It’s a Bitch Getting Old

Ruby was a sweet looking puppy, but her behaviour was wild during her puppy days. She grew out of her monster stage and turned into a wonderful dog.

Ruby had her 11th birthday in February this year. She’s a bit gray around the muzzle, and now sports bushy white eyebrows. Like many dogs her age, she was packing around several fatty lumps on her body. One of them was getting uncomfortably large and pressing on her throat. It was time to do something about it.

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We have great confidence in our veterinarian and admire the way he cares for our pets. He removed the worst of Ruby’s lumps, taking great care with the one that was near her carotid artery.

Since two of the lumps are near her shoulders, wearing a cone would not stop her from scratching at the itchy stitches, so a T-shirt was recommended. The trouble was to find something small enough. With some creative cutting and knot-tying, I managed to fashion a covering for Ruby.

Most of the time, it works, but this morning when I was wanting to take her outside, she didn’t move from her doggie bed. I had a closer look and saw that she had straight-jacketed herself in trying to get out of the shirt.

She hadn’t hurt herself. The material is very soft. But at least she wasn’t able to scratch herself.

She is healing well and I’m sure she’s glad to be rid of those lumps. I’m sure she’ll also be glad to get rid of her “hospital” nightgown.

The Helpers

After the (hopefully) last snowfall, the Captain uses the wood splitter to split the firewood into sizes that would more easily fit into the woodstove. The “helpers,” Emma and Ruby, do their best to be useful.

Ruby packs pieces of firewood to various places in the yard, while Emma checks the place over for mice and rats.

Something has been here under this old pile of lumber. Emma gets right into her work of flushing out the “something.”

The dirt flies everywhere, but a lot of it sticks to Emma’s once shiny coat.

Whatever had been there, must have moved. Emma tries the other side to block off its escape route.

Finally, the Captain calls, “Okay, that’s enough. Look at you. So dirty!”

They find a chunk of wood and help with the firewood job again.

While the Captain rests in a nearby lawn chair, he takes off his gloves.

Two sets of dog ears perk up (as much as floppy spaniel ears can perk up).

“The gloves are off” has a different meaning for these guys. They are alert and eager to retrieve any gloves that may soon be flying around the yard.

“Here I come! Look at me!” says Emma.

“Do it again, Dad!”

A Dog’s Breakfast

It is morning. Ruby is lying low while I get my coffee going.  I can almost hear her thinking, “See? I’m being good.”

Emma takes her cue from the older dog and lies low too. They both know there’s a good chance they’ll get a treat before breakfast, just so I won’t feel so guilty about eating mine before going to feed them.

The tiny Melmac dishes have been part of our household since they belonged to our cats 40 years ago. They are the dogs’ snack dishes now.

I usually crumble half a slice of bread into each dish, add a bit of whatever tasty morsel might be around – a sprinkle of parmesan, a tiny dash of half and half, whatever is handy – and add some warm water. I walk over to the hallway with Emma and Ruby right behind me. Without being told, they each sit in their usual spots, Emma to the right, Ruby to the left. I place the dishes on the floor and as always, Emma looks up at me while Ruby stares at her dish. When I say, “Okay,” they lap up the goodies.

Afterwards, like the good girls they are, they bring me the dishes to put in the sink.

Here is Ruby with her brown dish.

And here is Emma with her cream dish. (Her pictures are often  blurry because she is always in motion.)

Then, partially satisfied, they lie at my feet until I’ve had my coffee and toast, knowing that afterwards we’ll go downstairs and they’ll have a real “dog’s breakfast.”

“Manners matter,” Ruby says.

Emma says, “I’m cute.”

“That’s not enough,” the old dog warns.

“And you should follow suit.

 

Just lie down flat, and roll your eyes

To watch what’s going on.

Pretty soon we’ll get our snack

And breakfast won’t be long.

 

Sit there patiently and wait.

Never whine or jump.

If you do, we’ll miss our snack

So sit down on your rump.

 

When the mistress says, ‘Okay!’

We can begin to eat.

You’d better not start in too soon,

She doesn’t like a cheat.

 

“Oh yeah, but Ruby,” Emma says,

“You always watch your food.

I watch, adoringly, her face,

And capture her good mood.”

 

We Must be Crazy

The weather has been crazy here for two months. Rain and wind, wind and rain, repeating ad nauseam. Ruby, our springer spaniel is a brave dog, unless it’s windy. Objects without wings flying around, lawn chairs sliding across the deck, branches dropping out of the sky –  these things freak her out.

She won’t move farther than two feet from me. I have to do my hair curling leaning over her as she plunks herself down on the mat in front of my feet and won’t budge. I move over a few feet and so does she. It drives me crazy.

Emma is still too naive to be afraid, so when they are outside doing their business, Emma comes back when I call her. Ruby could be anywhere, cowering, or standing stiff-legged and catatonic until she is dragged back into the house where she drives me crazy with her anxious panting.

The other day it was blowing hard and the rain was coming down in buckets.003a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The roar of the wind and crashing waves on the beach added to the whooshing of the wind through the tall firs by our house. 

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In the morning, I had put the dogs out while I had a shower. I looked out the bathroom window just before stepping into the shower, and the dogs were by the kennel. The door had blown shut on it so they couldn’t get in. They have mats by the back door in the covered area outside the laundry room, but Ruby hides in her doghouse in the kennel if it’s cold or windy.

After my shower I called the dogs. Emma came in, but Ruby didn’t. I had to go out in my bathrobe and a towel on my head to find her. She was huddled against the kennel. I called for her to come. Halfway over to me, she stopped and wouldn’t come any farther. It wasn’t the turban on my head that freaked her out. She goes neurotic when it’s windy. That’s why I brought the leash out with me. I hooked her on and pulled her into the house.
I have to add a note here to explain that the Captain slipped on the boat deck a couple of weeks ago and broke his leg, so he has a big bolt through the bone and is not to put any weight on the bad leg.
When I came in, the Captain was on the phone, so I went upstairs to deal with my hair. When I turned off the blow dryer, I heard him yelling my name. It sounded like he was outside in the weather in the backyard. Something must be wrong. I ran downstairs.
He limped in from outside on his crutches, and said, “I didn’t know where you were. I knew you went to get Ruby and then you were gone.” Guess he thought I might have blown away – it was pretty wild out there.  (It hadn’t registered with him that I came back in, made a comment about Ruby and having to use the leash, and then went upstairs.)
Apparently he called me before going out. But I had the hair dryer on and didn’t hear him, and he didn’t hear the sound of the blow dryer. Probably thought it was the wind.
Imagine if anyone had seen us – first me in my bathrobe and a turban on my head dragging a dog across the yard. Moments later, a guy on one leg hobbling around in the storm screaming his wife’s name. What a bunch of nuts!

Dog Vest

In certain situations a hunting dog needs a vest to keep it warm. Emma, an English cocker spaniel, is not meant to be a duck hunter. She’s mainly bred for flushing and retrieving upland game birds like pheasants and grouse, but she loves duck hunting, too, and is good at it. We can’t have her getting hypothermic on those wintery days when she has to retrieve ducks from icy water or spend hours out in duck weather – wind and rain.

My sewing skills are better used for making quilts and handbags, but when we couldn’t find just the right “store-bought” vest for Emma, we decided to try making one.

The Captain went a thrift shop and found just the thing –  a shortie wet suit with fairly thin neoprene. I cut it up and began to sew. I had no pattern so it was a piecemeal effort, adding on and taking away, ending up with dozens of pieces – a neoprene patchwork quilt.

At first I was going to incorporate the wet suit’s zipper in the vest but at some point I couldn’t figure out how to get the dog into the vest, and decided that one long velcro closing would be better. The finished vest looks amateur but for a first try, it is good enough to keep her warmer for future duck outings. The next one will be easier to make and should look less patchy.

Poor Ruby looks like she’s wishing she had a vest too.

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Poor Emma! She must have tried the partially finished vest at least 20 times. But she was good about it. Such a biddable little dog she is.

Finally, we got her to model the finished product. For a moment she forgot she is a dog as she fell into the role of a sex kitten, into rubber.dscn7409

Thank you, Montana

It’s been a great trip. Emma is worn out from working (read “playing”) so hard. Now she’s reminiscing as she inhales the delicious (to her) aromas of the Captain’s Filson bird vest. It’s a good life.

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On the floor below her, Ruby snores and twitches as she dreams of birds she is chasing.

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It has been fun and good exercise. I’m happy that we didn’t run into any rattlesnakes, coyotes, porcupines, old farm equipment cuts, or serious barbed wire snags. We’ve been welcomed by the wonderful people of Montana and are looking forward to coming back next year.

Thank you, Montana.