Shichon

Izzy’s Big Move

On the third of July, Izzy reluctantly climbed into the car with me, and we waved goodbye to Roxboro and to our friends, to the streets we walked in the early hours of the morning, to the job I had for eight and a half years, to my little bungalow and the gardens that bloomed better last week than they have all summer long.  Goodbye for now to Deb and Danny (though I expect them down for dinner soon!) and to Mr. Mendoza across the street (I couldn’t even say goodbye to him before he left for his annual trip to Mexico) and to Ellie and Peggy around the corner.  Izzy will particularly miss Ellie, his best dog friend.

It was a day of mixed emotions for both of us.  Izzy spent most  of the day in the backyard as the guys moved the furniture out of the house.  He barked and ran from one side of the house to the other, straining to see what those strange men were doing in his house, very worried that I was in that house with those strange men without his stalwart protection.

The first night at the new place, Izzy jumped at every noise and when we did our evening walk, he couldn’t figure out which blade of grass to pee on first.  He bristled with senses so heightened that they were almost too much for his brain to handle.  I have to admit my own senses were on tilt, too, and when we crawled into the bed in the new bedroom that night, we both sank into a sleep both deep and confused.

We rose at 5:30 for our longest walk of the day to explore the neighborhood.  New bushes.  The smell of other dogs.  Streets we hadn’t walked before.

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Though I had driven the neighborhood many times before moving in, we hadn’t walked the streets, so it was time to learn the neighborhood.  This new place is nice, well-kept, and the neighbors seem to watch out for each other, but I’m amazed that I’ve moved to a place where each house resembles the one next door.  I’ve always said that I want a house with character.  Well, this one only has character because of the “things” I brought with me.  Without the “things,” this townhome would look the same as everyone else’s.  Unless you look closely, this neighborhood is fairly bland.

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As we did in Roxboro, we sniff out the possibilities and explore the hidden corners, and on that first walk, we found a little gift:  a walking trail in a cool copse of trees.

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There are dogs to meet here, and people, too, and roads to discover, trees to sniff, and adventures to enjoy.  But, for now, we’re tired from unpacking and would love some serious downtime before getting back into the work of being our own boss!

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For now, Izzy says he’ll hold the bed down 🙂

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Izzy’s Summer Vacation

Why haven’t I written lately?  Because Izzy and I went to the beach with our good friends Ron and Alfie.

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Unfortunately it rained almost the whole time we were there! We spent time in the little house we rented.  The dogs cuddled while I wrote.  Ron took his writing to the local coffee shop.

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I definitely want to get to the ocean again, particularly because Izzy seemed to enjoy it much more so this year than he did when we went over my birthday last year. It’s also great for me to get there because it frees up my mind. The salt air clears out cobwebs and inspires me to write what I haven’t been able to write at home. I have the philosophy that breathing deeply of air that is not perfumed with car exhaust and not hindered by the sounds of industry and humans helps me access the creative genes I know exist deep inside of me.

Izzy and Alfie had many walks along the coast, and I think the air worked on them, too, but all it did was make them sleep more soundly.

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Now that summer’s over, more time to keep up with my blogs!

Animals and Emotions

Lately, I’ve been doing some research for a new novel that has an elephant as a main character, and though I thought I knew something about these fascinating animals, I’m finding out more and more with each page I turn.  I realize as I do  my research that the emotions we define as human-like are often simply instinct and the animal instincts we see are often emotions.

For example, last night, my friend Peggy came over with her dog Ellie (I’ve written about them here before).  As soon as Izzy heard her voice, he went into “play mode,” exceptionally excited to see both of them.  He ran over to me, tongue out, tail wagging, then went back to the door, over and over again, as if to say, “Well, aren’t you going to open the door?  I’m excited!  Look who’s here!”  To say that he wasn’t happy to see them would have been the understatement of the century.

Then there’s the dog who lives across the street from me, tied to his tree all day, all night, every day of every week of every month of every year.  There are times we walk by him and he simply cries.  Sadness?  You bet.  And Izzy feels compassion for him because when he hears Tyson cry, he whimpers a little, too.

Elephants are said to have emotions.  They sense their own mortality and are known to mourn over the lifeless bodies of those who were part of their herd.  Baby elephants torn from their mothers and forced to work for the vanity of humans experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Adolescents who lose their families because they’ve been off exploring are incredibly anxious about catching up with the matriarch.  And if a human abuses an elephant, that elephant will not forget.  Truly.

Over the recent Father’s Day holiday, I found a photo of my dad with one of his dogs.  I happen to know that the photo was taken shortly before my father had his sexy pompadour shaved, not long before he headed off to World War II.  That head of hair never grew back but was maintained in a crewcut for the rest of my father’s life.  That moment when the photo was taken was particularly poignant for my father who knew he might never see his beloved dog again, and I believe that dog picked up on the emotion, because he leans in protectively against my father’s leg.

My father and his dog, a Shepherd mix, circa 1943

My father and his dog, a Shepherd mix, circa 1943

Do Dogs Miss Us When We Go Away?

If you can’t tell by the title of this post, I just returned from vacation (visited Thailand, and yes, it was the vacation of a lifetime.  Adventurous!  Slept in a hut in the jungle — okay, it was a resort — off the River Kwai, swam with elephants — yes, I did!, and saw more temples than I thought could exist in one ten-square-mile area).  Izzy spent almost two weeks with my next door neighbor and my friend around the corner.  When I got home, he stared at me for a moment, then jumped into puppy frenzy to welcome me home.

What I noticed about being gone:

  1. I missed him more than he missed me.  My friend Deb said that he didn’t want to be alone in the house, but once he was with her and her husband, Izzy made himself perfectly at home, climbed onto their bed, basically moved in.
  2. Leaving him home is less traumatic than taking him in the car to the boarding kennel.  As I have said before, he’s a bit panicked whenever he thinks he’s going into the car, so I thought that being in his own home would be better.  It definitely was.
  3. He “forgot” some of what we were used to doing.  I always say “wait” before we cross the street so he’ll know not to just dash.  When I first came home and started walking him again, he had to be reminded of that command.
  4. He needs to be with other canines on a regular basis, but he truly needs people more.  He can spend five minutes, an hour, an overnight with other dogs, but eventually he becomes bored with them and will ultimately go to the human in the room to get some cuddle time.

Just out of curiosity, I did a bit of research to see whether my own suppositions were correct, and here’s what Psychology Today said about dogs missing humans.  One test put dogs into an MRI and tested their brain function when they were given the scent of their human vs. one of a fellow canine.  Though tests are not conclusive, they have stated that dogs definitely miss humans more than other dogs.  The other aspect the tests looked at was whether dogs could tell time or days.  They can tell the difference between 30 minutes and 4 hours, but it’s not clear whether they can tell how many days someone has been gone.  Here’s the link to the whole article, if you’re interested:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/plus2sd/201309/do-dogs-miss-us-when-we-re-gone

My conclusion is that Izzy did miss me, though he had no clue that I was gone for two weeks, and had I left him with my neighbors longer, he probably would have been fine.

I, on the other hand, would have been heartbroken.

Does he look sad to you?

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Sprained Human Ankle and Diggin’ Doggy Dirt

Sometimes being preoccupied with thoughts of work brings negative “schtuff” directly into your life.  On Thursday, I ran home to go to the last women’s basketball game of the season and hurried Izzy out for a quick walk.  I’ve walked up and down the driveway at my house a million times, but this time, I was so into the thoughts in my head that I paid no attention to where I was walking.  Right into a hole I went.  Left foot bent at an unnatural angle, and as if in slow motion, I went down–thinking only that I had to hold on to Izzy–smack, crack.  Right knee.  

And suddenly couldn’t get up.  Yup, the old commercial:  “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”  Only I was in the driveway.  It was 28 degrees, the wind was blowing, the sky was grey, and no one was around.  Izzy whined and sniffed around my legs.  I started shaking uncontrollably.  Whimpered a little.  Tried to move my legs, but they wouldn’t even wiggle.  Shit, I thought.  How was I going to get to the phone?  How many times had people told me to bring my cell phone with me when I went walking?  And, shit again.  I was going to miss the game.

Ten minutes later, I dragged myself to a standing position though the pain shot through my left ankle and my right knee.  I was close enough to the car to grab the bumper and used the car as stability to get back to the house.  Once inside, I called next door, but no one was home.  Called a friend at work, but he didn’t answer.  I desperately needed someone to take me to Urgent Care.  Finally, called my friend Peggy and within moments, she was at the house.  I left a message for my next door neighbors to please walk Izzy.

Two hours later, x-rays showed a sprained ankle and a badly bruised knee, but no breaks.  Thankfully.  Peggy took me to CVS to get some pain meds and Ibuprofen, then home.  My friend from work brought over a pizza and helped that night, and my neighbors/friends, Deb and Danny, have been walking Izzy and helping me ever since.  I don’t know what I’d do without my friends!

What Izzy can’t get used to is that we haven’t been taking our walks anymore.  He’s been going with Deb in the mornings, but before Deb comes over, I put Izzy on a leash/rope into the back yard.  He sits at the back door and peeks in through the window.  Doesn’t move.  Until this morning.

Deb called in the back door when she came to pick him up.  “Yoo hoo!  Your pup is having a good ol’ time out here.”

I hobbled into the kitchen and saw her holding Izzy tight on his leash at the back door.  “What’s he doing?”

“Digging!  He’s got a good sized hole started out back.”  She pointed to his tell-tale mud-covered paws.  “He needs to be wiped off before he comes in.”

I found a towel, we wiped him off, chatted a minute, and she took him for a walk.

While they were gone, I started catching up on some writing I haven’t been able to do.  All I’ve done for the past three days is watch TV.  Izzy has been good at keeping me warm and giving me love, acting like the Nurse Dog he is.  But I’m sure that’s boring for him.  He needs to walk.

Hopefully, the ankle will be strong enough to move around a bit more today.  My knee is a lot better, though still a little sore and I won’t be able to kneel on it for a while.  I have to get better so I can go for walks with Izzy again — or I’m going to end up having more holes in my back yard than in the driveway!

In the meantime, he’s holding down the bed for me . . . .

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“Lassie, Come Home!”

We all have those dreams that come back to haunt us–the dream about running, the one about the haunted house, that nightmare about missing the first day of work/school–and we have daytime fears that make us crazy.  One of mine is losing Izzy.  

Izzy has never learned how to come when called.  Even in the house, if I ask him to come so he can get a treat or his supper or a ball, he’ll come just-so-close, then stand out of reach, ignoring me by turning his head from side to side, as if when he doesn’t look at me, it negates my need to have him come right up to me.  Outside, it’s worse.  Occasionally, I will let him off the leash to play with his friend Ellie, but that stopped when he took off after a groundhog one day and it took me almost fifteen minutes to catch up with him and get him to come to me so I could click his leash back on.  When he was younger, he would see one of his dog friends across the street and immediately lunge, trying to run across the street.  If I didn’t have a good hold on his leash, he would get away from me.  And there have been a few times he’s dashed out of the house, across the street without looking, disappearing into a neighbor’s yard.  

Yup, losing Izzy is one of my fears.

Years ago, I actually did lose a dog.  My German Shepherd, Jessie, was 18 at the time and well trained.  She would come and sit/stay at my heels until I told her to leave.  We had gone to obedience school with police dogs, so she knew all of the tricks and was smart enough to pay attention.  I can honestly say she was the best trained dog I’ve ever had — and the best trained dog I’ve met.  Izzy, on the other hand, is not and never will be.  The day Jessie disappeared, we had just moved from Vermont to Florida.  We had spent three days unpacking and were ready for a break, so my husband and I took the afternoon off and went to the beach.  As it does every day during the summer, a thunderstorm rolled in around 3, and we headed home.  When we arrived, the garage door was open and our Mastiff, Joshua, was lying in the garage, staying cool, but Jessie was nowhere in sight.

For weeks, we went everywhere looking for her, posted signs on telephone poles, visited every animal shelter within a twenty-mile radius.  Finally, we figured that Jessie was on her way back to Vermont since she really didn’t know her way around Florida.  She had lost most of her hearing, making it difficult for us to walk the neighborhoods calling her.  How could she hear us?  

One night, we took Josh out and walked a different route around the neighborhood, letting him do his “boy thing,” urinating on every pole and bush we passed.  Josh wasn’t much of a walker.  If we took him out with Jessie, she led the way and he plodded along behind.  Lazy was a good way to describe him.  He’d much rather mope around the backyard than go out on the leash.  But we thought that Jessie’s olfactory sense was still in good shape.  Might as well see if it would bring her home.

The next morning my husband went to the front door because he heard a noise.  He cried out Jessie’s name, which I thought was a cruel way of teasing me, but he wasn’t teasing.  There she was:  bloody paws, ribs showing, but her tail wagging as if proud of herself that she had found us.

She was never the same after that and we lost her about six months later, but she had found her way home.

I told that story to the woman who trained Izzy when she lost one of her Huskies over the weekend.  Postings on Facebook were almost frantic.  She formed a search party to comb Duke Forest in Durham where the dog had last been seen.  I told her to take her other Huskies out in the neighborhood, walk each of them in a different direction, then go home to wait.

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The good news is that Winter, the Husky, came home Sunday morning, greeting his pack early in the morning, bringing them all to full howls that woke up the neighborhood.  He had found his own way home.

I only hope that if Izzy ever gets away from me, he won’t make my nightmare a reality.  I hope that he can find his way home, too.

K-10+ Review

Occasionally, I review dog food and products.  Last week, I was sent a sampling of K-10+ Supplements that are pre-measured vitamin supplements meant to dissolve in your dog’s water.  The product is designed to give dogs a number of vitamins that they need yet might not want to take.  The vitamins included in the sampling were Multi-Vitamin, Glucosamine, Omega 3, Calming, UT Support and Senior Care.

I have to admit that I only tried three of the packages, largely because Izzy doesn’t need UT Support or Senior Care or Glucosamine.  Besides, by the time I tried the Multi-Vitamin, Omega 3 and Calming vitamin packages, it was obvious that Izzy wasn’t going to be drinking his water with that “stuff” in it.  Disappointing.  I thought he was less particular than that.  Guess I was wrong.

The first packet I tried was the Multi-Vitamin.  Though the directions said it would dissolve in water, it didn’t quite dissolve all the way.  Little drops of the powder floated on the water and stuck to the sides of the bowl, no matter how much I stirred it.  Izzy (who isn’t much of a water drinker to begin with) sniffed the bowl, looked at me, ate some food, then went back to the water, sniffed it again and walked away.  I left the bowl down all day in the hopes that he would try it later on, but the water bowl was still full when I got home from work.  I don’t think he ever dipped his tongue into the bowl.  By late that evening, it was obvious he was thirsty but wasn’t having any of the vitamin water, so I emptied it.

The next day, we tried the Omega 3.  Same situation.  It didn’t dissolve and Izzy didn’t want any of it.  The makers of the product state that it is water soluble, but perhaps it makes a difference if your water has iron in it or other “ingredients” that don’t interact well with the the vitamin. Whatever the case, the Omega 3 didn’t dissolve — and Izzy “knew” something foreign was in his water bowl that he wasn’t crazy about (I have to add here that Izzy doesn’t drink out of puddles or anyone else’s water bowl.  He’s just not that crazy about water.  He’s the first dog I ever met who doesn’t want to dip his head into a water bowl after being out for a walk on a hot summer’s day.  Yup, I have a weirdo.  What can I say?)

Day 3:  we tried the Calming vitamin.  Same result.  It didn’t dissolve totally and Izzy didn’t like it.

I hate giving anyone a bad review, especially when it’s a product that is good for my dog, but this one didn’t work for my picky little boy.  Hope someone else has better results!

Run Like the Wind, Izzy!

As everyone in the U.S. knows, the whole country is experiencing some frigid weather, and it’s only going to get worse.  Though Izzy seems to get invigorated by cold weather, I don’t, so when we had a chance to visit a fellow writer in Durham this weekend, we took it . . . especially since that writer has a dog and a fenced-in yard.

Izzy hates riding in the car.  As soon as he knows we’re going somewhere, he commences shivering.  Nothing helps.  I put on his Thundershirt whenever we have to take a ride, I’ve bought him a sheepskin seat that basically boxes him in so he’ll feel safe, and I’ve given him treats.  Still, he shivers.  But since going out in the car often results in a positive experience, I keep taking him (though it breaks my heart to see him sitting beside me, tongue hanging out, his little body shivering and quaking as if he is convinced I’m taking him somewhere that will result in pain and horrors beyond imagination).  Funny, because he rarely goes to the vet’s and absolutely loves going to the groomer’s and our visits to friends far outweigh the vet visits.  I think it’s the actual traveling itself that has him terrified, which is why I bought the seat for him.  Suffice it to say, he’s going to continue traveling with me, shivering or not.

Yesterday’s visit resulted in a pure, unadulterated treat for him.  Our walks are always leashed.  Rarely does he have the pleasure of running freely since he cannot seem to get himself to listen to my calls to “come” when he’s free.  Being in a fellow dog’s fenced in yard is something akin to my feelings of bliss when I have a dish of salted caramel ice cream topped with hot fudge in front of me.  Orgasmic!

Nothing makes me happier than seeing my little guy running as fast as he can, ears flying, tongue hanging out, eyes bright.  If he could, I’m sure he’d be yelling, “yippppeeeeeeeee!” as loudly as he could.  You know how sometimes you can “hear” a dog’s voice without actually hearing it?  Some dogs have deep, Southern drawls (basset hounds), while others have foreign accents (poodles) and others are likely to be intellectual (bulldogs) while some would sound like hippies (yellow labs).  I imagine Izzy’s voice to be fast and chatty,  an adolescent’s nonstop silliness in a high-pitched, friendly, happy tone.

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He still glances at me questioningly whenever I open the door to my friend’s backyard, as if to say, “You’re coming too, aren’t you, Mom?” but to see him enjoy being a dog with Alfie, my friend’s rat terrier/bully mix, is worth driving him shivering to the next doggie play date.

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Fly, Izzy, fly!

Question of the Day: Cava-Poo-Chons, are they perfect?

Okay, I understand why some of us want a dog who’s absolutely adorable, smart, friendly, hypoallergenic and not yappy.  I understand that because Izzy is one of those dogs.  When I started looking for a pup to keep me company and to replace my recently departed and very old cat, I wanted one that would be all of the above.  There were several breeds that fit my criteria:  Cavachons, Shichons, Shipoos, Cavapoos.  You get my drift.  They were all what could be considered hybrids.  Poodles, Cavalier Spaniels, Bichon Frises, and Shih Tzus in various combinations/iterations, all creating the same little ball of fluff with personality, smarts, friendliness, and a tendency to be less yappy than other small dogs (like Yorkies or Chihuahuas).  And who could resist their teddy bear-like appearance?  (Shichons, especially, which is what Izzy is).

There are positives and negatives to this type of dog breeding, and depending upon whom you talk to, you’ll get bits and pieces of both.  One of the positives is that people who might be allergic to dogs can actually own one.  That’s a huge point to make.  On the down side, by breeding these “designer dogs,” lots of shelters aren’t seeing people walk in to adopt the dogs that fill those kennels to the brim regularly.  Negative to the nth degree.  Nothing is more heartbreaking than the numbers of dogs who are euthanized because they are not considered “adoptable.”  Pitbulls, once considered the American dog, are currently the breed that is least likely to be adopted — and cities/counties don’t help that phenomenon by allowing regulations that allow certain areas/cities/housing developments to outlaw owning a dog from the Pitty family.  

Ironically, designer dogs are garnering higher and higher price tags, normally reserved for those purebred dogs that are never inter-breeded with another species.  Dogs like the German Shepherd are now selling for less than the hybrid dogs like Cavachons.

Yesterday, I read an article from the Huffington Post entitled “Is the Cava-Poo-Chon the World’s Most Perfect Puppy?”  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/20/cava-poo-chon_n_4311387.html  Naturally, there’s a photo of an absolutely adorable pup, and the article extols the virtues of the mix of breeds, even commenting on the breed’s long life (though I don’t know how they can know the lifespan since this is a new hybrid).  What amazes me is the price this breeder is asking for her pups.  This is basically what we used to refer to as a mixed breed . . . translation:  mutt.  But because it’s cute and well-behaved, it’s also more expensive.

I don’t know about all this hoopla about the Cava-Poo-Chon, but I can tell you one thing.  Izzy’s a Shichon (Shih Tzu, Bichon Frise mix), and I think he’s pretty perfect.  But I might be just a tad prejudiced.

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Izzy’s day at the S(pa)w!

Sometimes dogs get that smell.  You know the kind I mean?  That odor that really makes you go “pe-yoooo.”  As much as you love the little buggers, you really don’t want them on your lap and you certainly don’t want to be lovin’ on them.  Time for a bath — or better yet, a trip to the groomer’s.

Yesterday, Izzy went to Spaws here in Roxboro and not only got the dreaded bath (he doesn’t like the water, though he’s a real nut about being toweled off.  He’ll wait in front of the door after our walks for me to get out the towel and give him his rubdown), but he was also trimmed and sprayed with an appropriately scented “freshener” for the holidays.  Suffice it to say, my house smells like pumpkin pie now.

Okay, for those of you who thought I was a bit down on doggie prima donnas who get all dressed up, you might want to give me a hard time for the pic of Izzy with his bandanna.  Not my doing.  Everytime he gets groomed, he comes home with a different kerchief.  They last maybe five minutes.  I usually find them under the couch with all the balls and bones he has “lost.”

So, here’s the boy — before and after.  Gotta admit, he looks (and smells) much better.  But it would be nice if he looked into the camera occasionally.  Take out the cell phone for a quick shot, and he either looks away or averts his head so I can’t get a full view, making him look horribly uppity 🙂

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AFTER

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