Thursday, November 25, 2010

I'm glad I have a dog

Two of our roommates in Calgary are cats. I used to have four cats, long before Tinky-Winky, so you'd think I'd love cats.

Now that I have a dog, I don't like cats as much as I used to. They're strange creatures. Their skulls are so tiny and bony, it feels like you could crush them like eggs. And when you pick them up they're all limp and saggy, like water balloons with claws.

It's not that I dislike cats, but I'm glad I have a dog instead. My Tinky-Winky is no more ornery than a cat and at least she's a solid, not a liquid in a cat pelt. Her skull is nice and solid, and when you pick her up she maintains her cylindrical shape.

I prefer the love of my life not to deform so easily.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

World's spoiledest dog

It's actually my goal in life to have the world's spoiledest dog. Not in terms of behaviour, or by buying her outfits and carrying her in a purse, but by giving her as much as possible of what dogs want out of life.

Dogs want three things in life: pack, food, walks. Which is why Tinky-Winky and I walk off-leash as much as possible. At home that's once a day if I'm working, three times a day if I'm not. But right now we're in Calgary AB for my technical training, so off-leashing is twice a week at Nose Hill Park. In fact, I picked Calgary not only because it's an excellent school, but because of Nose Hill Park. And I picked the place I'm renting because it's close to Nose Hill Park, and I picked my church because it's close to Nose Hill Park.

See, Nose Hill Park is the greatest urban dog-walking place EVAH. It's gigantic and nobody goes there. Well, some people go, but compared to the size of the park, there is almost no one. Perfect for a dog who's unpredictable in her dealings with other dogs. Also there are porcupines, and Tinky-Winky loves porcupines. Though not in a good way.

The downside of Calgary, however, is that it's located high up the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, and that leads to some pretty surreal weather. Up to last Sunday, November 14, it was warm. I didn't need a coat to walk around. Neither did Tinky-Winky, so she blew her coat with a vengeance. She looks like a rat.

In the night of Monday to Tuesday, an Arctic air mass blew in. It got to -13C (9F), it snowed, and it was hideously windy from the north. I don't remember ever being so cold in -13C. I don't remember being this cold in -30C, for that matter. It was UGLY.

After three days, the snow stopped, and the wind died down mostly, but the cold stayed. Arctic air masses get really stable once they stop moving, which is why in our subarctic latitudes back home, we get beautiful winter weather: -20C (0F), sunny and no wind. Perfect construction weather, I can tell you. So, it wasn't so bad, but it was still ugly for my poor dog with no coat. It's pretty normal for her to get cold feet at the beginning of winter, because she's getting older, but usually she gets over it pretty quickly. This time, she can't get over it, because she has no coat and her whole body is freezing.

So, I wasn't going to take her to Nose Hill yesterday, but towards park-going time, she got all excited and pushy. Poor dog. I loaded her in the car and we went. At the park, she ran up the hill all excited like she usually does. "That's going better than I thought", I thought. Then she got to the top of the hill and ran right into the wind. And she turned around and ran back down the hill just as fast as she had run up, and back to the car. We were out of the car less than ten minutes.

Today, same thing: I wasn't gonna take her, but she was begging to go out, so I took her. But this time, I took a fleece blanket along. I carried her partway up the hill wrapped in the blanket, then I put her down. She went about five steps, got cold feet, and stopped. So I wrapped her up in the blanket, picked her up, and carried her until she stopped shivering. I put her down and she went five steps, and got cold. I picked her up and carried her.

After the fourth time, she was feeling warm enough to start galloping around on her own feet. She stayed near me for a while, and then took off ahead as she usually does. I was somewhat happy that she was feeling better, but on the other hand, I was worried that she'd get overconfident and get frostbite or hypothermia before I could get to her and all I'd find would be a sad frozen little dogsicle.

Luckily, that didn't happen; I was close to her when she got cold. She had run maybe ten minutes on her own. I turned around and carried her until she stopped shivering again, and then I put her down and she ran right back to the car of her own free will again. We were out of the car for 25 minutes.

I wish we could have got a photo of me carrying her around the park all bundled up like a scarecrow. She was adorable.

So how does that make her the world's spoiledest dog? Well, I don't know anyone else who puts one tenth as much effort into making sure their dog gets off-leash time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

You know what else looks like a shiba?

A Norwegian buhund. It's about 20% bigger than a shiba, and I bet it recalls a little better.

Some people are so rude

In the neighbourhood where we're staying in Calgary, there is someone with a small bearded dog, like maybe a miniature schnauzer. I've only seen it at night, so it's hard to tell. Whatever it is, though, it's aggressive towards dogs.

So, as we're walking along today, Tinky-Winky and I saw that aggressive schnauzer thing coming the other way on its flexileash. And you know how we feel about flexileashes.

Tinky-Winky and I pulled over into a driveway to give them room to pass by. But the schnauzer came at my dog, barking and snarling. Still at the end of its flexileash. Ha. I'm sure Tinky-Winky is gonna take that kind of BS... NOT!!! She started barking and snapping too. I held her back and waited for the person and the schnauzer to walk by. Instead of which, the person stopped and pulled feebly at the leash. She didn't reel in her dog, she didn't talk to him with authority, she didn't simply walk by and pull him along. She stood there feebly while her dog tried to start a fight. If I had reacted the same way and let my dog go after hers, we'd have had a big fight on our hands.

In the end I had to pick up Tinky-Winky and carry her away from that annoying little rat. And his useless person.

Really, who does that? You're responsible for your dog. If it's trying to pick a fight, control it and get it away from others. Don't just stand there uselessly waiting for a fight to start.

And by the way, if your dog weighs less than about 40 lbs, PICK IT UP. Solves just about any problem you're having. Or however many pounds you can lift. Get a dog that weighs less than you can pick up off the ground, then you always have a way to control it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Things I love about my shiba

Some times she twitches in her sleep.

I suppose all creatures do that, really. It's just way cuter when she does it.