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.”

 

Pets I Have Loved

As long as I can remember, my family has always had pets, whether they were gerbils, tropical fish, turtles, or cats and dogs. One of the first pet pictures I have is of Bobby and I’m sure he was a Heinz 57 breed. That didn’t mean we loved him less.

img728As my brother and I grew older, we still loved to pose with Bobby.

img726Our next dog was a collie type, but also Heinz 57. Her name was Trudy, but we didn’t have her long. I think she may have nipped someone and my parents found a home for her on a nearby farm. Here we are (my brother and two sisters) all sitting on the sidewalk by our house in the boonies. The sweet little girl on the far right is a neighbour.

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Then we had a shaggy mongrel dog who looked like a mop. We called him Mopsy and loved him SO much. On the picture below, where my sister is all dressed up for the Fall Fair parade, Mopsy is favouring one of his legs. He had tried to jump the fence when he was tied up and we weren’t home. He broke his leg and we felt terrible. But after some time in a cast, his leg healed. We had Mopsy for years, but one day he wandered up the street in the night to visit a bitch in heat and came home with a load of shot in his chest. He crawled under the shed and died. We were just heartbroken.

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All grown up, I still had pets. Our chocolate lab, Toby, had a litter of puppies, one of which our friends adopted. Nicky was supposedly the runt of the litter, but he turned out to be probably the best dog of the bunch.
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On our little hobby farm, I am surrounded by pets: the chickens, our chocolate lab (Toby), and my two lovely cats, Shorty (the lighter one) and Cowboy (the dark one). img571Here is Shorty.

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And here is Cowboy.

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We had a couple of other dogs who were not remarkable and I don’t have photos of them, but when Lily came along, she was our best dog up to that time. She was an English springer spaniel, who never gave up on retrieving a bird. Lily was an excellent bird dog, and a very sweet house dog. She not only enjoyed being petted, but she came over to give hugs. She would lay her head against my knee and sigh a real Valentine’s sigh. If Lily could have talked, we would have heard her telling us she loved us many times. And the feeling was mutual.

Lily, age 73

Lily looks a bit scruffy on the photos because she was quite old by this time (73 in people years) and she had Cushing’s Syndrome, a disease that attacks the adrenal glands and has many awful side effects. In the photo below, she had just been to the vet and I had her out on the sundeck where she liked to spend time. She let me dress her up as Lily the maid. I put the vacuum beside her and pretended she was helping clean the house. She would let me do anything with her. So easy going. So loving. She didn’t last much longer after these last days and I’ll always miss my sweet Lily.

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Then we got Ruby, the English springer on the right (below). It turns out she has some of the same ancestry that Lily had, and although Ruby was a monster puppy who put me through hell, she has redeemed herself many times over and is like another Lily – an excellent bird dog and a loving pet. To keep her company, we got a buddy for her – Emma on the left. She is an English cocker spaniel.

??????????Just behind Emma and to the right, you can see the evidence of one of her bad puppy habits. She likes to dig! But she is focused. Emma, is definitely a bird dog.

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Copy Dog

Our dog, Ruby, wants to be wherever we are and do whatever we do. Because of this, she’s more manageable in many ways. She doesn’t want to run away to explore; she’d rather be with the people. If we watch TV, she wants to watch TV. If we go outside, she wants to go outside. If we come in, she wants to come in. If we have a drink, she wants one too. (Actually,  that’s water in the bottle we took with us on a firewood cutting trip.)

Water bottle.

Water bottle.

If I’m dragging a hose across the yard, she helps me drag a hose across the yard.

Lead the way and I'll bring the hose for you.

Lead the way and I’ll bring the hose for you.

If I’m digging, she’s digging.  If I’m bringing in firewood, she’s got to have a piece of firewood to bring too. No matter what it is, she has to do what we do.

Some people have a terrible time brushing their dog’s teeth. It’s not something dogs usually want to put up with. But in Ruby’s case, it’s no surprise that if we brush our teeth, she wants to have her teeth brushed.

What are you doing? Can I do it too?

What are you doing? Can I do it too?

Love the taste of that toothpaste.

Love the taste of that toothpaste.

Can you those molars way at the back?

Can you get at those molars way at the back?

Yes, she’s a real copy cat … er… dog.

Falsely Accused

 

Cowboy and Shorty were cat brothers and partners in crime. Cowboy was a sleek, smoky gray cat with ears that seemed a bit large for his smallish head. His brother, Shorty, was a perfectly made Siamese. Well, almost perfectly made. Sometimes when the sunlight shone on his tail, faint rings told of a certain amount of alley cat ancestry.

Even though they weren’t perfect, it was obvious to me that the brothers loved each other very much. They wrestled, snuggled up to sleep, and sometimes, they got into mischief together.

It’s hard to say which of them was smarter, but invariably, when the two of them did something they shouldn’t, it was Shorty who got caught.  It was like that the time they decided to check out the kitchen garbage can after I went to bed.

The kitchen garbage can was kept in a cupboard under the sink. It was easy for a smart cat to get into. All Cowboy had to do was to hook his paw under the door and pull. Then quick as a wink he would stick his head in the open space and squeeze through. I’d seen him do this often enough.

Imagine the scenario:

A lovely aroma of chicken scraps greets him as he peers over the rim of the garbage can. Up on his hind legs, he sees a half-eaten chicken drumstick that the people had thrown away. So much meat left on it. Pieces of skin not eaten. He’s drooling in anticipation of the wonderful snack, when a Siamese paw reaches past him and scoops that drumstick right from under his nose.

“Meeeooow!  Shorty!  Give that back,” he spits.

“Sh-sh-sh!” Shorty hisses. “You’ll wake the people!”

No sooner has he said it, than he hears a pair of people feet land on the floor in the bedroom. The shuffling of slippers comes closer.

“Yikes!” Shorty thinks, “I’m getting out of here,” and he slips out of the cupboard and sits on the floor as prettily as he can, eyes looking towards heaven.

“You don’t fool me, Shorty!” I say, shaking my finger at him.  “I know you were in that garbage can again.  Weren’t you?  Bad cat!  Don’t you do that again!  Bad Shorty!”

“I wonder how much mess he made,” I grumble.

As I open the cupboard, there sits Cowboy, licking his paws and washing his face.  All that’s left of the “snack” is a tiny piece of chewed up drumstick bone.