see them every day!! I comment on haircuts, new braces, glasses. We have discussed books, raccoons, movies. And all because everybody loves Rose!!

"She's An Unknown."

"She's an unknown. She's a lot of unknowns. They don't even know what her age is." ~William, our neighbor kid in response to that old-adage question which I am frequently asked about Rose ("What kind of dog is she?"). William's swift answer tickled me, because he replied it before I, the owner, could even open my mouth!!

I recently finished reading this fun, sentimental, heartfelt children's book. It's entitled: "Because of Winn-Dixie", written by Kate DiCamillo. The story is about this sad, lonesome 10-year old girl, named India Opal. Opal and her Daddy move to a new place where she has zero friends. Plus no Mama. Then Opal accidently meets this big, shaggy, rib-thin "unknown" of a mongrel. She calls him "Winn-Dixie", after the location where the two met. And they have a wonderful Summer together befriending everybody!! Read it!! "Because of Winn-Dixie" was turned into a major motion picture from Twentieth Century Fox and Walden Media, which is almost just as good. I said almost!! As with nearly every Hollywood movies, the book is better!! (Note: It discusses certain adult subjects, like drinking and alcoholism, so a word of caution, moms, before reading this to your young children!!)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mile "Stone" Memory

Last Christmas, I received an incredible gift: A Step Stone Kit!! It was requested.... I wrote the item upon my wish list. And I wanted this Step Stone Kit more than anything else that year!! The contents within are: 3.5 pounds Stepping Stone Mix; (An) 8-inch reusable plastic mold; 2 ounces Rainbow Rock; 1 ounce glass gems; .06 ounces glitter; 1 wooden mixing paddle; 1 writing tool; Easy to follow instructions(!!) On a warm 70-plus degree June afternoon, we gently pressed both of Rose's paws against the wet cement. She was seemingly confused at what we were asking from her!! Initially, anyway!! We had to gently lead her a few steps toward our work area on the backyard patio.... But my mongrel was otherwise cooperative!! She just stood there, trusting us. Allowing her paws to touch that cool, wet cement. Following through whatever it was we were doing. She certainly is a good girl!! However, the second we were finished, my medium-sized fugitive playfully took off in her "Italian Greyhound" velocity!! But.... I still had to clean Rose's paw pads!! I followed her through our fenced backyard, a damp washcloth in my hand. She glanced at me, smiled big, tongue hanging out.... And fled!! I tried to catch her. Unsuccessfully!! I walked over to my quick-drying Stepping Stone. Decorated it some. Chased Rose. She thought this "game" was great fun, therefore, my fugitive ran, fast!! Normally, whenever Rose does this, I am firm, yet patient. After all, she is not listening to me.... I cross my arms, command that Rose "Come" and scowl at her. Eventually, Rose submits to my ownership!! Not this time. This time, I was having too much fun with Rose's newly discovered freedom!! She fled, that silly little "grin" displayed upon her face. And I laughed!! I returned to my Stepping Stone. Finished decorating it. Chased Rose one last time. Finally, she collapsed in the shade of our neighbor's tree, still smiling. At last, I was able to dampen my washcloth and wipe clean any cement!! (Not that there was very much!!) Rose didn't run away this time.... She was too tired!! Yes!! Victory is mine!! I am pleased with Rose's Stepping Stone. Proud of it, really!! On top is her name: Rose. Along the left side are orange, yellow and dark blue Rainbow Rocks. On the bottom is a bone, decorated with sparkly glitter, to look like a treat. (Because Rose has this "love affair" with food!!) On the right side are light blue, green and red Rainbow Rocks. Rose's paw pads constantly collect garden debris. Flower petals, mud, grass, dry dirt.... Everything!! So her left paw print has some unidentifiable object on it. Petals? Dirt? Both? Who knows!! Plus, her right paw print has a strand of grass!! I wonder if several years later, rain, snow, hail, sleet, or bird droppings will produce light green growths and dominate Rose's garden debris. But until then, I will hold onto this memory!! I highly recommend that every dog owner create Stepping Stones of their pets' paw prints!! Because when the inevitable occurs, this makes an incredible memorial!! It beats garden burial, because what if you move away? Seriously? Are you going to break your back to pull Ivy out of the ground where she peacefully lies? This beats spreading your canine's ashes around his favorite tree, too. What if raindrops wash them away? No. Rose's Paw Print Stepping Stone will survive forever!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sweet Summer Treat

Do Rose and I have a new tradition? On Shadow's death anniversary--June 15th--Uncle Michael and I baked some bone-shaped biscuits. And turned my sad, negative day into a happy, positive one!! We honored the past, celebrated the present, anticipated the future!! It is my opinion that every pet owner, who either still has a surviving animal, or recently adopted their new creature, should partake in something special on such sorrowful anniversaries!! Ideally, any activity you may have enjoyed with Carli-Ann while she was alive. Take Moses to that campground where she happily splashed in the lake waters. Drive Allegra toward a nearby beach where Luna once left behind her paw prints. Go on an adventurous road trip with Jake. The possibilities are endless.... Especially during Summer!! Alright.
Here is the recipe: (Which Rose would rate: Four 'paws' way, way, up!!)

Dig' n The Blues
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups white flour
1/4 cup oatmeal
pinch of cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a blender, mix together blueberries, milk, oil and cinnamon. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Add oatmeal. With flour coated hands, knead dough.
(I squished it in my hands like Play-Dough!!) Roll dough on flour coated surface and then cut with cookie cutter. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes 1 dozen. (Disappointingly, we were only able to bake 7 bones, plus 3 "starfish" with leftover dough; Therefore I set the timer gradually for 25 minutes.) Bake bones on the middle oven rack. If your dough is sticky, apply a light layer of flour to your hands, the rolling surface and rolling pin. (After a while, our dough seemed dry, so I added a few "pinches" of water!!)
Because of variations in oven temperatures, monitor the cooking time for your batch of "Doggy Bones". Bake bones until the bottoms of the biscuits become medium brown, and adjust remaining baking times accordingly. If bones do not become "bone hard", bake bones for an additional five minutes or leave them in the oven as it cools. Store "Doggy Bones" in an airtight container. For extended supply, double your batch and freeze them!

The most surprising thing about these treats should have been obvious: They are blue!! Quite pretty, actually!! While they were baking, Rose, enjoying some backyard playtime, rolled in something disgusting!! So, as resulted, she was banned to the outdoors until I finished with her biscuits!! Not that Rose minded. Hounds will be hounds, I guess!! So, of course I scrubbed the stench off of her. Lathered my mongrel until she smelled clean. Meanwhile I was relaxed and in a good mood. I giggled as my fingers massaged Rose's velvet-soft fur. Grew a bit giddy, even!! Because I could not be annoyed or frustrated at Rose!! She hadn't done anything wrong!! Dogs will be dogs.... And Rose is perfectly normal for a canine!! No. I praised her with every lukewarm hose-down. Yep. I told Rose that she is a "good girl". Repeatedly. Afterward, I gave Rose a starfish.... Which, she reacted to by holding it within her mouth and running circles around our great room table!!
I could almost feel Shadow smiling down on us from Heaven that day. Almost. For I did not experience sadness on June 15th, 2011. Just jubilation.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Farewell, Shadow Sunshine

~Readers: One year ago today, around 9:30 PM, my beautiful "blond"-furred German Shepherd/Golden Retriever cross, Shadow Sunshine collapsed--hard--on our "computer room" floor.... Not far from where I'm sitting right now. I was feeding her--fetching some pizza flavored treats--when she fell. Shadow could not stand up. I sat with her nearly all night long--getting a mere two hours sleep--as this poem expresses. We had Shadow euthanized the next afternoon, on June 15th, 2010, around 2:30 PM.~

During that dreadful, dreadful night when you fell;
Nobody could predict death, no one could tell;
But it was such a hard collapse;
Did your hips quit on you, perhaps?
Trying hard to get up, this proved a losing fight;
So I stayed by your side nearly all through the night;
For ten years you've been faithful toward me;
This was my time to show loyalty!
Farewell, Shadow Sunshine, farewell....
You've left lots of stories to tell!
Wherever I go;
You will be missed so.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Celebrating My Mystery Dog

"Mutts are special because they are truly one of a kind; you won't be able to find another just like it. Their uniqueness is one of their most attractive qualities. It's the ultimate in rare breeds because, for the most part, you can't reproduce the mix--mostly because you don't know what it is." ~Phyllis DeGioia

This quote defines Rose entirely--especially its closing line--my mongrel truly is, so different in her beautiful, mixed-breed appearance, that she's impossible to reproduce!! I could not seek another canine, show shelter workers Rose's photograph, and request a Beagle/German Shepherd/Italian Greyhound mutt which looks just like her!! I'm cool with that. I wouldn't have it any other way....

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Preference

Puppies overwhelm me!! True, they are adorable, and who can resist those soulful, fuzzy, juvenile faces? But puppies happen to be immature, untrained, hyperactive and constantly disobedient!! They chew on everything, plus these four-legged bundles of fur frequently test their owners' patience!! No, I actually prefer adult canines. They are a stark contrast to puppies: Mature, trained, calm, and obedient!! I advocate adult dog adoption. Recommend amongst friends that they choose them. See, everybody, it seems, brings home puppies, while shelters and rescue groups are filled with unwanted adults!! For diverse reasons--behavioral problems, lifestyle changes, health issues--these beautiful creatures are given up on!! And, obviously, adult canines are less adoptable than puppies. Therefore, bringing home your three-year old is, truly, a rescue!! Shouldn't that arouse positive feelings of accomplishment? Rose is--thus far--my second adult. I feel as though somehow I'm saving dogs--from being euthanized--one canine at a time!! Adults do arrive with a histories--sometimes known, sometimes vague--of their previous masters' mistakes. This must be addressed and dealt with--never an easy task--but entirely worthwhile!! Adults are typically pre-named, which, of course robs their new owners the pleasure of deciding what to call them. However, dogs are extremely bright animals, and can easily learn any new name!! Rose is a fine example of that!! We did not know what she was called....Tulip , perhaps? Yet, Rose adapted to her name in one day!! Adopting an adult also robs masters of several years. Rather than 13, you may be merely blessed to spend a decade with her. Well, they are simple reminders that their life is indeed precious!! And we are to never take them for granted!! I also prefer mixed breeds over purebreds. Because they are unique. They're different, like me. Mixed breeds appear healthier and hardier than purebreds too, for they possess a considerably greater genetic background. Rose is my mongrel. A Beagle/German Shepherd/Italian Greyhound mix. Her past, age, (breeds, even) remain mysterious today. I have accepted that, accepted her, this one-of-a-kind girl!! No, I can never picture myself owning any purebreds or puppies....