Saturday, October 31, 2009

Snow Ball Tournament

As previously noted, we are now on Day 3. Two days of nonstop snow have left us with a winter wonderland on All Hallow's Eve Eve. And Sunny has discovered, well, we both have discovered, that Snow Ball beats Apartment Ball hands and paws down.

This episode will be more visual and less verbal as Sunny tells the story in his own words and pictures.

"Woof woof. Woof woof."
Translation: First Mom tosses the tennis ball into the snow.
Then I stare at it intently to intimidate it.

Translation: "Attack!"

"Woof woof woof."
Translation: Repeat the sequence as long as Mom will allow.

"Wooooof, woof, woof, woof, woof. Woof woof woof woof woof."
Translation: I'm afraid that if I give the ball back to Mom,
she'll declare Game Over and drag me back inside.
So I devised a new strategy.
After I dig the ball out, I place it back on top of the snow,
then pounce on it and bury it again.
Then I get to play all by myself.
Mom can just go inside and leave me out here all alone.
Mom: "Nice try Mister. Not on your life."

"Woofity woof woof woof!"
Translation: This is so much fun!

Translation: Huh? Aw, Mom, please don't make me come inside.

Translation: The End!

Sunny's Snow Day

If you have dogs and don't live where there is snow, your pup is missing out on one of the great joys of dog life. I should know - Net and I lived 12 years without snow, and exhibiting puppy-like enthusiasm after his first snowfall when he was 13 was out of the question for my big guy.

This winter things are going to be much different because my new pup is young enough to let it all out on a snow day, and boy did he!

The calendar says winter will start in about two months, but the weather doesn't pay attention to the calendar. We had two feet of the white stuff in two days of nonstop weather activity here in Colorado in the last week of October 2009. And Sunny learned that chasing a tennis ball in the snow triples the excitement and enjoyment of the sport.

I didn't think about bringing the ball out on the first day. I didn't think much at all - I just bundled up and headed out because certain biological needs needed to be met. After taking care of business, Sunny had a blast leaping, bounding around, and didn't seem to mind the cold. Brrr.

By the second day, the sidewalks had been plowed, creating a channel with sides about as tall as Sunny, and that made the perfect dog track for running in. Two of his buddies happened along that morning as well, and the chase ensued. A chocolate, a golden and a Sunny - romping in the snow and racing in the track.

We tried the ball a little that morning, but lost it in the deep snow on the second toss.

On day 3, the snow had finally stopped falling, the sun was starting to shine, and we were able to stay out a little longer. Near a clean patch of deep snow I started tossing snow balls for him. Oh, that's a mean trick. He saw exactly where they landed but sniffed and dug and dug and sniffed and came up with nothing. After torturing him and entertaining me with that for a while, we headed back towards home. Popping into the apartment, I grabbed a tennis ball and a camera, and ... to be continued ... with more better pictures!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Every Dog Has His Day

Every dog has his day - the day he figures out there are people, or dogs, inside the television set.

"No, wait, maybe they're behind it.
Nope, they're not back there either.
Oh man, I'm so confused!"

The funniest part - the TV wasn't on! He just caught a glimpse of my shadow as I sat down in front to shoe my feet. And somehow, even without the sound, he knew to go look behind.

And then the flash from the camera - "Oh boy, is that another tennis ball?"

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Other Ball is Always Greener

Interesting contrast between Lily and Sunny:

Lily had one tennis ball per play session. You could not switch her. If you threw a different one, she chased it, maybe, but one sniff and she knew it was the wrong one and left it, coming back for The One. Next play session it could be any ball, but never a mid-game switch.

Now, Sunny, on the other hand, thinks every next ball is better than the last. I let him loose at the dog park today and he took off into the weeds, following his nose to the first ball. He played with that one for a while, then suddenly, mid-stride, he dropped it and circled around to follow his nose to the next one. Repeatedly throughout our visit, he would drop this ball and pick up the next.

Only once did I see him circle back after a quick double switch, and recapture the first of the three.

He's been known to carry 2 at one time, but I didn't see any of that today - just a case of The Other Ball is Always Greener.

Sunny's Monkey

This is another old story, out of sequence. It is from an email to friends, dated September 13th.

For your viewing pleasure...

I decided this week that a special toy might make Sunny's life a little better as he finishes his convalescence.

While I was busy surveying all the toys on the wall to find one that wouldn't excite him too much (he'd already had to give up a brand new kong and giant tennis ball because he got too excited), he picked the monkey out of the toy bin on the floor, at doggy eye level. He proudly carried his new monkey across the parking lot to the car, and again from the car into the house.

As you can see, Sunny loves his new monkey very much. He doesn't carry him around all day (although he does follow me from room to room). At night after he realizes that we are settling down in the bedroom, he runs back out to get his monkey and uses him like a pillow.

His arm is wrapped around the monkey,
who is whispering in Sunny's ear.

Sunny's Orange Ball

Funny Sunny continues to amuse, a week and a day after becoming permanently mine. First of all, he's a Ball Hound, as in the Scent Hound category on the dog shows. On more than one recent walk he has disappeared into the weeds only to return moments later with the prize - another dog's stinky ol' ball.

At a friend's house he played hard in the yard as the kids threw the ball we had brought along. After dinner, said friend insisted it was ok to let him back out in the yard alone to wander around, after all, we had checked that both side gates were closed when I arrived. Of course, when I stuck my head over the balcony to check on him a few minutes later, he was gone. Frantic new mom that I am, I bolted down the stairs and toward the gate that some neighborhood kids had opened while we were busy yakking. Fortunately my new kid came immediately when called, bounding happily from the neighbor's back yard with his new treasure, another tennis ball. How many miles away can he smell this green fuzz?

The grand prize last week was an orange squeaky ball. It had seen better days, sporting the chewed remnants of a handle, or maybe arms and legs. It wasn't too dirty, so I let him carry it for the rest of the walk and bring it home in the car, squeaking all the way.

At home when I get tired of wet balls in my lap, they go into the nearest closet, cupboard or drawer. Being gone for half a week, I had totally forgotten about the orange ball, until I opened the bathroom cupboard this morning to pull out a new roll of toilet paper, and found the orange ball in its cushy resting place. Almost as excited as Sunny to find the treasure, I pulled it out and let the games begin.

Soon it was shower time, for me. I was just settling in for a long hot one, when that orange ball came shooting out from under the shower curtain and rolled around the tub. I just laughed and laughed, at the ingenuity of this guy. Then I noticed the bulge in the shower curtain where his head was obviously waiting for the ball to be returned, which no doubt would lead to an unending game of shower ball. I declined.

After a while, I handed it out gently, and he assumed his usual shower position - curled up on the bath mat, as close as he could get to me without getting wet.

Another Early Photo From Aunt Debbie

Monday, October 5, 2009

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?!?

Less creative writing and more recording of the facts, I retroactively start to tell the story of Sunny.

About five days after his July 3rd surgery for a blown knee, I picked him up at the vet hospital. As he dragged me out of the vet's office, I wondered "What Have I Gotten Myself Into?!?". I had just voluntarily agreed to keep a 3 year old yellow lab quiet for 12 weeks so he wouldn't damage his rebuilt knee. This might not be as easy as I thought.

He showed a bit of spirit the first couple days as I put him in his cage in the office. He wasn't happy about that - definitely wanted to be where the action was - with Network and I in the living room. The sweetest thing I noticed in the early days was how he sat so patiently and without any fuss, let me put the dreaded cone on his head.

The second day I moved his crate into the living room, and after another day or two, I didn't put him in it again, and took off the cone too. He was a perfect angel - he didn't need any of that stuff.

He also was proving to be pretty mellow - and I never again felt that panic about keeping him down. In fact, after one or two failed attempts to get Network to play, Sunny kinda retired to his dog bed in a semi-depressed state of mind. And thereafter I was absorbed with Network's last days and I took care of Sunny's physical needs and he had constant company but I couldn't encourage play so he just kinda hung out and passed the time.

Fast forward through the rest of July and the first half of August. Then I took Sunny to his wonderful other foster home for 3 weeks so I could spend a last few days with Network and then run away for 2 1/2 weeks. Facing the daunting task of returning home to a home without a Network for the first time in 13 1/2 years (wow - that's a long time!) I found I was relieved that I would pick Sunny up the next day and have his company for a few more weeks as he finished his recuperation.

After a day of observing the still-depressed Sunny, I took on the task of bringing some joy into the little guy's life. I decided we'd go out for a ride in the car every day, also to help him learn that riding in the car isn't always a bad thing. Oh he was so sad the first time I took him to Deb's. I'd only had him for two weeks and had to leave town. What a sad little boy - I just sat in the back seat of the car with his head on my lap as we waited in the parking lot for Deb to arrive. Life was not treating him well as he realized he was on the move again. He had only arrived at Safe Harbor Lab Rescue a day before blowing out his knee, after what was probably a trip through an animal shelter and an inter-state transit to our region. What must he be thinking about this unending journey?

On our first day out, I also decided he needed a special toy. And I'll write about that in a separate post - Sunny's Monkey.

After Sunny's Monkey, things started to turn around. We were taking daily car rides, and longer and longer walks to rebuild his muscles. His attitude improved and his spirit started to show. When I left him alone for a few hours, he'd search the house for a piece of my clothes or my slippers. But he didn't do any damage. He just moved them - near his bed. One day I uncharacteristically left yesterday's clothes on the floor in the bedroom, and came home to find a pair of levis and a sweatshirt strewn across the living room floor! Laughter is good medicine.

While I was paying for his monkey at the pet store, he was busy shopping for a tennis ball from the strategically placed bucket of balls - just like the people stores putting irresistible kid stuff in the area of the cash register, to teach the parents how to say no. So I knew that after achieving his medical release, Sunny would be a ball dog. Actually, we already knew that. Deb had tried to give him a ball during his first stay with her, and her early reports were about what a clever boy he was that he taught them how to play ball while he didn't move off his bed. He rolled it away for them to retrieve. But, alas, he eventually got too wild and the ball had to be retired until he was fully healed. I similarly had given him a kong during his first week, and had to take it away within a day.

As soon as he received his medical release (or maybe a couple days prematurely) I introduced light ball play in the house. And I started to see the spirit of my Lily alive and kicking in our little Sunny. It was about that time when I started to think that maybe I couldn't give him up after all. And the rest is history.

No, the rest is future.

Early picture of Sunny taken by Deb.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

YADBS - Yet Another Dog Bath Story, with a twist

OMG - I LUV this dog!

I have never washed a dog in the bath tub before. I have read about such adventures, but never had the occasion or interest to subject myself and my bathroom to such torture. I think in my early days as a pet owner I bathed cats .... but not often - one could suffer great harm attempting that activity regularly. But now I'm a dog owner, and occasionally dogs require bathing.

In California, my home has an outdoor dog washing station, a heavy umbrella stand from an old patio set, with an old leash permanently attached. And it was used once or twice a year, strictly for fun and bonding on warm summer days, or when Lily's neck got so stinky I couldn't stand it anymore.

My dogs tolerated the bathing ritual very politely, but shook their furry wet bodies regularly to make sure we all enjoyed the experience equally. I laid half a dozen large dog towels on the warm concrete and when released from the water torture, they ran from town to town, oops, towel to towel, rolling on their backs and rubbing their faces. Then Lily tried to run into the backyard to roll in the dirt, and Network tried to run in the house to roll on my bed. Like I said - once or twice a year was just the right frequency for that bonding exercise.

So, yesterday, when the new vet said my new dog had a "skin condition" and needed a weekly bath, I wondered yet again, What Have I Gotten Myself Into?!? (I'll have to write that blog entry, out of sequence, next.)

As I prepared the battleground, he munched away on a tennis ball, following me happily from room to room as I gathered up supplies. A leash, oatmeal shampoo, Pet Hair-Snare to cover the drain and keep the hair top-side, a plastic container for transferring water onto said animal, in lieu of a hand-held shower head on a hose, and some dog towels. A totally bath-paranoid dog might, at this point, already have put 2 and 2 together and hidden in a closet. So far the pup gave no clue that he understood that storm clouds were brewing to darken his sunny Saturday afternoon.

Bathroom door closed, I started the water running, then stripped down to shorts and t-shirt. Collar off the dog, I slipped a noose around his neck. Then I had to stop and think. Do I pick him up and put him in. Do I get in first and pull him over. I know he can get in by himself - he'd hopped in, and out, a few times on frantic runs around the apartment, trying to escape his itchy ears in the middle of the night. So I faced my first hurdle, almost literally.

I decided to step in first...

[insert miracle here - some of you may be familiar with a certain canine comic strip]

This is where my little Sunny proved once again what a darling little angel he is.

He gingerly stepped into the tub all by himself!

Now tell me people, does this ever happen!?! Will it ever happen again?!?

With the leash strapped around my legs, I started watering him down. This is where he's supposed to shake and soak me and the bathroom, right? He just stood stock still and, well, didn't actually smile, but just allowed it to happen. I rubbed the soap in, let it sit, rinsed him off, and the only complaint I had was a sore back from leaning over him for ten minutes.

I might as well stop writing now. I obviously have NO story worth telling.

But alas ...

He got a good toweling off. I stepped out of the tub. He very carefully stepped out behind me, completely unassisted, no unsafe leaping off wet surfaces that could damage his newly recovered knee implant.

And then he shook. But this skinny little dog has hardly any hair, so - pff - I barely noticed.

Please, please, please, let him be as willing ... same time next week, and the next, and the next.

Sunny and I at his adoption 2 days ago