Friday, July 15, 2011

Nuka vs. The Land Walrus presents 6 Alternative Uses for your pet

     Dogs are great for many reasons.  They make fine companions, they encourage you to get outside and exercise and they are always happy to see you, no matter what.  But if you have become bored with your canine companion, I would like to present to you some alternative uses for your furry friend.

1. Alarm System

     Some people complain about a dog that barks too much, but they are really overlooking a positive quality in their pet.  Save on your Brinks bill by getting a dog that does bark when the door opens, or the window opens, or a slight breeze rustles a tree.  This is an easy notification system for you that not only works for potential criminals, but also for wayward teenagers sneaking in after curfew.

2. Scapegoat

     Passed gas?  Knocked over your mom's prized African violet?  Ate the last piece of pie?  Solution  - Blame the dog!  A simple cry of, "Oh, Nuka!" (Insert your pet's name here) will often suffice.  The key to pulling this off is the amount of sincerity in your voice with the delivery.  As a bonus, dogs do not mind taking the blame as long as you slip them a cookie while they are banished to their bed.

3. Heater

     If you live in a cold climate like I do, you know damn well that sometimes, like in the grips of February, for instance, no amount of central heating will suffice.  This is when you should take a good, long, look at your dog.  See how he is covered in fur?  He also possesses a regular body temperature that is higher then yours, making him a perfect heating pad.  Maybe it is time to let Fido sleep on the bed with you, at least during ice storms.

Duke's Belly = Foot Warmer

4. Vacuum/Swiffer

     In my experience, basset hounds work best in this role, but I'm sure other dogs would preform equally well if given the chance.  Don't feel like vacuuming?  Cutting carrots and they keep flying off the counter?  Spilled milk on the floor and can only sigh?  Now is the time to let the dog into the kitchen.  Just let him go at it, and in no time whatsoever the mess that you just made will be clean, and as an added bonus, your dog just got a tasty treat!  This ability becomes far more pronounced around eating and walking toddlers, who your dog can follow around and clean up the mess as it is being made.  Good dog!

5. Accessory

     I'm not a huge fan of dog clothes, but I do like collars and bandannas.  Celebrate the season with a festive collar or a Christmas bandanna.  Not a holiday?  No problem!  Your local fabric store will cheaply furnish you with all kinds of fabrics and colours that can be easily folded into a snazzy kerchief.  Coordinate outfits with your pup!  If you have more then one dog, then take the dog that best suits your mood.  Feeling saucy?  Take Nuka, that sassy redhead and give her a fiery colour scheme.  Want to meet some new people?  Throw a mellow blue on your freaking adorable basset hound, and head to the park!

Nivek's black fur looks stunning against this festive Halloween orange number!  Tres chic!

6. Unwanted Human Scatterer

     I know from personal experience that a German Shepherd works very well for this, but I'm sure that any motivated canine could do a stand up job.  Tired of door to door solicitors?  Had enough of those loud, screaming kids running around outside your house?  The solution, my friends, is literally standing on your toes!  Leave just your screen door closed and stop giving the dog trouble for barking at the door, let them go nuts!  You won't get any more of that pesky mail that's been plaguing you and door to door solicitations will drop dramatically.  Still not enough?  Eye up those annoying children and then eye up your dog.  Then just do what you both know you want to, open the door!  Let your dog, preferably one who is friendly at heart, but has serious psychological problems that make her run and bark like a raving fool, out, just let her out like a barking maniac, and boy oh boy, watch those kids scatter to the four corners of the earth in record time.  Ah, finally, some peace and quiet!*

     As you can see, your pet dog has many uses.  If you are ready to spice up your relationship, try one of these alternative uses for your pet.  You will both be entertained and brought closer together by exploring new and wonderful experiences, together.

*Nuka vs. The Land Walrus accepts no responsibility if your dog mauls someone, bites someone, proceeds to chase a car down the street or sees something shiny and doesn't come back when called.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dogs vs. Roadtrip: Part Three: The Actual Visit

     Jocko Point is a nice place for me to sit around, stare at water and listen to nothing but the gentle twitter of birds and the soft lull of lapping waves.  The dogs also seem to enjoy it.
     What with the tire and all, (see Part Two), not to mention the traffic, the six hour trip took us more like nine hours, and Duke and Nuka were understandably relieved when they were released from the confines of the Volvo.  Duke's first road trip had been a trial by fire, but he survived, and when we popped the back hatch and led him loose on the shores of Lake Nippissing, leashless, no less, he forgot all about the trauma.
Duke and Nuka, released from the Volvo

     No one, and I mean no one on Jocko Point leashes their dogs, and fences, what fences?  Now, here in southern Ontario, a loose dog will set you back a minimum of $200.00 and send you on a trip to the pound.  On Jocko Point, it's just a really good way to chat with the neighbours.
     I have known since we got Nuka that she is better behaved off leash.  I don't try to understand this, but I'm sure it's some deep, psychological issue she has with being restrained.  The problem, and it hurts to admit this, is that I don't trust Nuka.  I trusted Seeka, I trusted Nivek, but I don't trust Nuka, sorry girl.

There is something out there, something I want to chase...
     In spite of my blatant mistrust, Nuka has always behaved herself on Jocko Point.  She stays in the loosely defined 'yard', she does not attack and/or chase the random dogs that romp through Jocko's back hedges to say hello, and to date, she has never chased anything farther then my field of vision, except of course, a tennis ball.  It's like she knows, somehow, intuitively, that if she messes up, she may never get to come back.  On this point, she is correct.

Ice floes never stopped Nuka from swimming, they did stop Duke though.
          We played a lot of ball, and despite the water's frigid temperature, Nuka swam every day while Duke barked at her from the safety of the dock.  More then once I had to chase the hound, who followed his nose a little too far, but overall, the trip was a resounding success and the city dogs got to enjoy some country life, unrestricted and as free as a domestic pet can probably be.  Duke found a golf ball on Saturday and it became his most favorite thing.

His putt needs work, but Duke instantly bonded with the golf ball
     Jeremy and I did a lot of sitting, eating and drinking.  We played with the dogs, had Easter dinner and did a little walking tour of the traditional powwow grounds of the Nippissing First Nations People on the tip of Jocko Point.

Easter dinner?  I gots me a burnt waffle, score!
     Duke charmed Jeremy's family on his first trip to their home with his hilarious face and gentle disposition.  In the picture above, you might notice the position of his hind legs, splayed behind him in a 'T', which for whatever reason, is a position he often stays in for hours.  This struck Jeremy's mother just the right way and she spent a good portion of the weekend laughing at it and taking pictures of it.  Ah, Duke, always a ladies man.
     Like most good things, the weekend went by very quickly and Monday morning we grudgingly loaded the canines and came home.  Thankfully, there was not a repeat of the tire incident.  We were all a little depressed the first few days back in the city, but we have some very sweet, relaxing memories to see us through until next time.  If the peace we experienced is any indication, the next time probably won't be all that far in the future.

View from the tip of Jocko Point
     In case you're interested, I posted a funny video of Duke and his golf ball, it's on the sidebar to the right.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Nuka vs. The Land Walrus Mourns

     I must interrupt the saga of the Easter trip, I will post the final part this coming weekend.  In the meantime, I regret to inform you that I must tell a very sad story.
     On May 19, I took Nivek to the vet.  Originally, this appointment was scheduled for his yearly check up and vaccinations, but the closer it came, the more I realized that his vaccinations were the least of my concerns.  The weekend before, a large hygroma on his elbow burst in a big, bloody mess.  This has happened to Nivek before, but this time seemed especially unpleasant.  I cleaned it up and wrapped it, but he fought me every step of the way.  That entire week he began to fail, he didn't eat like usual, and all of the sudden he could no longer get into the car to come to work with me as he has every day for the past four years.
     By Thursday, the hygroma was in pretty good shape, but Nivek was not.  Even with his air conditioner blasting, his breathing was laboured more then usual.  He stopped going for walks with Nuka, Duke and I so I started walking him alone for a few days, very short distances, but then that stopped too.  He needed a boost to stand up most of the time.
     Unfortunately, the news Dr. H had for me was not helpful.  Nivek had an enlarged heart, hence the breathing troubles, and his arthritis had continued to progress, as arthritis tends to do.  I did not go into the office with any false hopes, I only wanted to know what I could do for my oldest and most wonderful friend.  The answer, it breaks my heart to say, was nothing.
     Dr. H put Nivek on Meloxicam for pain and Benazepril for his heart.  These would not cure Nivek, but might help him along a little.  He told me to take Nivek home and keep him happy and comfortable, so that's what I did.
     Nivek's world shrank down basically to the kitchen and living room floors.  With help, he would still go outside to go to the bathroom, but this more and more became me carrying him, not that I minded lugging his 86 pounds around, but it wasn't much of a life.  On Monday, May 23, I painfully put him in the back seat of my car and drove to my parents for a holiday BBQ, Nuka and Duke went to doggie day care.  Nivek spent the day snoozing in the grass in the shade, surrounded by all of the people that have loved him so much since 1998 when he came barreling into out lives.  I think he had a good day.
     On Sunday, May 29, Nivek did not get up in the morning, nor would he with any amount of physical help or coaxing.  He did not eat.  That evening, Jeremy and I were able to carry him outside where he finally went pee.  That night I sat up with him on the kitchen floor until one am.  I cried a lot and we had a good, solid look at each other.
     On Monday, May 30, Nivek did not get up again.  He also did not eat again.  Home alone, I was unable to carry him outside without him helping me.  Dr. H said one of two things would happen, he would stop eating or he would stop moving, Nivek had stopped doing both.  We had another good, long look at each other and another big cry.
     I called Jeremy at work and told him to come home.  He did, and we carried our big, hairy baby to the back of the Volvo and drove to our vet.  Very, very slowly, Nivek was able to walk in with help.  He stopped in the middle of the lobby, breathing very heavily, surrounded by the doctors and vet techs who have taken such good care of him for the last eight years, when we moved to southern Ontario.  Dr. H was waiting in the door to the examination room and I said, "sorry, he does things in his own time."
Dr. H replied. "I think he's earned that right."  Nivek walked into the exam room by himself.
     On Monday, May 30, at 2:37pm, Nivek went to sleep and never woke up.  Jeremy and I were with him.  It was quiet and peaceful.  I might have more to say about this at a later time, but right now I can't type anymore through the tears.

Last picture taken of Nivek, April 24, 2011 with his buddy, Mortimer.