Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mmmm... Comfy...

Garden dog

I think Tinky-Winky dog is jealous of the garden. As soon as I spend any amount of time gardening, she tries to get in the middle of things. She is also fascinated by the smell of bone meal, so here she's trying to get into the bag. Once it was open, though, she wanted none of it. I think the smell of the whole mass is too strong for her. Bone meal is a natural product made from, obviously, crushed bones of animals such as chickens. This one in particular has no cow bones in it - I suppose they tell me that so I won't be worried about Mad Cow? So anyway, I doubt it would do the dog any harm. It smells and looks like fish food, mostly.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Doggy storm shelter: success!

Finally, the dog understands the purpose of the crate. She hadn't stepped inside yet, even though I put all her shredding blankets in there. Then Monday afternoon there was a thunderstorm, and she started freaking out as usual, so I put her in the cage. She shredded for a while and then came back out. But Tuesday, when the thunder started, she went into the cage of her own free will and lay down at the back.


Well, that doesn't look very comfortable. I've been meaning to get her some bedding in there, but I really don't feel like spending money on a dog bed and a comforter just now. So, instead I'm lending her some of my crochet blankets, thusly:

The one inside the cage is a queen-size and makes a nice thick mattress. I hope she won't tear it. Crochet blankets are much more resistant than fabric, but you never know. The one draped over the cage is mostly to shut out more light and sound and make it more cave-like, but it also makes it more esthetically pleasing to me. Better feng-shui, hopefully. Also, both these blankets are hand-made by me and have been in the house for years, and were on my bed all winter, so they should be thoroughly permeated with my smell, and hopefully that's a comfort to her when I'm not home.

This morning, the dog went to look at the cage again, and at first did not approve of my modifications. So I grabbed her and put her inside forcibly, and she lay down at the back and made herself at home. I'm not sure she likes having a blanket over the cage, actually. It shuts out some light and noise, but on the other hand, she can't see me anymore, and that always annoys her. She likes to keep an eye on me.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tinky-Winky's favourite food

Tinky-Winky's favourite food, bar none, is cheese. Cheese is like cocaine to her. She will do just about anything for it, such as obeying commands. This is convenient for two reasons. First, there is no naturally-occurring equivalent to cheese in the natural world, so she can only get it from me. Thus cheese is a huge motivator in getting her to recall. She's actually desisted and come back to me as she was approaching another dog to lay a beating on it, just because I had cheese. Calling "Tinky-Winky, come!" is successful fairly often. Calling "Tinky-Winky, cheese!" is 100% success.

The other reason is that the dog catcher does not carry cheese. He tries to bait dogs with store-bought extruded dog treats, which works on under-privileged dogs, but not on Her Majesty. She has way better food at home, and no way is she selling her freedom for extruded treats when she knows she can get cheese for it.

But other than cheese, Tinky-Winky's favourite food is whatever I'm eating. And that's funny, because she eats way better than I do. She has fresh meat and vegetables on her plate, and I'm eating mac and cheese, or wieners, or toast, and she wants my food. Some of the stuff she begs for rather boggles my mind. Lemon tarts, for example. What kind of dog eats lemon? She does. She loves lemon tarts.

Also, zucchini. When we were in Calgary in the fall, I made a zucchini casserole. I also bought supermarket sushi fairly often, because I can't get it at home. So one time I had this cheap sushi and the zucchini casserole. I offered the dog sushi, she turned her nose up at it and tried to get into the casserole. So I gave her the casserole instead. Not only she ate it, but she chased the roommate's cat away from it. There was no animal protein in it at all, just zucchini, olive oil and bread crumbs. She loved it.

Of course because she has expensive tastes, the more expensive my food is, the more she wants it. Cheesecake, for example, costs its weight in... scrap iron, at least, and she MUST have it. Are you serious? Do you know how often I can afford cheesecake? You're a dog. Go eat garbage. I'm not giving you my cheesecake.

Tinky-Winky even wants my food if she doesn't even want to eat it. For example, fruit. She doesn't like fruit, and generally speaking, neither do I, but sometimes I do buy some. Expensive stuff, usually, like raspberries. Naturally, Tinky-Winky wants some. The first time she asked, I gave her some. I was sitting on the couch eating grapes, and she wanted some. I gave her a grape. She lowered her head to where I couldn't see her, and then came up and asked for more. I gave her another one. I must have given her about ten grapes, and I was thinking "wow, I never heard of a dog eating grapes before." Then I got up to go to the kitchen and saw that all the grapes were on the floor. She was lowering her head to spit them out, and then she kept asking for more, secure in the knowledge that next time, surely, I was gonna give her something tasty to eat.

Likewise with strawberries. She doesn't eat them, but she'll lick every one of them if you let her.

The one thing I eat (reluctantly, I'll admit) and she won't is... peanut butter. Seriously. Most dogs love peanut butter; she won't even look at it.

What a strange little dog she is.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My poor little dog

When I'm not home, the dog sleeps on her lawn. She's dug herself a comfortable little depression, which I've given up on filling, and since the lawn is watered frequently, it's nice and cool in the dirt. She likes it there, which is good since that's the whole point of the lawn.

When I'm home, the dog would like to sleep on her lawn, but she can't, because from the lawn she can't see if I'm getting ready to leave. So she sleeps in the hallway, where it's somewhat cooler than in the living room, and I have to walk past her to leave. I try to tell her that I'm not going anywhere for a while, or that I'll let her know if I'm leaving, but she doesn't understand, so she can't sleep on her lawn.

If I thought she'd understand, I'd get her a baby monitor so she could sleep on the lawn and keep an ear on me, but she wouldn't understand.

Poor little dog. What a dilemma.

We interrupt this program


Ok, so that's not news. People were starving in Africa ever since I was a kid, and before. But right now, the World Food Programme is short just $191 million from their budgeted need for Somalia and the Horn of Africa.

"Just" $191 million?

That's right. Because that works out to just $11 per Canadian worker. That's half the price of a twelve-pack of beers. It could be a burger and fries. Three or four ridiculously overpriced coffees from a big franchise. There is a lot of stuff you spend $11 on that you don't even need. Just skip one of those things and save Somalia! (For now, anyway.)

Donate here. Or donate to some other charity you like. If you don't have $11, give $5. Give something. And pass it on to your friends. You'd do it if that was your kid in the photo, wouldn't you? (The photo is actually from a feeding centre in Ayod, Sudan, on March 31, 1993, because I had it handy. Starvation looks the same anywhere. Photo by Corinne Dufka/Reuters.)

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelp! People starving! Help! Help! Help!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The tale of the dog license

This morning, I went to get a dog license for Tinky-Winky. I've had her six years, maybe it was about time I licensed her. Though it makes no difference, really, she has a tag with my phone number, and from a distance the bylaw guy can't tell it's not a town license tag, so he doesn't know she's not registered.

Still, licenses are free for fixed animals, so why not?

So I went down to Town Hall with my bill of sale. First of all, I wrote down the breed on the application as "shiba inu". The town employee had never heard of it, and indeed on her log of tag applications, there are no shiba inus listed. Apparently, none of the several shiba owners in town figure their dog is likely to get caught, either. Probably because none of them ever walk their dogs, so it's not likely to go missing. They're also too fat to run very far.

Next problem: the bill of sale shows the dog's name as "Sunojo's Playmate of the Year" aka "Bunny". But I put on the application "Sissi" which is what I call her at home. ("Tinky-Winky" is her username. I started calling that on my old blog where everyone has blog names, to prevent googling.) The town employee was confused. "This says Bunny, not Sissi," she says to me. Right. Because the seller called her Bunny, and I call her Sissi. Get it?


After some further explanation, she accepted that I don't call my dog the same name the previous owner did. But then she found the registered name, and that confused the issue further. Am I the only one in this town with a CKC-registered dog, or what? The dog has a registered name, and a pet name her breeder called her, and a pet name I call her.

This did not seem to make any sense to the town employee.

Finally I told her, it really doesn't matter what you call this dog, she's not gonna come anyway.

This seemed to settle the matter to her satisfaction, and she gave me my dog tag.

Phew. The next dog is getting Tinky-Winky's old town tag, I can tell you. It's not like anyone here can tell one shiba from another anyway.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

That can't be comfortable

Her Majesty is lying on the bare concrete balcony with her head in a pot of pansies. There is NO WAY that's comfortable. Also, just before she picked the pansies as a pillow, she had her head in the baobabs. And if anything happens to my baobabs, this little dog is going to get rebuked like she's never been rebuked before.

You know why she's lying like that though? Because I was fussing with those plants. She doesn't like to sleep on the concrete with her head in the pansies; she's just an attention hog.

It's lucky she's her, because I wouldn't take this guff from any other dog.

Cats are evil

That's from October 7, 2006. My ex's cat, Emily, always figured shiba tails make the best cat toys. I named her Emily after The Exorcism of Emily Rose. She was the most psychopathic cat I've ever met.

But even though Emily was evil, she's not the reason Tinky-Winky is scared of cats. She was already scared of cats when she came to live with me.

Today she had another humorous cat adventure. We left the apartment to go for our evening walk, and while I was locking the door, Tinky-Winky was wrapping the leash around me in a state of great agitation. So I was like "what in the world are you doing?" Then I noticed that our neighbour's cat, Mackenzie, was reaching her evil little paw under the door, trying to grab Tinky-Winky. So I poked her paw and she retracted it, like some evil little clawy snail. But then she did it again! Tinky-Winky insisted that we make for the elevator post-haste. Then she zoomed through the lobby, and didn't slow down until we were well away from the building and into the oppressive heat.

A few minutes later, on the trail, we met a rottweiler. Tinky-Winky gave it the Stare of Death and it recoiled.

It always makes me laugh that she can terrorize large dogs but runs from little cats.

Your offering is not acceptable

I've been meaning to buy a dog crate for a while, in case we have to fly, but a lot more so that the dog can have a little den to hide in when she's scared. But in this town, you can't just go out and buy stuff. You buy what's at the store, or you don't; you don't get to choose. So I was waiting to go down south. On the other hand, we have a Facebook group for buying and selling second-hand stuff. Yesterday a post comes up for a dog crate that was quite a bit bigger than Tinky-Winky, but the price was right. So I bought it.

I guess not. Clearly, the concept of having a little den is in her mind as well, but she doesn't want the cage.

Oh well... She'll get used to it, I'm sure. Once it gets our smell on it instead of the other pack's smell. Speaking of which, the dog whose human was selling the cage is quite nice, and I've never seen either the dog or his human walking around with a female human. Of course that doesn't mean anything because they don't live anywhere near me, but being me, I just had to ask myself again whether we could combine our pack and their pack. And this kind of thinking is exactly why I'm single, I'm sure.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Attitude adjustment, day 2

Yesterday was ok. On the morning walk she went back onto the road... That's annoying. Then she came back onto the trail to look for me. I didn't go out in the afternoon because it wasn't good insect weather. Evening walk, she was slower, but still not too uncooperative.

Her new thing now is she doesn't remind me of her evening walk, she reminds me of her morning walk. That makes sense since that's her offleash walk. On the other hand, her morning walk is at 4:30 AM, so I suspect I'm gonna regret getting her into that habit sooner or later.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Monday, July 4, 2011

Attitude adjustment, day 1

Our morning walk went great, as I already told you. In the afternoon, I got ready to walk, and the dog watched me. Then I just walked out of the house. Without her. I wonder what she made of that. I had a perfectly lovely walk all by myself. Then I came home. I'm pretty sure the dog knows I went for a walk without her.

Since she was short a walk, I figured she'd be asking to go for her evening walk fairly early. So I'm sitting on the couch doing whatever, and I look at the time and it's 8:40 pm. Um... What? Her walk is supposed to be at 7:00. So I says to her "you dog, why aren't you telling me it's time to walk?" She gave me a blasé look without even lifting her head off the pillow.


Well, too bad. I started getting ready to walk. The dog watched me. When she saw me pick up the camera, she gave a funny little squeak and ran for the door. Nonetheless, when I was ready and grabbed her leash, her expression gave a distinct sense of "oh, bother." So I told her, skipping the evening walk isn't an option, because she has to relieve herself. (Technically, that's not true, she can go literally days without relieving herself, but I don't approve of that.)

So we stared at each other for a few seconds and then she came to leash up. Great, I thought, that's gonna be another fight.

Not at all! Once we were outside, she moved forward in a nice active trot. She had to smell a few things, which I allowed her, within reason, but she didn't get tangled in the leash, didn't get itchy, didn't have to pee every twenty seconds, and didn't yank on the leash to go in different directions all the time. Aaaaaaaaah... That's nice. I even had to step out a fair bit, which hasn't happened in quite a while.

I was prepared to let her pick the itinerary, and expected her to turn back fairly quickly. Our protocol is that on evening walks, we can't turn around until she relieves herself. In the afternoon I don't care because she won't have long to wait for the next one, and in the morning she's either off leash or if I'm working, we walk a set route and go home whether she's gone or not, because otherwise she'll hold off so I can't go to work. She's wily. Anyway, she relieved herself and kept right on going. I was following her, in defiance of Cesar, and she chose to go by the so-called "ravine" trail. It's not a ravine, it's a paved trail along the old spillway. There are no ravines around here. Anyway, the town has been cutting brush in the ravine, so the mosquitos are very, very angry. So at first we were doing fine, but after a while there were so many mosquitos on the dog, I decided to run.

So, we ran. I used to jog and I've run with Tinky-Winky a few times, and she really likes it, actually. Walking is too slow for her. So we ran most of the length of the ravine, even though at this time I'm totally out of shape and I don't have running shoes. Tinky-Winky is as feisty as ever, though, and because she's such a good dog, she actually runs right beside me on a slack leash, like a polite little dog.

Then we got home, and the elevators are acting up. When they're not in use, one comes back to Main and the other to 2nd, and sometimes the one that's on Main doesn't open when you hit the button, but it "thinks" it's open, and the other one "thinks" things are under control, so nothing happens. Then you have to take the stairs up to 2nd and get the other elevator. And Tinky-Winky gets tired pretty quickly on stairs. I let her go her own pace, but she petered out after about eight steps. Then I carried her the rest of the way.

Because she's such a good dog, I gave her some cheese in addition to her dinner. Now she's all passed out on the floor.

She may have her fits of attitude sometimes, but she's a great dog.

I think I've walked my dog enough

What?? How is that even possible?

Well, I didn't think it was, but yesterday, for the first time that I can remember, Tinky-Winky didn't want to walk.

Our afternoon walk was short because she was being uncooperative and I didn't feel like putting up with it. I figured we'd have a good evening walk instead.

Evening comes and I'm getting ready for our walk. Tinky-Winky is lying in the hallway, watching me douse myself in DEET and put my shoes on. Then I grabbed her leash, and she stayed right where she was.


I jingled the leash. She stayed right where she was.


At this point I realized I didn't have the camera, which she associates with walks. So I grabbed it and showed her I had both her leash and the camera. She got up and took two steps towards me, and then turned around.


She looked back and forth between me and the living room for a while, and then ran back into the living room. I followed her to see what she was doing. She was getting a drink of water. Then she came to me and after some more pussy-footing, she got her leash put on.

Wow, that took long enough.

Finally we get outside and she just will not walk. She is constantly finding excuses to stop and pull in any direction but forward. And I kept looking at her and wondering if she's tired, or sore, or old, but she looked fine. She didn't have her head down or her tongue out, she didn't move like she was tired, and she had plenty of energy for fighting me.

We didn't get very far before I got tired of dragging her along and turned back. And she trotted all the way home at a good clip without stopping for anything. So it really wasn't about being tired; she just didn't want to walk.

Ok, so this morning I bring her back to the same spot, which isn't our usual off-leash walk. Normally in the mornings we go along the paved trail and then the road. I'd rather be on the nature trail, but I tried it all winter and she takes off and runs on the road instead, so I gave up. But now when we're on the nature trail, she's constantly finding things she allegedly wants to explore. So fine, let's go off-leashing on the nature trail.

It went perfectly. She stayed on the trail and ran along ahead of me, staying mostly where I could see her. When I reached the point where we normally turn onto Gaetz, I did a U-turn instead and walked back along the road, and she still stayed with me. Full of energy and happiness, big smile, bright eyes, everything. And when we got home she didn't hem and haw about leashing up and going inside, either.

So, clearly it wasn't about fatigue, it was about attitude. Which is worse, actually. Fatigue is cured by rest; attitude is a much more baffling problem, especially in a little dog. So since I don't have a strategy for bad attitude, I'm going to treat it like fatigue: by reducing her walking. Since she doesn't want to walk on leash with me and it's not really possible to walk her off-leash twice a day right now, she can stay home when I go for my afternoon walk, and in the evenings we'll have a short walk on the leash. It works out well for me anyway because the afternoon is prime insect-watching time and I can't chase insects and fight with the dog at the same time. And hopefully she'll appreciate her walks more when she's getting less of them.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Her Majesty's bedtime ritual

Left to her own devices, Tinky-Winky will usually sleep on her own bed, unless she's upset and wants me to protect her. But because she's my dog and I expect her to keep me company, I like her to sleep on my bed. She even knows a command for jumping up on the bed (or couch, or into the car), but she chooses not to. So, we have evolved a routine which dates back to our days in Yellowknife. At that time, I would be in the computer room until 21:30, and Tinky-Winky would come with me and fall asleep on the futon. Then I would have a shower, and then I would pick her up off the futon, bring her into my room, put her on the bed, and go to sleep. In those days, whenever I would go to pick her up, she would tense up, and I thought she was trying to resist me, until I realised that actually, she was lifting up her ribcage so I could get my hand under her more easily. She expected to be carried to bed, the lazy creature.

Now that we're home, which is a bachelor suite, she's usually on her bed, and then I go to open up the hide-a-bed. At that point she will inevitably go into the hallway and lie down right in the corner. Then I go to pick her up, and she does the same thing, lifts herself up so I can get my hands under her. Then I put her on the bed.

The next issue, though, is that once she's on the bed, she digs at the blankets. This is why the top blanket on my bed is always a dog blanket, to prevent my own blankets getting shredded. But even so, it's quite annoying that she spends forever digging furiously and walking around in circles. The reason she does this is to shape a little doggy bed out of my blankets. And after watching her for years, I've discovered that she has a very specific shape in mind when she does this. She's trying to make a little crater the size of her body, with one side high as a pillow for her head. But because she has no hands, it can take a while to manipulate the blankets into that shape.

So now, when I put her on the bed, I take the dog blanket and shape it into a little crater around her, with a high side for a pillow. And instead of digging, she lies right down and goes to sleep. This also has the advantage of making her sleep where I put her, and not where she chooses, which is inevitably in MY spot.

Cesar would be appalled, I'm sure, but he doesn't sleep in my bed (not that I'd mind, though), so we do it our way. My dog must be smarter than his dogs anyway, because she doesn't assume she's the boss whenever I do something for her. Sometimes I do what she needs me to do for her, and the rest of the time she obeys me. Or at least she obeys the cheese in my hand.

I really want to get one of those signs that say "the dog and her housekeeper live here."