Monday, February 27, 2012

"Which Toy" Game

Every owner has interactive games which they play with their canines. Hide 'n Seek. Fetch. Tug 'o War. Some are traditional, others original. I even own a book "Beyond Fetch"--which I've recommended on this blog--about being creative when it comes to interactive play!! "Beyond Fetch", by Caroline Coile is an excellent reference book!! I enjoyed it, anyway!! A particular "game" that Rose and I play together is neither traditional, nor original. I made it up!! Yep!! I am not sure, exactly, what to call it, so.... "Which Toy" game? I hold twain saliva-stained plush squeaky animals, one in each hand. Then I ask a question. "Which one do you want?" I squeeze their squeakers. Repeatedly. Then, my bright girl "chooses" one!! This is a fun, mind-stimulating game, which we both enjoy!! Earlier today, I was playing it with Rose. In one hand, I held Curious George, her orange-colored monkey. In the other was Sugar, the pink kitty. Squeak!! Squeak!! Squeak!! Squeak!! Squeak!! Then.... The question. "Which one do you want?" Usually in this instance, Rose's head will shift from hand to hand. I can almost see her making the important "decision".... Not earlier this afternoon!! Today, I watched, as Rose's expressive colossal brown eyes moved slowly from Curious George, to Sugar. Back and forth, back and forth. Finally, Rose's head turned to her right. Now those eyes were playfully mischievous!! I have seen them like this before. Countless times!! She pranced over to Rose, her baby blue-hued puppy toy, which lie, abandoned, on our great room carpet. Then, like a wild hawk hunting, my mongrel swooped down, and grabbed that puppy!! I laughed so hard, Rose began to seemingly wonder what was so funny!! I then embraced her, and stroked Rose's velvet-soft fur. But I could not stop laughing!! Rule breaker!! That is not how you play the game....!!

Score Three For Mutts!!

Last Wednesday, in my blog post entitled: "Twenty-five Percent", I wrote how, according to observation alone, more Americans favor purebred canines over mixed breeds. Sad, but true. I expressed that the percentage of homeless, unloved mongrels living in my local Humane Society was higher than those with an actual "Pedigree". This observation literally depresses me. I counted two mutts--including Rose--which currently reside on our suburban cul-de-sac. Well.... I left out three mongrels. Deliberately. Because I do not know this neighbor, John, and couldn't remember his dogs' "breeds". The other day, Will, a sweet, sensitive young boy who enjoys stroking Rose's velvet-soft fur, reminded me what kind of canines they were. At his grandparents' house, where Will resides, are four colossal-sized dogs. One Labrador Retriever. Plus her offspring. Which are three Labrador Retriever/Weimaraner crosses!! So we actually have thirteen canines around our cul-de-sac, not nine. Along with Rose, Zeke, and the three Labrador Retriever/Weimaraners, there are five mutts!! However, purebreds still rule our cul-de-sac. With the additional Labrador Retriever, there are eight "pedigrees" that reside here. When I adopted Rose, in September 2010, three mixed breeds shared our cul-de-sac!! Sammy, the Schnauzer/Poodle, who, sadly, recently moved away. Zeke. And, of course, Rose!! Then, last Summer, John moved in with his dogs. I think that Rose, my random-bred Beagle/German Shepherd cross, has started a mutt trend, or "club", if you will, around here!! We shall call it "Beautifully Unique!!" Okay. I admit. That is just silly!! But, nevertheless, score three for mutts!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Professional Photograph

There is a new picture of Rose added to my blog's sidebar. It's different from the rest. Darker. More detailed. A close-up. And professionally snapped by an awesome camera!! My youngest brother--Uncle Michael to Rose--celebrated his birthday recently with some friends. One of them, Doreen, is an avid photographer. She snaps some breathtaking pictures!! I love photography, but lack the time, money, patience and talent to ever make it a hobby. Instead, I write. That is my gift. Which I am constantly improving!! During Uncle Michael's party, Doreen walked from room to room taking pictures of unsuspecting people.... And my dog!! I believe that Rose was completely oblivious to Doreen's camera when she took this photograph. Honestly!! Rose seldom ever looks in the direction of a camera lens.... She dislikes its bright flash!! Something was going on. In the next room. Something related to food!! Rose's "pose", her body language, tells me that delicious home-made pizza was being built and baked right in our kitchen!! Rose's ears were perked, colossal brown eyes intent, right front leg bent. Mmmm.... Dough. Sauce. Onions. Cheese. Pepperoni. Olives. I want some!! Rose was preparing to charge into that kitchen!! Of course, based on my memory, I do not know if this is an actuality or not!! Are you kidding me?! I suffer from short-term memory loss. I cannot trust my unreliable brain!! But I know Rose. Chances are, as soon as Doreen finished taking this picture, Rose snuck into our minuscule kitchen, optimistically anticipating a snack!! That's my girl!! This photograph was just developed the other day. It sits proudly in a golden dog bone frame on my shelf. An amazing, precious keepsake. A timeless memory. I have never had such an incredible, professional picture snapped of any canine before!! And Doreen's gift, her photography, captured Rose so beautifully!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Twenty-five Percent

Hello Blogging Friends!! This post was supposed to be "published" on Monday. But.... I stumbled across some complications!! I wrote it on Monday, and was unable to post!! Sigh.... Oh well, here it is now!!

According to a 2007 statistic, twenty-five percent of dogs that enter into United States animal shelters are purebreds. Really....? Twenty-five percent? I don't have to be a brilliant math whizz, which I'm not, to see the depressing numbers in that!! Nope. If there was a twenty-five percentage of purebreds residing in wall-to-wall kennels during 2007, where did that leave the mongrels? Homeless. Sad. Unloved. And in an even higher percentage!! This bit of information provoked me to tears!! Literally. It reminded me just how passionate I have grown toward mixed breed adoption!! This evening, I used my "journalist at heart" skills and put them to work. I conducted a little research. 2007 was, after all, five years ago, and as Earth keeps spinning, life is constantly changing!! I visited my local Humane Society's website. On it are endless photographs of homeless canines. Which they keep flawlessly updated. I searched these pictures carefully--every one--scribbling tally marks on a yellow piece of paper. Adoptable mutts.... Versus homeless purebreds. Posted on my state's Humane Society's website are seventy mongrels. And twelve purebreds. Why are mutts still the highest percentage of homeless dogs? Because.... According to my observation, which probably means nothing, more Americans rescue and love purebreds. But all I can do is look around. Example number one: When we adopted Rose, in September 2010, two diverse families happily brought home twain canines. A yellow Labrador Retriever, and an enormously-sized St. Bernard. Example number two: Around our suburban cul-de-sac, reside nine dogs. Only two of them--Rose included-- are mutts. Sad!! People prefer them over beautifully unique mixed breeds. Why? As most people pay for puppies, predictability is a main reason.... Or, rather, excuse. You usually know beforehand how large your purebred will grow, plus his temperament. Mutts are, in every aspect, mysterious. Even if you know their "breed"!! But I love mysteries.... And that is only part of the fun in mongrel ownership!! It does not require simple research to figure out if your mixed breed behaves like his Golden Retriever "half", or German Shepherd "part". You can't log online and purchase breed books for such answers. But it is not impossible, either!! If owners get to know and understand their mongrel companions, the mystery should gradually lessen. Purebreds are just an easy route!! I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Rose as my little girl. Her temperament, behavioral issues, positives, negatives. It has proven to be quite an adventure, but entirely worthwhile!! And completely rewarding!! I would embark on this mixed breed adventure one-thousand times over!! Rose "speaks" to me somehow.... She was born different--like Shadow--and myself.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Oatmeal "Valentine" Hearts

I recently discovered something about myself. I enjoy baking Rose treats!! I love mixing together ingredients from scratch, and cutting out cute biscuit shapes!! I have even become somewhat of a "recipe-aholic", collecting them whenever possible!! I found myself visiting Martha Stewart's website one day.... For inspiration!! And this coming from a girl who has never been the least bit domestic!! What is happening to me....? Okay. In all seriousness, I feel deeply touched and amazed by the many diverse ways Rose has changed me.... Baking treats is one of them. Because when I adopted Rose, it was instantaneously apparent that she loved food!! So I thought: Why not capitalize on this? What if I baked Rose some occasional biscuits? We drove to our city's largest bookstore in March 2011, and there it was!! Displayed upon their shelves for all to see.... A dog treat cookbook!! Obviously, I purchased it. Baking those recipes were difficult for me. Out of my "comfort zone". At first!! I liked the notion, but clearly did not enjoy myself while baking!! I had to recognize who I am as a perfectionist. And I did not like what I was seeing!! Besides, Rose cares little about these treats' appearance, anyway!! Now, an incredible thing has occurred. I sing while baking!! That's right.... With a smile on my face!! I could have never guessed where buying this board book cookbook would lead me!! Not in a million years.... This touches me so profoundly!! The cookbook does not feature a Valentine's Day recipe, sadly. But I always receive candy on February 14th.... Including Reese's Peanut Butter Cups!! Which, of course, Rose cannot eat!! However, why leave her out on the fun completely? Rose is family, too!! So, on Valentine's Day afternoon, I baked her this recipe, using a heart-shaped cookie cutter:
Which Rose rates:
Four 'paws' way, way up!!

Peamutt Butter
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup water
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup oatmeal
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine peanut butter, oil, and water. Gradually add flour, then oatmeal.
(Yeah.... I never follow the "gradually" rule when baking....) Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with a cookie cutter. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Makes 2 1/2 dozen. (I must have finally measured this batch accurately, because they were much thinner than any of our previous recipes!! I baked 27!!)
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. (This dough was moist, due to its one cup water, but I never applied any flour!! I did, however need a spatula. To literally pry my doughy hearts out!! But sitting on the bottom of our mixing bowl beforehand was loose oatmeal.... So I mashed my dough down several times.) 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. (I baked my first cookie sheet of nine hearts for what the recipe said. Then something strange happened. My second cookie sheet of nine hearts required an additional 2 minutes baking time!!) 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!

Rose has become my gung ho little "helper"!! And she is the canine that always flees whenever I pull out a pan for boiling water!! Really?! As soon as I began preparing her biscuits the other day, Rose was right there--underfoot--eagerly anticipating something!! Well.... She was allowed a little peanut butter. My spoiled girl.... But the other afternoon, Rose's curiosity--her eagerness--toward this recipe seemed more intense than usual somehow!! Like a shadow, Rose followed my every move. I turned around, there she was. I pulled out some steaming-hot hearts, there she was. I set several on a paper plate, there she was!! Rose wanted a treat.... And she wanted one now!! My "food-lovin'" Beagle cross was waiting.... Rather impatiently!! And as soon as they were cooled enough, I gave her one!!
Happy Valentine's Day, Rose.... You are the love of my life!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

She Chewed WHAT?!

Rose has acquired a strange newfound urge to chew up plastic bags. Yep. Plastic bags!! She has never seemed attracted to anything unless it involves food.... Hence why this feels so strange. Our laundry "room"/pantry is currently in the process of a minor remodeling project. Jars and bottles of food items are neatly being stored upon the kitchen table. Cookbooks have been stacked against a wall in our great room. Seriously.... Right now, our home is in an organized mess!! So the other day, everybody--excluding Rose--escaped the house for a few hours. We grabbed some fast lunch, and ran an errand or two. Before leaving Rose behind, I mark off a mental list of things to do. Chairs on couches--check. This way, Rose stays off of them while we are away. Dog pillow out of my bedroom and against our leather loveseat--check. This way, Rose has someplace comfortable to sleep while we are apart. All doors closed--check. This way, Rose has zero accidents in "our" bedroom. Radio turned on--check. This way, Rose can listen to a little contemporary country music while missing me. Kitchen garbage closed up or emptied--check. This way, Rose does not raid it.... Even though she never has!! Toys strewn out on our great room carpet--check. This way, Rose can enjoy some playtime while feeling abandoned.... Which she always does!! Any food pushed back; Chocolate put away--check. Every canine owner understands my reason behind that one!! And, like a robot which was pre-programmed by super-intelligent human beings, I check off the mental list.... Usually in record time, too!! I am the type of dog owner who tries to think about everything.... Even if it is not an issue with Rose!! Plus I'm a worrier. I surveyed all the food on our kitchen table before leaving!! Better safe than sorry.... But I was never prepared to return home and discover bits of slobbery chewed up plastic bag all over our great room carpet!! Really?! I was suddenly shocked.... And concerned for Rose's health. How much of that plastic bag had she ingested? None, if not hardly at all.... She chewed through it like a minuscule mouse would in our garage. Then, realizing that there was no food items inside, Rose spit the plastic bag out!! So what, exactly, had it contained? Unused recipe cards!! Why? I wondered. Then, two days later, we left for church. Again, I went through my mental checklist. This time, I added something new to it. I put up a plastic bag which held appliance instruction books!! However.... I forgot something. In our kitchen, lying on the floor, is a hardware store bag which held remodeling items. Bottles and cans that she could only open with thumbs, and an unused paintbrush roll. Rose had been previously curious about them, which I also forgot. Sigh.... I hate my short-term memory loss!! As soon as I stepped foot into our white magnetic front door, Rose's evidence glared at me!! We returned from church, a little after 2PM, and what should be scattered all over our great room carpet? The paintbrush roll, unwrapped!! Again, Rose had chewed up its plastic bag. Again, she spit it all out. Plus, Rose chewed a small bite through the paintbrush roll!! That she ingested. Rose was, as always, verbally excitable, baying while waving around a toy within her mouth. "Multi-tasking".... This time, I was more frustrated than shocked. I forget about the items on our kitchen floor!! I was displeased with Rose, and let her know. While she demanded attention, I ignored my mongrel. I cleaned up her mess, once again concerned for Rose's health. Oooh, I was frustrated with myself!! How could I forget the items in our kitchen? Next, I fed Rose. I closely monitored her. She was not lethargic. Nothing stuck out of her anus following a bowel movement. She never vomited. Then, forgiveness. I sat upon my bed and stroked Rose's velvet-soft fur. We were okay....

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Playing With Zeke

Rose is my "Social Butterfly". She loves everybody!! Man or beast matters little to my mongrel!! In Rose's mind, everyone is here for three reasons: Like her. Bring the treats. And lavish attention upon her!! Well!! She would be correct about that!! Rose is very, very, very cherished by me!! Our next door neighbors own two canines. Venus, an old, stiff-moving "blond"-furred purebred with white around her face. She's cantankerous too. Apparently Venus dislikes other female dogs, so this aging girl is aggressive toward them. As a protective Mama, Venus frightens me. But Rose is submissive, so she allows Venus to boss her through the wooden fence which divide our yards!! Then, there is Zeke. He's an absolute sweetheart and would never hurt a fly!! Beautifully unique, too!! That's right. Zeke is a black and white Border Collie/St. Bernard cross. He was the first canine to display "neighborly" love toward Rose!! With his lengthy tongue, Zeke slobbered kisses all over her face!! It was so sweet.... Rose sometimes searches for Zeke. She balances upon her hind legs to peek over the fence. But only if nobody is back there!! Because of Venus, Rose seldom ever greets Zeke. But on Saturday morning, cranky old Venus was temporarily absent!! So Rose seized the moment!! She playfully pranced up toward Zeke. Then, being the tease that she is, Rose ran a full-speed half-circle around our backyard!! Then back to Zeke. A full-speed half-circle. Back to Zeke. A full-speed half-circle. Back to Zeke!! This is, evidently, how Rose interacts with her own kind when fences are involved!! It was as if she were attempting to lead Zeke in a merry chase through our backyard!! Come, on, buddy!! What are you waiting for? And if the fence had somehow magically disappeared that day, Rose and Zeke would have been chasing each other with abandon....

Monday, February 6, 2012

Precious Moment

Readers: This has not been a good day for me!! Nope!! I have dealt with a consistent headache.... All day long!! So, I've also felt somewhat stressed, overwhelmed, edgy.... While every petty thing annoyed me!! Sigh.... But, Rose has been my wonderful Comfort Dog, and writing somehow always works as a "cure" for these sort of situations!! Hopefully this blog post will make sense....

Rose, like countless other canines, suffers from a psychological condition called noise phobia. Fireworks, thunder and lightning, our super-sensitive smoke alarm.... Any uncertain "bump in the night" can send her into panic attack mode. Even hail or rainstorms affect Rose!! Occasionally, depending on how loud the noise source, she will tremble. Exploding bottle rockets and thunder evokes this!! Or she will escape "our" bed to find a "safe" place. Rainstorms evoke that.... Lately, weather around here has involved dishonest clear blue skies, and wild Winter winds. No uprooted trees thus far, but our backyard lawn furniture was blown over long ago!! So the other night, I sat on my bed, stroking Rose's velvet-soft fur, reading. When, suddenly, there was this faint noise!! Which I heard too. It came from somewhere outside. I watched Rose nonchalantly, never knowing how she will react. Some noises cause panic, others do nothing!! She jerked her head up, perked those "Beagle" ears, and froze. My hand continued to touch Rose's fur, as if our noise was merely imaginary. I resumed reading. Faint as it may have been, however, our noise was not imaginary, and I knew that!! Rose cautiously stepped off my bed. She exited the room. I followed her. She was headed toward our great room. I watched Rose nervously lie down against the couch. I sat by my mongrel's side, casually stroking her soft fur. Then.... Something magical happened. Rose rested her sweet head on my lap!! She was cuddling!! This was truly a magical occurrence. Rose loves my companionship, and relishes our time spent together. But.... Cuddle? She does not do that.... Rose is the kind of dog who feels "smothered" if I lie next to her!! Seriously!! Nonetheless, here she was, fearful and insecure, resting her head on my lap!! Oh, what a precious moment....

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cat In The Box

Last week, we returned home with groceries. At this local store, our food always arrives in colossal-sized crate-like boxes. For a few days, two of them lie vacant beneath the kitchen table. They were stacked on top of each other. Casually. Meanwhile, our typical box-obsessed feline was taking complete advantage of the opportunity to play with these twain random objects. Stacked on top of each other, she had a little makeshift "house"!! Rose is quite nervous of our cat. Correction. Rose is downright terrified of her!! And we have zero ideas why!! Did Rose suffer a negative experience once years ago regarding felines? Such as becoming scratched and bloodied? Did our cat have a "pep-talk" about arriving here less than five years before her? Or does Rose know something about the "bad-attitude" feline that we do not? Alright. My last two ideas are a bit far-fetched!! But honestly. Whenever our cat deliberately stands in a doorway, Rose will freeze, stock-still, and timidly await for her to move!! But, should Rose witness neighborhood felines, she chases them. With any given chance!! If some strange cat crosses our backyard, and Rose is inside looking out the sliding glass door, she barks!! That's right. Barks!! Like a town crier alerting an intruder of danger!! Seriously!! And, when Rose barks at felines passing through, it is unlike any sound arising from her vocal chords that I have ever heard!! Not a bay. Nope!! It is Rose's loudest, most ferocious-sounding bark!! As if she's ready to attack.... So, last week, our cat was contentedly playing inside her little makeshift "house", when Rose heard something. Coming from the boxes!! I heard it, too. It was nearly 10:00 PM. Rose and I were preparing to take our evening walk. Her bright red harness was already snapped on. My tennis shoes were nearly tied. But "Curious Rose" was mesmerized by that noise in the boxes!! With her ears perked and forehead furrowed, she bravely inspected its source!! Then, things happened so suddenly. Rose poked her light brown nose into the boxes. And out emerged a pair of soft de-clawed cat paws. Batting at Rose's nose. Once again, our feline ruthlessly attacked my girl!! Startled, Rose jumped back a mile!! Isn't the saying "curiosity killed the cat"?