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Raining Cats and Dogs

After a nearly three-week drought in my area we have finally hit that typical Philly summer weather.  The three aitches – Hazy, Hot and Humid.  Ugh.  It’s so humid you shower and walk outside and you are damp again. It’s grooooossssss.  Add the daily thunderstorms and it’s hot. DAMN HOT. We have that heat index phenomenon here and it feels five degrees higher than it is.

Which translates to hot doggies.  Get it?  HOT DOGS?  HAHAHA!

HA.  ha?

Anyways.

I get the sprinkler and baby pool out for the dogs. Because I buy sprinklers and baby pools for? THE DOGS.  Yes, it’s true. I buy my dog more toys and crap than I buy for my kids. This should come as no surprise to you since I’ve already revealed that I like dogs more than people. This may or may not be the reason I have difficulty with social skills. Just sayin’.

The past few weeks I’ve had many dog visitors.  One of them was (is, he’ll be back)Loki, Norse god of mischief.  He’s sweet. He also likes our rubber chicken and “kills” it daily, drowns it in the pool and tries to break its neck.  I love nature.  He’ll be back this weekend to kill more “ducks” and to protect us from the eeeviiilllll birds that inhabit our yard.

Loki, god of Mischief

We’ve had Ginger, the Dog that could escape from Alcatraz, back with us.  Except this time?  NO ESCAPES. Ha. HAHAHA.  Got your number, Ginger!  I finally figured out how to contain her. Until the next time she learns a new way to chew apart a chain-link fence.  Now, according to her owners, she can CLIMB THE FENCE. Old dogs aren’t supposed to do this, Ginger. Stop it.

Ginger, stop it.

We’ve had “The Beagles” come and stay with us.  Simon and Buddy are sweet, sweeeeet, sweeeeeeeeet dogs. They snuggle, beg for belly rubs, curl up and keep us warm.  Which is useful in ninety degree heat.  But they are lovey dovey, just like every beagle I have ever owner or dog-sat.  The problem?  HAVE YOU HEARD BEAGLES?  They don’t bark. They don’t whine. They do, however, alert us to every leaf that falls off of every tree. They let us know when a bug is flying by. They warn us that teenagers are approaching on bikes and scooters.  And, AND!  If a baby goes by in a stroller?  ALERT!  ALERT!  ALERT!

(pretend there is a picture here until the battery on my camera charges, will you?  kthxbai!)

Summer, another older doggie, came to see us again.  She’s a shep mix of some sort and was last here back in November around Thanksgiving.  She had a two week stay with Bristol and Shadow and is still recuperating.   Summer is neighbors with the beagles so they had an all-weekend dog party.  Good fun! Summer is one sweet doggy and super-well-behaved so she can pretty much come back whenever she wants.  Especially since Bristol LERVES her.

Summah Time.

We also had a Golden Doodle visit us. Theo is a nice doggy who loves to romp and play with Bristol. He runs and runs and runs. And then runs some more.  And is a bit demanding with his princely self. Like, must have ice cubes in his highness’ bowl.  And must have freshly chopped vegetables dropped to him on a regular basis.  He is like a giant teddy bear and is sort of woolly like a sheep. Oh, and he cannot be alone for five seconds because!  He might be lonely for five seconds!   And.  He has this problem with, ahem,mounting absolutely every dog that comes to my house.  Yes, even the males.  Dominance.  It’s what’s for dinner.

Theo the Doodle Oodle Oodle.

And our all-time favorite frequent visitor, Sandy, is back for two weeks. Poor Sandy came in and started looking for her good Buddy Shadow.  Gulp.  Gosh, I miss my dog!  Anyways, Sandy and Shadow frequently slept butt-cheek-to-butt-cheek.  Now Sandy sighs and sniffs around for her. Which makes me sad. But Sandy still chases Bristol in the yard and gives the best hugs, hands down.  Which is why we love her.

Best friends.

So, it has literally been raining cats and dogs here. Well, just dogs. Because we don’t have cats. Except for my neighbours’ cat that sits at my front door (which I often leave open for the doggies to watch the world and protect us from evil flies) and torments the dogs. She literally sits there, pawing at the door, begging to come in.  And scares the heck out of the dogs. Silly dogs! You could eat her for dinner!

The next two weeks will bring dog after dog after dog after dog.  I should be pretty busy.  I’ll attempt to take pictures.  In between vacuuming up buckets of dog hair, scooping up the poo in my backyard and throwing tennis balls.

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Girl’s Best Friend

Today was one of the toughest days I’ve ever had. Today I had to say goodbye to my cherished pet, Shadow.

Shad Roe, best doggy friend ever.

Shad Roe had it rough in the beginning. She and her litter mates were found in the trash in a horrible neighborhood in the city. She had worms, fleas, ticks, you name it. Girlfriend was SICK.  When we found her in the pound that Monday evening (We just went to look, honest!) we couldn’t resist that gorgeous, fuzzy baby.  She had ears that were half  up and half down, a white spot on her chin and longish hair.  She licked The Man’s face and the rest is history. For $45 we brought her home.  Where she proceeded to puke all over me.  Turns out she was never a big fan of the car.

She went three days without a name.  We didn’t want one of those, “She’s a black dog so we have to name her ______.” kind of names. But she followed us everywhere. Couldn’t be alone for a tenth of a second.  So Shadow it became.  Totally fitting.

Shadow cost us thousands in vet bills over the years.  She was a bit, let’s say, dramatic. She cried and whined every time we took her to the vet, even if it was to weigh her and check her temp. Seriously? She was HIGH MAINTENANCE.  We called her our autistic dog because she was anxious and ritualistic.  Basically she fit right in around here.Being mostly Border Collie (we think) she had to “do” things constantly.  She needed jobs. We taught her tons of stoopid pet tricks and did the throw-ball-constantly-thing in the yard.  Dog sitting helped keep her busy, otherwise she’d chew up tissues. Or the toilet paper. Or nudge open the cabinet with the lazy susan and steal beef jerky. Or put her paw on the trash can foot pedal and help herself to the contents.  Or just take whatever was on the table, including, one time, a whole stick of butter.

Which resulted in a vet trip. Sheesh.

She loved swimming in lakes but hated taking baths.  She could spell so we had to talk in pig latin. Then she’d learn that.  She hated the car. She loved eating melons.  She pouted if we left but was as happy to see us if we were gone for nine minutes as she would be if we were gone for nine hours.  She never though I looked fat, always agreed with me, didn’t talk back or argue. She was always there.

Best Doggy EVER.

Towards the end it got bad.  Two years of fighting kidney failure and pancreatitis.  A discovered tumor lead to blood work which indicated cancer.  The very end was very quick.  She just slept all day, barely ate (even if I put gravy on it. Even if I fed her the puppy’s food) and just wasn’t herself.  When she lost bowel function we knew it was coming.  But this morning?   When she wouldn’t even go outside?  We just knew. She was telling us she was done and it was her time to go.

My Bug Boy took it better than I thought. He knew I was taking her and when we arrived home (he was at music lessons when I took her) he went to our Bristol and took her outside to “explain everything.”  It was so sweet listening to him tell her that Shadow was gone and that she was happy now. He’s one heck of a kid, I’m telling you.

Three hours later and a vial of blue juice and it was all over.  She was sedated and slept in my lap while they administered the dose that would allow her to slumber forever.  I whispered in her ears that she could eat all of the gardens she wanted now, that there were plenty of rabbits and hundreds of mailmen with treats waiting for her.  It was peaceful. She wasn’t in any pain anymore.

But Golly Ned it hurts. It hurts worse than I  could have imagined.

Designer Doggies

My little not-a-business is in full swing until Labor Day. I’ve literally booked all summer, every single week and day.  There are a few days here and there I could have an extra, older, well-behaved dog (like Sandy) join us but then there are weeks I cannot take another animal because I know they will NOT get along.

Some of the dogs I watch?  Their owners don’t always have previous pet experience. Meaning, this is the first pet they’ve had their entire lives. Some of them did extensive research before purchasing a pet from a reputable breeder. They had reasons for wanting the breeds they selected.  Some of them didn’t know better and purchased at a pet store (BAAAAAAAD!  BAAAAAAAAD!), not realizing that the majority of them get pets from horrific puppy mills. PA is full of them. I’m so proud.

Anyways, the majority of the dogs I watch are mixed breeds. Some come from shelters, some are deliberately bred this way.  In other words, designer dogs.  Like, someone said, “I’d like less shedding, but with the cuteness of a Golden Retriever!”  and the Goldendoodle was born.  Labradoodles (Labrador Retriever/Poodle crosses)have actually been bred for hundreds of years, starting in Australia.

Now, Poodles are NOT my favorite breed. I will come right out and say it. Poodle crosses?  More than tolerable. In fact, I almost don’t notice the poodle in them, except for the gorgeous, curly, soft hair they have. And sometimes the coloring.  Take Bella, for instance.  She is a Cockapoo.  Cockapoos and Cocker spaniels are known for submissive peeing. Like, they get so excited they whiz everywhere.  Every single Cocker and mix I’ve ever come across has done it.  They’ve peed on my floor and on my feet. It’s so much fun. Anyways, Bella is a pee-er, too. She’s so excited to be here to play that she turtles, turns to her back and begs for a belly rub, while peeing all over.  In fact, she was here last weekend and I was lucky enough that I met her on the sidewalk when she arrived. Meaning she missed my feet!  WOOO!  SCORE!

Bella takes a Breather from Bristol

Last week I had Bella and another friend’s dog, a schnauzer-poodle mix.  A Schnoodle. Can you say that ten times fast?  Anyway, Ollie is a sweet, calm, gentle doggy. He’s also snuggly and spoiled, but that’s how we like ’em around here.  He and Bella are good friends (since their owners are also good friends and were camping together last weekend).  Ollie, Bella and Bristol had a blast last week.  They pretty much ran around and played the entire weekend.  It was a three-dog party, yo.  The fourth dog (Shadow) had a bit of a hangover and wasn’t in the party mood.

Par-tay time

Ollie kinda hung out on the sidelines, mostly.  Which is fine, because it gave me time to get his picture a few times.  Bella and Bristol spend the whole stinking time wrestling so I can’t get a decent shot. Unless you think decent is blurry.

See? CUTE. Reason #63 why I love my job.

Lately I’ve seen advertisements for cockapoos, malti-poos, labradoodles, golden doodles, shi-poos, yorki poos, puggle (beagle pug mixes) and the list goes on.  And the best part?  The breeders charge nearly as much as they’d charge for a pure-bred dog, mostly because the parents of these litters are registered.  Like, $800.  And I have to admit, I almost purchased a labradoodle last year because I fell in love with them because they are so freaking cute.  But then I remembered how many thousands of dogs are euthanized in shelters every year and couldn’t bring myself to do it (and besides, $1,000 for a dog seemed a bit much to me).  rescues are the way to go.

In my research I did come across some Border Collie and Lab breeders. Now, Border Collies are HANDS DOWN my favorite breed. Ever.  Favoritest and Mostest.  The husband likes Bernies but me?  MUST HAVE BORDER COLLIES.  Anyways, while poking around (I’d never purchase one, not when they have a hundred dogs in a Border Collie Rescue in Maryland) I came across a local guy who breeds Border Collies and Black Labs together.  Like Shadow!  Only on purpose, and I’m sure he doesn’t throw litters of ten dogs in the trash like Shadow’s owners did.  Except this guy charges a few hundred bucks a pop and calls them, “Bordadors.”  Can you imagine?  SHADOW IS A DESIGNER DOG!  Who knew? And I got her for a bargain $45 nearly eleven years ago.  GO ME! This way I’ve got all the neurotic routine needs and OCD of  Border Collie with the insane friendliness of a Lab.  Best of both worlds, really.  And we didn’t know we were adopting a designer dog.  Go figure!

Full (Dog) House

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Some of the dogs I take care of get along very well with other dogs so I can book certain dogs together.  It’s non-stop fun, and all day party at Chez Crazy Dog Lady.  This summer is booked SOLID, thanks to friends who have given great word-of-mouth recommendations.  Seriously, BOOKED SOLID.  My little not-a-business-just-for-fun side venture is taking off quite nicely.  And the extra dough is nice, too.

The past two weeks I’ve had several dogs visit us so it’s been BUSY.  Having four or five dogs in the house at the same time is fairly chaotic (let alone the fact that it was a holiday weekend, which means multiple barbecues, tons of people around and more chaos).

Colonel Sanders

For a week I had Sandy-The-Wonder-Golden, one of our favorite visitors.  Sandy and Shadow are good buddies and we love having her. Basically, she’s the blonde version of Shadow.  Actually, she’s nothing like Shadow.  Nothing at all.  They couldn’t be more polar opposite. Shadow is anxious, hyper and noisy.  Sandy is calm, relaxed and laid-back.  Shadow barks at leaves as they fall from the tree.  Sandy sniffs the air and sighs and goes back to sleep. Sandy?  Nicest dog ever.  Shadow?  Neurosis only a mother could love.The strange part is that Sandy acts like Eeyore most of the day. She walks around slowly, stares you in the face (petmepetmepetmepetme) and looks kinda sad-ish, except she’s never sad. Then, when she and Bristol go out in the yard, she’s all, “PAAAARTTTTYYYY!!!” and runs and romps and jumps and wrestles and plays. It’s seriously cute to watch.

Nap time!

Shadow and Sandy, never far from one another.

Over Memorial Day  weekend we had Red Ginger (not to be confused with White Ginger).  Red Ginger, you know, the dog that could escape from Alcatraz?  And escape she did. And run after her we did.  She is one nice, friendly, playful dog. If only she didn’t chew holes in the fence and escape, she’d seriously be the perfect dog.

Red Hot Ginger

Escapee

This weekend we had Zane.  We affectionately refer to him as “Zanelander” because he CANNOT TURN LEFT.  Ever see Zoolander?  No?  Your loss. Zane is a bit goofy…confused, maybe.  He walks into the sliding glass door, is afraid of the linoleum so he gets stuck in the foyer and has been known to stop dead in his tracks if the leash is on the wrong side of him or if he walks by a pole because he doesn’t know how to go around it most of the time. While he has a very sweet temperament, he’s no Lassie. Or so we though.  This weekend, he proved himself a collie.  My wee nephew spent the day with us Saturday and Zane was very protective. If the boy cried, Zane was immediately by his side. If he tried to go near steps or something dangerous, Zane blocked him. It was incredibly adorable.  So if Timmy was really down a well, I’m pretty sure Zane would get him in no time.

World of confusion

BruNO and his perplexed Pal, Zane

This morning Zane went home and we have four or five days until the next guest arrives.  It’s nice to be down to just my two but I’ll admit, I miss them when they leave. Most of them. There have been one or two dogs I swear I’ll never watch again (Emily).  But even they have their moments, even if few and far between.  The truth is, I think I finally found my calling. I’ve been trying to figure out what I am doing with myself now that Bugaboo is in full-time school and I’m home most of the day solo.  Full time employment won’t work for our family for a variety of reasons so I need something flexible and part-time.  Dog sitting is just that. I make my own schedule and hours, I can pick and choose my clients and it’s nice money for extras, like Tennis lessons for Bug Boy or special needs equipment for Bugaboo.  It’s a win all around.

Except for my carpets…

White Ginger

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While I’m not a huge fan of “designer dog breeds” you have to admit, some of them are REALLY FREAKING CUTE.  And sometimes the mating of designer dogs produces desired results (like, lower allergen potential or less hair to brush.  And cute dogs.  FREAKING CUTE.).

Here’s an example of why “designer dogs” are desirable:

White Ginger. Not to be confused with ginger Ginger.

Cute. Fluffy. Cuddly.  Did I mention cute? Because she was a sweet, happy little dog. Barely heard a peep out of her all weekend.

Cuddly Wuddly White Ginger

We call her white Ginger because we watch a ginger Ginger and we didn’t want to get confused between them, even though ginger Ginger is a duck-toller and white Ginger is a cockapoo. Got that?

Did I mention cute?

Anways,  in case you are wondering why she’s called “Ginger” when she’s white and fluffy, I’m gonna tell you.  Apparently, the family that owns her decided to get a dog for the first time. They did research on what they were looking for and decided a cockapoo was going to be a great fit for their family. They looked around for a breeder and were sent pictures and some of the dogs were a reddish brownish color. Their children loved the name, “Ginger.”  And then they went to pick out their puppy. And they fell in love with a white puppy.  Not red.  But still the girls loved the name, “Ginger.”  So Ginger it was.

Ginger and the dog posse

When we watched Ginger the first time it was for a brief, overnight stay. She sat on our laps and followed us everywhere. Two months later (this weekend) she came back for a weekend stay. When they pulled up she was so excited SHE PEED ALL OVER HERSELF.  This is apparently a common thing with cockers. We’ve owned cockers and cocker mixes (true mutts, not designer) and they’e all done the same thing when frightened or excited:  PEE.  White Ginger is no exception.  She has peed on her owner’s lap. She has peed on my kitchen floor meeting BruNO.  She has peed when I’ve come back from the convenience store. She has peed when I let her out of the cage in the morning.

Which reminds me.  NOTE TO SELF:  Do not ever own a cocker or cocker mix.  Because? PEE.

Old Dogs

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The most difficult thing about owning a pet is knowing when to say good-bye to them.  I’ve not really had to make the decision myself (other than to encourage my parents to put down our eighteen-year-old shih tzu a few years back because he was dying of cancer) but I’ve had to take a few beloved dogs and cats to the vet because my parents couldn’t stand to do it themselves. Once I had to put my brother’s cat down when he was away for the summer (because the only way my parents would let him get a cat was for me to assume financial responsibility for it) and it was the worst thing I ever had to do in my life. And I really, really don’t like cats.  But there’s something about a cat in end-stage liver failure with yellow eyes, crying when you touch it because it is in so much pain.  Sigh.

For the past two years, Shadow’s health has been like a roller coaster.  Kidney failure. Liver tumor.  Cyst on her adrenal gland.  Arthritis.  Stomach inflammation with increased eosinophils.  Abnormal blood tests.  And every time we think we have to make the decision to put her down, she rebounds and runs about the yard, barking at the latest squirrel or begging a passerby to scratch her fuzzy ears.

In August, when we rescued Bristol, Shadow took a major turn for the worse.  Now, part of the reason we got Bristol was to make it easier on us when Shadow did pass on.  Here we were two or three weeks into owning this wonderful, new puppy and our beloved ten-year-old dog was sleeping more, grouchy and food aggressive.  Part of it was due to her insistence to keep up with a ten-week-old puppy. We knew that.  But one day in particular she was hiding under a table, refused to go outside and would not eat.  When I went under the table to pet her and attempt to comfort her, she snapped at me.  That’s when I broke down in tears and called the vet for the soonest appointment. We were there an hour later.

They examined her but could not find anything wrong on sight. We decided to run her usual panel of blood test to see if there was any change. I took her home, still grumpy, wondering if this was her last night with us.  It was EXCRUCIATING.  At some point she hobbled to the door, looked at me with sad eyes and begged to go out. So I went out with her.  And then she proceeded to take the biggest dump of her life (backed up much?) and produce, from her rear-end, a fully intact bully stick.

As in the 10-12 inch long chew sticks we’ve been buying. For the puppy to cut her teeth on.  And SOME UNNAMED DOG ate it whole, apparently.  And was lucky she didn’t perforate her bowel or something worse on the way.

Damn dog.

My Dearest Puppy Bristol

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You know I think you’re just about the cutest puppy ever in the whole wide world (since Shad Roe, that is).  Every day I thank my lucky stars that I obsess over petfinder and I found your puppy picture.   You were so cute!  And you do some of the cutest stuff. Like chasing your tail. And chasing random lights that flicker across the ground or floor.

Bristol when she was still called "Lala" after the dang Teletubbies

And chasing bugs outside.

This is when she was still cute and little. Now she's cute and big.

And carrying around logs bigger than your body. It’s awfully cute when you try to drag them around the yard.

Me? Cute? Nahhh...

It’s cute that you were afraid of the snow the first time you saw it and then you saw Shadow playing and you were all, “SNOW!  BEST THING EVERRRRR!!!!”   And we loved that you ate snow and tunneled in it and ate more of it. You also like to eat grass.And digging up worms and eating them and chasing rabbits and barking at squirrels to protect us.  And you like to protect Shadow even though she’s ten years your senior.

Don't you be touchin' Mah Shad Roe!

But here’s what isn’t cute.

Chasing a fly that’s been stuck inside our house.  Continuously. Between 1am and 3am.

Digging holes all over the yard.  ALL. OVER. THE.YARD.

Caught her red-handed. Errrr...red pawed. Brown pawed? WHATEVS.

Acting like every walk we go on is your first and last.

IZ Gud dog! I Caz has shoos plz?

Eating 3 pairs of crocs.  And a pair of Keens.  And a pair of Tsukihoshis. And a pair of Merrells.  And my favorite ballet flats.  All in one month.

Silly Puppy. Silly, silly, silly.

It’s a good thing you’re cute.