Friday, March 25, 2011

Dogs vs. The Furniture

     Ah, the eternal struggle of canine vs. furniture.  The passion, the daring, the stains, the slobber marks, can such an intense conflict ever end?
     No, no it can't.
     Rightly or wrongly, I tend to view my dogs as part of the family.  They live here, this is their home and they should be comfortable in it.  I am not the type of owner to relegate them to the backyard, the basement, the kitchen, or a crate.
     Nivek has never been a furniture lover and despite the presence of three large and rather expensive dogs beds, he prefers the middle of the hard, cold kitchen floor even in the middle of winter.  I do not question this.
     Thankfully, Nuka is too large to fit comfortably on most of the furniture, so she doesn't bother trying, except for my bed, of course, my king size wonder-bed of awesomeness.  In the beginning, I didn't mind this too much.  Seeka was always a bed sleeper and it never really bothered me too much if my dog wanted to sleep on my bed during the day when I'm not in it anyway.
Gee, I hope he's comfortable!
     Then Duke came.
     Turns out, the little guy loves furniture.  He loves the bed, the couch upstairs, the couch downstairs, the green chair and basically anything he can squish his rotund little body onto.  Now, none of my furniture is particularly spectacular, so I wasn't too concerned about this, at first.  Once I realized how dirty he was getting my living room sofa, I was somewhat more concerned, and then, it happened.  A most horrible event, almost too shocking to mention, Duke peed, Duke peed on the bed, on my precious bed.
     Because I am very, very stupid, I forgave this incident, but after the second Duke-peeing-on-my-bed incident, a new rule was instituted - bedroom door closed at all times.
Bed? What bed, we're not on the bed!
     By default, this worked.  Of course, it also had the simultaneous effect of pissing off Nuka, who to this day sleeps forlornly in a ball outside of the bedroom door.  Keeping Duke off of the other furniture proved a lot more challenging.  Putting a dog bed in the basement keeps him off of that couch, but the living room couch, oh, the poor living room couch has suffered the worst.  The hundred dollar cushion will never be the same.

     Part of the problem, you can no doubt see, is the lack of enforcement the new rules are getting.  The problem with Duke is that it is very difficult to be stern with him, and I am not the only one with this issue.  Those large, brown, soulful eyes, so void of intelligence, that sweet, sad, hang-dog face and that pathetic little tail, whipping around between his legs when you give him trouble, it's almost too much to take.
     So take stock of your pitiful appearance, my little friend, so far it has served you very well.

Thanks for enforcing the rules, Dad, I appreciate that.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Me vs. Random Yellow Lab

     Ah, the joys (ARRRRGH!) of city life.  One of those joys being the random wandering dog.
     I love dogs, and I, like most dog owners, have at one point or another lost track of my dog for a very brief period of time. 
     These things happen.
     It also happens that some people are very inconsiderate and let their not-entirely friendly labs wander aimlessly through the neighbourhood on a regular basis.
     Nivek and I were coming out the back door yesterday, my very own back door, into my very own backyard, which is unfortunately not fenced in, only to find a large yellow lab, hackles raised, charging toward us.
     It is no small miracle that Nuka was still safely contained in the house.
     Before I could jam Nivek back in the door, said lab was up on my back porch, nose to nose with my elderly dog looking none too impressed.
     If I had never run into this particular dog before, it might be a different thing, but I have, and to be frank, I'm scared of him and don't trust him.  No doubt he knows this, because he doesn't take me very seriously.  I tried to shoo him off, to no avail, my only concern to see Nivek safely back into the house.  He would not go away, so I had to preform an interesting maneuver where I jammed Nivek back in the house and did not let Nuka out of the house.  I managed to do this, and, received a bite in the ass for my trouble.
     My cry of distress must have alarmed him, because he backed off enough that I could get back in the house, anyway.  Thanks be to the god of denim, because he didn't break the skin, however, I do have two very nice canine-teeth sized bruises on my left butt cheek.  Thanks, buddy!
     As if all of this wasn't enough fun, it all happened during a visit by my parents, who were stressed out about it, and our entire afternoon quickly became about what to do about my butt bite.  After a lot of stressing out about the situation, I did finally go over to the lab's house to let them know what had happened.  In the end, I decided that if someone had a problem with one of my dogs, I would hope they would try approaching me first before more strenuous measures were taken.
     I hope I did the right thing.
     The woman was very nice, apologized, and seemed to genuinely appreciate my concerns for my very elderly, unable-to-defend-himself dog which is my foremost concern.  She assured me that the yellow lab, who is named Bailey, is not aggressive (????) and at my request, I was formally introduced to him.  In his own home, of course, Bailey was what I expect a yellow lab to be, nothing but a big, wiggling ball of joy and affection.
     This rouse serves him well, no doubt, but I've seen Mr. Hackles before and he's not quite as innocent as he looks, my ass can attest to that.  Did I do the right thing?  I don't know.  Will they keep a better eye on this yellow terror?  Only time will tell. 
     I am not ashamed to admit that around dinner time, long after the morning bite and a few hours after going to Bailey's house, I balled like a baby in my office for a few minutes.  My ass will be fine and hopefully Bailey won't be charging my back door again in the near future, but I cried about it anyway, like a big suck.  Getting bit by dogs I work with is one thing, getting bit by my own dogs is one thing, but getting bit by a strange dog on my own back doorstep is quite another.  And for some reason even though the bite was no big deal, it hurt the most.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Nivek vs. Old Age

      A friend of mine recently made a comment about an article I wrote for Dogs in Canada magazine.  In it, I suggest not making a big deal about leaving your dog at a boarding kennel, but smile and leave like it's not a big deal.  Apparently, this advice is also true of your child's first day of school, at least according to this individual.
     That got me thinking.

     Obviously dogs are not people, and obviously having a dog (or three) is not quite the same as having a child, (or three) they are, after all, dogs.  Some days, though, I wish that my dogs were kids, especially Nivek, at least kids can talk.

Nivek still enjoys a bone now and again.
     Nivek is old, very, very old.  Overall, he is in good health and I have been lucky with him.  He doesn't take any medications other then glucosamine, eats well, gets around okay and seems fairly content most of the time.  Having said that, it is hard to ignore the increasing amount of care he requires as time goes on.
     Nivek has always been a healthy dog.  All of his health problems over the years have been relatively minor, easy, and inexpensive to treat, yay for me.  After what I went through with Seeka, good canine health is something I truly appreciate.  Last August though, that started to change for Nivek.  We had a long summer that was very hot and very humid, no fun, in fact, no fun at all.  One morning, Nivek just wouldn't get up, maybe he couldn't, maybe he just didn't feel like it.

     Whatever the case, when your dog is a minimum of 14 years old and potentially a few years older then that, you don't mess around with that kind of thing.  A friend helped me maneuver his limp 88 pound body into the back of my sedan and I drove to the vet.  I balled my eyes out the whole way.  It didn't seem right that it was finally time to say goodbye to such an old and faithful friend.
     With a lot of coaxing, he got out of the car on his own, but sprawled across the lobby of the vet office on his side and stayed there.  The vet checked all of his vitals and finally convinced me to leave him there for the day and go back to work, I did.
    They did tests, many, many tests, all of which turned out fine.  I went back in the evening to find Nivek largely recovered.  He trotted out to me, wagging his tail, no worse for the wear.
Loving the cottage
     "It's the heat." Dr. M said. "He's just like an elderly person, at this point in his life, he cannot handle it well."
     Truer words were never spoken.  We bought Nivek a baby pool and every day I took him to work with me where he stayed up in the air conditioned office.  The heat broke soon after and this year we are purchasing an air conditioner for our ancient dog before summer starts.  He's on a special (aka. expensive) diet due to arthritis and the safest way to avoid 'accidents' is to let him outside every three hours or so.  That was probably the hardest thing for me to get used to.  Nivek has always been the 'good' dog in our canine family, the sharp lad that could do no wrong.  I know it isn't his fault, but for thirteen years, Nivek never once went to the bathroom in my house.  Now, he just can't hold it very long, it's pretty much that simple.  He's also losing his hearing, so the once off-leash master of the universe has to be watched very carefully.  I won't take his freedom away, but I also had to get used to my golden-boy super-pet completely ignoring every word I say.  It hurt, it still hurts.
     Would I change anything?  No way.  I love Nivek and he loves me.  Since 1998 we have been a team, he has always been, more then any other, my dog.  So here is an ode to the unsung hero of the pet world, the senior dog.  These noble animals might not be as quick or as entertaining as they once were, but you have to appreciate their laid back attitude and determination to keep enjoying every second of every day.  So yes, Nivek, I will pay for your expensive food, I will let you outside every three hours and keep the mop on standby, I will buy your air conditioner and fill your baby pool so you don't get too hot in the summer, I will kiss you every night before I go to bed, because I can never be sure if you'll still be around in the morning.  Yes, I will do all of this for you for as long as I need to, and then I will do more because I know you would do the same for me.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Duke vs. Chocolates

     This morning I was checking my email before work.  Downstairs, I could hear the familiar boisterous crashing of Duke and his Rollover bone across the floor and carpet.  Since he isn't very smart, Duke attempts to throw the bone into various articles of furniture in an attempt to get the filling out.  It isn't a very effective strategy.
     None the less, it is Duke's strategy and I'm used to it.  I wasn't concerned until I heard rustling, crunching, and then silence.  Much like children, when the dogs are quiet, there's trouble.
     I went downstairs.  Duke was lying in the middle of the floor with something wedged between his two front paws.  The bone?  Could it be that he's finally taken a clue from Nuka and Nivek and learned to hold the bone between his two front feet and chew the filling out?  Absolutely not.
     What he did have between his two front feet were the remnants of a small wooden box a friend of mine gave me from the Bahamas.  This was a nuisance, but not that bad.  Resigned to the destruction, and more importantly, to Duke's inability to understand a reprimand therefore rendering it useless, I sighed loudly, and started to collect the various slivers of wood and red velvet lining from my carpet.
     When Duke destroys something, he really goes for it.  Little bits of wood were all over the place and mixed in with them little shiny, colourful speckles of something else, what was that, foil?  Oh yes, foil, that's right, because the little wooden box from the Bahamas cruise was full of chocolates.  Full no more!
     Now, I've had enough dogs to know better then to panic, but since he had just consumed the chocolates, I did wonder if a vet visit might be necessary.  A quick bit of research lead me to believe that there is no way he consumed enough chocolate to do him any real harm, but I'm on the alert for puking and diarrhea, yay!  Oh yeah, and colourful, shiny foil poops.