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.

The Dog Days of a Summer Heat

Emma is in heat, and I’m not referring to the weather.  I have to be on guard every moment of her life for the next three weeks, especially during week two.
I don’t let her have the run of the yard anymore (even though it’s fenced) unless I’m out there with her.
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I’m a hot dog!

Today I had an appointment in town so I put the dogs in their kennel, a big fenced play area with two doghouses in it. The dogs are safe inside the chainlink fence of the kennel. They won’t get run over while I’m away. Nothing can get at them and they have plenty of shade from the trees that grow beside the kennel.
When I came home, I let the dogs out into the yard. In just a few seconds, Emma had a visitor. Lucky, the little toy dog from across the street  came over to see if Emma wanted to “make love” even though he’d be shooting blanks (he’s been neutered). He’s a cute little dog with brown and white curly fur, a lot like a tiny teddy bear. He’s a barker and has a mind of his own.
I had a time getting Emma to leave him. Whatever he was promising her, he was very persuasive. I don’t know what she sees in him. He’s only about half her size. That’s why he’s able to get through the gate even though it’s closed.
I got Emma to come to me, and then Ruby came to offer assistance. She didn’t bark or growl. She knows Lucky. She came over and stood tall beside him and said, “You’d better go home now. Emma can’t play today. She has to go into the house and keep her legs together.”
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It’s a good thing I’m looking after Emma. She’s so naive!

As I’m writing this, Emma is lying on her side near me, with one ear sprawling away from her head on the floor. I’m sure she’s dreaming about Lucky and his attentions. Emma is probably mistaking his professions of love for a promise of marriage. Foolish girl. He’d just knock her up, if he could, and leave her to be a single mother of ten toy puppies. I can just see it now, ten curly-haired smaller-than-usual spaniels, brown, white, black and all the mixtures in between. They’d be high-strung like their mother and useless, but pretty, like their father.
No, I don’t think I could handle that!
I have to make sure that Lucky doesn’t get lucky.

Fruit to Nuts

In our case, the saying has to be reversed – from nuts to fruit.

We have a few fruit trees in the backyard, and this year the apple trees are loaded. Branches are hanging low to the ground, easy pickings for us and even easier for the dogs. You’d think I didn’t feed them.

In previous years, Ruby used to pick up the hazelnuts that fell. I could clean up under the nut trees, but every time the wind blew, the problem (in the shape of a springer spaniel) reappeared. She cracked the nuts with her teeth and ate the inside, sometimes with bits of shell still on them. I was constantly chasing her away from the nut trees and trying to get the nuts picked up before she got them. Not only was she swallowing sharp bits of shell, but she was cracking her teeth.

When we got Emma, our English field cocker spaniel, Ruby taught her all her bad habits. That’s when we decided to cut the nut trees down. We had two more big nut trees in the front yard (enough for us) so we thought this would solve the problem.

But now without the nut trees in the backyard, Ruby has been harvesting apples and teaching Emma to do the same. I figure an apple a day for two months, times two dogs, equals about 120 apples. Why do I even bother to water the trees? Sometimes, I’d rather turn the hose on the dogs.

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